By Dr. Muhammad Iqbal
I assure the people that I feel the injustice done to the Arabs as keenly as anybody else who understands the situation in the Near East. I have no doubt that the British people can still be awakened to the fulfilment of the pledges given to the Arabs in the name of England. The British Parliament, I am glad to say, have in the recent Parliamentary debates [left] the question of partition open. This decision affords an excellent opportunity to the Muslims of the world emphatically to declare that the problem which the British statesmen are tackling is not one of Palestine only, but seriously affects the entire Muslim world.
The problem, studied in its historical perspective, is purely a Muslim problem. In the light of the history of Israel, Palestine ceased to be a Jewish problem long before the entry of Caliph ‘Umar into Jerusalem more than 1300 years ago. Their dispersion, as Professor Hockings has pointed out, was perfectly voluntary and their scriptures were for the most part written outside Palestine. Nor was it ever a Christian problem. Modern historical research has doubted even the existence of Peter the Hermit. Even if we assume that the Crusades were an attempt to make Palestine a Christian problem, this attempt was defeated by the victories of Salah-ud-Din. I, therefore, regard Palestine as a purely Muslim problem.
Never were the motives of British imperialism, as regard to the Muslim people of the Near East, so completely unmasked as in the Report of the Royal Commission. The idea of a national home for the Jews in Palestine was only a device. In fact, British imperialism sought a home for itself in the form of a permanent mandate in the religious home of the Muslims. This is indeed a dangerous experiment, as a member of British Parliament has rightly described it, and can never lead to a solution of the British problem in the Mediterranean. Far from being a solution of the British problem in the Mediterranean, it is really the beginning of the future difficulties of British imperialism. The sale of the Holy Land including the Mosque of ‘Umar, inflicted on the Arabs with the threat of martial law and softened by an appeal to their generosity, reveals bankruptcy of statesmanship rather than its achievement. The offer of a piece of rich land to the Jews and the rocky desert plus cash to the Arabs is no political wisdom. It is a low transaction unworthy of and damaging to the honour of a great people in whose name definite promises of liberty and confederation were made to the Arabs.
It is impossible for me to discuss the details of the Palestine Report in this short statement. There are, however, in recent history, important lessons which Muslims of Asia ought to take to heart. Experience has made it abundantly clear that the political integrity of the peoples of the Near East lies in the immediate reunion of the Turks and the Arabs. The policy of isolating the Turks from the rest of the Muslim world is still in action. We hear now and then that the Turks are repudiating Islam. A greater lie was never told. Only those who have no idea of the history of the concepts of Islamic jurisprudence fall an easy prey to this sort of mischievous propaganda.
The Arabs, whose religious consciousness gave birth to Islam (which united the various races of Asia with remarkable success), must never forget the consequences arising out of their deserting the Turks in their hour of trial.
Secondly, the Arab people must further remember they cannot afford to reply on the advice of those Arab kings who are not in a position to arrive at an independent judgment in the matter of Palestine with an independent conscience. Whatever they decide they should decide on their own initiative after a full understanding of the problem before them.
Thirdly, the present moment is also a moment of trial for the Muslim statesmen of the free non-Arab Muslim countries of Asia, for since the abolition of the Caliphate this is the first serious international problem of both a religious and political nature which historical forces are compelling them to face. The possibilities of the Palestine problem may eventually compel them seriously to consider their position as members of that Anglo-French institution miscalled the "League of Nations" and to explore practical means for the formation of an Eastern League of Nations.
(Statement on the report recommending the partition of Palestine read at a public meeting held under the auspices of the Punjab provincial Muslim League at Lahore on the 27th July 1937)