Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Bio

He was a great scholar, unique orator, a great literary figure and a journalist. He always supported Congress but his journalist is quite peculiar. His manner of thinking was different. He made the same efforts to safeguard the rights of the Muslims and save Islam as done by other people.

At that time Muslims were divided into two group: One group demanded the rights of the Muslims within India and the other group demanded a separate homeland.

Abul Kalam was born in Calcutta. He began to write articles in newspapers at the age of 10. His articles were published in “The Paisa Akhbar” and “The Akhbar-i-Aam”. He issued a periodical “Nairang-i-Alam” at an early age. In addition to this he was the editor of several periodicals. His mother tongue was Arabic. He began to translate several Arabic periodicals in the beginning. Maulana believed, “a journalist promotes goodness and opposes evil”. He should be free from every pressure. In other words, he believed that journalism was a means for the fulfillment of high deals. He acted upon these principles in his newspaper. His journalism called missionary Journalism.

His writings do not have the ardor of Zafar Ali Khan. He takes after the manner of Sir Syed. His writings have their own effect. He always talked from a high place. He was like a calm and quiet river which has depth but no waves.

Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) – The Prophet of Islam

Before the advent of Islam, Arabia was inhabited by warring tribes, whose inter-tribal feuds lasted for generations, and at times culminated in bloody conflicts in which hundreds of precious lives were lost. Idolatry was prevalent among the Arabs and the sacred house of God built by Prophet Abraham housed hundreds of deities of demigods which were worshipped by the Arabs. They suffered from false sense of prestige and killed their female issues remorselessly. The Arabian society had degenerated to its lowest depths-feudalism was at its zenith and the poor were ruthlessly oppressed and exploited. Justice was denied to the weak and the maxim “might is right” was at no other time more applicable.

In such a gloomy atmosphere which had encompassed pre-Islamic Arabia, there glittered a light in the birth of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Never before or after any individual placed in such adverse circumstances had so completely purged his society of the multifarious deep-seated evils, giving it a new and healthier shape, and had so much influenced the course of contemporary and future history. Muhammad’s (PBUH) practical teachings had transformed a savage race into a civilized people who brought about the most wonderful revolution in the history of mankind. He was the benefactor of humanity and being the last and greatest of all the prophets, his teachings were universal and for all times to come.

Born in Makkah in 571 A.C., Muhammad (PBUH) sprang from Arabia’s noblest family, Banu Hashim of Quraish, to whom had been entrusted the custodianship of Kaaba, built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ismail. Muhammad’s (PBUH) father, Abdullah, the youngest son of his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, the Custodian of Kaaba, had died before his son was born, His mother, Amina, too, died, six years later.

Young Muhammad (PBUH) was afterward brought up by his grandfather Abdul Muttalib and on his death, two years later, by his uncle Abu Talib, the father of famous Ali, the lion-hearted.

Islam, the religion sponsored by Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through the injunctions of the sacred book of God, Holy Quran, evolved a complete code of life, and the great Prophet translated its precepts into practice which made a lasting salutary effect on his countrymen. He stood like a rock against the surging waves of opposition and ultimately won the field. His forbearance, magnanimity, patience, and the city for organization stand unparalleled in the annals of mankind.

Muhammad (PBUH) proclaimed the sovereignty of God and liberated mankind from the thraldom of unholy associations with His Divinity. He upheld the dignity of man and practised the high ideals of equality, fraternity and justice he preached.

He advocated the unity of God and thereby the unity and equality of mankind. He denounced the differences of colour and race and was the “Prophet in human colour and consequently a true specimen of Islamic unity and brotherhood”.

He was a great promoter of education and advocated the “pursuit of learning even unto distant China”. He inculcated a love for learning among the illiterate Arabs which paved the way for their outstanding intellectual achievements, ultimately making them pioneers in the domains of science and arts during the Mediaeval times.

As a peace maker he set an example for the world to follow. The peace terms dictated by him on the conquest of Makkah stand as a landmark in the annals of treaties made among various nations of the world from time immemorial. No conqueror has ever offered more generous terms to the conquered, who were his sworn enemies and who harassed and maligned him throughout his life. Even his greatest living enemy, Abu Sufian, the leader of the nefarious Quraish group, was not touched. So much so, when his ten thousand crack troops were gasping to avenge the misdeeds of the Quraish of Makkah, the erstwhile enemies of Islam, the Prophet due to his boundless magnanimity and spirit of tolerance, gave orders not to strike anyone and declared that anyone who would take refuge in the house of Abu Sufian would be safe.

As an administrator, the Prophet accomplished what looked like an impossible task and overcame situations which would have defied the ablest administrators of the world.

The mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was to emancipate mankind from the shackles of slavery-mental or physical. He translated his noble ideas into practice by establishing a State in Medina based on equality, liberty, fraternity and justice.

The Prophet of Istam fulfilled during his lifetime the almost impossible task of knitting together the warring tribes of Arabia, who forming into an irresistible force, heralded the greatest revolution in the annals of mankind -both material and mental.

The four obligatory duties prescribed by Islam, namely Prayer, Fasting, Zakat and Haj, enabled the Prophet to realise the moral as well as material well-being of his follower.

Prayers-five times a day-in which the ruler and the ruled stood shoulder to shoulder, taught them the inestimable advantages of fraternity, and instilled in their hearts the spirit of equality of man.

Fasting-infused in them the spirit of sacrifice and abstenation from worldly pleasures. It elevated their moral standard.

Zakat-enabled the adherents of the new faith to evolve an egalitarian economy, as it provided a check on the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. This added immensely to the equitable distribution of wealth and to the material well-being of the poorer classes of the community.

Haj-Annual pilgrimage to Makkah-enabled the Muslims all over the world to meet one another and exchange views on problems facing the world of Islam.

The Prophet of Islam, being a great leader of men, both in war and peace, proved his mettle during the defensive wars fought against his enemies, including Badr, Ohad, Khandak and Khyber. His organising capacity and the spirit which he had inculcated among his warriors, won the field for him despite enemy’s superiority in men and arms.

Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) possessed innumerable qualities of head and heart. He was a very kind-hearted man, who never abused or cursed anybody. Whenever such occasion arose and his Companions implored him to curse his torturers, he prayed for the latter’s reformation. Once, while praying in Kaaba, when he prostrated, one of his opponents placed the heavy skin of a camel on his back. He remained in this condition for a pretty long time till he was rescued by some of his Companions. Even then he did not curse the miscreant. On another occasion, when he had gone to Taif, the hostile elements instigated the hooligans and children to shower stones on him and his Companions. He was badly injured and his Companions requested him to curse the children. But, kind-hearted as he was, he said instead: “O God, forgive these ignorant ones and show them the right path”. Once an evil-minded Jew became his guest. He entertained him to his fill and gave him his bedding to sleep, but, out of spite, the Jew discharged feces on the bedding and slipped away, leaving his sword behind. The Prophet, finding his guest gone, was sorry because he had left his sword behind, and began to wash the bedding with his own hands. Meanwhile, the Jew returned to fetch his sword and observed the Prophet washing the dirtied bedding. The Prophet did not utter even a word of complaint. Instead he said: “Dear friend, you had left behind your sword. Here it is”. Struck by the unusual courtesy and angelic character of Muhammad (PBUH), the Jew instantaneously embraced Islam.

The teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam created a society based on principles of equality and justice, thus demolishing all barriers tatween one man and the other. He was the greatest benefactor of mankind who liberated them from the shackles of race and colour bars. This spirit of equality taught by the Prophet later led to the birth of several slave ruling dynasties in Muslim countries.

The Prophet of Islam was totally impartial in his dealings with his relations and strangers. He refused a maid servant even to his dearest daughter, Hazrat Fatima, who was overworked and badly needed such a help. He, no doubt, advised his followers to help their relations, neighbours and needy persons according to their means. “No religion of the world prior to Islam”, says Ameer Ali, “had consecrated charity, the support of the widow, the orphans and the helpless poor, by enrolling its principles among the positive enactments of the system”. Mercy and kindness were the virtues mostly emphasised by Muhammad (PBUH) who, according to a Hadith in Bukhari, once said: “The man who plants a tree is blessed when people and birds are benefited by its fruit. A man was sent to Paradise, simply because he saved a thirsty dog from death by offering him water and the other was condemned because he tied and starved a cat to death”. (Bukhari).

The Holy Prophet defined and prescribed the rights of individuals as set forth in the Holy Quran. He said: “It is the part of faith that you should like for your brother what you like for yourself” (Bukhari). He enjoined upon the faithful to show the greatest respect for one’s mother after God when he said : “Paradise lies under the feet of your mother.” (Bukhari). For other relations he said: “Anyone who is not kind to his youngsters and obedient to his elders is not from us” (Tirmizi). As regards Muslims as a whole, he proclaimed: “The Muslims are a single hand like a compact wall whose bricks support each other” (Muslim).

Even during his early life, when Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) had not yet been bestowed the mantle of Prophethood, he was known for his piety, truthfulness and trustworthiness. He was known by the title of “Amin” (Trustworthy) among the Makkahans, who kept their valuables with him. When he migrated to Medina, he left behind his cousin Hazrat Ali, to return to their owners the articles kept with him as a trust. Even his sworn enemies acknowledged his truthfulness. Once he climbed the hill of Safa and addressed the Quraish, asking them. “If I tell you that there is a huge army hidden behind this hill ready to attack you, will you believe me?” All shouted with one voice: “Surely, because you have never spoken a lie.” Such was the high reputation of the Prophet of Islam, even before God conferred Prophethood on him.

The generosity of the Prophet of Islam knew no bounds. Indeed, it was one of the greatest characteristics of the House of Muhammad (PBUH) that no supplicant was ever refused, and this principle was rigidly followed not only by Hazrat Fatima and her sons but even by their grand children. Once while he was grazing his herd of goats he gave the entire herd to a person who asked for it. The supplicant was surprised by his extraordinary generosity. During the last days of the Holy Prophet of Islam, the Muslims had become very prosperous. Nevertheless, he lived abstemiously contending himself with frugal diet and at times going without food.

He always resisted the temptation of power and vengeance. His was the sublimest morality of returning good for evil: to the weak and undefended he was a helper; to the defeated he showed unusual mercy. Never proud or haughty, known for his strict adherence to justice, one who undertook his share of common labour, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shunned no hardship and led the life of a common man.

Delivering his last address to the Muslims from Mount Arafat, the Prophet said:

“O, People! Listen to my words as I may not be with you another year in this place. Be humane and just among yourselves. The life and the property of one are sacred and inviolable to the other. Render faithfully everyone his due, as you will appear before God and He will demand an account of your actions. Treat women well; they are your help-mates and can do nothing by themselves. You have taken them from God on trust. O People! Listen to my words and fix them in your memory. I have given you everything; I have left to you a law which you should preserve and be firmly attached to a law clear and positive: the Book of God and the Sunnah” (i.e., Practice of the Prophet):

This greatest benefactor of mankind and the last Apostle of God passed away from this world on 12th Rabiul Awwal 11 A.H., 632 AC and was buried in the room occupied of his wife, Aisha Siddiqa. He had accomplished his task.

Muhammad (PBUH) led an exemplary life. Even before he was assigned his mission, he spent his time in meditation, devotion, contemplation, fasting and service to his fellow beings. His virtuous life earned for him the title of ‘Amin’ (Trustworthy). Later the Revelation commanded him to preach the faith to the people.

He taught them the unity of God and the four obligatory duties enjoined by Islam-namely Prayer, Zakat, Fasting and Haj (Annual Pilgrimage to Makkah). He himslef practiced what he preached and set an example for others. He stood sometimes so long in prayers during the night that his feet got swollen. He spent the major part of night in prayers and meditation. He prayed not only for himself but for the entire creation.

His prayers and devotion to God enabled him to check such worldly desires and impulses which could distract him from the supreme goal. Islam enjoins upon its followers to observe one month’s fast in a year. This has proved to be a very effective source of controlling one’s worldly desires. The Holy Prophet of Islam fasted for more than three months during a year, besides one month’s obligatory fast.

His was a comprehensive life. He went through all sorts of trials and tribulations for establishing the kingdom of God on earth. Faithfully and sincerely he performed his duties to God and His creatures, to wife and children, to relations and neighbours, to friends and foes, to the needy and disabled, to allies and aliens-in fact to all human beings. An account of his comprehensive life preserved in Traditions (Hadith) has served as a beacon light not only for his followers but to entire humanity during the last fourteen centuries or more. His exemplary life covering different spheres of human activity continues to inspire and guide human beings for the last more than 1,400 years.

Such were the exceptional qualities of head and heart possessed by the great Prophet of Islam whose noble teachings produced a society of virtuous people who laid the foundation of true democracy in the world in which there was no distinction between the ruler and the ruled.

Writing in the Legacy of Islam, David De Santillana says: “The Prophet uttered some charming words with regard to neighbourly relations: “Be kind to your neighbour. Draw the veil over him. Avoid injury. Look upon him with an eye of kindness, if you see him doing evil forgive him. If you see him doing good to you, proclaim your thankfulness”.

The celebrated British writer, George Bernard Shaw, in his letter to Mr. Najmi Saqib of Cyprus acknowledges that Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) teachings on the status of women, exposure of female children and kindness to animals, were “far ahead of Western Christian thought, even of modern thought”.

The great Western historian, Edward Gibbon observes: “The good sense of Muhammad (PBUH) despised the pomp of royalty; the Apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of the family; he kindled the fire, swept the floor, milked the cows and mended with his own hands shoes and his woollen garments. Disdaining the penance and merit of a hermit he observed without effort and vanity, the abstemious diet of an Arab and a soldier. On solemn occasions he feted his Companions with hospitable plenty; but in his domestic life, many weeks would elapse without a fire being kindled in the hearth of the Prophet”.

“Muhammad (PBUH) was a man of truth and fidelity”, says Thomas Carlyle, “true in what he said, in what he spoke, in what he thought; he always theant something; a man rather taciturn in speech, silent when there was nothing to be said but pertinent, wise, sincere when he did speak, always throwing light on the matter”.

“His intellectual qualities, “says Washington Irving, “were undoubtedly of an extraordinary kind. He had a quick apprehension, a retentive memory, a vivid imagination and an inventive genius. His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vainglory as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So, far from affecting a regal state, he was displeased if on entering a room any unusual testimonial of respect was shown to him. If he aimed at universal domination it was the dominion of the faith: as to the temporal rule which grew up in his hands, he used it without ostentation, so he took no step to perpetuate it in his family.’

In his Histoire de la Turqui, Lamertine observes: “Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of national dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of 20 terrestrial Empires, that is Muhammad (PBUH). As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?”

“It is impossible,” says Mrs. Annie Besant, “for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia who knows how he taught and how he lived to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to you, yet I re-read them as a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for the mighty Arabian leader.”

The famous English writer and literary critic Dr. Johnson says: “His purely historical character, his simple humanity, claiming to be a man among men, his intense realism, avoiding all mystical remoteness; the thoroughly democratic and universal form under which his idea of the divine monarchy led him to conceive the relations of men, the force of his ethical appeal all affiliate Muhammad (PBUH) with the modern world”.

The celebrated English writer Robert Briffault pays rich tributes to the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam, when he says: “The ideas of freedom for all human beings, of human brotherhood, of the equality of all men before the law of democratic government, by consultation and universal suffrage, the ideas that inspired the French Revolution and the Declaration of Rights, that guided the framing of the American Constitution and inflamed the struggle for independence in the Latin-American countries were not inventions of the West. They find their ultimate inspiration and source in the Holy Quran. They are the quintessence of what the intelligentsia of medieval Europe acquired from Islam over a period of centuries through the various societies that developed in Europe in the wake of the Crusades in imitation of the brotherhood associations of Islam. It is highly probable that but for the Arabs modern European civilization would never have arisen at all, it is absolutely certain that but for them it would never have assumed that character which has enabled it to transcend all previous phases of evolution.”

Imam Husain (RA) – Short Biography

No event in the history of mankind has, perhaps, stirred human sentiments more deeply than the tragedy of Karbala. The martyrdom of Imam Husain, grandson of the Prophet of Islam at Karbala, is being celebrated for the last 14 centuries with tears and wails throughout the world of Islam. The sacrifice of the pious Imam for the cause of truth and righteousness was so colossal and the tragedy which resulted from it was so poignant that it continues to serve as a beacon light to all fighters for freedom and truth. This has inspired not only Muslim but also non-Muslim writers, including Shelley, Chakbast, Sarshar and Nasim.

Husain was born in the 4th A.H. in Medina. His mother, Fatima, was the favourite daughter of the Prophet of Islam and his father, Hazrat Ali, was one of the most talented and outstanding personalities of early Islam. Brought up by this ideal couple under the fostering care of the Prophet, Husain soon distinguished himself as a promising scholar, warrior and saint. The ideal training which he received from his parents and maternal grandfather made him as one of the noblest sons of Islam. Even in his early teens, he was noted for his piety and nobility, chivalry and scholarship.

The two brothers, Imam Hasan and Husain, continued to flourish during the time of the first four Caliphs. They commanded great respect of all classes of Muslims for their sterling traits. They were shown great consideration even by the successive Caliphs. It was during the Caliphate of their father, Ali, that trouble arose when Ameer Muawiya revolted against the Central authority of Islam which led to the division of Muslim Caliphate into two-one led by Hazrat Ali and the other by Ameer Muawiya. The martyrdom of Hazrat Ali left the field open for Ameer Muawiya. Imam Hasan, who succeeded his father compromised with and abdicated in favour of Ameer Muawiya in the larger interests of Islam. He was soon poisoned to death.

Muawiya dealt the greatest blow to the democratic spirit of Islam during the closing years of his reign when, on the advice of Mughira, the Governor of Basra, he nominated his son Yazid as his successor. The democratic spirit of Islamic Caliphate degenerated into monarchy. It was also a breach of contract with Imam Husain. He obtained the oath of fealty to Yazid through questionable means. He himself visited Medina for the purpose and was successful in his efforts to some extent. But the four notable personalities of Islam who took exception to his un-Islamic practice were Husain, the son of Ali, Abdulla, the son of Umar, Abdur Rahman, the son of Abu Bakr and Abdulla, the son of Zubair. “Two men threw into confusion the affairs of the Muslims”, says Imam Hasan of Basra, “Amr, the son of Aas, when he suggested to Muawiya the lifting of the Koran on the lances and Mughira, who advised Muawiya to take the covenant of allegiance for Yazid. Were it not for that, there would have been a Council of Election till the day of resurrection, for those who succeeded Muawiya followed his example in taking the covenant for their sons” (History of Saracens).

Yazid, the most cursed personality in the annals of Islam, ascended the throne of Damascus in April 683 A.C. He was a tyrant who revelled in vicious pleasures of life. He hated and took delight in persecuting Muslim divines. He tried to obtain the allegiance of the four notable Muslims including Imam Husain through intrigue and force. But, Husain, who had inherited the virtuous and chivalrous disposition of his father, Ali, was not a man to be won over by force or favour. He remained adamant and refused to acknowledge such a vicious and dissolute person, as the Caliph, supposed to be the spiritual as well as political Head of the world of Islam.

Immediately after his accession, Yazid ordered Waleed ibn Utaba, the Governor of Medina, to force Imam Husain for the oath of fealty to him. Meanwhile, Husain received messages from the citizens of Kufa imploring him to free them the tyrannical Omayyad rule. He received hundreds of such letters from the residents of Kufa offering him their allegiance. The kind hearted virtuous Husain considered it his duty to respond to the call of the oppressed. He sent his cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel as his emissary to Kufa. Thousands of Kufis rushed to swear fidelity to Husain on Muslim’s hands. The reports sent by Muslim from Kufa were highly heartening. He invited Husain to come to Kufa.

But the Kufis were soon won over through force and favour and turned their backs on Muslim, the emissary of Husain. He met a pitiable death. In the meantime, Imam Husain, along with his family members, relations and companions left for Kufa. When he approached the borders of Iraq, he was surprised at the absence of the promised Kufi soldiers. A few stages from his destination he learned the tragic end of his emissary. Eager, fierce and impetuous, the Kufis were utterly wanting in perseverance and steadfastness. “They knew not their minds from day to day. One moment, ardent as fire for some cause or person, the next day they were as cold as ice and as indifferent as the dead.” He was confronted with a strong detachment of Omayyad army under the command of Hur, who, under the orders of Ubaidullah ibn Zayad, forced Husain and his party to march towards Karbala, a place about 25 miles north-east of Kufa. Here, close to the bank of the Euphrates, Husain encamped along with his companions. The circle of steel formed by the Umayyad soldiers closed in around him. The Umayyad Governor, Ubaidullah ibn Zayad wished to persuade or force Husain to surrender. He cut off all access to the Euphrates, hoping to reduce him to thirst. But Husain, the son of Ali was made of a different metal. He remained obdurate and firm in his resolve not to acknowledge a vicious tyrant as the Caliph of Islam.

This small band of 72 souls which included respectable ladies, men and children of the House of Fatima, encamped on the western bank of the Euphrates at Karbala surrounded by a powerful Umayyad army of 4,000 soldiers commanded by Amr bin Saad. A showdown seemed imminent as Husain was determined to shed the last drop of his blood for the sake of truth and righteousness and Ubaidullah was also bent upon preventing the flower of Muslim nobility escaping from his hands. Diabolical forces had arrayed themselves against the few members of the Prophet’s house-hold. Husain, therefore, allowed his companions to leave him and go to places of safety. But who could bear to leave the grandson of the Prophet in the lurch!

Now started a period of trials and tribulations for the descendants of Muhammad (PBUH). For days, the vicious army of Ibn Saad surrounded their tents but dared not come within reach of Husain’s sword. They immediately cut off their water-supply with a view to reducing them to hunger and thirst, thus forcing them to surrender. For four days, commencing from the 7th to the 10th Muharram not a drop of water entered the mouth of Imam Husain and his companions who were dying of thirst in the grilling heat of the Arabian desert, without their fortitude and perseverance for a noble cause being impaired in the least. Faced with this dire catastrophe which would have made the stoutest heart shudder and, strongest feet stagger, Husain and his companions did not wince at all. The restraint and patience and the power of endurance exhibited by this heroic band of Karbala were indeed superhuman. These noble qualities of theirs stand unrivalled.

At last the fateful hour arrived. This was on the 10th of Muharram, a memorable day in the history of Islam. One of the enemy’s chief named Hur, horrified at the miserable plight of the grand children of the Prophet, deserted along with thirty followers to meet the inevitable death. None could dare face the Fatimides in single combats. But the enemy archers picked them off from a safe distance. One by one the defenders fell—friends, cousins, nephews and sons-until there remained the grandson of the Prophet and his infant son, Asghar. He was crying with thirst. Carrying him in his arms he drew near the enemy positions and delivered a memorable sermon. But, instead of giving water to the crying child, they transfixed him with a dart. Husain brought the dead child smeared with blood and placed him in the lap of his mother.

He knew that the end was near. During his last moments Husain demonstrated the highest spiritual and moral greatness by praying for the very persons who had killed his infant child and other family members. Coming out of the tent, he made a desperate charge. The enemy soldiers fell back as they could not stand up against fierce attack of Husain, the son of the “Lion of God”. But he was too much exhausted due to loss of blood and excessive thirst. The valiant Imam got down from his horse and offered his last prayers to his Creator. As he prostrated, the murderous crew rushed upon him and Saran ibn Uns struck the fatal blow. “They cut off his head, ruthlessly trampled on his body, and with savage ferocity subjected it to every ignominy”. His tents were pillaged. His head was carried to the inhuman Obaidullah, who struck his lips with a cane. “Alas”! exclaimed an aged Muslim, “On these lips have I seen the lips of the Apostle of God”. “In a distant age and climate”, says Gibbon, “the tragic scene of the death of Husain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.”

Thus, fell on the 10th Muharram 61 A.H., one of the noblest personalities of Islam and along with him perished the members of the House of Fatima, the flower of Muslim nobility, piety and chivalry. The only male survivor was sickly Zainul Abedin, son of Husain who escaped general massacre at the intervention of Husain’s sister, Zainub.

The female members of Husain’s family were despatched to Damascus along with Zainul Abedin. Their pitiable condition evoked sympathy even from alien quarters and Yazid, fearing an outburst in his capital in favour of the oppressed and persecuted family, hurriedly sent them back to Medina.

The massacre of the Prophet’s family at Karbala sent a wave of horror and indignation throughout the world of Islam. Medina rose in revolt against the Umayyad Caliph. Abdullah ibn Zubair installed himself as the Caliph in Makkah. It gave birth to a new movement in Persia which ultimately brought about the doom of Omayyad rule and paved the way for the establishment of the Abbasside Caliphate.

The martyrdom of Husain at Karbala provided the moral victory of virtue over vice. It was a triumph of good over evil. It continues to serve as a beacon light for all strugglers for truth and righteousness. It leaves behind the message that it is glorious to die for a just and noble cause. It also establishes the moral victory of right over might. It revived the virtues of Islam, which were slowly being enveloped by evil. Maulana Muhammad Ali, the celebrated Muslim patriot, has rightly observed:

“Katl-e-Husain asl main marg-e-yazid hai Islam zinda hota hai her Karbala ke bad.”

“The martyrdom of Husain actually means the death of Yazid, as every such Karbala leads to the revival of Islam.”

How truthfully says a Persian poet:

“They initiated a noble example of tossing in dust and blood May God bless these well-intentioned lovers (of His).”

Abuzar Ghaffari – Short Biography

Islamic economy is, to a great extent, based on egalitarian principles which aim at maintaining the equality of man through equitable distribution of wealth, thus eliminating the disparity between the rich and the poor. Islam has struck at the root of the principle of making the rich richer and the poor poorer, which has been followed in the capitalist and imperialist states since times immemorial. It has prevented the exploitation of the poor at the hands of the rich.

Islam has evolved its economic principles on such lines as to minimise these disparities and eliminate distinctions in the distribution of human fortunes. The wealthy people are to be heavily taxed through Zakat in order to help the poor and this taxation forms one of the cardinal principles of Islam which no true Muslim can violate. Its denunciation of “interest” and emphasis on the annual payment of Zakat-a religious obligatory tax levied on capital income forming one of the fundamentals of Islam, is an effective step towards nonaccumulation of wealth. The Holy Quran, while enumerating the qualities of a Momin (true Muslim) states that he is one who distributes his wealth for Allah, among his needy brethren. The Prophet of Islam has observed that if the Muslims would faithfully pay their Zakat, a time would come when there would be no needy person left to receive the same.

Islam in its early days produced many zealous exponents of the egali. tarian principles of Islam. They sacrificed their all for the sake of God. Instances of unparalleled generosity and benevolence are two numerous to be adduced from the life of the Companions of the Prophet. But the most vocal and fearless exponent of non-accumulation and wider distribution of private wealth was Hazrat Abuzar Ghaffari, a highly respected and trusted Companion of the Prophet.

Born in a tribe of brigands, named Ghaffar, residing near the caravan route leading from Makkah to Syria, Jundab, later known as Abuzar, soon rose to be a great leader of marauders and a terror for the surrounding country.

But Jundab possessed a live conscience and a moving heart. The ravages caused by his terrible raids and the miseries of his victims provided a turning point in his career. Introspection led to remorse, which not only made him abandon the vicious life but also dissuade others from it. This created a furor in the tribe and an unwholesome atmosphere for him which obliged him to leave the place and take shelter elsewhere.

He had now developed an extreme revulsion for his past immoral life of lust and plunder. This turning point in the life of Abuzar is of great significance as it gave the world of Islam one of its most sincere and revolutionary figures.

He, along with his mother and brother Anees, migrated to Upper Najd, where one of his maternal uncles resided. This was the first migration of Abuzar in search of truth and righteousness. Here, too, he could not stay for long. His revolutionary ideas had antagonised his tribesmen who complained to his maternal uncle. In a world of lust and vice, he seemed to be a strange figure. He left his maternal uncle’s house and took refuge in a village near Makkah.

Abuzar now yearned for something else. He was in search of truth. Even before embracing Islam, he was against idol worship and considered God as one and supreme. Once he said :

“I used to say my prayers three years before I had the honour of beholding the Holy Prophet of Islam”

His brother, Anees who had gone to Makkah brought him the news of the dawn of a new horizon–Islam. It was the time when the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam had created a stir in Makkah and had sent a wave of resentment throughout Arabia. Abuzar was naturally drawn towards the Messenger of God and longed to see him. He arrived in Makkah, occasionally visited Kaaba and for more than a month closely studied the conduct and teachings of the Holy Prophet in the hostile environments of Makkah.

The Kaaba which, in those days, was packed with idols and was frequently visited by idol worshipers of Quraish was a popular meeting place. The Prophet of Islam, too came to offer his prayers there. Abuzar at last had a chance of meeting him. This provided him an opportunity of fulfilling his heart’s desire. There and then he embraced Islam and became one of its most zealous and dauntless champions.

Now started his period of trials and tribulations. He openly offered prayer and preached the new faith in Kaaba. One day, the Quraish idolators fell upon him and had he not been rescued by Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet, who reminded the assailants that their victim was an important member of the Ghaffar clan, who happened to inhabit the area encompassing their trade route to Syria. As such, the members of the clan were in a position to put a stop to their commerce with that country. This argument cooled down their fury for the time being.

Thenceforward, Abuzar dedicated himself to the service of Islam and its founder. He soon earned an enviable and venerable place among the Companions of the Prophet and came to be recognised as one of his very close and trusted Companions.

He was deputed by the Prophet to preach Islam in his own tribe. He went to his own land and enthusiastically preached the new faith and met with tremendous success. Not only his mother and brother Anees, but almost the entire clan of marauders and brigands also embraced Islam. He was one of the foremost and rather the first missionary of Islam. Crowned with exceptional success in his difficult mission, he returned to Makkah to be all the more honoured by the Prophet and his Companions.

He was held in high esteem by the Prophet. When he later left Medina to participate in the “Battle of Rags”, Abuzar was appointed as the Imam and Administrator of Medina. On his death bed, the Prophet sent for Abuzar and embraced him, declaring:

“Abuzar would be the same all through his life. He would not change even after my death”.

The words of the Prophet proved true. Abuzar passed an utterly simple and pious life, abhorring pomp and show and denouncing the capitalists and their wealth throughout his life, specially in the time of the Third Caliph of Islam, when the members of Quraish were rolling in wealth.

Abuzar was a staunch champion of the egalitarian principles of Islam. His adherence to and interpretation of “Aya-i-Kanz” (verse on concentration of wealth) raised a great controversy during the time of Hazrat Usman, the Third Caliph. This “Aya” in “Sura-i-Tauba” of the Holy Quran runs as follow:

“Those who accumulate fondly gold and silver and do not spend in the path of Allah, tell them dire perdition will be their lot. On that day, their foreheads, sides and backs will be branded with the very gold and silver, made red-hot and it will be said:

“This is what you had accumulated for your benefit. Now taste what you had accumulated”.

Deadly opposed to the idea of accumulating wealth he considered it against the spirit of Islam. He could not reconcile himself with the growing capitalism among the Muslims in Syria governed by Muawiya. In his opinion, it was obligatory on all true Muslims to distribute their surplus wealth among their needy brethren. In substantiation he cited the following incident in the life of the Prophet:

“One day as the Holy Prophet was going for a walk along with Abuzar, the mountain of Ohad came in view, he said to Abuzar : “If I have gold equal to the weight of the yonder mountain, I would never care to look at it and have it with me on the third day except that which will be required to pay off my debts. The rest I would distribute among the slaves of Allah”.

He lived up to his convictions and practised what he preached. In his attitude towards capitalism he was so uncompromising that he did not care for the highest dignitaries. Hazrat Abu Hurairah, a very renowned Companion of the Prophet, was appointed the Governor of Bahrain. He came to see Abuzar who refused to see him at first. But, on enquiry, as to why he was so annoyed with him, Abuzar replied :

“You have been appointed Governor of Bahrain”.
“Yes”, was the reply.
“Then you must have built a palatial house and purchased a big estate there”, added Abuzar.
“Nothing of this sort”, replied Abu Hurairah.
“Then you are my brother”, retorted Abuzar and instantly embraced him.

His preachings were never challenged during the time of the first two Caliphs. He passed a peaceful life, and was respected by all. But the trouble arose during the time of the Third Caliph.

Abuzar had migrated to Syria, where he found Governor Muawiya living in luxury and consolidating his authority with the support of a privileged class which had amassed enormous fortunes. Abuzar’s egalitarian preachings awakened the masses against this privileged class. He became a problem for the local Government. When Muawiya built his green palace, Al-Khizra, Abuzar questioned him:

“If you have built this palace out of the state funds, you are guilty of misappropriation; if out of your personal income, you are guilty of ‘israf’ (extravagance).” Muawiya was stunned and could give no reply.

Muawiya tried his best to dissuade Abuzar from his egalitarian preachings but Abuzar was adamant and uncompromising on his principles. The Ameer arranged discussions with him by learned scholars of Islam, whose arguments cut no ice with him. People were forbidden to associate with or listen to him. Nevertheless people thronged around him for advice. At last Muawiya cornplained to Caliph Usman that Abuzar was preaching class hatred in Syria which might lead to serious consequences.

Thereupon, Abuzar was summoned to Medina by the Caliph. Long before his arrival in the city, the residents of Medina had come out of their houses to welcome this revered Companion of the Prophet.

In Medina, too, he could not have a peaceful life. The wealthy section of the population felt uneasy over his activities advocating equitable distribution of wealth.

The Caliph at last arranged a discussion on the subject between him and Kaab Ahbar, a learned person. The latter questioned the desirability of keeping the law of inheritance in Muslim jurisprudence when Islam did not permit the accumulation of wealth. But this was off the point. The discussion bore no result and Hazrat Usman asked him eventually to leave Medina and settle at Rabza, a small village on the caravan route from Iraq to Medina. The enemies of Islam like Abdullah ibn Saba, tried to incite him to revolt against the Caliph but he rebuked them saying:

“If Usman hangs me on the highest mountain, I will not lift my finger against him”.

Like a true Muslim, Abuzar bowed before the orders of the Central Authority of Islam. He migrated to Rabza and died there on the 8th Zil-Hijja, 32 A.H. His dead body lay near the caravan route, watched by his widow. There was none to bury him. Suddenly, on the horizon appeared a caravan of Hajis heading towards Makkah. On being informed that the dead body was that of Abuzar, the revered Companion of the Prophet, they got down, offered funeral prayer, led by Abdulla ibn Masood, the celebrated scholar of Islam and buried him.

Thus ended the life of this trusted Companion of the Prophet who preached and practised true socialism more than a thousand years before Karl Marx. He lived and died for his principles denouncing the accumulation of wealth.

The Holy Prophet of Islam had certified him as the “most truthful”, and Hazrat Ali had declared about him:

“There is now none, except Abuzar, in the world, who is not afraid of the tirade of recriminations from the side of delinquents in matters of religion. Even I am no exception”.

[PDF Download]

Ali – The Lion Hearted Short Biography

The Qazi’s court in Medina was packed to its capacity. The Qazi had summoned Hazrat Ali, the Caliph of Islam, to appear in a case filed against him by a Jew who had claimed the Caliph’s armour. The Caliph arrived at the court and stood by the side of the plaintiff without caring about his own exalted position. The claimant produced several witnesses in support of his claim. The learned Qazi, then asked Hazrat Ali if he had to say anything in his defence. Ali replied in the negative. Thereupon the Qazi decided the case in favour of the Jew and awarded the armour to the Jew, which, Ali had actually purchased from him. The Jew was taken aback by the impartial judgement of the Qazi and returned the armour to the Caliph saying that the illustrious Caliph had actually purchased the armour from him. He had filed the suit in order to test the impartiality of the Caliph and his courts which had magnifi. cently withstood the test.

Hazrat Ali, the Fourth Caliph of Islam, was a versatile genius. Few persons have ever been endowed with the unsurpassable traits of chivalry and learning, piety and clarity of thought and imagination that distinguished the illustrious son-in-law of the Prophet of Islam who had brought him up under his own fostering care and ideal guardianship. Hazrat Ali has universally been acclaimed as one of the best products of Islam. His bravery had won him the title of “Lion of God,” says a well-known orientalist; “his learning, that of the ‘gate of knowledge,’ chivalarous, humane and forbearing as a ruler, he came before his time. Most of the grand undertakings, initiated by Umar for the welfare of the people, were due to his counsel. Ever ready to succour the weak and redress the wrongs of the injured, the accounts of his valorous deeds are still recited with enthusiasm from the bazaars of Cairo to those of Delhi.”

Ali ibn Abu Talib, whose kunniyat was Abul Hasan, was born in the 13th year of the Year of Elephant. He was a cousin of the Prophet and his clan Banu Hashim having been entrusted with the high function of the custody of the sacred Kaaba, was held in high esteem, throughout Arabia. Abu Talib, who had a large family entrusted his son Ali to the care of the Prophet of Islam. Ali was brought up by the Prophet himself from his very childhood-a fact which greatly contributed to cultivating extraordinary virtues in him. According to reliable historical sources, Khadija was the first woman, Abu Bakr, the first man and Ali, the first child to embrace Islam. Hazrat Ali played a conspicuous role at the time of the Prophet’s migration from Makkah. While Hazrat Abu Bakr accompanied the Prophet, constantly harassed and hunted by the Quraish of Makkah, on his perilous journey to Medina, Hazrat Ali was kept behind to return to the owners the valuables they had entrusted to the custody of the Prophet. It speaks volumes for the integrity of the Prophet that even his sworn enemies reposed full trust in his honesty and deposited their valuables with him. Hazrat Ali slept soundly in the house of the Prophet besieged by his enemies. The next morning he cleared the accounts and departed for Medina.

The Prophet selected the young talented Ali, as the life partner for his favourite daughter Fatima az-Zahra, the beautiful. The nuptial ceremony was performed with utmost simplicity which will serve as an example for all times to come. The dowry given to the beloved daughter of the Prophet consisted of a sheet of cloth, a few earthen utensils and a grinding stone. Three sons, Hazrat Imam Hasan, Husain and Mohsin and two daughters Zainab and Umme Kulsum were born. The lineage of the Prophet continued through Imam Hasan and Hussain, hence their descendants are called Syed (Master).

Hazrat Ali lived a humble and simple life; he earned his living through manual labour. He could not add anything to the property of the house and his beloved wife performed all household duties with her own hands. Faced with extreme poverty, the humanitarianism and the spirit of charity and self-sacrifice and self-denial of this ideal couple of Islam have hardly any parallel in the annals of mankind. They invariably preferred to go without their humble rneals rather than refuse a beggar knocking at their door.
Hazrat Ali was chosen by the Prophet to carry the message of Islam to the people of Yemen, where earlier Muslim missionaries had failed. There he mnet with great success and the tribe of Hamdan embraced Islam the same day. His mellifluent eloquence, high intellectual and persuasive power were greatly i instrumental in popularising Islam in those hostile regions.

It was in the realm of chivalry that Hazrat Ali has left ineffaceable marks in the history of early Islam. He was gifted with extraordinary daring and courage which he devoted to the service of Islam, performing wonderful deeds of heroism. In fact, he proved to be the strongest bulwark in the defence of the votaries of the new faith against the repeated hostilities of alien powers. During the lifetime of the Prophet, he took a leading part in all defensive campaigns except Tabuk; when reluctantly he had to stay back in Medina under the orders of the Prophet who said, “You stand to me in the same relation in which Aaron stood to Moses, except that there is to be no Prophet after me.”

Hazrat Ali displayed his unique valour for the first time in the battle of Badr, when he overpowered Waleed and Sheba, the renowned warriors of Arabia in single combats. In the battle of Ohad, when the standard bearer of Islam fell fighting, he took hold of the standard and killed the enemy standard bearer. This exceptional heroism made people declare, ‘La Fata Nla Ali’ (There is no youth like Ali). Two years after, he met Amr ibn Abad Wudd, the greatest known warrior of Arabia in a duel and killed him. Of all his martial exploits, the most outstanding was the capture of the citadel of Khaibar which was regarded impregnable. It was strongly fortified by the Jews and withstood repeated attacks by Muslims under the command of Hazrat Abu Bakr and Umar. Thereupon the Prophet said, “Tomorrow the standard of Islam will be entrusted to a person who would capture it and who loves God and His Messenger and whom God and His Messenger also love.” The next morning Ali was summoned in the presence of the Prophet. Incidentally, he was suffering from a bad eyesore. The Prophet applied his saliva to his eyes, and placed the standard in his hands. Ali made a dash and captured the fort by tearing asunder the huge gate which could not be moved by dozens of men.

Mercy on the defeated and overpowered foe is a part of chivalry. Hazrat Ali who had drunk enough of the milk of human kindness, pitied and pardoned the vanquished on several occasions. Once during a campaign, when his opponent fell on the ground and became naked, he left him aside. According to Ibn Saad, when his assailant Ibn Muljem was brought before him, he asked his men to treat him gently and make him comfortable.

During the reign of the first two Caliphs, Hazrat Ali as the principal adviser of the State. He solved all knotty problems and no important decision was taken by the Caliphs without his advice. His advice was sought on all matters, especially legal and religious on which he was considered an authority. His sound judgements were highly respected by friends and foes alike. After the death of the Prophet, he mostly devoted his energies to the development of the moral and intellectual life of the adherents of the new faith and seldom took part in warfare. Most of the great administrative works during the reign of Hazrat Umar were undertaken at his instance.

Hazrat Ali was elected Caliph after the martyrdom of Hazrat Usman, at a time when the world of Islam was in great turmoil and Medina, the Metropolis, was besieged by insurgents. The inhabitants of Medina and neighbouring provinces vied with one another in taking the oath of allegiance to him, as he was the most deserving person for the high post among the faithful. But Muayiya, who had gathered great power around himself, clamoured for avenging the blood of Hazrat Usman. Muawiya, being a clever person, realized that he had hardly any chance for the exalted position in the presence of Hazrat Ali, hence he devised this means of winning popular support. The insurgents were two powerful to be dealt with and a hasty step would have culminated in the disintegration of the Empire. This restrained Ali’s hands. He wanted to deal firmly with the disruptionists at an opportune moment. To Talha and Zubair who insisted on the assassins of Usman being punished immediately, Hazrat Ali replied, “I am myself no less anxious about it, but I simply cannot help it. It is a critical time. If there is any disturbance of peace, the Beduins and foreigners will rise in revolt and Arabia will once more relapse into the days of ignorance. These men are yet beyond our control. Wait and see till Allah shows me some way out of the difficulty.” The situation had become so critical and the political atmosphere was so much explosive, that any drastic action taken against the insurgents would have endangered the security of the new state. Ali’s opponents had, however, resolved to exploit the situation to their advantage. Almost all great Muslim historians have expressed doubts about the motive behind the opposition of Muawiya. They maintain that sincerity of purpose behind the opposition of Hazrat Aisha, Talha and Zubair was lacking in the case of Muawiya.

His demand for avenging Usman’s blood was not inspired by high motive. Ali explored all possibilities of amicable settlement before declaring war against Muawiya in the interest of national solidarity. Hazrat Aisha, too, was deeply stirred by the martyrdom of Usman. Accompanied by Talha and Zubair, she marched upon Basra which surrendered in October 656 A.C. Hazrat Ali when apprised of the situation hurriedly reached there. On 12th Rajab 36 A.H. Kufa accorded a royal welcome to the Caliph and made elaborate arrangements for his entertainment in the local palace. But being a saintly person, Ali shunned all pageantries and preferred to camp in an open field. The two forces lay facing each other, as Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Aisha wanted to avoid a clash and negotiate for a settlement. Obviously it would have gone against the interests of the Sabaites who formed a component part of Hazrat Ali’s forces and who were all out to fan the fire of enmity between the contending parties with the ulterior purpose of undermining Islam. Hence, one night, when settlement was almost in sight, they secretly fell upon the opposing forces and started fighting. Both the parties suspected that the fighting was started by the other side. Hazrat Ali tried his best to pacify the feelings of the fighters and reminded Zubair of a prophecy of the Prophet. This induced Zubair to withdraw at once from the battle-field, while he was praying on his way back to Makkah, a Sabaite slew him. When the ruffians brought the head of Zubair to Ali for a reward, he said wrathfully, “Give the assassin of Zubair the tidings of hell”. At last the forces led by Hazrat Aisha were defeated and the Caliph himself called on the reverend lady for enquiring about her health. She was respectfully sent back to Medina escorted by noble ladies and the Caliph in person saw her off for a considerable distance.

Caliph Ali now diverted his attention to Muawiya, the rebel Governor of Syria, who was threatening the solidarity of the young state. Being humane by nature, Hazrat Ali tried his level best to bring about a peaceful settlement and avoid shedding of Muslim blood. But Muawiya advanced impossible conditions. Ali offered to end the quarrel by personal combat, but the Umayyad declined the challenge. At last the fateful hour arrived and the two forces fought a bloody battle. “The rebels were defeated in three successive battles,” says a well-known historian, “and Muawiya was ready to fly from the field, when a trick of his accomplice Amr, son of Aas, saved them from destruction. He made his mercenaries tie copies of the Quran to their lances and flags, and shout for quarter. The soldiers of the Caliph at once desisted from pursuit, and called on him to refer the dispute to arbitration.”

The arbitration ended in a chaos in which Hazrat Abu Musa Ashari, the representative of Ali was duped by the clever Amr bin al-Aas, the representative of Amir Muawiya.

These internal dissensions within the house of Islam gave birth to a new fanatical horde called Kharijis, which proved to be a great menace for the administration of Hazrat Ali. They spread disorders throughout the domains of the Caliph, killing innocent people and converting them to their fanatical creed by force. The Caliph, who faced the turmoils and turbulence around him with extraordinary courage and patience dealt with the Khariji fanatics with a strong hand and exterminated them after a bloody battle.

The people of Kerman and Persia revolted against the authority of the Caliph. Ziad bin Abiha was despatched who soon suppressed the disorder and restored peace in that region. Instead of punishing the rebels, Hazrat Ali treated them with such kindness that the Persians recalled the rule of Nausherwan, the Just.

The Khariji insurrection to which he ultimately fell a victim, too, was handled by him firmly. Three Kharijis (fanatics) had planned to kill the three persons namely, Hazrat Ali, Muawiya and Amr bin al-Aas at an appointed time. Ibn M’aljem, who was assigned the task of killing the Caliph, struck the deadly blow at him when he was going to offer his prayer. The just and kind-hearted Caliph instructed his men to treat the assassin with all kindness. Thus died at the age of 63, one of the greatest sons of Islam. His rule lasted 4 years and 9 months and he was destined to steer the ship of Islam through the most stormy seas of internecine dissensions. He took pride in simplicity, piety, humility and kindheartedness. Being humane by nature, he loved to help the needy and forgave even his deadliest enemies. His kindness, at times, verged on the side of weakness. Worldly power and splendour had no fascination for him. “Thus died”, says a celebrated writer “in the prime of his life, the best hearted Moslem, to use Colonel Osborn’s words, ‘that ever lived’. Mild, beneficent and humane, ready to help the weak and the distressed, his life had been devoted to the cause of Islam. Had he possessed the sternness of Umar’s character he would have been more successful in governing an unruly race like the Arabs”?

Hazrat Ali was elected as a Caliph in the most stormy period of Islamic history. Endowed with extraordinary daring and sound judgement, he battled against the surging waves of disruption which wanted to knock the new State off its foundation. In chivalry, he had hardly any match in the annals of early Islam. Known as the ‘Lion of God’, his bravery has become proverbial, and stories connected with it are still related throughout the world of Islam.

Hazrat Ali was a versatile genius. Being brought up by the Prophet himself and having had the chance of spending about 30 years in his company, Ali occupies the unique position of being the greatest intellectual among the Companions of the Prophet. Like Aristotle he is known as the father of Islamic learning. Writing in ‘Izalat-ul-Khifa’, Shah Waliullah attributes the high intellectualism of Hazrat Ali to the ideal training of the Prophet. He reports on the authority of Imam Hanbal that Hazrat Ali possessed the highest intellectual attributes among the Companions. This is further corroborated by the declaration of the Prophet: “I am the store-house of knowledge while Ali is its gate.” He was a ‘Hafiz’ of the Quran and a commentator of high standing. Along with Hazrat Ibn Abbas he is considered as the greatest authority on the Quran of which he arranged the chapters in order of their revelation during the first six months of the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr.

Ibn Nadim in his celebrated work ‘Al Fihrist’, has given this order of arrangement. Hazrat Ali exercised utmost circumspection in sifting reports about the traditions, so much so that the traditions reported and collected by him are universally taken to be authentic. He was the greatest Mujtahid and jurist of his time and one of the greatest of all times. He solved all vexing and complicated problems which defied solution. As already stated he was the principal adviser on religious and legal matters during the reign of the first three Caliphs. All knotty problems were referred to him and his verdict was considered final. Even such high personalities as Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Aisha referred their difficulties to him. All schools of religious thought regard him as the father of Islamic mysticism. The celebrated mystic, Junaid Baghdadi acknowledges Ali as the highest authority on the subject and according to Shah Waliullah, who says in ‘Izalat-ul-Khifa’ that Ali devoted much time to mysticism before his being elected as Caliph. He was one of the two greatest orators of early Islam-the other being Hazrat Abu Bakr. According to Ibn Nadim, Hazrat Ali is known as the founder of Arabian grammar.

Hazrat Ali was undoubtedly the greatest jurist of early Islam. Once two women who were quarrelling over an infant child-each claiming it, were produced before him. On hearing the statements of both the claimants, Hazrat Ali ordered the child to be cut to pieces. The real mother was overwhelmed with grief and weepingly pleaded to the Caliph to spare the child. Hazrat Ali awarded the child to its real mother and punished the other woman. Hazrat Umar used to say about him: “God forbid, we may be confronted with any controversial issue, which Ali might not be able to solve”. According to Hazrat Abdullah bin Masood, Ali possessed the best power of judgement in Medina. The Prophet himself relied on the judgements of Ali and had appointed him the Qazi of Yemen. He had instructed him not to deliver his judgement without hearing both the contending parties. Even his opponents like Amir Muawiya referred their knotty problems to him and accepted his judgement. The early Islamic history is full of learned judgements delivered by him.

Hazrat Ali led a very simple and poverty-stricken life. His whole life was characterised by abstemiousness. He was the very incarnation of simplicity, piety and tender-heartedness. Wordly splendour had no attraction for him. The treasures of the conquered Roman and Persian Empires lay at his feet, but he never cared to cast an eye at them. Once he distributed the entire wealth kept in Baitul Mal among the poor. When he was accorded a royal welcome in Kufa, he preferred to stay in the open field instead of the local palace in which arrangements for his boarding had been made. He could not add to the prosperity of his house during the lifetime of Hazrat Fatima. He had only one blanket, which was barely enough to cover his head and feet when he slept. Even, during the days of his Caliphate, he did not give up his simplicity and wore tattered clothes and ate coarse food. He loathed to engage a servant for performing household chores, which were handled by his beloved wife Fatima who was the favourite daughter of the Prophet. She was accustomed to grinding the corn with her own hands.

Writing in Izalat-ul-Khifa, Shah Waliullah says that Hazrat Ali once received baskets of oranges from some country. Hazrat Imam Hasan and Husain picked up one orange each which Hazrat Ali snatched from the hands of his sons and distributed all the oranges among the common people. As Islam forbids accumulation of wealth, Hazrat Ali, always lived up to his convictions; neither he ever amassed wealth, nor he believed in hoarding wealth in the Public Treasury.

During his Caliphate, he had to offer even his favourite sword for sale in order to purchase a piece of cloth. In spite of being extremely poor, he never turned away in disappointment anyone who knocked at his door. One night he watered a garden of Medina and received grain as his wage. The next morning when he returned home he got a portion of grain boiled. But he gave the whole of it to a beggar who knocked at his door. This was repeated on three successive days with the result that he himself had to go without food for three days.

Unlike Muawiya who recklessly distributed the wealth of Baitul Mal among his own men, with ulterior motives, Hazrat Ali scrupulously followed the principles laid down by the Second Caliph and equally distributed the public money among the people. This impartial justice of the Caliph antagonised his supporters, who began to side with Muawiya. Despite surmounting difficulties Hazrat Ali faced them with courage and conviction and kept up the high traditions of the Prophet.

His Administration steered clear of partisanship, favouritism or nepotism. He was particularly severe on his Governors and kept a regular watch on their actions, Once his own cousin Ibn Abbas, the Governor of Basra, drew some money from the Baitul Mal for his personal expenses. Hazrat Ali questioned his action and Hazrat Ibn Abbas was so much frightened that he left Basra for Makkah. It becomes abundantly clear from this that Ali did not spare even his dear once who strayed from the path chalked out by the Prophet.
“Ali’s Administration”, says Ameer Ali, “was too disturbed by civil war to remedy the evils of the previous Administration; but he removed most of the corrupt Governors and restored the policy of Umar where he had the power; established a state archive for the safe custody and preservation of the records of the Caliphate; created the office of Hajib or Chamberlain, and of the Sahibush-Shurta or Captain of the Guard; and reorganised the Police and regulated their duties.”

Notwithstanding the internecine warfare, the Muslims extended their frontiers during Ali’s regime. After the suppression of revolts in Kabul and Sistan, the Arabs made a naval attack on Konkan (Bombay Coast). Being highly experienced in warfare, the Caliph established army establishments on the Syrian frontiers. He strengthened his frontiers and raised impregnable fortifications on the northern frontiers of Persia.

Contemporary and later historians have paid high tributes to Hazrat Ali’s qualities of head and heart. The celebrated historian Masudi says : “If the glorious name of being the first Muslim, a comrade of the Prophet in exile, his faithful companion in the struggle for the faith, his intimate in life, and his kinsman; if a true knowledge of the spirit of his teachings and of the Book; if self-abnegation and practice of justice; if honesty, purity and love of truth; if a knowledge of law and science, constitute a claim to pre-eminence, then all must regard Ali as one of the foremost Muslims.” The celebrated traditionist Shah Waliullah has discussed at length the high qualities of Hazrat Ali in his wellknown work, ‘Izalat-ul-Khifa’. He concludes that, chivalry and strength of character, humanity and sincerity which are attributes of great men, were possessed in abundance by Hazrat Ali.

With the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali, ended the glorious regime of the pious Caliphs. “Thus vanished”, says a philosophical writer, “the popular regime, which’ had for its basis a patriarchal simplicity, never again to appear among any Mussalman nation; only the jurisprudence and rules which depended on Koran survived the fall of the elective Government.”

Another historian says: “The example of simplicity presented by the Prophet and his four successors stands unrivaled in the annals of kingship. Monarchies of vast empires, they led the lives of hermits and never cast a glance at the worldly riches which were laid in heap at their feet. Kingly palaces and robes came in their way, but the four kings, temporal as well as spiritual, ever took pride in their cottages they lived in and in the rough clothes they wore while they labored for their daily bread. Their lives were simpler than those of the common people and like them they would go to the mosque for the five daily prayers unaccompanied by a bodyguard. For their person they had no police or guard. But for the welfare of the State they were so watchful that the smallest incident on a most distant frontier would forthwith engage their attention. Their hearts were devoted to the love of God and their bodies to the service of man.”

[PDF Download]

Uthman Ibn Affan Short Biography

Ibn Saba, a Yemenite Jew converted to Islam, was the moving spirit behind a conspiracy hatched against Hazrat Usman, the third Caliph of Islam, which in reality, aimed at undermining the very foundations of Islam. His later activities proved beyond doubt that his acceptance of Islam was only a mask to cover his evil designs. The storms brewing in Fustat (Cairo), Kufa and Basrah, later burst upon Medina and culminated in the martyrdom of Usman. On smelling the foul play, Amir Muawiya, the Governor of Syria, had begged the Caliph either to move to Damascus or to keep a strong guard for his self-protection. The pious Caliph refused both, saying that he would be the last person to leave the resting place of the Prophet and that he would never like to be guarded at public expense.

