Sialkot, 1877, a son was born to Sheikh Noor Muhammad (a tailor) and his wife Imam Bibi, a  boy who would live to become as one of the most influential and respected philosopher in the world.

“Jafa Jo Ishq Mein Hoti Hai Woh Jafa Hi Nahin
Sitam Na Ho To Mohabbat Mein Kuch Maza Hi Nahin”

“The oppression befalling in Love is not oppression
if there is no torment, there is no pleasure in Love”

From his early days in school, Iqbal was into poetry and to his fortune he found Moulvi Syed Hassan as a mentor in college. He was always the thinker and for him studying Urdu and Farsi with Moulvi sahib just worked as icing on the cake. There used to be a poetic symposium in Sialkot so Iqbal started to read poems there. In those days Nawab Mirza Khan Dagh Dehelvi was very famous for his poetry and many young and new poets used to take reforms from him and so did Muhammad Iqbal by sending him a letter which included some of his poems. And what happened was that Dagh remarked, ‘there is not much room for reforms here’, Dagh felt pleased with this distant letter posting communication with Iqbal.

After completing his F.A in Sialkot Muhammad Iqbal moved to Lahore for his B.A, where he got the chance to nurture and grow his interest in philosophy with Sir Thomas Arnold who was British orientalist and teacher of Islamic arts and a good friend of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Sir Thomas Walker Arnold admired Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal and they had a great bond of mentor-mentee between them. It was this very bond and closeness that led Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal to England after him. Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal had many preceptors in his life, one of them was Professor R. A. Nicholson an eminent English orientalist and scholar of both Islamic literature and Islamic was Prof. Nicholson who translated Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal’s famous masnavi ‘Asrar-e-Khudi’ to English and introduced him in the western world. Iqbal talked to and communicated with many of India’s notable religious scholars and philosophers which included notably Moulana Hali, Moulana Shibli and Hazrat Akbar. Their teachings had an influence on Iqbal’s expression in what he wrote and Iqbal had the mutual influence on them too.

Allama Iqbal’s poesy started a little before 1901, when he read some poems at a symposium in Lahore. Simple and plain his words were but said the poems in a natural and effortless manner, he was praised and applauded very much. After that he frequently went to these poetic symposiums and got appreciated. There were also gatherings of poets and philosophers and there Iqbal read his poem about Peak of Himalaya which became very famous. Some of its phrases are:

“Ae hamala! Ae faseel e kishwar e Hindustan
choomta ha Teri paishani ko jhuk ker aasman

Tujh mein kuch paida nahin derina rozee ke nishan

Tu jawan hai gardish e sham o saher ke darmiyan

Aik jalwa tha kaleem e toor e sina ke liye
tu tajali hai sarapa chasm e beena ke liye

Imtihan e didah zahir mein kohistan hai tu

          Pasban apna hai tu, dewar e hindustan hai tu”

“O Himalah! O rampart of the realm of India!
Bowing down, the sky kisses your forehead

Your condition does not show any signs of old age

You are young in the midst of day and night’s alternation

The Kaleem of Tur Sina witnessed but one Effulgence
For the discerning eye you are an embodiment of Effulgence
To the outward eye you are a mere mountain range

In reality you are our sentinel, you are India’s rampart”

His friend published this poem in an article and thus began Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s journey of poetry.

By that time Iqbal had completed his studies and was a professor at the govt. college and always lived in the world of new thinking and philosophy. His friend sheikh Abdul Qadir says it was a sight to see when Iqbal opted to read some poetry, his students would get some pen and paper to write down what he said and he one after another phrase would just go on and on in his own rhythm. His memory was so cunning that if he said some phrases in some manner or order then the next day the words and phrases would be in the same order as he said the previous day. He never did any poetry on request or on anyone’s wish, he did so whenever he felt doing it or whenever he desired, that means most of the time in any gathering or symposium he would just listen and not express anything himself. He only attended ‘Anjuman Himayat-e-Islam’ every year and would read his new poems that were on his mind for some time. When he was requested to read in a melodious rhythm and until he finished, a crowd of 10,000 people would quietly sit and listen to him whether they understand its meaning or not.

“Tu Agar Apni Haqiqat Se Khabardar Rahe
Na Siyah Roz Rahe Phir Na Siyahkaar Rahe”

“If you would weigh your worth at its true rate,
No longer would ill‐faring or ill‐doing be your fate!”

From 1905 to 1908 was the second period of Allama Iqbal’s poetry and philosophy. In this period he decided to abandon poetry and invest his time in something more positive and productive. But Sheikh Abdul Qadir insisted him not to because his was not some common or unripe philosophy, his poetry had the heat and spirit that our nation needed. But this did not completely influenced him so he looked upon his mentor Sir Arnold to make the decision for him, to our fortune and luck Sir Arnold also advised him to continue his poetic work because this would be positive in his nation’s interest and of his own.

Another thing that happened in this period was that Allama Iqbal changed Urdu from his primary language to deliver his thoughts to Persian/Farsi. There are many reason behind doing so, one of them is that he saw Persian more suitable to deliver and convey his philosophy. This began when in a personal gathering some friends of his requested for something in Persian, Iqbal confined at that time that he has only said a few phrases in Persian but while lying in his the same night Iqbal said to whole new poems and read them to his friends in the morning. After returning from Europe he also wrote in Urdu but his main focus was Persian.

Now enters Allama Iqbal’s third period of poetry which dates after 1908. In this period he wrote his famous Masnavi ‘Asrar-e-Khudi’, and Farsi did something that Urdu never could. Wherever in the Islamic world Farsi is spoken his Kalam made its reach there, his poetry had such deep thoughts that needed deep words to be described. After this, the western world recognized our great writer and thinker.

 “Driven onward by high thoughts, my pen

Cast abroad the secret of this veil,

That the drop may become co-equal with the sea

And the grain of sand grow into a Sahara.

Poetising is not the aim of this masnaví,

Beauty-worshipping and love-making is not its aim.

I am of India: Persian is not my native tongue;

I am like the crescent moon: my cup is not full.

Do not seek from me charm of style in exposition,

Do not seek from me Khánsár and Isfahan.

Although the language of Hind is sweet as sugar,

Yet sweeter is the fashion of Persian speech.”

In his words Iqbal specially gave lessons of struggle and success to Muslims. He said:

“Yaqeen mohkam, amal peham, mohabbat faateh-e-alam,
Jihad-e-zindagani mein hain yeh mardon ki shamsheerain,”

Firmness of belief, eternal action, love that conquers the world,
In the holy war and struggle of life – these are the swords of men,

Its true that a poet and philosopher of this caliber is born once in centuries. We wish and hope that every the whole youth of Ummat-e-Muslimah reads and understands Allama Iqbal’s poetry and philosophy so that the Muslim world would rise again and prosper.


Tu Agar Koi Mudabbar Hai To Sun Meri Sada
Hai Dalairi Dast-e-Arbab-e-Siasat Ka Asa

Tu bacha bacha k Na rakh issay, tera aina hai who aina hai,

K shikasta ho toh aziz tar hai nigah aina saaz main


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