Introducing Iqbal the Economist

Pervez Tahir


The Iqbal Memorial Lecture was instituted in 1994 when the
Pakistan Society of Development Economists (PSDE) celebrated the
completion of a decade of steady progress. A brief announcement stated:
“The Iqbal Memorial Lecture attributed to the national poet [Emphasis
added], Allama Muhammad Iqbal has been included in the programme for the
first time. Professor Ian M. D. Little is delivering that lecture”
[Secretary’s Report (1994), p. 1472]. Iqbal, the poet and philosopher
par excellence, has made incisive remarks or comments on economic and
social issues in his poetry, philosophical writings, and in the course
of his discourses as well as some famous letters, particularly those
written to the Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of
Pakistan. But these do not make Iqbal an economist. The Secretary of the
PSDE was, therefore, careful in observing that the lecture commemorates
our “national poet”. However, it will be of great interest to this
largest national congregation of economists and other scholars concerned
with development to know that the very first published book of Iqbal
related neither to poetry nor philosophy, but economics. It was written
in Urdu. He also taught the subject at undergraduate and Master’s level,
even though he had not studied it as a student. At the Government
College, Lahore, Iqbal studied English, Philosophy and Arabic for his
B.A. and then completed the M.A. in Philosophy.

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