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Separatism
Aligarh Muslim University : A Cradle Of Muslim Separatism
Sep 2015

In his efforts to further the interests of the Muslims of the Urdu speaking elite, Sayyid Ahmad Khan created a centre of Muslim political activity in India. Firstly, the MAO College, Aligarh established in 1875 started publishing Aligarh Institute Gazette and the Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq. These publications were patronized by eminent Muslims like Syed Muhamud, Sayyid Ahmad's son, (the first native judge of the Alhabad High Court) Chiragh Ali, Shibli and Hali whose Musaddas (The Rise and Fall of Islam) was written at Sayyid Ahmad's behest awakened Muslims to the decline of their political influences. Secondly, Sayyid Ahmad Khan founded the Muhammadan Educational Conference in 1886; in 1890 the name given was Muhammadan Education Conference. The name of the conference in the beginning was: Muhammadan Educational Congress. It was later on changed to Muhammadan Educational Conference.  Eventually, it was changed to Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Educational Conference. During the first twenty years of its existance (1886-1906) the work of the conference fell into two periods of almost equal length.  Sir Sayyid was the secretary during the first ten years and in the next ten years, the post was held by Mohsin-ul-Mulk. The greatest achievement of the Conference was that of generating among Muslims sentiments of solidarity says Dr. M.S. Jain author of the book, The Aligarh Movement 1965. During Sir Sayyid's lifetime there was a proposal to setup a Muslim University. The Aligarh Institute Gazette of 19 September, 1901 states that the creation of a Muhammadan University would give the Muhammadans more political power than any political privileges they can possibly acquire. 

The College and its attendant Conference were political organizations in all but name. The chief importance of the college was that it was the base from which UP Muslim elite group led a Muslim political party in the province and in India. 

The British rulers were quite aware of the pan-Islamic sympathies of Indian Muslims. In 1877 Lord Northbrook had told the House of Lords not only was there a disloyal portion of the Indian Mahomedans, but also religious Mahomedans can not be content with other than Mahomedan rule.  In 1882, Sir Alfred Lyall, Lt. Governor of North-West Provinces and Oudh had written to the Viceroy that there is little doubt that during the Egyptian War the Indian Mahomedans were sympathetic to Arabi Beg.  While describing a game of badminton in Delhi, Lyall wrote: 

Near me a Musalman, civil and mild, 
Watched as the shuttlecocks rose and fell; 
And he said, as he counted his beads and smiled, 
God  smite their souls to the depths of hell.

Later, Sir Antony Macdonnell (1844-1925) noticed similar  Muslim sympathies with the Turkish Sultan during 1897 campaign.

The plain truth was that the Muslims were not trusted by the British rulers says Francis Robinson. (Separatism among Indian Muslims, Cambridge University Press, London, 1974)

SIR SAYYID: FATHER-FIGURE OF PAKISTAN

Sayyid Ahmad's contributions to the political cause of Indian Muslims are formidable. As a member of the Governor-General's Legislative Council from 1878, he successfully campaigned for separate nomination of Muslims to the local self-government institutions which were created by Lord Ripon. He was one of the original exponents of the two nation theory and believed that Hindus and Muslims could not have an equal share in power.  Sayyid Ahmad opposed the demands of the Indian National Congress for the enlargement of the representative government in India and the recruitment of Indians for government service by open competitive examination. In his view, representative government was inexpedient for a country inhabited by two different nations, Hindus and Muslims. (Constitutional And Political History Of Pakistan by Hamid Khan)

Sir Sayyid reiterated his views later in his speeches made at Lucknow (28 September 1887) and at Meerut (16 March, 1888). In Sir Sayyid's words: I come now to the main subject on which I wish to address you. That is the National Congress and the demands which that body makes of Government. In the time of Lord Ripon I happened to be a member of the Council. At that time the Local Boards and Municipality Bills were brought forward, and the intention was that everybody should be appointed by election. The only person who was opposed to the system of election was myself.  If I am not bragging too much, I may, I think, say that it was on account of my speech that Lord Ripon changed his opinion and made one-third of the members appointed and two-third elected.  (Speech at Lucknow, 28 September 1887)

I think it expedient that I should first of all tell you the reason why I am about to address you on the subject of tonight's discourse. You know, gentlemen, that, for a long time, our friends, the Bengalis have shown very warm feelings on political matters. Three years ago they founded a very big assembly, which holds its sittings in various places, and they have given it the name National Congress. But my friends, the Bengalis have made a most unfair and unwarrantable interference with my nation, and therefore it is my duty to show clearly what this unwarrantable interference has been, and to protect my nation from the evils that may arise from it. Our Muhammedan nation has hitherto sat silent. But they have now been wrongly tampering with our nation. They even did not hold back from offering the temptation of money. Where is the man that does not know this? Who does not know who were the three or four Mohammedans of the North-West Provinces who took part with them, and why they took part? The simple truth is they were nothing more than hired men. And I want to show this that except Badruddin Tyabji who is a gentlemen of very high position and for whom, I have great respect, no leading Mohammedan took part in it. He did take part, but I think he made a mistake.

Now, suppose that all English and the whole English army were to leave India, taking with them all their cannons and their splendid weapons and everything, then who would be the rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations-the Mohammedans and the Hindus-could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. (Speech at Meerut, 16 March 1888)

B.R. Nanda, former Director of Jawaharlal Nehru Museum and Library quotes Bashir Ahmad Dar (Religious Thoughts of Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Lahore 1957) to the effect: Pakistan is in reality, the direct result of the whole scheme of things as envisaged by this good old man (Sir Sayyid); who represented in his person the ideology and aspirations of the whole Muslim nation of this subcontinent.

HINDI-URDU CONTROVERSY:

After Sayyid Ahmad Khan's death in 1898, two prominent Muslims played a leading role in the political awakening and formation of All India Muslim League.  They were: Syed Mehdi Ali, generally known by his Hyderabadi title Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk. He was born at Etawah, UP in 1887. The other was Mushtaq Husain also known by his Hyderabadi title of Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk. He was born in District Moradabad, UP.  On 18 April 1900, Sir Antony Macdonnell, Lt. Governor UP, ordered the use of Hindi in place of Urdu.  Majority of population was Hindu. They had found it difficult to approach the administration for lack of knowledge of Urdu.  Mohsin-ul-Mulk organized protest meetings against the Government's order. For Muslims Urdu is a dear possession, next in importance to Islam alone says Dr. S.M. Ikram. (Modern Muslim India, 1950). Macdonnell rushed to Aligarh and at a meeting of the Trustees of the College he warned that if this public expression of views against Government policy continued, the College would lose all assistance from the Government. The agitation came to an end thereafter.

FOUNDATION OF ALL INDIA MUSLIM LEAGUE: 

While introducing the Indian Budget in the House of Commons in 1906, John Morley, Secretary of State referred to the extension of representative elements in the Legislative Council.  Immediately in August 1906, Mohsin-ul-Mulk wrote to Archibold, Principal of Aligarh College to inquire from the Viceroy as to whether he would like to receive a Muslim deputation for submission of a memorial.  Mohsin-ul-Mulk also wrote to Sir Ali Imam of Patna, Justice Shah Din of Lahore and Nawab Imad-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad to help him in drafting the memorial.  The deputation comprised thirty-five eminent Muslims including, His Highness The Aga Khan, the leader of the deputation. The memorial was submitted on 1 October, 1906.

The most important demands were for the nomination election of Muslim representatives to legislative council and municipalities through separate electoral colleges; employment of a due proportion of Muslims in Government services and Judiciary and establishment of a Muslim University. Viceroy Minto  agreed to  separate electorates but did not respond to the demand for a Muslim University and Civil and High Court appointments. After the deputation work was over, Nawab Mohsin ul-Mulk and Nawab Viqqar-ul-Mulk got busy with the formation of a political organization.  On 30 December, 1906, at an annual session of the All-India Muslim Educational Conference at Dacca an All India Muslim League was setup.  Poet Hali, paid his tribute to Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk at the next session of the Mohammadan Educational Conference held at Karachi in the following words: He was a benefactor of the people, a friend of the Muslim, He fell a martyr- but not before the battle had been won.

ROLE OF U.P. MUSLIMS: 

The Aligarh Movement, which is the central factor of Islamic renaissance in India, had two very important results. It was the first step towards the integration of Indian Islam. It was the Aligarh man who was the spearhead of the Muslim movement in every corner of India. In the second place, Aligarh elevated Urdu to the position of a national language for Indian Islam. Thus provided with a separate language and special ideology the Muslims were able, in due course, to claim to be a separate nation. From separate electorate (in 1909) to Pakistan was but an easy natural evolution, says Sardar K.M. Pannikar, an eminent historian. (Survey of Indian History 1947)

In this context, Professor Francis Robinson observes: UP. Muslims, on the other hand were at the heart of Muslim separatism. They mainly founded and with the exception of the Bombay-based Jinnah, mainly led the organization which represented the Muslim interest in Indian politics.  In 1906 large number of Muslims from the UP flocked to Dacca to found the All India Muslim League. Sayyid Ahmad Khan had founded in 1875, the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh which directed early Muslim political activity and nurtured many Muslim League politicians. He followed this with the established of the All-India Muslim Educational Conference in 1886, which helped him impress his political will on Indian Muslims.  

In this organization the secretaryship was the most powerful position; and between 1906 and 1910 it was held by Muslims in Aligarh and between 1910 and 1926 by Muslims in Lucknow.  After World War One, Muslims from the same province set up an association of Indian ulama and organized the Central Khilafat Committee.  Professor Robinson goes on to say: In the League's years of glory from 1940 to Partition, UP Muslims were at the heart of the organization, they headed the two most important posts after that of the President, and dominated its committees. Throughout the development of Muslim separatism in British India whenever the politics of All India Muslim Organizations were vigorous they were more the policies of UP Muslims than those of any other group of Indian Muslims.

BASIS FOR PAKISTAN: 

In a speech delivered by M. A. Jinnah at a lunch hosted by Zia-ud-din Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor Aligarh Muslim University on 8 March, 1944, he said: Pakistan was not the product of the conduct or misconduct of Hindus. It had always been there, only they were not conscious of it.  Hindus and Muslims though living in the same towns and villages had never been blended into a nation, they were always two identities. Pakistan started the moment the first non-Muslim was converted to Islam in India long before the Muslims established their rule.  As soon as a Hindu embraced Islam, he was an outcaste not only religiously but also socially, culturally and economically. As for the Muslim, it was a duty imposed on him by Islam not to merge his identity and individuality in any other society. Throughout the ages Hindus have remained Hindus and Muslims had remained Muslims and they had not merged their identities-This was the basis for Pakistan.

Sayyid Ahmad Khan had preached Hindu-Muslim unity from 1867 to 1884, until the implementation of Gladstonian `libral policies by Viceroy Ripon in India.  Sayyid Ahmad Khan opposed the Indian National Congress in 1887 when the election of a Moslem, Badr-al-din Taybji; as its President, appeared to him deterimental to the interest of the Muslims. In his anti-Congress speeches at Lucknow (1887) and Meerut (1888) he had declared that the withdrawal of the British would lead to chaos.

ROLE OF STUDENTS OF  AMU IN THE CREATION OF PAKISTAN:

We worked for Pakistan and played our part in making Allama Iqbal's dream a reality under the guidance of Quaid-e-Azam. This is how a woman member of the Muslim Students Federation, UP summed up the role of students in the creation of Pakistan. In October, 1939, the AMU Students Union passed a resolution condemning the fascist policies of the Congress Government in the Provinces. Again in October, 1941 the AMU Students Union passed a resolution to the effect: The best way to achieve India's freedom and to bring about lasting peace in the country is to strive for the establishment of Independent states as the regions of Hindus and Muslim majorities. The Student Union went on to declare that Aligarh men are determined to hasten the realization of this (Pakistan) ideal which according to the Union represents the universal faith of the Musalmans of India and it was the official creed of the Union. The Union is the centre to train the Muslim-youth to play their role worthily in the Muslim national movement.  Addressing the students on 31 August, 1941, Liaquat Ali Khan declared: We look to you for every kind of ammunition to win the battle of independence of the Muslim nation. In 1945 the Aligarh Magazine published Pakistan Number. 

In 1945 elections, students of the Union went out to Punjab, N.W.F.P., Sind, Bengal provinces to convass for the Muslim League. Thereafter, Muslim League Ulama a dominant political force in Punjab. The students mobilized support for Pakistan in the referendum held in 1947 in NWFP and Sylhet district of Assam. Kasim Razvi, the fanatic communal leader of Hyderabad State was an alumnus of the Aligarh University.

ROLE OF AMU'S TEACHERS IN THE CREATION OF PAKISTAN: 

Being dissatisfied with the working of the Provincial autonomy under the 1935 Act, AMU Muslim scholars suggested a number of alternatives to 1935 Act. The schemes were: of Dr. Iqbal; of Chaudhary Rahmat Ali;  and of Dr. Latif of Hyderabad. The Aligarh's scheme was that British India should be divided into three independent sovereign states: (a) a Muslim state of North-West India comprising Punjab, Sind, NWFP and Baluchistan to be known as Pakistan (b) a Muslim state of Bengal, Sylhet district of Assam and Purnea District of Bihar to be known as Muslim Fedration and; (c) the rest of British India was to be called Hindustan. Within Hindustan, Delhi and Malabar (Kerala) were to be  autonomous provinces and lastly Hyderabad including Berar and Carnatic was to be a sovereign Muslim state. In short, the Aligarh's scheme envisaged partition of British India into four states-three Muslim and one Hindu. After this, the Muslims in Hindustan were to be recognized as a separate nation. Little wonder, Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah had paid handsome compliments to the students of the AMU for their role in the campaign for Pakistan in these words: I have been following the wonderful work that the Aligarh boys have done.  You have proved what I said, that Aligarh is the arsenal of Muslim India. (Students' Role in the Pakistan Movement by Mukhtar Zaman, Karachi,1978)

Views of Sir Aga Khan

It was Sir Aga Khan who had led the Muslim delegation to Viceroy Minto in 1906 and asked for separate electorate for Muslims, reservation of jobs for Muslims and the establishment of a Muslim university. Later in his autobiography published in 1954 Sir Aga Khan observed the following about AMU: Often in a civilized history a university has supplied a springboard for a nation's intellectual and spiritual renaissance……Aligarh is no exception to this rule.  We may claim with pride that Aligarh was the product of our own efforts and of no outside benevolence;  and surely it may also be claimed that the independent, sovereign nation of Pakistan was born in the Muslim university of Aligarh.  

In regard to the demand for the above university the Collector of Aligarh, W.S. Marris wrote in his note dated 17 May 1911: Aligarh is destined to be the focus of all Muhammedan intelligence and activity in India. The Collector warned the government that the demand for the university began as a defensive move which is now acquiring an offensive character.

 

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