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Islam and Pakistan

25 April, 2007

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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Even at the risk of entering a hornets’ nest I feel morally obligated to correct the record for the posterity. Every Zaid, Bakr and Umar at the first opportunity afforded to him harangues at the rhetoric that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. Most people, particularly the post partition generation, some now as old as sixty years,  and who not only constitute the majority but also occupy the decision making seats at most places, not knowing the facts and fed on the false precepts fall an easy prey to it.  No, Sir, Pakistan was never created for Islam. It was created for the Musalman – the down trodden Musalman of Hindustan. Islam was never in any danger in the pre-partitioned India, nor did it need to be liberated from the Hindus or the British. No religio-political party had supported its creation, rather most had opposed it. Pakistan was created ONLY for the socio-economic betterment of the  Muslims of the sub continent who needed badly to be liberated from the economic clutches of the Hindus and other non-Muslims. Iqbal in his letters to Jinnah including the one imploring him to return from England to lead the Muslims of India wrote, “ -----  the problem of bread is becoming more and more acute. ----   The question is how to solve the problem of Muslim poverty. ----  ---  if you do not come to lead the Muslims they will be deprived of even the two morsels that they eat now. --- etc.”  The older generation knows that there used to be mostly only one shop in a  village and that too belonged to a Hindu or Sikh. The shopkeeper out of respect and awe was called ‘Shah’, and held most of the land of the villagers in hypothecation against the money lent by him to them.  Who could ever dream of the kind of opulence and opportunities for the Muslims – employment, industries, mills and factories, banks and financial institutions, shipping and transportation, housing, malls and plazas, cars, air conditioners, refrigerators etc. in just a matter of a few decades after the independence?!  One has only to look at the plight of the majority of the Indian Muslims to visualise the conditions that the Muslims of Pakistan too would have been in had there been no Pakistan.

Once Pakistan came into being and not only survived the first few crucial years of political and economic infancy without collapsing that many a financial pundit and political guru had predicted, but also showed signs of future promise, the Ulema e Hind also started having second thoughts about it and took to migrating to Kafir-e-Azam’s Pakistan.  Used to the unparalled power of the pulpit mainly derived from the ignorance and  superstitions of  the  poor Muslims of India, they saw the red rag in the form of economically better off, educated, modern, progressive and enlightened Muslims in Pakistan. Something had to be done to retain their hold on the masses. What else better than the iron grip hold of the religion and religiosity when even the President of Pakistan and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can neither offer their prayers nor get their children wedded without a mullah presiding over the occasion.  Hence, the independent Pakistan had to be Islamised to afford the clergy the same power which it enjoyed in the colonial India. A well thought out plan was conceived and the process of Islamisation of Pakistan started, despite the fact that the Quaid had pronounced in unequivocal terms in his famous speech of August 11,1947 on the floor of the Constituent Assembly:, that :

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. 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 and equal citizens of one State... I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in due course Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would 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.”

Mullahs in collusion with the naïve politicians eager to prove their love for Islam also started harping on the tune of making Pakistan the Fortress of Islam.  Pakistan Ideology was hijacked by the same people who had opposed its creation. Had Jinnah's ideals been held sacred then his speech of August 11, 1947  should have received the status of our Magna Carta, our spirit and soul as a nation. Sadly, that was not to happen and we went completely  in the opposite direction.  

The clergy taking measured steps started gradually influencing the young and naïve minds. The potent power of the pulpit was used methodically to project the partition as a war between the Kufr and Islam. The human holocaust of the partition and the sufferings of the Muslims of India migrating to Pakistan were lauded as their sacrifice for Islam. The Islamic fervour gained a quick acceptance among the newly liberated Muslims and watching the tide the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan passed  the ‘Objectives Resolution’  in March, 1949, which was subsequently made a substantive part of the Constitution of Pakistan by the Presidential Order No. 14 of 1985.  It apart from having many highly laudable, far reaching and significantly democratic clauses has the following article as well:

Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah;

This innocent looking clause has been grossly misconstrued and misinterpreted and has changed the complexion of the type of the constitution and consequently the type of the government that we should have had. Though it has been many a time amply clarified that, “No law repugnant to Qura’n and Sunnah will be incorporated by the parliament”, yet it stays short of satisfying the religious parties’ leaders (fundamentalists and obscurantist) who insist that, “Only Qura’n and Sunnah should be implemented in Pakistan”.  Not only that, on top of it they also insist that only their interpretation of the Qura’nic injunctions and Sunnah is to be accepted on all discussable matters.  They invariably, come up with the argument that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and for the enforcement of Islamic Shariah here.

An effort is, therefore, made here to analyse the correct perspective for the creation of Pakistan and what kind of Islamic values and socio-economic systems its founding fathers had in mind for it.

Pakistan was NOT created for Islam, but for the Muslims of the Sub-continent. Islam was never in any danger in the pre-partitioned India.  As a matter of fact Islam was (and probably still is) in Deoband, Breilley, Lucknow (for the Shia) and Qadian (for Ahmedis).  Akora, Okara, Mansoora, Karachi, Satellite Town Rawalpindi, Rabwah (Chanab Nagar), not any one of them has been able to attain the stature of their pre-partitioned alma-maters.

Muslim emancipation needed a social democratic order in India offering equal opportunities to all which was not possible in Brahmanic cast ridden society of India. Iqbal wrote to Jinnah,  “It is clear to my mind that if Hinduism accepts social democracy it must necessarily cease to be Hinduism”.  Iqbal convinced  the Quaid that such an emancipation was only possible in a free and separate State or States for the Muslims of India, where they will be free from the Hindu domination in every way.

A socio-political movement had to be launched and Muslims had to be given a separate identity of a nation. The Two Nation theory was born and Islam could only be its platform.  In 1941, the Quaid told the students of the Punjab;

“Can’t you see that a Muslim, when he converted more than a thousand years ago, according to Hindu religion and philosophy, he became a Malechaa (untouchable)  and the Hindus ceased to have anything to do with him socially, religiously and culturally or in any other way? ----- ----- Can you possibly compare this with that nonsensical talk that mere change of faith is no ground for a demand for Pakistan?  Can’t you see the fundamental difference?”

Slogans like “Pakistan ka matlab kia? La ilaha illilah”. “Lay kay rahaingain Pakistan, Butt kay rahega Hindustan”, etc. were more to identify Muslims’ culture and identity as a separate nation demanding a separate home land and to counter the Hinduistic Band-e-Matram of the Akhand Bharat than a demand for an orthodox Islamic country.

Had the Pakistan movement any religious overtones, then how could almost all Ulema oppose it, or call its leader Kafir-e-Azam?  It is yet another matter that most of them chose to stay behind and did not migrate to the ‘Land of the Pure’ till after quite some time of its inception, till they found the opportune time to do so?

I do not recollect any of the Muslim League political gatherings, Executive Committee meetings or other functions commencing their proceedings with the recitation from the holy Qura’n or even a Na’at or a Hamd by a Maulvi or Maulana. It was always an appropriate poem befitting the occasion read out by a political worker. There was no display of religiosity in the religious sense any where during the Pakistan movement and yet the Islam and the Muslim nationhood was its political plank and platform.

Once Pakistan achieved the Quaid in his very first address of 11 August 1947 to the Constituent Assembly said,

”From here on Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims,

not in the religious sense but in the political sense.  We are all Pakistanis first and then Muslims and Hindus”. 

     

Nothing could be more unambiguous about Quaid’s vision of Pakistan.  It wasn’t that he was against Islam in any way.  Far from it.  He had on the other hand on many an occasion said categorically that Pakistan will be governed in accordance with the injunctions of Islam and Qura’n.  Speaking at a broadcast speech from All India Radio Bombay on 13 November 1939, he said:-

“All social regeneration and political freedom must finally depend on something that has a deeper meaning in life. And that, if you will allow me to say so, is Islam and Islamic spirit --- --- In the pursuit of truth and cultivation of beliefs we should be guided by our RATIONAL (capitals mine) interpretation of the Qura’n and our devotion to truth is single minded, we shall in our own measure, achieve our goal.”

The emphasis was on the rational interpretation of Qura’n  (keeping in time & space with it) and not as interpreted by someone totally devoid of the scientific and  technological advancement of the present day and the future.

Similarly replying to a correspondent’s question in 1946 at New Delhi, as to what type of constitution Pakistan will have?  The Quaid had replied, ”I cannot say as to what type of  constitution Pakistan will have, as it is a matter for the future Constituent Assembly of Pakistan to decide, but we have our 1400 year old constitution – the Qura’n with us to draw from”. (Note, ‘Draw from’)

Now, Quaid was no doubt largely influenced by the thought of Allama Iqbal, who first conceived the idea of separate Muslim state(s) as the only political solution of the tangle in India.  Analysing the problems facing Islam in the modern times, he also re-defined the true basis of a resurgent Islam in the modern world. Being an ardent believer in Ijtehad, he gave the dynamic solution to the problem of interpretation of Islam in the present age by observing;

“The teaching of the Qura’n that each generation, guided and unhampered by the work of its predecessors, should be permitted to solve its own problems.”

And to solve the problems, solutions to which were not clearly defined by Qura’n or Sunnah, Iqbal leans heavily upon Ijma – collective opinion. Ijma not necessarily by the Ulema, the scholars and the jurists only but also by the common people, albeit masters of their subjects and fields. It is simply not possible for an Aalim-e-Deen [mostly a scholar from a madrassa] to be able to interpret and apply the ALL encompassing Qura’nic injunctions to the present day highly developed scientific and technological knowledge. This also obviously refers to the Qura’nic injunction of  “amruhum shoora bainahum”. He thus infers that the modern parliaments and legislatures [advised by the higly learned and capable professionals of their respective fields]  can take place of the bodies competent to express the collective will of the people in deciding matters of immediate import.

Quaid, too, like Iqbal believed that Qura’n could be a complete source of inspiration for the Muslims to help them guide their life according to the true spirit of Islam. However, Qura’n was to be interpreted rationally and scientifically which could only be done by the scholars, jurists and enlightened moderates. Quaid distinctly differentiated between an Islamic Social democracy and the Theocracy and stated categorically that Pakistan will not be a theocratic state where the lives of the people could be entrusted to a few ‘custodians’ of religion who could impose their own brand of Islam on the masses.   Islam to him, as universally accepted, is a complete code of life.  A religious, social, moral, military, commercial, judicial, criminal and penal code; it regulates everything from the religious ceremonies and rituals to those of daily life; from the salvation of the soul to the health of the body; from the rights of all those to the duties of all to the individuals; from morality to crime; from punishment here to reward here-after. Islam is not merely confined to few spiritual tenets and doctrines and rituals and ceremonies. It is a complete code regulating the entire Muslim society, every department of life, collectively and individually.

This is all what Pakistan was created for.  A country to be ruled in accordance with the Islamic injunctions for the amelioration of the economically and socially down trodden Muslims of pre-partitioned India, and not to save Islam or impose Islam of a specific brand and breed, embroiling the masses in the trivialities such as; how long should one’s beard be; or at what height the Paincha of the shalwar should be; or could a woman work in an office along with  the male workers?  Islam is much above such petty matters.  And Quaid wanted Islam of all ages, an Islam interpreted in the light of modern, scientific and technological age.  An Islam emancipating the masses and opening to them vistas of the modern and fruitful advancement they could make use of and play their important role in the comity of the nations.

End

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