Born on November 9, 1877 in the city of Sialkot, he was the son of Shaikh Noor Muhammed and Imam Bibi. His initial education was in Sialkot. He then went to Lahore where he studied at the University of Punjab, he received a master's degree in Philosophy. He then went on to teach Arabic at the Government College of Lahore until 1903.
In 1903, he went to Europe and began studies at Cambridge, while in England he also was able to practice law which he did through Lincoln's Inn. After staying in the United Kingdom, he then went on to study at the University of Munich. He earned a PhD with a thesis on the "Development of Metaphysics in Persia". While in Europe he also began to write his poetry in Farsi, because it was easier to write in than Urdu, but he finally decided on sticking to Urdu since most Indians did not understand Farsi.
Upon his return to India in 1908, he took up the practice of law. Throughout this entire time, he was an avid writer of poetry and had gained notoriety throughout Lahore for his works. As his popularity grew, he began to focus on helping Muslims develop individual thought. He also wrote numerous books on Islamic philosophy. His works would allow him to lecture at various universities throughout India.
Iqbal would eventually go on to join the All India Muslim League. As a member of this organization, he was very active. In 1930 during a major meeting in Allahbad, he delivered his famous speech which outlined his vision for a Muslim state in the northwestern part of India where Muslims were a majority. He would also go on to participate in conferences in London.
Iqbal died on April 12, 1938 in Lahore. He is buried near the entrance of the Badshai Mosque in that city.
Allama Iqbal International Airport (formerly Lahore International Airport was recently renamed for him).