Ideology and Jihad : What do they mean for Pakistan?

From the Dawn

Ideology and jihad have always remained a part of Pakistan’s political discourse but without an agreement on what the two concepts mean. They have meant different things to different people at different times.

Pakistan’s current crisis, too, can be traced in large measure to a dogmatic view that the ideology of Pakistan is Islamic and jihadist in the sense of fighting for faith, and is enjoined on all Muslims. Both show up together in Mr Majid Nizami’s recent plea to the Taliban to wage jihad in Kashmir and not in their own country. The Taliban are unlikely to pay heed but the point to consider is that if Mr Nizami as chairman of Pakistan’s Nazaria (ideology) Foundation has the right to coax the Taliban to fight the Indian forces in Kashmir, by the same token, he cannot deny the same right to Sufi Mohammad, ideologue of the rule of Sharia, to fight the Pakistan Army in Swat.

The first and undisputed principle of jihad by war, however, is that it can be authorised only by an imam which in today’s parlance would mean a legitimate and just government. Armed jihad is permitted, or ordained, only to repel an aggressor or to dislodge an intolerably oppressive or bigoted ruler. It is considered that the superior form of jihad is to purge oneself of evil, preach peacefully and invest in worthy causes.

In present-day circumstances jihad has come to be associated with suicide bombings rather than noble exertions. In the presence of organised armed forces jihad for the civilian population lies in improving their character and capabilities, spreading the Quranic message and helping the victims of oppression. The ideology of Pakistan, call it Islamic or give it any other label, can be gleaned only from the struggle waged over a century for the safety and rights of the Muslims in a country of continental proportions in which they constituted no more than one-fifth of the population, their loyalty to the imperial rulers was suspect and they were economically backward and averse to modern education. Here may be briefly recounted some of the landmarks along the way.

— In the last quarter of the 19th century Sir Syed Khan counselled the Muslims to dissociate themselves from the Indian National Congress and urged the British to recognise them as a separate nation. In the same period Jamaluddin Afghani envisioned the north-western part of India merging with the neighbouring Central Asian countries to form a large Muslim state.

— Allama Iqbal, seven years after his celebrated 1930 Allahabad address, wrote to Jinnah: ‘Why should not the Muslims of northwest India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India are?’ This, he thought, ‘would be the best course to adopt in the interests of both Muslim majority and minority provinces’. In yet another letter to Jinnah he hinted at a bold social and economic programme based on the law of Islam but what the law was to be and how it was to be implemented he did not explain and Jinnah ignored it.

— In 1933 Chaudhry Rehmat Ali put across his chimerical scheme for the establishment of no less than eight Muslim states and their consolidation after total exchange of populations into the Pakistan Commonwealth of Nations which in turn was to be integrated with the Muslim belt all the way from Central Asia to the Bosphorus.
— In 1940 came the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution with all its ambiguities and contradictions asserting in substance that the geographically contiguous areas in which the Muslims were in a majority (as in the northwest and east) ‘should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign’.

— Notwithstanding this resolution, in 1946 the Muslim League agreed to the Cabinet Mission Plan which proposed to put Muslims in two autonomous regions within the Indian federation (the plan did not materialise).

— A month before leaving Delhi for a sovereign Pakistan, Jinnah disdainfully dismissed a suggestion that Pakistan would be a theocracy. Then came his historic statement in the constituent assembly of the new state in which the liberals, modernists and secularists still revel. He mentioned no ideology. Instead, he set out his ideal of a democratic nation in which ‘faith’ would be personal to each individual.
One is at liberty to pluck any ideology out of this odyssey. Mr Nizami’s foundation finds the roots of Islamic ideology in Allama Iqbal’s presidential address at Muslim League’s session at Allahabad in 1930. Sir Zafrulla Khan (who presided over the League’s session the following year) was a member of the Muslim delegation to the Round Table Conference held in London soon after the session. So were Iqbal and Jinnah.It would be of interest to see what Zafrulla had to say in an article he wrote for Pakistan Times on Feb 13, 1982, to clarify a controversy raised by Wali Khan about the contents of a constitutional plan that Zafrulla had submitted to Lord Linlithgow with the knowledge of Jinnah only days before the Lahore Resolution: ‘It is stated that the Quaid-i-Azam was instrumental in procuring the election of Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal as the president of the Muslim League at the Allahabad Session in 1930 as the Quaid was anxious that Allama Iqbal should have an opportunity to express his views on the creation of a Muslim state before the Round Table Conference was held in 1931. May I point out that Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal was himself a member of the second and third Round Table Conference in 1931 and 1932 and said not a single word on the subject of a Muslim state whatsoever, one way or other. Moreover, the Quaid-i-Azam himself was a delegate to the first and second Round Table Conferences in 1930 and 1931 and he did not make the slightest reference, direct or indirect, to the setting up of a Muslim state.’

The central point of Zafrullah’s unusually long essay was that Pakistan was created by the efforts of a single individual — Jinnah. If Pakistan had an ideology it could not be but what he had said on the eve of independence. All of us, nevertheless, remain entitled to our own view of ideology and jihad. But the fate of the country now hangs in balance between the Taliban and Pakistani soldiers as it did in 1971 between the Mukti Bahini and the Pakistan Army. One can only hope that the result this time round is different.



Filed under Pakistan

8 responses to “Ideology and Jihad : What do they mean for Pakistan?

  1. karun

    But the fate of the country now hangs in balance between the Taliban and Pakistani soldiers as it did in 1971 between the Mukti Bahini and the Pakistan Army.

    except the roles were reversed…………

  2. bonobashi


    I didn’t think the comparison between Taliban vs. Pakistan Army and Mukti Bahini vs. Pakistan Army is a fruitful one.

    For one, your equation of the Taliban and the Mukti Bahini is unfortunate; second, your equation of the roles of the Pakistan Army then and now are again suggestive in an unfortunate way.

    Do you agree?

  3. yeh dil maange more

    yeh dil mange more was not just said by shahrukhkhan in aPepsi ad, it was a lso said by a true hero….
    Bonobashi, i want to coment something on your ayaz amir’s obsevations(on the article i provided in the last post).Do you know the man till last year was an open admirer of taliban and hizbullah.He couldnt get over the fact that talibani ambassador was not provided ‘ diplomatic immunity’ by pakgov.
    As for jihad, pakistan’s soul is jihad.The moment they leave this concept, the pakistani muslims will fall into a serious identity crisis. to see for yourself since how long jihad has been part of pakilife , see these pictures(especially of december 18, 1971) on this link

  4. yeh dil maange more

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    reminds me of yesterdays tianmen square anniversary………Crush dissent……

  5. yeh dil maange more

    o! i see my comment was being moderated as it containes a url.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>bonobashi, pakista and jihad are interlinked , see this dawn cover from december 18, 1971

  6. yasserlatifhamdani

    All comments with links in them are automatically put on moderation. Hold your horses.

  7. bonobashi

    @yeh dil maange more

    No, I didn’t know that about Ayaz Amir, nor other rather distasteful facts which came to my notice in private mail. It all seems rather sordid. I am sorry; I’ve liked various columns of his which I’ve read.

    Regarding your nickname, are you referring to the gallant Lt. Vikram Batra? Please do not say or do anything that would bring a shadow to his name. Live up to his reputation for chivalry and courage. It is a dangerous nickname to use with such a meaning in mind. You must be very, very careful in anything you say, and always be dignified. Please take care.

    You said Pakistan and Jihad are interlinked. Two comments: most of us who are not Muslim think Jihad means just one thing, the waging of war a outrance against non-Muslims.

    This is not true, first of all.

    Hazrat Mohammed clearly referred to two forms of Jihad; the greater one was an act of introspection, of self-purification, of internal struggle against the influence of evil, or, as it has been said, “the effort to live in the way that God had intended for human beings”.

    The lesser one was armed struggle.

    The greater Jihad is well known to many religions and is recommended practice even for Hindus, for instance. I say these things as an agnostic and not as a religious practitioner, and you can get a more convincing answer from a religious observant of any faith; a Muslim would be preferable. Otherwise read Karen Armstrong: “Islam: A Short History”. pp 6, 31 and 74, to be precise.

    To link Pakistan with the greater Jihad is not a bad thing at all, if it were achievable; I say the if because leading an entire nation into such a difficult spiritual path is not easy, not to be taken up lightly. If it were at all possible, every nation on earth could aspire to that path of self-purification and introspection.

    Second, the tenor of the Dawn article above is quite against the misuse of the lesser Jihad that various small-minded men pretending to represent Islam have tried to promote. It makes it clear that this cannot be promoted except by the state, by Pakistan acting on authority from its rulers, and that the state, having been founded and created by the single-handed efforts of a person who had a clear view of the nature of the state he was working on, had set aside such a recourse to religion-sanctioned waging of war. So a waging of Jihad by Pakistan is not available at the whims and fancies of misguided men.

    This is one interpretation. I take it as a combative political secularist nailing his colours to the mast against the politically religious, and welcome it.

    We should recognise that just as we in India are a diverse nation with a wealth of opinion and a great readiness to offer it in season and out of season (which is an attractive trait, I think, when I don’t actually have to listen to all of these!!), so too in Pakistan there is a wealth of diversity of views. If you look around with an open mind, you will find people you want to associate with, and with whom you can share the story of Vikram Batra without being insulted or reviled, yet at the same time without their seeking your good opinion through flattery. Try it, there are several of us who have, and it works.

    However, I haven’t read the URL you forwarded, and shall do that before saying anything more.