Sir Muhammad Iqbal widely known as Allama Iqbal, was an academic,poet, barrister, philosopher, and politician in British India who is widely regarded as having inspired the Pakistan Movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Urdu literature, with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages.
Iqbal is admired as a prominent classical poet by Iranian, Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and other international scholars of literature. Though Iqbal is best known as an eminent poet, he is also a highly acclaimed “Muslim philosophical thinker of modern times”. His first poetry book, Asrar-e-Khudi, appeared in the Persian language in 1915, and other books of poetry includeRumuz-i-Bekhudi, Payam-i-Mashriq and Zabur-i-Ajam. Amongst these his best known Urdu works are Bang-i-Dara, Bal-i-Jibril, Zarb-i Kalim and a part of Armughan-e-Hijaz. In Iran and Afghanistan, he is famous as Iqbāl-e Lāhorī (اقبال لاهوری) (Iqbal of Lahore), and his poetry enjoys immense popularity among the masses, as well as strong support from ideologues of the Iranian Revolution. Along with his Urdu and Persian poetry, his various Urdu and English lectures and letters have been very influential in cultural, social, religious and political disputes over the years.
In 1922, he was knighted by King George V, giving him the title “Sir”. While studying law and philosophy in England, Iqbal became a member of the London branch of the All-India Muslim League. Later, in one of his most famous speeches, Iqbal pushed for the creation of a Muslim state in Northwest India. This took place in his presidential speech in the League’s December 1930 session.
In much of Southern Asia and Urdu speaking world, Iqbal is regarded as the Shair-e-Mashriq (شاعر مشرق, “Poet of the East”). He is also called Mufakkir-e-Pakistan (مفکر پاکستان, “The Thinker of Pakistan”) and Hakeem-ul-Ummat (حکیم الامت, “The Sage of theUmmah”). The Pakistan government officially named him a “national poet”. His birthday Yōm-e Welādat-e Muḥammad Iqbāl (یوم ولادت محمد اقبال) or (Iqbal Day) is a public holiday in Pakistan. In India he is also remembered as the author of the popular songSaare Jahaan Se Achcha.
Iqbal, Jinnah and concept of Pakistan
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 in 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.”
While Iqbal espoused the idea of 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 21 June 1937: