New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Long reads
10 February 2010updated 24 Sep 2015 10:46am

Muhammad Iqbal

Pakistan's national poet and the most eloquent proponent of Islamic modernism.

By Ian K Smith

Poet, philosopher, politician, Muhammad Iqbal was a crucial voice in the raising of Pakistan. His Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, published in 1930, called for an entire rethinking of the foundations of Islamic philosophy to energise it after centuries of stagnation.

At the heart of this reconstruction was the legal principle of ijtihad, or independent juristic interpretation, a favourite tool for those seeking to reinvent the faith. Using this principle, interests outside Islam’s legal and religious establishment have called for far-reaching reform.

Iqbal thought that Islamic philosophy could be built up parallel to modernity, using ijtihad to cast off centuries of tired tradition. He was also central to the creation of Pakistan, campaigning for a federation of Muslim provinces separate from India. Before his death in 1938, he was a significant influence on Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who went on in effect to found the nation state of Pakistan in 1947.

Iqbal’s influential modernist definition of ijtihad:

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

The principle of movement in the structure of Islam.

Next: Hassan al-Banna (d.1949)

Previous: Muhammad Rashid Rida (d.1935)

Back to list.



Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors