iqbal quran

Written by Sidra Shahid 9:00 pm Pakistan Unveiled

The Essence of the Quran as Illuminated by Iqbal (R.H)

Sidra Shahid discusses the core Islamic themes in the poetry of Iqbal (R.A) that have been inspired directly and indirectly by the Holy Quran. His couplets evoke a sense of familiarity and comfort for Muslims who seek the true spirit and values of Islam.
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Ms Sidra Shahid has a master's degree in Economics and a bachelor's degree in Philosophy.

Iqbal’s Love for the Holy Quran

Allama Iqbal, the Muslim philosopher, poet, politician, and academic, analyzed the abysmal conditions of Muslims of the sub-continent during British rule in India. Iqbal (R.H) compared the conditions of Muslims to the time when the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in the seventh century.

He deduced that just as Arabs lost their identity in the larger scheme of societal rituals, Muslims of the sub-continent were losing their identity in the name of nationalism promulgated by Congress.

Haqiqat Khurafat Mein Kho Gyi
Ye Ummat Rawayat Mein Kho Gyi

The truth has been lost in absurdities,
And in traditions is this Ummah rooted still.

Bal-e-Jibril-142 Saqi Nama

Hence, Allama Iqbal wanted to imbibe the spirit of the Holy Quran into Muslims so much that a Muslim himself would become a living explanation of the Holy Quran.

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Ye Raaz Kisi Ko Nahin Maloom Ke Momin
Qari Nazar Ata Hai, Haqiqat Mein Hai Quran!

This secret yet none has grasped that Muslim Scripture  reads so sweet:
Practising rules by it prescribed, becomes its pattern quite complete.

(Zarb-e-Kaleem-062) Mard-e-Musalman

Allama Iqbal prescribed the interpretation of the Quran as a remedy to the suffering of Muslims. As the poetry of Mulana Rumi is considered a Persian interpretation of the Holy Quran, likewise, the poetry of Iqbal is synonymous with the Urdu elucidation of Quranic verses.

Following are a few of the verses of Iqbal (R.H) directly inspired by the Quran.

مثل کلیم ھو اگر معرکہ آزما کوئ
ابھی بھی درخت طور سےآتی ہے بانگ لاَ تَخَف

Once more that voice from Sinai’s tree would cry
Fear not! If some new Moses led the attack

لاَ تَخَف is an Arabic word used in the Quran for “do not fear.”

اے مسلماں ہر گھڑی پیش نظر
آیتہ لاَ یُخلِف المِیعاد رکھ

O Muslim always in your mind
Keep the verse La Yukhlif ul mi’ad

لاَ یُخلِف المِیعاد used in Quranic verse means “does not fail in the promise”.

دل مرد مومن میں پھر زندہ کر دے
وہ بجلی کہ تھی نعرہ لاَ تَذَر میں

Awaken in them an iron will
And make their eye a sharpened sword

The Arabic word is taken from a Quranic verse, which says, “And Noah said: My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers.” This word has a literal meaning of “do not leave’, however, it is used by Iqbal with reference to the Quranic verse, so the complete meaning should be considered in the line above.

جس کی نومیدی سے ہو سوز درُونِ کائنات
اس کے حق مے تَقنَطُو اچھا ہے یا لاَ تَقنَطُو

One whose despair warms the heart of the universe
What suits him best, ‘Give up hope’ or Don’t give up hope

تَقنَطُو andلاَ تَقنَطُو means “Give up hope” and “do not give up hope”, from the Quranic verse meaning, “Do not lose hope of Allah’s mercy.

لا دینی و لا طینی کس پیچ میں الجھا تو
دارو ہے ضعیفوں کا لاَ غَالِب اِلاَّ ھُو

In which patch of non-religion and non-religion are entangled?
There is no cure for the weak

لاَ غَالِب اِلاَّ ھُو meaning “No one is powerful but He (Allah)”, from a Quranic verse.

Interpretation of the Holy Quran

Allama Iqbal accentuated the interpretation of the Holy Quran according to the contemporary needs of Muslims. Iqbal was aware that conservative theological thought was inadequate to meet new challenges confronted by Muslims. His poetry is not only directly inspired by the verses of the Holy Quran but also provides interpretation, analysis, and explanation of the core themes of the Quran.

Concept of Tauheed

Tauheed is the concept over which the edifice of Islam has been built. Believing in the Oneness of God is mandatory in order to be called a Muslim. The unifying factor of Muslims all over the world is their monotheism. It welds all nations and races, without any distinction of color and creed under one banner of Islam. Surah Ikhlas condenses the concept of Tauheed:

Say, O Prophet, “He is Allah—One and Indivisible;

Allah—the Sustainer needed by all.

He has never had offspring, nor was He born.

And there is none comparable to Him.”

Main Ne Ae Meer-e-Sipah! Teri Sipah Dekhi Hai

‘QUL HU WALLAH’ Ki Shamsheer Se Khali Hain Nayam

Chief of warriors, I have witnessed your array;

Their sheaths are devoid of the sword of Say: ‘He is Allah’


لاَ اِلہ اِلاَّ ھُو “There is no god but He, Allah”, from the Quran.

Unity of Muslims

Iqbal diagnosed disunity among Muslims as the major cause of their ailing condition.

Harm-e-Paak Bhi, Allah Bhi, Quran Bhi Aik,

Kuch Bari Baat Thi Hote Jo Musalmaan Bhi Aik!

And one your Kaʹba, One your God, and one your great Quran;

Yet, still, divided each from each, Lives every Mussalman.

Firqa bandi hay kaheen aur kaheen zatein hain

kya zamane mein panapne ki yahee batein hain

Somewhere are religious divisions and somewhere are differences based on caste.

Is this the way to prosper in the world?

Tum syed bhi ho Mirza bhi ho Afghan bhi ho

tum sabhi kuchh ho batao ki musalman bhi ho

You are Syed; you are Mirza; you are Afghan.

You are everything. Tell me, are you Muslim too?

Jawab e Shikwa

Qur’an says that those who create differences in the Deen (Islam) are among the Mushrikun:

“Be not among the Mushrikun i.e., those who create differences in Deen (Islam) and become sects. Each (sectarian) party quite content with itself (that it is following the correct path).” (30:32)

“And those who create division in Deen (Islam) and become divided into sects, O Prophet (PBUH)! You have no part in them in the least.” (6:159)

The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said: “Anyone who gets even one foot away from the Ummah has taken out the Islamic yoke from his neck, even if he prays and fasts.”

That is why Qur’an calls upon all Muslims to be united and hold on to the rope of Allah (i.e. Qur’an) and gives a stern warning to them not to create any divisions (3:103) amongst themselves.

Pillars of Faith

The five fundamental articles of faith in Islam are mandatory to be believed in to enter the fold of Islam.

“The Messenger believes, and so do the believers, in the guidance sent down upon him from his Lord: each of them believes in Allah, and in His angels, and in His Books, and in His Messengers. They say: “We make no distinction between any of His Messengers. We hear and obey. Our Lord! Grant us Your forgiveness; to You we are destined to return.” (2:285)

This verse outlines what one is required to believe in and what should be the distinguishing characteristics of one’s conduct. They consist of the following: belief in God, in His angels, in His Books, in all His Messengers, and in the fact that ultimately one will have to stand before God’s judgement.

Iqbal (R.H) validates submission to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and associates obedience with the will of the Lord. Iqbal also endorses the significance of the Quran as the fountainhead of all knowledge.

Ki Muhammad (S.A.W.) Se Wafa Tu Ne Tau Hum Tere Hain

Yeh Jahan Cheez Hai Kya, Loh-o-Qalam Tere Hain

To my Muhammad be but true, And you have conquered me;

The world is nothing, you will command My Pen of Destiny.

Bang-e-Dra-120  Jawab-e-Shikwa

Issi Quran Mein Hai Ab Tark-e-Jahan Ki Taleem

Jis Ne Momin Ko Banaya Meh-o-Parveen Ka Ameer

The Quranic teaching did bring the Moon and Pleiades to human

Is now explained in a manner strange, ’Twixt man and the world to cause a breach.

Zarb-e-Kaleem-006 Tan Ba Taqdeer


“Whatever of good reaches you is from Allah, but whatever evil befalls you, is from yourself.” (2:49)

“And those who believe and do righteous good deeds, they are dwellers or paradise, they will dwell therein forever.” (2:82)

عمل سے زندگی بنتی ہے جنت بھی جہنم بھی

یہ خاکی اپنی فطرت میں نا نوری ہے نا ناری ہے 

Likewise, Iqbal held that it is our conduct (amal) which makes our life either heaven (nori) or hell (naari). Thus, Iqbal articulated that the Quran is a book which emphasises deeds rather than ideas, which is also one of the core messages of the Holy Quran.

The True Spirit of a Muslim

Iqbal holds that man is the vicegerent of Almighty Allah. His individual identity manifests itself when he realizes the full potential of his ego or Khudi. Once man attains this consciousness, his singular conduct is reflected in the social realm. The dichotomy of individual and collective course of actions is not contrasting but complementary to each other. Thus, Iqbal perceives that the individual and the nation are mirrors of each other.

Iqbal believed that the spiritual aspirations of man establish a society which fashions the ideals of Millat. Ultimately, this Millat takes the political discourse to exercise leadership as embodied by the Caliphate. In retrospect, Muslims of the subcontinent had lost their identity, so there was no path to follow. In chapter the Principle of Movement in Islam of his book Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Iqbal has tried to strike a balance between permanence and change.

There are some themes of religion which are permanent, while some issues endeavor in the renewed inference of Islam. Iqbal then raises the question, “What then is the principle of movement in Islam?” This is Ijtihad. Ijtihad means creative interpretation or attempt to exert oneself for comprehending a new situation and reformulation. These concepts are discussed below along with Quranic verses which validate that the poetry of Iqbal has been greatly influenced by the Holy Quran.

“They said: ‘Will You put on the earth one who will make there mischief and will shed blood? He said: ‘I know what you do not know.” (2:30).

“It is He who has appointed You vicegerent on the earth and exalted some of you in rank above others, so that He may test you by means of what he has given you.” (6:165).

Har Lehza Hai Momin Ki Nayi Shan, Nayi Aan

Guftar Mein, Kirdar Mein, Allah Ki Burhan!

A Muslim true gets grandeur new with moment’s change and every hour:

By words and deeds, he gives proof of Mighty God, His reach and power.


Ye Char Anasir Hon To Banta Hai Musalman

To rout the foes, to grant them a reprieve, do pious deeds and show great might:

Are four ingredients that make a Muslim devout

Koi Andaza Kar Sakta Hai Uss Ke Zor-E-Bazu Ka!

Nigah-E-Mard-E-Momin Se Badal Jati Hain Taqdeerain

Can anyone even guess the strength of his arm?

By the glance of the man who is a true believer, even destiny is changed.

Zarb-e-Kaleem-062 Mard-e-Musalman

Iqbal urges man to transform into the best version of himself. He says that man has been bestowed with an infinite capacity to exercise his free will. In doing so, man is required to realize his potential to the fullest and become Mard-i-Momin, the ideal man who is truly a vicegerent of Almighty Allah. The fate of man is accorded with his freedom of will. This freedom of will can only be exercised if a man identifies his Khudi (Ego).

Concept of Khudi (Ego) and Individuality in Islam

Ego encompasses the central theme in the poetry of Iqbal. Iqbal identified that the philosophy of self-denial has permeated Muslims. Much of Islamic Sufism was based on self-abandonment. Muslims of the sub-continent were in appalling conditions as they were inspired by Sufism. Iqbal pointed out that material aspects of life are necessary in order to fully recognize ego. Allah (SWT) has not commanded us to abandon worldly affairs. Rather, He directed us to take full advantage of His creation.