Hazrat Usman ibn Affan, known as Abu Abd Allah, was born in Makkah. Zunnurain was his epithet of honour as he had married two daughters of the Prophet one after another. He belonged to the Bani Umayyad clan of the Quraish and his ancesteral pedigree joins that of the Prophet in the fifth generation. The Bani Umayyads were only second to Bani Hashims in political importance and were entrusted with the custody of National Flag of the Quraish before the advent of Islam.

Hazrat Usman, after his early education, adopted his ancestral occupation and was one of the leading businessmen of Arabia. He was known for his honesty and integrity, piety and modesty throughout Hejaz. He was an intimate friend of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq, the first Caliph of Islam. It was Hazrat Abu Bakr, who was the first man to carry the message of Islam to him. Hazrat Usman along with Talha bin Ubaidullah accepted Islam at the hands of the Prophet, He was much tortured by his uncle Hakem for joining the new faith but he refused to renounce it, even at the cost of his life.

Hazrat Usman migrated to Abyssinia along with other Muslims under the orders of the Prophet. He was only second to Abu Bakr in rendering financial assistance to the new faith. He served Islam whole-heartedly even at the cost of his business. He took active part in the inner councils of Islam. Later on he migrated to Medina along with other Muslims, leaving his valuable properties behind. Medina had then only one well of drinking water called Bir Rumah, which was owned by non-Muslims, who charged heavy water tax from the Muslims. The Holy Prophet wanted some Muslims to purchase it. Hazrat Usman, at once came forward, purchased it for 30 thousand dirhams and made it a public property. Similarly, Hazrat Usman purchased the land adjoining the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, which could not accommodate a large number of Muslims and undertook its extension at his own expense.

Except Badr, Hazrat Usman took part in all battles fought during the lifetime of the Prophet for the defence of the new faith. At the time of Badr he was asked by the Prophet to look after his wife Ruqayya, who was on death bed.

During the caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar, he occupied the position of highest trust. He was a prominent member of the inner council and his opinion was sought on all important matters of state. He was one of the two persons who were first consulted by Hazrat Abu Bakr on his death bed for nominating Hazrat Umar as his successor.

The circumstances which led to his election as the third Caliph of Islam are a controversial issue and diverse historical theories have been advanced which greatly differ from one another. But it has been established beyond doubt that Hazrat Umar, on his death bed, had nominated six. persons, out of whom his successor was to be selected. The four nominees withdrew their names, leaving Hazrat Usman and Hazrat Ali, as the contestants. The two consented to accept the verdict of Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Auf, who, on the third day, cast his vote in favour of Hazrat Usman who became the third Caliph of Islam. Thereafter, the populace of Medina vied with each other in taking the oath of allegiance on the hands of Hazrat Usman., There are certain historical sources, which state that there had been secret machinations in the election of Hazrat Usman and that of Hazrat Ali was the more popular and deserving of the two.

The first six years of the reign of Hazrat Usman are noted for great territorial expansion of the Islamic Empire as well as achievements in other spheres of life. Only six months after the election of the Third Caliph, the Persians rose in revolt against the authority of Islam. The ex-king of Persia, Yezdejird, who was in exile, was at the bottom of this upheaval and his agents were active throughout Persia. Hazrat Usman promptly handled the situation with a strong hand. He immediately despatched reinforcements which quelled the revolt and pursued the insurgents beyond the Persian frontiers, thus annexing extra territories. By 30 A.H., the territories lying north and east of Persia including Balkh, Turkistan, Herat, Kabul, Ghazni, Khorasan, Tus, Neshapur and Merv, fell before the invincible arms of Islam and thus were incorporated in the fast expanding Muslim Empire. Yezdejird, who had fled for his life, died in exile in 32 A.H. It led to the establishment of perpetual peace in Persia. The Muslims who encountered Turks and Romans in the North-West of Persia, inflicted crushing defeats upon their opponents. The Romans were pursued far beyond the western frontiers of Persia and the flag of Islam was firmly planted on the shores of the Black Sea.

In the second year of his caliphate, the Romans poured into Syria through Asia Minor. The garrison at the disposal of Amir Muawiya, Governor of Syria, was numerically much inferior to the invaders, and could hardly cope with the situation. The arrival of fresh reinforcements routed the Romans who were hotly pursued as far as the shores of the Black Sea. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Asia Minor fell into Muslim hands and Tiflis on the Black Sea, was also captured. In 32 A.H., Amir Muawiya laid siege to Constantinople. Strong fortifications were raised on the frontiers in order to check further Roman inroads into Muslim lands.

The Romans had set up in Egypt and West Africa spring boards for the invasion of Muslim lands. They captured Alexandria in 25 A.H. (646 A.C.) but Muslims under the command of Amr bin al-Aas soon recovered it. Gregory, the Roman Commander of Tripoli, had a strong army of 120,000 soldiers under his command. It was a constant menace to the neighbouring Muslim State. A strong contingent which included great veterans like Abdullah bin Zubair, was hurriedly despatched from Medina to face the desperate situation. The Romans offered a stubborn resistance, but, at last, with the fall of their commander at the hand of Abdulla bin Zubair, their resistance crumbled down and they were routed with heavy losses.

It was during Usman’s reign that the Muslims first launched a naval warfare. Earlier, Muawiya was prevented by the Caliph to attack Cyprus, which was a Roman stronghold alongside Syria and was a constant danger for her security. It was from this strategic island that the Romans made repeated incursions on the Syrian coast. Hazrat Usman allowed Muawiya, under certain conditions, to invade the island. Muawiya built a strong naval fleet, which was the first of its kind in Islam. Curiously enough, Cyprus was occupied by the Syrians, without much resistance.

In 31 A.H. (654 A.C.), the Romans launched an invasion of Egypt with 500 ships. The Muslim Governor of Egypt met them with a small fleet. He tied his ships with one another and in a hand to hand fight inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Romans. This established the reputation of the Muslim Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The reasons underlying the dissensions among the Muslims which culminated in an open revolt against the authority of an elected Caliph are manifold. But the main factor at the back of this conspiracy was a hatred for Muslim power, which Ibn Saba and his followers wanted to fan from within. The democratic principles practised in Islam and the simplicity as well as the piety of Hazrat Usman who, at any cost, could not contemplate the horrid prospect of bloodshed among the Muslims, gave a free hand to the conspirators to malign and undermine his regime. The entreaties of the Administrators of affected provinces to be allowed to deal firmly with the agitators could not move the pious Caliph.

The Administration during the first six years of his Caliphate had not lost the effectiveness of his predecessor and the nation-building activities continued as before. The insurrections in Persia were put down with a strong hand; the state frontiers were extended and fortified naval warfare was introduced with great success and the state had not lost the vigour and vitality which characterised the phenomenal growth of Muslim Empire during the reign of the Second Caliph. But a large number of Christians and Jews, who had embraced Islam with mental reservation in order to take advantage of its democratic principles and who disliked the restrictions imposed by it on debauchery and general moral laxity, which they were addicted to, found an able leader in Ibn Saba, a Yemanite Jew newly converted to Islam. The Arab colonies of Basrah, Kufa and Fustat (Cairo) which were inhabited by Arabs of non-Hejaz origin fell an easy prey to the secret machinations of Ibn Saba and his henchmen. Ibn Saba spread the net of his intrigues throughout Iraq and Egypt, Kufa, Basrah and Fustat which formed the nerve centre of his nefarious activities against the Caliph.

The Caliphs adversaries charged him with following a policy of nepotism, favouritism and partisanship. But he had made no change in the old order during the first 6 years of his rule. As far as humanly possible, he was rigid and impartial in dispensing justice. This is borne out from his having awarded the required number of stripes to Waleed, a provincial Governor who was related to him and was accused of drunkenness. He dismissed several governors belong. ing to the Umayyad clan, when charges against them were found to be true. Moreover, Umayyad governors appointed by him justified their selection by their able administration. However, the dictates of statecraft and political acumen demanded of him to streamline his administration by drawing into it non-party elements not wanting in integrity, capabilities and dynamics. He would have been well advised to follow the example of his illustrious predecessor, who ignored even his talented son, Abdulla bin Umar for filling a particular high job. This would have deprived the insurgents of the only weapon, so skilfully used against the Third Caliph. The faulty pieces of advice of Merwan, his Secretary, were no less responsible for hastening the doom which awaited the pious Caliph.

At last the fateful hour drew near. The insurgents besieged Medina and the inhabitants of the Metropolis of Islam, who wanted to defend the Caliph with their lives, were prevented by him lest it might shed Muslim blood. Notwithstanding all this, Hazrat Ali posted his two sons at the Caliph’s door to defend his person even at the cost of their lives. Others too, followed suit. The Caliph also conceded one of the demands of the insurgents and appointed Muhammad bin Abu Bakr as the Governor of Egypt, whereupon the rebels withdrew apparently satisfied with the appointment letter in their hands and it seemed that the storm clouds which threatened Medina had melted away. But, after a few days, the rebels reappeared and laid siege of Medina. On enquiry, it was given out they had intercepted a secret letter of the Caliph ordering the Governor of Egypt to behead Muhammad bin Abu Bakr as soon as he reached there. The messenger who was said to be carrying the letter was never produced.

The Caliph denied knowledge of any such letter, which was accepted by the insurgents who held his Secretary Merwan responsible for this forgery. They demanded that he should be handed over to them, but the Caliph refused to oblige them without any definite proof against him. The insurgents, however, could not give satisfactory reply to the query of Hazrat Ali. “How all of them returned together at the same time when their routes led to divergent directions.” He considered the letter to be forged. The pious Caliph addressed the rebels

“As to death, I have no fear of it and I consider it the easiest thing. As to fighting, if I wished such a thing, thousands would have come forward to fight for me. But I cannot be the cause of shedding a drop of Muslim blood.”

At last the critical hour arrived. A large number of Medinites had gone to Makkah for pilgrimage. The insurgents considered it a suitable opportunity for carrying out their evil designs. They stormed the Caliph’s house, as they could not dare to enter through the gate which was guarded by the valiant sons of Ali. They scaled the walls on the opposite side and slew the aged Caliph, who was reciting the Quran with extraordinary composure. The little fingers of his wife raised for his protection were chopped off. The Caliph attained his martyrdom on June 17, 656 A.C. and thus offered his life as a sacrifice at the altar of Muslim solidarity.” He was at this time 82. His Caliphate lasted 12 years.

Hazrat Usman rendered very valuable financial help to the new faith before and after his election as Caliph. He placed his entire resources at the disposal of the Prophet of Islam. His generosity knew no bounds. When he was elected to the high post of the Caliph, he did not take anything from the Baitul Mal (Public Treasury) and served the people even at the cost of his flourishing business. Tabari, the celebrated historian of Islam, quotes as follows from an address of the Third Caliph :

“When the reins of the Government were entrusted to me, I was the biggest owner of camels and goats in Arabia. Today I possess neither a goat nor a camel save two, which are meant for the pilgrimage. By God I have taxed no city beyond its capacity so that such a thing might be imputed to me. And whatever I have taken from the people I have spent on their own welfare. Only fifth of it comes to me (i.e., in Baitul Mal or in Public Treasury). Out of this, too, I consider nothing for my personal use. This is spent on the deserving people, not by me, but by the Muslims themselves, and not a farthing of public funds is misappropriated. I take nothing out of it, so that even what I eat out of my own earnings.”

His financial help was indeed invaluable for the growth of a new organization during the lifetime of the Prophet.

The greatest achievement of Hazrat Usman is the compiling of a standard copy of the Holy Quran. During his regime Islam had spread far and wide in distant lands-lands inhabited by diverse nationalities. The differences of pronunciations and dialects in Arabia led to variety of Quranic recitations. Hence, he felt the necessity of compiling a standard copy of the Quran, which might ensure uniformity in pronunciation of Quranic lines all over the world. Hazrat Abu Bakr, the First Caliph, had got compiled a standard copy of the Quran after comparing it with the help of reliable sources. This copy was in possession of Prophet’s wife. Several copies of this volume were prepared by the Caliph after consultation with prominent Companions of the Prophet and despatched to centres of Islamic Empire to serve as the standard version. In order to avoid differences in versions, all unauthentic copies were burnt down. These steps were taken with the consent of all the well-known Companions of the Prophet, who formed a committee for ensuring wide circulation of the standard copy. The step taken was also in conformity with the wishes of the Holy Prophet who desired the compilation of a standard volume of the Quran.

There had been no slackening of nation-building activities during his reign. New colonies, bridges, roads, mosques and guest houses were built and new cities sprang up throughout the vast Islamic dominions. The roads leading to Medina were fully equipped with caravan serais and other amenities of life for the travellers. The Prophet’s Mosque in Medina was enlarged and built of stones. Extensive arrangements for drinking water were made in Medina and other desert towns. Farms for camel and horse breeding were opened on a large scale. The Council of Consultation was maintained as before, which comprised of prominent Companions of the Prophet, who counselled the Caliph on all important matters. The Caliph, like his predecessors, was at all times accessible to the meanest of his subjects and the complaints against the highest authorities of the state were promptly attended to.

The Third Caliph of Islam was particularly known for his integrity and simplicity, piety and modesty of character. His character was above suspicion and none, not even his greatest enemies, ever doubted his sincerity. No doubt, certain people took advantage of his simplicity, but whatever he did he did with the best of intentions.

[PDF Download]

Provincial Autonomy: Congress Rule And The War (1937-1939)

The Government had announced that the new Act (1935) would come into effect in April 1937. However, the part of the Act dealing with the Central Government depended on the condition that a sufficient number of States (as mentioned in the last chapter) would accede to the federation. As this did not happen, the constitution of the Federal Union, therefore, had to be kept in abeyance. In the meantime some important changes took place; Marquess of Zetland (Lord Ronaldshay) replaced S.Hoare as Secretary of State in June 1935, and Lord Willingdon retired and Lord Linlithgow was appointed as the Viceroy in April 1936. Zetland and Linlithgow were faced with a peculiar situation; J. Nehru as President of the Congress session of December 1936 declared that they would go to the Legislatures not to co-operate with the British Imperialism, but to combat the Act of 1935 and seek to end it; that they were not going to pursue the path of constitutionalism; that they would have nothing to do with office and ministries because it would be a partnership with the British imperialism; and that they must think in terms of deadlocks and not in terms of carrying on with the office. The Congress appointed a committee to organize the election campaign (R.Prasad, B.Desai, Azad, Rajaji, V.Patel, A.N.Dev and G.B.Pant). The manifesto, among other things, rejected the Act of 1935 and demanded its replacement by a constitution framed by the elected Assembly: the real aim was to end the Act, “ordinances and other rules and regulations which had oppressed the people.”

On the other hand, Muslim politics were in a confused condition during the years Jinnah was out of India. Jinnah was shocked when his amendments to the Nehru Report were not accepted and this ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity was attacked by Hindu leaders like Jayakar and Pandit Malaviya; he was even more hurt when Gandhi and Motilal Nehru instead of supporting Jinnah, defended the politics pursued by the anti-Muslim Hindu Mahasabha party. Jinnah was also annoyed when Congress (1929) declared the independence of India (Purna Swaraj) completely ignoring the Muslim League. Moreover, the Shafi-Fazl-i-Husain group and the All-India Muslim Conference’s behavior further alienated Jinnah. He might have said: enough is enough and that he had no more business in India to do. He, therefore, decided to leave India (at least for some years) to settle down and practice law in London, confining himself to appeals before the Privy Council; and later Jinnah applied to London’s Inner Temple to let chambers that were vacant and the application was accepted for Jinnah was so distinguished a person.

In London, Jinnah spent perhaps the most comfortable and peaceful years of his life and also established a reputation for excellence before the Privy Council. But in India, Jinnah was remembered and missed by his community due to his qualities, abilities and most of all his unpurchasability; he was requested to return to India by leaders like Liaquat Ali Khan and to lead his community. It would to an exaggeration to say that a person like Jinnah decided to return to India due to any body’s advice; the decision was definitely his own. However, Jinnah returned in March 1934 to revive the moribund Muslim League. While in London, Jinnah was re-elected by the Muslims of Bombay City to represent them in the Central Assembly. In 1935, Jinnah met with Congress President (R.Prasad) for talks but failed to resolve the communal disputes; Malaviya once again was living in fool’s paradise and therefore was unable to read the new sings that Jinnah was bound to rise so high where he could be the most difficult customer; Malaviya once again rejected Jinnah’s demands. In February 1935, Jinnah spoke in the Assembly for the acceptance of the Communal Award and rejected the All-India Federation Scheme. The Congress leader, B.Desai, spoke against Jinnah’s proposal to accept the Award; but Jinnah’s argument carried the House by a vote of 68 to 15. Jinnah was, however, willing to accept the provincial part of the Act (for what it was worth) even though he shared, the Congress objection to the discretionary powers of the Governors. He also wished that discretionary powers of the Viceroy be modified.

After Jinnah’s return to India, the Muslim League (on the other hand) showed fresh signs of life (which had been in a moribund condition ever since the Shafi-Noon group had rebelled against Jinnah) Jinnah always wanted the Punjab to be a vital part of the League and therefore a close association with the ruling Unionist Prty and its leaders had always been important to Jinnah’s political strategy. So far as the re-organization of the League was concerned it was a long-term project (which might have taken several years) but the elections were due shortly. Therefore, the best solution was to have an alliance with the Unionists; Jinnah wrote to Fazl-i-Husain (the Unionist Chief) inviting him to preside over the forthcoming session of the League, and the Aga Khan also requested Fazl-Husain to accept this offer. But shrewd Fazl-i-Husain refused because he did not wish to disturb the status quo in the Punjab, which could have proved extremely risky for his party. The League, however, held its session under Sir Wazir Hasan and among other things decided to authorize Jinnah to form a Central Parliamentary Board to fight elections. He selected the members (thirty-five) from all over India. Among the names chosen were the members of the Muslim Unity Board who represented the nationalist group, a number of old Khilafatists, Ahrars and members of the Jamiatul ulema. The Board held its first meeting in Lahore on 8 June 1936 and adopted the election manifesto, declaring that the League stood for full responsible government for India, deplored the enactment of the Act of 1935, however accepting the Communal Award but rejecting the federal and provincial constitutions and defining the election programme of protecting religious rights; to secure repealing of all repressive laws; to protect and promote the Urdu language and script – etc. On the Communal issues, Jinnah had earlier (February 1935) declared that: “So long as Hindus and Muslims are not United, let me tell you that there is no hope for India and we shall both remain, slaves of foreign domination and that half the battle for independence was won if Hindu-Muslim Unity was achieved.”

Similarly, Bengal was also a key province for the Quaid-i-Azam, the chances of success were better in Bengal than in Punjab. There had been a great deal of competition between the Nawab of Dacca’s United Muslim party and Fazlul Haq’s Krishak Proja Samiti. Soon a United front between these two parties was mooted, but the negotiations failed on the question of leadership. At this moment M.A.H.Ispahani and A.R.Siddique decided to attend the Lahore meeting of the League’s Parliamentary Board. The Quaid gave them the task of organising the Bengal League. Soon the Quaid was requested to come to Bengal. Jinnah reached Calcutta; the United Muslim Party went into voluntary liquidation by joining the League on a limited liability basis; in other words the Nawab’s party took over the “mantle of a moribund Muslim League in Bengal”. This unity brought renowned leaders like H.S.Suhrawardy and Khwaja Nazimuddin into the League’s fold. Initially, Fazlul Haq had also agreed but later he had second thoughts and changed his mind. The result was that the rivalry between the Muslim League and Fazlul Haq intensified. Later Haq and the Congress concluded an unwritten (unholy) alliance not to hurt each other which led the Muslims calling the Proja party as “The running dog of the Congress Party”.

The other two Muslim-majority provinces, Sind and the N.W.F.P. were also equally important for the reorganization of the Muslim League. In Sind and the N.W.F.P. and in Punjab, Muslim leaders had confined themselves to getting special privileges for their community under the British patronage. In Sind, leading Muslim politicians were: Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah (1879-1948) and Sir Shahnwaz Bhutto; the tragedy was that these two could not work together. There were may political parties; Seth Abdullah Haroon (1872-1942) founded the United Party with its non-communal manifesto and was able to have Bhutto’s support.G.H.Hidayatullah established Sind Muslim Party. Jinnah, on the other hand, liked to have them all working for the Muslim League but failed to get a positive result at this stage. And thus before the upcoming elections in this predominantly Muslim province (72% Muslim population) the Muslim League and Jinnah failed to make inroads. In the N.W.F.P.. however, a few supporters of the League pleased Jinnah by asking him to establish the League’s Parliamentary Board. But it was clear that the force to be reckoned with was the Khudai Khidmatgars and their Congress bosses.

In the U.P. the Muslim League expected to get the support of Muslim landowners who disliked the Congress programme based on socialist ideas trying to end their influence; some ex-Congress Muslims were also ready to help the League. The Nawab of Chattari and Nawab Sir Muhammad Yusuf were ready for co-operation; the Raja of Mehmudabad also came to help the League, providing financial support (which continued for a very long time) and the Rajas of Salempur and Mehmudabad joined the League’s newly established Parliamentary Board. Choudhary Khaliquzzaman, however, continued his association with the Congress Party.


The elections to the provincial legislature under the Act of 1935 were held early in 1937; over 54% went to the polls. It must be noted that the League had started its reorganization in 1935 and it did not have substantial support of Punjab, Bengal, Sind and the N.W.F.P. (all predominantly Muslim Provinces) before the elections. In view of these circumstances, it was not anticipated that the League would win any substantial number of seats; the League was not even able to put up candidates for all the seats reserved for Muslims. On the other hand, Congress was the largest and most disciplined political organization in India; it had efficient party machinery and huge amounts to spend on the elections. The results of the elections, therefore, showed that the Congress obtained a clear majority in Madras, the U.P., Bihar, the C.P. and Orissa. In Bombay too it was capable of forming a stable government with the help of a few sympathizers ready to accept its dictation. In Assam and the N.W.F.P. it was the largest single party; only in Bengal, the Punjab and Sind it was in a minority. In Bengal the Krishak Proja Party of Fazl-ul-Haq won a large number of seats; in Punjab (as expected) the Unionist Party led by Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan (Sir Fazl-i-Husain died in 1936) was in the driving seat. These results also revealed the fact that (at this moment) neither the Congress nor the League could claim to represent the Indian Muslims, for (as anticipated) Muslim politics remained provincialized. The League won only 109 of the 482 seats reserved for Muslims; in Punjab it was routed and utterly failed, winning only two seats of the only seven it contested. In Bengal, it was able to win 39 of the 117 seats – doing exceptionally well-but not in a position to form a ministry. In Sind and the N.W.F.P. the League also failed to win seats. In the Hindu majority provinces, the League secured better results; it contested 35 of 66 seats and winning 29. In Bombay the League obtained 20 seats of 29; and in Madras 11 out of 28. The Congress claim to represent Muslims was not proved; it was also rejected in the U.P. where its organization was strong but no Muslim was returned on its ticket. Nor was any Muslim elected on the Congress platform for a Muslim seat in Bengal, Sind, Punjab, Assam, Bombay, the C.P. and Orissa. The Congress did better only in N.W.F.P. due to its allies, the Khudai Khidmatgars.

The Question of Forming Ministries

After the elections, in accordance with statutory requirements, the provincial Governors had to summon the leaders of majority parties to assist in the formation of ministries. This led to a controversy over the “safeguards” between the Congress and the Government; there was a great debate on whether Congress would accept the office. The radicals in the Congress were opposed but the provincial leaders wished to become ministers and chief ministers. On 18 March 1937, the Congress working committee passed a resolution repealing the Congress aim of destroying the Act of 1935 but authorized and permitted the acceptance of offices in provinces mainly on the condition that the Governors would not use their special powers. This demand led to much controversy which was finally resolved by a long statement (on 22 June) by the Viceroy (Lord Linlithgow) requesting the Indian politicians to take advantage of the new constitution (the Act of 1935) for all it was worth. On 7 July 1937, under Gandhi’s influence, it was decided that Congressmen be permitted to accept office when invited. However, in the meantime ministries had been formed in those provinces where Congress was not in a majority. In March 1937, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan became the chief minister of Punjab; his cabinet included three Muslims, two Hindus and one Sikh. As for Bengal, Fazlul Haq tried to negotiate with the Congress but failed; Hag, therefore, accepted the Muslim League’s terms. Hag became, the chief minister, his cabinet included four Muslims (of M.L), three caste Hindus and two representatives of the Scheduled Castes. Soon Haq had to depend heavily on the League’s support.

In Sind, even though the United party won more seats, its leader and deputy leader failed to win their seats and therefore the Governor had to ask Sir Ghulam Husain Hidayatullah to form a ministry. In the N.W.F.P., Congress’s delay in accepting office gave an opportunity to Sir Abdul Qaiyum to taste power; but later on Dr. Khan Sahib of the Congrss defeated the Qaiyum ministry. Congress ministries were also formed in Madras, Bombay, the C.P., Bihar, Orissa and the U.P. In October 1938, a Congress coalition ministry was also formed in Assam; these eight ministries continued in office until October 1939. It may be noted that when Congress decided to form cabinets, there were proposals that it must form coalition ministries with the Muslim League in order to create a better atmosphere and fighting against communal hatred. Some Muslim Leaguers under Khaliquzzaman had negotiated with Congress, proposing a coalition ministry in U.P. But the Congress demanded that the League must cease to function as a separate group: that the M.L. Parliamentry Board in the U.P. must be dissolved and that the existing member of the M.L. in the Assembly must accept the Congress discipline. This was indead a death-warrant for the League which opened the eyes of the Muslims. The negotiations, therefore, failed; no self-respecting political party could have accepted these terms only to become a part of a ministry. As a matter of fact it was not long-term planning on the part of the Congress; the sole aim was to have homogeneous ministries from amongst those who would accept its dictation by sacrificing Muslim rights (it is happening today in India of 1990s). It may also be noted that this was the beginning of a serious rift between the Congress and the League, eventually leading to the creation of Pakistan.

Congress Rule and the Muslims (1937-39)

Armed with powers in eight of the eleven Indian provinces, the Congress tried to do all it could to destroy the Muslims. But the League leader M.A. Jinnah was not a man to be terrified by the Congress leaders. He was all out to defend the Muslims; in 1937 when Nehru declared that there were only two forces in the country (The Congress and the British) Jinnah declared that he refused to line up with the Congress ; that there was a third party in India and that was the Muslims. A few days later, the Quaid asked Nehru to “leave Muslims alone”. But the Congress once again failed to read Jinnah’s mind. After the elections of 1937, the Congress started a programme of Muslim mass-contact movement. This movement failed and proved to be another mistake of the Congress which alienated the Muslims, annoying their leaders, widening the gulf between the Congress and the League, and even more importantly widened the rift between Jinnah and Congress leaders. A few months, later, Jinnah described Nehru as “the busybody President of the Congress – who seemed to carry the responsibility of the whole world on his shoulders and must poke his nose into everything except his own business”.

The aim of the Congress mass-contact movement was to reach over the heads of Muslim leaders to the rank and file of Muslim voter and to win him for the Congress policies of agrarian reforms. A circular was issued by Nehru to all provincial Congress committees to pay special attention to the enrollment of Muslim members. The office of the Congress committee started a special department and from May 1937 onwards this campaign was started. Muslim chief ministers were well aware of this mass-contact movement which tried to short-circuiting them; some Muslim leaders like Dr. Alam, Dr. Khan Sahib and Dr. Ashraf tried to help the Congress. As soon as the Congress formed its ministries, the mass-contact campaign also gathered momentum; Congress ministers toured the non-Congress provinces. Nehru was also giving statements to that effect. The result was that the challenge of the Congress was not only accepted by the Muslim League but men like Shoukat Ali, Hasrat Mohani. Khaliquzzaman and the Muslim Ulema also came to fight against the “Congress Raj”. To sum up, a situation had arisen whereby it became essential for the Muslim leaders to support Jinnah. Even though the League had failed to win any large following among the Muslims, its leader (Jinnah) possessed the tremendous ability, experience, and political talent and represented a dynamic force in Indian politics. Besides this, Jinnah was also proving himself as the major opponent of Congress policies, particularly against its leader, Nehru.

My Favourite Character in History (English Essay)

The idea of a common front against the Congress matured in the League’s session in October 1937: Some Muslim leaders who had earlier (1936) rebuked Jinnah, were now enthusiastic to join the League. Sir Sirkandar Hayat, A.K.Fazlul Haq and Sir Muhammad Saadullah (form the province of Asam) also came to Lucknow and decided to merge forces with the League to from a United Muslim movement; they had been terrified by the Congress threats and its attempts to cut the mass base of their constituencies. Sikandar, Haq and Saadullah agreed to be led by the League on all-India affairs and also agreed to advise all those Muslim members of the League, to join it and therefore become the subjects of its discipline. Jinnah during his speeches criticised the Congress leadership for alienating the Muslims more and more by pursuing a policy which was exclusively Hindu; that Muslims could not expect justice or fair play at their hands for the Congress demanded surrender. He appealed for unity, discipline, honesty and sacrifice for the Muslim cause. Congress was also attacked for imposing its own party anthem, Bande Mataram (Hail to the Thee, Mother) as the official new anthem of government, wherever its ministries took power. The Congress was also denounced for its attacks on Muslim culture and the hoisting of its tricolor, the Vidya Mandir scheme in the C.P and the Wardha scheme of education. These were the proofs of Congress atrocities against the Muslims.

All India Muslim Students Federation was also able to flex its muscle against the Congress. In March 1938. S.C.Bose became the Congress President at this stage Nehru wrote to Jinnah asking “what exactly are the points in dispute which require consideration?” Jinnah was not to be trapped” he replied that the Nehru knew what were the fundamental points in dispute and that these points could not be solved through correspondence.” In February 1938, Gandhi wrote to Jinnah asking him to discuss the matters with Moulana Azad; but Jinnah was adamant and replied he did not find any change in Gandhi’s mentality as he was guided by Azad. Now at this stage the Congress was in trouble and Jinnah had the upper hand, he therefore pressed Congress to accept the League as sole representative of Muslim opinion and that Congress represented the Hindu opinion because the Congress was purely a Hindu body. Jinnah clearly refused to meet Azad or any other non-League Muslim. In April 1938, Gandhi met Jinnah and was deeply depressed because Jinnah was getting stronger as the time went by. In 1938, Jinnah appointed his working committee consisting of eminent Muslims like Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, Fazlul Haq, Khaliquzzaman and Liaquat Ali – it was a sort of High Command or a shadow cabinet.

The Quaid also got in touch with the Government; Lord Brabourne (the acting Viceroy) invited Jinnah to meet him. The meeting was held on 16 August 1938; Jinnah suggested that there sould be no new move so far as Centre was concerned; that the British should “make friends with the Muslims by protecting them in the Congress Provinces” and that if they did, the Muslims would protect the British at the Centre; that the League should be accepted as the sole representative of the Muslims. The Quaid (in December 1938) explained that “in politics one has to play one’s game as on a chess-board” and that he was ready to do business with the devil if the Muslim interests so demanded; from now on the Quaid followed a two-pronged policy to strengthen the League; the first was to win support of the Muslim masses – this he was able to have by welding the Muslims all over India.

Jinnah time and again reminded the Muslims that Congress was only a Hindu party; in October 1938, presiding over the Sind Muslim League Conference, Jinnah declared that the High Command of the Congress had adopted a “most brutal, oppressive and inimical attitude towards All-India Muslim League since they secured a majority in six provinces”. Jinnah also compared the Muslim majority provinces with Sudetenland area separated from Germany after the first world war). In December 1938, the Quaid repeated all the well-known charges against the Congress and the Congress governments in the provinces. Side by side, Jinnah made a determined effort to bring all Muslim political parties under the banner of the League; a substantial number of Muslims who had been elected on non-League tickets to the legislatures started trickling into the League’s camp. And by the end of 1938, Jinnah had succeeded in consolidating his position to a great extent. Muslim Premiers like Sikandar Hayat Khan and Fazlul Haq also gave tremendous strength; Sikandar (a favorite of the British) also met the Viceroy in support of Jinnah’s claim. On one occasion Sikandar argued that the Muslims would be mad to go ahead with the Federation scheme. Sikandar hoisted the League’s green flag on 9 October 1938 in Karachi; he regretted that Sind and N.W.F.P. had not yet fulfilled the expectations of the League and also vehemently criticized the Congress.

The attacks on the Congress (and the Hindu Raj) now became more and more bellicose; Sir Sikandar’s sharpest attack on the Congress came in his speech at the Patna session of the League (in December 1938) in which he once again attacked Congress and assured the Muslim League that he would stand behind the League against the Congress. He also added that the Congress ministries in some provinces had been intoxicated by their newly-acquired power; that they should remember that 90 million Muslims could not be suppressed or turned out of India as a minority: that the Congress dream of Swaraj would never come true, if it did not learn to practice toleration; and that every Punjabi Muslim would be prepared to lay down his life in the defence of Islam. In May 1939, Sikandar once again criticized the Congress saying that it was heading towards the idea of a totalitarian state; he also criticized the mass-contact movement and its policy towards Muslim States; that the Muslims would not become camp followers of the Congress; that their religion, culture and self-respect were dearer than their lives; and that All-India matters affecting the Muslims must rest with the Muslim League.

Jinnah was also repeating all the charges against the Congress and declaring that all hopes of communal settlement had been wrecked on the rocks of “Congress fascism”. It may be mentioned that the M.L. Council had passed a resolution on the allegations of Congress atrocities and a special committee was appointed with Raja Syed Muhammad Mehdi of Pirpur as its Chairman, to reinvestigate Muslim complaints against Congress and submit a report. Shortly afterward the Pirpur report was published which condemned the Congress governments on numerous counts: excluding Muslims from a share in the government and in the services; introduction of the Wardha scheme of education; compelling Muslims to show respect to the Congress flag and sing Bande Matrum, and extending the use of Hindi and the neglect of Urdu-etc. This comparatively restrained documennt was followed in March 1939 by much more lusid account of some “grievances of Muslims in Bihar” by a provincial League inquiry committee (the Sharif Report). This report mainly consisted of a fullest description of the atrocities perpetrated by Hindus at various places in Bihar. It was followed by Fazlul Haq’s pamphlet “Muslim Sufferngs under the Congress Rule”, in December 1939. These charges were, however, repudiated by the Congress and Hindu press by saying that these were exaggerated accounts of some complaints, half-truths and untruths. But the Indian Muslims were now very much aware of the real facts, thanks to the Muslim League and its leader Jinnah who had unraveled the truth.

Muslims were convinced that the Congress had failed to inspire confidence in the minorities; that it was a Hindu party (as Jinnah had been saying all along) which folowed a “close-door” policies to liquidate the Muslim League: that the Congress Muslims were stooges that mass-contact scheme was to destroy the Muslim solidarity and for that matter Moulvis were also employed by the Congress; that the Congress did not wish to settle the communal disputes; that due to its high-handedness and the reign of terror, the Congress wished to impose Hindu Raj on the Muslims so that they could not practise Islam; that if the Muslims killed cows, the Hindus would kill them and burn their houses and assault their children, pigs would be thrown in the mosques, Azans would be denounced and interrupted, Muslim shops would be boycotted, they would not be allowed to use the village wells, and that official inquiries would always be biased against the Muslims.

It may also be noted that Sir Syed’s All-India Muslim Educational Conference was also well aware of Hindu plans to relegate Muslim education; for decades of hard work for the growth of Muslim education had come under threat. In 1938, its fifty-second annual session was held at Calcutta and a committee was appointed under Nawab Kamal Yar Jang Bahadar, in order to survey the educational system in India and to propose a scheme of Muslim education; a sub-committee under Sir Azizul Haq (Speaker of Bengal Legislature and Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University) toured India to collect the relevant information. The Report was published in 1942; in summary, the Report criticized the Wardha scheme of education – its author Zakir Husain was opposed by the Muslims – Muslims in the C.P. Assembly opposed the Scheme but they had been ignored. Its implementation was even worse, hurting the Muslim students and teachers in many ways. Small children were made to solute Gandhi’s portrait and sing hymns and to respect Hindu Heros. This scheme was secular in nature in order to divorce Muslims from their religion, culture and traditions. Some newly introduced books, also glorified the Hindu culture.

The Muslim League, therefore, kept up its utmost pressure on the Congress and the Government so long as the Congress was in office. Jinnah declared that Congress was not entitled to speak on behalf of the whole of India and therefore was not capable of delivering the goods; that the Muslims wanted no gifts and no concessions but full rights; that Congress was nothing but a Hindu body, presence of a few Muslims (misled and misguided ones) could not make it a national body. He criticised Gandhi for turning the Congress into an instrument for the revival of Hinduism and to establish Hindu Raj. Jinnah also criticised Nehru, S.C.Bose, R.Prasad and Sardar Patel. He also pleaded for patience, asking Muslims to do all they could to organize the League so that 90 million Muslims might come under its discipline. Nevertheless, by the outbreak of second world war in 1939, the Muslim League had become the strongest single Muslim political party in India and also the second largest party in Indian politics.

The war and its impact on Indian Politics

A new phase in the growth of Muslim League began in 1939 by the outbreak of the Second World War. Although the official declaration of war on India’s behalf was made in September 1939. preparations on a large scale had been underway at least since February 1938. Military maneuverings and air raids exercises had been giving the impression of a forthcoming war. From April to August, Indian troops had been involved in preparations for war at Aden, Singapore and Egypt. On 11, August the Congress Working Committee declared that it was opposed to any war and that it would resist any effort to impose war on India. On 27 August, the League’s Council passed a resolution deploring the treatment meted out to Muslims and stressing that if the British desired cooperation, the demands of the League would have to be accepted. However, Bengal and the Punjab (Sikandar and Haq) fully supported the British war effort. On 3 September 1939. Britain declared war on Germany and on the same day Linlithgow declared India’s involvement in the war, without consulting the Congress party which was ruling eight of the eleven Indian provinces.

On 4 September, the Viceroy met Gandhi, Jinnah and the Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes. Gandhi assured the Viceroy of his full sympathies in the war but the could not commit the Congress in any manner. Jinnah clearly told the Viceroy that Sir Sikandar alone “could not deliver the goods”; he asked the Viceroy for something in return to take back to Muslims to help him rally their support for the war. Jinnah wanted the Congress ministries to be thrown out of the office and made it clear that the ultimate solution for India was its partition. Nehru (specialist on foreign affairs) was in China; on 11 September Nehru went to Wardha to attend the Congress Working Committee’s discussions. A resolution was passed on 15 September condemning Fascism and Nazism. attacking the proclamation of war and the emergency powers and asking the Government to declare its war aims; Nehru had drafted this resolution. On 10 October, the Congress demanded that India must be declared an independent nation.

On the other hand, the League wished to have some safeguards from the British; on 18 September the League’s Working Committee declared that the British could bank on Muslim co-operation only on two conditions: justice and fair play for Muslims in the Hindu Provinces and an assurance that no declaration would be adopted without the approval of the Muslim League – right to veto. On 26 September, Gandhi met the Viceroy; Linlithgow told him that the Government could not disregard the legitimate demands of the Muslims. Gandhi wished that Britain should leave Indians to settle their problems, begginng the Viceroy not to consult the Muslim League. But the Government was in trouble due to the war; Zetland (the Secretary of State) very much regretted the Congress stance on the war. On 2 October, Linlithgow met R.Prasad and Nehru who also demanded a high price (freedom for India and a share of power at the Centre) On 5 October, Jinnah met the Viceroy again and demanded “more protection” for Muslims. On 17 October, the Viceroy issued the statement of his Majesty’s Government’s policy confirming that the natural issue of India’s progress was the attainment of Dominion status; that at the end of the war negotiations would be held for more advance. On 18 October 1939, the Viceroy assured Muslims that “full weight would be given to their views and interests”. The Muslim League interpreted this statement as an emphatic repudiation of the Congress claims to represent the whole of India; that the Government had recognized the fact that the League alone truly represented the Indian Muslims and could speak on their behalf. Indeed it was a sort of veto given to the League.

The Congress rejected the Viceroy’s statement; on 23 October its Working Committee condemned the Government and decided that it could not support the war effort. Moreover, the Congress High Command called upon the Congress ministries to resign. Jinnah on the other hand, asked for further discussions; he was authorized by the League to give an assurance of support and co-operation on behalf of Muslims to the Government for the prosecution of the war. But Jinnah was waiting for a better deal. On 1 November, the Viceroy invited Gandhi, R.Prasad, and Jinnah for talks; Gandhi and Prasad insisted that the question to be settled was: Britain’s war aims. Jinnah was also given the same answer by Gandhi and Prasad. On 3 November, Prasad sent a long letter to Linlithgow that the Congress would not co-operate unless the British war aims were enunciated. Jinnah also wrote to Linlithgow saying that the Congress had refused to discuss any questions until the British Government clarified its war aims. On 5 November, Linlithgow reported the failure of talks, publishing the correspondence between him and the leaders, deploring the lack of agreement. In the meantime, the Congress ministries resigned one after another and the Governors took charge of their administration under Section 93 (of 1935 Act). In any case, Linlithgow felt assured that his administration had enough resources to meet any emergency created by the rebellious Congress Party. At this stage, Gandhi appealed to Jinnah to cooperate with Congress. But Jinnah being a politician of the highest order wished to extract all he could for the growth of Muslim League; he knew too well that at this movement Linlithgow (as an administrator) had no choice but to give a due weight to the second largest party, the League, for the Congress was in a very bad temper.

It was perhaps the best opportunity for the Muslim League to strengthen its organization; after the resignations of Congress ministries, the Congress leaders had lost all the bargaining power they had acquired when they were in charge of eight Indian provinces (Assam, Bihar, Bombay, C.P.Madras, Orissa. U.P. and N.W.E.P.). It may be noted that the decision of the Congress to resign was widely regretted; it was noticed that most of its ministers resigned reluctantly. Many knew that under these circumstances the British would have to lean more on the support of the Muslim League and that the League, the Governors (incharge of Congress provinces) and the Viceroy would not like to see the return of Congress ministries, at least during the war and that the status quo would remain for a long time. And the result was that the League’s popularity graph among the Muslims rose with a great deal of speed; wavers among the Muslims began trickling into the League. With good cards in his hands, Jinnah (on 5 November) asked the Viceroy for more safeguards for Muslims such as:

  • the future constitutional advance should be examined and reconsidered de novo;
  • no constitution be enacted without the approval of Congress and the League;
  • the British Government should meet all reasonable demands of the Arabs in Palestine; and
  • Indian troops would not be used against any Muslim country.

The Viceroy sent a reply (23 December) among other things promising that his government knew the importance of Indian Muslims and that full weight would be given to their views; and that the Government would consider all reasonable demands of the Arabs.

After getting some assurances from the Government, Jinnah once again turned towards the Congress, perhaps from time to time teaching them lessons for hurting the Muslims during its two and a half years rule. On December 2, 1939, he issued a proclamation calling upon the Muslims throughout India to observe 22 December as a day of thanksgiving to mark their deliverance from the “tyranny, oppression and injustice” of the Congress regime in the provinces, a mark of relief that the Congress rule had at last ended. The resolution stated that the League do not accept the Congress claim that it represented all interests justly and fairly.

The Congress Ministry [sic] both in the discharge of their duties of the administration and in the legislatures have done their best to flout the Muslim opinion, to destroy Muslim culture, and have interfered with their religious and social life, and trampled upon their economic and political rights; that in matters of differences and disputes the Congress … invariably have sided with, supported and advanced the cause of the Hindus in total disregard and to the prejudice of the Muslim interests.

The Congress Governments constantly interfered with the legitimate and routine duties of district officers even in petty matters to the serious detriment of the Musalmans, and thereby created an atmosphere which spread the belief amongst the Hindu public that there was established a Hindu raj, and emboldened the Hindus, mostly Congressmen, to ill-treat Muslims at various places and interfere with their elementary rights of freedom.

Jinnah had treuly read the Muslim mind; the resignations of the Congress ministries was a matter of jubilation for the Muslims, particularly in predominantly Hindu provinces. A few days later Jinnah clarified that he was not in favour of section 93 in the provinces but for the formation of truly popular ministries which would be able to do justice to all communities. He demanded the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate and report upon the allegations and charges against the Congress regime by the Muslims. Jinnan also advised his followers to behave with perfect calmness, observing no hartals, no processions or demonstrations, only expressing relief and gratitude in their hearts, not joy and triumph. On 22 December, “Deliverance Day” was observed by the Muslims throughout India in a peaceful and disciplined way. But Nehru was shocked and the Congress now described Jinnah as “The Dictator of Malabar Hills”. But the fact of the matter was that the Congress had not given top priority to settling the communal problems and giving due importance to the League when it was in power. Early in 1940, Linlithgow visited Nagpur and Bombay and interviewed some of the political leaders and delivered an important speech in Bombay. He recognized the claims not only of the Muslims, but also of the Scheduled Castes, saying that his government was determined to see that justice was done to them and appealed to the leaders of political parties in India to sort out their differences by reaching an agreement helping the Government to end the political deadlock as soon as possible. The Viceroy also met Jinnah; the Quaid demanded that the coalition ministries be formed; that any legislation affecting the Muslims not to be enforced if the two-third of their members in a provincial Lower House were opposed to it; that the Congress flag not to be flown on public institutions, that an understanding was essential as to the use of Bande Matrum; and that the Congress must cease its wrecking tactics against the Muslim League. Jinnah told the Viceroy that the Congress did not consider Linlithgow’s offer to enlarge the Executive Council. The Quaid was deeply pessimistic about the success of democratic institutions in India.

Linlithgow also met B.Desai who clearly stated that he could not make any commitment and that the Viceroy should get intouch with Gandhi. Linlithgow acquainted Desai with Jinnah’s demands to sound the Congress response to Jinnah. Desai told the Viceroy that the Congress was ready to include in any ministry a Muslim nominated by the majority of Muslim representatives in a provincial Assembly, but that Minister must accept the principle of collective responsibility and ordinary Congress discipline. Desai stressed the importance which the Congress attached to majority rule and to collective responsibility in the cabinet. On 25 January 1940, Linlithgow met the premiers of Bengal and Punjab who were fully cooperating with him, even sometimes defying Jinnah and the League’s mandate.

Sir Sikandar Hayat was told about the talks Linlithgow had with Jinnah and Desai; the Punjab Premier was against forcing the League’s representatives into Congress cabinets. As for Communal disputes, Sir Şikandar suggested that committees might be set up in the provinces to protect minorities, with a right to approach the Governor direct and it not satisfied, they should be given the right to appeal to the Federal Court. A few days later (on 3 February) Linlithgow met Fazlul Haq and Sikandar together; both were ready to admit the Congress into their ministries and were of the view that the Congress should offer concessions to the minorities if it were given concessions at the Centre. Both of them impressed on the Viceroy the seriousness with which the League would view any concession to the Congress if unaccompanied by some satisfaction for their own demands. A few days later Jinnah was invited by Linlithgow; Jinnah told him that the Muslims feared that Congress governments might return to office at any time; and if their ministries returned to office under existing circumstances, there would be a civil war in India. The Viceroy promised to do something for the protection of minorities. Jinnah also referred to the efforts being made by the League to form a ministry in the N.W.F.P. Linlithgow welcomed the working of the constitution in that province. Jinnah wrote an article for London’s Time and Tide (19 January 1940): “Let us first diagnose the disease, then consider the symptoms and finally arrive at the remedy”; that “there are in India two nations who must both share the governance of their common motherland”. On 12 February, the Secretary of State made an appeal to the Congress leaders that the problem of minorities must be addressed by Indian themselves.

The Quaid kept up his pressure on the government; on 24 February 1940 he told the Viceroy that although the M.L. Working Committee appreciated the good wishes expressed for Muslims, their real demand of a definite assurance that no declaration would be made, nor any constitution be enforced or enacted by the Government without the approval and consent of the Indian Muslims, had not been accepted. That the Viceroy’s assurances so far had left the position of the 90 million Indian Muslims only in the region of consultation and counsel, and vested the final decision in British to determine the fate and future of Muslim India. He again emphasized the need to find a solution of Palestine problem to the satisfaction of the Arabs; that the Working Committee wanted a clear assurance on the above-mentioned points so that the Muslims could give there whole-hearted support in the prosecution of war. Jinnah was again ready to meet the Viceroy to explain his position in details.

On 13 March 1940, Jinnah was again invited by the Viceroy for a meeting; he once again assured Linlithgow that the Muslims would not retard the war effort in case an assurance was given to the Muslims that no political settlement would be reached with the Congress without the approval of the Muslims. Linlithgow reacted favorably and promised to communicate his feelings to the British Government in London. Jinnah also made it plain that if the Government did not give him more security, the Muslims would be left with no option but to fall back on some form of partition of India; that Muslims were not a minority but rather a nation; that democracy for India was impossible. Jinnah was in favor of a Muslim area run by Muslims in collaboration with the British, despite the fact that it might mean poverty, but the Muslims would be able to retain their independence, self-respect, their religion and culture and would be able to lead their lives as they wished. He thought it was the only way to keep Muslims happy and satisfied, and that the Muslims sincerely believed that this was the only solution. The stage had, therefore, arrived where the Muslim League had to announce a clear-cut policy regarding the partition of India.

[PDF Download]

Consti. Advance: From Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms to the Act of 1935

When the Morley-Minto reforms (The Government of India Act of 1909) came into effect, different political organizations reacted in different ways. The political and constitutional advance was much less than the Indian political parties had in mind, they had demanding for and hoped to achieve. For instance the Act of 1909 did not meet many of the demands raised by the Punjabi Muslims. For one thing, separate electorates were not made a part of the new reforms in the Punjab; for an other, even though the elective system was introduced, its proportion was lower than other major Indian provinces. The Muslims complained; in the Muslim League’s session (in 1910) they expressed their anger, dissatisfaction and disappointment. The elections held under the new reforms further proved that their fears were well-founded. The Muslims fared very badly in the elections of 1912; it was noticed that even some of their best candidates had also been defeated. The Government nominated some Muslims, but they were hardly adequate to represent the Muslim case; the Muslim Press, and their political parties, therefore, criticized the system of joint electorates and continued to press their demands of adequate representation at all levels.

The Indian National Congress was also critical; Pandit Malaviya presided over the Lahore session of the Congress in December 1909 and bitterly criticized some provisions of the Act of 1909, especially the Muslim right to separate electorates (although partially introduced) as an injustice to his community (the Hindus). Congress also disapproved of all special measures introduced by the Government to benefit the Muslims. In 1910 when the Congress held its session at Allahabad the criticism was little milder. The Congress President, Wedderburn, was trying to bring about a rapprochement between the Hindus and the Muslims, in other words between the Congress and the Muslim League; but these efforts failed. In 1911, the Congress session was held at Calcutta; even though the criticism against the introduction of communal electorates continued, the Congress thanked the Government for the annulment of the partition of Bengal.

In the meantime, the Muslims had been deeply annoyed with the Government due to many reasons. Very briefly, the frustration in the Punjab and some other factors at all-India level convinced the Muslims that Sir Syed’s argument to keep the Muslim away from the Congress was no longer valid. Firstly, the partition of Bengal (as mentioned in an earlier chapter) was revoked after a vigorous Hindu agitation; its annulment had shocked the Muslims at large and their policy of unconditional loyalty to the British also received a severe below. In 1911-12, the Government further alienated the Muslims by helping the Chiristian states against Turkey during the Balkan wars. Moreover, the Government was also refusing to accept some genuine Muslim demands such as to establish a Muslim University, In these circumstances, the Muslims realised that some sort of understanding with the Congress was essential. The radical group of Muslims, with the support of progressive group in the Punjab favoured a Congress-League accord. The result was that both the organizations drew closer as the time went by. In 1913, the League changed its creed, demanding the introduction of self-government in India; the Congress had warmly welcomed and appreciated this newest change of policy. It was calculated by the Congress that it was the right time when both the Congress and the League could agree on a common action on questions affecting national interests.

The main hurdle was the settlement of some basic issues of communal nature. In 1913, the Congress agreed in principle to have an amicable settlement of communal disputes in order to chalk out a programme for further political and constitutional advance. In 1915, the Bombay session of the Congress was a step forward in this direction. Mrs Annie Besant also played her part; she had hitherto been devoting her abilities towards religious matters, but now deciding to enter the field of politics, hoping to do her best for the betterment of her countrymen. Mrs Besant laid the foundation of the Home Rule League; she also pressed B.G.D. Tilak to rejoin the Congress Party. The death of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Ferozshah Mehta (in 1915) facilitated Tilak’s re-entry into the Congress ranks. Mrs Besant also put pressure on the extremist Hindu leaders that it was essential to settle at least some communal issues in order to put pressure on the governement for constituional advance. The good omen was that the League had come under the liberal and dynamic influence of M.A.Jinnah and Moulana Mohammad Ali who wished to get in touch with the Congress in order to formulate a scheme of reforms.

In October 1916, nineteen (out of twenty seven) elected members of the Imperial Legislative council drafted a “declaration of rights”, commonly known as “the memorandum of the nineteen”. It was perhaps the first Indian attempt at constitution-makingboth Hindus and Muslims appended their signatures – a significant event towards Hindu-Mulim Unity.It was presented to the Viceroy (Lord Chelmsford). The proposals in the memorandum could be summarized as follows: 50% members of the Imperial and provincial Executive Councils should be elected; that all Legislative Councils should have substantial elected majorities; that all Legislative councils should have control over the Budget and the right of voting supplies; that the council of the secretary of State should be abolished; that all Provinces should have full autonomy; that India should be given a position of a self-governing Dominion; and that all Indians should have the right to carry arms, to enlist in territorial units and to win commissions in the Army on conditions similar to those prescribed for Europeans.

The Scheme of the Nineteen received considerable importance in Indian political circles; it was looked at in great details and was amended after discussions at subsequent meetings of the Muslim League and the Congress. The foundations of a League-Congress entente were laid at the end of 1915, when both organizations held their annual sessions at the same place and at the same time (Lucknow); and this practice continued until 1921. Eventually, therefore, a pact was reached on the subject of further reforms in India. The celebrated Lucknow Pact (as it came to be called) was the result of a policy of give and take, concessions by both sides. It was a matter of great satisfaction that the Congress accepted separate electorates for Muslims not only where they existed but also their extension into the Punjab and the C.P.; Muslim minorities in the U.P., Bihar, Bombay and Madras received wieghtage whereas in the Punjab and Bengal, the Muslims had to forgo a certain number of seats (being allocated 50% and 40% seats respectively – although the Punjab and Bengal were predominantly Muslim Majority provinces). At the Centre, one-third seats were alloted to the Muslims. Another important feature of the Lucknow Pact was that no bill or resolution affecting a community was to be proceeded with in any council if three-fourths of the representative of that community did not approve of it.

The Lucknow Pact was widely supported by various interests in India; the Shafi group in the Punjab however opposed the accord on the plea that the Punjab Muslims were not given 56% representation on the Legislative council. But the Muslims at large were happy that at the cost of their majorities in the Punjab and Bengal they had gained certain advantages in their minority provinces. The Muslims, therefore, supported administrative and financial autonomy for provinces; that 80% members of Legislative councils should be elected; that the role of the Secretary of State for India should not be more than the Secretary of State for colonies with the Governments of the Dominions; and the Dominion status was demanded for India, at par with other Dominions.

