Allama Muhammad Iqbal: Life in Brief

Allama Muhammad Iqbal: Life in Brief
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The poet of the East , Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (RA), was born on Friday, November 9, 1877 in Sialkot and died on April 21, 1938 IN Lahore. Iqbal’s ancestors hailed from Kashmir. The grandfather of Iqbal (RA), Shaikh Muhammad Rafiq, had migrated from his ancestral village of Looehar in Kashmir and then settled in Sialkot along with his three brothers at the beginning of 13th century. The family of Iqbal(RA) never returned to Kashmir; however, the memory of Kashmir and the inhabitants of Kashmir were never erased from Iqbal’s soul and mind. Iqbal (RA) show(ed) his love for Kashmir in several of his poetic verses. In one of these, Iqbal (RA) says:
My body comes from the earthy paradise of Kashmir;
My heart belongs to the holy land of Hijaz, and my song to Shiraz.
The grandfather of Alama Iqbal (RA), Sheikh Muhammad Rafiq, was a seller of shawls. He had three sons, Sheikh Noor Muhammad, Sheikh Ghulam Qadir and Sheikh Ghulam Muhammad. At Sialkot, Muhammad Rafiq set up a small business of selling caps and cloth. The eldest son of Muhammad Rafiq, Shaikh Noor Muhammad (the father of Iqbal) carried on the same business with his father’s shop. Nor Muhammad learnt the art of tailoring and embroidery and specialized in the art making embroidery works in the Muslim women’s veil.
Sheikh Noor Muhammad was a Sufi saint with an attractive white beard and an impressive tall figure. He had a great thirst for knowledge and despite being illiterate he always used to spend his spare time in the company of scholars and saints from whom he acquired mystic knowledge and deep insight in the affairs of religion.
The mother of Iqbal (RA) Imam Bibi, was also deeply religious. She had a good knowledge of the Quran and traditions of Holy Prophet (SAW). It was the mother of Iqbal who instilled good virtues in his mind and heart. She died on November 9, 1914.
Iqbal (RA) got his elementary education in Sialkot in the Maktab of Maulvi Mir Hasan. It was he who recognized Iqbal’s poetic talent. Maulvi Mir Hasan was a great scholar of Arabic, Persian and Islamic studies. He and Iqbal’s father Shaikh Nor Muhammad lived in the street of Mir Hisamuddin of Sadar Bazaar in Sialkot. This bazaar was later renamed as Iqbal street in the honor of this great poet, philosopher and thinker of Islam. Both the teacher and father of Iqbal (RA) were very good friends and it was on the advice of Maulvi Mir Hasan that Iqbal was sent to the Scottish Mission school, Sialkot.
Maulvi Mir Hasan was very well aware of the pragmatic and international values of western education. His in-depth knowledge of Arabic, Persian and modern values of education got him to the post of teacher in the Scottish Mission school, and later on to the position of a professor at the Scottish mission college Sialkot. It was under the able guidance and influence of Maulvi Mir Hasan that Iqbal (RA) developed a keen interest in oriental literature and Islamic studies which helped him to write poetry and prose. In 1893, Iqbal passed his matriculation examination with distinction from Scottish mission school Sialkot. In 1893, Iqbal (RA) got admission in Scottish Mission College Sialkot from where he began to compose verses of prose and poetry.
After completing his early education from Sialkot and to pursue higher studies , Iqbal went to Lahore and entered Government College, Lahore which was considered the best institution of higher learning in the subcontinent at that time. Iqbal (RA) passed the Bachelors of Arts in 1897 with highest marks and was awarded two gold medals and a scholarship for further higher studies. In 1899, he passed his Masters degree in Philosophy from the Punjab University Lahore and stood first in the university for which he was awarded a gold medal.
Few months after obtaining his Masters degree in philosophy, Iqbal was appointed as Reader at the university Oriental College of Lahore with the salary of seventy three (73) rupees a month to teach Arabic, history and economics. In March 1904, he resigned from the post of Readership and joined as Assistant Professor of English and taught at both Islamia College and Government College, Lahore.
Iqbal (RA) studied both in England and Germany. In London, Iqbal studied at the Lincoln’s Inn in order to qualify for the Bar. He got his PhD from the university of Munich Germany under the supervision of Professor Fraulein Renn on the topic of “the development of metaphysics in Persia”. After successful completion of the dissertation, Iqbal (RA) was awarded the Doctor of philosophy (PhD) on November 4, 1907, and his thesis was published in 1908 in London.
In 1920, after the publication of the Secrets of the Self, the name and fame of Dr Iqbal (RA) was carried over to Europe and his philosophic genius and poetic talent were recognized by the British government. The honour of Knighthood was conferred on Iqbal by the British government in 1922. When Iqbal was nominated for the knighthood , he refused to accept unless and until his teacher, Maulvi Mir Hasan was honoured with the title of Shamsul Ul Ulama(the sun of scholars). The governor of Punjab enquired from Iqbal whether there was any creative work of his teacher, indicating towards himself, Iqbal replied: ‘I am one of his great works alive’. Ultimately, the teacher and his pupil were honoured with the title of Shamsul Ul ulama and Sir respectively.
Iqbal (RA) was not only a poet but a great Muslim thinker and philosopher of high repute. He was interested in the issues of life, freedom, survival, and progress abd was a scholar who spoke his mind through his speeches, poetry and philosophical writing’s.
Iqbal was a Muslim philosopher of the modern era. His ideas and philosophical way of thinking on different matters whether it was politics, social life, religion, all are in line with the teachings of Holy Quran, Sunnah and Hadith. Professor Munnawar , in one of his books, said about this great poet, philosopher and thinker that Iqbal had keenly studied philosophy of both the East and the West. He was well versed in literature, history, and law. Being thus equipped intellectually, Iqbal was in a position to pick up good points from different systems of polity, philosophy, economics and so on, weaving these into a new pattern.
Iqbal (RA) was deeply influenced with the poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi (RA) who was his spiritual guide even he had lived 700 years before the latter.
The father of Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (RA) Sheikh Noor Muhammad had seen a dream before his birth which he used to narrate to his friends in the later part of his life. In that dream, he saw a big crowd gathering in a very large field. A beautifully colored bird was flying over our heads, and every one tried to catch it, but no one succeeded. At last, it came down and flew right into my hands. His dream turned into reality by emergence of Iqbal (RA) as a poet, philosopher, and thinker of international repute by virtue of his dedicated service to humanity and Islam.

The author is a PhD Research Scholar. He can be reached at: