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Debate on Partition in Daily Times

Ishtiaq Ahmed, Yasser Lalif Hamdani exchange on the Venkat Dhulipala’s book, ’Creating a New Medina’

24 April 2015

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[Debate in Daily Times on New historical research on Partition. A review of Venkat Dhulipala’s book, Creating a New Medina, by Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed appeared in Daily Times on 7 april, and a response to it by Mr Yasser Latif Hamdani on 13 April, followed by a rejoinder by Ishtiaq Ahmed on 21 April 2015. On 27 April Mr Yasser Latif Hamdani wrote another article and there was rejoinder to this on the 5th of May 2015]

Contents:

  1. Imagining Pakistan as an Islamic state (Ishtiaq Ahmed)
  2. Use of religion in politics (Yasser Latif Hamdani)
  3. The ulema in pre-partition electoral politics (Ishtiaq Ahmed)
  4. Congress’ use of the ulema (Yasser Latif Hamdani)
  5. Muslim League’s use of the ulema (Ishtiaq Ahmed)

1.

Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/07-Apr-2015/imagining-pakistan-as-an-islamic-state

Imagining Pakistan as an Islamic state

by Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed

April 07, 2015

Creating a New Medina:
State Power, Islam and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India
Author: Venkat Dhulipala
Publisher:Cambridge University Press, 2015;
Pgs: 544

In the liberal-Marxist intellectual environment in which I received my political grooming in the Lahore of the late 1960s, the standard view was that the Muslim League, especially its supreme leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, wanted a separate state for the Muslim nation to escape exploitation at the hands of the Hindu moneylenders. On the other hand, the ulema (as a whole) were opposed to such a state because it was set forth as a secular nation state instead of an Islamic state. A greater deception and distortion of truth cannot be imagined in the light of the evidence that has been emerging in recent years.

Venkat Dhulipala’s exhaustive study, meticulously researched and intelligently argued, pushes the origins of the Islamist foundations of the Pakistan idea by another five to 10 years into the past. Not surprisingly, it was in the stronghold of the Muslim ashraaf (elite), the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh) of North India, that such an idea was first tried in the elections. The Deobandi Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) and its leader, Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani, steadfastly opposed the demand for Pakistan on the grounds that Hindus and Muslims should join hands to liberate India from the yoke of British colonialism. He based his standpoint on the grounds of wataniyat (loyalty to the land one is born in), which he asserted was fully compatible with the pristine model the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) had devised to build an alliance with the Jews of Medina to ward off any attack by his Meccan enemies.

On such a basis, Madani propounded the theory of muttahida qaumiyat (composite nationalism), in which all Indians, including Hindus and Muslims, would be equal partners. He advised Muslims to join the Congress Party. This argument was challenged by a prominent Deobandi dissenter, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi. Thanvi argued that although joining Congress was in itself not against sharia, for Muslims to join any political organisation it was imperative that the supremacy of Islam was guaranteed. Additionally, non-Muslims had to be in a position of subservience in such an organisation. He rejected Madani’s argument that the covenant signed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Jews created equality between Muslims and the Jews. On the contrary, asserted Thanvi, the covenant required Muslims to be the leaders while Jews could only be in the position of followers.

In the five by-elections held for reserved Muslim seats in UP after the 1937 elections, the Muslim League candidates won four and one was won by the Congress-supported Muslim candidate. Thanvi and other Islamists vigorously campaigned for the Muslim League. Some prominent Muslims from other parts of India also campaigned for the Muslim League. Thus, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan from Punjab and Khawaja Hasan Nizami (custodian of the mausoleum of Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin’s shrine) of Delhi joined the fray. Zafar Ali Khan set the tone of the Muslim League campaign in typical communal contrasts:

“Hafiz Ibrahim (Congress candidate, protégé of Hussain Ahmed Madani) Udhar hain, Abdus Sami (Muslim League candidate) Idhhar,

Hardwari dars udhar hai, Shari’i taleem idhar,

Us Taraf Gandhi ke farman par Sar-i-Taslim Kham,

Aur Rasul Allah ki Taslim ki Tanzim Idhar,

Us Taraf Nehru Paraston ke liye Bharat ka Raj,

Hift Aqleem Idhar

Vote Dene waalon Sunon Kaan Dil ke Kholkar,

Khatra Imaan ko Udhar se Hai, Nahi yeh baham Idhar”

(On one side stands Hafiz Ibrahim, here stands Abdus Samih

On that side is Hardwari learning, here we have Shari’i training

On that side lies submission to Gandhi, here stands the organisation that submits to Allah’s Prophet

On that side is Nehru’s Bharat, here you have the whole world

O voters, open the ears of your hearts and listen, the threat to your Faith comes from the other side,

There are no such dangers here).

