Chronology of the Life of Iqbal


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Chronology of the Life of Iqbal

Chronology of the Life of Iqbal

The Early years: Up to 1904

Date of Birth

“I was born on the 3rd of Dhu Q‘ad 1294 A.H. (1876 A.D.),” Iqbal wrote in the ‘Lebenslauf’ of his Ph.D Thesis (Below). Iqbal usually quoted 1876 as the year of his birth approximately but the Islamic date actually corresponded to November 9, 1877 A.D. as pointed out in Rozgar-i-Faqir (Vol. 2) in 1963 and later ratified by two special committees appointed for this purpose by the Bazm-i-Iqbal in late 1972 and the Federal Ministry of Education in 1974. The findings seem to be genuine but they are sometimes subjected to unfounded suspicion since they matched the expedient needs of the Government of Pakistan – India had already celebrated the Iqbal Centenary in 1973!

The mistaken date of birth, February 22, 1873, was first mentioned in the Lahore-based Urdu daily Inquilab on May 7, 1938 (sixteen days after Iqbal’s death) and it later gained currency through Iqbal’s first standard biography written by the editor of the same newspaper in 1955. The entry in the Municipal Register of Sialkot, on which this date was based is now seen as unrelated to Iqbal. Other dates regarded as Iqbal’s nativity at some point include December 29, 1873 (propounded in 1971 by a family member who later relegated), 1875 (mentioned on Iqbal’s Middle School Certificate) and December 1876 (miscalculated by Iqbal and his brother from the Islamic date actually corresponding to November 9, 1877).

15th Century

Baba Loal Hajj, a Brahmin from the Sapru caste in Kashmir turns Muslims; he was an early ancestor of Iqbal

Late 18th or early 19th Century

Shiekh Jalaludin, descended from Loal Hajj, migrates to Sialkot with his four sons; among them is Iqbal’s grandfather Shiekh Rafique (alias Fiqua)

c. 1837

Iqbal’s father Shiekh Nur Muhammad is born as the eleventh son, and the first surviving one, of Shiekh Rafique and his wife Gujri

c. 1857

Shiekh Nur Muhammad is married to Imam Bibi from a Kashmiri family residing in Sambaryal


Atta Muhammad, the first son of Shiekh Nur Muhammad and Imam Bibi is born


Shiekh Rafique and his extended family moves to the house that was later to become known as Iqbal Manzil

c. 1865

Shiekh Nur Muhammad makes an aborted attempt at a job with the ACC of Sialkot and afterwards launches his own business in making and selling caps that can be worn by men and women alike


September 6, Talay Bibi is born to Shiekh Nur Muhammad and Imam Bibi; she is their second daughter (the first daughter was Fatima Bibi, whose date of birth is unknown)

c. 1973

A second son is born to Shiekh Nur Muhammad and Imam Bibi and dies infant; Shiekh Rafique falls victim of cholera epidemic along with his younger son whose family is now supported by Shiekh Nur Muhammad


Iqbal is born on November 9 (Friday 3 Du Qa‘d, 1294 AH)


Infant Iqbal loses his right eye when leeches are applied as a traditional medical treatment

c. 1880

Atta Muhammad gets married and finds a job with the Civil Works in the army; Iqbal’s younger sister Karim Bibi is born


Iqbal attends early education at the mosque school of Maulvi Umar Shah (d.1925)


Iqbal shifts to the mosque school of Maulvi Ghulam Hassan after Umar Shah stops teaching; Iqbal’s youngest sister Zainab Bibi is born; family friend and liberal educationist Syed Mir Hasan persuades Shiekh Nur Muhammad to send Iqbal to the Scotch Mission School for modern education


Iqbal passes the first grade on 8 April, securing highest marks in the class


Iqbal passes the upper primary examination (5th grade)


Iqbal passes the Third Middle (8th Grade) in February


Iqbal passes matriculation (10th Grade) on the day of his marriage to Karim Bibi, a slightly older girl from a well-to-do Kashmiri family in Gujrat (Punjab); joins Scotch Mission College; his earliest known poems had started printing in popular magazines by now and he was taking guidance from Dagh Dehlvi through mail


Iqbal passes the F.A. Examination (high school, or 12th Grade) in 2nd Division (276 marks out of 570) in April; joins bachelor classes in Government College to study philosophy, English literature and Arabic, and shifts to Lahore (later residing in the college hostel)


Iqbal’s first daughter Meraj Bano is born; Anjuman Kashmiri Musalmanan, a community service organization for and by the Kashmiri Muslims of Lahore is formed in February; Iqbal is a founding member and recites stanzas about Kashmir; gets acclaim in a mushaira in Bazar-i-Hakeeman (Lahore) in November


Iqbal secures 2nd Division in B.A., and first position in the subjects of English literature and Arabic (medals and degrees were distributed by the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab the following January)


Thomas Arnold (later Sir) shifts from M.A.O. College (Aligarh) to Government College (Lahore); Iqbal is his only student in M.A. Philosophy; Iqbal must have failed the exam once in his first attempt (unless he didn’t appear at all); Iqbal’s first son, Aftab, is born on June 23


Appears for obtaining a degree in law in December; fails the paper on Jurisprudence when the results are announced next month


Secures 3rd Division and a medal in M.A. (Philosophy) as the only candidate in the subject in April; has already applied for the post of McLeod Arabic Reader at Oriental College, where Thomas Arnold is going to be the acting Principal; Iqbal reports on duty from 5 May for a salary of Rs.74/Annas14 per month; as it would turn out, he would serve this institution in intervals: May 1899 to December 1900, July 1901 to September 1902, November 1902 to May 1903; rents a house in the vicinity of Bhati Gate; from July he joins the administrative body of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, a Muslim community help organization in Lahore with special focus on rehabilitation of widows and orphans


Iqbal receives wide recognition for reciting his poem, ‘The Orphan’s Lament’ in the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-e-Islam on February 24; his request for reappearing in the degree for law without attending the classes again is refused on June 21; his first known paper, ‘The Concept of Absolute Unity’ (completed in March) is printed in The Indian Antiquary in September


Iqbal is temporarily appointed Asst. Professor in the Philosophy Department of Government College for about a month on January 4 for a salary of Rs. 200 per month; as it would turn out, he gets the lucrative position again in October 1902 (in the Dept of English) and then from June 1903 till his resignation in late 1908 (at the end of a long leave of absence that started in September 1905); writes an elegy for Queen Victoria; recites ‘The Orphan’s Address to the Crescent of Eid’ in the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam in February and temporarily takes up teaching English Literature at Islamia College (a venture of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam) till July; gets wider recognition from the publication of his poem ‘The Himalaya’ in the first issue of Makhzan, a romantically inclined literary magazine that soon becomes the main outlet for Iqbal’s poems in print; around September he appears for public service examination for the post of Extra Asst. Commissioner and gets rejected on medical grounds (apparently due to his defective right eye)


Iqbal recites some minor poems in the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam in February


Iqbal develops affection for the singing girl Ameer Begum, which lasts at least till late next year; ‘Abr-e-Guharbar’, recited in the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam in March becomes Iqbal’s most popular so far (though he would include only one stanza in his anthology Bang-i-Dara later); Atta Muhammad gets arrested on charges of financial corruption during the summer and Iqbal travels to Quetta to clear him out


Thomas Arnold leaves for England in February, and Iqbal’s job at Government College gets permanent the next month with an increment of Rs.50; he recites ‘The Image of Grief’ in the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, the first of such poems that would be included in his anthology Bang-i-Dara many years later; while visiting his brother in Abottabad he delivers a lecture on ‘National Life’; soon after his return to Lahore he writes ‘The Indian Anthem’ (Saray jahan say achha Hindustan hamara), which receives instant national acclaim

The Formative Years: 1905 – 1913


September 2, Iqbal leaves Lahore for studies abroad; visiting Delhi on the way, he boards a steamer from Bombay and arrives at Dover on 24th; enrolls with the Trinity College (Cambridge) on October 1 as advanced student of Bachelors and obtains a Matriculation Certificate from the University on October 21; enrolls with Lincoln’s Inn (London) on November 2 for Bar at Law.


