Islamic Studies Muhammad Iqbal
Mustansir Mir
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 June 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 May 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0043


Muhammad Iqbal (b. 1877–d. 1938) was a preeminent Muslim poet, thinker, and statesman of India. He was educated at Lahore, Cambridge, and Munich. His eloquent writings in Urdu, Persian, and English were aimed at reconstructing Islamic thought in the modern age and galvanizing into action the dormant Muslim communities of India and other lands. They reflect his deep understanding, and his attempt to arrive at a creative synthesis, of the Islamic and Western intellectual and literary traditions. His vision of a separate homeland for India’s Muslims makes Iqbal the spiritual father of Pakistan. His poetry and his philosophical, religious, and political thought are the subject of numerous studies in various languages. His writings have been translated into practically all the major languages of the world, and he has been studied in detail by Western as well as by Muslim writers.

General Overviews

Hassan 1979 is a reliable guide to the contents of Iqbal’s individual works. Mir 2006 gives an overall account of themes in Iqbal’s prose and poetic works. May 1974 explains Iqbal’s emergence as a poet and thinker in the context of historical and political developments in India. Schimmel 1998 and Hassan 1998 are brief overviews.

  • Hassan, Riffat. An Iqbal Primer: An Introduction to Iqbal’s Philosophy. Lahore: Aziz, 1979.

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    Much more than a primer, this work consists of solid introductions to the individual works of Iqbal, with a chapter on Iqbal’s philosophical ideas.

  • Hassan, Riffat. “Iqbal, Muhammad (1877–1938).” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 4. Edited by Edward Craig, 863–868. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.

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    A compact account of Iqbal’s philosophy of the self, his epistemology, and his political thought. Emphasizes the need to view Iqbal’s ideas in “the larger context of his total philosophy” and stresses the Qurʾanic basis of Iqbal’s philosophy, which Hassan calls quite coherent and consistent. Perhaps the best summary account of Iqbal’s work and thought.

  • May, Lini S. Iqbal: His Life and Times 1877–1938. Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1974.

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    Part 1 gives a detailed and well-documented year-by-year account of Iqbal’s literary and political activities; part 2 discusses Iqbal as a modernist and some aspects of his philosophical thought.

  • Mir, Mustansir. Iqbal. London: I. B. Tauris, 2006.

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    Discusses the themes and art of Iqbal’s poetry and identifies major issues in Iqbal’s prose works.

  • Schimmel, Annemarie. “Ikbal.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. 3. New ed. Edited by B. Lewis, V. L. Ménage, C. Pellat, and J. Schacht, 1057–1059. New York: E. J. Brill, 1998.

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    A review of Iqbal’s literary output and some of the principal themes of his works (God, human individuation, love, change, movement, and vitalism).

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