Two Nation Theory The Myth The Reality

Two Nation Theory: The Myth, The Reality


"One lesson I have learnt from the history of Muslims. At critical moments in their history it is Islam that has saved Muslims and not vice versa." (Sir Muhammad Iqbal)

Why Ideology of Pakistan is Important:  Today the world community comprises of more than 180 countries. Pakistan appeared on the world map in August 1947, and became the first Islamic ideological state of the modern times. Unlike the non-ideological states, it was not established due to any geographical conflict or territorial domination by a group of people. If the ideology of such a state like Pakistan is dead then its existence can be questioned. Therefore, Pakistan can’t exist if there is no more ideology of Pakistan.

Pakistan is an ideological state…established in the name of the Islam. But on the 31st of December 1971, this land of ours, lost its east wing. And East Pakistan emerged on the world map as Bangladesh. The then prime minister of India Ms. Indra Gandhi claimed that the birth of Bangladesh is the death of the two-nation theory… If, as said, the ideology of Pakistan came to an end in 1971, then the objective behind the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan would have come to an end too.

Purpose of Pakistan

The breakup of the country in 1971 raised cynical eyebrows about national identity and gave rise to the theory of sub-nationalities on the basis of race, religion and language. Thus questions are being asked about the very existence of Pakistan.

The debate about the motivating force behind the making of Pakistan has been one endless exercise. Was there any need of Pakistan at all? Is this just another Muslim state like many others? Was creation of Pakistan a conspiracy of the British and/or of Muslim League? Was it to retrieve the ancient glory of the Islamic era, or to find a base for the reconstruction of Islamic thought and the resurgence and re-adaptation of its message to our day and age? Was Pakistan created accidentally? Was the sacrifice of thousands of Muslims in 1947 useless? Should Pakistan and India be merged together to form "Akhand Bharat" to restore peace in the Sub-continent?

What is Two Nation Theory?

Two-Nation theory is the basis of creation of Pakistan. It states that Muslims and Hindus are two separate nations from every definition; therefore Muslims should have a separate homeland in the Muslim majority areas of India, where they can spend their lives according to the glorious teachings of Islam.

If Muslims of the sub-continent comprise an Islamic nation then they have the right to have separate homeland as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, (in his address to the annual session of Muslim League) mentioned and I quote:
"History has presented to us many examples, such as the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, of Czechoslovakia and Poland. History has also shown to us many geographical tracts, much smaller than the sub-continent of India, which otherwise might have been called one country, but which have been divided into as many seven or eight sovereign states. Like-wise, the Portuguese and the Spanish stand divided in the Iberian Peninsula."

The Definition Of Nation

The significance and reality of Pakistan has not been fully understood in the west. To the west, nationality based on religion is an alien and often-incomprehensible phenomenon. This is because religion in the West has come to play such a restricted role. In the West, Germans and French are accepted as two separate nations. However, the fact of Hindus and Muslims in India representing two separate cultural entities is seldom appreciated. A young French student may visit a family in Germany, share their meals, may attend the same church and even marry a girl in the family without creating a scandal or surprise. But such instances of intermarriage have been extremely rare in the Indo-Pak Sub-Continent. Even some of the most ardent Indian Nationalist has found the idea totally unacceptable. As Sir Abdur Rahim observed:
"Any of us Indian Muslims traveling for instances in Afghanistan, Persia and Central Asia among Chinese Muslims, Arabs and Turks, would at once be made at home and would not find anything to which we are not accustomed. On the contrary, in India we find ourselves in all social matters total aliens when we cross the street and enter that part of the town where our Hindu fellow townsmen live."
Is Two Nation Theory A New Concept
A point generally raised by the opponent of the two-nation theory is that Pakistan was created accidentally and that the intellect of most of the Muslims at that time was overpowered by emotions. Moreover, that this phenomenon emerged in the early decade of the 20th century.

But, what the history reveals is something different. Two-Nation theory was not at all as new phenomenon.

History of Two Nation Theory

Mahatma Gandhi, speaking in the second session of the Round table conference in London in 1931, said that the quarrel between Hindus and Muslims was ‘coreview with the British advent’ in India. It would be difficult to maintain such a position historically because the conflict between Hindus and Muslims had started long before the emergence of the British power in India.

The phenomenon of Two-Nation theory originated with the advent of Islam in the Sub-Continent (712AD). According to Jinnah, "The concept of two nation theory originated the day, the first Hindu converted to Muslim."

