Why Pakistan?

Why was Pakistan created? What was its genesis and what ideology was driving the Pakistan movement? Why did a vast majority of Muslims support the idea of Pakistan and why did a majority of the Islamic scholars (Ulema) oppose it?

These are the questions which have been debated ever since Pakistan came into existence. In recent years, many have even started to question the wisdom and the vision of the country’s founding leaders. (Traditionally, there have always been opponents of Pakistan trying to wreck the very house that provides them shelter and sustenance). In answering these questions, we will first explain the positions of those who opposed the idea of Pakistan, and then present the arguments which Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam put forth in its favor.

Why were the British and the Hindus against the idea of creating a separate country for Muslims? Because the British (as Mountbatten mentioned many times) wanted to leave behind their legacy, and history of their rule and accomplishments in a united India. They did not want to create a fracture in the country which had served them so well that it was called the jewel in the British crown. The Hindus, on the other hand, did not want to rule over only a part of India – especially after being ruled by Muslim kings and the British for so many centuries. This was their only chance in history to rule over all of India, and they did not want to miss this opportunity. Thus, both the British and the Hindus had their own reasons and self-interests to oppose the permanent partition of India. Consequently, such behavior on their part was perfectly understandable and quite logical.

But what about the Muslims’ role in this equation? Unlike the British and the Hindus who were each united in their opposition to the idea of Pakistan, Muslims were not united in favor of Pakistan (as always—history bears ample testimony to this disunity amongst Muslims) even on this fundamental issue of extreme historical importance. Although a vast majority of Muslims supported the idea of Pakistan, many prominent Muslims, especially the Islamic scholars were against it and vehemently opposed its creation. Why did they oppose this idea while a vast majority of Muslims supported it? In order to understand this apparent paradox, we have to go to the very root of the question.

It was Allama Iqbal who for the first time gave the idea of Pakistan. He had a deep understanding of the Quran and devoted almost all his life to propagating its pure message in his God given unique style. He said:

“If you wish to live the life of a Muslim, then it is not possible except to live by the Quran.” This couplet of Iqbal is a poetic rendering of verses (7:3) and (33:2) of the Quran.

Iqbal suggested this because of his deep understanding of Islam, its political process and its history. Iqbal suggests that Muslims have to guide their lives collectively and create a social order based on the Quran because:

“Allah who has created all the objects in the universe, has also undertaken to make them aware of their goal and guide them towards it” (20:50)

The principles of the Quran were gradually implemented as a living force and a living miracle in the society by Prophet Muhammad (S) which sent tremors into the very hearts of the Byzantine and the Persian empires. This took complete shape as a social order during the period of Caliph Umar (R). [Both the Byzantine empire of the Romans and the Sassanid Empire of the Persians were defeated, and the social order established during Caliph Umar (R) stretched from North Africa in the west to the Arabian Sea and Persia in the east.] In this social order, the three institutions of human exploitation—kingships, religious priesthood, and capitalism—were eliminated. Thus, people were enjoying universal human rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Quran and were completely free from any political, religious or economic suppression and exploitation because it was based on the Quranic principle that:

“It is not allowed for a man that Allah should give him the book, power to judge, and even prophet-hood, and he should say to his fellow beings to obey his orders rather than those of Allah…”(3:79)

In another verse, Allah says very clearly: “Those who do not judge by what Allah has revealed, they are kafirs.” (5:44). Thus, it is absolutely clear that according to the Quran, the only obedience is to Allah (through His book the Quran) and not to any individual (who may even be a king or a queen) or a parliament or any other organization. Caliph Umar (R) often used to tell his people to remove him from power (khilafat) if they noticed that any decision of his was against any Quranic principles. This is in stark contrast to the situation today, in which so-called religious leaders and politicians, reformists and would-be renewers of Muslim power, ask Muslims to follow them blindly. This is called Taqlid in Shariah terminology.

This social order established according to the Quran prevailed for some time after the Prophet (S), but was soon corrupted by the establishment of the kingship sustained by capitalism. To ensure their survival and consolidation, these forces availed themselves of the cooperation of men who appeared to speak in the name of God. They posed as the interpreters of God’s will and thus distorted the principles and tenets of the Quran, enabling them to stifle it as a living force in the society. Iqbal says:

“These scholars do not change themselves, but they change the Quran (by their interpretations). To what degree these so called experts of Islam have fallen.”

“Oh Allah! Your guidance is no doubt the Truth. But our interpreters of the Quran can turn the Quran into Pazhand (or Bible) by their interpretations.”

This kind of Islam was called “Ajami Islam” by Iqbal. This state of affairs had prevailed throughout the Muslim countries for centuries. It is this version of (corrupted) Islam that the Ulema represented. These Ulema used to argue that when the (Hindu) Congress was giving Muslims freedom to practice their religion, then there was no need for a separate country. [Although there were a few Muslim leaders in Congress, it was mainly a Hindu organization. These Muslim leaders were basically puppets of the Hindu high command and especially selected to mislead Muslims.] Iqbal fiercely opposed this version of Islam and said about these Ulema:

“If the Mullah has freedom of prayer in India, then his ignorance leads him to believe that Islam is free as well.”

“What a nation is and what the leadership of a nation is; how these poor Imams of two Raka’a can know?”

Because Iqbal’s view of Islam presented a threat to the “Ajami,” passive Islam being practiced by the Ulema, most Islamic scholars turned against Iqbal and opposed his idea of Pakistan. How ironic that most of these Islamic scholars moved to Pakistan after it was created and then even started demanding power. They argued that since Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, we as the custodians of Islam, should have the power to implement it. [Of course they wanted (and still want) to implement the “Ajami” Islam (i.e., the corrupted version of Islam) which Iqbal opposed all along].

Now let us return to the basic question of why Pakistan was created. Dear reader, the best way to understand the genesis and ideology of Pakistan is to go to the main source directly- Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam. Iqbal, because he was the originator of the idea of Pakistan and presented the ideology for its movement. And Quaid-e-Azam because he was the implementer of the idea of Pakistan and provided the requisite leadership for the political impetus needed for its eventual realization as a country. Otherwise, we will be lost in the debates and counter-debates, and arguments and counter-arguments, if we turn to other sources. So, in the following, I will present several quotations from recorded speeches and writings of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam. You, dear reader, can make up your own mind as to why Pakistan was created. You do not have to read, and should not read second-hand sources in making up your mind.

As we have seen already, the social order implemented on the basis of the Quran was replaced by dictatorships and the Quran was never allowed to play any practical part in the lives of the Muslims since then. Iqbal raised his voice and called upon the Ummah to revive true Islam in the light of the Quran. This, he said, was possible only if we had a piece of land in which a state could be established purely on the guidelines indicated by the Quran. He said in his presidential address of the All India Muslim League session at Allahabad in 1930:

“I, therefore, demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim state in the best interests of India and Islam. For India, it means security and peace resulting from an internal balance of power; for Islam, an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian Imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilize its laws, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and with the spirit of modern times.”

At the annual session of the All India Muslim conference at Lahore on March 21, 1932, he said:

“…the possibility of the faith you represent is not yet exhausted. It can still create a new world where social rank of man is not determined by his caste or color, or the amount of dividend he earns, but by the kind of life he lives: where capital cannot be allowed to accumulate so as to dominate the real producer of wealth. This superb ideal of your faith, however, needs emancipation from the medieval fancies of emotions, which, during the course of centuries, we have woven around ourselves. And be it further said to the shame of us- men of older generations- that we failed to equip the younger generation for the economic, political and even religious crisis that the present age is likely to bring. The community needs a complete overhauling of its mentality in order that it may again become capable of feeling the urge of fresh desires and ideal.”

Iqbal further said in his book Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam:

“…during the course of history the moral and social ideals of Islam have been gradually de-Islamized through the influence of local character, and pre-Islamic superstitions of Muslim nations. These ideals today are more Iranian, Turkish, or Arabic than Islamic… The only alternative open to us then is to tear off from Islam the hard crust which has immobilized an essentially dynamic outlook on life, and to rediscover the original verities of freedom, equality and solidarity with a view to rebuild our moral, social and political ideals out of their original simplicity and universality.”

This was the purpose for which Allama Iqbal had given the idea of Pakistan- to be a true Islamic state built on the foundation provided by the Quran. This was to be a unique state among the states of the world (unfortunately, this purpose was not achieved; we will come back to this later). Iqbal examined critically, in his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, what had been going on in our past history and said:

“The teaching of the Quran that life is a process of progressive creation necessitates that each generation, guided but unhampered by the work of its predecessors, should be permitted to solve its own problems.”

Iqbal accomplished his task and handed over the torch to Quaid-e-Azam whom he had personally persuaded to take up the challenge of fulfilling his dream of Pakistan.

Quaid-e-Azam said in his presidential address in 1940:

“It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders… The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literatures. They belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects of life and our life are different.”

In his speech at the Frontier Muslim League Conference on November 21, 1945, he said:

“We have to fight a double edged battle, one against the Hindu Congress and the British Imperialists, both of them being capitalists. The Muslims demand Pakistan where they could rule according to their own code of life and according to their own cultural growth, traditions and Islamic laws.”

In a message to NWFP Muslim Students Federation in April 1943, he said:

“You have asked me to give a message. What message can I give you? We have got the great message in the Quran for our guidance and enlightenment.”

In an Eid message to the nation in 1945, he said:

“Every Muslim knows that the injunctions of the Quran are not confined to religious and moral duties. Everyone except those who are ignorant, knows that the Quran is the general code of the Muslims. A religious, social, civil, commercial, military, judicial, criminal and penal code; it regulates everything from the ceremonies of religion to those of daily life; from the salvation of the soul to the health of the body; from the rights of all, to those of each individual; from morality to crime; from punishment here to that in the life to come, and our Prophet (S) has enjoined on us that every Muslim should possess a copy of the Holy Quran and be his own priest. Therefore, Islam is not confined to the spiritual tenets and doctrines and rituals and ceremonies. It is a complete code regulating the whole Muslim society in every department of life, collectively and individually.”

In August 1941, Quaid-e-Azam gave an interview to the students of the Osmania University. The replies he gave to the questions asked by the students explain his depth and comprehension of the basic foundations of Islam. Here are excerpts from the interview:

 Q. What are the essential features of religion and a religious state?

A. When I hear the word “religion,” my mind thinks at once, according to the English language and British usage, of private relations between man and God. But I know full well that according to Islam, the word is not restricted to the English connotation. I am neither a Maulwi nor a Mullah, nor do I claim knowledge of theology. But I have studied in my own way the Holy Quran and Islamic tenets. This magnificent book is full of guidance respecting all human life, whether spiritual, or economic, political or social, leaving no aspect untouched.

Q. What is the distinctive feature of the Islamic state?

A. There is a special feature of the Islamic state which must not be overlooked. There, obedience is due to God and God alone, which takes practical shape in the observance of the Quranic principles and commands. In Islam, obedience is due neither to a king, nor to a parliament, nor to any other organization. It is the Quranic provisions which determine the limits of our freedom and restrictions in political and social spheres. In other words, the Islamic state is an agency for enforcement of the Quranic principles and injunctions.

There will be no economic exploitation by the capitalists in an Islamic state. In his presidential address delivered to the annual session of the All India Muslim League, in Delhi on April 24, 1943, he said:

“Here I should like to give a warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at our expense by a system which is so vicious, which is so wicked and which makes them so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They have forgotten the lessons of Islam. Greed and selfishness have made these people subordinate to the interests of others in order to fatten themselves. It is true we are not in power today. You go anywhere to the countryside. I have visited villages. There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? Is this the aim of Pakistan? Do you visualize that millions have been exploited and cannot get one meal a day? If this is the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it. If they are wise, they will have to adjust themselves to the new modern conditions of life. If they don’t, God help them, we shall not help them.”

Alas! These ideals which Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam presented were never fully achieved. Only the shell of their dreams exists today, which is the actual country of Pakistan. Even the shell was broken when East Pakistan separated. Iqbal died before his dream became true and Quaid-e-Azam died in its very early stages, and Pakistan was left to the care of individuals who saw Pakistan as the vehicle for gaining power themselves. Greed and selfishness continue unabated. The dream of Iqbal is still awaiting to be fulfilled.

“Those who are at the helm of affairs (in Pakistan) are the ones who never participated in its journey.”

But Muslims are always hopeful because they know that if they turn towards the Quran then Allah promises that their condition will take a turn for the better. And Allah never turns away from his promise.

Finally, let us finish with these inspiring words of Iqbal as a tribute to him in this difficult time for Pakistan. He closed his 1930 speech in Allahabad with the following words:

“…Rise above sectional interests and private ambitions… Pass from matter to spirit. Matter is diversity; spirit is light, life and unity. One lesson I have learnt from the history of Muslims. At critical moments in their history, it is Islam that has saved Muslims and not vice versa. If today you focus your vision on Islam and seek inspiration from the ever-vitalizing idea embodied in it, you will be only reassembling your scattered forces, regaining your lost integrity, and thereby saving yourself from total destruction.”

May Allah give us the strength and the courage to be worthy of these feelings expressed by Allama Iqbal.

āsmāñ terī lahad par shabnam-afshānī kare

sabza-e-nau-rasta is ghar kī nigahbānī kare

  Category: Asia, Featured, Highlights, Life & Society
  Topics: History, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Iqbal, Pakistan  Values: Freedom
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