August–September, Shiekh (later Sir) Abdul Qadir and Musheer Husain Kidvai visit Istanbul; their first-hand account of Turkey in the turmoil of modernization may have left a mark on the mind of Iqbal


March 7, Development of Metaphysics in Persia submitted as dissertation for Bachelors degree (subsequently granted on June 13); April 1, meets Attiya Fyzee in London; July (around 20th), arrives in Germany and stays at Heidelberg to prepare for viva voce on his dissertation submitted at the University of Munich for PhD; meets Emma Wegenast and develops a friendship with her; November (first week), returns to London after obtaining a PhD in Arabic from the University of Munich; temporarily replaces Thomas Arnold as teacher of Arabic during his absence from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University


Development of Metaphysics in Persia published by Luzac & Co. (London); January 22, mails his resignation to the post of Asst Professor at Government College (Lahore); February, delivers a lecture on Muslim mysticism at Caxton Hall (London) under auspices of Pan-Islamic Society; May, joins the All India Muslim League (London Branch); July 1, called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn; leaves for India on 3rd, and writes a poem on Sicily on his way before arriving in Lahore on 26th; October, applies for practice in the Lahore Chief’s Court (permission subsequently granted on 20th) and sets up his office; paper ‘Political Thought in Islam’ published in Sociological Review (London); December 27-29, attends the annual session of Mohammedan Educational Conference at Amritsar and joins the delegation of Kashmiri Muslims before Nawab Saleemullah Khan


Resumes his active participation in the activities of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam (Lahore); February 6, elected General Secretary to the newly formed Anjuman Kashmiri Musalmanan; April 10, paper ‘Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal’ presented at the Annual Session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, Lahore (paper was subsequently published in The Observer, same month); May, reluctantly agrees to teach Philosophy at Government College (Lahore) through special arrangement with the Secretary of State (the courts needed to be directed to hear Iqbal’s cases after his classes in the morning; Iqbal took charge of classes on October 12 and continued till end of the next year); sometime this year, Iqbal also joined the editorial committee of Indian Cases Law Reports, a specialized magazine from Lahore


March 2, nominated Fellow to the University of Punjab; visits Hyderabad (Deccan) on a ten days casual leave from the University (March 18-27); starts writing his notebook Stray Reflections; December, farewell lecture on the poetry of Robert Browning delivered at Government College (Lahore); marries Sirdar Begum, but consummation is postponed; presents paper ‘The Muslim Community – a sociological study’ at Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (Aligarh)


April, ‘The Complaint’ (Shikwah) recited at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam; December, presides over the annual session of the Mohammedan Educational Conference at Delhi where he is also offered garlands by Shibli Nomani on behalf of the Muslims of India


February, poem ‘The Candle and the Poet’ composed (subsequently recited at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam on 16 April); November 30, recites poem ‘An Answer to the Complaint’ as part of fundraising for the Turks in the Balkan War (1912)


Marries Mukhtar Begum from Jallundhar and the previous marriage to Sirdar Begum is also consummated now; September 7, visits Cawnpur for a day to see the Commissioner on behalf of protestors arrested for the mosque case; meets Akbar Allahabadi and Hakeem Ajmal Khan on his way back

The Middle Years: 1914-22


Portions of unfinished Persian poem Asrar-i-Khudi recited at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam (Lahore); November 9, mother Imam Bibi passes away, followed by Iqbal’s daughter Meraj Bano on 17th


September 12, Persian long poem 'Asrar-i-Khudi' published


July 8, first recorded complaint of kidney pain in Iqbal’s life


July 28, Article ‘Islam and Mysticism’ published in The New Era, a periodical from Lucknow (subsequent contributions to the magazine over the next few weeks include ‘Muslim Democracy,’ ‘Our Prophet’s Criticism of Contemporary Arabian Poetry,’ ‘Touch of Hegelianism in Lisanul ‘Asr Akbar,’ and ‘Nietzsche and Jalaluddin Rumi’)


Persian long poem Ramuz-i-Bekhudi published; June, second edition of Asrar-i-Khudi published with major modifications


Appointed Dean, Oriental Faculty at the University of Punjab; December 14, elected General Secretary of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam; same month he attends the joint session of the Khilafat Conference and the All India Muslim League in Amritsar (among other participants were included Hakeem Ajmal Khan, M. K. Gandhi and the Ali Brothers – Iqbal’s poem ‘Imprisonment’ was addressed to the latter)


