American Pragmatist philosopher William James and subcontinent Islamic philosopher Allama Iqbal both believe that religious experiences are an important class of those experiences with which empiricism is concerned. They both explain and defend religious belief on empirical grounds and argue that the ultimate empirical justification of a religious belief must come by looking at its fruits. This is no accident, for James influenced Iqbal on this very point.
However, they diverge in some matters. James defends the right to diverse religious belief and eventually articulates his own account based on religious experience—an account which is intentionally philosophical and not reliant on any religious authority. Iqbal, however, reconsiders and defends Islam understood along largely traditional lines.
I compare and contrast James’ and Iqbal’s religious epistemologies in order to understand both of them better and, hopefully, enrich contemporary reflection on faith and reason through a better awareness of the past dialogue on the subject.
This is the accepted version of the following article: “William James and Allama Iqbal on Empirical Faith;” The Heythrop Journal 61.5 (2020): 775-787, which has been published in final form at the URL provided. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with the Wiley Self-Archiving Policy [see second URL].