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Muslim Internationalism: Poverty, Anti-imperialism, and Communism

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Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

This paper considers the political philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), a prolific writer in Urdu, Persian, and English and influential statesman of his day. His legacy as a formative figure in modern South Asian politics has been connected to the nation of Pakistan, though Iqbal did not live to see its emergence in 1947. Iqbal’s work intervenes in a crucial moment in the history of South Asia, declaring the need for a new understanding of Muslim life in light of what he felt was a pivotal—opportune as well as desperate—moment for reviving Islam and the Muslim community. Iqbal’s political context was rich with populist movements, including the Muslim League, the influence of the Ghadar Party, and Bengali leftist parties. All were vying for popular anti-imperial support on different grounds, and religious affiliation did not determine one’s sympathies. In the literature, Muslim solidarity movements are generally considered in terms of pan-Islamism, especially in the early 20th century. Drawing connections between economic and political thought stemming from Muhammad Iqbal’s work, I instead locate Iqbal’s politics in the context of internationalism, namely the Comintern.

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