The partition of India was proposed more than seven hundred years prior to the Lahore resolution. In 1192 AD, on the eve of battle of Tarian, according to famous historian Farishta, Sultan Muizz-ud-Din had suggested to his rival, Pirthviraj, the partition of India, leaving the region of Sirhind, Punjab and Multan with Sultan and retaining the rest of India for himself. This proposal cropped up again after 150 years, when Al-Beruni pointed out the existence of the two big groups of people subscribing to two different religions.

"This (the religious difference) renders any connection with them" says Beruni, "quite impossible and constitutes the widest of gulf between them and us (Hindu and Muslims)."

Perhaps Emperor Aurengzeb (1658-1707) was responsible for increasing Hindu Muslim tensions by trying to Islamize the Mughal government. Several Muslim historians have actually glorified Aurengzeb for making Muslims conscious of their separate religious and ideological identity. It is also true that Maratha and Sikh leaders raised their banner of revolt against Aurangzeb because in trying to organize his government on Islamic lines, the emperor was acting against their interest. Sir Jaduanath Sarkar’s observation on the role of Shivaji, the Maratha leader, is revealing:
"Shivaji has shown that the tree of Hinduism is not really dead. That it can rise from beneath the seemingly crushing load of centuries of political bondage, exclusion from the administration, and legal repression; it can put forth new leaves and branches it can again lift its head up to the skies"
After Aurangzeb’s death, Muslim power started disintegrating. Muslims were so alarmed by the growing power of the Hindus under Maratha leadership that even a Sufi scholar like Shah Walliullha (1703-81) was moved into writing a letter to the Afghan King Shah Walliullah. He wrote:
"In short, the Muslim community is in a pitiable condition. All control of the machinery of government is in the hands of Hindus, because they are the only people who are capable and industrious. Wealth and prosperity are concentrated in their hands; while the share of Muslims is nothing but poverty and misery… At this time you are the only King who is powerful, far-sighted, and capable of defeating the enemy forces. Certainly it is incumbent upon you to march to India, destroy the Maratha domination and rescue weak and old Muslims from the clutches of Non-Muslims. If, God forbid, domination by infidels continues, Muslims will forget Islam and within a short time become such a nation that there will be nothing left distinguish them from non-Muslims."

This letter by Shah Walliullah to a foreign Muslim against the local Non-Muslims again reflects that Muslims living in any part of the world are the part of one Muslim Nation.


The Two Nations

Although the Hindus and Muslims had been living together for centuries in the Indian sub-continent, yet there had never been either any signs of merger of the Hindu and Muslims societies, or any serious attempt to develop a working relationship between the two major ethnic groups. The two have always remained as two distinct social systems, two separate and distinct cultures and last but not the least, two different civilizations.

In fact, Hindu fanaticism has always been against those who do not belong to them and against all outsiders, whom they consider maleech or unclean. So they are against having any connection with such people, what to speak of inter-marriage, a Hindu is often forbidden eat or drink or to even shake hand with a Muslim or for that matter with a person belonging to any other faith or religion. In short the Hindu customs and their hatred for Muslims was the main factor against developing a working relationship between the two major societies.

Lala Lajpat Rai, a very astute politician and staunch Hindu Mahasabhite, in his letter to Mr. C.R. Das, which was written 12 or 15 years prior to Pakistan Resolution, wrote:
"There is one point more which has been troubling me very much of late and one which I want you to think (about) carefully, and that is the question of Hindu Mohammedan unity. I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to the study of Muslim history and Muslim law, and I am inclined to think it is neither possible nor practicable. Assuming and admitting the sincerity of Mohammedan leaders in the non-cooperation movement, I think their religion provides an effective bar to anything of that kind… And nothing would relieve more than to be convinced that it is so. But if it is right, then it comes to this, that although we can unite against the British, we cannot do so to rule Hindustan on British lines. We cannot do so to rule Hindustan on democratic lines."

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, (in his address to the annual session of Muslim League) mentioned:
"It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different social orders. It is a dream that the Hindu and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality; and this misconception of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits, and is the cause of most of our troubles, and will lead India to destruction, if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry, nor interline together and indeed they belong to two different civilizations, which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Musalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different, and they have different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other, and likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state."

Is Pakistan a Conspiracy of British And/Or Jinnah

For the congress, the establishment of Pakistan was a cruel blow to their claim of being a nationalist organization. It meant that Muslims did not trust the Hindus as a majority community to be just and generous towards Muslims interests and culture. This explains why congress leaders have often tended to attribute the creation of Pakistan almost entirely to the British policy of ‘divide and rule’.

However, a closer look at the history after the establishment of the British rule in India will reveal that the Hindus were much closer to the British government than the Muslims. The Hindus, who were fed up with the Muslim rule, welcomed the British rule over India. This state of affairs resulted in the patronage of the Hindus by the British and suspicion and distrust against the Muslims of the sub-continent. The Hindus were economically better off than the Muslims. The events of 1857 further diminished the prospects of economic growth of the Muslim community in the sub-continent. From 1857 onwards, when the British had taken complete control of the Indian Administration, they elevated the Hindu community to the status of landlords, gave the Hindus proprietary rights and provided them the opportunity to accumulate the wealth which should have otherwise gone to the Muslims who were at the helm of affairs.

Hindus were given more jobs in the government and military compared to Muslims.

Lets now look see whether the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 as the largest Muslim state was a conspiracy of Jinnah. Muhammad Ali Jinnah remained an active member of the Indian National Congress for about 25 years, and because of his personal efforts to bring about a rapprochement between Hindus and Muslims was even hailed as the ‘Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. As long as effective power in India was in the hands of the British, it appeared as if a true nationalism was growing in that country. However, with the introduction of representative institutions and the devolution of political authority, the Hindus started showing their true colors by imposing their superiority over the Muslim minority, as a result of which a struggle between Hindus and Muslims ensued. Jinnah was greatly disappointed by these movements by the congress leaders and so he resigned from the Congress. The behavior of the Congress leader changed his mind and realized him that the Congress is a Hindu Congress.
Another popular view regards Pakistan as no more than a personal triumph of the brilliant strategy and will power of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that had Jinnah died earlier, there would not have been any Pakistan. It is true that Jinnah’s great role was a highly important contributing factor; but without intense religious zeal for an Islamic state on the part of Muslim masses, Jinnah could not have achieved Pakistan. Khilafat leaders like Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and poets like Hali, Akbar Allahabdi and Iqbal were mainly responsible for making Muslims conscious of their separate national and cultural identity. Thus, when the message of Pakistan was presented to the masses, it fell on fertile soil. Jinnah, who did not know Urdu, could not have achieved Pakistan without able and zealous lieutenants and without the vision of an Islamic state as an inspiring stimulant. One may even go so far as to say that the Muslim League, led largely by the middle-class Muslim Leaders, would have probably come to some sort of compromise on the issue of Pakistan had they not been swept off their feet by the intense Islamic fervor of the masses and the astounding success that the Muslim League achieved during the elections of 1945-46. It has been reported that the Quaid-e-Azam himself never expected to see Pakistan in his lifetime.
Congress leaders tried to challenge the two-nation theory by pointing out that a large number of Muslims in India were descendants of Hindu forebears who had converted to Islam. They also argued that there was hardly any cultural difference between Hindus and Muslims in the rural areas where the vast majority of both communities lived. But these arguments could not alter the fact that a change in one’s religion from Hinduism to Islam in the Indian context not merely implied a change in one’s religion, but also a significant change in man’s social and cultural status. The new convert became the member of an egalitarian social and cultural force in large parts of India. Particularly in the North Western part of India, which constitutes Pakistan today, the dominant culture that emerged was clearly Islam.
Another popular view regards Pakistan as no more than a personal triumph of the brilliant strategy and will power of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that had Jinnah died earlier, there would not have been any Pakistan. It is true that Jinnah’s great role was a highly important contributing factor; but without intense religious zeal for an Islamic state on the part of Muslim masses, Jinnah could not have achieved Pakistan. Khilafat leaders like Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and poets like Hali, Akbar Allahabdi and Iqbal were mainly responsible for making Muslims conscious of their separate national and cultural identity. Thus, when the message of Pakistan was presented to the masses, it fell on fertile soil. Jinnah, who did not know Urdu, could not have achieved Pakistan without able and zealous lieutenants and without the vision of an Islamic state as an inspiring stimulant. One may even go so far as to say that the Muslim League, led largely by the middle-class Muslim Leaders, would have probably come to some sort of compromise on the issue of Pakistan had they not been swept off their feet by the intense Islamic fervor of the masses and the astounding success that the Muslim League achieved during the elections of 1945-46. It has been reported that the Quaid-e-Azam himself never expected to see Pakistan in his lifetime.
Congress leaders tried to challenge the two-nation theory by pointing out that a large number of Muslims in India were descendants of Hindu forebears who had converted to Islam. They also argued that there was hardly any cultural difference between Hindus and Muslims in the rural areas where the vast majority of both communities lived. But these arguments could not alter the fact that a change in one’s religion from Hinduism to Islam in the Indian context not merely implied a change in one’s religion, but also a significant change in man’s social and cultural status. The new convert became the member of an egalitarian social and cultural force in large parts of India. Particularly in the North Western part of India, which constitutes Pakistan today, the dominant culture that emerged was clearly Islam.

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