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Origin of two-nation theory

The Nation
by Prof Rafiullah Shehab

Muslims ruled the Indo-Pakistan Sub-continent for more than a thousand years. During this period, they treated their non-Muslim subjects with justice and never interfered in their private religious affairs. the Hindus who were in majority in the country, maintained their national identification. the British usurped the political power from the Muslims who after foreign occupation, rapidly lost ground in administration, trade and other professions. In 1857 AD, they made an attempt to regain their political power but did not succeed. The British rulers became conscious that the Muslims had not reconciled to the new order.

They were a cunning nation and instead of further open clash with the Muslims they decided to merge their separate national entity into the Indian nationalism dominated by the Hindu majority. the decided to introduce in the Sub-continent their own system of democratic government in which the majority always ruled. In this way, the Muslims being in minority, would always be ruled by the Hindu majority. As a preliminary step in this direction, a political organisation under the name of the Indian National Congress was established by a retired British Officer. Mr A. O Hume in the year 1885 AD.

In this critical period of history Ahmed Khan appeared as a spokesman of the Indian Muslim community. He believed that the Muslims must adjust themselves to the changed circumstances created by the British rule. He argued that their political rehabiliation should begin with loyal acceptance of the British rule. He, at times, exaggerated to the point of crudity in professing loyalty to the British. But when he came to know of the British plan, he sensed a mischief in it for the Muslims. he in his speech given in the Governor General's council on 12th January, 1883, referred to the Hindus and the Muslims as the two separate nations which could never be integrated int a single nation. (Evolution of Indo-Muslims Thought after 1857, p-83). Syed Ahmad Khan rightly maintained that to hope that both the countries could remain equal in a Hindu dominated land, was to desire the impossible and the inconceivable.

However, in spite of this warning, the colonial rulers went ahead with their scheme of elimination of the Muslim nationalists in the Sub-continent. The British plan was to transfer the political power to the Indians gradually by introducing their system fo democracy. It was based on the joint-electorate system. The Hindus due to their better education and greater political awareness, swamped the various elections. It may be mentioned here that at that time of the Indian history, three universities for imparting modern knowledge, had already been established at Bombay, Madrass and Calcutta in the year 1958.

The Hindus were benefitting from universities in a very large number while the Muslim Ulema issued edicts declaring study of English as blasphemy. Being better educated, the Hindus exercised greater political pressure in the ruling circles. This state of affairs agitated the wind of Syed Ahmad Khan and to equip the Muslims with modern knowledge, he in the year 1863 founded the Scientific Society for the Advancement of knowledge. Its main aim was to translate all the books of modern sciences from English into Urdu so that the Muslim who were allergic to the English language, should be able to study them in their own language. However the Indian political scene was rapidly changing and Syed Ahmad Khan was not satisfied with the slow results achieved by his society. He, in order to accelerate the work of educating Muslims, decided to establish separate institutions for the education of the Muslims. For this purpose, he personality studied the British Education System and founded the first Muslim Educational Institution on May 24, 1875. This institution which was later developed into a college and then into a University, is rightly acknowledged as the foundation stone of Two-Nation Theory.

It equipped the Muslims with the political insight which they urgently needed to complete with the Hindus in the political field. They, as a result of this political insight, founded their separate political organisation in the year 1906 known as the Muslim League. This organisation demanded the system of separate electorate for the Muslims. Syed Ahmad Khan had already done the preliminary work in the Governor General's Council in his famous speech of January 12, 1883. Eventually by the passage of time, the government had to accept this demand and in this way, the Muslim voice reached the ruling circles. This development agitated the mind of the Hindus and they tried to find out common cultural and religious terms for Hindu-Muslim unity and for some time they did succeed in influencing Muslim leaders like Allama Iqbal and the Quaid-e-Azam. But this situation did not last long and soon under the influence fo the Muslim League, majority of the Muslim leaders who had been lured by the Indian Nationalism, became the upholders of the Two-Nation Theory. Allama Iqbal in the meantime had gone to Europe for higher education. When he returned back, he was attracted by the idea of the Two-Nation theory pronounced by Syed Ahmad. Later in the light of this Theory, he in his Presidential Address at the Allahbad Session of the All-India Muslim League on December 29, 1930, presented the idea of Pakistan. The Quaid-e-Azam, like Allama Iqbal, was also a nationalist leader in the early period of his life. The Allama took great pains to convince the Quaid of the importance of the Two-Nation Theory. In his famous letters to the Quaid, he exhorted upon him time and again that the Indian Muslims needed his services badly. The Quaid was at last convinced and he consented to devote his energise for there-organisation of the Muslim League.

It was the time when the Government of India Act of 1935 had already been enforced. The Quaid-e-Azam envisaging a new pattern of self-rule. started the re-organisation of the Muslim League. As a first step, he addressed an appeal to all the Muslim leaders including the prominent Ulema of the Sub-continent to join their heads for the betterment of the Muslim nation of the Sub-continent. The response was encouraging and almost all the Muslims leaders attended the meeting of the Muslim League Parliamentary Board for the 1936-37 elections. Mr M. A. H. Ispahani, a close associate of the Quaid, who was present on the occasion writes about this important meeting in his famous book The Quaid-e-Azam, as I Knew Him as under: 'In course of the Parliamentary Board meeting at Lahore, several speeches were delivered in keeping with our tradition and weakness for speech-making. On the first day, I remember Mufti Kifayatullah and Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni, supporting. Mr Jinnah and welcoming his move to bring the Muslim League in the arena of live politics but on the last day, one of these men of learning put forth the suggestion that to ensure success of the Muslim League as a party in the polls, effective and relentless propaganda would be necessary and for this purpose, Devban would place its machinery at the League's disposal on the condition that the cost of the propaganda be borne by he League.

'At that time League was not in a position to arrange the required funds which disappointed the Maulanas and they drifted in the direction of the Hindu Congress.' (pages 23, 24). It was after this separation that Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni, in one of his addresses condemned the Two-Nation Theory, declaring it against the teachings of Islam. he advised the Muslims to gather under the flag of the Indian National Congress. Allama Iqbal promptly refuted the arguments of the Maulana by quoting from the teachings of Islam and established that this theory was in accordance with the teachings fo Islam. But in spite of that majority of the Ulema following the instructions of Maulana Madni bitterly opposed the establishment of Pakistan. However this negative attitude of the Ulema did not dishearten the Quaid. He continued his struggle for the establishment of Pakistan and eventually succeeded in established a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Sub-continent.

DISCLAIMER: The public material presented here is taken from various sources as it becomes available. It is presented without any bias to, or interpretation of, the contents whatsoever. We would be grateful for any help anyone can provide in obtaining other such public material of national importance to Pakistan in order to aid intellectual discourse and debate.

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Islam gave the Muslims of India a sense of identity; dynasties like the Mughals gave them territory; poets like Allama Iqbal gave them a sense of destiny. Jinnah's towering stature derives from the fact that, by leading the Pakistan movement and creating the state of Pakistan, he gave them all three. For the Pakistanis he is simply the Quaid-e-Azam or the Great Leader. Whatever their political affiliation, they believe there is no one quite like him.

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