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Jinnah and the Two Nation Theory

 

Vinod Kumar

 

Jaswant Singh by his book, Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence has become kind of a folk hero in Pakistan and a darling of the secularattii in India. No doubt, with this book, he has secured his financial future, if he needed one, as one report from Pakistan says ‘they will be ordering the book by the millions.’

One of the main thrusts of his book is that Jinnah was not the "demon" he is made out to be in India and that he was a secular Indian nationalist and did not really want Pakistan. The demand for Pakistan was just a strategy to seek more concessions and safeguards for the Muslims in united India. Partition could have been avoided had Nehru and Patel agreed for a federal decentralized India instead of a centralized one. He casts Nehru and Patel as the villains for conceding partition.

Whether partition was a good thing or bad and should one be demonized or idolized for it depends on what side you are. Let us also for the moment forget about Jinnah’s secular and Indian nationalist credentials as these are hardly his legacies. Jinnah’s legacy is the State of Pakistan. In this article let us focus on what caused partition? Who was the real author of Two Nation theory – Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations.

After his return from England Jinnah worked ceaselessly and zealously for the creation of Pakistan. An accomplished lawyer that he was, he eloquently and very convincingly spelled out why was partition necessary in his famous Presidential address to Muslim League Convention at Lahore in March 1940 and in many other speeches, interviews and writings.

He said there never was any common ground between the Muslims and the Hindus or desire on the part of Muslims to live as equal with Hindus whom they had ruled for centuries. Hinduism and Islam are two different and distinct social orders. It is only a dream that the two can ever evolve a common nationality. "The hero of one is the foe of the other. There is nothing that binds them together." Enumerating all the differences between the two, he went on to say that "to yoke two such nations under a single State must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state." (India’s Partition – Process, Strategy and Mobilization, edited By Mushirul Hasan, Delhi, 1998, pp.56)

Jinnah stressed there was never one India and Hindus and Muslims had never lived as one unit. History is testimony that last twelve hundred years have failed to achieve unity and during the ages "India was always divided into Hindu India and Muslim India. … The present artificial unity of India dates back only to British conquest and is maintained by the British bayonet" -- he went on to say.

Were these sentiments original to Jinnah?

Long before Jinnah appeared on the Indian political scene, after 1857 while fearful of the loss of Muslim political power owing to the community's backwardness, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was also averse to the prospect of democratic self-government, which would give control of government to the Hindu-majority population. One of the most influential Muslim politicians of his time, Sir Syed was suspicious of Indian independence movement and called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Raj. He denounced nationalist organizations such as the Indian National Congress and asked Muslims to stay away from it.

 

He wrote: "At this time our nation is in a bad state in regards education and wealth, but God has given us the light of religion and the Koran is present for our guidance, which has ordained them and us to be friends. Now God has made them rulers over us. Therefore we should cultivate friendship with them, and should adopt that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may not pass into the hands of the Bengalis. If we join the political movement of the Bengalis our nation will reap a loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the "people of the Book …" Us and they refer to the Muslims and the British.

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syed_Ahmed_Khan)

 

Sir Syed’s sentiments need no further elucidation. The thought of living as equals of Hindu kafirs evoked strong resentment among Muslim intellectuals. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was not an isolated example of Muslims who harbored such sentiments about living as equals of Hindus.

Janab R. M. Sayani’s Presidential Address to 12th Indian National Congress session in 1896 is another indication of the Muslim mind. He said: "Before the advent of the British in India, the Musalmans were the rulers of the country. The Musalmans had therefore all the advantages appertaining to it as the ruling class. The sovereigns and the chiefs were their co-religionists and so were the great landlords and great officials. The court language was their own. Every place of trust and responsibility, or carrying influence and high emoluments was by birthright theirs. The Hindus did occupy some position but the Hindus were tenants-at-will of the Musalmans. The Hindus stood in awe of them. Enjoyment and influence and all good things of the world were theirs. By a stroke of misfortune, the Musalmans had to abdicate their position and descend to the level of their Hindu fellow-countrymen. The Hindus, from a subservient state, came into land, offices and other worldly advantages of their former masters. The Musalmans would have nothing to do with anything in which they might have to come into contact with the Hindus." (History and Culture of the Indian People, edited by R.C. Majumdar, Volume XI, The Struggle for Freedom, Bombay, 1981, pp. 296-97. Quoted by Virendra Parekh in Jinnah: Jaswant Singh’s and Ours http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=788)

A Muslim cannot accept a Hindu, an infidel and an idolater as his equal let alone have any veneration or high regard. No body could have expressed it better than Maulana Muhammad Ali, co-president of Khilafat movement with Mahatma Gandhi. In 1923 he was President of the Indian National Congress also. Muslims gathered around Gandhi to enlist his support in the struggle for the Khilafat movement against the British. Gandhi used to call Maulana Muhammad Ali his brother. While Gandhi undertook a fast for 21 days in September 1924 against serious communal riots, he stayed at the Maulana’s house. Yet about a year later, the Maulana said: "However pure Gandhi’s character may be, he must appear to me from the point of religion inferior to any Mussalman, even though he be without character." He repeated it later, saying, "Yes, according to my religion and creed I hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. (no longer Mahatma) Gandhi." (History and Culture of the Indian People, edited by R C Majumdar, Vol. XI, The Struggle for Freedom, 1988, pp. 335-36)

There were indeed many nationalist Muslims like Dr. Syed Mahmud – to name just one -- who suggested Hindi should be used for all the inhabitants of the subcontinent and they should stop calling themselves by their communal affiliations and wanted to create a united Indian nation. Echoing Sir Syed Ahmed and Jinnah’s sentiments Maulana Maududi, another great thinker of Islam of the twentieth century and founder of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind exposed the fallacy of such arguments. After a careful analysis of all the issues involved, the Maulana declared that the Muslims and the Congress had nothing in common. "Our death is its life, its death is our life….. The difference is of such magnitude that they and we do not converge at any point…." (Ulema in Politics, A H Qureshi, Delhi, 1985 pp. 337-38)

Shah Waliullah, a great Islamic scholar of eighteenth century did not want the cultural affiliations of the Muslims of the subcontinent with the rest of Islamic world diluted. Even in small matters of dress, behavior, style of living and speech they should not identify themselves with the rest of the population of their habitat. (Ulema in Politics, I H Qureshi, Delhi, 1985, pp. 125-6)

Thus when the question of Khilafat came, what happened in Turkey was more important to the Muslims of India than their immediate concerns at home. Rule of British – people of the Book -- was preferred to equal coexistence with the Hindu infidels.

For a Muslim the most important thing is Islam and Muslim authority. When Muslim power vaned and the fellow Indian Marathas, Sikhs and Jats took power, Shah Waliullah wrote to Ahmad Shah Abdali of Afghanistan to invade India and establish Muslim rule which he did and defeated the Marathas at Panipat in 1761. (Ulema in Politics, I H Qureshi, Delhi, 1985, pp. 113)

Chachnama gives an excellent example Muslim attitude towards Hindu rulers. When Muhammad bin Kasim attacked Debal, one subject of King Dahir converted to Islam and took the name of Maulana Islami. Bin Kasim sent him along with a Syrian as ambassador to the court of King Dahir. When they came to Dahir, Maulana Islami, of Debal, did not bow his head, or make any sign of reverence. Dahir recognized him and asked why he failed in the usual respectful salutation, and enquired if any one has thrown obstacles in his way. The Maulana of Debal replied, "When I was your subject it was right of me to observe the rules of obedience; but now that I am converted, and am subject of Islam, it cannot be expected that I should bow my head to an infidel." (History of India as told by its own Historians, vol.1, Eliot and Dowson, Delhi 1996, Chachnama pp. 165)

As per the Koranic injunctions when a person become a Muslim his sole loyalty lies to Islam not even to his parents or brothers and sisters. (Koran 9:23, 3:118, 4:145, ) This is a valuable lesson, which Hindus have failed to understand. Muslims regard Islam as not only the best religion but the ONLY True Faith (Koran 3:19 ) and loyalty to Islam and Islamic brotherhood is the paramount demand of Islam.

This was the reason why Maulana Muhammad Ali said what he said of Mahatma Gandhi. A non-Muslim cannot be equal to a Muslim whatever his station in life. Thus even a person of Mahatma Gandhi’s character is inferior to a fallen Muslim from the religious point of view in the eyes of Maulana Muhammad Ali.

In the 1920s Lala Lajpat Rai did a complete study of Islamic scriptures and then wrote to C R Das. His letter is worth reading and I quote excerpts from it:

"There is one point more which has been troubling me very much of late and one which I want you to think about carefully, and that is the question of Hindu-Muslim unity. I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to the study of Muslim history and Muslim law, and I am inclined to think it is neither possible nor practicable. Assuming and admitting the sincerity of Mohameddan leaders in the non-cooperation movement, I think their religion provides an effective bar to anything of the kind."

He went on to write:

"You remember the conversation I reported to you in Calcutta which I had with Hakim Ajmal Khan and Dr. Kitchlew. There is no finer Mohameddan in Hindustan than Hakim Ajmal Khan, but can any Muslim leader override the Quran?" (Quoted in India’s Partition – Process, Strategy and Mobilization, edited by. By Mushirul Hasan, Delhi, 1998, pp.53, Quoted by Jinnah in his Presidential Address)

These are a just a few of the multitudes of Muslim scholars views on Hindu Muslim relations. History of India is replete with example of Muslim hostility towards Hindus. The seeds of Muslim separatism can be traced to the very fundamentals of Islam. One of Prophet Mohammed’s last advice to Muslims was "Expel all Pagans from the Arabian Peninsula." (Sahih Bukhari, Delhi, 1984 vol. 4, p. 183, H 288, also p. 260, H 393)

As we have seen above Two Nation Theory was not Jinnah’s brainchild. Jinnah was an accomplished and brilliant lawyer and in Two Nation Theory he found a cause he had come to believe in. As a lawyer he brought it to successful fruition for his clients – the Muslim Community of India. I see no reason to demonize Jinnah for his role in the partition of India along religious lines. Hindus had full opportunity to plead their case. Evidently the Muslims did not like the Hindus approach. Fault, if any, lies with the Hindus for not being able to see what the Muslims of India wanted. Hindus had the Muslim history and Islamic literature available to them to make their decision as to what path to follow. True, Hindus paid a heavy price for their decision to go the way they did.

In conclusion, demand for partition was not just a strategy to get more concessions and safeguards for Muslims. It was rooted deeply in their psyche. In Jinnah Muslims found an excellent spokesman but given the dynamics of Muslim psyche, partition would have been there sooner or later, with or without Jinnah, with or without Gandhi, Nehru or Patel.

 

September 2, 2009

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