Islamic and Secular Ideologies of Muslims in
There is a widespread tendency, in the language of scholars as well as in the rhetoric of politicians, to attribute political and ideological positions to 'Muslims' of
'MUSLIM' IDEOLOGICAL AND POLITICAL POSITIONS IN
I 'MUSLIM' POSITIONS ('All-India - but main base in Muslim minority areas).
i. Islamic Traditionalism- (I) The Ulema I : 'Deobandis'
ii Islamic Traditionalism- (II) The Ulema II: 'Barelvis' & Pirs
iii. Islamic Fundamentalism_- Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami
iv. Jamiat-e-Ahrar Anti-colonial 'nationalist' Muslims-- anti-. Muslim League
v. Islamic Modernism - Sir Syed Ahmad Khan & Iqbal
vi. Secular Muslim Nationalism - exemplified by Jinnah and the Muslim League
II NON-COMMUNAL POSITIONS OF MUSLIMS IN MUSLIM MAJORITY AREAS 4
vii. Secular Provincial Non-communal Transactional Politics:
Landlord Dominated Right Wing
viii. Secular Provincial Non-Communal Radical Politics:
The Krishak Proja Party of Bengal, led by A.K. Fazlul Haq, the ruling Party in
x Secular Non-Communal Nationalist Muslims(in Congress Party)
in Sarhad, the N.W.F.P. the ruling party was the Congress under Ghaffar Khan
It was in the Muslim 'minority' provinces, especially in the UP, rather than those in which Muslims were in a majority, that specifically Muslim political and ideological movements were generated. Until the late 1940s, when Jinnah and the Muslim League managed to form an uneasy alliance with dominant groups in the Muslim majority provinces, their politics were not even Muslim nationalist not to say 'Islamic'. They were, rather non-communal politics of landlord dominated groups and political parties.
We have identified eight 'Muslim' ideological-political positions amongst Muslims in
Contrary-wise there have been equally strident demands that Pakistan be declared a Sunni Hanafi republic and the Hanafi 'fiqh', or legal code, be made the law of the land, that all other sects be declared minorities and be reduced to second class citizenship. This has led to a great deal of sectarian violence. These developments are the inevitable logical extensions of the claim made by the Zia regime that Islamic Law be imposed in
There have been numerous other Muslim political movements during the colonial period, such as Khaksars and Ahrars. The latter were extremely hostile to the
The 'Ulema' (plural of alim, a man of - religious - learning) is a grandiose term, which is often used quite loosely, as for example in the results of a survey recently published by the Government of Pakistan which finds the vast majority of them to be barely literate. To be properly classified amongst the 'Ulema' a person would have been educated at a religious seminary and would have gone through the 'Dars-e-Nizami' a syllabus that was laid down in medieval India and has hardly changed. Generally, they have little knowledge of the world that they live in, nor even perhaps of the world of Islam except for myths and legends. They inhabit little temples of their own uncomprehending and enclosed minds in which they intone slogans, petrified words and dogmas. Affairs of state and society are, generally, beyond their narrowed vision. There are only a few amongst them who have had the benefit of some tolerable education and who, in their own ways, try to follow current affairs.
The Ulema of the Sunni Hanafi Mazhab, as mentioned above are themselves divided into warring groups of whom the two main are popularly known as the 'Deobandis' ( after the great seminary at Deoband ) and 'Barelvis', after the town of Bareilly in the UP, which was the seat of their mentor Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi. Deobandis and Barelvis differ in many respects, by virtue of their different doctrinal positions, the different classes (and regions) amongst whom they have influence and their different political stances. The hallmark of Deobandi Ulema in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was their unremitting anti-colonialism. Barelvis Ulema and Pirs, unlike the Deobandis, were not involved in anti-colonial ideology and struggle. On the contrary, most of them, with few exceptions, supported the colonial regime and, were in turn, favoured by it.
It took the Deobandi Ulema many decades of British rule before they began to show their eventual deep resentment against it. One should add, parenthetically, that the label Deobandi is not wholly appropriate here, except for brevity, for the eponymous Dar-ul-Uloom at Deoband was not founded until 1867. Very few of these worthies played a part in the Wahhabi movement of the early 19th century which was led by men of the sword, the last defenders of Indian feudalism, rather than the dispensers of law. Be that as it may the belated hostility of these Ulema to British rule was derived from changes that were being brought about during the middle decades of the 19th century by the colonial state, that directly impinged upon their lives and livelihood.
There were three contexts in which the changes impinged upon them. Firstly, in pre-colonial India Muslim Ulema and Hindu Pandits played a central role in the judicial system and held lucrative and influential positions. That continued in the early years of colonial rule. But soon a new legal system was being established to meet new needs of the expanding colonial capitalist economy. The old feudal dispensations were no longer appropriate. Along with the new laws and new types of courts to adjudicate them, a new class of English educated lawyers and judges took over from the Ulema and they were pushed out of their influential high status and lucrative jobs. Secondly, the Ulema were also being pushed out of the educational system. That process was a bit more slow, though that was not because the colonial regime spared any efforts to speed it up. Indian clerks were needed who would be educated along lines that would prepare them for service in the apparatus of colonial government. The traditional schools run by Ulemas (and Hindu Pandits), with their emphasis on classical learning, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit, were no longer suited to that purpose. They were replaced by new Anglo-vernacular schools, with the active sponsor ship and support from the colonial state. The hostility of the Ulema to the colonial regime no doubt owed much to these bread and butter questions, although it was expressed and legitimised in terms of moral out rage. A third factor underlying the anti-colonialism of the Ulema was the plight of Indian weavers, the Julahas, who were their most fervent followers. Indian weavers, once the most prosperous of the Indian artisan classes, were devastated by the colonial impact and consequent destruction of Indian textile manufacturing. Julahas, were therefore amongst the most embittered opponents of colonialism. They became extremely bigoted and developed an uncompromising attitude towards the West. The Ulema's outlook reflected that also.
All these factors bound the Ulema to the Indian nationalist cause. They never argued for the setting up of an 'Islamic' state nor a Muslim state. Quite the contrary. They called upon Muslims to join hands with their Hindu brothers in the patriotic cause against foreign rule. To rationalise that position they put forward a theory that constituted an essentially secular public philosophy. They separated the domain of faith, as a private domain, from the public domain of politics and government. This was formulated quite explicitly by Maulana Hasan Ahmad Madani of Deoband who argued that:-
(i) faith was universal and could not be contained within national boundaries but
(ii) that nationality was a matter of geography and Muslims were bound to the nation of their birth by obligations of loyalty along with their non-Muslim fellow citizens.
Hindus, Muslims and members of other communities would live together in harmony in independent India which, although not 'dar-ul-Islam', as it would be under Muslim rule was, nevertheless, 'dar-ul-aman', the land of peace, where Muslims would be guaranteed freedom to practice their faith, where it would be the duty of Muslims to live as loyal and law abiding citizens. It was the duty of the Muslim in
That contradictory amalgam of ideas came together in the Khilafat Movement (1919-23) in the aftermath of the First World War, which was the climactic moment in the political struggles of the Deobandi Ulema. The aim of the movement, was to resist the removal of the Ottoman Caliph from his high office. It was a bizarre movement of religious obscurantism that unleashed rabid and atavistic passions among Indian Muslims. It ran counter to the aspirations of Turkish and Arab nationalism. It was strongly disapproved by Jinnah. But, ironically, it was backed by Gandhi, leader of secular Indian Nationalism! The movement promised to isolate the Muslim salariat leadership from Muslim masses by arousing their fanatical passions behind a hopeless and anachronistic cause. In 1919, under the leadership of Deoband and in the wake of the Khilafat movement, the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind was formed as the political organisation of the Deobandi Ulema. It was during that movement, that they made their biggest, though somewhat brief, impact on the Indian political scene. But they left behind a bitter legacy of narrow communalism especially amongst some sections of the Muslim urban subordinate classes. In the late 1940s the Muslim League made great efforts to win over the Ulema to the
Barelvi Ulema and Pirs
In contrast to the Deobandi Ulema, Barelvis profess a more populist Islam, more infused with superstition, and also syncretism, that make up the religious beliefs of the peasantry. Barelvi version of Islam emphasises belief in miracles and powers of saints and Pirs, worship at shrines and the dispensing of amulets and charms, which are all condemned by Deobandis as un-Islamic. Deobandis and Barelvis detest each other and much sectarian conflict consists of fights between the two Pirs or Sufi shaikhs, play an important part in the religious life of the peasantry. Barelvi Islam is closely tied to devotion to pirs and belief in their powers of intercession (wasilah), whereas Deobandis emphasise personal redemption by rigorous performance of religious ritual and avoidance of sin. However, in the course of extended research in
Living Pirs fall into two categories. Firstly there are Pirs as petty practitioners, dealers in miracles and magic, at a price. They provide amulets or anointed oil to protect the peasant from evil or specific remedies which he buys from them. Such Pirs can make barren wombs fertile, or ease the pain of incurable disease and so on. They take their lucrative business seriously and avoid getting involved in politics for, given the factional division of local level politics, they would run the risk of losing half their clientele if they were to get politically involved. During my extended period of fieldwork in
Secondly there are Pirs of an altogether different kind who operate on a a much higher level. Their relationship with peasants is not a direct one based on 'spiritual powers' but is rather a mediated one through landlords and local faction leaders who control the peasantry politically. Such Pirs have mureeds or disciples, who take an oath of allegiance (bai'a, or, in Punjabi bait) to the Pir. At the core of such Pir's coterie of mureeds are powerful landlords, village level faction leaders, and not least government officials, who together constitute a free masonry exchanging patronage and favours, which is tightly organised and controlled by the Pir. They operate with great effect in the political arena, as well as in the dispensing of government favours, through control and distribution of patronage and favours. Their mutual bonds are expressed in the language of kinship and the mureeds consider each other pirbhais, or pir-brothers. The Pir himself, being at the centre of such a structure of 'generalised reciprocity' wields great power. But that is not direct power over the peasantry and it has little to do with religious beliefs of the peasantry. It is a myth to suppose that such Pirs, by virtue of charismatic power, have political authority over the peasants in general, although where their landlords are mureeds. Pirs may indirectly control peasant followers in the political arena. In most cases such Pirs are big and powerful landowners in their own rights and control their own peasants. Political recruitment of peasants by such Pirs therefore takes place on the basis of distinctly non-spiritual powers.15
Historically, Deobandis have tended to be mainly urban and from middle and upper strata of society whereas Barelvi influence has been mainly in rural areas, with a populist appeal. This has changed somewhat in recent decades, for Barelvi influence has extended to towns and cities, amongst the lumpen-proletariat (peasants in cities) and an insecure urban petty bourgeoisie. Traditionally Barelvi influence has been weaker in the UP (with the exception perhaps of the peasantry of south-western UP ) than in the Punjab and to some degree in
Before we leave the Ulema, we must take note of their respective positions on a doctrinal point of Deobandis and Barelvis on the one hand and Islamic Fundamentalists and Islamic Modernists on the other; and further certain crucial differences between the two latter. These doctrinal positions are pivotal to the terms in which the political debate between them is articulated. That debate centres around the concept of ijtihad which we may translate as 'interpretative development of doctrine in keeping with the spirit of Islam', on issues that cannot be decided by a manifest and direct applicability of injunctions of the Quran or the Hadith, or a solution offered by other prescribed rules. Ijtihad is the final remedy and for those who would admit to the possibility of Ijtihad, there are recognised methods by which it may be accomplished. The Traditionalist (Sunni) Ulema do not accept that it is possible to perform ijtihad; as they would put it, 'the gates of Ijtihad are closed'. For the 'traditionalists' Islamic doctrines, as formulated and codified by the 9th century AD, in the form of the teachings of the four orthodox Sunni schools which comprise their received tradition and doctrine is complete and final. For them it is fixed for eternity. Instead of Ijtihad they rely on taqlid, unwavering and unadulterated application of the received doctrine. The Islamic Modernists and Islamic Fundamentalists, on the other hand, each reject this Traditionalist view of the immutability and rigidity of the doctrine of the faith, that admits only the principle of taqlid, or doctrinal conformity. Instead, they insist on both the possibility as well as the necessity of ijtihad, to revivify Islam in keeping with new questions and issues that arise with constantly changing conditions in the world. Their different political positions turn, however, on their different solutions to the question of how ijtihad may be properly carried out, the 'fundamentalist' solution being an authoritarian one whereas the 'Modernist' tradition finds justification for the democratic political process in the search for Ijtihad.
Religious Reform Movements in
The colonial restructuring of
The Hindu Renaissance in
An opposite kind of misconception about these movements, far more common, is that these movements simply packaged ideas imported from Europe in locally made boxes; that these are examples of mere reflection of Western ideas, a borrowing and mechanical transmission from one culture to another. Such a view seems plausible, for liberal ideas were in ascendancy in the colonial metropolis, though it would be difficult to accuse British colonial officials of being the bearers of liberal ideas which they did not consider suited to
The 'Hindu Renaissance', as I pointed out above, was followed by 'Muslim Renaissance' which was pre-figured by writers and poets such as Mirza Ghalib and, later, articulated most clearly and force fully by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his prolific writings. Sir Syed Ahmad was pioneer and most certainly the outstanding and most influential figure of the 'Muslim Renaissance'. Sir Syed Ahmad was also a very effective practical organiser, as well as a theoretician and major intellectual figure. His role and mission in life was to facilitate the induction of upper class UP Muslims into the colonial salariat. For that it was necessary to encourage them to move out of the traditional system of education (dominated and controlled by traditionalist and backward looking ulemas). Sir Syed Ahmad urged Muslims to take instead to English and Western education that would qualify them for jobs in the colonial salariat. He also preached the beneficent character of colonial rule and the absurdity of opposing it. His own personal life reflects the transition, of a member of the old UP aristocracy to the new salariat. He was from an noble family with long connections with Moghul Imperial rule, now less prosperous. He joined the service of the East India Company, against the wishes of his family, and rose to be a 'munsif', or sub-judge, which at the time, was about as high a position in the colonial state apparatus as an Indian could aspire to. He soon became a pioneer of a new rationalist public philosophy, but one which was expressed in the idiom of Islam. Nevertheless he was much reviled and attacked by the Ulema. Embroidered tales of his persecution by bigots have become a part of the mythology of the Muslim salariat.
It is not too surprising that Sir Syed Ahmad, the father of Islamic Modernism was directly influenced by Raja Ram Mohan Roy the father of Hindu Renaissance. As an impressionable young man Sir Syed Ahmad met Roy, who was on a visit to the Moghul court in 1831. He gave much prominence to an account of
Sir Syed Ahmad's political philosophy, as appropriate to the concerns of the emerging Muslim salariat in the UP, was cast in Muslim ethnic terms (rather than 'communal', which is a pejorative term). He was striving for numerical equality of Muslim representation in the services to that of Hindus, although in the UP Muslims were only about 13 % of the population. He argued that Muslims, as a community, were entitled to an equal share because for they made up for their lack of overall numbers by their preponderance amongst the upper classes. That view did not entail hostility towards Hindus as such, nor was it a question of religion. The issue was that of equating the two communities, irrespective of their relative size and demanding an equal share for each. This was nicely expressed in his much quoted statement that
Sir Syed Ahmad did not argue for a restoration of Muslim political power over
Education was the sovereign remedy for reversing the decline of the UP upper class Muslim society. The main thrust of Sir Syed Ahmad's writing and indefatigable organisational activity, therefore lay in the pursuit of modern education for Muslims. He founded the
Sir Syed Ahmad had to fight the bigoted Ulema at all levels, not least on their own ground of theology. His writings on religion were prolific and reflected a high level of scholarship. Without going into details of particular controversies one particular issue can be singled out. That was the burden of the received and congealed orthodoxy, the immutable Traditions of the Four Sunni schools, in the name of which the Ulema fought him. His counter-attack was simplicity itself, the wielding of Occam's Razor. He wiped the slate clean of the hide-bound traditions of the four schools as handed down by the Ulema over ten centuries, by declaring that they had become cluttered with accretions of bid'at (or 'innovations'), in other words misconceptions and misinterpretations.20 The only alternative was to go back to the source, the Quran and the Hadith of the Prophet. By that bold stroke he swept orthodoxy out of the way and gave himself freedom to write on the cleaned slate a new message of a rationalist social philosophy that sought legitimation by invoking the fundamental sources of Islam.
Sir Syed Ahmad's work opened the way for a liberal re-interpretation of Islamic political philosophy by Mohammad Iqbal. Iqbal attacked the dogma of the Traditionalist Ulema that the received doctrine was immutable. He passionately attacked the Ulema's commitment to the principle of taqlid, or doctrinal conformity, which he argued had ossified Islam and made it remote from realities of the contemporary world. That was the root cause of the present decline of Muslims. To revitalise Muslim society, ijtihad had to be reinstated.21 That could be done through ijma, or consensus of the community of the faithful, which he considered to be 'The third source of Mohammed an Law (after the Quran and Hadith of the Prophet. H.A.) ...which is in my opinion perhaps the most important legal notion in Islam'.22He argued further that 'The transfer of (the power of performing) ijtihad from individual representatives of schools to a legislative assembly ... is the only possible form ijma can take in modern times'.23 Iqbal was quite as hostile to the decadent and obscurantist views of the Ulema as they were to his. Referring to provisions of the Persian constitution of 1906 he repudiated as 'dangerous' the idea of giving powers to the Ulema to supervise legislative activity. 'The only effective remedy for the possibilities of erroneous interpretations is to reform the present system of legal education" he added.24 By that formula of securing ijma through a legislative body, he legitimised in Islamic terms the liberal principle of representative self-government, the system that the political leadership of the professionals and the salariat (though not necessarily its bureaucratic and military components) best understood and wanted to have.
The Islamic Traditionalism of the Ulema and Islamic Modernism of Sir Syed and Mohammad Iqbal as I have suggested, were each associated with problems and wishes of certain social classes (of Muslims) during the 19th century, whose concerns and aspirations they articulated and expressed. The social roots of the new Islamic Fundamentalism of the Jamaat-e-Islami that was a most insignificant group of Muslim intellectuals at the time of The Partition, but which has gained much notoriety since then, cannot be quite so clearly identified. It originated entirely as an ideological movement and its appeal was initially limited to a small number of dedicated followers whom it offered a dream of an utopian future. It drew to itself a small band of idealists in search of a better society. Many of them were quickly disenchanted and left the Party, often joining left-wing groups and organisations. Their numbers and weight in that party have dwindled steadily. The Jamaat was soon to get generous support from powerful vested interests for whom it began to serve a political purpose. That changed its character radically.
The Jamaat-e-Islami was founded in 1941 by Maulana Maududi, a scholar-journalist with a classical education. Maududi was an opponent of Muslim Nationalism and the
To build an Islamic state the existing state must first be captured and brought under the control of those who, by Maududi's definition, were the only true bearers of militant and authentic Islam, namely himself and his Party. Unlike the Ulema, control of the state apparatus was therefore his first priority. His conception of the ideal Islamic State was a strongly centralised one, run on authoritarian lines, with the help of a strong and effective and dedicated army, under the authority of the Commander of the Faithful. Democracy was despised, for it gave power to the ignorant and those whose commitment, and understanding, of the faith could be doubtful. The onus lay therefore on his Party and on himself as its Guide and Leader, to take Muslim society forward to its true destiny. The Constitution of his Party illustrates this authoritarian philosophy for it demands unquestioning and total obedience from members of the Party to its Amir, its Supreme Head, namely himself. His ideas, justifying dictatorship in the name of Islam have, not surprisingly, found much favour with some sections of
The Jamaat is not a mass Party but one with selected cadre members. Because of its shallow roots in society, the Jamaat has been quite ineffective as a political Party. The full extent of its isolation from popular support was brought home recently to the Jamaat as well as its surprised opponents, by its debacle in the controlled elections staged by the Zia regime in January 1985, for conditions for its electoral success could not have been made more favourable. All opposition Parties were under a ban and their leaders and local activists were in prison or in exile. The field was therefore clear for the Jamaat to make a clean sweep of it. But it was routed completely. The electorate voted negatively, against Jamaat candidates and for non-entities.
The Jamaat's electoral bankruptcy ought not to lead anyone into under estimating its power and influence in today's
After the Partition the Jamaat attracted a new following among urdu speaking refugees from
The leadership of the Jamaat has passed into non-ideologist hands, although exploitation of their ideology remains their principal political weapon. The Party bosses seem to feel that its diminishing support from its meagre popular base, mostly amongst the Muhajirs is of less consequence than the support that it is deriving from powerful classes in Pakistan for whom its value lies in its ability to bludgeon radical and left-wing groups, very often quite literally so. The Party receives generous donations from big businessmen and landlords and is believed to be a recipient of generous donations from the Americans and from potentates in the
To end our account of the Jamaat-e-Islami, we must return to the central doctrinal issue of ijtihad, or interpretative development of doctrine, around which the political debate about Islamic State has turned. As it was pointed out above, the Jamaat stands for ijtihad, contrary to the position of the Traditionalist Ulema. But at the same time The Jamaat-e-Islami derides the method proposed by the Modernist Iqbal for realising Ijtihad under contemporary conditions, through processes of representative democracy, which is represented as the only possible source of Ijma modern conditions. Maududi contends against this that this could not lead to a reliable interpretation of Islam, for the voters may not be Muslim and even if they are, they may not have a 'true understanding' of Islam, such as only Maududi and his followers are blessed with. Iqbal's exhortation to educate the people was no solution either. Scholarship was no guarantee, for even the Ulema were misled and ignorant.
The logic of that argument, leads Maududi to an authoritarian solution, for by his lights there is only one true and reliable interpretation of Islam and Maududi and his Jamaat are the custodians of that true knowledge. They are a gifted and select elite, and amongst them only its great leader, knows what Islam is.
'According to Maududi', writes K.K. Aziz:
'there is always a person (Mizaj Shanas-i Rasool) who alone is competent to decide what the Holy Prophet would have done in a given situation if he were alive. ... He left no doubt in the minds of his followers that he was the only candidate for this supreme pontifical office. And his chief lieutenant, Maulana Islahi declared before the Punjab Disturbances Inquiry Committee that he wholeheartedly and unreservedly accepted Maududi as the Mizaj Shanas-i Rasool'.25
As far as the Jamaat claims and ideology are concerned, there can be no objective or logical criteria by which their validity can be settled. They can be accepted only as an act of faith, by a religious conversion in effect, to the Maududi sect, which may therefore be properly regarded to be yet another sect of Islam which, like every sect, claims to be the only true one.
Paradoxically Maududi's elitism itself militates against a principle which would be regarded as a central tenet of Islam, namely that ijtihad by ijma, the consensus of the community, has precedence over ijtihad by the alim, the man of religious learning, because an individual, however learned he may be, is fallible, but Allah in his divine mercy would not allow his community collectively to go in error. This has always been recognised as the principle of democracy in Islam. Maududi's argument contradicts that. The Jamaat-e-Islami ideology while insisting on ijtihad, in effect rejects the fundamental notion of ijma, and offers little more than a personal charter of authority to the head of the Jamaat-e-Islami to lay down the law in the name of Islam.
It must be said that by virtue of re-interpretation of Islam by Ulema of the 8th and 9th centuries AD, to suit the needs of the feudal Abbasid empire, the concept of ijma was itself narrowed down to that of a consensus between 'qualified' scholars, which took away the power from the community that the Prophet Mohammad's Islam had conferred on it. They abolished the right of the community to be represented in the state. Even today such a notion is peddled in
Most of the salariat in fact, implicitly or explicitly, espoused a secular conception of
being part of a Muslim nation. Jinnah their spokesman, was always quite explicit about it and on this issue he put his position quite unambiguously. In recent years there has been a systematic attempt by
It is true that it was Muslim notables, so-called 'feudals', who presided over the birth of the Muslim League in December 1906 at
Jinnah himself was to be brought into the Muslim League by these elements three years later. It would be a mistake to think that the Muslim League was dominated and controlled by the so-called feudals' during the four decades after its inception. That is the nub of a complicated story, of which a most perceptive account will be found in Robinson's excellent study of the early Muslim Movement in the UP.26 Naturally, like all great political and social movements there are many different strands that are interwoven in the tapestry of Muslim history in India during the 19th and 20th centuries. But its leitmotif was engraved on the map of Indian politics by the aspirations and anxieties of the Muslim salariat, the force behind Muslim nationalism.
A number of factors contributed to a new turn in the development of Muslim politics in
The Muslim salariat had begun to crystallise its political identity. Its key objectives were, again, defined by the narrow perspectives of the privileged UP Muslim salariat, not least its sharply deteriorating position relative to Hindus. Its demands corresponded to the problems of a beleaguered group in a Muslim minority province. They do not make too much sense when viewed in the context of Muslim majority provinces. Their central demand was for separate electorate for Muslims so that they may not be outvoted by the overwhelming Hindu majority in the UP. Robinson sums up developments in the first decade of the century as follows: 'By 1909 a Muslim identity was firmly established in Indian politics ... (by virtue of ) the creation of a Muslim political organisation ... (and) the winning of separate Muslim electorate. ... The creation of a protected share of power for Muslims ... stimulated the further development of Muslim politics.' 27 Jinnah who was brought into the Muslim League in 1913 reassessed the situation and recognised a role for himself as a spokesman for Muslims in the Nationalist movement on the strength of their independent organisation in the Muslim League. Robinson comments 'He brought to the League leadership important connections with all India Congress circles and the distinction of having been a close friend of Gokhale.' 28
Jinnah eventually began to get disillusioned with the Congress Party, from the 1920s not because he was a Muslim communalist but quite the reverse. It was the Congress, rather, which embarked on a course that encouraged Muslim fanaticism under the leadership of the Ulema, by instigating and backing the Khilafat movement. Jinnah was quite outraged by this. No greater disservice could have been done to the cause of inter-communal harmony in
Increasingly Jinnah was disenchanted with the leadership of the Indian National Congress. The failure to reach an accommodation with the Congress after the 1937 elections finally forced him to reconsider his strategy. So far the Muslim League's influence was limited to the salariat; hence its ineffectiveness in elections in a society in which landlords controlled the mainly rural vote. Jinnah decided now to secure Muslim landlord support at any price and he soon set about making deals with those of them who were in power in Muslim majority Provinces, persuading them to accept the Muslim League label, even if it was to be only nominally. In return he gave them carte blanche, and in effect surrendered the local Muslim League organisations to them. Jinnah's objective in this was to secure at least the formal position of the Muslim League as the nominally 'ruling Party' in Muslim majority provinces. That would legitimise his claim that the Muslim League was the sole and legitimate spokesman of Muslims of India.
Jinnah looked upon the landed magnates, the political bosses of the Muslim majority provinces, with contempt and dislike quite as much as they in turn showed little inclination to allow him and the central Muslim League leader ship to encroach on their domains of power. In
In Sind the story was no different, for there the local base of the Muslim salariat was narrower than that in the
'Jinnah made a prolonged stay in
All that Jinnah was looking for was pinning the Muslim League label on the Provincial governments and little more.
It is not difficult to see the short term calculations of this strategy for Jinnah, for it legitimised his All-India position and strengthened his bargaining position. The reason for the decision of the Provincial magnates for accepting the Muslim League label is less obvious. It was not the vote pulling power of the Muslim League, for it was the landed magnates them selves who controlled the mainly rural vote. What the League offered to the landed magnates of Punjab and
Jinnah had consistently opposed theocratic ideas and influences and never minced his words about his commitment to a secular state. Speaking to students of
'What the League has done is to set you free from the reactionary elements of Muslims and to create the opinion that those who play their selfish game are traitors. It has certainly freed you from that undesirable element of Maulvis and Maulanas' (a derogatory reference to the Ulema).32
Jinnah re-iterated, time and again, that Pakistan would be 'without any distinction of caste, creed or sect.' Aisha Jalal, in her excellent study of Jinnah's political role, records at least two occasions on which Jinnah successfully resisted attempts to commit the Muslim League to an 'Islamic Ideology'.33 Jinnah's memorable inaugural address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947 was a clarion call for the establishment of Pakistan as a secular state. From the principal forum of the new state he declared:
'You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the state ... We are starting with this fundamental principle, that we are all citizens of one state. ... I think we should keep that in front of us as our idea and you will find that in the course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual but in the political sense, as citizens of the state'. 34
There could be no clearer statement of the secular principle as the basis of
If Islamic Modernism was the initial ideology of the emerging Muslim salariat, it has long ceased to be a live intellectual movement and has been marginalised. It exists in small and peripheral groupings such as the Tulu-e Islam group which was led by Ghulam Ahmad Parvaiz. Many of the basic ideas of Islamic Modernism, have passed into conventional wisdom. Insofar as they still have currency, they are accommodated within secular political attitudes. It may help to put things into perspective if we quote from an account by Rosenthal, a renowned Islamic scholar, of his investigations in
Rosenthal summed up his impressions of attitudes that he encountered in
'On balance, I should say that among the academic youth there is a minority in favour of an Islamic state in substance not just in name. The Majority are divided in their allegiance to Islam from personal faith to indifference and outright rejection, as being out of date and dividing men instead of unifying and leading them to a world state'.35
More recently this issue has been dealt with sensitively and perceptively by Sibte Hassan in his influential urdu book Naveed-e-Fikr, which has been translated into English with the title: 'The Struggle for Ideas in Pakistan', where he arrives at similar conclusions.36
Muslim ethnicity had outlived its original purpose when
There was a fresh process of accounting of regional privilege and deprivation. Although there were 41.9 million East Pakistanis, as against only 33.7 million West Pakistanis (1951 census), shares in public appointments bore no comparison to that, not even remotely. In 1948 East Pakistanis numbered only 11 % of the members of the CSP, the Civil Service of Pakistan, the elite cadre that stood at the head of the bureaucracy and controlled it and thereby the State, in Pakistan.(The CSP was later abolished by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto). East Pakistani share in the army was even worse, for only 1.5 % of army officers were East Pakistani. Bengali Muslims owned no more than 3.5 % of the assets of all private Muslim firms.37 A wave of political militancy swept through the whole of
At first in
As soon as the regional protest against Punjabi rule began to get under way, the ideological tune changed. Suddenly Islam and the notion of Islamic brotherhood became the order of the day. It was unpatriotic on the part of Bengalis, Sindhis, Pathans and Baluch to make demands in terms of their regional ethnic identities because all Pakistanis were brothers in Islam. The constitutional proposals were quickly redrafted. Choudhury happily reported that 'The Second Draft Constitution (Choudhry's over-enthusiastic title for the Report of the Basic Principles Committee, 1952) was noted for elaborate provisions relating to the Islamic character of the proposed Constitution. The most noble feature of the Islamic provision was a board of ulema which would examine if any law was repugnant to Quran and Sunnah'.40
All that this 'noble feature' added up to was a smoke-screen, for it went little beyond setting up a Board of Talimat-i-Islamia (In other words: Board of Islamic Learning) which formally had some advisory functions but, in the event was to exist only on paper, for the bureaucratic-military oligarchy (with the Punjabi salariat in saddle) which dominated Pakistan, had no intention of giving the mullahs a share in power. The only concrete result of all this, after years of rhetorical Islamisation was a decision to change the name of the Republic to 'The Islamic Republic of Pakistan' and, further, a provision was inserted in the Constitution that the President of the Republic shall be a Muslim. But these were mere symbolic gestures. The ruling oligarchy was in no mood to make any real concessions of substance to the Islamic ideologists. But, for the moment, for the mullahs, evidently concerned far more with some little material benefits than fundamental principles of the State, all this was quite enough to keep them occupied in the business of generating rhetorical steam on behalf of the dominant Punjabis who made it plain that the 'Islamic Pakistan' would not tolerate any regional movements for autonomy or equality.
The secular mood of the country was dramatically demonstrated by the rout of 'Islam Loving' Parties in the first national election of
The Bengali movement was eventually to lead to the liberation of
The ideology of Sindhi nationalism too is explicitly secular. Like the
With the assumption of power by the Zia regime another factor has come into play, namely the legitimacy of power (or, more accurately, its total lack of legitimacy ). Afraid to face a free electorate and having no mandate to govern, the General turned to Allah. In that he was forced to go much beyond the outworn old Islamic rhetoric of previous days. He had to show to a cynical public, who had heard it all before, that he actually means business. But there was not much that he could do in practice. Being in charge of running a peripheral capitalist economy, heavily dependent financially on the
All that was left to the Zia regime to do, in the name of Islamisation, was to undertake cosmetic measures, although the word 'cosmetic' is an outrageous word to describe barbaric punishments that were prescribed under the Hudud Ordinances which were promulgated by him in the name of introducing an Islamic legal system. The regime has also launched a systematic attack, both symbolically and practically, on the status and privileges of women in
The Zia regime seemed to have reached a dead end by the mid-eighties. Its strident rhetoric about the Islamic basis of the
Notes and References
Published in: Fred Halliday and Hamza Alavi (eds) State and Ideology in the Middle East and