Wednesday, 27 May 2015

How Pakistan Became a Religious State? An account of situation before partition: Part 1

To understand how religion came into the politics of Subcontinent and resulted creation of Pakistan, Roderick Mathews, in his book Jinnah Vs Gandhi says “Gandhi began his career looking for a way to realize his religious aims in political terms, while Jinnah ended his career looking for a way to fulfil his political aims in religious terms. Both mixture of religion with politics and means with ends, produced drastic and momentous decisions that can only be described as misjudgments” (Jinnah Vs Gandhi page 39)

Although Mr. Gandhi who was leading Congress Party in British India, never believed the role of religion in politics but his way of life, teaching of non-violence and preaching of moral values  were a kind of religious mindset. Majority of the top leaders in Congress Party were all Hindu and some of them were even hardliners. Congress Party being a leading political power and Hinduism being a dominant religion of Subcontinent, resulted a political and social discomfort in minority groups which include Muslims, Sikh, Christian and Zoroastrians.

 In 1906 All India Muslim League came into being. In its initial period, Muslim League was not a totally monolithic Muslim majority party. Majority of the Muslims Ulma and Scholars opposed the idea. Even Muhammad Ali Jinnah was not convinced in such kind of division in Indian Subcontinent. 
Some of the Muslim leaders tried to unite the Muslims of Subcontinent around the definition of a single nation. There were no other strong geographical, ethnical and linguistic bases of this nationalism and the only base was religion. Therefore, the two nation theory came into being which asserted that Muslims and Hindu are two separate nations and cannot live together. This ultimately convinced Muhammad Ali Jinnah to demand a separate country for the Muslims of Subcontinent. Muhammad Ali Jinnah has his own interpretations of a Muslim Society which were not harmonized with majority of the hardliner Muslim scholars. For Jinnah, Islam was all about humanity, social justice and equality.

Jinnah’s idea of separate country was strongly opposed by the major Muslim Ulma which included the then Chief of Jamaat-I-Islami Mawalana Abul Ala Maududi. According to Maududi, Jinnah himself was not a full practicing Muslim with limited knowledge of Islam and Sharia. So he was not competent enough to create an independent Muslim country.  Some Muslim leaders like Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad opposed the idea on the basis of scattered Muslim population in subcontinent. According to him, a separate country consisting of the Muslim majority provinces will create problems for all those Muslims who were living in Hindu majority states (which were more in numbers then the Muslims living in Muslim majority provinces) will be in minority and suffer in future.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah kept the ideology of Pakistan as vague as possible. He never professed that Pakistan will only be an Islamic country nor denied it. The reason behind this vague strategy was to get the support of both liberals and conservative Muslims.  His clear stance might hamper any one of the group which ultimately jeopardize the whole movement. This vague strategy provided everyone an opportunity to interpret Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan for their own vested interest after the partition.  

In the initial period soon after the partition, Pakistan was a somewhat liberal and tolerant country but over a period of 68 years it became a theocratic and conservative state. How this happened, we will discuss in our next blog. Meanwhile, I will appreciate your comments and feedback on my blog page.
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