Muhammad Iqbal, was an Indian Muslim philosopher, scholar, poet, lawyer, politician, and reformer who worked for the unity of Muslims of the world, and was the spiritual founder of Pakistan. He produced philosophical works in Urdu, Persian, and English, which have also been translated into many other languages. As a forerunner of the Pakistan Movement, he headed the All-India Muslim League in early 1930s and called upon Muhammad Ali Jinnah to lead the Indian Muslims towards the formation of a Muslim state. He was not able to see the creation of Pakistan since he died nine years before its creation. He is commonly referred to as Allama Iqbal (Allama: “Scholar”), and is also known as Muffakir-e-Pakistan (“The Thinker of Pakistan”), Hakeem-ul-Ummat (“The Sage of Ummah”), and Shair-i-Mashriq (“The Poet of the East”). His birthday is commemorated each year in Pakistan as “Iqbal Day”, and is a national holiday.
Muhammad Iqbal was born in Sialkot. His father, Shaikh Nur Muhammad was a tailor in Sialkot, whose devotion to Islam, especially its mystical aspects, gained him respect among his Sufi peers and other associates. His wife, Imam Bibi was also a devout Muslim. The couple instilled a deep religious consciousness in all their five children. According to most historians, Sahaj Ram Sapru (who converted to Islam and became Shaikh Muhammad Rafiq), a Brahmin official in the State of Kashmir during the administration of the Afghan Governor Azim Khan was Iqbal’s grandfather; the link has never been positively confirmed, however. The known siblings of Iqbal include: an elder brother, Shaikh Ata Muhammad ( 1940, Sialkot), and four sisters, Taleb Bibi ( 1902, Sialkot), Karim Bibi ( 1958, Sialkot), Fatima Bibi ( Sialkot), and Zainab Bibi ( Sialkot). Iqbal completed his initial education in Sialkot. His potential as a poet was first recognized by one of his early teachers, Syed Mir Hasan. Iqbal did his matriculation from the Scotch Mission School, Sialkot in 1892 and studied Liberal Arts at the Scotch Mission College (Murray College), Sialkot from where he passed his intermediate examination in 1895. It was also in 1892 that Iqbal was married to Karim Bibi ( 1946, Lahore), the daughter of an affluent Gujarati physician. They had three children: a daughter, Mi’raj Begam ( 1914), was born to Karim Bibi in 1895; a son, Aftab Iqbal ( 1979, Karachi), was born in 1899 (this son also studied abroad and became a lawyer but they were no longer on speaking terms in his later life); another son, born to Karim Bibi, died soon after birth in 1901. The couple separated in 1916, but Iqbal provided financial support to Karim Bibi until he died in 1938. In 1895, after completing his studies at the Scotch Mission School, and Murray College, Sialkot, Iqbal studied Philosophy and Arabic and English Literature at Government College, Lahore, from where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1897. He was an excellent student, graduating cum laude and winning a gold medal for being the only candidate who passed the final examination (in second division, stood first in Arabic Literature). Meanwhile, he continued writing poetry. Iqbal then studied Philosophy at Government College, Lahore, from where he received his Master of Arts Degree (in third division) in 1899. He received a gold medal as he was the only succesful candidate in Philosophy. By this time he had already begun to make his mark in the literary circles of Lahore. While studying for his Master of Arts Degree, Iqbal became acquainted with a figure who was to have a strong influence on his intellectual development. Sir Thomas Arnold, a scholar of modern philosophy, became a bridge between the East and the West for Iqbal. It was Thomas Arnold who inspired him to pursue higher studies in Europe after his Master of Arts Degree. Another notable influence on him was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. In 1899, Iqbal was appointed a Reader in Arabic, Oriental College, Lahore. In 1903, he become an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and English Literature at Government College, Lahore. In 1905, Iqbal went to Europe and resumed his studies (B.A.) at Trinity College, Cambridge University while, simultaneously, preparing for his doctoral dissertation and studying law at Lincoln’s Inn. While at Cambridge, he crossed paths with other great scholars who, further, influenced his scholastic development. Under their guidance, Iqbal refined his already considerable intellect and widened his mental horizon. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1907 and earned a Ph.D. in Philisophy from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany also in 1907 under the supervision of Professor Dr. Friedrich Hommel with a thesis titled: “The Development of Metaphysics in Persia”, his only other English work being The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam in 1928. He qualified as barrister-at-law from Lincoln’s Inn in 1908. While in Europe, he started writing his poetry in Persian as well, because it allowed him to reach a wider audience, such as Iran and Afghanistan; he, finally, decided on sticking to Urdu, however, since most Indians did not understand Persian. It was while in England that he first joined politics. Following the formation of the All-India Muslim League in 1906, Iqbal was elected to the executive committee of the Muslim League’s British chapter in 1908. Together with two other leaders, Syed Hassan Bilgrami and Syed Amir Ali, he also sat on the subcommittee which drafted the constitution of Muslim League. Upon his return to British India in 1908, Iqbal embarked on simultaneous careers in law, academics, and poetry. Of the three pursuits, he excelled in what was his true calling and first love: poetry. There is a widely held belief that had the administration of the Government College, Lahore been more generous with its monthly salary and academic freedom, Iqbal would have been as brilliant an academic as he was a poet. In fact, it was the financial considerations that forced him to relinquish his position as an assistant professor at Government College, Lahore in 1909 to take up a full-time career as a lawyer. But he did not earn much as a lawyer either, although, he could have. Instead of concentrating on the profession, he preferred to divide his time between the law and his own intellectual and spiritual development. In 1911, Iqbal resigned from Professorship, but continued to act as Examiner. Although his main interests were largely scholastic, Iqbal could not remain unconcerned with the political situation of his country and the political fortunes of the Muslim population of British India. Mohammad Ali (Jauhar) had died in January 1931 and Muhammad Ali Jinnah had moved to London, the responsibility of providing a proper leadership to the British Indian Muslims, naturally, fell on him. He had to assume this responsibility till Muhammad Ali Jinnah returned to British India in 1935. In 1931 and 1932 he represented the Muslim population of British India in the Round Table Conferences held in England to discuss the issue of the political future of India. Ealier, in a 1930 lecture, Iqbal suggested the creation of a separate state for the Muslims of India. Although Iqbal died in 1938, nine years before the formation of Pakistan in 1947, it was his ideas that have been the main force behind the creation of Pakistan. Iqbal ceased practising law in 1934 as his 1934 health deteriorated. In 1935, he was granted pension by the Nawab of Bhopal. Iqbal died in Lahore, British India (in what, after 1947, became a part of (Pakistan). His tomb is located in the space between the entrance of the Badshahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort (which face each other) in that city. The Government of Pakistan maintains an official guard at the mausoleum.
Saare Jahan Se Achcha (The best place in the world) (1904/1905)
Asrar-i-Khudi (The Secrets of the Self) (1915)
Rumuz-i-Bekhudi (The Secrets of Selflessness) (1918)
Payam-i-Mashriq (Message from the East) (1923)
Bang-i-Dara (The Call of the Bell) (1924)
Zabur-i-Ajam (Persian Psalms) (1927)
Javid Nama (Book of Eternity) (1932)
Bal-i-Jibril (Gabriel’s Wing) (1935)
Zarb-i-Kalim (The Rod of the Moses) (1936)
Pas Chih Bayad Kard ay Aqwam-i-Sharq (What Should Then Be Done O People of the East) (1936)
Armaghan-i-Hijaz (Gift from Hijaz) (1938)
Ilm Al-Iqtisad (The subject of Economics) (1903)
The Development of Metaphysics in Persia (1908)
The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930)