Friday, January 31, 2020

How HEC Kills Creativity and How PEC Kills Creativity

How HEC and PEC kill creativity! They kill creativity by targeting the roots from where creativity and innovation originate. Creativity, innovation, new paradigms, new frameworks and and new ideas originate from out-of-the-box thinking, lateral thinking, inter-disciplinary aha experiences. However, HEC/PEC's notion of quality works in the reverse direction; they force faculty, curriculum as well as research to be imprisoned in rigidly defined boxes or cells! They compartmentalize knowledge and think that knowledge can be captured in boxes and in silos designated by the names of the disciplines, programs or departments. This helps the bureaucracy in imprisoning the faculty into existing rigidly defined boxes i.e. the name of the discipline written on the degree or the name of the department on the transcript. This box then becomes the territory on which turf wars are fought for future promotions and fancy designations of professors, chairpersons, and deans. It is on this turf that departmental politics is played out. This imprisoning of knowledge in silos has nothing to do with academics or the quality of higher education.
This is also discussed in my blogpost What does it Mean to Have a PhD: Myths of Specialization and Departmental Expertise
[https://syedirfanhyder.blogspot.com/2014/10/Myths-Definition-of-PhD-Specialization-Expertise.html]

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

HEC Ranking Fiasco Genesis


University Rankings in Pakistan

Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder, January 5, 2004


This is with reference to the letter to the editor of Dawn, December 31, 2003 where the writer has highlighted the risks of jumping prematurely in the area of university rankings.

Development of a ranking system is a good idea, but coming up with a criteria that is complete, just, fair, valid, reliable and professional is a non-trivial undertaking as explained below. Hurriedly put together experiences of a few academicians in to a ranking system cannot be expected to be fair, valid or even professional.

It is surprising that with all the emphasis on R&D, there is a reluctance in investing in the research and subsequent development of the proposed ranking system. The ranking initiative is therefore headed in the same direction as the Model University Ordinance and Tenure Track initiatives. Recently a questionnaire was sent out by HEC that lacks in completeness as well as sufficiency. It is even without clearly laid out objectives and has typographical and structural mistakes. It is surprising to note the lack of thoroughness even in the booklet on Criteria for Establishing New Institutes and Universities that has been published and widely circulated. Institutions are threatened to be de-recognized if they do not conform to the booklet Criteria in five years!

What HEC Quality Criteria Did Not Measure

[Written in December 11, 2003]

This was written on the basis of HEC Survey that was circulated by HEC in 2003. Many of these areas are still not being covered.

The survey still relies too much on brick and mortar measurements.

Following important areas for determining the strength of an institute of higher learning and measuring its quality have not been covered in this survey and should be included:
  • Financial control
  • Administrative control
  • Academic control
  • Records Management
  • MIS Support

Why HEC’s Foreign Faculty Hiring Plan failed

This was written in June 2003 when HEC with a fanfare started the program and spent billions of rupees.

Why HEC’s Foreign Faculty Hiring Plan may fail:
  • HEC and its bureaucracy is not equipped to run and monitor projects.
  • HEC and not the employer organization is going to make a decision on who is to be selected and who is not.
  • Similar scheme for hiring foreign IT faculty initiated by MoST under Dr. Atta ur Rahman, a couple of years ago failed to produce the desired results. Many of the hired faculty have left.
  • Government universities who are going to be the beneficiaries are ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the R&D work, else the need for the PhD’s would not have arisen in the first place.
  • Fund is not going to be used for creating the R&D environment. It is the work environment that produces R&D and not the remuneration of the researcher. The researcher requires proper seating and research environment to deliver.
  • Assimilation and change management problem: Heavily politicized and established faculty in the public universities will ensure that the new faculty do not assimilate and do not get a chance to work.
  • Discrepancy in remunerations for lateral entrants and existing faculty would create fissures for which there appears inadequate preparation.
  • The policy is going to fail because the change management is not something that HEC understands. There would be resistance to change and as the experience of model university ordinance shows, HEC has no strategy for encountering the problems of assimilation.
  • Government with its bureaucracy is utterly unsuited for this task.


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Different Types of Research Contributions and Challenges in Defense


Paper Writing and Research Strategies

 [Copied from the net in 2012. Source unknown]

Introduction

Here is a brief reminder of how to write papers and what kinds of papers to write. Please also see the other materials on our web site on paper structure.
What matters most about a paper is what the reader gets out of it, not how much work you put into it. That is, after reading your paper, the reader should feel that he knows something new, has a better insight into something, or has a better idea of how to do something.
Each paper you write should stick to one main idea, and that idea should be clear enough that you can formulate it in a single sentence. If you can't tell someone else what the main contribution of your paper is in a single sentence, you haven't worked it out enough.
Writing papers doesn't need to be all that hard because papers fall into a small number of common categories. Most of them involve some problem that needs to be solved or some observation that needs to be explained; for the paper to be accepted, it's important that this problem or observation is interesting in the first place.
Solving problems that aren’t interesting to reviewers won't get you published. It is therefore important that you keep track of the literature and figure out what topics are likely going to be of interest to reviewers.
In writing your paper, keep in mind that many reviewers are graduate students like yourself. Think about how you approached your last few paper reviews. How well did you yourself know the literature? Did you give the authors the benefit of the doubt when you didn’t understand something? Did you ask for more experiments?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Duration of a PhD Degree Program as a Measure of Quality

Do you know that Allama Iqbal's PhD thesis would never have passed HEC's quality criteria of minimum duration of three years for a PhD!

HEC's notion of quality is bureaucratic which ignores the quality standards of top universities. In USA, duration of a program is measured by the completion of credit hours and other academic requirements, not by passage of years. However, HEC in Pakistan is still confused between annual system and USA's credit hours.

Top Universities in USA have no such rules of calendar years. There is no restriction on minimum number of years for any program, only a restriction on minimum number of credit hours, which are measured academically, and not bureaucratically. At universities like Cornell, you can complete your MS in 9 months if you complete the desired credits. You can also complete your PHD in two or even less years if you meet the academic requirements. You can also complete your bachelor's in 3 years. You just need to complete the credit hours and other requirements.

Quality according to HEC is a bunch of paperwork and not Academics.

When I asked this question to Dr Mukhtar in a meeting of vice chancellors in Islamabad when he was Chairman HEC, he said that because a university (in timbuktu or Chee Chun ki Maliyan) was abusing this therefore HEC had to impose this minimum duration rule for ALL universities. This was a typical bureaucratic reply based on the presumption that "you are guilty unless proven innocent". Their argument goes like this: Because there are so many thieves in Pakistan therefore every one must be considered a thief unless proven innocent! Instead of catching the criminal which is cumbersome, bureaucracy takes the easy way out: Make the life of every one difficult!

Bureaucrats also know that making another rule doesn't stop criminals from circumventing the new rule. But, more such rules increase the power of bureaucracy and make them more important,and can provide justification for getting them more funding, and more privileges.

Allama Iqbal's PhD thesis would never have passed HEC's quality criteria of minimum duration of three years for a PhD as seen from the process followed below! 

In 1905, Iqbal travelled to England for educational purpose. Iqbal qualified for a scholarship from Trinity College, University of Cambridge and obtained Bachelor of Arts in 1906, and in the same year he was called to the bar as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn. In 1907, Iqbal moved to Germany to pursue his doctoral studies, and earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1908. Working under the guidance of Friedrich Hommel, Iqbal's doctoral thesis was entitled The Development of Metaphysics in Persia.
[PS is from Wikipedia]

Iqbal arrived in Germany between 17 to 20 July 1907. Munich University issued call for defense on 21st July. Defense was held on 10th November 1907.

