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MUNIR COMMISSION REPORT-PART 21: CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO PROCLAMATION OF MARTIAL LAW

PART IV

 

With this more or less chronological statement of the case in the course of which we have stated relevant facts and events with our findings on points which were in issue between some of the parties, we proceed to sum up our conclusions and to return a reply to the terms of reference. By section 4 of the Act, Punjab Act II of 1954, we were commissioned to inquire into the circumstances connected with, and the responsibility for, the disturbances in accordance with the following terms of reference:—

 

(a) The responsibility for the disturbances;

 

(b) The circumstances leading to the declaration of the Martial Law in Lahore on the 6th of March 1953; and

 

(c) The adequacy or otherwise of the measures taken by the Provincial civil authorities to prevent, and subsequently to deal with, the disturbances.

 

The direction in clause (b) regarding the circumstances does not mean that we are merely to state the events which occurred before or during the disturbances; we interpret it to mean that we are to discover the causal connection, if any, between the events and incidents that occurred before or during the disturbances and the proclamation of Martial Law in Lahore. The Act also requires us to find where the responsibility for the disturbances lies and, therefore, from the very nature of the inquiry, there must be overlapping of discussion, reference and findings in coming to conclusions regarding the responsibility for the disturbances, the circumstances which led to the promulgation of Martial Law and the measures taken to prevent or deal with the disturbances. We have, as far as possible, attempted to keep these subjects separate and to avoid repetition but that the subjects are closely allied to, and mixed up with, each other cannot be denied. Though the term relating to responsibility occurs in clause (a) and that to circumstances in clause

 

(b), we consider it more convenient and logical to deal first with the latter.

 

It is admitted by all the parties concerned that in the circumstances existing on 6th March, the handing over to the military and the subordination of the civil power to the army had become inevitable. The civil authorities, who in normal times are responsible for the maintenance of law and order, had become completely helpless and lost all desire

 

The administrative machinery had completely failed and no one was willing or anxious to face the responsibility of enforcing the law, either by arresting offenders or preventing the perpetration of crime. Vast multitudes of human beings who in ordinary times were sane, sensible citizens, had assumed the form of unruly hysterical mobs whose only impulse was to disobey; the law and to bring constituted authority to its knees while baser elements of society, having taken advantage of the prevailing disorder, were behaving like wild beasts killing people, robbing them of their possessions and burning valuable property either for the sake of fun or to spite a fancied enemy. The whole machinery which keeps society alive had crumbled to pieces, making some drastic measure necessary to restore sense to mad humanity and to provide protection for helpless citizens. The disturbances were thus directly responsible for the promulgation of Martial Law. But how did the disturbances themselves come about? Was their cause some immediate and unexpected event or had certain parties or individuals been deliberately planning for them since long? Here again it is admitted that the disturbances were the result of protests and demonstrations that had begun to be staged in the various towns of the Punjab by the arrest of certain members of the Majlis-i-Amal in Karachi on the morning of 27th and in some towns of the Punjab on the night of 27th February or later.

 

These arrests were effected because the threat to resort to direct action, notice of which had been given to the Prime Minister of Pakistan more than a month earlier, was to be carried into effect by sending batches of volunteers to the residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister from the morning of 27th February. We are asked to believe that these batches would have gone to their destinations in perfect discipline and without any ostentation of public indignation over the Government’s indifference to the demands and that these batches, each consisting of only five persons, were merely to offer a sort of satyagraha. But any one having an experience of what happens on such occasions would at once dismiss this expectation as a pious wish or a disingenuous argument.

 

What the sequence of events in Karachi or elsewhere would have been or what course the agitation would have adopted if no arrests had been made, is not merely a matter of guess or speculation but of intelligent expectation and anticipation in the light of experience of mob psychology and administrative difficulties on such occasions. Even, therefore, if no arrests had been made on the morning of 27th, the disturbances must have come about with only this difference that arrests would have become necessary a little later both in Karachi and important towns in the Punjab, where long preparations for organising volunteer corps and direct action committees and for nomination of dictators had been made. When we come to deal with the question of responsibility we shall show that parties who conceived, initiated and planned direct action had knowledge of the natural consequences of such action and that members of the Majlis-i-Amal, each and everyone of them unless he were a fool, fully knew that the course of action on which they had embarked was fraught with dangerous consequences to the life and property of the citizens and to the very existence of governmental machinery. In fact, the notice delivered to the Prime Minister had required him to abdicate in ease he was not willing to accept the demands and direct action was threatened only if he persisted in his stubbornness and refused to accept them. This threat contained in itself the implicit admission that if the Prime Minister did not resign, he would be replaced by another person as head of the Government who would be willing to accept the demands.

 

Accordingly the demands themselves must be held as having been the direct cause of the disturbances that actually came about. It, therefore, becomes necessary to examine what the demands were and what was the nature and reason thereof.

 

The demands were three in number. The first required the Government to have the Qadiani section of the Ahmadis declared as a non-Muslim minority, while the second and the third required the removal of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan from the office of Foreign Minister and of other Ahmadis who held key positions m the State, from their posts. It is admitted before us by all parties that all the three demands were essentially religious and not political in nature. The only exception to this is the Shia divine Hafiz Kifayat Husain who says that the demand regarding the declaration of the Ahmadis as a non-Muslim minority was alone religious in its character, while the other two demands were of a political nature. Neither Jama’at-i-Islami nor its leader Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi has denied the essentially religious character of the demands, though the latter has added some more reasons for them. All other ulama have expressly stated that each of the three demands was a religious demand and that not one of them was political. Indeed none who was a party to the direct action could have admitted the political character of the demands without making himself directly responsible for the disturbances and the admission about their religious character had to be made perforce by everyone concerned in an attempt to avoid his being held responsible for the disturbances for a worldly reason. On this part of the case some of the important parties, as for instance, the Ahrar and the Jama’at-i-Islami, and some divines who at one time belonged to the Ahrar or Congress organisations and before the Partition were pronounced believers in nationalism and a secular State and opposed to the Partition and the Muslim League, have found themselves distinctly embarrassed and in a position of inconsistency and self-contradiction in view of their previous utterances, because if the demands were religious in their character, and religion is both immutable and inflexible, then it becomes somewhat difficult to comprehend how ideology which is based on religion changes from time to time and from place to place.

 

Being fully conscious of the implications arising from, this position, they have adhered to the stand which they took before the public that the demands followed from their religious convictions.

 

Another point which at this stage we might mention about the demands is that they are alleged to be the unanimous demands of all religious sects in Islam and not merely of the persons who were parties to the resolutions passed at the All Pakistan Muslim Parties Convention in Karachi and the All Muslim Parties Convention at Lahore.

 

It is not contended before us that each of the religious groups or organisations some of which have their own constitutions, discussed the subject independently and passed resolutions in respect of it under its own constitution. What happened is that some member or members, be they office-bearers or not, of each religious group, were selected to represent the group at the Convention, and when it is stated that the demands were the unanimous demands of all religious groups, the claim is true only to this extent that a member or members from the most important religions groups in the country had expressed their approval of the demands. It is in this sense, therefore, that the demands can be said to be the unanimous demands of all Muslim sects.

 

When it is alleged that the demands were unanimous and religious in their character, what is meant is that according to all sects in Islam they are clear deductions from some theological assumptions or doctrines. Almost all the ulama whom we questioned on the subject have stated that the demands are a corollary from the Objectives Resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 12th March, 1949, and from that religio-political system which they call Islam. It has been most vehemently urged that Pakistan was claimed and was brought into existence so that the future political set-up of the new State may be based on the Qur’an and the sunna and that the actual realisation of the demand and the express recognition by the Objectives Resolution, of that ground for the demand, had created in the mind of the ulama and the citizens of Pakistan the belief that any demand which could be established on religious grounds would not only be conceded but warmly welcomed by the people at the helm of affairs of the State who had during the last several years been crying themselves hoarse over their intention to establish in Pakistan an Islamic State with a set-up of political, social and ethical institutions of the Islamic pattern. Some leaders, it is pointed out, had publicly declared the achievement of this objective as their life’s mission. What, therefore, was necessary for the ulama to get an acceptance of the demands was merely to prove by theological argument that the Ahmadis were a distinct and separate community outside the pale of Islam and not entitled to take any part in the public affairs of the country which were to be managed and conducted strictly in accordance with the rules of Islam. In order to comprehend the exact nature of the demands, it is necessary to state here that when it is stated that Islam is a religio-political system, what is intended to be conveyed is that it has a cultural complex embracing specific political structures and legal and social traditions as distinguished from the Islamic dogma, cult, ethics and family institutions. This conception of Islam is partly borrowed from European terminology, but is also based on the doctrine of Daurl Islam; a country with an exclusively peculiar outlook on life basing all its institutions on, and directing its activity to the attainment of ends enjoined by, Revelation. We will again have to revert to this subject, but what is of importance to comprehend at the present stage is that the demands professed to be based on the idea of an Islamic State.

 

With these preliminary observations let us try to understand how the demands are claimed to follow from religion. For that purpose it is necessary not only to comprehend the precise doctrinal differences between the Musalmans and the Ahmadis but also to have a clear conception of that religio-political system called Islam and of the idea of an Islamic State from which the demands are stated to flow as a necessary consequence.

 

DOCTRINAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MUSALMANS AND AHMADIS

 

Earlier in. Part I of the Report we have given a short account of the birth of the Ahmadiya movement and the peculiar beliefs and tenets of its followers. We will now examine these beliefs more fully with a view to being better able to understand the religious differences between the Musalmans and the Ahmadis.

 

KHATM-I-NUBUWWAT

 

The first difference relates to the status of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiya community. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to Be a prophet (nabi) and this claim according to Musalmans put him completely outside the pale of Islam. A generally accepted hadith states that the number of prophets sent by God for the guidance of humanity is one lac and twenty-four thousand, and the Holy Prophet of Islam is believed by the Musalmans to have been the last of this series of prophets of whom some have been specifically mentioned in the Qur’an and the Bible. The doctrine of khatm-inubuwwat in the sense that prophethood (nubuwwat) ceased with the death of the Holy Prophet and that no new prophet (nabi) shall appear hereafter is said to be deducible from the following verses of the Qur’an:—

 

Sura XXXIII, verse 40:

 

“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets: and God has full knowledge of all things.”

 

Sura III, verse 81:

 

“Behold! God took the Covenant of the Prophets, saying: ‘I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you an Apostle, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help.’ God said: ‘Do ye agree, and take this My Covenant as binding on you?’ They said:

‘We agree.’ He said: ‘Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.’”

 

Sura V, verse 4:

 

“This day have those who reject Faith given up all hope of your religion; Yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”

 

Reliance is also placed on several ahadith and standard commentaries on the verses cited above beginning from the earliest times which are to the effect that no fresh prophet shall appear after our Holy Prophet. Some verses by celebrated poets in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, and treatises and tracts on the subject have also been referred to. Mr. Abdur Rahman Khadim, learned counsel for the Ahmadiya community, on the other hand, relies on Sura IV, verse 69, Sura LVII, verse 19, Sura VII, verse 35 and Sura XXIII, verse 51, which are as follows:—

 

Sura IV, verse 69:

 

“All who obey God and the Apostle are in. the company of those on whom is the Grace of God,—of the prophets (who teach), the Sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! what a beautiful Fellow-ship.”

 

Sura LVII, verse 19:

 

“And those who believe in God and His apostles—they are the sincere (lovers of Truth), and the witnesses (who testify), in the eyes of their Lord: They shall have their Reward and their Light. But those who reject God and deny Our Signs,— they are the Companions of Hell- Fire.”

 

Sura VII, verse 35:

 

“O ye Children of Adam! Whenever there come to you apostles from amongst you, rehearsing My Signs unto you,—those who are righteous and mend (their lives),—on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.”

 

Sura XXIII, verse 51:

 

“O ye apostles I enjoy (all) things good and pure, and work righteousness: For I am well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.” By a process of reasoning, which we need not explain here because we are neither required nor supposed to give a finding on the question whether any particular interpretation is correct, it is sought to prove from these verses of the Qur’an that there will in future, i.e., after our Holy Prophet, be persons to whom the word ‘nabi’ or ‘rasul’ may be applicable, and to reinforce this argument reference has also been made to some ahadith and to the works of some commentators and persons whose high spiritual status is generally acknowledged. Though it is not denied that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad used the word ‘nabi’ in respect of himself, it is contended that he used the word in a special sense and that he was not a ‘nabi’ in the technical sense, namely, in the sense of a person who brings a fresh message from God in abrogation, modification or supplementation of a similar earlier message and that his claim to prophethood (nubuwwat) was not to a tashri’i but only to a zilli or buruzi nubuwvwat. From the other side, it is urged that the idea of buruz or zill, which may be translated as ‘incarnation’, is foreign to the Islamic dogma and that any person, who claims to be the recipient of what may be called wahi-inubwwwat, creates a new ummat and automatically leaves the fold of Islam, and by reference to several writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, of the present head of the Ahmadiya community and representative authors of that community, it is sought to establish that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did claim to be the recipient of ilham or wahi of the kind which God had hitherto reserved exclusively for prophets. The question, therefore, is reduced to this whether Mirza Ghulam Ahmad ever claimed to be the receiver of such wahi as amounted to wahi-i-nubuwwat. In the past whenever a nabi has appeared he has always imposed on the people among whom he appears an obligation—our Holy Prophet imposed such obligation on entire humanity—to examine his claim and to believe in him and any disbelief or doubt in his nubuwwat exposes them to certain ultramundane liabilities. The people, therefore, find themselves called upon either to accept or to reject the claim. The acceptance of the claim brings into existence a new religious community which is considered by the earlier community to be an outcaste, while the new community considers those who do not believe in the new prophet to be outside their own community. Though Mirza Ghulam Ahmad started offering his hand with a direction to the people to accept it, the question still remains whether he claimed for his wahi the status of wahi-i-nubuwwat, omission to believe in which involves certain spiritual and ultramundane consequences. Before us the Ahmadis and their present head have, after careful consideration, taken the stand that he did not, but the other side vehemently contends that he did. There are some indications in the Ahmadiya literature, including some writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself and the present head of the Ahmadiya community to support the contending party’s assertion, but the position adopted before us now is clear that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad called himself a nabi merely because in one of his ilhams he was described as such by God, that he brought no new code, that he neither repealed nor supplemented the original code and that an omission to believe in Mirza Sahib’s wahi does not take a person outside the pale of Islam. We have said before that it is not our business to give a finding whether the Ahmadis are or are not within the pale of Islam and we have referred to this point merely with a view to explaining the differences that are alleged to exist between them and the non-Ahmadis, leaving it to the latter to judge whether they should or should not consider the former to be Muslims.

 

CHRISTOLOGY

 

The second important difference between the two parties relates to the incident of crucifixion of Jesus and the belief in his reappearance before the Day of Resurrection. On the crucifixion and reappearance of Jesus there are at least four views:

 

(1) The view shared by most of the Muslim sects that Jesus did not die on the Cross and that he is alive in the Fourth Heaven from where he will descend on the earth before the Day of Resurrection, his appearance being one of the signs of the approaching Day;

 

(2) The view held by the Ahmadis that Jesus was saved from the Cross, tended by his disciples and cured of his wounds, after which he came over to Kashmir where he died a natural death, that the person who was promised to appear before the Day of Resurrection was to be a person with the attributes of Jesus, his maseel, and that that person was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad;

 

(3) The view that Jesus died on the Cross, but that he will rise from his grave before the Day of Resurrection; and

 

(4) The view that Jesus died on the Cross and that he will not at all appear, neither he in person nor his maseel.

 

The verses of the Qur’an. Which have reference to this phenomenon are:—

 

Sura XLIII, verses 57 to 61:

 

57. “When (Jesus) the son of Mary is held up as an example, behold, thy people raise a clamour thereat (in ridicule)!

 

58. “And they say, ‘are our gods best, or he?’ This they set forth to thee, only by way of disputation: yea, they are a contentious people.

 

59. “He was no more than a servant: We granted our favour to him, and we made him an example to the Children of Israel.

 

60. “And if it were Our Will, we could make angels from amongst you, succeeding each other on the earth.

 

61. “And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): Therefore, have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.”

 

Sura V, verse 120:

 

“Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘Worship God, my Lord and your Lord’ ; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them ; when Thou didst take me up, Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.”

 

Sura III, verse 55 and 144:

 

55. “Behold! God said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehood) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject Faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto Me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.

 

144. “Muhammad is no more than an Apostle: many were the Apostles that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to God; but God (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve him) with gratitude.”

 

Sura IV, verses 157 and 158:

 

157. “That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God’ ;—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not;—

 

158. “Nay, God raised him up unto himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise;” The non-Ahmadi Muslims interpret these verses so as to show that Jesus did not die on the Cross, that a phenomenon occurred in the nature of an optical illusion, and that in fact God lifted up Jesus towards himself where he is still alive in the Fourth Heaven from where he will descend before the Day of Resurrection. This view is sought to be supported by several ahadith on the subject. The Ahmadis, however, take these very verses to mean that Jesus died a natural death, though not on the Cross, and that another person with the attributes of Jesus was to appear and that that person has already appeared in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. They also cite some opinions of renowned theologians in support of the view that only a person like Jesus and not Jesus himself is the promised Messiah who is to appear before the Day of Resurrection. It is contended by Maulana Murtaza Ahmad Khan Maikash on behalf of the Majlis-i-Amal that the Ahmadiya interpretation of these and certain other verses of the Qur’an amounts to tavil and tehrif, which amounts to kufr and irtidad and renders the man guilty of such misinterpretation liable to forfeit his life and property (halaluddam walmal). We are not called upon to express our own opinion on the merits of this controversy which centres round the meaning of the word ‘masalan’ ( مثلا ) in verse 57 of Sura LXIII and of the derivatives of the word ‘wafa’ ( وفیٰ ) which have been used in some of the verses cited above and also relates to the antecedent of the pronoun in the ( انهُ ) in verse 61 of Sura LXIII.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/munir-commission-report-part-21--circumstances-leading-to-proclamation-of-martial-law-/d/2643


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