Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who proposed a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Sub-continent, also stressed the need for the establishment of institutes for research on Islam. The chief function of such an institute, according to him, should be “to mobilize the dormant spiritual energy of the younger generation by giving them a clear grasp of what Islam has already achieved and what it has still to achieve in the religious and cultural history of mankind”.

The need and relevance of research was, however, felt more intensely after the establishment of Pakistan and the adoption of the Objectives Resolution as the ideological framework for the country’s constitution. This was understandable since the basic idea underlying the demand for a separate Muslim state was that the Muslims had a distinct worldview and vision of life. Hence, the institutions of the new Muslim state had to be creatively developed primarily out of the Muslims” own intellectual resources rather than copied from others. The need to know and explain Islam in depth and to work out its implications for human thought and action in the present-day world was, therefore, self-evident.

For a proper development of the Muslim society it was considered imperative that Islamic scholarship should engage itself in serious study and research in the fields of Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, History, Culture, Philosophy, Tasawwuf and other Islamic subjects. It was important not only to review their development in the past but also to draw a blueprint for future development of Muslim thought so as to be able to meet the requirements of the contemporary Muslim society in a rapidly changing world.

Established in 1960 under a constitutional provision, the Islamic Research Institute (IRI) worked under the administrative umbrella of various ministries in the Government of Pakistan until 1980 when it was made part of the Islamic University, as its research arm. Subsequently in 1985 when the University received its new charter as International Islamic University, Islamabad, the Institute retained its position as one of its constituent units.

The main objectives of the Institute are to develop a methodology for research in the various fields of Islamic learning; to identify and study contemporary problems and interpret the teachings of Islam in order to assist not only the Pakistani society but also the whole Muslim Ummah to live according to the imperatives of Islam. The results of the work done at the Institute are published in books, monographs, research reports and the three quarterly journals of the Islamic Research Institute. The Institute also organizes seminars, conferences and workshops to achieve and promote its objectives.