References:


[1] IQBAL'S DOCTORAL THESIS by Prof. Dr. M. Siddiq Shibli
http://www.allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/apr89/3.htm

[2] About Iqbal’s Doctoral Thesis – The Development of Metaphysics in Persia 
By Riffat Hassan
http://riffathassan.info/writing/Iqbal_Studies/About_Iqbal%27s_Doctoral_Thesis.pdf


Appendix1: 

Copied from http://www.allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/apr89/3.htm

 IQBAL'S DOCTORAL THESIS

 

Prof. Dr. M. Siddiq Shibli

 

Allama Iqbal got himself registered as an advance student in the Cambridge University. He wrote a dissertation for this degree. He submitted the same dissertation with a few modifications in the Munich University of Germany. He was awarded Ph.D. on this research. The purpose of this article is to bring to light some new aspects of Iqbal's doctoral thesis.

Iqbal's Cambridge dissertation, his Munich thesis and its published editions all bear the title: "The Development of Metaphysics in Persia". But it is interesting to note that Iqbal in his application for registration in the Cambridge University, worded the topic in a slightly different way. This application was addressed to the Senior Tutor of Trinity College and was written in September, 1905. About his research topic Iqbal writes.[1]

…My knowledge of Arabic and Persian and my acquaintance with European philosophy (the study of which I began 12 years ago) suggest to me that I might make a contribution to the knowledge in the West, of some branch of Muhammadan Philosophy I would propose as subject of Research -- "The genesis and development of Metaphysical concepts in Persia" or some contribution to the knowledge of Arabic Philosophy which the University might approve."

So Iqbal originally conceived his topic as "The genesis and development of Metaphysical concepts in Persia," which on the advice of his teachers he might have simplified as "The Development of Metaphysics in Persia."

A few documents which are available in the Munich University archives contain valuable information about Iqbal's thesis. Credit goes to Dr. Saeed Akhtar Durrani who in 1988 wrote an article about these papers for the first time. So far this archival material has not fully utilized because it consist of hand written pages in old German style which is not also very legible. The writer of these lines got these documents transcribed and translated with the help of some German Colleagues during his stay at Heidelberg University in 1983.

Iqbal's thesis was first published by Luzac Co. London in 1908. The copies of these edition which are found in some university libraries of Germany bear the following description on the title pages:[2]

"Inaugural-Dissertation

Philosophischen Der Facultat Sekt I (Resp II) Ludwig Maximilians-Universitat, Munchen

But the other copies do not have this description. This variation in the title pages of the thesis has led some scholars to conclude that two editions came out in 1908.[3] But the correct position is that only one edition with two different titles was published in 1908. The copies with above description were sub­mitted in the University because it was so required under the rules. The relevant rules were as under:[4]

After passing the examination, the candidate will get his thesis printed and make possible changes desired by the Faculty and also add the previously submitted curriculum vitae. On the title of the thesis the following will be explicitly written:

"Inaugural Dissertation der Philosophischen

Fakultat Sket I der Ludwig - Maximilians

Universitat Munchen."

(Inaugural Dissertation of the Philosophical Faculty Section of the Ludwing Maximilians University Munich)

After delivering 150 copies of the printed dissertation, the author receives the doctor Diploma in the Latin Language signed personally by the rector and the dean and with seal of the Faculty and the University. It will also carry the date of examination."

(Translation)

So this extract clearly shows why some printed copies of the thesis carry a special description with the full names of the Faculty and the University.

 

Iqbal's examination record preserved in the Munich University reveals some interesting but useful details. The Faculty of Philosophy Section I, issued a letter on 21st July, 1907 to the distinguished professors of the faculty for the doctoral examination of Iqbal.[5] They included Prof. F. Hommel, Von Hertling and Lipp. This letter also indicates that Iqbal took philosophy as his major subject and oriental and English Philosophy as his minor subjects. This letter also helps in determining the approximate date of Iqbal's arrival in Germany. Atiya Begum's account certifies Iqbal's presence in England till 16th July, 1907.[6] He might have reached Germany between 17th-20th July. Iqbal deposited a sum of 260 Marks as examination fee on 22nd of July and the receipt is available in the record.

It is said that Iqbal was introduced to Munich University by his teachers in England. Prof. Arnold's name in the panel of examiners suggests that he might have also helped Iqbal in registering himself for Ph.D. Arnold was the first to give his report. Prof. Hommel, the German guide of Iqbal. has given an extract from Arnold's report which is as under:[7]

I have read Prof. Muhammad Iqbal's dissertation "The Development of Metaphysics in Persia" with great interest. So far as I am aware, it is the first attempt that has been made to trace the continuous development of ancient Iranian speculation as they have survived in Muhammadan Philosophy and to bring out the distinctly Persian Character of many phases of Muslim thought. The writer has made use of much material hitherto unpublished and little known in Europe, and his dissertation is a valuable contribution to the history of Muhammadan Philosophy.[8]

Prof. Hommel has also admired the standard of the thesis. He expressed that an orientalist of Goldziher or Maxe Mullers stature could have done justice with the thesis.[9] Hommel out of modesty did not consider himself equal to the task. In the end of his report he also gave a proposal for oral examination.

Prof. Hertling has also spoken very high of the research standard. In his opinion it appears to be a paper written by a man of extensive education. But he thinks that oral examination cannot be arranged before the prior permission of the Faculty. Prof. Lipp and Prof. Kuhn both have fully endorsed the views of their colleagues about the thesis. Prof. Kuhn has also stated that Iqbal wants to return to England by 10th of November, 1907. In this way he was stressing that oral examination should be held before 10th November. The Faculty gave the permission for this examination.

(The oral examination of Iqbal was held in the Senate Chamber at 5'O clock in the afternoon of Monday on 4th November, 1907.[10] The panel of examiners consisted of the following:

Professors of the faculty:

1.      Prof. F. Hommel

2.      Prof. Lipp.

3.      Prof. Schick

4.      Prof. Kuhn

Professor Dr. H. Breymann, Dean of the Faculty was also present. Iqbal was declared successful in the examination. The Dean of Faculty forwarded Iqbal's case for the award of Ph.D. to the Royal Rectorate of the University on the same day after the completion of the oral examination.[11]

Iqbal's date of birth has remained a controversial issue for a long time and the controversy also arose from the date of birth given by Iqbal himself in his thesis. Iqbal recorded 3rd Zilqa'd' 1294 A.H. (1876 A.D.) as his date of birth. But he could not correctly convert the Hijra year into Christian year. Actually 3rd 'Zilqa'd of 1294 fell on 9th November, 1877. In 1958 Jan Marek pointed out this mistake.[12] He has also mentioned some scholars who recorded 1877 as the year of Iqbal's birth. The Government of Pakistan had to appoint a Committee to decide Iqbal's correct date of birth. The Committee agreed on November 9, 1877. But in Germany the mistake was corrected very soon. In the year book of 1907-08 about the research thesis written in Germany, Iqbal's date of birth i.e. 9th November, 1877 has been correctly recorded.[13] However, it escaped the attention of the scholars like Dr.A.M. Schimmel, Jan Marek and others.

Iqbal first submitted typed copies of his thesis and then printed copies as required under the rules which provide:[14]

"submitting a thesis which is ready for print and written legibly so that it can be checked by the respective section.... (Translation).... The printed paper has to be submitted within one year in 150 copies."[15]

The original typed copy of Iqbal thesis was handed over to Indian government as a gift for Iqbal's Centenary Celebrations. Now that copy is traceable neither in India nor in Germany. It has been replaced by a printed copy in Munich University Library. The card of this thesis reads as under:[16]

"The original of this work was handed in December 1969 to the Bavarian Staatskanzklei through the intermediary of Director General' of Bavarian Staatl Bibliotheken Dr. Hans Striedle. They handed the book to the Indian Government as a present on the occasion of birth anniversary of the author, since the book was allegedly not available in India.

(Translation)

This was a very disturbing news for Pakistanis but some scholars tried to console the Iqbal lovers by saying that only printed copies were submitted in the University and the removal of original thesis of Iqbal from the Library seems out of question of them. But their assumption stands refuted by the forgoing extract.

Atiya, in her monograph on Iqbal published in 1947, has written that Iqbal's thesis was translated in German and published.[17] But it was not published even long after the publication of this monograph. Dr. Durrani says the German translation of the thesis was completed in 1977 as a commemorative work on the occasion of Iqbal's Centenary celebrations. Dr. Durrani's information is also incorrect. However, the first German translation of Iqbal's thesis was done by an Iranian scholar Ali Raza Rahbar with the collaboration of Dr. A.M. Schimmel. It was published in 1982 by Hafiz Verlag, Bonn, West Germany.

