Analyzing the 1930, Allahabad Address, Allama Iqbal


‘The Muslims demand federation because it is pre-eminently a solution of India’s most difficult problem, i.e. the communal problem.’

‘The Simon Report retains the present British dominance behind the thin veneer of an unreal federation, partly because the British are naturally unwilling to part with the power they have so long wielded and partly because it is possible for them, in the absence of an inter-communal understanding in India, to make out a plausible case for the retention of that power in their own hands.’

Iqbal who was the preacher of Khudi, the highest state of ego that places man face to face with his Creator, reminded the Muslims that Islam is an ever-living destiny that does not fail man, only man has to merge his life into this living force. He said:

To address this session of the All-India Muslim League you have selected a man who is not despaired of Islam as a living force for freeing the outlook of man from its geographical limitations, who believes that religion is a power of the utmost importance in the life of individuals as well as States, and finally who believes that Islam is itself Destiny and will not suffer a destiny.

And India is a perfect proof of how Islam is a living force. Living for centuries between Hindus, who are an aggregate of a diversity of innumerous ethnicities, dialects, tribes and cultures that have increasingly vied against each other to maintain their sub-identities, and whose basic beliefs can be so diverse that Hinduism has seldom ever been given a concise definition that could describe it as a religion at all; still, Islam has been able to give its convertees, living in such surroundings, the sameness of character and legality, and a subjective oneness that unites them beyond territory and race. He said:

We are 70 million, and far more homogeneous than any other people in India. Indeed the Muslims of India are the only Indian people who can fitly be described as a nation in the modern sense of the word. The Hindus, though ahead of us in almost all respects, have not yet been able to achieve the kind of homogeneity which is necessary for a nation, and which Islam has given you as a free gift. No doubt they are anxious to become a nation, but the process of becoming a nation is a kind of travail, and in the case of Hindu India involves a complete overhauling of her social structure.

Yet, this Muslim people of India faced, at that time, a dire test of whether they would be able to maintain their unique nationhood or would they fall down to the enormous pressure of the Hindu majority and the British imperial that were adamant to break their solidarity and to merge their fundamental identity within their relative identities. Iqbal warned:

Never in our history has Islam had to stand a greater trial than the one which confronts it today… To base a constitution on the concept of a homogeneous India, or to apply to India principles dictated by British democratic sentiments, is unwittingly to prepare her for a civil war.

Iqbal warned the Muslims of India that an arduous task belies in front of them; they must be vigilant, be able to assess the changing, intriguing plans of their opponents, never at any cost decline from their inherent rights as a people, and be prepared to go to any extent of a struggle to ensure it. He said:

Then will arrive the moment for independent and concerted political action by the Muslims of India. If you are at all serious about your ideals and aspirations, you must be ready for such an action. Our leading men have done a good deal of political thinking, and their thought has certainly made us, more or less, sensitive to the forces which are now shaping the destinies of peoples in India and outside India. But, I ask, has this thinking prepared us for the kind of action demanded by the situation which may arise in the near future?

…the present crisis in the history of India demands complete organisation and unity of will and purpose in the Muslim community, both in your own interest as a community, and in the interest of India as a whole.

He told his people that the destiny of the Indian Muslims will play its part in devising the map of the future of the Muslims of the whole of Asia; therefore, the Muslims should play their part today as an integral part of the Ummah, not considering themselves just a local people. He said:

And since 70 millions of Muslims in a single country constitute a far more valuable asset to Islam than all the countries of Muslim Asia put together, we must look at the Indian problem not only from the Muslim point of view, but also from the standpoint of the Indian Muslim as such. Our duty towards Asia and India cannot be loyally performed without an organised will fixed on a definite purpose. In your own interest, as a political entity among other political entities of India, such an equipment is an absolute necessity.’

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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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