AAR 2019: Economic Thought of Muhammad Iqbal

During the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Diego, I presented “Economic Thought of Muhammad Iqbal” in the Religion and Economy Unit.

The topic of Islamic socialism in existing scholarship is framed as mostly a question of socialism, not Islam. However, the influential British Indian poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) frames economic problems and solutions from an Islamic point of view. As such, my paper focuses on the religio-moral framing of Iqbal’s economic thought. I discuss a phrase it seems Iqbal coined in a poem called “Lenin before God” (in Bal-e-Jibril/Gabriel’s Wing, 1935), which can be translated capital-worship. Iqbal’s use of this phrase unites economic and religious thinking and acts as an invitation for further questioning on the relationship between the two in pursuit of just economic conditions.