Despite such a tirade, Hafiz Ibrahim won. Such rhymes were later part of the Muslim League campaign in Punjab. Here, the scale of the Islamist election campaign was huge. Punjab was the stronghold of the Barelvi ulema and pirs, whose control of mosques and Sufi shrines was nearly complete. The Muslim League swept the poles winning 75 out of the 84 reserved Muslim seats.

Dhulipala digresses from the main focus of his inquiry — highlighting the Islamist foundations of Pakistan in North India — to include the intriguing treatise of the Dalit leader Dr Ambedkar, Thoughts on Pakistan (1941). Ambedkar perceptively observed that while Jinnah deliberately kept Pakistan a vague idea, he allowed his “fired-up base to imagine it in as many ways as possible”. Did that mean he was using it merely as a bargaining chip, as Ayesha Jalal has argued, or was it an astute strategy to outmaneouvre his detractors? More research needs to be conducted on this theme but, returning to Ambedkar’s reflections, we learn that he warned Congress leaders not to treat the 1940 Lahore Resolution as a wild card. He warned them that the idea of Pakistan was deeply rooted in the Muslim body politic. He advised them to realise the benefits of conceding Pakistan as it would rid India of the Muslim menace. He even advised that the boundaries of Punjab and Bengal be altered to create homogeneous Hindu and Muslim majority states and a transfer of populations be affected. The creation of Pakistan was the best solution to Muslim communal aggression, according to Ambedkar.

The Cripps Mission of 1942 obliquely recognised the possibility of the creation of Pakistan. However, in 1945 Ambedkar reversed his arguments and declared the creation of Pakistan as unnecessary! He asserted that the Muslims of the majority provinces did not need it. He conceded that India was indeed one entity as Congress had been insisting. He found Pakistan economically unviable but held on to his conclusion drawn earlier that if the Muslims were bent on having Pakistan, then it must be conceded to them. One can wonder why Ambedkar spent so much time and energy to focus on Pakistan.

Jinnah was initially wary of Ambedkar’s intentions but then decided that a coherent strategy needed to be devised to popularise the Pakistan demand. He launched the English language Dawn from Delhi. Other newspapers and journals were also launched. Second, Jinnah’s speeches and statements were collected and published to present the Muslim League point of view. The most important input was the propaganda material produced under the auspices of the Home Study Circle. A Punjabi journalist, Mohammad Sharif Toosy, published a series of newspaper articles providing facts, figures and historical arguments trying to prove that the partition of India was in the best interests of both the major nations, Hindus and Muslims. The articles were translated into Urdu and widely circulated. Other such interventions justifying the creation of Pakistan were also widely disseminated.

Moreover, Dhulipala provides ample evidence of the fascination that a separate Muslim state had created among the Muslims of North India. They advanced familiar arguments based on the fabled Khilafat-e-Raashida model from the advent of Islam. Some ulema and Muslim intellectuals disagreed but Pakistan as an Islamic state fascinated many, including those who knew that such a state would not be founded where they lived. There is no doubt that the author has made an important contribution to the growing literature on the nature and origins of the Pakistan idea.

The reviewer is a visiting professor, LUMS, Pakistan, professor emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University, and honorary senior fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Latest publications: Winner of the Best Non-Fiction Book award at the Karachi Literature Festival: The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed, Oxford, 2012; and Pakistan: The Garrison State, Origins, Evolution, Consequences (1947-2011), Oxford, 2013. He can be reached at: billumian at gmail.com

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2.

Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/13-Apr-2015/use-of-religion-in-politics

Use of religion in politics

While Jinnah remained completely aloof from the UP election campaigns, Nehru, the socialist secularist, was directly involved with them and therefore must have sanctioned the use of Islam

Yasser Latif Hamdani

April 13, 2015

Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed has reviewed Venkat Dhulipala’s book Creating a New Medina (Daily Times, April 7, 2015) and in doing so made some statements that need to be considered in the book’s proper context. However, the most fascinating thing about this endorsement is that it contradicts the main position he has taken in several of his articles, i.e. the Lahore Resolution was the brainchild of Lord Linlithgow’s office. Dhulipala’s book on the other hand gives this theory short shrift by showing that there was considerable intellectual excitement amongst the Muslims of UP who wanted to reconcile their Islamic identity with a modern nation state. Either the Pakistan Movement was the product of conspiratorial elite politics that Dhulipala clearly rejects in his book or it was the product of a Muslim communal and cultural consciousness that had shaken up even Jinnah according to Dhulipala. You cannot have it both ways.

Regular readers of this space will remember that I have already partially dedicated two articles to this very important book, which, while drawing on the rich literature available on the Pakistan Movement, is deeply problematic in its treatment of the facts. This is why it is very important to address the book in its entirety. Dhulipala’s basic thesis in the book is that Pakistan was not insufficiently imagined but fully and even ambitiously imagined in the public sphere. To argue this he has relied on three things essentially: 1) the role of a sub-section of Deobandi ulema who broke with the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind and supported the Muslim League; 2) the debate that followed Dr B R Ambedkar’s classic Pakistan or Partition of India and MRT’s treatise on the constitutional problem of India and 3) the ideas of various actors in the public sphere putting up their own ideas about what this Pakistan should look like, including but not limited to the breakaway section of the Deobandi ulema first under Ashraf Ali Thanwi and then under Shabbir Ahmed Usmani.

Dr Ahmed is a big proponent of the view that one is not necessarily bound by the conclusions of an author and that one is free to make his or her own mind regarding the final conclusion about the material presented. It is with this spirit that I approach the book in question and I find in it enough material to prove the contention of a certain section of Pakistani liberals that holds that Pakistan was envisaged by Mr Jinnah as a secular democratic state and not an Islamist theocracy. After laying down in some detail how Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Muslim Unity Board were pro-Congress and were ready to collaborate with the Congress at every level, Dhulipala artfully skips over the controversy over the coalition ministries in UP and how the Muslim League was forced into contesting the five by-elections against the Congress in UP. He writes: “Given the obvious affinities between Jinnah and a section of the Central Congress leadership, as well as the local understanding in UP between the two parties in the 1937 elections, the failure of the Congress to include the Muslim League in a coalition ministry has generated much controversy” but “far greater attention needs to be paid to the actual process by which the Muslim League gained strength in UP” (page 49). This indicates his own priorities and is not necessarily a fair commentary on what drove the League away from the Congress.

That Congress was using maulanas aggressively against the Muslim League at this point is well documented in the book. On page 86, Dhulipala writes: “More maulanas from the Congress side were pressed into the campaign. Thus, while Congress employed its message of a mass contact programme, the rhetoric of the ulema was also being utilised to fortify that message.” On page 87, Dhulipala mentions a hilarious but ironic incident where a letter from Nehru to Rafi Kidwai purporting to bribe mullahs with favours and money was delivered by mistake to Barrister Rafiuddin Ahmad, the Muslim League candidate from Jhansi. Despite such flagrant use of religion by the Congress, the Muslim League’s lawyer candidate trounced the Congress candidate by a large majority. The UP Muslim League won four out of five bye-elections beaten only by Hafiz Ibrahim, who had earlier won on a Muslim League ticket.

Religion, however, was very much part of the campaign on both sides: Congress utilising its Deoband and Ahrari heavyweights to which the Muslim League responded by bringing in its own ulema. Another significant fact that seems to have been underplayed in the book but which strikes one as significant is the fact that while Jinnah remained completely aloof from the UP election campaigns, Nehru, the socialist secularist, was directly involved with them and therefore must have sanctioned the use of Islam by his maulanas himself. To this end, Dhulipala writes on page 93: “Nehru again campaigned intensively in all three campaigns, even as Jinnah stayed away.” At another point he refers to a poster with an appeal to Islam by Jinnah, which turned out to be a fake. On page 94, he mentions how Congress’s Maulana Madni gave a fatwa that not only was it najayaz (impermissible) to vote for the Muslim League in the elections but was maujab-e-azab (worthy of divine retribution). Congress mullahs further declared that voting for Congress meant divine paradise in the afterlife. Dr Ahmed’s review seemed to miss out on all of this as he missed out on the chapters that detail Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind’s religious campaigns against the Muslim League. On page 310, Dhulipala writes: “Seoharvi also sought to provoke majority Sunni sentiment by indicating that Muslim League leaders were predominantly Shia. He ridiculed Jinnah, a Shia barrister, for doubling as a mufti. Seoharvi further bemoaned that Jinnah’s followers, such as Sir Zafrullah Khan, a Qadiani and the Raja of Mahmudabad, a Shia, were held up as conscientious Muslims.”

In the heat of the battle both Congress and the Muslim League used religion to mobilise the masses. Despite this, it is important to note that the Muslim League’s leadership very diligently did not allow any reference to an Islamic state, sharia or khilafat to be passed by the party’s central executive. This is why, if Dhulipala’s book’s intent was to provide an Islamist basis for Pakistan (though I doubt it was the case), the book fails to upend the conventional wisdom about it. Just as Congress or India are not bound by what its maulanas promised to the Muslim masses, Pakistan is also not to be held hostage to what some maulanas argued on its behalf at various times. Jinnah promised repeatedly an inclusive democratic state with equal rights for all citizens and that should be the only ideological principle we should accept.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He can be contacted via twitter @therealylh and through his email address yasser.hamdani at gmail.com

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3.

Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/21-Apr-2015/the-ulema-in-pre-partition-electoral-politics

The ulema in pre-partition electoral politics
We have paid the heaviest price in blood for the Afghan jihad. The iron law of politics is that nurturing fanaticism and extremism always comes to haunt its patrons

Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed

April 21, 2015

Mr Yasser Latif Hamdani’s observations in his column ‘Use of religion in politics’ (Daily Times, April 13, 2015) on my review of Venkat Dhulipala’s book, Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India, raise interesting questions. He is of the opinion that my endorsement of Dhulipala’s findings that Islamism and its conventional experts, the ulema, played a prominent role in the campaign to create Pakistan contradicts the main position I have taken in several of my articles, i.e. that the Lahore Resolution was the brainchild of Lord Linlithgow’s office. He remarks: “Either the Pakistan Movement was the product of conspiratorial elite politics that Dhulipala clearly rejects in his book or it was the product of a Muslim communal and cultural consciousness that had shaken up Jinnah according to Dhulipala. You cannot have it both ways.”

Mr Hamdani is seriously in error with regards to his understanding of the nature of political alliances. What is there to say that if an idea emanated from Viceroy Linlithgow’s office the ulema (clergy) would not adopt it if they perceived it as a great opportunity for them to establish an Islamic state? It is perfectly possible for conflictual ideological and political forces to join ranks against a common enemy. After all, the expression strange bedfellows was coined by no less than that great literary genius William Shakespeare to capture the fickle and opportunistic nature of such alliances. A recent example should demonstrate my point vividly and unequivocally. The so-called Afghan jihad was the brainchild of the US intelligence and military services, which co-opted their oil-rich protégé, Saudi Arabia, into a worldwide alliance to bring down the Communists in Afghanistan and to oust the Soviet Red Army from that country. The Pakistan military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) implemented it in the field. China, Egypt, UAE and even Israel played a role in that jihad. The Afghan jihad came to haunt all of them in different ways and the original mastermind, the US, suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history on 9/11 because of its patronage of extremism, fanaticism and terrorism. We have paid the heaviest price in blood for the Afghan jihad. The iron law of politics is that nurturing fanaticism and extremism always comes to haunt its patrons.

Consequently, there is no contradiction at all in my stand that while the Lahore Resolution of March 23, 1940 originated in the office of Viceroy Linlithgow, the Muslim League latched on to it with fervour and, by mobilising the ulema and pirs of the Muslim majority provinces of northwestern India, Pakistan was achieved. The ulema had by no means supported Pakistan’s demand to create a modern nation state; for them it had to be an Islamic state subscribing to the supremacy of the sharia encapsulated in the formula that God’s sovereignty overrides the sovereignty of the people. Moreover, Dhulipala focuses essentially on Muslim communal politics in pre-partition northern India. Dhulipala has shed important light on the origins of the Islamisation of the Pakistan idea in Uttar Pradesh (UP). My own work shows how such a process reached full consummation in the Muslim majority provinces of northwestern India, especially undivided Punjab.

I do not know what the basis is for Mr Hamdani to assert that I believe one is not necessarily bound by the conclusions reached by an author. However, I fully support his right to interpret freely the evidence given by an author and convince readers that his conclusions are plausible. I agree with him that Dhulipala needed to give some attention to the consequences of Congress’ failure to include the Muslim League in a coalition government in UP after the 1937 elections. Nehru’s leftist orientation predisposed him to believe that class interests determined the political choices of people, including voters. For him, the 1937 elections, in which the Muslim League was routed on the all-India level, was an indictment of its elite politics because as a party of landlords and pro-British rajas and nawabs it represented their narrow interests, which included loyalty to the British. Therefore, he announced a Muslim mass contact to be launched to bring the poverty-stricken Muslim masses into the Congress fold and thus build a broad united front against British colonialism.

That strategy backfired because the Muslim League, under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, responded with a counter-campaign that portrayed the Congress ministries as anti-Muslim. “Islam in danger” became a recurring refrain in the propaganda material it published. Thenceforth Islamist rhetoric began to figure increasingly in the Muslim League’s strategy to mobilise Muslim support to create a new Medina.

Viewed in this context, Dhulipala’s presentation of the two parties’ bid to win the support of the Muslim voters in the by-elections is most relevant. We need to remember that under the system of separate electorates, only Muslims could contest and vote for the reserved Muslim seats. Both sides deployed in the field experts on Islamic theory and law to justify their positions for and against the division of India on a religious basis. Nehru’s public participation in the election campaign does not discredit him because he was keen to win over Muslims for his vision of a united India. The only pledge he gave the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind was that Muslim personal law would not be interfered with in free India but he expected the Muslims to themselves join the mainstream and modernise personal law.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a strict constitutionalist until he embraced mass politics after the adoption of the March 23, 1940 resolution. Thereafter, there is no dearth of his speeches that emphasise the religious factor determining his nationalist commitment. He even invoked sharia as the source of law in Pakistan on many occasions. That he could mobilise Shias, Sunnis, Ahle Hadith and Ahmedis behind the demand for Pakistan is testimony to his genius as a politician. However, this Islamic heritage has bequeathed a fascination down the ages for the pristine Islamic state of Medina established in the seventh century; its appeal by no means is limited only to the ulema. However, the fact often ignored is that neither doctrinally nor historically were these groups ever a coherent community of believers. On the contrary, the history of munazaras (doctrinal debates) between different Muslim sects and sub-sects amply shows that they invariably ended up damning one another.

I am convinced Jinnah was never interested in Pakistan becoming a theocratic state but he won Pakistan in the name of Islam and with the help of the ulema, some Deobandis, Ahle Hadith and Shias as well as Ahmedi spiritual leaders, but substantially with the support of the Sunni-Barelvi ulema and pirs of northwestern India whose vast networks of mosques and shrines came into action during the 1945-1946 election campaign and enabled the Muslim League to sweep the polls. Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech was no doubt an attempt at damage control but one speech alone could not have achieved that and the fact is that it did not. However, Pakistan is a young state and there is nothing to say that we should not continue to speak up for the respect of human rights, minority rights and women’s rights. After all, even the Objectives Resolution of March 7, 1949 pledges the respect of these rights.

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4.

Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/27-Apr-2015/congress-use-of-the-ulema

Congress’ use of the ulema

The Congress backed ulema attacked Jinnah for being a Shia and having Ahmedis in the Muslim League

Yasser Latif Hamdani

April 27, 2015

This is in response to Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed’s article ‘The role of ulema in pre-partition politics’ (Daily Times, April 21, 2015) where he has responded to my article ‘Use of religion in politics’ (Daily Times, April 13, 2015). At the outset, he suggests that I am in error as to his contradiction. I am very clear on the issue that you cannot simultaneously claim a pre-existing demand for Pakistan (and it is quite clear that the demand had existed pre-1939) and then claim that it originated in the viceroy’s office in late 1939 or early 1940. I may not understand the “nature of political alliances” but I can see two mutually contradictory claims when the same are made. I leave it to the readers to determine who is right on the issue.
I will, however, address some of the other historical fallacies that Dr Ahmed forwards in his article. He claims: “Nehru’s leftist orientation predisposed him to believe that class interests determined the political choices of people, including voters. For him, the 1937 elections, in which the Muslim League was routed on the all-India level, was an indictment of its elite politics because, as a party of landlords and pro-British rajas and nawabs, it represented their narrow interests, which included loyalty to the British. Therefore, he announced a Muslim mass contact to be launched to bring the poverty-stricken Muslim masses into the Congress fold and thus build a broad united front against British colonialism.”

Nehru was a very interesting character in our history. His father, Motilal Nehru, was a truly great man both as a politician and as a self-made lawyer of great ability. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on the other hand was a stay at home son with idle time on his hands. Born into privilege and belonging to the Hindu majority, Pandit Nehru could not forsake his Brahmin roots (hence the title Pandit) but could pose as a secular socialist with great bravado when it came to dealing with Muslims. What is unfortunate is that Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed has not bothered to read Dhulipala’s book carefully enough to see that even Dhulipala, otherwise blinded by his nationalist Indian beliefs, has acknowledged that in 1936 to 1937 Muslim politics in UP was divided primarily into two groups. The first was the National Agriculturalist Party (NAP) led by Nawab Chattari and the like. The latter constituted of the Muslim Unity Board (MUB), which was headed by Jinnah. Dhulipala mentions in some detail that Jinnah and his colleagues were pro-Congress and anti-British whereas the British had organised the NAP to cut down Jinnah and the MUB. Dhulipala also acknowledges that during the 1937 elections, Nehru even campaigned for and endorsed the MUB and Muslim League candidates in Muslim constituencies. Contrary to Ishtiaq Ahmed’s claim, the MUB and Muslim League were not a party of landlords and pro-British rajas and nawabs, who were in the NAP. For example, on page 41, Dhulipala writes: “Thus, Jinnah’s policy of setting up the UPMLPB caused consternation among Muslim landlords who appeared reluctant to compete electorally against it...The landlords initial strategy was to ‘capture the machinery of the provincial electoral board and having done so, render it nugatory’. They could not however succeed in this endeavour thanks to the vigilance of the MUB group and due to the fact that the NAP leaders lacked strength to stand up to Jinnah. When the latter made it clear that MLPB members could not run on any other ticket in the elections, the landlords finally had to make a choice and resigned from the MLPB.” Chapter one of the said book, Creating a New Medina, which Ishtiaq Ahmed so wholeheartedly recommends, basically negates his contention that the Muslim League was a party of landlords and pro-British rajas. Indeed, if anything, the Muslim League had come closer to the Congress in almost every way through its manifesto for the 1937 election. Congress leaders recognised this. Muslim League candidates were financially supported by Congress’ Hindu industrialist backers.

The reason behind why the break came after the 1937 elections was not because the Muslim League was routed. On Muslim seats in UP, for example, the Muslim League won a majority. Congress on the other hand failed to win more than a single seat and one more later in the by-election. However, Congress won an absolute majority in UP and no longer needed the Muslim League for electoral numbers. The terms that Nehru placed for inclusion of Muslim League legislators was that they should disband the Muslim League in parliament and become Congress members, a ridiculous demand given that Muslim League legislators had won on Muslim League tickets. Failing to win over all but one of the legislators by these tactics, Nehru, mindful of the fact that his party enjoyed no support amongst the Muslims, came up with the mass contact scheme. Instead of working with pro-Congress elements, including Jinnah, in making a broad based alliance on the basis of Hindu-Muslim unity, he claimed to appeal to the Muslim masses on an economic agenda. Ironically, he chose firebrand speakers and sectarian ulema (clergy) to forward his so-called “secular socialist” message.

The Congress backed ulema, including Maulana Madni, the great proponent of composite nationalism, attacked Jinnah for being a Shia and having Ahmedis in the Muslim League. In Lucknow, Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar used the Madh-e-Sahaba to divide the Muslim vote along sectarian Shia and Sunni lines. Time and again the Congress backed ulema used the sectarian card to create dissentions between Muslims. While on the one side Congress criticised the British for using the policy of divide and rule, it used the same policy to attempt to break up the Muslim League. There was no ambiguity about the allegations either. Dhulipala lists the main body of these complaints. Congress’ ulema claimed that the Muslim League had betrayed Islam by undermining the Shariat Bill in the Indian legislature. Another complaint was that the Muslim League had supported the Khula Bill, which gave Muslim women the right to seek khula (marriage annulment) as a matter of right. The Congress backed ulema also claimed that the Muslim League had opposed such Islamic legislations as the Qazi Bill, which had sought to introduce Islamic qazi courts. They also claimed that the Muslim League had repeatedly forwarded bills aimed at diluting Islam and pointed to fatwas by the ulema on these bills. The Congress backed ulema especially took exception to the fact that Jinnah had supported the Civil Marriage Bill, which would have allowed intermarriage between Muslims and non-Muslims despite the fact that such marriages contravened the Quran. In other words, every progressive action by Jinnah or the Muslim League was paraded as proof of their anti-Islamic credentials. In other words, it was Congress that took the lead in playing the “Islam in danger” card for its own purposes.

Both parties used the Islam card but I leave it to the readers to judge whose use was more pernicious and harmful. Even today many remnants of the Congress backed clergy continue to plague both Pakistan and India when it comes to progress on common sense issues.

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5.

Daily Times, Tuesday May 5, 2015

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/05-May-2015/muslim-league-s-use-of-the-ulema

Muslim League’s use of the ulema

Jinnah overruled that Hindus and Muslims could be members of the same nation or both could live peacefully in one state

Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed

May 05, 2015

In the exchange of views on Venkat Dhulipala’s book, Creating a New Medina, Mr Yasser Latif Hamdani ends his article ‘The Congress’ use of the ulema’ (Daily Times, April 27, 2015) with the following remark: “Both parties used the Islam card but I leave it to the readers to judge whose use was more pernicious and harmful. Even today many remnants of the Congress backed clergy continue to plague both Pakistan and India when it comes to progress on common sense issues.”

This is a welcome decision of his because one can address substantive matters. Without any hesitation, I would say that the creation of Pakistan furnished the ulema with the opportunity to realise their political project of creating an Islamic state whereas in India the Hindutva forces have not been able to subvert the secular-democratic state the Indian Constitution prescribed and the very able leadership of the prime minister consolidated and institutionalised.

In my article ‘The ulema in pre-partition electoral politics’ (Daily Times, April 21, 2015) I argued that munazaras (doctrinal polemics) between different Muslim sects and sub-sects invariably end up damning each other. Hussain Ahmed Madani was responding in that vein when he derived that Jinnah was a Shia and the Muslim League had Qadianis among its members. In the famous polemics on nationalism between Allama Iqbal and Madani, Iqbal took the stand that, for a Muslim, membership of a nation is determined exclusively by his faith and not wataniyat (love of homeland). He debunked Madani’s credentials as a scholar of Islam and Arabic. Even more interestingly he denounced Madani’s wataniyat or theory of territorial nationalism as dangerous and subversive as the Qadianis belief that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet, which undermines the cardinal Muslim belief in Khatam-e-Nabuwat (doctrine of the finality of the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH)). In an exchange of letters with Nehru, Iqbal vehemently rejected that Qadianis could be included in the Muslim ummah insisting that it would subvert the organic unity of Muslims based on the unquestioning belief in Khatam-e-Nabuwat.

Now, Iqbal was a leading light of the Muslim League and the one who is reputed to have originally given the idea of a separate Muslim state. Is it any wonder that Madani was framing his argument in the typical munazara tradition and critiquing the Muslim League for being a party of suspect Muslims? From at least the time of Shah Waliullah, followed by the jihad led by Syed Ahmed Shaheed Barelvi in the early 19th century, down to the founding of Deoband in 1867 and then into contemporary times, Deobandis, Barelvis, Ahle Hadith, Shias and so on have without let or hindrance denounced each other’s beliefs and the crescendo of such polemics has invariably meant demonising one another as kafirs (unbelievers).
With regard to Punjab, ever since Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (who died in 1908) declared that he received revelations from God and was a prophet, the munazaras have only become shriller and fiercer. In 1912, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad declared that all Muslims who had not entered the fold of Ahmediyyat were outside the pale of Islam. The Munir Report mentions this.
And if we remember, from March 22, 1940, when Jinnah delivered his presidential address in Lahore till his speech on August 11, 1947, he over and over again connected the creation of Pakistan to the prerequisite of religious faith. He overruled that Hindus and Muslims could be members of the same nation or both could live peacefully in one state. He warned that Islam would be in danger in a united India and that the foundations of Pakistan were laid as soon as Islam arrived in the Indian subcontinent. Then, there are statements about sharia being the source of law in Pakistan. Finally, the 1945-1946 election campaign in the Muslim majority northwestern zone of the subcontinent was incontrovertibly laced with Islamic values and jargon.

With such overwhelming invocation of Islam as the foundational principle of Muslim nationalism is it any wonder that his August 11, 1947 speech was considered an aberration by his followers? By adopting the Objectives Resolution of March 7, 1949 as the foundational document for the Constitution of Pakistan they sought to establish consistency between the principle of justification of the Muslim state and the mobilising ideology of mass support with the principles on which its government and nation-building would proceed. Iqbal, the dreamer of Pakistan, had already expelled Ahmedis from the Muslim ummah. Could such a state set aside with ease the question of belief (confessionalism) for inclusion in the Muslim nation? Events of the last 67 years show conclusively that it could not.

From the time of Plato we know that words, ideas and ideologies establish relationships, which require mutual adherence and trust, and even if leaders have the advantage they by no means can violate the terms on which such a relationship is based. Considering that the state of Medina has always been the ideal model for Muslims, it is only natural that such a state upholds the sovereignty of God as announced by the Objectives Resolution. No denying that Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was supported in the debate in the Constituent Assembly by such strange bedfellows as Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan and Mian Iftikharuddin. Amongst themselves they were severely divided theologically and ideologically and this soon burst out in the open.

Had not Sir Zafarullah already shocked the nation by refusing to take part in the funeral prayers of the founder of Pakistan, a standard practice of all Ahmedis because non-Ahmedis are not proper Muslims according to their beliefs? Then, of course, we must remember that the anti-Ahmedi agitation of 1953 in Punjab broke out only after the Ahmedi leadership, including Zafarullah had made extremely provocative speeches in favour of the spreading of Ahmediyyat. On the other hand, not only the Ahrars, Jamaat-e-Islami, Deobandis, Ahle Hadith Barelvis and Shia ulema joined ranks against the Ahmedis but according to the Munir Report the Punjab Muslim League was also party to the 1953 agitation. Do I need to remind the readers that the Ahmedis were declared non-Muslims by the elected members of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1974 and not just a handful of ulema? Such politics and constitutional and legal developments are bound to prevail in a state based on confessional nationalism.

So, it should not be difficult for readers to conclude that the Muslim League’s use of the ulema has been pernicious and harmful if one believes that a secular-democratic state based on inclusive criteria, primarily bona fide residence in the same homeland, was the best way to state-founding and nation-building. On the other hand, the creation of Pakistan on the basis of Muslim nationalism has proved to be the victory of those people who believe that an Islamic state based on a clear distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims, and upholding sharia as the supreme law of the land is the only legitimate basis of state founding and nation-building.

From Venkat Dhulipala we learn that the idea of a new Medina appeared in Muslim League politics first in north India. Viceroy Linlithgow’s office, however, elevated it to a strategy of British colonial policy. In 1940, the British used it merely as a pressure tactic to checkmate the Congress’s ambitions. It was too early for it to be a major policy objective at that stage.

The writer is a visiting professor, LUMS, Pakistan, professor emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University, and honorary senior fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Latest publications: Winner of the Best Non-Fiction Book award at the Karachi Literature Festival: The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed, Oxford, 2012; and Pakistan: The Garrison State, Origins, Evolution, Consequences (1947-2011), Oxford, 2013. He can be reached at: billumian at gmail.com

(This controversy is now closed — Editor)

P.S.

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