 

Notes and References


 

[1] Iqbal's application addressed to the Senior Tutor, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1905.

[2] Iqbal, S.M. The Development of Metaphysics in Persia preserved in Munich University.

[3] Hashmi, Rafiuddin, Dr. Tasanif Iqbal..., Iqbal Academy, Lahore, 1982.

[4] Standing orders for Ph.D., Munich University, No. 6 & 7.

[5] Iqbal - Examination record, page 1.

[6] Atiya Begum, Iqbal, Lahore 1969, p.21.

[7] Arnold, Thomas, E.R.P-2.

[8] Hommel, F. Ibid.

[9] Hertling, E.R.P-3.

[10] Ibid,-4

[11] Ibid, P-5

[12] Jan Marek, The Date Muhammad Iqbal's Birth, Archive Orientalmi Nakladatelstvi Ceskoslovenske Akademic.

[13] Jahres verzeichnis der an den Deutschen Universitaten erschienenen Schriften, Berlin 1909, p.544.

[14] Standing Orders 2-b.

[15] Ibid, No.7

[16] Munich University Library Card No. 3150.

[17] Atiya, p-22.


Appendix 2: 

Copied from http://riffathassan.info/writing/Iqbal_Studies/About_Iqbal%27s_Doctoral_Thesis.pdf

About Iqbal’s Doctoral Thesis – The Development of Metaphysics in Persia 

By Riffat Hassan 


The Development of Metaphysics in Persia, Is Iqbal's doctoral thesis submitted to Professor F. Hommel of Munich University, Germany, on November 4, 1907. The material for this dissertation had to be collected from numerous manuscripts preserved in the great libraries of Europe particularly Berlin Staatsbibliothek. 

In his Introduction to the thesis Iqbal says, “Original thought cannot be expected in a review, the object of which is purely historical; yet I venture to claim some consideration for the following two points: (a)I have endeavoured to trace the logical continuity of Persian thought, which I have tried to interpret in the language of modern philosophy. This, as far as I know has not yet been done; (b) I have discussed the subject of Sufism in a more scientific manner, and have attempted to bring out the intellectual conditions which necessitated such a phenomenon.” (The Development of Metaphysics in Persia, Lahore, 1964, p. XI) 

While speaking of the previous investigators of the origin of Sufism, Iqbal states: “Much has been written about the origin of Persian Sufism; and, in almost all cases, explorers of this most interesting field of research have exercised their ingenuity in in discovering the various channels through which the basic ideas of Sufism might have travelled from one place to another. They seem completely to have ignored the principle, that the full significance of a phenomenon in the intellectual evolution of a people, can only be comprehended in the light of those pre-existing intellectual, political and social conditions which make its existence inevitable. Von Kremer and Dozy derive Persian Sufism from the Indian Vedanta; Marx and Mr. Nicholson derive it from NeoPlatonism; while Professor Brown once regarded it as Aryan reaction against an unemotional Semitic religion. It appears to me, however, that such theories have been worked out under the influence of a notion of causation which is essentially false. That a fixed quantity A is the cause of, or produces, another fixed quantity B, is a proposition which though convenient for scientific purposes is apt to damage all inquiry in so far as it leads us completely to ignore the innumerable conditions lying at the back of a phenomenon.” (The Development of Metaphysics in Persia, pp. 76-77) 

While granting that Sufism like all great and intellectual movements was ultimately the result of a certain environment, an early reviewer of Iqbal’s thesis points out, “We cannot hope, by examining these general conditions, to learn how it came to pass that the mystical tendency assumed a particular form or how the special doctrines which we find in early Sufism arose. No wonder, then, that European Orientalists should have preferred a more fruitful line of inquiry, which has demonstrated the influence of other religions in moulding the development of Sufism. Those who derive it from NeoPlatonism do no more than assert that the early Sufis actually drew their ideas from that source; but had these Sufis been ignorant of Greek philosophy, they might still have produced a mysticism of the same type. To suppose that Sufism was created by foreign influence is an absurdity so palpable that its refutation, even in the most scientific manner, hardly constitutes a claim to originality.” (“The Development of Metaphysics in Persia,” (Book Review), in The Athenaeum, London, 14 November, 1908, p. 602). The reviewer tells us that he has dwelt upon the author’s treatment of the question because it illustrates “the one weak spot in his admirable survey. He is rather deficient on the historical side and is apt to forget that a theory will carry greater conviction if it comes to close quarters with all the relevant facts.” (Ibid.) 

