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Islam and Politics ( 1 Dec 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Objectives Resolution and Secularism--Part 2: Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani Was the Pioneer of Non-State Militantism in Pakistan



By Wajahat Masood

(Translated from Urdu by Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam)

Muslim League was a political party with a distinct religious identity. It was, therefore, no surprise that in the sessions of the Muslim League organised by the Qaid-e-Azam there were mentions of the bright aspects of the Muslim history and culture. But it will be futile to find out a single speech in which he had spoken of the need to confer political powers on the mullahs. For example addressing the students of the Aligarh Muslim University on November 2, 1941, he said, “Please tell the Hindus and Sikhs that it is totally wrong that Pakistan will be a theocratic state where they will have no rights."

In the light of the views produced above, the address of the Qaide-e-Azam in the first session of the Legislative Assembly of Pakistan as designated Governor General, the President of the Legislative Assembly and the President of the Muslim League on August 11, 1947 was an extension of his long political life because Qaid-e-Azam had refused to join the Khilafat Movement 30 years ago as he considered Khilafat Movement a religious movement rather than a political one. The summary of his speech on August 11, 1947 was that Pakistan would have a modern democratic system on the lines of the West where all the citizens of the country would enjoy equal rights without any discrimination on the basis of religion and that religion would have nothing to do with politics. The statement made by the Qaide-e-Azam that religion had no connection with political affairs was the best definition of secularism. In that speech he had also stated the 'Pakistan theory' which said, “we should put all our efforts for the welfare of the citizens especially the poor". The constant improvement in the standards of living of the citizens is the sole accepted purpose of a modern democratic state.

One important angle is that in that historic speech, the Qaid-e-Azam used the word 'community' for the Hindus and the Muslims. He did not call the Hindus and the Muslims of Pakistan a nation since Pakistan had automatically assumed the status of a nation with its formation. Therefore, the Muslims and the Hindus of Pakistan were the part of the nation. In this context, the testimony of the first high commissioner of India to Pakistan, Shri Prakash is also very important. In an official meeting with the Qaid-e-Azam at his residence in September 1947, he said to Qaid-e-Azam, “Even though the division occurred due to religious differences, why should the fact be emphasised that Pakistan is a Islamic state, because if Pakistan is not called a Islamic state repeatedly, the non-Muslim residents will not leave Pakistan". Mr Jinnah replied, "I have never used the word 'Islamic'. You are holding a responsible post, you should tell me when I said that." Sri Prakash then said, “The Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaqat Ali Khan has said that Pakistan is an Islamic country". Mr Jinnah retorted," Then you should ask for an explanation from him. Why are you quarrelling with me?” Shri Prakash insisted, “In your speech on Radio Lahore on August 31, you had said, "Pakistan is an Islamic state". To that Qaid-e-Azam said angrily, "Please show me the original version."

Shri Prakash writes that after that he studied Qaid-e-Azam's broadcast speech very keenly. Really he had not used the word 'Islamic' even once, though he had used the word 'Muslim' on five or six occasions. Therefore he wrote a letter of apology to the Qaid-e-Azam. Mr Jinnah was a lawyer in the top league and so he knew the meanings of the two words. By Muslim state, such a state is meant where the Muslims are in majority. On the other hand, an Islamic state means a state where the laws are based on Shariah laws. If there was no difference between the two terms, then the Qaid-e-Azam would have said, "Either you call it a Muslim state or an Islamic state, what is the difference"?

In this light it is not difficult to understand why; according to the statement of the editor of the daily Dawn, Altaf Hussain, Khwaja Shahabuddin and other second rung Muslim League leaders had tried to censor Qaid-e-Azam's 11 August speech. When they did not succeed, they tried to launch an attack from another wing. A graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband, the imam of Makki Masjid of Hyderabad Deccan and the pensioner of Nizam of Deccan Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was pushed to the front.

Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was initially a member of Majlis-e-Ehrar. Around 1927, he had written a pamphlet titled 'Al Shahab' in which he had taken the stand that the punishment for apostasy was death. When the issue of estates was raised in Oudh, Shabbir Ahmad Usmani issued the edict that laying down life to protect one's estates was martyrdom. He had developed differences with the pro-Congress maulvis of Deoband in 1930s. In October 1945, he accepted president ship of the Jamiatul Ulema, a new organisation of religious scholars supporting the movement for Pakistan. He supported Muslim League during the election campaigns in 1945-46.

This gentleman was even in favour of imposing Jeziya on the zimmees (non-Muslims). He had the view that the non-Muslims of Pakistan had no right to become members of legislative assemblies or policy-making bodies nor they were to be appointed to 'key posts'. The ambiguous but extremely dangerous term "key posts' in the dictionary of the 'infidelity-politics' of Pakistan is a gift of Mr Shabbir Ahmad Usmani. He was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly of Pakistan from Kota in East Pakistan in June 1947.

An interesting fact is that shortly after the establishment of Pakistan, in order to wage jihad, Maulvi Shabbir Ahmad Usmani and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan had jointly formed a militant outfit called 'Sarfaroshan-e-Islam' who dreamt of conquering the East Punjab and even hoisting the Islamic flag on the Lal Quila of Delhi. In this context, the daily Zamindar had published an inflammatory article titled “O young Muslims! Join the organisation of God en mass, blurring the difference between East and West Punjab." The article was so inflammatory that the government had to suspend its publication for two weeks as a warning. In other words, Shabbir Ahmad Usmani had also the honour of being the pioneer of non-state militantism in Pakistan.

Wajahat Masood is a poet, critic, journalist, translator and a known human rights activist. He is presently working as Editor Coordination with Lahore-based Urdu-language daily Aaj Kal. His recent translations of 21 short stories from the world literature have earned him rave reviews.

Source: Urdu Daily Aaj Kal, Pakistan

URL of Part 1 of the Series:’s-dream-of-a-secular-pakistan-was-shattered/d/9489