Analyzing the 1930, Allahabad Address, Allama Iqbal


It is important to understand here that as per today’s stats, India is home to two major language families, the Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian, both of which have hundreds of sub-categories, and thousands of ethnic groups reside in it. India is also home to all major religions including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and the Bahá’í faith. India has the world’s largest Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Zoroastrian, and Bahá’í populations, and has the third-largest Muslim population and the largest Muslim population for a non-Muslim majority country. If, for instance, the largest communities of Sikhs or Jains live in India, then there is no reason why they should not attain political or territorial rights, like any other people living on any other part of the planet would. Even so, at that time, 70 million Muslims meant the largest Muslim population of the world, that too a community far more culturally homogenized and subjectively united then even the Hindus, who were divided and subdivided into castes and gods of a thousand kinds. In such a case, the perpetual insistence of the Hindus upon joint electorates and a unitary form of government meant that they were not to tolerate a separate identity for the Muslims in the future and wanted a complete power over India; this showed in their political intrigues. Iqbal pointed out the divide within Indian communities saying:

Experience, however, shows that the various caste units and religious units in India have shown no inclination to sink their respective individualities in a larger whole… Perhaps we suspect each other’s intentions and inwardly aim at dominating each other…, outwardly simulating a large-hearted patriotism, but inwardly as narrow-minded as a caste or tribe… And as far as I have been able to read the Muslim mind, I have no hesitation in declaring that if the principle that the Indian Muslim is entitled to full and free development on the lines of his own culture and tradition in his own Indian home-lands is recognized as the basis of a permanent communal settlement, he will be ready to stake his all for the freedom of India.

Iqbal explained that ‘India is a continent of human groups belonging to different races, speaking different languages, and professing different religions’ and that ‘the problem of India is international and not national.’

Therefore he said, ‘the creation of autonomous States, based on the unity of language, race, history, religion and identity of economic interests, is the only possible way to secure a stable constitutional structure in India.

Referring to the proceedings of the Round Table Conference, he said, ‘Yet the Prime Minister of England apparently refuses to see that the problem of India is international and not national. He is reported to have said that “his government would find it difficult to submit to Parliament proposals for the maintenance of separate electorates, since joint electorates were much more in accordance with British democratic sentiments.” Obviously he does not see that the model of British democracy cannot be of any use in a land of many nations; and that a system of separate electorates is only a poor substitute for a territorial solution of the problem.’

Iqbal had no doubts upon the intentions of the British and the Hindu to keep their complete hold on power one way or the other; he kept analyzing their political maneuverings and warned the Muslims not to give up their legitimate rights at any cost. He said:

‘The pundits of India do not disturb the Central authority as it stands at present. All that they desire is that this authority should become fully responsible to the Central Legislature which they maintain intact and where their majority will become further reinforced on the nominated element ceasing to exist.’

‘The pundits of England, on the other hand, realising that democracy in the Centre tends to work contrary to their interests and is likely to absorb the whole power now in their hands…, have shifted the experience of democracy from the Centre to the provinces… yet their evaluation of this principle is determined by considerations wholly different to those which determine its value in the eyes of Muslim India.’

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Discussion2 Comments

  1. Take a note of Jinnah’s own words below, when he delivered his first major address to the country’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947

    “… you will find that in course of time (in Pakistan) 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”

    Jinnah was more progressive than what pakistan is today. He knew exactly where to draw a line between statehood and Islam.

    • @Luke:

      You’re right: Jinnah was more progressive than Pakistan is today. Its Muslims vs Islam. Islam will be perceived how Muslims will practice it and at present the practice is far from perfect.

      You’re wrong: in assuming that Islam holds back progress. We.1.e. all of us who care to comment on Islam, judge its followers and Muslims themselves need to understand Islam. Its essence lies in Haqooq-El-Ebaad where Muslims are required to respect the rights of all irrespective of religion or race. Once Muslims learn to do that they will begin to appreciate Islam.

      The society is in turmoil; in conflict.

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