(Iqbal’s analysis of the Freudian theory of dreams)
… It is in the elimination of the satanic from the Divine that the followers of Freud have done inestimable service to religion; though I cannot help saying that the main theory of this newer psychology does not appear to be supported by any adequate evidence.
If our vagrant impulses assert themselves in our dreams, or at other times we are not strictly ourselves, it does not follow that they remain imprisoned in a kind of lumber room behind the normal self. The occasional invasion of these suppressed impulses on the region of our normal self tends more to show the temporary disruption of our habitual system of response rather than their perpetual presence in some dark corner of the mind.
However, the theory is briefly this. During the process of our adjustment tour environment we are exposed to all sorts of stimuli. Our habitual responses to these stimuli gradually fall into a relatively fixed system, constantly growing in complexity by absorbing some and rejecting other impulses which do not fit in with our present system of responses.
The rejected impulses recede into what is called the ‘unconscious region’ of the mind and there wait for a suitable opportunity to assert themselves and take their revenge on the focal self. They may disturb our plans of action, distort our thought, build our dreams and fantasies, or carry us back to forms of primitive behavior which the evolutionary process has left far behind.
Religion, it is said, is a pure fiction created by these repudiated impulses of mankind with a view to find a kind of fairyland for free unobstructed movement. Religious beliefs and dogmas, according to the theory, are no more than merely primitive theories of Nature, whereby mankind have tried to redeem Reality from its elemental ugliness and to show it off as something nearer to the heart’s desire than the facts of life would warrant.
That there are religions and forms of art, which provide a kind of cowardly escape from the facts of life, I do not deny. All that I content is that this is not true of all religions.
Religion is not physics or chemistry seeking an explanation of nature in terms of causation; it really aims at interpreting a totally different region of experience-religious experience-the data of which cannot be reduced to the data of any other science. In fact, it must be said in justice to religion that it insisted on the necessity of concrete experience in religious life long before science learnt to do so.
The conflict between the two is not due to the fact that the one is, and the other is not, based on concrete experience. Both seek concrete experience as a point of departure. Their conflict is due to the misappropriation that both interpret the same data of experience. We forget that religion aims at reaching the real significance of a special variety of human experience.
(Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam)
Sigmund Freud is the well known psychologist popular for his Psycho Analysis. One of his masterpieces work is ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’. He has a large following among today’s psychologists.
Although Iqbal appreciates the Freudian approach to dream analysis, he casts doubts regarding its scientific relevance. It is not supported by empirical evidence.
According to the Freudian theory, religion is a mere expression of the suppressed desires of the human mind according to his own sweet wishes. Although there are religions and art forms that falls in this category, Iqbal maintains that not ALL religions are like them.
Iqbal says that religion is concerned with a special experience, i.e., religious experience, which cannot be analyzed like other aspects of human experiences. Unlike other sciences, religions are not a bunch of ’cause and effect’ formula. Also he reminds that it was religion that demanded ‘concrete experience’ long before science.