Muhammad Iqbal

British Indian Urdu poet, philosopher and politician (1877-1938)

Muhammad Iqbal (9 November 1877 – 21 April 1938), widely known as Allama Iqbal (علامہ اقبال), was a poet, philosopher, and politician, as well as an academic, barrister and scholar in British Raj. He is considered one of the most important figures in Urdu literature, with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages.

Allama Iqbal with his son Javed Iqbal in 1930


  • "It cannot be denied that Islam, regarded as an ethical ideal plus a certain kind of polity – by which expression I mean a social structure regulated by a legal system and animated by a specific ethical ideal – has been the chief formative factor in the life-history of the Muslims of India. It has furnished those basic emotions and loyalties which gradually unify scattered individuals and groups, and finally transform them into a well-defined people, possessing a moral consciousness of their own."
    • Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s 1930 Presidential Address to the 25th Session of the All-India Muslim League, Allahabad, 29 December 1930 (from University of Columbia website)
  • "A community which is inspired by feelings of ill-will towards other communities is low and ignoble. I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws, religious and social institutions of other communities. Nay, it is my duty, according to the teaching of the Quran, even to defend their places of worship, if need be. Yet I love the communal group which is the source of my life and behaviour; and which has formed me what I am by giving me its religion, its literature, its thought, its culture, and thereby recreating its whole past as a living operative factor, in my present consciousness."
    • Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s 1930 Presidential Address to the 25th Session of the All-India Muslim League, Allahabad, 29 December 1930 (from University of Columbia website)
  • "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 North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India."
    • Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s 1930 Presidential Address to the 25th Session of the All-India Muslim League, Allahabad, 29 December 1930 (from University of Columbia website) Also quoted in Talib, S. G. S. (1950). Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab, 1947. Amritshar: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. p.3
  • "I have already indicated to you the meaning of the word religion, as applied to Islam. The truth is that Islam is not a Church. It is a State conceived as a contractual organism long before Rousseau ever thought of such a thing, and animated by an ethical ideal which regards man not as an earth-rooted creature, defined by this or that portion of the earth, but as a spiritual being understood in terms of a social mechanism, and possessing rights and duties as a living factor in that mechanism."
    • Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s 1930 Presidential Address to the 25th Session of the All-India Muslim League, Allahabad, 29 December 1930 (from University of Columbia website)
  • Muslims are we, the country is ours, China and Arabia is ours, India is ours. Under the shadow of swords we have grown up. The crescent scabbard is our national emblem.
    • Mohammed Iqbal , circa 1930, Ved Mehta "Coming Down", India , Granta 57 (London: Granta, 1997), p. 148. quoted in SAVARKAR AND THE DISCOURSE ON ISLAM IN PRE-INDEPENDENT INDIA. AMALENDU MISRA. Source: Journal of Asian History, Vol. 33, No. 2 (1999)
  • "My ancestors were Brahmins. They spent their lives in search of god. I am spending my life in search of man."
    • Educational Thinkers [1]
  • "Muhammad of Arabia ascended the highest Heaven and returned. I swear by God that if I had reached that point, I should never have returned." These are the words of a great Muslim saint, 'AbdulQuddës of Gangoh. In the whole range of Sufi literature it will be probably difficult to find words which, in a single sentence, disclose such an acute perception of the psychological difference between the prophetic and the mystic types of consciousness. The mystic does not wish to return from the repose of "unitary experience"; and even when he does return, as he must, his return does not mean much for mankind at large.
    • The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam [2]
  • Democracy is a system in which heads are counted but not weighed.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Hindu dharma and the culture wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.
  • "Nations are born in the hearts of poets;they prosper and then die in the hands of politicians.
    • Stray reflections[3]
  • All land belongs to the Muslims, because it belongs to their God.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1992). Negationism in India: Concealing the record of Islam.
  • "Human intellect is natures attempt at self criticism"
    • stray reflections[]
  • "Vision Without power does bring moral elevation but cannot give a lasting culture"
  • "Heart – “It is absolutely certain that God does exist.”

Head – “But, my dear boy! Existence is one of my categories, and you have no right to use it.” Heart – “So much the better, my Aristotle!”

    • stray reflections[4]
  • Shah Alamgir, that high and mighty king,
    Pride and renown of Gurgan Timur’s line,
    In whom Islam attained a loftier fame
    And wider honour graced the Prophet’s Law,
    He the last arrow to our quiver left
    In the affray of Faith with Unbelief ;
    When that the impious seed of heresy,
    By Akbar nourished, sprang and sprouted fresh
    In Dara’s soul, the candle of the heart
    Was dimmed in every breast, no more secure
    Against corruption our Community
    Continued ; then God chose from India
    That humble-minded warrior, Alamgir,
    Religion to revive, faith to renew.
    The lightning of his sword set all ablaze
    The harvest of impiety ; faith’s torch
    Once more its radiance o’er our counsels shed.
    • The Secrets of Selflessness, Emperor Alamgir and the Tiger

Shikwa and Jawab-i-Shikwa (Complaint and Answer): Iqbal's Dialogue with AllahEdit

  • Why would I become a loss-causer, would I remain a gain-forgetter?
    Would I not think of tomorrow, would I remain absorbed in the grief of yesterday?
    Would I listen to the lament of the Nightingale, and would I remain all ears?
    Fellow-singer! Am I too some rose, that I would remain silent?
  • Would we have played with our lives for nothing but worldly gain?
    If our people had run after earth's goods and gold,
    Need they have smashed idols, and not idols sold?...
    Fake gods that men had made, who did break and shatter?
    Who routed infidel armies and destroyed them with bloody slaughter?
    Who put out and made cold the sacred flame in Iran?
  • What if the pitcher be Persian, from Hejaz is the wine I serve.
  • What if the song be Indian, it is Hejazi in its verve.
    • Shikwa. According to some sources, a more literal translation is: "No matter if my idiom is Indian, my spirit is that of Hejaz." C.f. Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 343.

Quotes about IqbalEdit

  • Iqbal is one of the eminent personalities in the history of Islam. His is such a profound and sublime personality that it cannot be described and measured by only one Dimension of his life. Iqbal was a scholar and a philosopher, but at the same time other dimensions of his life are also so bright that if we consider him to be just a philosopher and a scholar, we feel that we have belittled him. Undoubtedly Iqbal is a great poet and is reckoned among the greatest. Those who know Urdu very well and have written about Iqbal’s Urdu poetry maintain that Iqbal's Urdu poems are among the best in Urdu. Of course this may not be a great tribute to him as the poetic Tradition of Urdu is not so rich. But it cannot be disputed that his Urdu poetry made a great impact on large numbers of people, on Hindus and Muslims equally, living in the Subcontinent during the early decades of the twentieth century, and motivated them to participate in the struggle (for freedom) that was reaching its climax.
  • Ali Khamenei (March 10–12, 1986), First International Conference on Iqbal in Iqbal, the Poet-Philosopher of Islamic Resurgence

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