The two nation theory on which rested the demand for partition made by the Muslim
League has never been thought through by the Hindus. It was developed on the basis of what
an Indian student at Cambridge University called Choudhary Rahmat Ali wrote in 1933, in a
pamphlet entitled Now or Never Pakistan, Are We to Live or Perish for Ever? This
was written only seven years before Mohammed Ali Jinnah called for a separate Muslim
homeland at the Lahore session of his party on 23 March 1940. Even during the intervening
period, not much attention or debate had been devoted to analysing the dialectics of the
two nation theory
Nor was Choudhary Rahmat Ali, studying at Cambridge University in 1933, the author of
this theory. His credit is confined to innovating the name Pakistan. While
presiding over the Allahahad session of the Muslin League in 1930, the famous poet
Muhammad Iqbal had said that the Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India
within India is, therefore, perfectly, justified. The formation of a consolidated
North-west Indian Muslim state appears to me to he the final destiny of the Muslims.
Islam is a complete prescription. Religion, society, politics and life itself are all
intertwined. Between the Holy Quran and the Hadith, there is an answer to
every question. The only precondition is that the questioner must accept that the message
contained in the Quran Sharief is final and that Muhammad Sahib was the last
prophet. There can be no new revelation. This approach is easily understandable when one
remembers that the Prophet was a versatile person who achieved success in all fields in
which he took part. He might not envisioned so comprehensively had he not been successful
at once as a householder, a competent trader, a brave general, a capable king and a
man of god.
Hinduism is very different.. It is not a religion in the Judaic sense. It is an
explanation of life at one end for the intellectual and, at the other, for a man of
action, yet another for a simple person who seek. salvation through bhakti or devotion.
Politics is far away from the Hindu explanation of life. If at all it has prescription for
politics, it is confined to the worship hi one's soil called matribhoomi or motherland.
There is therefore. in contrast to Islam, attachment to territory.
Moving back to the l9th century, from 1987 Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of Aligarh Muslim
University fame, had begun to stress that Hindus and Muslims constituted two separate
nations in India. (Page 266 of Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment by
Prof. Aziz Ahmad, Oxford University Press. 2000). Some years earlier, Prof. Ameer All,
who had founded the Central National Muhammedan Association in Calcutta, had expressed
similar views, according, to Aziz Ahmad.
The Qaid-e-Azam was an outstanding advocate as well as a political leader. He however
laid no claims to being either an ideologue or a political scientist In any case, an
active politician seldom has the leisure to sit back, think and theorise. When asked the
basis of his two nation theory, Jinnah's answer was rough and ready. The Muslims and
Hindus ware separate nations because their cultures, clothes, food habits, language and
even their architecture were quite different. With so many gulfs of differences, he saw no
future in two distinct peoples living together in one country.
In any case, Jinnah, during the 1940s had repeatedly stated that Islam bras in danger.
Once the British left India, there could be no impartial government and the Hindu majority
would. at best, ignore the Muslims and, at worst, oppress them. There was therefore no
future for the Muslims in an undivided India. Hence the demand for a separate homeland for
the follower of Islam. He was also categorical in his demand that an exchange of
population between Pakistan and Hindustan should be an integral part of
bifurcation. That the Muslims, in what would remain of Hindustan, should migrate to
Pakistan and non-Muslims living in the latter should move to Hindustan. This demand was
not confined to the Qaid-e-Azam. Many other leaders of the party had not only supported
the proposition but some of them had been more vehement in their expression, as recorded
in the following paragraphs.
The well known Karachi daily, Dawn, extensively covered
throughout 1946 what the League leaders demanded. In turn, Justice G. D. Khosla has quoted
the newspaper repeatedly in his book titled Stern reckoning, (New Delhi, 1948).
At a press conference on 25 November 1946, In Karachi, Jinnah appealed to the central as
well as provincial governments to take up the question of population exchange.Earlier that
year. Sir Feroze Khan Noon who later rose to be Prime Minister of Pakistan,
while addressing Muslim League legislators in Patna, had gone to the extent of threatening
the re-enactment of the murderous orgies of Chengez Khan and Halaqu Khan if non-Muslims
did not agree to the proposal for population transfer. Khan Iftikhar Hussain, the nawab of
Mamdot said that the exchange of population offered a practical solution for the problem
of Muslims quoted in Dawn, 3 December. Pir Ilahi Bux, the Sindh
leader, observed that he welcomed an exchange of population for the safety of the
minorities, as it would put an end to all communal disturbances. Ismail Chundrigar, who
also eventually became Prime Minister, said that the British had no right to hand
overMuslims to a subject people, namely Hindus, over whom they had ruled for 500 years.