Secrets of the Self, translation of 'Asrar-i-Khudi' by R. Nicholson is published from McMillan (London)


June–July, visits Kashmir for the first time for about a fortnight to plead a case


April 16, recites poem ‘The Khizr of the Way,’ at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam (Lahore)

The Peak Years: 1922-30


January 1, Iqbal gets knighted; recites poem ‘The Dawn of Islam’ at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam (Lahore); May 1, Persian anthology Payam-i-Mashriq published


September, first Urdu anthology Bang-i-Dara published; October 5, younger son Javid born to wife Sirdar Begum; other wife Mukhtar dies in childbirth on 21st same month; Urdu Course compiled in association with Hakeem Ahmed Shuja for lower secondary classes


Presents paper on ‘Ijtehad in Islam,’ to a gathering at Islamia College; read verses from the Turkish poet Zia Gokalp


December 6, gets elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly


March 10, speaks on education in the Punjab Legislative Assembly; April 16, presents paper ‘The Spirit of Muslim Culture’ at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam (Lahore); June, Persian anothology Zuboor-i-Ajam published; July, supports selection on merit to public services in a speech in the Punjab Legislative Assembly; November, joins the Shafi faction, supporting separate electorates for the Muslims, against the Jinnah faction of the opposite opinion after split in the All India Muslim League


February 23, opposes the injustices inherent in the existing methods of agricultural taxation while speaking to the Punjab Legislative Council; April 18, presented a paper on the Muslim Philosophy at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam (Lahore); May, visits Delhi for medical treatment of kidneys by Hakeem Nabina; December 31, leaves for a trip to South India for lecturing on reconstruction of religious thought in Islam


January 1, attends the All India Muslim Conference in Delhi; till the 19th he is visiting Madras, Bangalore and Hyderabad (Deccan) to deliver three lectures: ‘Knowledge and Religious Experience,’ ‘The Philosophical Test of the Revelations of the Religious Experience,’ and ‘The Conception of God and the Meaning of Prayer’ and also meets the ruling Nizam in Hyderabad (Deccan); April 14, delivers lecture on the necessity of a deeper study of the Quran; article ‘A Plea for Deeper Study of the Muslim Scientists’ published in Islamic Culture, Hyderabad (Deccan) the same month; May, his name is turned down for appointment as justice to the Lahore High Court (former Lahore Chief Court); November 19, delivers a lecture at Aligarh where he is also offered an honorary DLitt


Younger daughter Munira Bano is born; May, Six Lectures on the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is published from Lahore; August 17, father Shiekh Nur Muhammad dies in Sialkot; December 29, presides over the annual session of the All India Muslim League at Allahabad, suggesting the amalgamation of the north-western Muslim majority provinces of India for a balance of power in the region as well as a renaissance of Islamic thought

The Later Years: 1931 — 38


April, Participates in All India Muslim Conference;

May 10, participates in the meeting of Muslim leaders of India at Bhopal (called by the ruler of the state Nawab Hamidullah Khan to facilitate consensus on the issue of joint electorate versus separate electorate)

August 14, Kashmir Day celebrated in Punjab (Iqbal was one of the convenors) to support the protest movement in the valley

September 8, Leaves for participation in the 2nd Round Table Conference stopping in Delhi (9th) and Bombay (10–12th) on the way;

November 1, ‘Minority Pact’ formed during the Conference; 16, dissociates himself from the Conference; 18, reception at Cambridge; 20, informs the Secretary of State about his decision to leave the Conference; 21, leaves for Italy where he stays from 22 to 29; 25, meets deposed king of Afghanistan Ameer Amanullah to whom he had dedicated Payam-i-Mashriq; 26, delivers lecture at the Royal Academy, Rome; 27, meets Mussolini;

December 1–4, trip to Egypt; 5, arrives in Palestine by train to participate in the Islamic Conference; 6, visits Jerusalem; 5–15 stays in Palestine; 15–17, waits for the ship at Port Saeed; 30, returns to Lahore via Bombay (28) and Delhi (29)


February, Javidnama published

March 6, First Iqbal Day celebrated under auspices of the Islamic Research Institute, Lahore; 21, presides over the All India Muslim Conference (Lahore) and delivers address

July 25 Statement on Sikh demands published, asking the Sikh community to see the communal problem in the larger perspective of constitutional progress in India

August 24, Statement on the Prime Minister’s Communal Awards (August 19) published

October 17, Idarah Muarif-i-Islamia established through an announcement (Iqbal is one of the founders); Iqbal leaves for participating in the 3rd Round Table Conference via Bombay (19–22)

November 12, arrives in London; 17, first session of the Conference; 24, reception given by National League (London);

December 20, leaves London for Paris; 21, meets Bergson in Paris


January, arrives in Spain; visits Cordova, Granada, Seville, Madrid and other places; 24, delivers lecture ‘Spain and the Intellectual World of Islam’ in Madrid University; 26, Returns to Paris

February 10, boards ship for India from Venice; 22, arrives in Bombay; 27, returns to Lahore

March 1, presides over extensive lecture by Ghazi Rauf Pasha, dissident colleague of Ataturk in Jamia Millia College, Delhi

June 20, Resigns from the All India Kashmir Committee

October 20–November 3, trip to Afghanistan on invitation from King Nadir Shah of Afghanistan to advise on educational reforms (Sir Ross Masud and Syed Sulieman Nadvi are also invited)

December 4, Honorary DLitt offered by the University of Punjab


January 10, fatal illness starts after eating vermicelli with curd on the Eid Day

May, invitation received from Oxford University for Rhodes lecture (Iqbal chooses ‘Time and Space in Muslim Thought’ as his topic but it is found unsuitable by the University and the lecture could never happen eventually due to his prolonged illness)

June 29, visits Sirhind with son Javid (nearly 10 years old)

July 1, becomes president of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam

November, Musafir (versified travelogue of journey to Afghanistan) published; construction of new residence ‘Javid Manzil’ starts; 17–25, trip to Aligarh to deliver a lecture

December 13, Honorary DLitt conferred by the Muslim University, Aligarh


January, Baal-i-Gabreil published; 30, presides over extensive lecture by Halida Adeeb Khanum, dissident colleague of Ataturk at Jamia Millia College, Delhi

January 31–March 7, trip to Bhopal for electrotherapy in Hamidia Hospital

March 8, consults Hakeem Nabina in Delhi on way back from Bhopal; 9, rejoinder to Husain Ahmed Madni’s statement on nationalism published in Daily Ehsan, Lahore; 10, returns to Lahore

April, construction of Javid Manzil completed

May 14, ‘Qadianism and Orthodox Muslims’ published in The Statesman, Calcutta, as Iqbal’s rejoinder to the Governor of Punjab’s advice to the Muslims (Iqbal’s statement launched a series of arguments); 20, shifts to Javid Manzil; 24, Sirdar Begum dies

June 1, stipend of Rs.500 per month issued by Nawab Hamidullah Khan of Bhopal

July 15–August 28, Second trip to Bhopal for electrotherapy

October 25, participates in the Centenary of poet Hali (1835–1914) in Panipat


January, ‘Islam and Ahmedism’ published in Islam, Lahore, as rejoinder to Jawaharlal Nehru’s criticism on Iqbal’s previous statement

April, visited by Jinnah at Javid Manzil, Lahore; elected president of the Punjab Muslim League and starts his efforts to organize a provincial Parliamentary Board for the party through which the League could unite the Muslims of the province; 12, recites Urdu poem ‘Heavenly Tune’ (Khudi ka sirr-i-nihan, La ilaha il Allah) at the annual session of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, which turns out to be his last public performance

May, last long poem ‘Satan’s Parliament’ written in Urdu

July, Zarb-i-Kaleem published; 29, Honorary DLitt conferred by Dacca University

October, Pas Ch Bayad Kerd, his last Persian mathnavi published (coupled with previously published Musafir two months later)


April, consults again Hakeem Nabina of illness which has turned severe now, affecting eyesight (voice had already fainted away to mere whisper)

December 13, Honorary DLitt conferred by Allahabad University


January 1, New Year message broadcast from All India Radio

March 1, Honorary DLitt conferred by Usmania University, Hyderabad (Deccan)

March 9, ‘On Islam and Nationalism’ published in Ehsan, Lahore

April 21, Dies in Lahore


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