By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef (Shahbaz Nadwi)
8 December 2012
Iqbal and M.A Jinnah both are believed to be fathers of Pakistan. Iqbal was its Ideological founder while M.A Jinnah was her physical founder. Both have been quoted many times and on many occasions that Pakistan would be an Islamic state. Now the question is: what did they mean by an Islamic state? In fact, it is not clear when we go through the writings of Iqbal or statements of M.A Jinnah. They never expressed in full, what was their ideal and perfect model of an Islamic state, they never mentioned what would be the future shape of their conceived state of Pakistan and how her constitution would be drafted and how it will represent Islam in modern world as well.
In fact Iqbal had died years before the idea of Pakistan was materialized and M.A Jinnah also died only after six month of its creation. It means that both the men did not have sufficient time to explain in detail, what their idea of an Islamic state was. Nothing of this effect is found in the collection of M.A Jinnah’s speeches, press notes, political statements and in his addresses he delivered at different occasions and at various points of time.
Likewise, Iqbal’s case is no different, for only a philosophical rather a vague form of an Islamic state can be deducted from Iqbal’s poetry, his writings, addresses and more specifically from his “Reconstruction of religious thought in Islam”. And to the chagrin of traditional ulema and clergy, many of his Ideas, expressed in “reconstruction” are contrary to their own views and perceptions, and, therefore, were opposed vehemently by them. For example he was of the opinion that in modern era, the parliament should be entitled to do Ijtihad (free thinking and reasoning) so that it could be institutionalized. And also he was for reconsideration of many old Fiqhi (jurisprudential) concepts and reshaping them, so as to make them compatible with the modern age.
And thus Iqbal was contemporary to his era or rather was ahead of his times, while most of his contemporary, and of course, of today’s ulema and Islamists still shudder at the mere mention of any change in the old Fiqhi mould of Islam. The point is which is very pertinent too, that we must ask the Pakistani Ulema and Islamists whether they are ready to accept these ideas of Iqbal or not?
The fact of the matter is that both Iqbal and M A. Jinnah had a vague and ambiguous concept of the Islamic state they dreamt for which later materialized in the form of Pakistan. They left the world without elaborating their ideas on the subject. Muslim League, like the traditional ulema and clergy, was also incompetent to do this job. Though, a dire need was felt by League to define this future state which was then in the making. That is why immediately after the establishment of the state of Pakistan they formed a commission to draft the constitution, led by Mohammad Asad, an Austrian new convert Muslim and a prominent scholar of Islam. But ironically many of his ideas were too opposed by the clergy and the majority of the ulema. M. Asad was said to be the first passport holder of the new born country. He was in favour of rethinking the Hijab system and general state of women in Muslim societies.
Having been appointed to lead the draft committee M. Asasd invited a lot of Ulema, scholars, jurists and thinkers to respond to his prepared questionnaire which was supposed to be a basis of the said draft, but only four people responded to him. They were Maulana Maududi, Syed Sulaiman Nadwi, Abdul Majid Daryabadi and Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani. In fact Asad knew very well that most of the Ulema were incompetent for this job, simply because they were totally ignorant of modern needs and necessities.
So on the part of logical heir of Iqbal and M. Jinnah namely Muslim League this was a great lapse which resulted in an ideological vacuum, ulema which the ulema were unable to fill. At this juncture, the Islamists and particularly Jamaat-e-Islami, founded by Mawdudi jumped into the fray. They came to the fore and tried to fill that vacuum by fostering their own political thought as the very concept and ideal of Iqbal and M.A Jinnah. With their communicative capabilities they were successful to convince the naive Pakistani masses that their political ideas are the same and identical to what was conceived by both Iqbal and M.A. Jinnah. To me, this explains the very mess and dilemma in which Pakistan is finding itself today.
So the civil society of Pakistan will do well to rediscover and reinterpret the concept two nation theory propounded by Iqbal and Jinnah to reconstruct Pakistan from the wreck that today’s Pakistan is.
*Dr.Mohammd Ghitreef is the director of Foundation for Islamic Studies ,New Delhi, he can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org