Quaid-i-Azam and Iqbal: Consolidation of the Ideological Frontier

Written By: Prof. Sharif al Mujahid

According to Iqbal, to preserve itself as “a distinct cultural unit”, for the Muslim minority “the chief formative factor” furnishing “those basic emotions and loyalties which gradually unify scattered individuals and groups and finally transform them into a well-defined people, with a moral consciousness of their own. Indeed,… Islam, as a people-building force, has worked at its best” in India. And in order to ensure the survival of that distinct cultural unit, Iqbal proposed the setting up of a consolidated north western state or province commanding Muslim demographic dominance within an Indian federation or within or outside the British Empire. Thus, Iqbal’s ideology or panacea was meant for a country or a geographical unit where Muslims were demographically deficient and not one where they were demographically dominant. In the former case, they are gravely concerned about preserving themselves as a distinct cultural unit, and hence Islam, as a people-building force, was clutched at. Now once Muslims are demographically dominant, as in Pakistan, the preservation of a distinct (i.e., Muslim) cultural unit is already secured, and what assumes pivotal primacy is watan (territory) which glues peoples of all religions, sects and ethnicities into a single nation. The geographical confines of Pakistan, culturally secured, thus bestow all inhabitants living inside the territory of Pakistan equal obligations and privileges.


qideamam.jpgInterestingly, Jinnah, the pragmatic politician that he was, didn’t confine himself to only single factor analysis for a separate Muslim nationhood in his Lahore (1940) address. Jinnah adroitly supplanted his thesis with an inclusive civilizational ecology. That is, not merely two different religious philosophies, but also, and more importantly, two different social customs, literature, aspects of life and on life, inspiration from different sources of history, different epics, different heroes and different episodes, with overlapping heroes and villains, and victories and defeats. In short, Jinnah categorized Hindu and Muslim communities of India into two different civilizations. Thus, Jinnah raised the ideological antenna a notch or two higher and in his riposte on September 17, 1944, to Gandhi’s sarcastic reference to Muslims being merely “a body of converts”, he further elaborated these basic attributes of Muslim nationhood, climaxing it with the assertion that “by all canons of international law we are a nation”.

Interestingly, again, Jinnah’s 1940 address harks back to Chaudhary Rahmat Ali’s famous “Now or Never” (1933) manifesto, which lays down:

“In the five Northern Provinces of India, out of a total population of about forty millions, we, the Muslims, constitute about thirty millions. Our religion, culture, history, tradition, economic system, laws of inheritance, succession and marriage are basically and fundamentally different from those of the people living in the rest of India. The ideals which move our thirty million brethren-in-faith living in these Provinces to make the highest sacrifices are fundamentally different from those which inspire the Hindus. These differences are not confined to the broad basic principles but far from it. They extend to the minutest details of our lives. We do not inter-dine; we do not inter-marry. Our national customs and calendars, even our diet and dress are different.”

Incidentally, though barrowing almost verbatim from Chaudhary Rehmat Ali, Jinnah didn’t refer to him, just as in the case of Iqbal. This also shows unity of thought among the then Indian Muslim leadership about nationhood and need for a separate country.

Of course, Jinnah used this separate cultural and civilizational metaphor in order to bridge the horizontal cleavages amongst Muslims and mobilize them on a single platform, as E.I.J. Rosenthal points out. Indeed, Jinnah’s major concern at the moment was how to get the lumpin Muslim proletariat across the length and breadth of India – to borrow the Marxian imagery – morph into a critical mass so that it hones or braces itself for wrenching Pakistan out of hostile hands. Even so, all through the Pakistan Movement, civilizational ecology continued to remain the building bricks of his Two-Nation Theory, which he had conceived and proclaimed in 1940. And the spelling out of these bricks in mundane terms had resonated with the cherished, yet vague urges and aspirations of both the beleaguered literati and the masses, who were desperately in search of a crystallized and sustainable goal and a seasoned standard bearer. Thus, they inexorably got flocked to the sprawling Pakistan platform en masse during the critical 1945-46 elections – to make Pakistan irrefutable and inevitable. This explains Iskandar Mirza’s letter to Liaquat Ali Khan from Sambalpur, Orissa, on September 05, 1945 to establish the Pakistan Government as soon as possible in order to avoid “a great danger to my moral and spiritual life”. As he explained, he was used to seeing mosques and hearing the Azan five times a day in the North Western Frontier Province while in Sambalpur, he could see only the temples and hear Hindu Bhajans and the symbols blowing throughout the day. Iskandar Mirza was then a Political Agent in Orissa and later the last Governor General and the first President of Pakistan during 1955-58.


qideamamallam.jpgFollowing a dialectical pattern, one can infer that Iqbal’s 1930 address pertains to the demographically deficient Muslim India while Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 pronouncement envisions how Pakistan, a Muslim majority state, should set its ideological sails. Therein he spelled out the basic concept of an indivisible Pakistani nationhood. A nationhood with all those inhabiting Pakistan as full citizens with equal rights, equal privileges and equal obligations, without reference to colour, caste or creed, but solely with reference to the territory which they belonged to. In this it breathes the spirit of Misaq-i-Madina, enacted by the Prophet (P.B.U.H) in 2 A.H (Articles 25 – 35). Just as in the Misaq, which sanctified a land-based pluralist Ummah, so was the nation in Jinnah’s August 11 address territory-based.

By 1947, the statesman’s streak in Jinnah had crystallized, overtaking Jinnah the politician all the way. This creative shift enabled him to fathom and articulate the dictates of the new ground realities, leading him to proclaim the Two Nation States paradigm. And the two nations in his new paradigm were to be India and Pakistan. Partition had transformed the two nations, encapsulated in the Two-Nation Theory which had now acquired statehood, into two nation states. And therein lay Jinnah’s most notable contribution in consolidating Pakistan’s ideological frontier.

This equal citizenship dictum was supplemented by the ruling out of theocracy, a concept Jinnah had spoken against throughout the Pakistan struggle – as, for instance, on April 10, 1946, in his concluding address to the League Legislators’ Convention in Delhi: “What are we aiming at. It is not theocracy, not for a theocratic state. Religion is there and religion is dear to us.


All the worldly goods are nothing to us when we talk of religion; but there are other things which are very vital – our social life, our economic life. But without political power how can you defend your faith and your economic life?”

He also called for forgetting the past, for burying the hatchet, and for helping to eradicate the angularities of the majority and the minority communities. Remember, again, what Jinnah had said on August 11:

“If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”

“I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority community – the Hindu community and the Muslim community… will vanish.”

“…we are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State… now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time 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.”

And in the broad context of rampant discrimination against the minorities in present day Pakistan, such as Gojra (2009) and Badami Bagh (2013) mayhem in the Punjab, the All Saints Church massacre in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (September 2013), the searing Hindu saga of kidnappings and forced conversions and marriages in interior Sindh (2012-14) etc. This twin equal-citizenship dictum needs to be emphasized and acted upon, religiously and routinely.

Thus, this twin equal-citizenship is relevant even today since a good many of our critical problems may be traced to a deviation or transgression of this all-weather dictum. Most of the other items in Jinnah’s August 11 address and other pronouncements during 1947-48 are also relevant to contemporary Pakistan.


The writer is HEC Distinguished National Professor, who has recently co-edited UNESCO's History of Humanity, vol. VI, and The Jinnah Anthology (2010) and edited In Quest of Jinnah (2007); the only oral history on Pakistan's Founding Father.
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