Dr. Sir. Allama Muhammad Iqbal
1. Early life
At Sir Thomas’s encouragement, Iqbal traveled to and spend many years studying in Europe. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College at Cambridge in 1907, while simultaneously studying law at Lincoln’s Inn, from where he qualified as a barrister in 1908. In Europe, he started writing his poetry in Persian as well. Throughout his life, Iqbal would prefer writing in Persian as he believed it allowed him to fully express philosophical concepts, and it gave him a wider audience. It was while in England that he first participated in politics. Following the formation of the All-India Muslim League in 1906, Iqbal was elected to the executive committee of its British chapter in 1908. Together with two other politicians, Syed Hassan Bilgrami and Syed Ameer Ali, Iqbal sat on the subcommittee which drafted the constitution of the League. In 1907, Iqbal traveled to Germany to pursue a doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität at Munich. Working under the supervision of Friedrich Hommel, Iqbal published a thesis titled: The Development of Metaphysics in Persia.
2. Literary career
Upon his return to India in 1908, Iqbal took up assistant professorship at the Government College in Lahore, but for financial reasons he relinquished it within a year to practice law. During this period, Iqbal’s personal life was in turmoil. He divorced Karim Bibi in 1916, but provided financial support to her and their children for the rest of his life.
2.1 Works in Persian
His love to Persian language is evident in his works and poetry. He says in one of his poems:
گرچہ اردو در عذوبت شکر است
garche Urdu dar uzūbat shakar ast
لیک پارسی ام ز ہندی شیرینتر است
lék Pārsī-am ze Hindi shīrīntar ast
Even though in sweetness Urdu* is sugar – (but) My Persian is sweeter than Hindi*
Note: In Iqbal’s time the terms Hindi and Urdu were synonyms
2.2 Works in Urdu
3. Political career
3.1 Revival of Islamic polity
“I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated Northwest Indian Muslim state appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of Northwest India.”In his speech, Iqbal emphasized that unlike Christianity, Islam came with “legal concepts” with “civic significance,” with its “religious ideals” considered as inseparable from social order:“Therefore, the construction of a policy on national lines, if it means a displacement of the Islamic principle of solidarity, is simply unthinkable to a Muslim.”Iqbal thus stressed not only the need for the political unity of Muslim communities, but the undesirability of blending the Muslim population into a wider society not based on Islamic principles. He thus became the first politician to articulate what would become known as the Two-Nation Theory — that Muslims are a distinct nation and thus deserve political independence from other regions and communities of India. However, he would not elucidate or specify if his ideal Islamic state would construe a theocracy, even as he rejected secularism and nationalism. The latter part of Iqbal’s life was concentrated on political activity. He would travel across Europe and West Asia to garner political and financial support for the League, and he reiterated his ideas in his 1932 address and during the Third Round-Table Conference, he opposed the Congress and proposals for transfer of power without considerable autonomy or independence for Muslim provinces. He would serve as president of the Punjab Muslim League, and would deliver speeches and publish articles in an attempt to rally Muslims across India as a single political entity. Iqbal consistently criticized feudal classes in Punjab as well as Muslim politicians averse to the League.
3.2 Relationship with Jinnah
“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 are.”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.”
5. Influence and Legacy
Allama Iqbal is regarded as one of the most influential Muslim poet and scholar of the 20th century throughout the Muslim World. His concept of Islamic revival did not only lead to the creation of Pakistan, but also the Iranian Revolution which he had prophesied. His works were also influential during the breaking up of the central Asian former Soviet republics, most of which were Muslim majority. Allama Iqbal’s poetry has also been translated into several European languages where his works were famous during the early part of the 20th Century. He lives on through the various organizations dedicated to his works throughout the world. He lives among Iran as one of the greatest Persian Poets ever, in Pakistan as the greatest Urdu poet of all time and is regarded as the national poet and hero, who was the bases of the creation of the first Muslim Nation.