Allama Iqbal(RA): The Thinker of Thinkers , the Philosopher of Philosophers and the Poet of Poets


Allama 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. His grandfather Shaikh Muhammad Rafiq had migrated from his ancestral village of Loehar in Kashmir and then settled in Sialkot. The family never returned to Kashmir however, the memory of Kashmir and its inhabitants were never erased from Iqbal’s mind and soul. Iqbal (RA) showed his love for Kashmir in several of his poetic verses. Iqbal (RA) says: “My body comes from the earthly paradise of Kashmir, My heart belongs to the holy land of Hijaz, and my song to shiraz”.
Since childhood, Iqbal (RA) had a great thirst for knowledge. A famous Persian poet once said about Iqbal (RA) that, “He did the work of a Prophet, though one may not call him a prophet”.
Iqbal (RA) was a great scholar with deep understanding and profound knowledge of philosophy, religion, science, literary and politics. He was a great poet, thinker, philosopher, statesmen, teacher, and lawyer of a distinguished quality. Iqbal’s intellectual quality and performance was not just meant for finding solutions to any one particular group or community but to the whole of the humanity. He was very much well aware of the circumstances of both the East and the West. As he (RA) was born and brought up in the east and got his higher education in the west. Iqbal (RA) was a scholar and poet par excellence who spoke his heart and mind through his poetry, speeches and philosophical writings.
Iqbal (RA) as a philosopher and poet par excellence put his ideas and matters related to religion, social and politics in line with the teachings of Holy Quran and Sunnah. His philosophy has a universal message and appeal to the whole of humanity especially to the Muslim Ummah.
Iqbal (RA) got his elementary education in Sialkot in the maktab of Maulvi Mir Hassan. The great scholar was very well aware of the pragmatic and international values of western education. After completing his early education from Sialkot, Iqbal (RA) went to Lahore and enrolled in the Government college Lahore which was then the best institute of higher learning in the sub-continent. He (RA) passed the Bachelors’ of Arts in 1897 with the highest marks and was awarded two gold medals and a scholarship for further higher studies. In the year 1899, he passed his Masters in Philosophy from the Punjab University Lahore and stood first in the university for which he was awarded a gold medal. The thirst for knowledge led him to travel to London and Germany for further education. 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 the successful completion of the thesis, Dr Iqbal (RA) was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) on November 4, 1907, and his thesis was published in 1908 in London.
Iqbal (RA) gave us the concept of Khudi (self) which has deep philosophical meanings. He made clear the reality of life in terms of human will and action. According to this philosophy of Khudi (self) man is the supreme creation of Almighty Allah; therefore he must realize his inherent ability, power, responsibility, duty, role and possibilities for the progress of society and for the perfection of one’s own personality. Iqbal (RA) advised individuals to sacrifice their self-interest for the greater cause of society and humanity at large.
In the year 1920, after the publication of the Secrets of the Self, the name and fame of Iqbal (RA) was carried over to Europe and his philosophic genius and poetic talent was recognized by the British government. For that the honor of knighthood was conferred on Dr Iqbal by the British government. When Dr Iqbal (RA) was nominated for the knighthood, he refused to accept unless and until his teacher, Maulvi Mir Hassan was honored with the title of Shamsul-ul-Ulma (the sun of Scholars). The Governor of Punjab enquired from Iqbal(RA) whether there was any creative work of his teacher pointing towards himself, Iqbal replied: I am one of his great works alive. Finally his teacher and Iqbal (RA) were honored with the title of Shamsul-ul-ulma and Sir respectively.
Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (RA) raised his voice against the injustice meted out to the people of British India and especially to awaken the consciousness of Muslims of sub-continent. Iqbal (RA) was the first who put the idea of separate homeland for Muslims.
Dr Iqbal (RA) was very much concerned about the youth. He encourages them to reach the heights of great glories and success. Iqbal (RA) while addressing youth says that when one reaches those commanding heights Almighty Allah makes them friend and ask them what you want me to do for you? He calls the Muslim youth with the name of Shaheen. Iqbal (RA) in his poetic verses laid much stress that one should never lose hope and always be courageous. He says that one should use his heart and mind to understand the supernatural forces which are hidden inside ones heart. Iqbal (RA) was against all kinds of slavery, blind imitation, aimlessness both in thought and action.
Iqbal (RA) while addressing the youth of this Ummah asked them that be same like Shaheen (Falcon) for its special qualities: “Be like shaheen that he is fearless and flies at high altitude with a vision to see beyond as they happen. Shaheen never eat leftovers of others and never sticks to a station. He flies high and high”
The father of Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (RA) Sheikh Noor Muhammad (RA) had seen a dream before Iqbals birth which he used to narrate to his friends in the later part of the life. In that dream, he saw a big crowd gathering in a very large field. A beautiful 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 health of Dr Iqbal deteriorated in the beginning of the year 1938. However his illness took a serious turn on March 25, 1938, and died on April 21, 1938 at 5:15 am in the morning. Iqbal (RA) succumbed to death with a slight smile on his face. For this his own poetic verse happened to come true in his own case. As he had said: “I tell you the sign of a man of Almighty,
When death comes, there is smile on his lips”.

—The author, a PhD Research Scholar, can be reached