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms

For the first time in the History of British India, the Indian leaders had been able to sort out their communal differences; the Lucknow Pact was the first and last accord between the two great communities of India, the Hindus and the Muslims. And for the first and last time so much pressure was put on the Government to introduce more reforms in India due to Hindu-Muslim Unity. The Government had no choice but to satisfy the Indian aspirations by granting a measure of constitutioal advance with hopes to convert India into a status of self-governing nation with its connections with the British commonwealth. Lord Chelmsford who succeeded Lord Hardinge in April 1916 was also planning in terms of a scheme of post-war reforms; he addressed this question by inviting political leaders for suggestions to be incorporated in his proposed scheme of Reforms. On 20 August 1917, E.S. Montagu (the Secretary of State for India) made an announcement in the House of commons; Montagu had replaced Austen Chamberlain on 20 July 1917. Montagu wished to have an increasing association of Indians leading to self-government and decided to go to India to discuss the issues involved. He landed in Bombay in November 1917; he was the first Secretary of State to visit India for purely political purposes. He met M.A.Jinnah, Sir Shafi, Gandhi, Malaviya, Tilak and Mrs Besant.

Montagu also visisted all provinces and had a great deal of discussions with officials at various levels (almost from top to bottom). It was noticed that the Secretary of State was hostile towards communal electorates. However, one thing was clear in his mind: a step by step approach towards full responsible Government as stated by the August Delcaration. The final outcome was the Report signed in April 1918 and issued in July 1918. A complex scheme of a divided Governement called dyarchy was to be introduced; provincial administration was divided into reserved and transferred subjects. The reserved departments would be administered by the Governor (through members appointed by him); the transferred subjects would be admisnistered by ministers. The Report retained separate electorates but disapproved of the system of communal representation; separate representation was also extended to the Sikhs, but was refused to other minorities. The Governor and his Executive Council were given special powers; the Governor was given the power to enact any bill, bypassing the Legislative by “certificate” that it was essential. The Central Legislature would be bicameral: the lower house (the Legislative Assembly) and the upper house (The Council of State); and of 100 members of the Assembly two-third would be elected and one-third nominated by the Viceroy. Provincial legislatures were also enlarged with at least 70% elected element; franchise was also extended. The Viceroy’s council was to continue to be responsible to the Secretary of State. The salary of the Secretary of State should be transferred to the British Exchequer. A council of princes was to be established. It was also decided that at the end of ten years a commission would be appointed to examine the working of the system and to advise on further constitutional reforms.

As expected, the Report was criticized; the extremist leaders reacted and condemned the proposed reforms. The Congress (1918) termed the proposals as disappointing and unsatisfactory. The Muslims were also disappointed but they did not reject the Report. Later on, two committees were established; one was presided over by Lord Southborough and the other by Richard Feetham. These committees toured India. Another committee was established under Lord Crewe. These committees made recommendations and the Government of India also gave its proposals.

In the meantime, the Government had been investigating revolutionary activities in India; an investigating committee of Jurists (the Indian Sedition Committee) under the Chairmanship of a British Judge (Sir Sidney Rowlatt) presented a Report on 15 August 1917, based on a survey of revolutionary crimes. In 1919, the Rowlatt Act was passed; people could be tried by courts with special powers given by the Act and the judgments were final and conclusive. Inevitably, disturbances and protests were noticed all over India against Kangroo Courts; troops had to be called to restore law and order situation. The Lt. Governor of the Punjab (Sir Michael O’Dwyer) banned the entry into the Punjab of every political leader and suppressed the most popular newspapers. The trouble, therefore, broke out in the Punjab on 9 April in Amritsar when a magistrate ordered firing upon a crowd of protesters. On 13 April (1919) General Dyer ordered the shooting of an unarmed crowd in Jallianwala Bagh. Dyer had issued a proclamation banning meetings but it was not given enough publicity; even the organizers of the Jallianwala Bagh meeting were not informed properly. The meeting took place, therefore, as planned; Dyer (a crack-brained British General) ordered to fire straight at the crowd; in 10 minutes 1650 bullets were fired killing 397 and seriously wounding 1650. The Indians were outraged; hartals were observed and the Martial Law authorities retaliated by taking strong actions. Demands were made by Indians for the recall of O’Dwyer and Chelmsford and an action was suggested against General Dyer. An enquiry committee was announced by the government with Hunter as Chairman on 14 October 1919. The Hunter committee was boycotted by the Congress. The Congress had appointed its own committee of Enquiry; it charged O’Dwyer; the Government of India and the British Government also came to the conclusion that Dyer’s action was indefensible. Dyer was therefore retired from office on March 23, 1920.

The Working of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms and Communal Antagonism

In June 1919, Montagu introduced the Government of India Bill in the Parliament; it was referred to a Joint Select Committee of both the Houses of the Parliament. M.A.Jinnah and Yakub Hassan presented their views before the Committee demanding full responsible Government.

The Joint Select Committee presented its Report to the Parliament. Eventually the Bill (after some amendments) became an Act on 23 December 1919. The moderate opinion appreciated the Act of 1919 as a step towards the introduction of responsible Government, appealing to all walks of life to extend their co-operation for the successful working of the Reforms. The Congress. However, declared that the Act was not what they had hoped for demands were made for an early establishment of full Responsible Government. However, the Reforms were introduced; the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (or the Act of 1919) brought some major changes in the administration of British India; beginning of a responsible government was therefore made in the eight provinces of British India namely Bombay, Madras, Bengal, the United Provinces, the Punjab, Central Provinces, Bihar and Orrisa and Assam. The elections were held (under the new Act) in December 1920 and ministers were appointed after the elections. The ministers under the new system became powerful in their respective departments; they were empowered to make independent policies. and also with the approval of Governor, make appointments in the transferred subjects. The responsibility of elected ministers for the transferred subjects of local self-government and education offered scope for political patronage which was often preferably dispensed to members of the minister’s own religious community or caste. Moreover, while choosing ministers the British governors always tried to take into account the communal proportions in their provinces. It so happened that where Muslims were incharge of their departments, they tried to remove various anomalies in order to give a due share to their community. Mian Fazl-i-Husain in the Punjab and A.K.Fazl-ul-Haq in Bengal used the power and influence to benefit the Muslims in official employment, local government and education. But the Hindus (and sometimes Hindus and other communities like the Sikhs) viewed such policies as an assault on their long-held superior position. The net result was that the Hindu members set aside their class and caste differences and in a highly organized fashion started a movement against all Muslim ministers who were trying to improve the conditions of their backward community. Fazl-i-Husain and Fazl-ul-Haq, according to the Hindus were showing them as to how the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms could be turned to the advantage of their own community.

The Punjab and Bengal situation affected the all-India politics, with the result that a severe communal competition for power started. It were the Hindus who had opened once again one of the saddest chapters of the Hindu-Muslim relations. The official record on this issue reveals the fact that the Hindu community was not prepared to see Muslims progressing even in their majority provinces such as the Punjab and Bengal. The Hindu minorities in these Provinces favoured the return of a bureaucratic rule to replace Mulsim ministers, and to prevent Muslims from securing a share of power commensurate with their numerical strength. Communal antagonism was not confined to Legislative councils, Press and ministries, it was also seen in the streets. Serious communal riots occured at Multan (1922), Paniput (1923), Rewari (1926), Lahore (1927) also at Agra, Saharanpur and Shahjehanpur, Allahahbad, Lucknow, Aligarh, Bareilly and Cawnpore. Communal rivalries were intensified due to the movements like Shuddhi (purification) and Sangathan (consolidation); the latter were founded to reclaim Muslims to the Hindu fold and to harden the Hindu for militant action by drill and physical culture.

The Muslims retaliated by establishing the tabligh and tanzim movement in 1924; these movements were generally patronized by the Ulama but eminent Khilafatists like Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew also gave them assistance. Swami Shraddhanand (the founder of the Shuddhi Movement) was also active in reconverting the Malkana Rajputs to Hinduism; thirty thousands were said to have been reclaimed. It may be mentioned that the Arya Samaj Movement was also doing all it could against Islam and Muslims. Rajpal published a pamphlet (Rangila Rasool) attacking the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It may also be noted that the Punjab Muslims had often attacked the High Court in Lahore for it was biased against the Muslims; the Hindus dominated the Bench – its Chief Justice Shadi Lal is also remembered for his anti-Muslim feelings. Rajpal was convicted by a magistrate and was sentenced to ten months rigorous impironment and a fine of 1000 rupees. The conviction was maintained by a session judge. But Rajpal challenged the decision in the High Court In 1927, and the high court acquitted him. Not only the Muslims but even the Government thought that Rajpal should not have been declared free from blame. The Muslims took the matter to the streets by taking out large processions. The Viceroy (Lord Irwin) and the Governor (Sir Malcolm Hailey) were greatly embarrssed by the judicial decision. The communal tension worsened when Rajpal was murdered by a Muslim (Ilm-ud-Did); the latter was sentenced by the court and executed. The two communities were so hostile that the Punjab Hindus ignored the death of a great Muslim leader, Moulana Mohammad Ali, and the Muslims in return took no notice of the death of a great Hindu leader, Motilal Nehru. It may be noted that Moulana Mohammad Ali had been a great supporter of the Congress. At one time the Moulana went so far that he called the Simla Deputation “a command performance”. But later on Moulana Muhammad Ali was disillusioned with the Congress and the Hindus; he criticised the Hindus for not allowing the Muslims to have their due share in administration and in other spheres. In 1924, Moulana Mohammad Ali expressed his apprehensions that Pandit M.M.Malaviya and his other extrmeist friends had been trying to turn Congress into a purely Hindu political party. Later on, the Moulana was more furious when he publically stated that a fallen Muslim was better than Gandhi. Moulana Muhammad Ali was driven away from the Congress; it was an inevitable result of the Congress policly for the promotion of Hindu interests and relegating the Muslims to the background. Now Mohammad Ali who was a staunch supporter of Gnadhi’s non-co-operation movement became the vehement champion of Muslim rights.

Efforts for Constituional advance after the Act of 1919

During the first three years of the working of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, there emerged a situation of no compromose between the Muslims the Hindus and the Sikhs. Each community. disregarding the other, pushed its claims regarding its representation in the Legislative councils, in the local bodies and in the services, With the passage of time relations (as mentioned above) between the communities went from bad to worse. Each community wanted to have the upper hand in the administration; in some cases the Hindus and Sikhs (and others) pooled their resources against the Muslims.

Meanwhile, at all-India level the Nationalists had been demanding more reforms. The government had introduced the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms with a view to satisfying the legitimate aspiration of the Indians for reforms’. As far as the moderate and the reasonable’ opinion was concerned, the reforms were welcomed. But the extremist section of the Indian opinion had rejected these reforms as inadequate. Ever since, there had been constant demands, raised by the advanced section of Indian politicians for further constitutional advance in India. As early as September 1921, Mozumdar Bahadur moved a resolution in the Central Legislature asking for the establishment of autonomy in the provinces and the introduction of responsible government at the Centre. The resolution was later amended by the Assembly, asking the government to appoint a committee for the purpose stated in the original resolution The Secretary of State, however, did not agree with the demand, on the plea that further progress was possible under the existing Act.

His despatch (of November 1922) did not satisfy Indian opinion and in the following year demands were again made for the grant of constitutional advance. By 1924, the situation had become worse from the government’s point of view; the Swarajist element had won a great victory in the recent elections, and their entry into the Councils had accelerated the demand for further reforms in India. On 5th February 1924, Diwan Rangachariar moved a resolution recommending an early revision of the 1919 Act, with the object of granting full self-government dominion status to India, together with provincial autonomy in the provinces. Moti Lal Nehru tabled an amendment suggesting the summoning of a Round Table Conference to recommend a draft constitution for India. The debates took place on the 8, 13 & 18 February 1924, and the amended resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Assembly.

This notable success of the Swarajist Party was due to the fact that Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League and the Independent Party (consisting of 17 members) had fully supported the move. He stood for a full inquiry into the Act of 1919, and was opposed to the government’s desire to avoid the issue by conducting some sort of departmental inquiry. The Quaid was in agreement with Nehru, the leader of the Swaraj Party, as the demand developed in the Assembly. It was only due to the combined pressure of Hindus and Muslims that the government agreed to institute an inquiry into the working of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, introduced only three years earlier. The Home Member, Sir Malcolm Hailey, expressed government’s readiness to make a serious attempt to investigate justifiable complaints against the working of the scheme in practice; to assess the causes and to examine the remedies, in necessary’. The government also expressed its willingness to make recommendations to the British Parliament should the inquiry suggest any advance within the boundaries of the existing Act. This commitment first led to the appointment of an official committee with the object of examining the Act of 1919 and the possibilities of amendments, leading to the better working of the administration. It was followed by the appointment of the Reforms Enquiry Committee presided over by Sir Alexander Mudiman; the other members were Sir Mohammad Shafi (then Law member of the Viceroy’s Council), the Raja of Burdwan, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Sir Sivaswami Aiyer, Sir Arthur Froom, Sir Henry Smith, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Dr.Parajnpye.

Incidentally, Jinnah was in need of support which the Punjab and more specifically Fazl-i-Husain could provide; his Unionist Party had been successfully working the Reforms and he was opposed to the non-coopeation movement, sticking to constitutional means and getting most out of it. Jinnah also wished to be within the constitutional means. In the 15th session of the League (1923) the Quaid had failed to secure a decision in this direction. Thus with the object of giving support to Fazl-i-Husain who was in trouble (due to the Hindu-Sikh campaign) and at the same time enhancing the League’s prestige, the Quaid arranged to resume the League’s discontinued session of the previous year in Lahore. The Quaid during his address referred to the non-cooperation movement by calling it a mistake and a failure. He then referred to the communal friction arising from the communal claims of each community. He proposed a revision of the Lucknow Pact, which would give Muslims more seats in the Punjab and Bengal Legislative councils; he also linked the freedom of India with Hindu-Muslim unity by saying that Swaraj (self-rule) is an inter-changable term with Hindu-Muslim unity. It was resolved that India must be recognized as a federation with full provincial autonomy giving majority rights to the Muslims of Bengal, the Punjab and N.W.F.P., with separate electorates retained and the powers of the Centre to be kept to a minimum.

Meanwhile, the Government of India (due to the pressure of “Nationalists” leaders) directed its provincial governments to elicit opinion on the subject of further reforms. On the whole satisfaction was expressed on the working of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. With official information in hand, the Mudiman Committee assembled in Simla on 4 August 1924 and started its business. Various organizations presented their views in writing and their leaders personally appearing before the committee. The Mudiman Committee published its report in December 1924, diving itself into two groups. The official group held the view that the Act of 1919 was working in most provinces and that it had not failed as claimed by certain “advanced politicians”; the Report, however, deplored the existing communal friction. It rejected the proposal to lower the franchise qualifications; separate electorates was allowed to continue. Political parties were not satisfied; in 1925 the League urged the British Government to appoint a Royal Commission with the object of establishing self-government in India; it was decided to established a committee to frame a scheme for constitutional advance.

On the other hand (as mentioned earlier) India (in early 1920) was found in the grip of a severe kind of communal crisis. After the murder of Shradhanad, a most serious communal clash occured in March 1927 at Kulkathi in the Barisal district of Bengal. A crowd of 1,000 armed Muslims came out to fight a Hindu procession passing before the mosque playing music. The armed forces opened fire to disperse the crowd and as a result 14 rioters were killed and seven injured. The affected mostly were the Bengali Muslims. The Bengal Muslim Conference raised its voice against the behaviour of the Bengal Government. An inquiry after this incident revealed that the existence of communal electorates for Muslims was generally described by the Hindus as a major cause of communal clashes in India. Needless to say, these electorates were highly desirable from the Muslim point of view, but were never considered to be an ideal form of rpresentaion. Even the leading Punjabi Muslims, such as Sir Fazl-i-Husain, Sir Abdul Qadir and Sir Muhammad Shafi considered this form of representaion a temporary measure. The Montagu-Chelmsford reforms had introduced this system only as a necessary evil”. The Government through the publication of the Mudiman Committee Report in 1924 also made it clear that a solution of this problem was highly desirable, if further constituional advances were to be achieved. Above all, these electorates were only considered to be means to an end; and the end in view, as far as the Muslims were concerned, was only to safegurd their legitimate interests.

Thus, before the much-awaited appointment of Royal Statutory Commission (The Simon Commission), it was thought to be highly desirable to find a way to remove this barrier. The Hindu members of the Congress Party in the Assembly met on 17 March 1927; on the same day Muslim leaders met at Dr. Ansari’s house, where a modification of the existing system was discussed, but no progress was made. On 20 March, an influential group of Muslim members of the various legislatures met under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah; they discussed the possibilites of introducing common (Joint) electorates; and at the end, a set of proposals, commonly called the Delhi Proposals, was evolved. The Muslims made a provisional offer to give up their right to separate electorates under certain conditions; the separation of Sind from Bombay; introduction of reforms in the Frontier Province and Baluchistan; one third representation for Muslims in the Central Assembly; and that Muslim representation in the their majority provinces should be on the basis of their population. The League leader had planned that once he had received a clear answer from the Hindu leaders, he would discuss the matter with the central committee of the League, Khilafat Conference, Jamiat Ulema, the Muslim members of the Council of State and the Assembly, and then might form a small committee to discuss matters with the various Hindu organizatons. Even after these arrangements, the final settlement would be subject to ratification by the various Hindu-Muslim organizations of the country. It was a very long process of consultation which could not have materialized.

The Delhi Proposals were published on 20 March 1927. Sir Shafi representing the Punjab Muslims had fully agreed with the initiative in the Delhi meeting. But on his return to the Punjab, Sir Shafi changed his mind. Shortly afterwards the Punjab Muslims rejected the Proposals, without even considering it at any appropriate level. The Governor. Sir Malcolm Hailey, met the Viceroy to apprise him of the latest situation: “The Punjab Muslims are greatly upset by Jinnah’s statement about joint electorates…” The Viceroy in turn wrote to the Secretary of State that “Jinnah’s statements did not carry any weight”. The other two communities of the Punjab also rejected the Proposals. The Punjab Hindu Mahasabha met on 23 March, and passed a resolution challegning the right of the Congress to represent the Punjab Hindus in its negotiations with the Muslims. The Sikh leader, Mangal Singh, appreciated the offer of the Muslims to give up the seprate electorates, but criticized the principle of reservation of seats for them; he also opposed the idea of giving majority rights to Punjab Muslim. The Mahasabha leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai and Pandit Malaviya, who were in close touch with Raja Narendra Nath in the Punajab, had also rejected the Proposals by remarking that it meant ‘heads I win: tails you lose’. Narendra Nath and Lajpat Rai argued the case of the Punjab Hindus in the Mahasabha session in April 1927; this gathering was prepared to accept neither majority rights for the Muslim nor the principle of the separation of Sind.

The attitude of Mahasabha gave a genuine excuse to Sir Shafi to oppose the Proposals on the behalf of the Punjab Muslims. Now Sir Shafi was able to put the ball into the Hindu court. Addressing a session of the Punjab League in May 1927, he said: “Until the mentality of the Hindu Mahasabha undergoes the necessary change and that body come to realize that without Hindu-Muslim Unity the attainment of Swaraj for our common motherland is an absolute impossiblity … Until an efecttive guarantee of the protection of its vital interests is forhtcoming, the Muslim community will continue to insist on the retention of separate electorates as an integral part of the Indian constitution”. Similar views were expressed by other leading Muslims such as Sir Abdul Qadir and Allama Iqbal. Allama Iqal reiterated that in the existing political conditions, separate electorates provided the only means of making the central and provincial councils truly representiative of the Indian peoples; he strongly pleaded for the continuation of this system in the future Indian constitutions. Sir Abdul Qadir also argued in favour of retention of communal electorates, which had been in existence since the Montagu-Chelmsford reform came into effect. A few days later the Viceroy commented: “Shafi’s speech made it clear that Muslim opinion has not wavered in the very least way on the subject of electorates which the Muslims still regard as their greatest safeguard” This point of view was given a good deal of support by the Governor of the Punjab and the Viceroy. The Governor wrote to the Viceroy and the Viceroy told the Secretary of State that the Muslims would not accept the joint electorates; the Punjab group led by Sir Shafi was described as ‘very influential and truly representative of not only the Punjab Muslims but also the whole of the Indian Muslim opinion.

The opposition of the Punjabi Muslims to the Delhi Proposals gained strength with the passage of time. Following the unequivocal rejection of Muslim Punjab, the Quaid visited Lahore to assess the situation for himself. Here he tried hard to prevent the provincial Muslim League from taking an independent line on the question of electorates and to win the Unionist support for his Proposals. But he failed to enlist any support whatsoever, and left the province emptyhanded. Now the Unionists were on the way to making their case even stronger; F.K. Noon came to lead the movement from another angle. By the end of July 1927, he was able to secure a declaration in favour of the maintenance of separate electorates, signed by the Muslims members of the Punjab Council. It declared that the Muslims favoured the continuation of communal electorates until they could be abandoned by common consent of Hindus and Muslims. This document was a seal of rejection on the attempts to give up the communal electorate. In addition to this, the Unionists sent Sir Zafrullah Khan (a member of the Punjab Council and joint secretary of the Punjab League) and Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan, on a 6-week tour to England to ‘state their views on questions which will come under review when the Statutory Commission is appointed’. Both Sir Zafrullah and Sir Shafaat met some influential politicians and gave press statements against the proposed introduction of joint electorates. They argued that the continuation of separate electorates was justified under the provisions of the Lucknow Pact; and that the Muslims felt very strongly that any change in the existing form of representation would seriously affect their welfare. They also criticized the vigorous Hindu propaganda against the communal electorates.

This propaganda by the Punjab Muslims, led by the Unionists, clearly indicated that under no circumstances were they prepared to negotiate the communal form of representation. While their representatives were busy abroad, at home they were also opposing the moves by the section of the Muslim League which followed the Quaid. The League leadership wanted to hold its forthcoming session at Madras, in order to enlist support of some U.P. members. Realizing that at Madras they would be swamped by the element which was in favour of joint electorates’, the Punjab leadership prevented this move. The governor was very pleased. The governor sent this news to Fazl-i-Husain who was in London at the time: “Feroz Khan bestirred himself a good deal about this and it was quite clear that the advocates of the joint electorates were outnumbered. I fancy as a result that we shall certainly have a meeting at Lahore”.

Essay on Modern War and its Effects

This decision was vital from the government’s point of view particularly because of the forthcoming Statutory Commission. The Montagu-Chelmsford reforms had provided for the appointment of such a Commission after 10 years, in order to examine India’s constitutional problems and make recommendations to the government on the future Indian constitution. However, the date of the inquiry was advanced by the British government, under pressure from the Indian leaders. The commission was appointed in November 1927. Unfortunately it contained no Indian members Although the Congress and the Muslim League under Quaid-i-Azam decided to boycott, Sir Shafi’s group of the League and the HinduSikh opinion in the Punjab decided to co-operate. The study of some confidential files reveals some reasons for the Punjab’s co-operation with the Simon Commission. The Hindus were pinning their hopes on the forthcoming Statutory Commission. They had many grievances against the Muslims. For example they complained against the reservation of seats for Muslims in various colleges in the Punjab; they were also against fixing of Communal proportions in the services; but the most important complaints was against the existence of separate electorates which the Muslims regarded their Magna carta.

In February 1928, Sir John Simon suggested that the Council of State, the Legislative Assembly and the Provincial Legislatures should elect representatives to co-operate with the Royal Commission. The Simon Commission had completed its preliminary inquiry by March 1928. However, when the Simon Commission was making its preliminary enquiries in the Punjab, and the Punjab was electing its committee to co-operate with the Commission, the all India leaders who stood for boycott were making efforts to draft by themselves a constitution for India. The Congress invited all India political parties to co-operate in preparing a ‘Swaraj’ constitution. The Muslim League under the Quaid accepted the offer; “the Shafi group” did not. Later, when Congress deviated from its stand on the Delhi Proposals, the League also withdrew its support. The All Parties Conference’ met in March 1928, but failed to reach an agreement on communal issues such as the reservation of seats for Muslims and the separation of Sind from Bombay. The Sikhs, in particular, were very strongly opposed to the claims of the Muslims of the Punjab and Bengal. The conference reassembled in May, but by that time the communal organizations had drifted further apart. This attempt also failed to resolve the long-standing communal disputes. However, a committee was formed under Motilal Nehru’s chairmanship to draft a constitution for India, keeping in view the communal problem as a whole.

The Nehre Committee met in June and July 1928; on 7 July it succeeded in adopting a compromise formula whereby the demands for reservation of seats for Muslims in the Punjab and Bengal were conceded for 10 years, or earlier, by agreement. But unfortunately the very next day the original agreement was altered; only the reservation of seats for minorities was permitted. The Punjab Hindus were not opposed due to any high national consideration, but due to the fear that they might lose their privileged position if the Muslim majority in the provincial legislature was guaranteed. The Nehru Committee published its recommendation in August 1928. Some Muslim claims were accepted, but all their main demands were completely rejected. Its recommendations on matters such as communal electorates and reservation of seats for the Muslims of the Punjab and Bengal were particularly harmful to the Muslim interests of these provinces. The Muslim right of representation through communal electorates, on which the Punjab felt very strongly, and which was retained by the Mudiman Committee, was opposed by the Nehru Committee. It said: “It is admitted that sepatate electorates are thoroughly bad and must be done away with … (they) are bad for the growth of a National spirit … (they) must therefore be discarded completely … we can only have joint or mixed electorates”. The Committee also faced a serious problem in accepting the principle of reservation of seats for the Muslims in the Punjab and Bengal. The Hindu Mahasabha and the Sikh League strongly opposed the grant of such a right to the Muslims. The Sikh representative, Mangal Singh, opposed the creation of a Muslim majority by reserving seats for them. In case the Committee decided to grant such a right to Muslims, Mangal Singh demanded adequate and effective’ representation for the Sikh community in the Punjab. When the Nehru Report, was published, some Muslim leaders of the Punjab, without giving it much thought, gave their approval to it. The vice-president of the Punjab League supported the recommendations; Sardar Habibullah, deputy president of the Punjab Council, himself a big land-owner, also approved of the report. Similarly, Dr. Alam, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Dr. Kitchlew, Maulana Abdul Qadir Qasuri commended the Nehru Report and made statements in its favour. The Hindu-dominated press gave a good deal of publicity to these statements to show that the report had been accepted by the Punjab Muslims. Muslim members of the Congress such as Azad and M.A. Ansari were also ready to accept giving the impression of a Muslim ‘yes’ to the Nehru Report.

Although the Punjab Muslims, like the other parties, had presented their case before the Simon Commission, they had not been able to enlist the support of the elected members of the Central and local Legislatures, as Fazl-i-Husain had desired. Nevertheless, the Nehru Report had completely failed to get Muslim support. Men like the Ali brothers who appeared as the erstwhile lieutenants of Gandhi during the Khilafat Movement and as staunch supporters of the Congress, now turned into restless critics’. Similarly, the League leader, the Quaid-i-Azam, who had recently returned from a trip to ‘Europe, in spite of the efforts of the Congress leaders, refused to give his approval to the Nehru Report. Instead he took the matter to the League. By the time the League held its session, in December 1928, it was required to form its opinion on the Nehru Report, its representative character was also under threat. The Punjab group which had revolted in the previous year on the question of Simon Commission, was able to organise itself into ‘First All India Muslim Conference’; the party consisted of the elected Muslim members of the Central and provincial Legislatures. It was also holding its session to present the Muslim demands against the background of the Nehru Report. Three months before the session, the Muslim Conference had invited the Quaid as well as the Muslim League to send representatives to the proposed session. The League leader was personally opposed to the existence of such an organization, claiming that only the League represented Muslim opinion. This issue came up for discussion in the League’s session. A heated debate took place; M.C. Chagla and Raja Mehmudabad particularly expressed their feelings against accepting the invitation, implying that the Muslim Conference was intended to place the League in the background and that acceptance of its request would be to sign the League’s death-warrant. In the end the offer was rejected by an overwhelming majority; ‘the Shafi group’was also criticized.

The League was also asked to send its representatives to the All Parties Convention, called at the same time, to give final approval to the recommendations of the Nehru Report. A 23 members committee was appointed to present the Muslim point of view over the issue of Nehru Report. This committee paricipated in the convention and proposed a few amendments to the Nehru Report. The Quaid made a conciliatory speech; he argued ably and eloquently for acceptance of his amedments. But the Hindu Mahasabha and the Sikh representatives were vehemently opposed to any “changes to appease Muslim opinion”. The Mahasabha had the strong support fo the Punjab Hindus who were against any compromise with Muslims; its delegates distributed pamphlets and extracts from Lala Lajpat’s speech against any revision of the Report. The Sikh representative, Mehtab Singh criticized the principle of reservation of seats; it seats were reserved for Muslims. the Sikhs demanded that 30% should also be reserved for them. In the light of this intense criticism, the convention rejected the proposed amendments one by one. Later on Jinnah presented his “Fourteen Points”. The failure of the Congress to accept Jinnah’s “fourteen points” and his amendments to the Nehru Report were significant turning point along the way to the partition of India. It was “the parting of the ways”.

The rejection of the Quaid’s amendments greatly affected the credibility of the Muslim League in the Indian politics. On the other hand the uncompromising attitude of the convention enhanced the prestige of the “Shafi group” and its newly organized Muslim Conference.

Under the circumstances many hitherto influential supporters of the League transferred their loyalties to the “Punjabi Muslim group”. As a result Sir Shafi proudly addressed the Muslim Conference session (Delhi, 31 December 1928 – 1 January 1929) and criticized the All Parties Convention, the Quaid and the League for ‘neglecting’ Muslim rights. He moved a resolution laying down Muslim demands, such as the continuation fo separate electorates, a due share in the Central Legislature, reforms in Baluchistan and the Frontier Province, and separation of Sind from Bombay. The pro Unionist dailies such as The Civil and Military Gazette and Ingilab gave a good deal of publicity to the Conference’s proceedings, and to Sir Shafi’s statements, implying that the Muslim Conference was a true representative of Muslim opinion in India. Sir Shafi’s resolution became the basis of the demands made by the Conference to counter the effects of the Nehru Report. Shortly afterwards (March 1929) the Muslim League also came out openly against the Nehru Report; the Quaid presented his proposals for Hindu-Muslim settlement, commonly known as “Jinnah’s 14 points”. These points also amounted to a complete rejection of the Nehru Report and were similar to the Muslim Conference’s demands; but for the League and Jinnah there was no chance of regaining lost support and prestige. Shortly afterwards, the Punjab Governor arranged a temporary appointment for Fazl-i-Husain in the Viceroy’s Council, which was later renewed for a full period (1930-35) by Lord Irwin. This particular arrangement put the League in the background, and at the same time gave a leading role to the Punjab Muslims in the Indian constitutional advance.

On 31 October 1929, Lord Irwin made an important announcement which in essence recongnized the ultimate goal of Indian political aspirations and the attainment of dominion status. It was decided that after the Simon Commission’s Report had been published, a Round Table Conference would be held to determine the future constitutional advance for ndia. Before this announcement was made, manoeuvering began at official level in favour of giving a dominating role to the representatives of the Muslim Conference. Sir Malcolm Hailey was a great supporter of this idea. Soon, Fazl-iHusain took charge as one of the members of the Viceroy’s Council. The Unionists were very enthusiastic; Fazl-i-Husain had earlier promised to safeguard their interests in the forthcoming negotiations in London. As soon as Fazi-i-Husain became a member of the Viceroy’s Council, his authority started to increase; the Punjab Governor sent a note to the Viceroy, authorising Fazl-i-Husian to nominate Punjabi Muslims to the Round Table Conference. The Viceroy authorised Hailey and Fazl-i-Husain to decide the question of Muslim representation on the Round Table Conference. Fazl-iHusain wanted to secure the domination of the Punjabi Muslims point of view; he recommended Zafrullah Khan and Shafaat Ahmad Khan, (son-in-law of Sir Shafi). With Sir Shafi already on the government’s list, these two were “essential to counter the view of the Jinnah group in the conference”. Before the completion of arrangements for the Round Table Conference, the long-awaited report of the Simon Commission was published in May 1930. This report did not support Muslim opinion on separate electorates. It expressed the opinion that communal tensions could only be reduced by making both communities dependent on the support of the joint electorate. The Simon Commission suggested several alternative methods in this direction.

The Commission rejected the unitary system for India insisting on a Federal system, proposed to scrap the Dyarchy so that the ministers should be responsible to the elected Legislatures; every Province should have full responsible government. The Report also proposed that franchise should be extended and Legislative assemblies be enlarged; that the N.W.F.P. should be given a Legislature but not responsible government; that the separation of Sind should be further examined; that Federal Assembly should be elected by the provincial councils; that a Council of Greater India would be established to discuss common matters relating to India: and that the new constitution should be tramed in such a way that it could develop by itself.

Short Essay on Pak-Indian Relations

These recommendations feel short of Muslim demands on various issues regarding the future constituional advance for India; for the Report rendered the position fo Muslims much weaker than it had been under the Act of 1919. There emerged a feeling of resentment and disappointment; Chowdary Afzal Haq resigned his seat in the Legislative Council; Allama Iqbal and Sir Shahnawaz also criticised. The Muslims, therefore, stuck to their demands raised from various quarters (Muslim Conference, the Muslim League, the Unionist Party’s group etc). The Congress reacted to the Report in a different way; it had authorised its high-powered working Committee to start a “civil disobedience” movement as and when it deemed fit. Demonstrations, protests and violence was seen in the streets. The result was that the Government declared the Working Committee as an unlawful body and Gandhi and Nehru were arrested.

By this time the Labour Governement was agian in office in Britain; it decided to shelve the Simon Report and hold consultations with Indian leaders at a Round Table Confernece in London, where matters would be finally decided. Moreover, the Government of India also asked its local government in the provinces to send their views on the Simon Report. This move was extremly important because these opinions were to be sent to London for the forthcoming Round Table Conference. Provincial Governments, therefore, sent memoranda in two parts; one consisting fo the opinion of the nonofficial members of the Government. The latter part gave an opportunity to all the communities to air their grievances against the Simon Report. The Government of India also sent a memorandum on the subject of Reforms, after receivinng suggestions from the provinces; the memo paid its tributes to those local Governments which had been working the complex dyarchical system and recommended that it be replaced by the introduction of provincial autonomy; that the Legislatures should be wholy elected; that communal electorates should be retained for the Muslims unless the two-thirds decide otherwise, and that the Governors should be given overriding powers.

The Round Table Conference

The first session of the Round Table Conference was held from 12 November 1930 to 19 January 1931; it was inaugurated by King George. The Congress was not represented at this session in protest against the British refusal to accept the goal of immediate dominion status for India; it was conducting a non-co-operation campaign in India. The plenary session (which followed from 17 November to 21 November) discussed the question whether the future constitution of India should be on a federal or unitary basis. (Sir) T.B.Sapru enunciated the idea of an Indian Federation and requested the princes to accept his idea. The Maharaja of Bikanir approved of the Idea and the Nawab of Bhopal also endorsed the plea for the transfer of responsibility. M.A.Jinnah also insisted that there should be a sense of security among the minorities otherwise the constitution would not work. The plenary session was followed by the meetings of the committee constituted to discuss various aspects such as: Federal structure, Provincial constitution, Franchise, Sind, The N.W.F.P., Defence services and Minorities. The committees on Provincial constitution and Franchise committee were able to make some progress. However, the Minorities committee, which was chaired by the Prime Minister himself, proved to be a major hurdle against an agreable solution between the various communities; at least eight of the twenty nine members were deeply interested in the Punjab problems – it was more difficult than that of Bengal. Each community presented its stereotyped claims and none was prepared to budge from its original claims. The first session, therefore, failed to achieve any progress except that the British Prime Minister (Ramsay MacDonald) declared that the Government had accepted the proposals for “full responsible government in the provinces”.

The Gandhi-Irwin Pact

The British Government, as well as the Government of India, had realized that there could be no settlement unless the Congress had also been taken into confidence. Wedgwood Benn (the Secretary of State) suggested to the Viceroy (Lord Irwin) to get intouch with Gandhi. Erwin persuaded the new Labour Government to allow him to release Congress leaders; the Congress working committee held its meeting at Allahabad. In February 1931, Sapru, Jayakar and others also returned to India and held discussions with Gandhi and other members of the Congress. Gandhi agreed to meet the Viceroy: the talks continued for some time ( In February and early March). On 5 March an agreement was signed commonly known as the GandhiIrwin Pact. it was agreed that the Congress would be invited to participate in the Round Table Conferece; that Civil disobedience movement would be discontinued; that Federation was to be created; that Ordinances promulgated in connection with the civil disobedience movement would be withddrawn; that pending prosecutions would be withdrawn (except in case of violence); that prisoners would be released; and that fines would be remitted. The Congress held its meeting and approved the Gnadhi-Irwin settlement, committing the Congress to participate in the RTC; Gandhi was appointed the sole representative of the Congress. In summary, concessions were made to the Congress Party which enhanced its prestige. The Muslims were depressed and expressed their fears, for the Government had gone a long way to appease the Congress.

The Second Session (RTC)

In April 1931, Lord Willingdon replaced Lord Irwin as Viceroy, and Sir Samuel Hoare became the Secretary of State in August 1931. The All India Muslim Conference (February 1931) rejected the Federal structure, calling upon the Muslims to be ready and prepared to resort to any action for asserting their just demands. A special session of the Conference was held on 5 April at Delhi; Moulana Shoukat Ali declared that the Muslims supported Jinnah’s “fourteen points”. The Muslim League also endorsed the line taken by the Muslim Conference. However, the second session of the Round Table Conference started on 7 September 1931; thirty one additional delegates were appointed. The main problem before the Conference (according to the British Prime Minister) was the solution of the communal issues. The Minority committee was once again the focus of attention; it was to decide such controversial matters as the form of electorate and weightage for each community in various Legislatures. The Muslim delegates made demands similar to those of Jinnah’s “Fouteen Points” and refused to commit themeselves to the principle of responsible government at the Centre, unless their demands for guaranteed majority representation in the Muslim Majority provinces were accepted. But agreement between the Muslim and Congress’s representative, Gandhi, proved impossible. For one thing, Gandhi claimed that Congress was a truely representative body so far as Indian problems were concerned – describing other delegates as unrepresentative.

For another, Gandhi presented a carbon copy of the Nehru Report in the Conference which had been rejected by the Muslims in 1928. Moreover, the Mahasabha leader, M.M.Malaviya, had the upper hand of Gandhi in the Conference; there were little chances of acceptance Muslim demands on the part of this doughty upholder in its intergrity of the ancient traditions of the caste Hinduism. In one of his speeches, Gandhi declared that the task of making the Hindu consent to Muslim claims was like climbing the mount Everest. Gandhi also raised hurdles by saying that “Untouchables” were Hindus and therefore they could not be separated from the main body of Hinduism The Muslims stood aloof and did not participate in any discussion which would not esnure the satisfactory settlement of their demands. The communal disputes were, therefore, postponed for future discussions. But the British went ahead with their own plans for an Indian Federation, which would balance Congress against the Muslims and the Princes against elected Indians in the Legislature of British India. Ramsay MacDonald made it clear that the Government would settle the issues by itself; the Prime Minister asked the Chairman of the Franchise Committee to go ahead with the task of preparing a detailed scheme for the composition of the various Legislatures. This committee formed provincial Franchise Committees.

The Communal Award

The position was that the two marathoon sessions of the R.T.C. and the Indian leaders themselves had failed to resolve the communal issues. In the light of (above mentioned) Prime Minister’s declaration, the British Government attempted to remove this great obstacle from the path of constitiutional advance. On 4 August 1932, Ramsay MacDonald announnced the governmant’s decision, commonly known as the Communal Award, with a promise to recommend to the British Parliament the substitution for the Government’s decision of any agreed solution reached by the Indian leaders themselves. The Award retained separate electorates for the Muslims as well as for the other communities. It failed to give Muslims an overall majority of seats in the Legislatures of Punjab and Bengal. In the Punjab, the Muslims were given 47.6% as against a population proportion of 56.5% in Bengal where the Muslims formed 56% of the total population, they received about 48% of the total provincial seats. The Award, as anticipated, failed to satisfy all the three main communities. On his return to India, Gandhi had started his civil disobedience movement; his “fast unto death” began in order to get the communal Award amended so far as it had effected an electoral separation between the Hindus and the “Untouchables”. When it went unheaded, the Congress officially declared itself neutral towards the Award. However, other community organizations such as the Mahasabha and the Sikh Political Parties started a campaign to get the Award canceled by the British government. The Muslims were not pleased but felt satisfied under the circumstances that they themselves had suggested a British Award with promises to abide by the decision. This gesture led to a closer co-operation between the Muslim League and the Congress parties in the Central Legislature from 1934 to 1936.

The Third Session (R.T.C.)

In September 1932, less than three weeks after the publication of the Communal Award, the Viceroy announced the summoning of a third session of the Round Table Conference. The last session (November 17 to December 24) was held in order to prepare an outline for the new Indian Constitution.Jinnah was not invited to attend the third and the condluding session of the Conference; he later commented that the Hindu attitude (during the two sessions of the R.T.C.) led him to believe that there was no hope for unity in Indian politics, and that the Muslims were like the dwellers in no man’s land. The Sikh representiatives, Ujjal Singh and Sampuram Singh, also did not attend; they had resigned due to their protests against the communal Award. However, Tara Singh and the Mahasabha had accepted the invitations to attend the R.T.C., despite protesting against the Award, in effect confining their struggle within constitutional channels. The Congress was also not present. This last session was, therefore, short and unimportant; the Hindu-Sikh delgates, however, criticised the Award pleading against the Muslims and in favour of a strong Central Government; reports of various committees were looked at. The Hindu-Sikh demands to turn down the Award were rejected by the British Government, and the last session came to a close on Christmas (on 24 December). Following the last session of the R.T.C. a white paper was published in March 1933, giving a complete outline of the proposed constitution; it included a sheme of the Federal Government of India at the Centre which would come into effect after a number of Indian States had acceded to the Federation. The White Paper was appreciated by the three parliamentry parties in the Parliament. Attlee went one step ahead and asked the Government to fulfill its promises of full self-Government and self-determination and Dominion status for India. In March 1933, Sir Sam. Hoare proposed (in the Commons) the appointment of a Joint select Committee; the motion was carried with an overwhelming majority; and the House of Lords also adopted it. The Joint Select Committee was appointed in April with Lord Linlithgow as its Chairman. The Indian representative (21+7) appeared before the Committee for presenting thier suggestions, criticism etc. The Hindu-Sikh delegates pooled their resoureces and severely criticised the Communal Award and the Muslims. However, a Bill was prepared and introduced in 1934; the two Houses of the British Parliament (the House of Commons and the House of Lords) approved it; and the Royal assent was given on 4 August 1935, and therefore, the communal Award became a part of the new Indian constitution.

The Government of India Act, 1935

The Act of 1935 was a remarkable accomplishment so far as constitutional and political progress in India is concerned. The process of framing the new Act took about eight years had work; it was initiated with the appointment of Simon Commission under the conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, and Lord Birkenhead as the Secretary of State and continued under the Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald and the Secretary of State, Wedgwood Benn. Sir Samuel Hoare (later Viscount Templewood) R.A.Butler (later Lord Butler of Saffron Walden) Linlithgow (later Viceroy 193643) and Sir Maurice Gwyer (later Chief Justice of India) would always be remembered with the Act due to their strenous efforts for drawing this new Indian Constitution. The most important feature of the Act was the introduction of Provincial autonomy (taste and practice of parliamentary self-government) in each of eleven Indian provinces. Power was transferred entirely from British to Indian hands. It may be mentioned that this Act (with a few amendments) served as the working constitution for Pakistan for nine years and of India for three years. However, it may also be noted that this Act had been designed to sfeguard British rule in India, not to weaken it. Even though the intentions of the framers of the Act were that the provinces should be genuinely self-governing within their allotted sphere, and that under federation there should be a genuine dyarchy or sharing of power, the Viceroy and Governors were given discreationary powers. Indians had no say over defence and external affairs; the Centre was equipped with all the powers to stamp its authority and to keep centrifugal tendencies in check. Section 102 of the Act gave the Viceroy power to direct the federal legislature to make laws for the provinces during an “emergency”. Under section 93, if at any time the Governor of a province was stisfied that a situation had arisen in which the Government of the province could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Act, he might by proclamation declare that his functions to any specified extent should be excercised by him in his descreation, and assume to himself all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by any provincial body or authority except High Courts. The Governors used these special powers to take over the administration in all provinces except Sind.

Some other broad features of the Act of 1935 were:

  • Some notable decisions were embodied in the Act. Burma and Aden were seprated from India with which they had previously been governed under one Governor-General; Sind (previously part of Bomaby) was given the status of a separate province and Orissa (previously joined to Bihar) also became a separate province. The N.W.F.P. was, for the first time, invested with full provincial power. The authority of the Crown in respect of the Indian States was removed from the Government of India. It passed to the Crown Representative who exercised his functions in relation to the Indian States through the agency of the Political Department, local Residents and Political Agents.
  • The franchise was very wide; at one stroke, the lowering of the franchise qualifications (from 2.8% to 11.5% of the population (256 millions) by lowering the property qualification) increased the electorate to over thirty million and separate electorates remained. The normal life of the Assembly was five years. The upper chamber was a permanent body, a proportion of whose members would retire and be replaced every third year.
  • The Act of 1935 contemplated a Federation of British – Indian Province and Indian States; but the federation was never created – the bones of the federal system including a detailed separation of powers, were formed and exercised; under the Act, including the fall-back provisions for the Centre pending the Federation, an interim Government of a wholly popular-political kind eventually came into office. The provinces consisted of Madras, Bombay, Bengal the, U.P., the Punjab, Bihar, The C.P.and Berar, Assam, the N.W.F.P, Orissa and Sind. In a Federation so established were to be included the Chief Commissioner’s provinces of Delhi, Ajmar-Merwara, Coorg, British Baluchistan, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Panth Piploda. The provinces would automatically accede to the Federation, but in case of States it was voluntary. The ruler of a State would accede to the Federation by executing an Instrument of Accession which would have to be accepted by the Government and the Federation and the Royal Proclamation would be issued. But it could not happen unless one-half of the states by weight agreed to federate, and this never happened.
  • The Federal legislature was to be bicameral; the upper chamber was to consist of 260 representatives of whom 104 or 2/3 to be chosen by the rulers of the States; 140 seats were allotted to the Provinces (75 general electorate, 6 scheduled castes, 4 Sikhs, 49 for Muslims and 6 for Women, I Anglo-Indian, Europeans 7. Indian Christian 2, 6 to be nominated by the Viceroy. The lower house (the Federal Assembly) was to consist of 375 (125 from the States: 250 seats were alloted to the provinces (Hindus 105, Muslims 82, minorities 26, Industry and Commerce 11. Labour 10, Landholders 7, Women 9). The executive authority was vested in the Governor-General; he will take advice from a council of ministers not more than ten, to be appointed by the Governor-General. In the U.P the number of seats in the Assembly was increased to 228, of which 140 were general (20 for scheduled castes and 66 Muslims); In Bihar there there were 86 general to 40 Muslims, out a total of 152 seats. In Bombay, where the Muslims were less than 10% they had 30 seats (75 general includig 15 for scheduled castes) In the Punjab and Bengal the Muslims were denied majority; In the Punjab, the Muslims (with about 57% population) were given 86 seats out of 175 and in Bengal of 250 seats only 119 were given to Muslims.
  • As regards Certre-Province relations. A federal court was constituted for the purpose of resolving the disputes; the Federal Court of India consisted of a Chief Justice and two judges.
  • Three lists of subjects were drawn up; the Central government administered the federal subjects where as the provincial government had full authority in provincial matters. There was are a third list of Subjects called the “Concurrent list” on which the Central and provincial legislatures were both competent to legislate, but the administration of which was left to the provincial governments (subjects included were: Civil and criminal Law, factories, labour welfare, ect.)
  • The Council of the Secretary of states was abolished and replaced by a team of Advisers (not less than three and not (exceeding six) to the Secretary of State; but their advice was not binding on him; and the finances would be provided by the British exchequers.

Despite its good points, the Act of 1935 was criticized; its federal provisions were condenned by almost all the parties. Jinnah declared that the scheme of the federation was totally rotten, unacceptable and unworkable. The Muslims League denounced the safeguards in the Act of 1935 but decided to utilize the provincial part of the Act for what was worth. The Congress was also opposed to the Act; it demanded complete independence. On the other hand, the Muslim League wanted to have an autonomous Muslim State or states to serve as a counterpoint against remaining Hindu India. By this time the Congress had been divided into no-changers and pro-changers or Swarajists; Gandhi had withdrawn from the political arena to carry on his social uplift program and economic organization. Later on the Swarajists were also divided into two groups with the result that their communal party, the Hindu Mahasabha gained strength and was able to attract a number of Congress leaders by accelerating its anti-Muslim movement.

[PDF Download]

Muslim Politics from Partition of Bengal to the Khilafat Movement

By the turn of the century, communal antagonism gained a great deal of momentum. Sir Syed died in 1898 and in 1900, Anthony MacDonnel (1844-1925) Lt. Governor of the U.P. (an antiMuslim mind) extended recognition to Hindi language as demanded by Hindus, undermining the position of Urdu language; this decision was condemned by the Muslim leaders, but the war against Urdu had entered a crucial phase. The Muslims were feeling much threatened and restive, their associations were now explaining to the government more zealously that the elective system did not provide them a fair chance to make progress; under the joint electorates they would be swamped by the Hindu majority; and demanded the extension of separate electorates in Councils and all local bodies. It may be noted that even in Muslim majority areas of Punjab, Hindus got themselves elected, using unfair means.

Events in the beginning of the 20th century were proving that Sir Syed’s apprehensions and reading of the Hindu mind were sound and well-founded. G.N.Curzon (1859-1925) a diehard conservative, came to India in 1898 to rule her with an iron hand; efficiency was his catchword. It was during his viceroyalty that Bengal was partitioned into two parts. Under the British, Bengal was as large as France, with a population of 78-1/2 million, nearly as populous as contemporary France and Britain combined; it included Bihar and Orissa and, until 1874, Assam. The Eastern region was notoriously under-governed; in 1892, a proposal was on the cards for the adjustment of Chittagong but was opposed by officials and Bengali leaders due to opportunistic attitudes. In February 1901, Sir Andrew Fraser (the Chief Commissioner of Central Provinces) sought the readjustments of the boundaries of Orissa; the file reached Curzon after 14 months. In 1902, Curzon had in mind to redistribute the boundaries of not only Bengal but also Bearer, the C.P. Madras, Bombay and Sind. In 1903, a plan emerged for severing the Eastern and predominantly Muslim regions of the Bengali speaking area and unifying with Assam, giving a new province with a population of 31 million, of whom 59% would be Muslims. This closely-guarded secret plan was leaked out; the new scheme was published in December 1903 and there was a hue and cry against it. The Hindu press wrote angry articles; Congress leaders like S.Banerjea, R. Tagore, N.Sen and Motilal Ghosh held demonstrations; a boycott of British goods followed. The Congress also passed a resolution condemning the partition plan. As the agitation against partition grew in force, Curzon toured Eastern Bengal to study the problem by himself on the sight.

In April 1904, Sir Andrew Fraser, Lt. Governor of Bengal wrote a note on the political aspects of partition. In December 1904, after his return from England, Curzon sent the scheme to the Secretary of State for approval; it was approved with marginal amendments and was published in July 1905, and the date for proposed adjustments was fixed as 16 October when the new province would start functioning. The new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam would have an area of 186540 sq.miles and a population of 31 million (18 m. Muslims, 12 m. Hindus); it would be consisting of Assam, Eastern and Northern Bengal, Chittagong, Dacca (Capital) and Rajshahi divisions (except 2 districts). It may be mentioned that in an undivided Bengal Muslims were lagging badly in education.

The first Governor was Sir Bampfylde Fuller who arrived when on 16 October the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam officially came into being: Fuller found him in a position of extremely difficult circumstances. Whatever might have been the reasons for the partition, the Hindus, their Press, and the Congress interpreted it as a sinister move against national unity and solidarity (vivisection of Bengali homeland), and partiality towards Muslims. Demonstrations were held; Hymns and national songs like Bande Mataram were shouted; Arya Samaj took a prominent part in preaching the Swadeshi doctrine; their preachers were touring the length and breadth of country, rousing interest in indigenous goods; Swadeshi stores were opened in many towns. Congress met under Gokhale’s leadership and held stormy proceedings condemning the partition. Poet Tagore went so far as to suggest a boycott of Calcutta University. The Hindu merchants pressurized the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to put pressure on the British Government to reverse the decision on a partition if they wished to sell their products in India. Fuller also annoyed the Hindus by his remark, that “of his two wives, the Mohammedan one was favorite”.

In the middle of Hindu agitation, Lord Minto was appointed Viceroy; John Brodrick was replaced by John Morley, for the Conservative party was defeated in the elections of 1905. Earlier Curzon had resigned due the difference of opinion with Kitchener (C-in-C in India) in which Brodrick had sided with Kitchener. Anyway, Morley’s appointment was celebrated by the Congress, hoping that he would consider their demands more wisely and sympathetically. Morley (the Liberal) was cajoled by the Hindus describing him as a man of enormous learning, a radical …. but pliable”; they admired and adhored Morley and attached high hopes that now the British Government would consider their claims patiently, wisely and sympathetically. The immediate problem which confronted the new Secretary of State and the Viceroy was the Hindu agitation on the partition of Bengal. But very sensibly, Minto in his very first letter to Morley informed him that the partition was decided after a great deal of thinking; that official opinion approved of it; that the agitation against it was due to nefarious designs; that the Muslims were satisfied; and that the Hindu agitation was settling down. Morley, therefore, made a statement that the partition was a “settled fact” and there was no question of its annulment.

The Congress leaders were thus annoyed; a wave of indignation and defiance was noticed, and a full-fledged campaign against Fuller had also been initiated. Fuller’s policies were denounced by describing them as “atrocious attitude, utterly worn headedness, unfitness to hold such a high office” and demand that Fuller be remove from Governorship. In December 1905, during the Congress session, Gokhale made some critical remarks against the Government; B.K.Ghose, B.N.Dutt and some other extremist Hindus made fiery speeches and began the terrorist movement in Bengal. R. Tagore, B.C. Paul, A. Ghose were behind the Swadeshi movement in Bengal. But soon Minto had to make some moves to appease the anti-partition leaders. As a matter of fact, the Prince of Wales (later King George V) had planned to visit India in 1906; the Viceroy did not wish that the Prince’s visit to India should be made uncomfortable. Minto, therefore, consulted S.Banerjea and Gokhale and succeeded in establishing a friendly atmosphere; it looks certain that Minto would have blamed Curzon for the partition of Bengal and might have given some hope of its annulment to the Hindu leaders. Morley also tried to win Hindu support by condemning some of Fuller’s policies. It may be mentioned that it was a rare occasion when the Government did not support the Governor of a province. Fuller threatened to resign; the Viceroy would have liked to placate the anti-partition leaders and thus without having any consideration accepted Fuller’s resignation. The agitation had paid off; the Muslims were depressed, for they were let down and sacrificed. The Muslims had been benefitted due to the partition; trade, industry, education, agriculture and other walks of life were showing signs of progress. Due to communal, jealousies, the anti-partition movement gained more momentum after Fuller’s removal. The Congress was able to get the support of some British Parliamentarians like W. Wedderburn and H.Cotton who pleaded for the reunion of Bengal in order to bring peace in India. Likewise, Ramsay MacDonald (later P.M.) and K.Hardie also visited India to help the Congress on the same issue.

The Simla Deputation (1906)

The Hindu agitation against the partition and some other factors convinced the Muslims to put in more efforts to safeguard their interests. On 20 July 1906, Morley (in the House of Commons) announced that he would consider proposals for reforms; the initiative should come from the Government of India. The Indian Councils Act of 1892 had also convinced the Muslims that the Government was planning to introduce representative Government. On 4 August 1906 Mohsin-ul-Mulk (Secretary of the Aligarh College) wrote to his Principal, W.A.J.Archbold, who was vacationing in Simla. The theme was that Archbold was requested to advise whether the Muslims should send a memorial to the Viceroy and to get his permission to receive a deputation. Minto saw this letter on 8 August and sent it to Morley; on 10 August. Archbold informed Mohsin-ul-Mulk that Minto would receive a Muslim deputation. Later Mohsin-ul-Mulk directly got in touch with Minto’s private Secretary, Col. Dunlop Smith. The draft of address was written by Maj. Bilgrami (Nawab Imad-ul-Mulk) and was approved by a meeting at Lucknow. Minto was not given an advance copy of the address – not even by 19 September (1906) and was therefore unaware of the contents.

On 1 October 1906, Minto received the Muslim deputation of 35 prominent Muslim leaders from all over India in the Ballroom of Viceregal Lodge at Simla; the delegation was led by Aga Khan (only 29 years old) who had close connections with the British. The long address was also read by the Aga Khan; it was moderate in tone claiming for Muslims a fair share in such extended representation as was now being planned for India: that the Muslim share should be calculated not merely on their numerical strength but also by reference to their political importance and the contribution they had made to the defense of the British Empire; the insufficient Muslim representation on the Bench, local bodies, higher bodies of the Universities was also brought into the Viceroy’s attention. The address proposed that a fixed proportion of Muslims on Municipal and District Boards should be elected by separate electorates; that the proportion of Muslims on provincial councils should be established with due regard to the Muslim Community’s political importance, that a proportion to be returned by an electoral College composed of Muslims only; and that a similar arrangement should be adopted for the Imperial. Legislative Council, appointment by election being preferred over the appointment by nomination. The Deputation also demanded a share in case of appointment of Indians on the Viceroy’s Executive Council and sought help for establishing a Muslim University. In the end the Deputation expressed their fellings of loyalty to the British Raj.

Muslim demands and claims were examined by the Viceroy and the British Government. Minto, in his reply, welcomed the representative character of the Deputation and sympathized with the Delegation’s views and aspirations. He agreed with the Deputationists on some points and assured that their political rights and interests would be safeguarded by him. The acceptance of the Muslim demands proved to be a turning point in the history of India. The Hindu press of Calcutta started a smear campaign against the Muslim Deputationists; even Moulana Mohammad Ali called it a “Command performance”; and some other leaders gave the impression that the Simla Deputation was engineered by the British Government so as to have a check on the Indian nationalism. But it is not fair to accept such accusations and allegations. In the first place, it may be argued (in order to counter the allegations) that there is no reason or proof to suggest that Mohsin-ul-Mulk had become a puppet in British hands. Moreover, some recent writings on this subject reveal the fact that Mohsin-ul-Milk had to take a loan (a substantial amount · 4000 Rupees) from King King and Company of Bombay. The amount was advanced to Mohsin-ul-Mulk personally, and it remained unpaid for a long period of time. Money was borrowed so as to defray the expenses for the Deputation; this loan was taken at 7% interest on the personal surety of Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk. The Nawab died on 16 October 1907. The Bankers got in touch with Aga Khan, Haji Musa Khan and Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk and gave reminders and notices that the amount must be deposited.

The Foundation of the All-India Muslim League

The Muslims had been pressing the Government to grant them the right to separate electorates, accepting the facts of life in India; politics in India was was already communal in character. As a matter of fact, under the joint electorates, the Muslims found it almost impossible to be elected on local bodies; no Muslim could become a member of the Senate under Curzon’s Indian Universities Act. It is interesting to note that even in predominantly Muslim areas of the Punjab, Hindus, were elected due to the leverage used by their moneylenders. The Viceroy (Minto) had therefore officially recognized a fact that the Indian Muslims formed a distinct political community. But the Muslims had until now no clear-cut programme for the future only short term planning was undertaken. Sir Syed had advised them to keep away from the political movements, but Hindu religious revivalism and hostility towards the Muslims led them to change their minds. The Congress also failed to allay Muslim tears; the Aga Khan had tried to convince Sir Feroz Shah Mehta that the Congress must accept the facts of life in India in order to make it attractive to the Muslims. But these efforts (and many more) were fruitless. The Hindus did not give in to these demands.

By 1906 the Muslim leaders were convinced that they must have their own political party which should protect and safeguards their rights; the Simla Deputation had strengthened their belief that a united force could have a tremendous impact on the Government policies. In pursuance of this belief, in November 1906, Nawab Salimullah of Dacca sent around a circular proposing the foundation of a political party under the name of All-India Muslim Confederacy for the protection and advancement of Muslim interests, combating the growing influence of the Congress, and encouraging Muslims of talent to enter public life. In the end, the circular requested all those who intended attending the forthcoming session of the Mohammadan Educational Conference to come prepared to discuss the scheme at a special meeting. The annual session of the Conference was held in the last week of December 1906 at Dacca. It was attended by 3000 delegates, so far the most representative gathering of Muslim India; Khwaja Salimullah’s proposal was discussed on 30 December, Syed’s ‘ban’ on political activities was lifted. The Nawab moved a resolution establishing a Muslim political party to be known as All-India Muslim League. Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk delivered the presidential address. The Central office of the League was an Aligarh and Aga Khan was elected its President. It is important to be noted that one of the resolutions passed at its very first meeting was the endorsement of the partition of Bengal and condemning the Hindu agitation for its annulment. The objectives were also clearly defined to be:

  • promoting feelings of loyalty to the British;
  • protecting and advancing the political rights and interests of Muslims and to represent their claims and demands to the Government;
  • preventing the rise of communal antagonism between Muslims and other communities.

In 1908, a London branch of the Muslim League was established by Syed Amir Ali, who had retired to England. The inaugural meeting was held in London on 6 May 1908 (at the Caxton Hall) presided over by Amir Ali and Ibn-i-Ahmad acted as Honorary Secretary; some eminent Englishmen also attended its session. This branch played a key role in presenting the Muslim case on many occasions before the British Government, meeting the Secretary of State, other authorities and member of the British Parliament whenever it became necessary. From its organization to 1910, the League held its meeting every year except 1909; the first session was held at Karachi (1907) and the League’s constitution was finally settled, fundamental objectives remained much the same as defined in December 1906. In 1908, the League met at Amritsar; Khan Bahadur Yousaf Shah was Chairman and Syed Ali Imam presided, the constitution of the League was formally adopted, and a campaign for achieving the right to separate electorates (as promised by Minto earlier) was also undertaken.

Morley-Minto Reforms

Even though the Government had accepted the principle of communal representation through separate electorates, as for the details, Morley took the plea that he needed some more time for finalizing the reform scheme. Morley was in touch with Minto and had appointed a committee to sort out the details. The matter was delayed due to some hurdles such as: proposal after proposal, amendments and various adjustments of claims and counter claims. In 1908, Morley came up with the idea of an Electoral College which was a complete negation of the Muslim demand for separate electorates to which both Minto and Morley were already committed. The Muslims, therefore, registered their protests; Sir Shafi also wrote letters to Col. D. Smith (P.S. to Minto); and the League in India and in London, under Syed Amir Ali also emphasized the need for separate electorates. Finally, Morley announced his reform scheme in the House of Commons on December 12,1908; in February a bill was presented by him in the House of Lords – and was passed after some marginal amendments. In April, the Bill was presented in the Commons, it was passed and became the Act of 1909.

The new Act enlarged the size and functions of the Imperial and provincial legislative councils; the Imperial council was now to be consisting of 60 more members (33 nominated and 27 elected). The provincial councils would have 50 members in big provinces and 30 in the smaller; the method of election was partly indirect and partly direct; and small non-official majorities were given at the provincial level but official majorities were given at the provincial level but official dominance was to continue at the Centre – it was thought to be essential. The new councils were not given any substantial authority. However, for the Muslims, the welcome change was the introduction of separate electorates. The Aga Khan and other Muslims appreciated it being an ideal solution of the communal problem. Eventually these communal electorates led to the creation of Pakistan. As expected the Congress and other Hindu organizations started a campaign against separate electorates; the Hindu Mahasabha also criticised and opposed. In 1910, the Congress session vehemently criticized separate representation for the Muslims and demanded its removal from the Act of 1909 The anti-separate electorates campaign continued until the creation of Pakistan in 1947; only once, in 1916, the Congress accepted this system of representation, in order to win Muslim support.

Muslim politics from 1906 to 1911 remained complacent, cool and unperturbed; but from 1911 to 1914 the Indian Muslims were worried and terrified. The Muslims were alienated by the Government when at the Delhi Durbar on 12 December 1911, King George V announced the annulment of the partition of Bengal. As mentioned earlier, protests against the partition were in full swing, for it was beneficial to the Muslims of Eastern Bengal, providing them considerable opportunities especially for the downtrodden. And the trouble was created by the vested interests – Hindu lawyers and the Hindu press. The Muslim cared little about the Hindu agitation, for the Government had taken a firm stand, saying on a number of occasions that the partition was a settled fact and that under no circumstances would it be revoked. The Hindu agitation, therefore, gained more momentum. Moreover, when the Act of 1909 was passed giving separate representation to the Muslims, the Hindus were enraged once again. The extremist Hindu leaders, in particular, took serious notice and did their utmost to put more pressure on the Government to cancel its decisions which according to their point of view were favoring the Muslims; some terrorist activities were also noticed. In January 1911, a Hindu member of the Imperial Legislative Council presented a resolution for the abolition of separate electorates; some Hindu leaders went so far as to criticize Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (died in 1898) for inculcating the two-nation theory. In the same year, in June (1911) John Jenkins, a member of the Viceroy’s Council. presented a proposal for the annulment of the partition of Bengal and for the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi; he suggested that these changes should be announced by the King on the occasion of the upcoming coronation Durbar at Delhi. The new Viceroy, Lord Harding, (Minto left in 1910) approved of the idea. As a follow-up, a secret plan was made and presented to the council; the plan was approved and the Viceroy got in touch with the new Secretary of State ( the Marquess of Crewe) giving him all the details. Crewe approved of the plan; the King was also informed – which pleased him.

In the meantime, the King left England in November and reached India in early December. By this time the Hindu agitation was dying out; the anti-partition leaders had given up all hopes. On 12 December 1911, the King announced (at his coronation Durbar at Delhi) that partition was annulled by a Royal proclamation. This decision put a new life in Hindus; they were excited, deeply moved, thrilled and were extremely jubilant. The cheerful Hindus now expressed their loyalty to the Raj; the Congress thanked and expressed its gratitude to the King, to Lord Harding and his Government. But for the Muslims, the annulment of the partition was sudden, startling, and a death warrant; they were now disappointed sullen and disillusioned, for the Government had been telling them that the decision on a partition would not be reconsidered. The newest situation gave Muslims the impression that the Government had bowed before the Hindus due to their terrorist activities and that the loyal attitude of Muslims and little effect on the Government. The Muslims, therefore, lost all faith in the Government and its pledges, as they had been betrayed by the British. The result was that the Government had alienated the Muslims. Khawaja Salimullah of Dacca (“the wounded soldier”) decided to retire form politics; after a great deal of frustration and depression, Nawab Salimullah died. The Nawab was convinced that the annulment of the partition of Bengal was evidence of depriving the Muslims of the benefits of the division; Viqar-ul-Mulk also protested, and Moulana Mohammad Ali also recorded his anger and bitterness later on. The theme of Muslim grievances was that the Muslims should do all they could to strengthen their political movement in order to protect their interests. The Muslim League changed its creed from loyalty to “a form of self-government suitable to India”. In the immediate aftermath of the annulment of the partition, some Muslim leaders began to think in terms of having a closer association with the Congress, now developed as a force to reckon with.

Similarly, some other developments and circumstances compelled the Muslims to have a complete overhauling of their attitude and re-orientation of their policies. The failure of the movement to establish a Muslim (Aligarh) University also provided plenty of ammunition for the Muslim resentment against the Government. The M.A.O. College was established in 1877; Sir Syed had expressed the hope that it would develop into a Muslim University in the near future. A scheme was, therefore, drawn up, and efforts began to upgrade it to the level of an affiliating University. But for the time being, it remained a dream and the scheme remained on papers only. In 1903, the Aga Khan tried to revive it during his presidential address to the Muslims Educational Conference. The Government agreed to accept the proposal in case the Muslims raised a substantial amount of 30 lakhs so as to meet the expenses; it was a huge amount to be raised by the poor Muslim community. However, efforts continued; the Aga Khan donated one lakh; old boys of Aligarh made hectic efforts. Moulana Mohammad Ali and Shoukat Ali and their press also appealed for contributions. The required amount was raised and the Government was requested to grant the charter; but in August, Raja Sahib of Mehmudabad received a letter from Harcourt Butler (Member Education, Govt. of India) saying that the proposed Muslim (Aligarh) University would not have any jurisdiction over College outside Aligarh; the Government also did not like the word Muslim University – it would be Aligarh University instead. The Muslims protested on the plea that if their University was not allowed to guide Muslim education in India, (by not affiliating) the main object of the scheme and the Aligarh movement would not materialize. Sir Shafi demanded that the movement must continue; Moulvi Mushtaq Hussain also decided to press on, accusing the Government of lack of sympathy with the Muslims. As a matter of fact, the Government feared that such an all-India Muslim highest seat of learning would propagate the pan-Islamic ideas and would become a tool of the Muslim youth; Lord Crewe had, therefore, (on this assumption) disapproved of the scheme. It may also be noted that some other influential Englishmen had also used the plea that the Muslim University would be undesirable because of its “Communal teachings”: Hindu extremist leaders had also been opposed to the demand warning the Government that the proposed institution would be propagating Pan-Islamism in the future.

The Government of India also regarded the M.A.O. College as ‘the seat of trouble. But the Muslims were annoyed as their request of a Muslim University was turned down. As for the funds of the University, Mohammad Ali tried to divert the money of the purchase of Turkish bonds; some wished to spend it on establishing more Schools and Colleges; Sahibzada Aftab Ahmed (Secretary of the Muslim Educational Conference) however rejected these ideas out of hand. He insisted that the funds must be spent on the very project, the Muslims had in mind originally, and that the Aligarh University could be raised to the status of an affiliating University with the passage of time, Moulana Azad differed with this idea; he argued that the longterm aim of the Muslims must be the promotion of pan-Islamism and blamed that the Aligarh movement had paralyzed the Indian Muslims.

Furthermore, the Government also collided with the Muslim opinion in July and August of 1913 on the issue of a religious incident, the Cawnpore mosque affair. What happened was that as a road-widening scheme, the Cawnpore municipal authority proposed to dismantle a washing place attached to the side of the mosque; it was decided to run a metalled road through Machelli Bazar. The trustees of the mosque agreed but other Muslims protested and got in touch with the Governor of the U.P., Meston. In the meantime the demolition work started; the Muslims protested but the Government took no notice, which led to the agitation and the police opened fire. In the ensuing riots at least 33 people were killed and more than 30 seriously wounded. The Muslims were deeply hurt. Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad requested Harding to intervene. For Metson was determined to crush the Muslims. The Viceroy was also adviced by Whitehall to take notice of the agitation personally. Harding, therefore, visited Cawnpore along with Sir Ali Imam (a member of the Viceroy’s Council) ordered the release of the 106 prisoners awaiting trial. This small gesture was appreciated by the Muslims; the Muslim community of Cawnpore expressed confidence in the Viceroy’s intervention and hoped for a judicious decision. An arcade was to be built over the public road to make up for the lost accommodation. This compromise, however, infuriated the autocratic Governor and his staff; Meston did not forget this episode and tried to take revenge later on.

The Khilafat Movement in British India

Khilafat was one of the most important institutions so far as Muslims were concerned; Hazrat Abu Bakar was the first Caliph and after him Hazrat Umar, Hazrat Usman, and Hazrat Ali were appointed Caliphs. Amir Muawiyah changed the institution of Khilafat into Mulukiat (Badshahat) by nominating his son Yazid as his successor, which led to the tragedy of Karbala. However, the Umayyads were replaced by the Abbasids. After the sack of Baghdad (1258) the Khilafat passed into the hands of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt and finally to the Ottoman sultans of Turkey in the first half of the 16th century. The Mughal rulers did not recognize the Ottoman sultanate as their spiritual leaders; the Khutbah was read in their (Mughal) own name. However, with the decline of the Mughal Empire, the name of the Ottoman Caliph was mentioned in the Friday (Juma) prayers; the Sunni Muslims renewed their allegiance to the Khalifa and invoked Allah’s blessings on him. And therefore for the Indian Muslims the world Khalifa had a special significance. The Ottoman Empire was the Muslim power which had maintained a semblance of authority; the Indian Muslim looked upon it as the bastion of Islam. In the Balkan wars, Turkey was reduced in Europe to Eastern Thrace, Constantinople and the Straits. The Muslims believed that the Western powers had been involved in a war against Islam. Eminent Muslim leaders like Moulana Mohammad Ali and Moulana Zafar Ali tried to help Turkey; Zafar Ali went to Constantinople in 1912 to give some financial help. A medical mission was also despatched to Turkey under the leadership of Dr.M.A.Ansari. Some other leaders like Moulana Azad, Mushir Hussain Qidwai, Moulana Shoukat Ali, Shibli Noumani also gave support to Turkey.

Turkey had not able to recuperate the losses of the Balkan wars when the first world war began. The British declared war (4 August 1914) against the Central Powers. The British India also inevitably became involved. In November Turkey made a fateful decision deciding to fight against the Allies. With a view to neutralizing the Muslims, Sir Edward Grey (the British Foreign Secretary) promised that the status of Caliph and the Holy places of Islam would be protected. More promises were made; point twelve of Wilson’s “Fourteen points” had proclaimed that “the Turkish portions of the present Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty”. On January 1918 Lloyd George (British Prime Minister) declared that the British were not fighting the war to deprive Turkey of its capital or of the rich and renowned lands of Thrace which were predominantly Turkish in race. But the fact of the matter was that during the war, the Allies had signed four secret agreements dividing the Turkish Empire:

  • The Constantinople agreement (18 March 1915) between Britain, France, and Russia;
  • The secret Treaty of London (26 April 1915) between the same three powers;
  • The Sykes-Picot Agreement (16 May 1916) between Britain and France

The St. Jean de Mourience Agreement (17 April 1917) between Britain, France and Italy. Later on, Lloyd George and the French Prime Minister, Clemenceau gave their fullest support to the Greek Prime Minister to capture Turkish territories.

In the meantime, the Ali brothers, Moulana Azad and Moulana Zafar Ali Khan wrote articles and editorials in their press, supporting the Turkish cause; Al-Hilal, Zamindar. Comrade, and Hamdard, should be appreciated for propagating the pro-Turkish feelings. In 1915, the Muslim League and the Congress held their sessions at Bombay. A resolution was presented by Jinnah that a committee be formed to draft a scheme of reforms in collaboration with the Congress. The joint deliberations of the League and Congress resulted in the famous Lucknow Pact (to be discussed in details, later on). In 1916 linniah appreciated the Lucknow accord; he also warned the British Government against the implications of its interference with the future of the Khilafat. Jinnah also requested the Government to consider the feelings of the Indian Muslims while taking any decision against Turkey, reminding the Government that the Muslim loyalty to the Government should be appreciated. In 1918, the League held it session at Delhi; A.K.Fazl-ul-Haq, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Dr.M.A.Ansari once again urged the Government to have a soft corner for the Turks. In October 1918 Turkey was defeated by General Allenby’s armies; his tactics offered poor Turks only a choice between rout and surrender. It was within two months after the conquest of Baka, the Ottoman government sued for peace and armistice. The Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30 October 1918 between Turkey and the Entente powers; the armistice with Germany followed on 11 November.

The aftermath of the peace settlement also agitated the Turkish mind and also troubled the Muslim World. Constantinople was occupied by the Allied forces; the British forces marched into Mosul, and the Supreme Allied Council authorized Greece to occupy Smyrna and the Adjacent region. The Greeks landed on 15 ay 1919; it was a blessing in disguise, for the Turks considered the Greeks a subject race and could not tolerate their superior position. It was a great challenge which acted as a powerful stimulant for the Turkish nation. At this moment the Turks were blessed by the God in the shape of a great leader Mustafa Kamal Pasha. On 19 May Kamal reached Samsun to organize the resistance movement declaring that they would not submit to foreign rule. On 22 June, at Amasya, Kamal declared that efforts would be made to protect the Territorial Integrity of the fatherland; that the Sultan’s government was incapable of carrying out its duties. On 23 June, the Ministry of Interior issued a circular that Kamal had been dismissed. Kamal Ataturk and his associates, however, continued their struggle without any fears.

These anti-Turkish developments were extremely shocking for the Indian Muslims – a matter of sadness and pain. In May 1919, Muslims in Britain urged the Government to be sympathetic to Turkey, honoring its pledges. In June, Seth Yaqub Hasan (secretary of the League’s deputation) presented a petition to the Prime Minister, dealing with issues such as the future of Constantinople, the integrity of Turkey and the issue of Khilafat. Sir Theodore Morison also helped the Muslim point of view by writing articles. The Government was not prepared to accommodate these views; all section of Muslim opinion in India were enraged. In December 1918, some leading Ulema like Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal became active and along with Hakim Ajmal and Dr. M.A. Ansari formed the All-India Khilafat Committee at Bombay, and its branches were established in all provinces; on 17 October 1919 the Committee observed the Khilafat day – a complete Hartal (strike) was observed, Muslims kept fast and offered prayers. Umar Hayat Khan Tiwana, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan, A.K.Fazlul Haq, Abdul Aziz Ansari, Hasrat Mohani and Abdul Bari became extremely active. In November 1919, the Ulema from Deoband and Farangi Mahal established Jamiat-i-Ulamai Hind holding a meeting in Amritsar in the same month. At the same, the Khilafat Conference also held its meeting at Delhi, chaired by A.K.Fazlul Haq, appealing to the Muslims to abstain from participating in the official celebrations of victory.

In the meantime, M.K.Gandhi had intervened; Gandhi, Motilal Nehru and Pandit Malaviya were present in the Khilafat Conference of 1919. The Hindu leaders wished to give a tough time to the Government and therefore advised that Indians must adopt non-cooperation and boycott during their struggle against the British. In December 1919, the Khilafat Committee and the Congress met at Amritsar. There was much fraternization between the two bodies. The Conference decided to send a deputation to the Viceroy and the British Prime Minister to present their views. The publication of the Rowlatt Bill, giving the British Indian executive a wide range of repressive powers against sedition and the Amritsar Massacre of April 1919, when General R.E.H.Dyer fired on a crowd of demonstrators killing at least 375 and wounding at least 1200, had inflammed almost all sections of Indian opinion irrespective of community. In February 1920 Gandhi formally launched a non-cooperation movement, and in June 1920, after an all-parties Hindu-Muslim Conference at Allahabad, joined with Moulana Azad, the Ali brothers, Moulana Hasrat Mohani and some others to formulate a detailed programme of non-coperation with the Government. In September 1920, the Congress met at Calcutta and formally adopted non-coperation as its creed. In July 1921 at Karachi as decided by the Khilafat committee, on 19 January 1920 a deputation under the leadership of M.A. Ansari, consisting of prominent Khilafatists and Congress leaders met the Viceroy (Lord Chelmsford). They demanded the preservation of the Turkish Empire and of the sovereignty of the Sultan as the Caliph of Muslims. The Viceroy told the delegation that he sympathized with them and was in touch with London, also pointing out the fact that the matter was before the peace conference to be decided jointly by the Allies rather than the British alone. Chelmsford reminded that the fact of the matter was that Turkey was an enemy of the British and therefore could expect little help; he, however, promised help for the deputation which was to proceed to London to lay their demands before the Government. The deputation led by Moulana Mohammad Ali left for Europe – the places also to be visited were: Hijaz, Nejd, Syria, Yemen, ‘Palestine and Mesopotamia (Iraq). In March 1920, the deputation presented their demands in London; Lloyd George rudely replied that all defeated states would be treated at par; the Turks must also bear the brunt and consequence of the defeat. The delegation tried their utmost to argue their case in Britain, France, and Italy but with little success and a lot of failures.

After the failure of the deputation, there was a great deal of resentment in India. On 15 May 1920, the Government published the peace terms offered to Turkey; there was a complete disintegration of Turkey. Gandhi protested; the Central Khilafat Committee held a public protest and decided to adopt noncooperation. In June 1920, a meeting of Hindus and Muslims was held at Allahabad to put pressure on the Government. In July, Azad and other Ulema issued a fatwa declaring India Darul-Harb; there were two alternatives for Muslims, Hijrat or Jihad – Hijrat (Migration) was the only alternative due to the weak conditions of Muslims. Hijrat Committees were formed in all cities, persuading Muslims to emigrate to Afghanistan. It is recorded that about 18000 Muslims left India to settle in Afghanistan. But there were plenty of problems for the refugees and for the host country. Eventually, due to a lot of hardships, looting of caravans on the way, killings and deaths due to illness, the Hijrat movement had to be given up.

On 11 August 1920, the Treaty of Sevres was signed between Turkey and the Allies; it deprived Turkey of all rights in Cyprus, Egypt and Sudan, transferred the Arab areas of Turkey to British and French mandate, gave some Aegean Islands to Italy and allowed Greece to administer Izmir for five years. Italy was given special rights in Anatolia and Adalia and France in Cilicia and western Kurdistan. Mecca and Medina were to be given to Sharif Husain of Mecca, an ally of the British. The sultan had become a British puppet and therefore he had signed the treaty. But the treaty was not put to effect; Mustafa Kamal Pasha (Ataturk) came to the rescue. However, in October 1920, the Khilafat deputation returned to India. Moulana Mohammad Ali pressured the Aligarh College to join in the revolt against the British; he also laid the foundation of a national University, Jamia Millia at Aligarh (later shifted to Delhi). In 1921 the movement gained further momentum; in November the Prince of Wales visited India, a complete strike was observed in Bombay. Gandhi was in touch with the Viceroy and pressurizing him by putting various demands, but the Viceroy refused to give in to these demands.

In the meantime, an incident happened which proved to be a great setback for the Khilafat movement. Of a sudden, on February 1922, a clash took place between the police and the stragglers of a procession at Chaura Chauri (a village of Gorakhpur, U.P.). The police officers opened fire and then returned to their police station. The angry mob set fire to the police station burning alive 22 constables. After consulting the Congress Committee – but not taking the Khilafat Conference into confidence – Gandhi called off the anti-Government movement. He observed a 5-day fast and made a pathetic confession of his mistakes in Young India of February 16. The grand structure of Hindu- Muslim unity which Gandhi had so assiduously built was damaged. In 1913, the Muslims had changed their policy, committing to the achievement of self-government for India, the repudiation of the policy laid down by the Aligarh school of thought. However, the Khilafat Conference and Jamiat-ul-Ulema had no choice but to accept the decision of Gandhi making the Muslims more vulnerable.

On the other hand, in July 1919 and in August (1919) Kamal and the nationalists became more powerful and demanded the resignation of the Turkish Cabinet, giving them ultimately. In October the Grand Vazir had to resign (“for reasons of health”); on 11 April 1920 the Sultan dissolved the Chamber of Deputies. On 23 April 1920, the Grand National Assembly began its session; Mustafa Kamal was elected president of the Assembly. Kamal then launched an intensive movement appealing to the national pride of the Turks and succeeded in arousing his nation. In fact, Kamal had to face five armies: Armenians in the East; the French in Cilicia; the Italians in Adalia, the Greeks in Smyrna; and the British in Constantinople. In 1920, Kemal was able to eject the French – towards Aleppo.

He also settled important problems of foreign relations by undertaking a reorientation of foreign policy. On 13 March 1921, he concluded an agreement with Italy based on economic concessions; the Italians, therefore, left Turkey. On 16 March 1921, Kemal signed a treaty with Russia, settling some boundary disputes; Soviet Russia was now a friendly nation. On 20 October 1921, Kamal struck a deal with France (the Franklin-Bouillon agreement). After securing Russian help and neutralizing the French and Italians, Kamal concentrated all his strength on defeating the Greeks. From 24 August to 10 September, the battle of Sakaria turned the tide in favour of the Turks; Greeks were driven back to the Mediterranean sea. Lloyd George (15 September) appealed to the Allies to defend the Straits; the response from France and Italy was negative. On 19 September, Harrington’s French and Italian troops discreetly withdrew. The Turks now moved closer to the British troops. But the armistice was signed at Mudanya on 11 October 1922 which represented a complete surrender to the demands of the Turkish Nationalists. Lloyd George was deeply humiliated due to his policy of encouraging Greece’s imperialist adventures in Asia Minor; a week after the Mudanya Armistice he handed in his resignation.

After the Mudanya accord, the road was paved for a comprehensive discussion of all peace problems; on 27 October 1922, invitations to a peace conference at Lausanne were sent both to the Grand National Assembly (GNA) and to the Sultan. This ill-considered action precipitated the end of Sultanate; on 1 November 1922, a long and heated discussion took place in the G.N.A; and the obvious move was to depose the Sultan and appoint his successor as Sultan-Caliph. But Kamal declared that the Sultanate should be abolished and the Caliphate alone should be conferred on Wahid-ud-Din’s successor. On 16 November the Sultan requested the Commander of the Allied forces to help him save his life; the next morning he stole out of his Palace and boarded a British warship which took him to Malta. Wahid-ud-Din toyed with the idea of going to the Hijaz and establishing himself as Caliph; but the Arab world was extremely busy, dividing itself into nationalist states and therefore did not bother about the living symbol of unity of Islam. The 26th Sultan of the House of Osman died at San Remo in 1929. On 18 November 1922, the G.N.A. proclaimed the exSultan’s cousin, Abdul Majid, Caliph with the clear instructions that his duties would be confined to spiritual matters only.

In the meantime, the peace conference opened at Lausanne on 21 November 1922; Turkey’s Chief representative was Ismet Pasha whereas Curzon was the head of the British delegation. Ismet Pasha did not accept Curzon’s dictation and therefore for two months the conference was suspended, but in April 1923 it was resumed – Curzon had been replaced. On 24 July 1923, the parties signed the Treaty of Lausanne, embodying virtually all of Turkey’s demands; it was a victory for Kamal Ataturk and his associates. Kamal’s government had been recognized internationally and Turkey had regained her independence and secured the unity of her ethnic territory and national pride restored. But at home, the new Caliph (Abdul Majid) did not hesitate to defy Kamal Ataturk and took his duties seriously. On 24 November 1923, the Aga Khan and Syed Ameer Ali (a privy councillor) wrote to Ismet Pasha urging the imminent necessity for maintaining the religious and moral solidarity of Islam by placing the Caliph-imamte on a basis which would command the confidence and esteem of the Muslim nations, and thus impart to the Turkish State unique strength and dignity. This letter was published in Turkish newspapers; Journalists responsible were arraigned before a Tribunal for high treason but were acquited on 2 January 1924. On 3 March, the G.N.A, accurately reflecting the feelings of the country voted for the deposition of Abdul Majid, the abolition of the Caliphate and the banishment from Turkey of all members of the Imperial family. A deputy (member of the G.N.A.) who had visited India and Egypt declared that a number of representative Muslim bodies in these countries had authorized him to offer the Caliphate to Mustafa Kamal Pasha. But Kamal was unmoved saying that he would not accept, for “those who were offering had no powers to execute my orders – they were subjects of a King.” Kamal later abolished religious courts; the ministry of Shariat and Auqaf was established. Ataturk had rejected the idea of Pan-Islamism by calling it a nefarious movement which not only retarded the modern secular development of Turkey but also entangled her in adventures and responsibilities that were no concern to the people of Turkey. He also held the view that Pan-Islamism had been a chronic source of friction with foreign powers.

In conclusion, the Khilafat movement failed to achieve its true objectives. As a matter of fact, this movement had little to do with India; it was not realized by the Khilafatists that their objectives were neither practicable nor wholly justifiable. Perhaps it was due to these factors, Muslim leaders like M.AJinnah (later to become the Quaid-i-Azam) Sir Wazir Hassan, Raja Sahib Mehmoodabad, Mian Fazl-i-Husain and Sir Mohammad Shafi who had been more pragmatic did not actively participate in this movement. It may also be pointed out that allegations were made by some that the Khilafat Fund had been embezzled; accusations were also made that large sums of money had been unaccounted for; the treasurer of the organization.

[PDF Download]

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: The Pioneer of Progressive Culture in India

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was among a very few leaders produced by Muslim India, who like the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah made a tremendous contribution in guiding the destinies of the Indian Muslims. He is widely acknowledged as the father of Muslim India and the most eminent Muslim figure of the 19th century, who played a prominent role of a bridge-builder between the British rulers and the Indian Muslim; and therefore it is noticed that Muslim politics, especially in the latter half of the 19th century, had been greatly woven around the remarkable personality of Syed Ahmad Khan. Having fully realized the state into which Indian Muslims had fallen after the failure of the war of Independence (1857), Syed began to work with an extraordinary devotion for the improvement of their conditions. He knew full well that the British had come to stay in India for a longer time and that his community had no choice but to make a lot of adjustments. In the aftermath of the “Indian Revolt” (as the British called it) Syed’s top priority was to establish a rapprochement between the British and Muslims and Islam and Christianity. This was due to the reason that the British considered Muslims, who had been the rulers of India in the past, as the most dangerous element under the Raj. Under these circumstances the Muslims were advised by Syed to be extremely loyal to the British and should not repeat the events of 1857; for such events, would again be advantageous to the Hindus at the cost of the Muslims.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had a great political philosophy, understanding, and vision of the environment and he, therefore, decided to divert the Muslim mind to more fruitful and constructive works. It so happened that the learning of the English language had become a passport to government service and making progress as a whole. Syed had a much more difficult task to cope with as the Muslims tended to be much more orthodox than the Hindus in this direction. Syed, therefore, had to make hectic efforts in persuading the Muslims to learn English language arguing that the learning of the Western Education was not anti-Islamic, that Islam was a religion of progress, and that it posed no great problem of conscience. It may be mentioned that Syed was far-sighted enough to visualize that the British would also encourage his educational programme since it did not clash with British policies in India. He was also wise enough to have laid great emphasis on the two-nation theory after being frustrated by the revival of extremist Hindu organizations and their demands emerged to hurt Muslim interests. In this way Syed made a substantial contribution in awakening political consciousness of the Indian Muslims, creating a separatist movement and eventually paved the way for its consolidation This movement brought about productive results in a very short time; the Aligarh movement provided a core of educated Muslims who later played a key role in the freedom movement consequently leading to the creation of Pakistan.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was born on October 17, 1817, in an eminent and reputable family having connections with the Mughal Court at Delhi until the reign of Akbar Shah 11, the father of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Syed’s father, Mir Muttaqi, a broadminded gentleman was a descendant of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him); his maternal grandfather, Khawaja Fariddudin was a renowned mathematician worked as Principal of the Calcutta Madrassa in the 1790s; he had also served the East India Company during Lord Wellesley’s time. Before coming to India it is maintained that Syed’s ancestors had been oppressed during the Umayyads rule and had to flee to Iran and then after some time settled in the Herat province of Afghanistan. It was perhaps during the reign of a great Mughal Emperor, Shah Jehan (1628-1666) that this noble family shifted to India.

During his childhood, Syed has imparted the convential education, (as happened in the Muslim families of the day) such as reading of the Quran, the study of Persian language using Bostan and Gulistane Saadi, or little Mathematics and Astronomy. Until the death of this fater, Syed spent a comfortable life; but soon the family wealth, property and possessions began to squeeze; stipends, jagirs and the Royal patronage reduced and lapsed. In these conditions Syed had to enter the service of the East India Company; it may be noted that his family did not approve of Syed’s joining the British Company. Anyway, Syed served at various places such as Agra (1839-41). Mainpuri (1841-42). Fatehpur Sikri (1842-46), Delhi (1846-54). and Bijnour (1854-58). By 1857, Sir Syed rose to the position of Sadre Amin (Sub. Judge in the Judicial Service of the Company). In the meantime, Syed continued with his literary activities. In 1847, Syed published his monumental work, Asarus Sanadid, which helped him to become a member of the prestigious Royal Asiatic Society. He also produced an edition of the Aain-i-Akbari. By this time Sir Syed had been concentrating on literary and cultural matters in the typical Indian milieu.

The year 1857 (call it a mutiny or the war of Independence ) is always remembered with a great deal of sadness and pain. It was a final blow to the idea of the Mughal Empire resulting in a total collapse of the Muslims in all walks of life. The finale of the Mughal dynasty came about in 1857; as such it disintegrated with a great deal of speed after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707; and yet another blow was Nadir Shah’s attacks on India in 1739. The result was that the foreigners, especially the British company went ahead with its designs to have territorial aggrandizement, pursuing their policy of divide and rule’. Nawab Siraju-ud-Daula was defeated in the battle of Plassey and then put to the sword. The British then chose to rule through puppet Nawabs like Mir Jafar. These Nawabs were made powerless to the extent that they were not allowed to grant lands and jobs to Muslims, hurting the upper-class Muslims in particular. Soon Mir Jafar was deposed and Mir Qasim was appointed in his place. In 1764 Mir Qasim, Shah Alam (the Mughal Emperor) and the Nawab of Oudh fought against the British at Buxur and were defeated. This battle established the British hold on strong footing, but they followed a tactful way. The East India company (EIC) exhorted the Diwani, collecting revenue and looked after the civil administration of Bengal, Bihar and Orrisa, sometimes adopting extremely cruel methods. It is relevant to point out that the Hindus were getting stronger whereas the Muslims were facing the political and financial losses. This situation caused a tremendous hatred and discontent among the Indian Muslims.

Furthermore, the year 1857 and its immediate aftermath is also highly significant; in that year a great revolt against the British was launched in India. These events were a trauma for the Muslims; the British were strong enough to suppress the war of independence. But the methods used by them shocked the civilized world. The destruction of Delhi as a centre of Muslims culture was horrendous; Bahadar Shah Zafar, 80 years old was tried and exiled to Rangoon; Lt. Hodson shot three Mughal princes and later 24 princes were tried and executed; a vast ocean of blood was seen; some Muslims were shot dead and their dead bodies were thrown into the river Jumna. The Muslim citizens of Delhi were required to pay 25% of the value of their property as a fine (Hindus had to pay only 10%). The Muslims were perceived to be more dangerous to the British rule; Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) says in his autobiography “the heavy hand of the British fell more upon Muslims than on the Hindus”. As a matter of fact, the British believed that the Muslims were responsible for the 1857 uprising and therefore were subjected to ruthless punishment, aimed at crushing their power once for all.

The traumatic events of 1857 were a watershed in Sir Syed’s life; he was posted at Bijnoor – he was forty years old and had an extremely difficult task ahead. The news of ‘revolt’ had greatly perturbed the European citizens; Syed assured them that their safety was his prime concern and therefore Syedd did his utmost to save the white-skinned. As soon as the normalcy returned, Syed wrote an Urdu pamphlet titled Risalae Asbab-i-Baghawat-iHind; it was later translated into English. Syed analyzed the causes of the revolt. He strongly criticized some measures adopted by the British administrators before the revolt; that Indians were not appointed members of the legislative councils; that interference in religions was regrettable; that there had been no intermingling of the rulers and the ruled; that the revolt was an outcome of the frustrations and accumulated wrongs of decades forfeiting the trust of the people who had been humiliated and degraded most often. Syed also blamed the missionary activities, for it was widely believed that the government had been financing and sponsoring these activities. He also pointed out that in village schools Urdu alone was taught whilst Persian and Arabic were completely ignored. The Muslim parents reckoned that it was a deliberate attempt on the part of the British to relegate Islam and popularise Christianity in India. Syed also pointed out that the indigenous industry was deeply hit due to the competition of cheap machine-made goods imported from British; he also criticized currency policies of the EIC. In the final analysis, Syed tried to correct the wrong impression of the British that the Muslims were responsible for the revolt of 1857. He also started a magazine titled The Loyal Muhammadans of India; Besides other things, loyal services rendered by some eminent Muslims were also reminded to the British.

In 1863, Sir Syed founded a Scientific Society in Ghazipur with a view to opening the minds of the Indians to the European literature, science and technology. It was widely acknowledged as a great educational and social enterprise; its main purpose was to translate the standard English works in various subjects into Urdu for educating the Muslims. Later on Aligarh became the headquarter of the Society; its membership increased manifold. The society employed a good number of translators owned a press and published a weekly newspaper (Aligarh Institute Gazette) widening the range of its activities by offering comments on such public issues as the reform of Railway management and the Native Marriages bill of 1869. Both the Society and the Aligarh Gazette chose to highlight the advantages to the Indians of the British rule and encouraged Europeans to become members by participating in meetings of the Society and by contributing articles.

In 1869, a great opportunity came to Sir Syed when his son (Mehmood) was awarded a scholarship for higher studies at Cambridge. With a view to investigating the methods of education in Britain, Syed decided to accompany his son; both the father and the son stayed together for nearly seventeen months. It was during and after his visit to England that Syed planned a ‘Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College’ modeled after Cambridge University; he was convinced that the medium of Instruction should be English in his proposed College. In 1870, Syed set up a committee and five years later, on 24 May 1876, with the assistance of British administration and with the help of subscriptions from Muslim princes and landed aristocracy, the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College was opened on Queen Victoria’s birthday. In 1877, Lord Lytton (the Viceroy) formally laid the foundation stone of the College. In 1878 intermediate and in 1881 B.A. classes were started; in 1881 a civil service preparatory class was also introduced. In 1887 the College started to prepare students to join the Engineering College at Roorkee. In a very short period of time, the College grew into a cluster of magnificent buildings, playgrounds, and spacious lawns, teaching punctuality and discipline to its students. The government gave also a great deal of support; many eminent Britishers also made personal donations; the Viceroy Northbrook contributed a handsome amount of ten thousand rupees. Even in its early stages, the College seemed to be a great success. It was noticed that the MAO College admitted Muslim students from all over India including a good number of those belonging to Punjab. It may be mentioned that Syed frequently visited Punjab where his educational plans were greatly appreciated by the eminent Muslim leaders of the province.

For more than a decade the MAO college was run almost single-handedly by Sir Syed and his son, Mehmood. But later Syed decided to have a good deal of association of European staff, even though some of his associates deeply criticized the rich salaries paid to the foreigners; Syed, however, pressed on to recruit this staff having in mind to raise the standard of teaching and also to be able to have a liaison between the government and the Muslims. Syed’s estimates proved right; educationists like Theodore Beck, Theodore Morison, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Thomas Arnold were among the distinguished European staff who took a keen interest in the welfare of the college and raising its standard. Sir Syed also added (1897) twenty-one names to the role of trustees using his discretionary powers; Moulvi Mehdi Ali Khan (Mohsin-ul-Mulk) Moulvi Mushtaq Hussain (Viqar-ul-Mulk) and Altaf Hussain Hali became the three great pillars of the Aligarh movement. During his last years Syed dreamed of developing the MAO College into a University. But the government was opposed (it will be discussed later) and it was not until 1920 that the British government agreed to promote the College to the rank of a University.

Sir Syed Ahmad also provided another platform to the Indian Muslims by establishing the Mohammadan Educational Congress (later to be known as Muslim Educational Conference) in 1886. The aim Syed had in mind was to gather together Muslims from various provinces upon a common platform of public activity and to encourage the study of western science and literature by Muslims. The Conference presented a twelve point programme in the beginning. So far as educational programme was concerned it was decided that:

  • efforts would be made to spread advanced western education among the Muslims;
  • inquiries would be made into the state of rligious instruction in English schools established by Muslims;
  • to support the instruction of Eastern learning and religious subjects, which Muslim teachers were giving everywhere on their own and to make provision for it so that it could be kept up regularly;
  • efforts would be made to look at the state of instruction in the vernacular schools, which was given on traditional lines and making preparations for restoration of schools which had decayed.

Inquiries were to be made to discover as to why Muslim Youth were given inadequate Quranic instruction and to promote more intensive memorizing and study of the Quran. The Conference held its annual meetings preferably in a different town; Muslim academicians from all over India gathered to discuss educational issues and proposals, and various educational committees were formed to help the Conference’s programme. Various resolutions were passed by the Conference such as to seek help from various Muslim Anjamans for scholarship for poor students; appealing to the government to allow Muslims to receive religious education in government schools; pressing the Allahabad University for the exclusion of Cox’s history which contained chapters offensive to Muslims; compelling every Muslim to give at least one percent of his income for the growth of Western education amongst the Muslims of his district. These resolutions and Syed’s power of persuation had deep impact on various Muslim educational associations; these Anajamans established educational institutions for Muslim youth; Mohammadan Colleges of Karachi and Hyderabad (Deccan) should be mentioned in particular. Similarly, due to the influence of the Muslim Educational Conference, Anjaman-i-Himayat-i-Islam was established in Lahore; the Anjaman established a men’s College and later women’s College and a medical College; its annual meetings were attended by the leading literary and political figures of the Aligarh movement like Deputy Nazir Ahmad and Moulana Altaf Hussain Hali. In 1899 Allama Iqbal (the poet-philosopher of Pakistan) made his national debut by reciting his famous poem Nala-i-Yatim (Orphan’s cry) and the audience was deeply moved and touched. It may be noted that due to the electrifying effects of the Aligarh movement, the annual sessions of the Conference and the Anjaman-i-Himayat-i-Islam became a national phenomenon and highly sacred for Muslims.

Even though the Conference’s main emphasis was on its educational programme, it was also expected to safeguard political rights of the Muslims such as securing for them a fair proportion of jobs (places) for educated Muslims and their adequate representation on various political and administrative bodies. Sir Syed was convinced where majority’s opinion was to be a decisive factor, it was essential for the electors to be United by the ties of race, religion, manners, customs, culture, and historical traditions. He sincerely believed that the Muslims could be outmaneuvered by the Hindus. In the second session of the conference (December 1887) Syed, therefore laid emphasis on two points; one was that in case the higher service was to be filled by competitive examinations in India, they would all go to the nation (Hindus) that had an early start in education; secondly that the representative government in India would result in the permanent subordination of Muslims to Hindus. Syed believed that it was going to be a game of dice in which on a man (Hindu) had four dices and the other (Muslim) only one; he would prefer to have a distinct political personality for Indian Muslims.

As a matter of record, for a long period of time Sir Syed had great faith in unity giving historical statements such as that “India was a bride whose two beautiful eyes were Hindus and Muslims”; that he regarded Hindus and Muslims as his two eyes; that he did not care about religion – Hindus and Muslims were religious words, and that Hindus and Muslims must try to be one mind in matters which affected their progress. In 1878, Lord Lytton nominated Syed on the Imperial Legislative Council and Lord Ripon renewed his term of office. Being a member of this prestigious council, Syed strove for the welfare of both Hindus and Muslims, for he considered co-operation between the two essential for the progress of two great communities of India. But later Syed had to change his mind realizing that the interests of the two communities were not always identical. Many developments persuaded Syed to change his attitude. The linguistic controversy (Urdu-Hindi) played key role in this matter. Muslim rule in the upper provinces had left Urdu as the lingua franca; from 1835 onwards this language served as the court language and means of communication. In 1867, Hindus of Benaras started an agitation to stop the use of Urdu from official courts and substitution of Hindi, written in the devanagri script. The Hindus resented Urdu on the plea that it was developed during the Muslim rule over India which they despised. The Hindu Sabhas sprang up in Benaras and elsewhere with a central office in Allahabad, the aim being the adoption of Hindi as the official language. This pressure bore fruits; in the 1870s Hindi was adopted as the language of lower courts, first by the Lt. Governor of Bihar and then in the C.P. The Hindu agitation thus gained momentum. These circumstances had a shocking effect on Sir Syed’s mind; he was deeply disappointed and remarked that it was no longer possible for the Hindus and Muslims to be partners, also concluding that in this game eventually, the Hindus would be the losers. However, in response, the Muslims established Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Urdu in Punjab and elsewhere. Later on after more assaults were made by the Hindus on Urdu, Mohsinul Mulk (1837-1907) and Viqarul Mulk (1841-1917) established Urdu Defence Association and Anjaman-i-Tarraqi-i-Urdu as an adjunct of the Muslim Educational Conference.

Sir Syed’s separate policy was also intensified due to the extremist movements launched by the narrow-minded Hindu leaders like B.G. Tilak (1856-1920). Tilak was a leader of the Arya Samaj’s reactionary movement who kept on reminding his nation about the struggle against Muslims and the British – and back to Vedas. The result was that serious communal riots broke out in 1893 and 1894 due to which 75 precious lives were lost and about 300 were seriously wounded. Tilak also started “AntiCow Killing Society” (Cow protection Society) provoking the Muslims; he also advised his countrymen to re-organize the festival of Ganesh (the Elephant God) which included theatrical performances and religious songs based on the legends of Hindu mythology, shrewdly exploiting the hatred against Muslims. In a matter of three years, there were more than 50 centers celebrating the Ganesh festival in Poona itself. It so happened that during the 10-day celebrations bands of young men paraded in the streets singing verses with a view to intensifying the feelings against the Muslims. Tilak also decided to organize an annual Shivaji festival; later it was regularly celebrated in Benaras, Calcutta, Karachi, and Madras. It may be mentioned that Shivaji had murdered a Muslim warrior, Afzal Khan and he had become a Hindu hero, called Lord Shivaji. Tilak also agitated against the Government ban upon music before mosques as offensive to the Hindu sentiments.

It may also be mentioned that the Indian National Congress did little to allay Muslim fears. The Congress was founded by a retired Civil servant, A.O.Hume with the blessing of the Viceroy Lord Dufferin. Hume arranged the first session of the Congress (1885) in Bombay and at his suggestion, W.C.Bannerjea was elected president of the Congress. By and large, the Muslims viewed the Congress as a platform for projecting Hindu aspirations. This proved correct when Congress was dominated by some fire-brands like Tilak and other Hindu extremist leaders like B.C.Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, who had been offending the Muslims by their extreme political and religious views. Under these circumstances, Sir Syed felt concerned and thought that the Muslims should guard their interests and that the Congress would not look after their interests. As the Muslims were numerically fewer and educationally backward. Syed thought that they would be misguided by the Congress and that would jeopardize his programme of educational uplift. He, therefore, advised Muslims to keep away from the Congress forbidding them to join it. The Muslims generally kept aloof from the Congress; only 33 Muslims participated in its session of 1886. Hume requested Badruddin Tyabji to preside over the next session so as to attract Muslims. In the meantime, Syed Amir Ali had requested Tyabji to attend a Conference of Muslims separately from the Congress. Amir Ali’s National (since 1883 Central) Mohammadan Associaton had refused to participate in the Calcutta Congress in 1886. It may be safely concluded that the Indian Muslims, as a community, had from the very foundation of the Congress stood aloof from it chiefly due to the advice of Sir Syed.

Syed was also a greatest Muslim thinker and a religious reformer. He stood for a rational approach in this matter; the aim was to interpret Islam as a natural faith. His maternal grandfather, Dabirul Doula Faridu-ud-din Ahmad was a man of remarkable talents and was more distinguished for literary attainments. Syed’s father was a favorite disciple of Hazrat Shah Ghulam Ali of Delhi. Syed read the text of Quran and later began to read Arabic – Sharh-i-Mulla, Shrah-i-Tehzid, Maibaz, Mukhtasar Ma’ain and Mutavval; he also read Qaduri and Sharhi-Vaqaya etc. While writing on religious subjects, Syed argued that there is a strong affinity between Islam and Christianity; the motive behind this argument was that Syed liked to bring about a rapprochement between the Government and Muslims and between two great religions (Islam and Christianity). Syed’s contribution to religious matters could be divided into three groups. He wrote about half a dozen pamphlets before 1857; between 1857 and 1869 the most noteworthy are the Tabyani-ulKalam (a bilingual commentary on the Bible) and Risala-i-Taami-Ahl-i-Kitab). He argued that Islam did not forbid Muslims and Christians eating together; he also argued that Islam did not approve of treachery and rebellion (in normal circumstances) and that Jihad (holy war) was only allowed to get certain legitimate goals. It may be mentioned that Syed was deeply influenced by the teaching and methodology of Shah Wali-Ullah; he considered Shah Sahib as an authority. He believed that even though the Prophets communicated one Din to mankind, each one of them brought a different Shariat which was adopted according to the prevailing conditions of their times.

The third group of Syed’s religious writings are from 1869 to 1898; Khutbat-i-Ahmadiya, Tehzib-ul-Akhlaq and the Tafsir-ul-Quran belong to this phase. It so happened that in 1861, Sir William Muir (Lt. Governor of N.W.P.) published The life of Mohammad in four volumes, attacking Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and Islam in many ways and which led to Islam-Christianity controversy in India. Syed prepared a reply and in 1870 (in London) published his famous Khutbat-i-Ahmadiya, which was a critical survey of the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBH) from the Muslim point of view and as an exposition of the rationalistic side of the Islamic system. But once again, Syed preached conciliation and understanding between Islam and Christianity. He interpreted Islam as a natural religion; that there was no contradiction between the word of God and the work of God (the laws of physical science and the scientific process). Syed proposed a dynamic exercise of Ijtihad to help to bring into being a sense of political community with the aim of discovering the nature and demands of Islam as a religion. Sir Syed’s Tafsir (commentary on the Quran) was perhaps his greatest work, even though his critics questioned his ability to undertake the job. He was unable to complete the commentary, it covered about three-fifth of the Quran; he discussed a limited number of verses, relating to most important questions of his time. It consists of seven volumes; six of which were published during Syed’s life time; the bulk of the Tafsir deals with the interpretation of things involving supernatural phenomena which Syed tried to explain in terms of natural causation; that is why he was called a naturist.

The impact and influence of the Tafsir has been tremendous; the Tafsir could truly be described a the crowning glory of Syed’s intellectual works, throwing new light on many of the obscure verses and apparently incomprehensible passages of the Quran.

After his return from England (October 1870) Syed published a weekly periodical, Tehzib-ul-Akhlaq; the first issue appeared on 24 December 1870. Syed reflected simplicity, honesty and other homely virtues by inaugurating a movement for improving morals and manners of his community; he argued that the Muslims should accept what was sound and attractive in European manners and social life. During the first six years of its existence (1870-76) Syed’s Journal served the cause of religious and social reforms among the Muslims. Syed was assisted by other eminent Muslims such as Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Viqar-ul-Mulk, Maulvi Chiragh Ali, Syed Mehmood, Moulana Altaf Hussain Hali, and Moulvi Zakaullah. However, it may be mentioned that the largest number of articles in the Journal were contributed by Syed himself; of 226 papers Syed wrote 112. It was he who tried his utmost to improve the conditions of his community by bringing them at par with modern culture and by diverting their attention into more useful channels. Syed did not wish to have a collision between the Government (or Christianity) and the Muslims (or Islam). It can be proved by the fact that out of 500 copies of his famous pamphlet, The Causes of the Indian Revolt. Syed sent 498 to England for the members of the British Parliament and other interested Englishmen. No Indian knew anything at all about it. Not only did some British authorities suggest punishment for Syed but some of his own community members turned against him and were able to procure Fatwas from 60 Moulvis, Muftis, and Qazis pronouncing Syed as the most hateful of Kafirs; some called him a “Dajjal”.

But Sir Syed, a most remarkable specimen of progressive humanity, a man with high spirits and moral courage, continued to do what he believed was right to improve the conditions of the Indian Muslims.

[PDF Download]