On Nov 9, 1877, in the town of Sialkot a child was born to Sheikh Noor Mohammed, a small trader of modest means. He was named Mohammad Iqbal; today we know him as Allama Iqbal. To learn the alphabet he was sent to a local mosque and later to a local school (the Scotch Mission High School and College, now Murray College). Iqbal attained his Masters degree in Philosophy in 1899 from Government College Lahore. The same year at the annual meeting of the Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam he recited his first poem Nala-e-Yatim, earning popularity. He also went abroad for higher studies.
After completing his education, Allama Iqbal took up teaching Arabic, Philosophy and English literature at the Government College and Oriental College, Lahore.
Between 1926 and 1933 he wrote a series of outstanding poetic works. In 1915 his first long philosophical poem Asrar-e-Khudi was published. Some of his other poems are Ramuz-e-Bekhudi and Payam-e-Mashriq. His collection of verses are Zaboor-e-Ajam, Javed Nama, Bal-e-Jibreel, Musafir, Pas Che Bayad Kard Ai Aqwam-e-Sharq, Zarb-e-Kaleem and Armaghan-e-Hijaz.
He also wrote some text books for schools on Economics, History and literature.
Allama Iqbal died after a prolonged illness on April 21, 1938. His tomb of white marble, red sand stone and lapis lazuli stands outside the gates of Badshahi Mosque.
The mausoleum of our national poet was designed by Hyderabad Daccan’s then Chief Architect, Nawab Zain Yar Jang Bahadur. It took thirteen years to build at a cost of about one lakh rupees.
Soon after Iqbal’s death, the President of Iqbal’s tomb committee, Chaudhary Mohammed, approached distinguished architects. However, the designs they came up with left the committee dissatisfied.
Dr Muhammad Baqir writes that when Nawab Zain Yar Jung Bahadur came up with his first design for the committee’s examination the president of the tomb committee remarked: “This design would be more suited for the Nightingale than for Iqbal’s tomb’. Later he pointed out historical buildings and said “Here is the Great Mosque which is a symbol of spiritual power, the Fort symbolizes our temporal power and in the north is the rebel (Ranjit Sindh Samadhi). So his mausoleum design should aim at the expression in stone of the ‘Self’, its tenacity and power.”
The committee opined the designer should seek inspiration from models from the Afghan period instead of the Mughal period. But alternatively they favoured designs inspired from Moorish architecture. The committee subsequently passed the present design which is a combination of Afghan and Moorish architecture.
Before it’s construction many difficulties popped up, specially the problem of adequate funds. The committee had decided to not to take any donation from the Governments and state rulers as it thought that fund collected from these means would not be befitting homage. So the committee raised funds through Iqbal’s friends, admirers and disciple’s contribution. Though it was a difficult task soon contributions flowed in for construction.
Jaipur’s red sandstone and Makrana (a place in Rajputana, India) marble is used for building. The red sand-stone variety was not available in Pakistan. Due to import stoppage of red stone construction remained suspended after partition for a long period.
The mausoleum has two gates (at the eastern and southern side). The gates’ teak framework is inlaid with white marble work. The tomb is surrounded by a small garden, distributed into small plots.
Afghanistan’s most expensive architectural stone ‘lapislazuli’ is used for the Taweez (the same stone that was used for Emperor Babar’s tomb). It was gifted by the Afghan Government. The Quranic verses inscribed on the Taweez are an excellent specimen of calligraphy.
From the ghazal, Zabur-e-Ajam, six couplets are written on the inner walls. The Taweez also bears couplets which were selected and calligraphed in Afghanistan.
Every year the mausoleum attracts a number of dignitaries, notables, and Muslim countries delegations, members of diplomatic corps, who pay their homage. It is said that Mustafa Kamal Ataturk sprinkled the earth from Maulana Rumi’s tomb on his grave. Every day a large number of people visit their great national poet’s tomb and offer fateha and sprinkling flowers.