Kalim Siddiqui was born in British India on September 15, 1931. His family were small land-owners in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), but his father worked as a sub-inspector of police. He first became politically aware and active as a teenager at boarding school in Faizabad in 1944-45. At this time, he became a student activist of the Muslim League during the Pakistan movement.
The Islamic symbolism the Muslim League used to mobilise the Muslim masses of India was one of the major attractions to him. He had received a six-volume set of Seerat-un Nabi by Shibly Nomani and Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi as a gift from a teacher when he was 12, and considered the life and example of the Prophet as his inspiration from that time onwards.
He moved to Karachi in 1948, a few months after the partition of British India and the establishment of Pakistan. There his political maturity grew and he realized that the new State was little more Islamic than British India had been. As a student, he was active in a Khilafat Group dedicated to establishing khilafah in Pakistan, and founded and edited a popular political newspaper The Independent Leader.
He came to Britain in 1954 to study journalism. Other members of the Khilafat Group also came to London at about the same time. The idea was to learn skills which they could put to use for the movement back in Pakistan. But in London the group broke up as differences emerged between them and some members became more interested in developing their careers.
The young Kalim meanwhile was proving a natural at journalism. Starting at the Kensington News in west London, he gradually worked his way up the journalistic ladder through a series of local and provincial newspapers. In 1964, shortly after moving to Slough, where he lived for the rest of his life, he joined the Guardian as a sub-editor.
At the same time, he decided to build upon the limited education he had received in India and Karachi. He did O-levels and A-levels at evening school before going on to study International Relations at University College, London, and then completing a PhD in 1972. Throughout his student career, he also continued to work full-time to support himself and his family.
Throughout this period, however, he also remained involved in both Islamic affairs generally and Pakistani affairs in particular, and the thinking which was to form the basis of his future work was developed.
During the late sixties, he spent long periods in Pakistan, where he worked as a foreign correspondent for the Guardian and did fieldwork for his doctorate, which was later published as Functions of International Conflict — a socio-economic study of Pakistan (1974). Shortly afterwards, the East Pakistan war began and Bangladesh was created. It was during this period that he wrote his book Conflict, Crisis and War in Pakistan (1972), and that the first steps towards the establishment of the Muslim Institute were taken.
In hindsight, the establishment of the Muslim Institute in 1973 can be seen as the beginning of his main work; everything that led to this phase in his life was merely a prologue.