Mohammad Ismail, a Madras leader, had declared that the Muslims of India were in the midst
of a jihad. Shaukat Hayat Khan, son of the more famous Sir sikander Hayat Khan, had also
given out threats to support transfer of population.
Can a momin or a faithful be a nationalist.? we need to take a look at the
basic tenets of Islam. The Muslim is one who either accepts, resigns or submits to the
will of Allah. Islam means acceptance, resignation or submission. In other words, some
scholars say the root of the word is tasleem.While others prefer the word aslama which,
according to the Oxford History of Islam, Oxford university Press, New York, 1999, means
he gave up, surrendered or submitted.
The religion has five basic pillars; the first of which is to openly proclaim that
there is no god but Allah, Muhammad is a messenger of Allah. The second pillar is
to pray or perform namaz five times a day. The third is to pay a tithe every year
to religious officials. The amount has long been fixed as one/fortieth of one's annual
income and liquid assets and the purpose was to use the money for the welfare of the poor.
It is called zakaat. The fourth pillar of Islam is to observe a month long fast
during the month of Ramadan. The fifth is to take undertake Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca.
What is especially unique about Islam is the belief that what is good for the
Muslims is meant to be good for all human beings regardless of religion, colour, or
origin. The dialectic of this belief is that it is the duty of the Muslim, or at least
the momin, to try and convert every non-believer to Islam for his own good. If does
not succeed, the threat of sword can be resorted to. Initially the only exceptions made
were the people of the book, namely, the Jews. Christians and Sabeans who could be allowed
to keep their religion provided they paid the jeziya or poll tax.
Subsequently, members of other faiths such as Hindus were also accepted as eligible
for, what was called, the dhimmi or zimmi status.
Islan and nationalism in any form are two incompatible modes of thought and life. Sir
Mohammad IqLal. called it a contradiction in terms since Islam in its essence is above
all conditions of time and space. Nationality with us is a pure idea: it has no
geographical basis. But in as much as the average man demands a material centre of
nationality, the Muslim rooks for it the holy town of Mecca.
Maullana Abul Kalam Azad, in his early years, edited a famous Urdu journal called Al
Hilal. When someone asked him a question as to which political party should Indian
Muslims join. Azad's reply was eloquent: Mussalmans need not join any party. They are
the ones who for centuries made the world join their party and follow their path. They
constitute the party of God or Hizbullah. The paper called upon everyone not to
put undue trust in the government nor to take lessons from the Hindu. He pushed his
argument to its logical conclusion when he wrote that a Muslin who was seeking sanction
for any action or belief in any other political party or school of though, ceased to be a
Muslim and could be regarded as a political polytheist for seeking a solution alien to the
all embracing doctrine of the Quran.
What comes through from Az.ad's writings is that Islam is a complete prescription.
Religion. society, politics and life itself are all interwined. Hinduism is very
different. It is an explanation of life at one end for the intellectual or a gyani
and at the other for a man of action or a karmayogi, yet another for a simple
person who seeks salvation through bhakti or devotion. It is not difficult for a
Hindu to be a nationalist. Nor has the Parsee or the Christian any problem. In feet,
nationalism grew out of Christian Europe.
All these factors do justify Mohammed All Jinnah's contention that Muslims are
different. To that extent. his separatist theory, which was the basis of partition.
was consistent although it was labelled as the two nation theory. Would not Separation
of Muslims from Kafirs Theory be a more suitable name? Nevertheless, his insistence on
a complete exchange of population was consistent with his separatist theory.
