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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Did mullahs oppose Jinnah’s Pakistan?

Many mullahs opposed the creation of Pakistan because they were against the Western form of democracy, and wanted Islam as the guiding force. However, M. Ali Jinnah believed that religion was an issue between God and man.

Prior to 1906 when Muslim League came into being, there was no countrywide organization that represented the Muslims of India as a whole. Their leadership was mostly in the hands of religious scholars who also had control over education.

Muslim boys went to madrasas where the emphasis was on religion. The study of science, English, or any other European language was taboo (haram). Girls could only study religion and housekeeping and that too only at home. Realizing the damage it was doing to society, people like Sir Syed campaigned for change but to fill the gap was a monumental task.

Read more: Mindsets need to be altered to promote education for girls

There is an effort afoot by certain quarters within and outside the country to rewind the clock and re-write the history of Partition and Pakistan in particular for reasons that can’t be discussed here for lack of space. It is claimed for instance that Pakistan was created for Islam. The latter is a system of beliefs embedded in hearts and minds. It is the people who need a piece of land they can call their own and not religion as such.

Secondly, the Lahore Resolution passed by the Muslim League in 1940 that led to the creation of Pakistan makes no such demand nor does it mention the ‘two-nation theory’. It also did not mandate Sharia Law or any type of constitution. This was left for the people to decide subsequently for good reason. Muslims have many different sects and schools of law. It would be divisive and most unwise to try and impose a particular belief over the rest.

Read more: Long read: Battle for the soul of Islam


The British, as well as the Hindus, wanted India to remain united for reasons of their own. Surprisingly enough so did almost all of the prominent Islamic parties and ulama with the exception of Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani. They had no ideological or rational motive nor any alternative but just envy and opposition to Muslim League and Jinnah.

Shaikh-ul-Uloom Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani of Deoband and Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind issued a fatwa on the eve of the 1945 election declaring it haram for any Muslim to become a member and vote for the Muslim League. Mazhar Ali Azhar of Mjlis-e-Ahrar wrote that Jinnah was not Quaid-e-Azam but ‘Kafir-e-Azam‘. Khasaars made two attempts on Jinnah’s life, wounding him once.

Read more: M. A. Jinnah: The savior of Indian Muslims

The Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami, Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, wrote: ‘As a Muslim, I have no interest in their (Muslim) rule in those areas of India where the Muslims are in a majority. For me, the primary question is whether in this ‘Pakistan’ of yours the basis of government will be the sovereignty of God or, in accordance with the western idea of democracy, the sovereignty of the people.’

He further stated: ‘In the first case, it will certainly be ‘Pakistan’, otherwise it will be as much of ‘Na-Pakistan’ as that part of the country where, according to your scheme, the rule will be that of non-Muslims: in fact, in the eyes of God it will be ‘na-pak’ —- and damned. (‘Musalman aur Maujooda Siyasi Kashmakash’, vol. III, Office of the Tarjman-ul-Koran, Patahankot, 1942, pp. 92, 108).

Nonetheless, Maulana Maudoodi and his cohorts moved lock stock and barrel from India to Pakistan the day the latter came into existence.

Read more: Politicization of Islam during Partition

What did Jinnah believe?

Jinnah is on record having reiterated ad infinitum that Pakistan was for protecting the freedom, rights, and interests of the Muslims and nothing more. He always referred to it as a ‘Muslim’ State and never as an ‘Islamic’ State —- a homeland for the Muslims and not a theocratic oligarchy run by a bunch of obscurantist mullahs. This was clearly understood and accepted by everyone associated and working with him.

It wasn’t that Jinnah had anything against Islam; far from it. He believed that religion was an issue between God and man. It is wrong, indeed un-Islamic, to forcibly coerce the people into living under a system envisaged by one set of unrepresentative theologians who had no sanction in the Koran or a mandate from the people.

The Koran clearly ordains that Muslims should resolve all such issues through mutual consultation and consensus (62:38). Even Maulana Maudoodi concedes as much in his book, Khilafat-o-Malookiat.

Read more: Op-ed: In Pakistani democracy, self-interests trump ideological motivations

Amir Ahmed Khan, the Raja of Mahmudabad who was personally very close to Jinnah recorded, ‘My advocacy of an Islamic State brought me into conflict with Jinnah. He thoroughly disapproved of my ideas —- Now that I look back I realize how wrong I had been’ (Some Memories, Raja of Mahmudabad’s article in Partition of India: Policies and Perspectives, 1935-47 by Cyril Henry Philips and M.Doreen Wainwright, pp. 388 – 9).

At the Muslim Legislators Conference in Delhi in April 1946, Jinnah said, ‘What are we aiming at? It is not for theocracy, not for a theocratic state’. We have come a long way down the road to confusion and wilderness since then.

Read more: Jinnah’s Pakistan: An inclusive one

The writer is a retired naval officer and is the author of ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.