Iqbal Singh, author of Iqbal’s biography The Ardent Pilgrim, while admitting that Iqbal’s research work is “conscientious" asserts that it is “somewhat unsatisfactory. It leaves the reader with the impression of something that he can neither accept as serious work nor reject as something unworthy of attention and trivial. For a research thesis its scope is too wide, and for an original and interpretative study of the subject it seems too sketchy, too descriptive.” (London, 1951, p. 47) To this the reviewer in The Athenaeum could no doubt answer: “Any one at all versed in the subject will perceive the appalling difficulty of the author’s task when he undertook to give a coherent account in less than two hundred pages of the subtle and complex problems which have formed during thousands of years, the favourite pabulum of a race that has always been distinguished by its passion for metaphysical speculation. Moreover for a great part in his journey the traveler finds himself on virgin soil, which he must explore and delineate as well as he can without the help of guides. Shaikh Iqbal deserves high praise for that he has accomplished. The immediate result of his labour is considerable and he has laid a solid foundation for further research.” (“The Development of Metaphysics in Persia,” p. 602) 

Iqbal’s thesis is his first philosophical attempt and was written at a time when he was greatly attracted by the pantheistic trend in Persian and Urdu poetry. This led him to speak in terms of glowing enthusiasm of lbn 'Arabi, “the leader of the pantheisticmonistic current in Islamic mysticism,” (S. H. Nasr, Three Muslim Sages, Cambridge, 1964, p. 154) to quote Hegel’s appraisal of the pantheism of Maulana Rumi, and to pay more attention to pantheistic Sufism than to any other philosophical school. Besides his repudiation of pantheism, many of Iqbal’s mature ideas were quite different from the ideas expressed in the thesis. Once his pantheistic phase was over, Iqbal was to choose Rumi as his spiritual guide in his Asrar-e-Khudi and subsequent writings even though he allowed him practically no place in his thesis, seeing him as "a full-fledged pantheist” until he went “to a deeper understanding of a personalistic trend in the Maulana’s mysticism.” (A. M. Schimmel, “The Ascension of the Poet,” in Muhammad Iqbal, Karachi, 1961, p. 39) 

Pointing out the shortcomings of Iqbal’s work, in his Foreword to The Development of Metaphysics in Persia, an eminent historian of Muslim Philosophy, M. M. Sharif observes, “In his observations regarding Al-Farabi, lbn Miskawaih and lbn Sina he has more or less echoed the views of early Western Orientalists and has denied these great thinkers the credit for originality and deviation from Neo-Platonism.” The historical accuracy of Iqbal’s statement attributing the rise of Babism to the School of Mulla Sadra, has been questioned by S. H. Nasr who points out that the Bab, in fact, had been a student of the School of Shaikh Ahmad Ahsa’i who wrote a commentary against one of Mulla Sadra’s works (Three Muslim Sages, p. 154 n. 47) 

