The ideology of any nation reflects the ideals and aspirations of its people. It is said to be a system of beliefs, values, ideas, convictions, institutions, and goals which the people consider to be true, binding and practicable. According to Reo M. Christenson (Ideologies and Modern Politics), “An ideology emerges when people feel strongly that they are being mistreated under an existing order when their status is threatened by fundamental changes occurring in society and when the prevailing ideology no longer satisfies them…….”1
The ideology of Pakistan has its basis in the historical experiences of Muslims of India. It was articulated by Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah translated it into a political reality through the two-nation theory. In view of their experiences spanning over several centuries Muslims of India strongly felt the need for a separate nationhood. The two-nation theory was a reflection of these strong sentiments among Indian Muslims.
Jinnah strongly believed that Islam and Hinduism were not only two religions, but two social orders that produced two distinct cultures. Despite having lived together for more than thousand years, they continue to develop different cultures and traditions. Their eating habits, music, architecture and script, all were poles apart. There was no compatibility between the two.
Islam forms the basis of Pakistan in the sense that its raison d’etre was to enable Muslims of India to live freely in accordance with their religion, traditions and culture etc. In his struggle for the Muslims’ right, Jinnah first tried to find a solution through co-existence with Hindus and demanded some safeguards for the Muslims within the constitutional framework of united India. His efforts in this regard were very well recognized and earned him the title of the ‘Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. However, these failed to yield the requisite results as the Hindu-dominated Congress Party refused to accept Jinnah’s proposals for grant of constitutional safeguards to the Muslims. Left with no other option, Jinnah began the movement for a separate homeland for the Muslims which culminated in the creation of Pakistan on 14 August 1947.
The two-nation theory formed the basis of the Pakistan movement. Jinnah maintained that Muslims and Hindus were two separate nations by every definition; therefore, Muslims should be able to have their own separate homeland in the Muslim majority areas of India, in which Islam can be practiced as the dominant religion. In his address to the session of All India Muslim League in Lahore, on 22 March 1940, Jinnah explained the two-nation theory as follows:
“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 and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures. They neither inter-marry nor inter-dine 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 Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes, and 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 final destruction of any fabric that may be so built for the government of such a state.”
The two-nation theory appealed to the vast majority of Muslims in the sub-continent as it offered protection against the discriminatory attitude of the Hindu majority. In Jinnah, the Muslims saw a leader who could articulate their feelings in the best possible way and get them out of their predicament. Hindu leadership never reconciled with the theory and opposed it tooth and nail at every platform and even termed it as an elitist theory with no roots in the general public. While saying so, they utterly failed to understand that the two-nation theory formed the political slogan of Muslim League and received predominant support from the Muslims of India. Without this mass support Muslim League would never have emerged as the sole representative of Muslims of India.
The reason why the Muslims came forward in drove to fight for their rights can very well be attributed to Hindu revivalism and the indifference exhibited by the Congress to the legitimate rights of Muslims. This fact has been very aptly stated by Mr. Ian Copland, in his book, ‘The Unmaking of an Empire’, where he said that the Pakistan movement was not an élite-driven movement alone. He added that the Muslim masses participated into it massively because of the religious polarization which had been created by Hindu revivalism towards the last quarter of the 19th century, especially with the openly anti-Islamic Arya Samaj and the whole cow protection movement.
In fact, Congress’ hard line attitude played a vital role in shaping Muslims’ demand for a separate homeland. As stated above, Jinnah’s preference was to live side by side with the Hindus under certain constitutional safeguards, of course. This inflexibility exhibited by Congress towards all proposals put forward by the Muslim League left the Muslims with no option but to fight for a separate homeland. The Hindu leadership, blinded by arrogance in view of their preponderant majority in India, never took the Muslims demands seriously. Jawaharlal Nehru in one of his statements in December 1933 said that the attitude of the Muslim delegation during London round-table conference was based on “reactionaryism”. To this Allama Muhammad Iqbal posing a straight question to Pandit Jawaharlal asked, “how is India’s problem to be solved if the majority community will neither concede the minimum safeguards necessary for the protection of a minority of 80 million people, nor accept the award of a third party; but continue to talk of a kind of nationalism which works out only to its own benefit? This position can admit of only two alternatives. Either the Indian majority community will have to accept for itself, the permanent position of an agent of British imperialism in the East, or the country will have to be redistributed on a basis of religious, historical and cultural affinities so as to do away with the question of electorates and the communal problem in its present form.”
It was not only Muslim leaders who supported the two-nation theory. Even some Hindu leaders, such as, Mr. Savarkar also supported it though he differed on its implementation. He said, “….. although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution;…” In the struggle for political power between the two nations the rule of the game which Mr. Savarkar prescribes was to be one man one vote, be the man Hindu or Muslim. In his scheme, a Muslim was to have no advantage which a Hindu did not have. Minority was to be no justification for privilege and majority was to be no ground for penalty.2
This aspect very well illustrates the Hindu mindset. While acknowledging the existence of two nations in India, it was not willing to grant Muslims, their due rights and wanted them to be subjected to an unfriendly majority for all times to come. Such uncanny assertions further strengthened Muslims fears of living under a permanent majority in the so-called democratic India.
As stated above, India could never reconcile with the idea of an independent Pakistan. Indian leadership had from day one been opposing the raison d’etre of Pakistan and had indulged in all anti-Pakistan activities in whatever way possible. India’s greatest achievement in this regard was the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. Veritable evidences abound to prove India’s collusion in the whole episode. At that time Indra Gandhi the Prime Minister of India was reported to have said that the dismemberment of Pakistan had buried the two-nation theory once and for all in the Bay of Bengal. The statement reflected the true Hindu mindset and was nothing more than a wishful thinking.
First of all, the separation between the two wings i.e. East and West Pakistan had nothing to do with Islam. Nor was the two-nation theory the cause of it. Had it been so, East Pakistan would have merged with India. This never happened and East Pakistan preferred to remain an Independent State with a Muslim majority. The fact that Bangladesh maintained good relations with Pakistan also negates the Indian propaganda in this regard. Though there have been ups and downs in our political relations with Bangladesh, these are mostly personality-related.
Salman Sayyidin in his book ‘Recalling the Caliphate: Decolonization and World Order’ has stated, “1971 is not so much the failure of the two-nation theory and the advent of an united Islamic polity despite ethnic and cultural difference, but more so the defeat of “a Westphalian-style nation-state with its insistence on linguistic, cultural and ethnic homogeneity as necessary for high ‘sociopolitical cohesion’. The break-up of united Pakistan should be seen as another failure of this Westphalian-inspired Kemalist model of nation building, rather than an illustration of the inability of Muslim political identity to sustain a unified state structure.”3
Bangladeshi academics have rejected the notion that 1971 erased the legitimacy of the two-nation theory as well, like Akhand Akhtar Hossain, who thus notes that, after independence, “Bengali ethnicity soon lost influence as a marker of identity for the country’s majority population, their Muslim identity regaining prominence and differentiating them from the Hindus of West Bengal”,4
Late veteran Indian diplomat J. N. Dixit thought the same, stating that Bangla-deshis “wanted to emerge not only as an independent Bengali country, but as an independent Bengali Muslim country.”5
The two-nation theory has been criticized not only outside but also within Pakistan. Some say it is untenable, others call it anti-secular. Some even go to the extent of attributing all the ills, especially militancy, that Pakistan is faced with to this ideology. In doing so they make references to all those who had objected to the very idea of making religion the basis of Pakistan’s ideology. A lot of debate has been held within Pakistan on this subject and interestingly both proponents and opponents continue to prove their points by quoting Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The debate by and large remained inconclusive and caused nothing but confusion in the mind of the common man. Instead of going into the details of this debate I would like to invite the attention of all those who oppose the ideology to the conditions of Muslims in India. Are the Muslims in India in any way better than the Muslims in Pakistan? Are they able to practice their religion, culture and traditions freely? Do they have equal political and economic rights? Do they enjoy the safety of life and property? India claims that Muslims form 20% of its population. But do the Muslims get the same percentage of representation in the parliament, in bureaucracy, in army and in other sectors? The answer to all this is in negative.
Looking at what is happening in India at present and what had happened in the past, one can say with certainty that Jinnah had foreseen what his contemporaries could not. The demolition of Babri Mosque in India in Dec. 1992; massacre of thousands of Muslims in broad day light in Gujrat in 2002; lynching and killings of Muslims for consuming beef etc. lend credence to the two-nation theory. Since the advent of the incumbent Hindutva inspired BJP in India, life of Muslims especially and other minorities in general has become extremely difficult. With the renewed mandate in the recent elections, the Modi Govt. seems to be pursuing their anti-Muslim agenda with greater vigour. It is interesting to note that while Muslims are being lynched and even killed for consuming beef, many Hindus who deal in cows and its leather continue to flourish. Likewise, a considerable number of Hindus living outside India consume beef including their diplomats. Looking at the extreme nationalist and anti-Muslim ideology displayed during the recent elections, it would not be wrong to state that Jinnah’s Two-Nation theory has emerged as a winner with a land slide.
All those pseudo-intellectuals who criticize the ideology of Pakistan as anti-secular are spell-bound on the turn of events in India. They do not have the courage to criticize the way India has shred to pieces its so-called secularism. So much so that the champions of democracy and human rights have preferred to maintain an eerie silence in the face of all sorts of human rights violations in India – be it in mainland India or in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
In my humble view the critique against the ideology of Islam is based on sheer lack of understanding about Islam. They fail to understand that many acts committed in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam. Islam abhors militancy. There is no theocracy in Islam. Islam is not against democracy and modernity. It teaches equality and is against discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, colour and sex. It allows freedom of expression, speech, movement etc. To dispel fears about Islam and to assure the minorities of a level playing field in Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his speech on 11 August 1947 had said, that “You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” He added that with the passage of time “Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will 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”. This in my view represents the true Islamic spirit which the opponents of Pakistan’s ideology fail to comprehend.
The opponents of the ideology of Pakistan have overlooked the fact that the minorities in Pakistan by and large live peacefully in Pakistan. Despite massacres against Muslims in India no such act was committed against Hindus in Pakistan. Likewise, Christians and other minorities live peacefully and enjoy their constitutional rights. While there had been some incidents against some Christians those were isolated incidents and the culprits were duly punished. On the other hand, in India the personality who presided over the massacre in Gujrat was elected as their Prime Minister not once but twice. The international media has in the past projected some terrorist acts against Christians giving the impression that the minorities in Pakistan were not safe. They overlooked the fact that the same group had killed more Muslims than Christians. Despite efforts, the divisive tactics of anti-Pakistan elements failed to make an impact among the common man. People still live side by side and happily so. The situation though not ideal is much better than many developed countries where Islamophobia is on the rise. This in my view is the strength of the ideology based on Islamic principles which surpasses all other ideologies based on caste, creed, language, race, geography and colour.
1 Ideology of Pakistan is Islam by Arslan Sadiq dated 15 April 2018
2 Sajid Khakwani (29 May 2010), (Ummah or Statehood?)
3 Salman Sayyid, Recalling the Caliphate: Decolonisation and World Order, C. Hurst & Co. (2014), p. 126
4 Akhand Akhtar Hossain, “Islamic Resurgence in Bangladesh’s Culture and Politics: Origins, Dynamics and Implications” in Journal of Islamic Studies, Volume 23, Issue 2, May 2012, Pages 165-198
5 J. N. Dixit, India-Pakistan in War and Peace, Routledge (2003), p. 225