“Indeed, We have dignified the children of Adam, carried them on land and sea, granted them good and lawful provisions, and privileged them far above many of Our creatures.” (17:70)

Khol Ankh, Zameen Dekh, Falak Dekh, Faza Dekh

Mashriq Se Ubharte Huwe Suraj Ko Zara Dekh

Open your eyes and look above,

Look at the streak of dawn

Bal-e-Jibril-145 Rooh-e-Arzi Adam Ka Istaqbal Karti Hai

As it is human nature that one cannot pour from an empty cup, Iqbal holds that unless man completely satisfies his biological and material needs, his aspiration to transcend spiritually will go in vain and will eventually end up in self-denial.

Iqbal gives a spiritual call to the man to develop ‘‘the Self’’ through his beautiful couplet.

Apne mann Main doob kar paja surag-e-zindagi

Tu agar mera nhi banta, na ban apna tou bann

Delve into your soul and there seek our life’s buried tracks.

Will you not be mine? Then be not mine, be your own right.

Bangi Dara

Towards the path of seeking individual identity, the man identifies himself as the vicegerent of Allah (SWT). The perfection of the self can only be attained once man absorbs the attributes of God. This ‘self’ consciousness of one’s potential signifies the Khudi or ego. The man’s will becomes the will of God.

Khudi Ko Kar Buland Itna Ke Har Taqdeer Se Pehle

Khuda Bande Se Khud Puche, Bata Teri Raza Kya Hai

Develop the self so that before every decree

God will ascertain from you: “What is your wish?”

“Verily God will not change the conditions of people till they change what is in themselves.” (13:11)

Hence, Iqbal highlighted that the individual effort of man imprints an impact on the larger scheme of societal affairs.

Muslim Ummah: The Concept of Millat

All the aspects of Islam pivot on both individual and collective efforts of the followers. For instance, the pillars of Islam, Namaz (prayers), Roza (fasting), Zakat (obligatory charity), Hajj (pilgrimage) and Jihad, render significance to individuals and the whole of society.

“And verily this Ummah of yours is one Ummah and I am your Lord and Cherisher, therefore fear Me and no other.” (23:52)

“Humankind was one single Ummah. And God sent messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Scriptures in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed…” (2:213)

Afrad Ke Hathon Mein Hai Aqwam Ki Taqdeer

Har Fard Hai Millat Ke Muqaddar Ka Sitara

Fortunes of States through individual prowess ripen 

Each man has one star of their ascendant (Destiny)

Armaghan-e-Hijaz-02 Budhe Baloch Ki Nasihat Baite Ko

Millat Ke Sath Rabta Ustawar Rakh

Pewasta Reh Shajar Se, Umeed-e-Bahar Rakh!

Keep very strong communication with the nation

Remain attached to the tree and have spring’s expectations!

Bang-e-Dra-153 Pewasta Reh Shajar Se, Umeed-e-Bahar Rakh

 Iss Raaz Ko Ek Mard-e-Farangi* Ne Kiya Fash

Har Chand Ke Dana Isse Khila Nahin Karte

A certain European* revealed a secret, 

Although the wise do not reveal the core of the matter.

Jumhooriat Ek Tarz-e-Hukumat Hai Ke Jis Mein

Bandon Ko Gina Karte Hain, Tola Nahin Karte!

Democracy is a certain form of government in which 

men are counted but not weighed.

Zarb-e-Kaleem-169 Jumhooriat

“You are the best community (Ummah) raised up for (the benefit of) humanity; enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong and believing in God…” (3:110)


The Islamic concept of leadership lays the foundation for the rule of law and good governance.

“If you do not know, then ask Ahluz Zikr, [i.e. those who know – the learned ones].”  (16:43)

When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) intended to send Mu’adh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he (PBUH) asked: How will you judge when the occasion of deciding a case arises?

