The high position of eminence held by Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938)
in the Islamic world is a matter of common knowledge. Every Muslim is
aware of the deep love for Islam and its Holy Founder expressed by Iqbal.
To understand the causes of his love for Islam, it is necessary to survey
the first twenty years or so of his educational life.
The last quarter of the nineteenth century was an era of the utmost
helplessness and apprehension for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent.
All Muslims who had a sense of responsibility and concern felt desperately
worried and perturbed at the forlorn condition of Islam and its followers.
On the one side, the British colonial government of India was distrustful
of the Muslims, and on the other side Christian missionaries and Hindu
Arya Samaj pundits were spreading false propaganda against the Islamic
faith. Muslim religious leaders, spiritual teachers, the upper echelons
as well as the masses, being in a state of ignorance and helplessness,
were all easy prey for the opponents of Islam.
In northern India, the city of Sialkot, the ancestral town of Dr. Iqbal,
had been the big stronghold of Christian missionaries ever since British
rule was established in the Punjab. Dr. Iqbal himself received his education
in a Christian mission school and college. At that time there were two
men engaged in battle on behalf of Islam against Christian preachers
and other opponents. One was Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898), whose
efforts were mainly directed towards urging the Muslims to acquire modern,
Western education and towards reforming their backward moral condition.
The other man was Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (d. 1908), who
not only broadcast the beauties of Islam by pen and speech, refuting
the Christian and Arya Samaj objections against Islam, but also prepared
a sizeable Muslim movement for the defence and propagation of Islam,
which spread in Northern India and particularly in the Punjab, whose
object was to refute the objections of the detractors of Islam. He wrote
books in support of the faith of Islam, made speeches all over his part
of the country on the truth of Islam, and produced and disseminated
a vast amount of valuable literature, both prose and poetry.
Iqbal’s teacher, Mir Hasan, on Hazrat Mirza.
The movement founded by Hazrat Mirza was also vigorously active in
Sialkot, a major centre of Christian missionary work. Dr. Iqbal could
not have remained uninfluenced by it, especially as he lived in an area
of the city which was a stronghold of Islam. Everyone who has studied
Iqbal knows of the tremendous influence which his tutor, Shams-ul-Ulama
Sayyid Mir Hasan, had upon his intellectual development.
1. Sayyid Mir Hasan was not only Iqbal’s teacher and resident
of the same area of the city, but he was also both active in the movement
of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan in Sialkot as well as an admirer of Hazrat
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. This was the part of Sialkot where Hazrat Mirza
had spent four years in his younger days, leading a life of the utmost
purity, and had left a deep impression by his righteousness, support
for the cause of Islam, and high moral qualities. Hence it was that
Sayyid Mir Hasan expressed his opinion about Hazrat Mirza in the following
“Hazrat Mirza sahib came to Sialkot in the year 1864 in connection
with his employment, and stayed here. As he was a pious and retiring
man, who abstained from frivolous and wasteful pastimes, he did not
like meeting the public because it is often a waste of time.”
(Hayyat-i Tayyiba, compiled by Shaikh Abdul Qadir, p. 29.)
2. Many years after Hazrat Mirza’s death, Sayyid Mir Hasan said
in an interview with a journalist:
“Sadly, we did not appreciate him. I have no words to describe
his spiritual attainments. His life was not that of ordinary people.
He was one of those persons who are special servants of God, and who
come into the world but rarely.”
(Al-Hakam, 7 April 1934; Mujaddid-i A'zam, vol. 2, p.
3. In the book Zikr-i Iqbal it is said about Sayyid Mir
“In the days when Mirza sahib stayed in Sialkot, the Maulvi sahib
(Mir Hasan) had frequent occasion to meet him. The Maulvi sahib observed
him from close quarters. Although Sayyid Mir Hasan was a great devotee
of the movement started by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, yet he was unusually
impressed by the piety, righteousness and virtue of Mirza sahib, and
had great respect for him.”