Allama Muhammad Iqbal


Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a poet, philosopher and politician born in
Sialkot, British India (now in Pakistan), whose poetry in Urdu, Arabic and
Persian is considered to be among the greatest of the modern era and
whose vision of an independent state for the Muslims of British India was
to inspire the creation of Pakistan. He is commonly referred to as Allama
Iqbal‎, Allama meaning “Scholar”.)

Iqbal was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic
civilisation across the world, but specifically in India; a series of famous
lectures he delivered to this effect were published as The Reconstruction
of Religious Thought in Islam. One of the most prominent leaders of the
All India Muslim League, Iqbal encouraged the creation of a “state in
northwestern India for Indian Muslims” in his 1930 presidential address.
Iqbal encouraged and worked closely with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and he
is known as Muffakir-e-Pakistan (“The Thinker of Pakistan”), Shair-e-
Mashriq (“The Poet of the East”), and Hakeem-ul-Ummat (“The Sage of
Ummah”). He is officially recognized as the “national poet” in Pakistan.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born in Sialkot, Punjab, British India (now part of Pakistan); the eldest of five siblings in a
Kashmiri family. Iqbal’s father Shaikh Nur Muhammad was a prosperous tailor, well-known for his devotion to Islam, and the
family raised their children with deep religious grounding.

 Relationship with Jinnah

Ideologically separated from Congress Muslim leaders, Iqbal had also been disillusioned with
the politicians of the Muslim League owing to the factional conflict that plagued the League in
the 1920s. Discontent with factional leaders like Sir Muhammad Shafi and Sir Fazl-ur-Rahman,
Iqbal came to believe that only Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a political leader capable of preserving
this unity and fulfilling the League’s objectives on Muslim political empowerment. Building a strong,
personal correspondence with Jinnah, Iqbal was an influential force on convincing Jinnah to end
his self-imposed exile in London, return to India and take charge of the League. Iqbal firmly believed
that Jinnah was the only leader capable of drawing Indian Muslims to the League and maintaining
party unity before the British and the Congress:

“I know you are a busy man but I do hope you won’t mind my writing to you often, as you are the only Muslim in India today
to whom the community has right to look up for safe guidance through the storm which is coming to North-West India and,
perhaps, to the whole of India.”

There were significant differences between the two men — while Iqbal believed that Islam was the source of government and
society, Jinnah was a believer in secular government and had laid out a secular vision for Pakistan where religion would have
“nothing to do with the business of the state.”

Iqbal had backed the Khilafat struggle; Jinnah had dismissed it as “religious frenzy.” And while Iqbal espoused the idea of
partitioning Muslim-majority provinces in 1930, Jinnah would continue to hold talks with the Congress through the decade and
only officially embraced the goal of Pakistan in 1940. Some historians postulate that Jinnah always remained hopeful for an
agreement with the Congress and never fully desired the partition of India. Iqbal’s close correspondence with Jinnah is
speculated by some historians as having been responsible for Jinnah’s embrace of the idea of Pakistan. Iqbal elucidated to
Jinnah his vision of a separate Muslim state in a letter sent on June 21, 1937:

“A separate federation of Muslim Provinces, reformed on the lines I have suggested above, is the only course by which we
can secure a peaceful India and save Muslims from the domination of Non-Muslims. Why should not the Muslims of North-
West India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India

Iqbal, serving as president of the Punjab Muslim League, criticized Jinnah’s political actions, including a political agreement
with Punjabi leader Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, whom Iqbal saw as a representative of feudal classes and not committed to Islam
as the core political philosophy. Nevertheless, Iqbal worked constantly to encourage Muslim leaders and masses to support
Jinnah and the League. Speaking about the political future of Muslims in India, Iqbal said:

“There is only one way out. Muslims should strengthen Jinnah’s hands. They should join the Muslim League. Indian
question, as is now being solved, can be countered by our united front against both the Hindus and the English. Without it,
our demands are not going to be accepted. People say our demands smack of communalism. This is sheer propaganda.
These demands relate to the defense of our national existence…. The united front can be formed under the leadership of
the Muslim League. And the Muslim League can succeed only on account of Jinnah. Now none but Jinnah is capable of
leading the Muslims.”

Death of Allama Muhammad Iqbal

In 1933, after returning from a trip to Spain and Afghanistan, Iqbal’s health deteriorated. He spent his final years working to
establish the Idara Dar-ul-Islam, an institution where studies in classical Islam and contemporary social science would be
subsidized, and advocating the demand for an independent Muslim state. Iqbal ceased practicing law in 1934 and he was
granted pension by the Nawab of Bhopal. After suffering for months from a series of protracted illnesses, Iqbal died in Lahore
in 1938. His tomb is located in the space between the entrance of the Badshahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort.

Iqbal is commemorated widely in Pakistan, where he is regarded as the
ideological founder of the state. His Tarana-e-Hind is a song that is widely
used in India as a patriotic song speaking of communal harmony. His birthday
is annually commemorated in Pakistan as Iqbal Day and is a national holiday.
For a long time, Iqbal’s actual date of birth remained disputed, with many
believing February 23 to be the date of Iqbal’s birth. On February 1, 1974 a
Pakistani government committee officially declared Iqbal’s date of birth to be
November 9. Iqbal is the namesake of many public institutions, including the
Allama Iqbal Medical College,Lahore, Allama Iqbal Open University and the
Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore — the second-busiest airport in
the nation. Government and public organizations have sponsored the
establishment of colleges and schools dedicated to Iqbal, and have established
the Iqbal Academy to research, teach and preserve the works, literature and philosophy of Iqba.


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