He replied: I shall judge in accordance with Allah’s Book.

He (PBUH) asked: (What will you do) if you do not find any guidance in Allah’s Book?

He replied: (I shall act) in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).

He (PBUH) asked: (What will you do) if you do not find any guidance in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and in Allah’s Book?

He replied: I shall do my best to form an opinion and I shall spare no effort.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then patted him on the breast and said: Praise be to Allah who has helped the Messenger of Allah to find something which pleases the Messenger of Allah.

Iqbal felt that there was a dire need for Ijtihad to awaken Muslims from misery and despondency. The circumstances of Muslims needed a revived interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah. In his seven lectures, which were later compiled in his book, the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Iqbal upheld the significance of ijtihad.

Sukoon Muhal Hai Qudrat Ke Kaarkhane Mein

Sabat Aik Taghiyur Ko Hai Zamane Mein

Quiescence is difficult in the universe

Only change is permanent in the universe

Bang-e-Dra-094 Sitara

Hind Mein Hikmat-e-Deen Koi Kahan Se Sikhe

Na Kahin Lazzat-e-Kirdar, Na Afkar-e-Aumeeq

There is no place in India where we could learn the tenets that concern the Muslim faith.

Devoid of zeal for goodly acts

Halqa-e-Shouk Mein Woh Jurrat-e-Andesha Kahan

Aah Mehkoomi-o-Taqleed-o-Zawal-e-Tehqeeq!

The mystics, who were keen their faith spread, are silent now and thought for them a dread.

Alas! the state of bondage deprives them of zest, slaves tread the beaten path and relinquish quests.

Khud Badalte Nahin, Quran Ko Badal Dete Hain
Huwe Kis Darja Faqeehan-e-Haram Be-Toufeeq!

The jurists are helpless to such extent canʹt change themselves but would change Quranʹs content.
How sad, the jurists canʹt shift their outlook, but would prefer to change the Holy Book!

In Ghulamon Ka Ye Maslak Hai Ke Naqis Hai Kitab
Ke Sikhati Nahin Momin Ko Ghulami Ke Tareeq!

These abject slaves opine and cling to the creed that the Holy Book is full of flaws indeed.
They think it is incomplete for this fact because it fails to teach the slavish tact.

Zarb-e-Kaleem-012 Ijtihad

Hence, Iqbal opined that unless Muslims reinvigorated Islamic thought on the basis of ijtihad, they would continue to suffer from unforeseen shackles of slavery.

 Concept of Leadership

“It is they who are the true believers. They will have elevated ranks, forgiveness, and an honourable provision from their Lord.” (8:4)

“So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers.” (3:139)

Subsequently, Iqbal urges Muslims to recognize their true identity as they have been bestowed the responsibility of Imamat (leadership).

سبق پھر پڑھ صداقت کا عدالت کا شجاعت کا

لیا جائے گا تُجھ سے کام دُنیا کی امامت کا

Read again the lesson of truth, of justice and valour!
You will be asked to do the work of taking on responsibility for the world.

Apni Millat Par Qiyas Aqwam-e-Maghrib Se Na Kar

Khas Hai Tarkeeb Mein Qoum-e-Rusool-e-Hashmi

Judge not your nation on the criteria of Western nations

Special in a composition is the Hashimi Prophet’s nation

Un Ki Jamiat Ka Hai Mulk-o-Nasab Par Inhasar
Quwwat-e-Mazhab Se Mustahkam Hai Jamiat Teri

Based on country and race their organization
The force of din stabilizes your organization

Bang-e-Dra-152 Mazhab


In a nutshell, the poetry of Allama Iqbal has been inspired by the Holy Quran. The purpose was to revive the link between Muslims and Islam. Iqbal evaluated the conditions of Muslims, suggested a way forward, and imbibed the spirit of Muslim nationalism which ultimately resulted in the creation of Pakistan.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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