By Nasim Yousaf
JANUARY 19, 2012
The Khaksar Tehrik’s weekly “Al-Islah” was started by Allama Mashriqi in 1934 from Lahore. Distinguished Scholar and Historian Nasim Yousaf’s article entitled “Khaksar Movement Weekly ‘Al-Islah’s’ Role Toward Freedom” has recently been published in “Pakistaniaat” (Vol. 3, No 3, year 2011, Autumn Issue). According to the description given on the journal’s website (http://www.pakistaniaat.org), “Pakistaniaat is a refereed, multidisciplinary, and open access academic journal offering a forum for scholarly and creative engagement with various aspects of Pakistani history, culture, literature, and politics. Housed in the English Department of the University of North Texas, Pakistaniaat is a sponsored journal of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies...Pakistaniaat is an approved journal of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.”
The abstract of the said article is as follows: “In-depth study and analysis of the Khaksar Tehrik’s (Khaksar Movement) weekly paper “Al-Islah” (started in 1934) is imperative from the perspective of British India’s independence — the emergence of Pakistan and India in 1947. It is not conceivable to record a balanced and uncontaminated account of the freedom movement of the Indian sub-continent without examining the role of “Al-Islah” in the 1930s and 1940s.
This paper, Khaksar Movement Weekly “Al-Islah’s” Role Toward Freedom, discusses the paramount and pre-eminent role that the said weekly (newspaper) played in spreading the Khaksar Movement’s ideology, the goal of which was to inculcate character and discipline amongst the masses and ultimately lead to freedom of India from the British. “Al-Islah” indeed served to spread the Movement, which rose to become a Private Army (as referred to by Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India) of 5 million, and generated following in other countries. In addition, the “Al-Islah” inspired others who copied the Khaksars and formed similar organizations. The weekly also helped to achieve Allama Mashriqi’s (founder of the Khaksar Tehrik) mission of instilling unity, strict discipline, equality, and self-less community service (regardless of religion) amongst millions of Khaksars.
The spread of the Khaksar Movement in British India and other countries and the emergence of analogous organizations provide clear evidence that “Al-Islah’s” motivational, instigating, and morale-raising contents brought about an awakening amongst the people of pre-partition India. The Government of British India was alarmed and banned the “Al-Islah”. Yet they could neither suppress the Khaksar Movement nor the spirit of freedom which “Al-Islah” had infused throughout the nation.
This piece argues that the British would not even have spoken to Indian leaders or thought of transferring power, and the emergence of Pakistan and India could not have been envisioned, unless the rulers understood the grave threat posed to their rule by this awakening brought on by “Al-Islah” and the Khaksar Movement.”
The said article is exceptionally important from the perspective of the freedom of the Indian sub-continent from British rule. It fills a key gap that exists in the historiography of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. It also depicts the leading role played by “Al-Islah” and its founder Allama Mashriqi in bringing freedom to the Indian sub-continent.
According to the author, Mr. Yousaf, people have been reading false history of the freedom of Indian sub-continent. It is sad that people only know about the All-India Muslim League and the Indian National Congress leadership’s role in the freedom movement, whereas Allama Mashriqi and the Khaksars’ sufferings and rigorous fight against the British Raj in Pakistan and India have been buried, in order to give the full credit of independence to the two formerly mentioned political parties. This is also evident from the fact that access to original documents in National Archives of Pakistan and India is terrible.
The author said, “it must be realized that behind partition were vested interests of Muslim and non-Muslim leaders. Endorsement of partition breeds hatred between Muslims and Hindus and serves no purpose; therefore, writers and speakers must shun the justification of partition. To obtain peace in the region, the history of both countries needs to be rectified and re-written; peace in the region will not be found, unless it is realized on both sides (India and Pakistan) that partition was not endorsed by the majority of Muslims and Hindus. Partition was a blunder and was sought to meet political ends.”
The author’s published works unequivocally give new shape to the existing narrative of the freedom movement and, indeed, compel historians to re-visit the history of the Indian sub-continent.
Historian Nasim Yousaf comes from a renowned family of the Indian sub-continent and is a grandson of the pre-eminent Allama Mashriqi (world-known scholar, mathematician and founder of the Khaksar Tehrik). He is also a nephew of globally recognized social scientist Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan (both Allama Mashriqi and Dr. A.H. Khan were nominated for the Nobel Prize; Mashriqi for Literature for his book “Tazkirah” and Dr. Khan for Peace for his rural development and poverty alleviation projects). Mr. Yousaf is an expert on the Khaksar Movement and is the author of 10 books, many articles in the press, and works in scholarly journals; he has also presented at conferences in the USA.