No matter what the nomenclature, Jinnah had developed deep conviction in separatism. A
liberal nationalist had turned into a sectarian separatist. Whether the metamorphosis was
genuine or mercenary is for the reader to analyse. There never arose a question with
regard to his integrity: his public record as well as his private conduct was consistently
honest. At the same time, there was no doubt that his ego was king size and his ambition
was to be number one wherever he was. Jinnah's separatism and its logic as he saw it are
best described in his own words. Since he wrote little, the interview taken in December
1943 by Beverly Nichols, a British journalist, is invaluable and deserves to be quoted ad
lib. It appeared in a book called A Verdict on India, Jonathan Cape, London,
1944. That the Qaid-e-Azam had not thought through his cause far a state would be obvious
to the reader. The argument is rough and ready, incomplete if not superficial, which leads
one to think that Jinnah was riding the crest of a mass Muslim wave rather than leading a
movement for Pakistan. Was he not fulfilling a personal ambition rather than pursuing a
SELF: The most common accusation of your critics is that you have not defined
Pakistan with sufficient precision - that there are many details of defence, economics,
minorities. etc., which you have left deliberately vague. Do you think that is a just
JINNAH: It is neither Just nor intelligent, particularly if is is made by an
englishman with any knowledge of his own history. When Ireland was separated from Britain,
the document embodying the terms of the separation was approximately ten lines. Ten lines
of print to settle a dispute of incredible complexity which has poisoned British politics
for centuries ! All the details were left to the fulture - and the Future is often an
admirable arbitrator. Well, I'v already given the world a good deal more than ten lines to
indicate the principles and practice of Pakistan. but l it is beyond the power of any man
to provide, in advance, a blueprint in which even detail is settled. Besides, Indian
history proves that such a blue-print is totally unnecessary. Were was the blue-priint
when the question of Burmah'.s separation was decided at the Round Table Conference? Where
was the blue print when Sind was separated from Bombay? The answer, of course, is
'nowhere.' It didn't exist. It didn't need to exist. The vital point was that the
principle of separation was accepted: the rest followed automatically.
SELF: How would you describe the 'vital principles'of Pakistan ?
JINNAH: In five words. The Muslims are a Nation. If you grant that,
and if you are an honest man, you must grant the principle of Pakistan. You would have to
grant it even if the obstacles "were a hundred times more formidable than they
actually are. Of corpse. if you do not grant it, then ... He shrugged his shoulders and
smiled ... Then. there is an end of the matter.
SELF: When you say the Muslims are a Nation, are you thinking in
terms of religion?
JINNAH: Partly, but by no means exclusively. You must remember that
Islam is not merely a religious doctrine but a realistic and practical Code of Conduct. I
am thinking in terms of life, of everything important in life. I am thinking in terms of
our history, our heroes, our art, our architecture. our music. our laws. our
SELF: Please, I would like to write these things down.
JINNAH: (After a pause) In all these thins our outlook is not only
fundamentally different but often radically antagonistic to the Hindus. We are different
beings. There is nothing in life wilich links us together.
Our names, our clothes, our foods- they are all different: our economic life, our
educational ideas, our treatment of women, our attitude to animals ...we challenge
each other at every point of the compass. Take one example, the eternal question of the
cow?. We eat the cow, the Hindus worship it. A lot of Englishmen imagine that this
'worship' is merely a picturesque convention, an historical survival. It is nothing of
the sort. Only a few days ago, in this very city, the cow question became
a matter for the people. The Hindus were thrown into the greatest agitation because
cows were being killed in public. But the cow question is only one of a thousand. (A
pause) what have you written down?
SELF: I have only written 'The Muslims are a Nation.'
JINNAH: And do you believe it''
SELF: I do.
JINNAH: (with a smile) What other questions have you got there?
SELF: The first is economic. Are the Muslims likely to be richer or
poorer under Pakistan? And would you set up tariffs against the rest of India?
JINNAH: I'll ask you a question for a change. supposing you were asked
which yore would prefer . . a rich England under Germany or a poor England
free, what would your answer be?
SELF: It's hardly necessary to say.
JINNAH: Quise Well, doesn't that make your question look a little
shoddy? This great ideal rises far above mere questions of personal comfort or temporary
convenience. The Muslims are a tough people, lean and hardy. If Pakistan means that they
will have to be a little tougher, they will not complain. But why should it mean that?
What conceivable reason is there to suppose that the gift of nationality is going to be an
economic liability? A sovereign nation of a hundred million people-even if they are not
immediately self-supporting and even if they are industrially backward -is hardly likely
to be in a worse economic positionthan if its members are scattered and disorganized,
under the dominance of two hundred and fifty million Hindus whose one idea is to exploit
them. How any European can get up and say that Pakistan is 'economically impossible' after
the Treaty of Versailles is really beyond my comprehension. The great brains who cut
Europe into a ridiculous patch work of conflicting and artificial boundaries are hardly
the people to talk economics to us, particularly as our problem happens to be far simpler.
SELF: And does that also apply to defence?
JINNAH: Of course it applies to defence. Once again I will ask you
a question. How is Afghanistan defended? Well? The answer is not vend complicated By the
Afghans. Just that. We are a brave and united people who are prepared to work and, if
necessang, fight. So how does the question of defence present any peculiar difficulties?
In what way do we differ from other nations? From Iran, for example? Obviously, there will
have to be a transition period. We are not asking the British to quit India overnight. The
British have helped to make this gigantic muddle, and they must stay and help to clear it
up. But before they can do that, they will have to do a lot of hard thinking. And that
reminds me -I have something I would like to show you.
The British must realize. 'he had said to me before we tackled the
problem of Pakistan, 'that they have not a friend in the countay. Not a friend.' A
Hindu politician would have said that at the top of his voice, with delight. Jinnah said
it quietly. with regret. Here he was again. In his hand he carried a book.
JINNAH: You will remember I said. a moment ago, that the british
would have to do a lot of hard thinking. It's a habit they don't find very congenial; they
prefer to be comfortable, to wait and see, trusting that everything will come right in the
end. However. when they do take the trouble to think. they think as clearly and creatively
as any people in the world. And one of 'their best thinkers - at least on the Indian
problem was old John Bright. Have you ever read any of his speeches?
SELF: Not since I left school.
JINNAH: Well, Lake a look at this. I found it by chance the other day.
He handed me the book It was a faded old volume, The Speeches of John
Bright, and the date of the page at which it was opened was June 4th 1858. This is what
the greatest orator in the House of Commons said on that occasion:
How long long does England propose to govern India? Nobody can answer
that question. But be it 50 or 100 or 500 years, does any man with the smallest glimmering
of common sense believe that so great a country, with its 20 different nationalities and
its 20 different languages, can ever be bound up and consolidated into one compact and
enduring empire confine? I believe such a thing to be utterly impossible.
I handed back tha book.
JINNAH: what Bright said then is true to-day ... In fact, it's far more true-though, of
course, the emphasis is not so much on the 20 nationalities as on the 2.. the Muslim and
the Hindu. And why it is more true? Why hasn't time brought us together? Because the
Muslims are awake ... because they's learnt, through bitter experience, the sort of
treatment they may expect from the Hindus in a 'United India.' A 'United India' means a
Hindu-dominated India. It means that and nothing else. Any other meaning you attempt to
impose on it is mythical. 'India' is a British creation ..~ it is merely a single
administrative' unit governed by a bureaucracy under the sanction of the sword. That is
all. It is a paper creation, it has no basis in flesh and blood.
SELF The ironical thing is that your critics say that Pakistan itself
is a British creation - that it is an example of our genius for applying the principle of'
divide and rule.
JINNAH: (with some heat) The man, who makes such a suggestion must have
a very poor opinion of British intelligence, apart from his opinion of my own integrity.
The one thing which keeps the British in India is the false idea of a United India. as
preached by Gandhi. A United India, I repeat, is a British creation - a myth, and a very
dangerous myth. which will came endless strife. As long as that strife exists, the
British have an excuse for remaining. For once in a way. 'divide and rule' does not apply.
SELF: What poll want is Divide and quit"?
JINNAH: You have put it very neatly.
SELF: You realize that all this will come as a something of a shock to
the British electorate''
JINNAH: Truth is often shocking. But why this troth in particular.
SELF: Because the average. decent. Iiberal-minded voter, who wishes
Britain to fulfil her pledges. and grant independence to India, has heard nothing but the
Congress point of view. the Muslims have hardly a single spokesman in the west.
JINNAH: (bitterly) I am - well aware of that. The Hindus have
organized a powerful Press and Congress - Mahasabha are backed up by Hindu capitalists and
industrialists with finance which we have not got.
SELF: As a result they believe that Congress is 'India,' and
since Congress never tries of repeating that India is one and indivisble, they imagine
that any attempt to divide it is illiberal, reactionary, and generally sinister. They
seriously do believe thais. I know that it is muddle-headed, but then a democracy such as
ours. Which has to make up its mind on an incredible number of complicated issues usually
is muddle-headed. What they have to learn is that the only liberal course, the only
generous course, the only coure compatible with a sincere intention to quit India and hand
over the reins of government...
JINNAH: And the only self course, you might add, is ...
JINNAH: Pakistan !