The Ideas and Poetry of Muhammad Iqbal

Iqbal Academy Pakistan / Public domain

Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) was the famous poet and thinker of Muslim India, “the spiritual father of Pakistan”, who advocated its separation from British India. The most prominent known poet in the Urdu language, who also wrote in Persian and Punjabi and English. Muslim philosopher, scholar and lawyer. National poet of Iran and Pakistan, author of the classic Urdu poetry collections “The Call of the Marching Bell” (one of the poems in it, ‘Tarana-e-Hindi’ (‘Song of India’), became a patriotic anthem and is played in India at many official events) and “Gabriel’s Wing”. The thoughts expressed in his works and letters had a great influence on the formation of modern Muslim concepts of society and state in Pakistan.

Muhammad Iqbal was born into a tailor’s family in the northeast of the Punjab province, at the foot of the Kashmir Mountains. He received his primary education in his home town, at the age of 15 he married the daughter of a doctor from a neighboring city. At the age of 17, he entered the government college in Lahore, where he studied philosophy and literature.

At that time, British India, including the future Pakistani Punjab, was dominated by English culture and social order. This could not but affect the ideas about the success and career of young Indians. After graduating from college with a master’s degree, Muhammad Iqbal went to Europe, where he studied at Cambridge (Trinity College) and Munich (Ludwig and Maximilian University). In 1908, he received his PhD in Munich.

In England, Muhammad Iqbal joined the All-India Muslim League, which advocated the partition of India. In Munich he studied in depth the works of Goethe, Heine, Nietzsche. Returning to Lahore, he took up legal practice. He began to write and publish his poetic works.

Since 1926, Muhammad Iqbal has been actively involved in the political life of the country, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Punjab, made a programme statement ‘The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’, and became leader of the Muslim League. In 1930, Muhammad Iqbal made a proposal to create an independent state in Pakistan, due to which he is considered to be the “spiritual father” of the Pakistani nation. His ideas of independence were developed after his death and were ultimately implemented in the creation of the state of Pakistan.

Muhammad Iqbal sympathized with the ideas of socialism. In one of his poems, Allah meets with Lenin and sends the angel Jibril to raise the oppressed people of the Earth to revolt. At the same time, Muhammad Iqbal categorically denied “atheistic communism”.

Muhammad Iqbal advocated the unity of the Muslim world and saw the reasons for its disunity in several factors: external (colonialism and imperialism) and internal (Muslims forgetting their cultural roots, preferring Western education, depriving themselves of knowledge about Islam, its traditions, laws, rules). He considered the promotion of Islamic knowledge, traditions and culture fundamental in the rallying of Muslims. “Knowledge is power”. This motto of Francis Bacon is fully consistent with the beliefs of Muhammad Iqbal, with the addition of the word “Muslim” – “Muslim knowledge is power!”

The Pakistani government has awarded Muhammad Iqbal the title of the National Poet; his birthday on November 9 is celebrated in the country as an official holiday the Iqbal Day.