– Allama Iqbal
Mysticism has no doubt revealed fresh regions of the self by making a special study of this experience. Its literature is illuminating; yet its set phraseology shaped by the thought-forms of a worn-out metaphysics has rather a deadening affect on the modern mind. The quest after a nameless nothing, as disclosed in Neo-Platonic mysticism-be it Christian or Muslim-cannot satisfy the modern mind which, with its habits of concrete thinking, demands a living experience of God. And the history of the race shows that the attitude of the mind embodied in the act of worship is a condition for such an experience.
In fact prayer must be regarded as a necessary complement to the intellectual activity of the Observer of Nature. The scientific observation of Nature keeps us in close contact with the behavior of Reality, and thus sharpens our inner perception for a deeper vision of it. The truth is that all searches for knowledge is essentially a form of prayer.
The scientific observer of Nature is a kind of mystic seeker in the act of prayer. Although at present he follows only the footprints of the musk deer, and thus modestly limits the method of his conquest, his thirst for knowledge is eventually sure to lead him to the point where the scent of the musk gland is a better guide than the footprints of the deer. This alone will add to his power over Nature and give him that vision of the total-infinite which philosophy seeks but cannot find.
Vision without power does bring moral elevation but cannot give a lasting culture. Power without vision tends to become destructive and inhuman. Both must combine for the spiritual expansion of humanity.
Extracts from Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam