Dr Sheikh Mohammad Iqbal is a Kashmiri author, historian, Islamic scholar, intellectual, educationist, academician, research scholar, writer, publisher and former archaeologist. A globally acknowledged scholar on Islamic History and Arab-Islamic issues, Iqbal is considered an authority on Saudi Arabia and (was) a friend of Late King Faisal bin Abd al-Aziz. Being a prolific writer, he has written over forty seven books including his five-volume History of Islam and Muslims and numerous research papers and articles published in the local, national, and international journals. He was a visiting Asian Professor and Fulbright-Hays Senior Scholar to United States. He served in Kashmir for almost three decades, holding, besides others, the posts of a Lecturer, Professor, Head of Department, Principal and Director.
Iqbal was born at Sialkot, Punjab (now in Pakistan). His parents used to go to the British Resident's Office to Srinagar for arranging civil supplies. He was 15 days old when his mother died at the age of 28 years during an epidemic. He (along with his elder brother) was taken immediately to Srinagar and brought up by his maternal grandmother who managed his early education. He studied at Tyndale Biscoe School in Habba Kadal for basic education.
Iqbal obtained his F.A. from S. P. College and graduated with Honours in Arabic from the University of Punjab, Lahore, in 1946. He did his Master's degree in History and Political Science and LL.B. in 1949 at the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. He joined the School of International Studies, Sapru House, New Delhi in 1956, for a course of Ph. D, taking up "Political Development in Najd and Hejaz, 1901 -1934" as the subject of his research. He was qualified for the award of Doctor of Philosophy in July, 1963. His fields of specialisation are Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, early Islamic History, and Arab-Islamic Issues of the 20th Century and after.
Iqbal was appointed as Deputy Custodian, Evacuees' Property at Jammu in 1949. He later joined the Department of Education (J&K) in as Lecturer at S. P. College where he taught for 20 years.
Iqbal taught and lectured in American Universities as a Visiting Asian Professor and Fulbright-Hays Senior Scholar. With assignments of teaching and addressing public audiences, he created deep impression among the faculty members and the Post-Graduate classes at the American institutions of higher learning. He gave addresses on subjects like Islamic History, Islamic Toleration and Middle-East. His lectures earned him an offer to settle in the United States permanently which he declined.
As the Principal of the Islamia College, he brought the Students' Unrest under control and ensured discipline within the college and created a conducive atmosphere for education.
Iqbal attended the Third Islamic Summit Conference of Islamic States at Makkah/Ta'if in 1981. He was a visiting scholar to King Abdulaziz University and participated in numerous International Conferences and Seminars in the Gulf. He has been frequently visiting Middle-Eastern countries especially Saudi Arabia along with Egypt, Pakistan and Sri Lanka since 1958 in connection with his research.
As the Director of the Department of Libraries, Research, Museums and Archives, "his contributions in reorganising the department are extraordinary." He left "no stone unturned in giving name and fame to the Museum movement by submitting notes proposal to the government for its recognition of Museums." He opposed Sheikh Abdullah's idea of handing over the Hari Parbat Fort to the Archaeological Survey of India. He preferred that the Fort should be kept under the administration of the State Government. He also did not favour the Government's move to demolish the gateways of Cheshma Shahi and Nishat gardens.
Iqbal was being considered to be appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kashmir by Mir Qasim and Sheikh Abdullah. However, the proposal did not pan out for “his young age.”
In June 1978, Iqbal was invited to an International Islamic Seminar held at Sri Lanka where he read out his much appreciated paper on ''Islam and Education.''
Iqbal has written on a wide range of subjects including Islamic History, British History, American History, Gulf History, political and social history of the Middle-East and Indian subcontinent, issues concerning the Muslim Ummah, Pakistan and its leaders, the issue of Jammu & Kashmir, among others. His work and contribution has been richly commented upon by eminent scholars and statesmen of the East and West. His two publications, Memoirs and Selected Correspondence "reveal his multi-dimensional administrative duties, personal exchanges, the range of relations, and, his yearning for a reformed and a confederate Islamic system free from issues, whether imported or created."