In 1927, Iqbal wrote about his thesis: “This book was written eighteen years ago. Since that time new discoveries have been made and also my ideas suffered a great revolution. Many books that have since been written in German on Ghazzali, Tusi, etc., that were not in existence at the time when I wrote. In my opinion only a little portion of this book remains now that can escape criticism.” (Iqbal’s letter quoted by A. Bausani in “Classical Muslim Philosophy in the Work of a Muslim Modernist: Muhammad Iqbal,” in Archiv Fur Geschichte Der Philosophie, Berlin, 1960, Band 42/3, p. 284). Nevertheless Iqbal’s work until it is superseded by a more comprehensive work will retain its importance in Oriental Studies. It presents “the first and only historical account of Persia's philosophical thought and credit of its conception goes to Iqbal.” A. Bausani comparing Iqbal’s dissertation with his more mature lectures on The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, gives high praise to the earlier work although it “abounds in hasty comparisons between philosophers historically unconnected” since these comparisons are sometimes “highly interesting and illuminating.” He goes on to say “In a sense it cannot be denied that, from a purely objective and scientific point of view The Development of Metaphysics in Persia partly rejected by author - seems superior to The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. In it Iqbal drew his materials from original and in many instances manuscript sources and gave important notices of philosophers almost unknown in European circles of that time or put some into a new light through his somewhat bold, but always fascinating reinterpretations.”(Ibid.) 

Iqbal’s thesis which covers the enormous range of speculation from Zoroaster and Mani to modern Babism contains a successful examination of both Persian Idealism and Realism, and is important for the history of religious thought. As pointed out by the reviewer in The Athenaeum, “The immediate result of his (Iqbal’s) labour is considerable, and he has laid a solid foundation for further research. The most notable sections of the volume are perhaps those which describe the ‘Hikmat al-Ishraq’ or ‘Philosophy of Illumination’ expounded by Shihab-al-Din al-Suhrawardi, the famous Sufi thinker who was put to death as a heretic by order of Malik al-Zahir, a son of Saladin; and the ‘Insan al-Kamil’ or ‘Perfect Man,’ of al-Jili, whose system in some points curiously anticipates the views of Hegel and Schleiermacher.” (p. 602). Al-Jili’s views also seem to have influenced Iqbal’s own concept of an individual’s spiritual development. (A. M. Schimmel, Gabriel’s Wing, Leiden, 1963, p. 38). Iqbal also drew attention to Persian theologians like Mulla Sadra and Hadi Sabzawari who were nearly unknown in Europe. 

About Iqbal’s thesis which was described by Mulk Raj Anand as “an illuminating little treatise soundly written,” Professor Nicholson wrote, “although it is only a sketch, some parts of it are as illuminating and suggestive as anything that has been written on the subject.” (The Secrets of the Self: A Moslem Poet’s Interpretation of Vitalism,” in The Athenaeum, December 10, 1920, p. 803). Though inevitably sketchy and incomplete, Iqbal’s work has been described as “a really valuable resume of the history of Persian metaphysics, sound in principle, and trustworthy as far as it goes.” (“The Development of Metaphysics in Persia,” p. 601).The work which is mainly concerned with elucidating the various systems of Persian thought and their relation to each other, leaves “no doubt as to the competence of the author’s scholarship and the importance of his work.” (Ibid. p. 602) Not only does it point to the fact of lqbal’s wide reading and his grasp of the subject, but also demonstrates that he is “familiar with, and has learnt to employ, European methods of criticism which generally leave no profound impression, even on the most gifted Oriental minds.” (Ibid. p. 601) 

Iqbal’s study “shows a remarkable knowledge of European theology from Thomas Aquinas to Adolf Von Harnack of German philosophical thought.” (Gabriel’s Wing, p. 38). It is valuable not only as a research work for the student of Persian metaphysics or Islamic thought but also as a starting point of his own philosophy for “there can be no doubt that the mystics who are discussed in the metaphysics, and their religious and philosophical conditions have helped him to form his philosophy either in congruence with them, or out of a complete antithesis.” (Ibid., p. 39) 

The thesis was first published in the form of a book by Luzac and Co. London, in 1908; it was reprinted by Bazm-e-Iqbal, Lahore, in 1954, and has now seen a third print (in 1964) which carries a foreword by M. M. Sharif. The book is dedicated to Professor T. W. Arnold with these words, “This little book is the first fruit of that literary and philosophical training which I have been receiving from you for the last ten years, and as an expression of gratitude, I beg to dedicate it to your name.”

See Also: 

What is PhD?
Why PhD is Difficult: 
Starting with your PhD
Reading Research and Writing Your Research 
Qualitative Learning from a PhD
Myths: