Daily Archives: August 4, 2009

The Idea of Pakistan: Iqbal-Jinnah correspondence 1

Given the discussion that emerged out of my article on the same theme,  I am reproducing the letter from Allama Iqbal to Quaid-e-Azam in 1937.   Iqbal was instrumental in converting Jinnah to the idea of Muslim nationhood and  Muslim statehood.  These letters show the depth of feeling as it emerged in Punjabi Muslim middle classes for the idea of an independent Muslim majority state in North West of India and the historical forces that were at play.  Unlike Mian Kifayet Ali’s scheme,  this was fanciful.  For example how would the law of Islam- albeit modernized and liberalized-  solve the problems of Muslim poverty?  Similarly Iqbal totally miscalculated in his estimate of Hinduism’s and Islam’s ability to imbibe new and modern ideas.  It turned out to be the exact opposite.  Iqbal’s vision was ideological even if his ideology was liberal and not conservative. Jinnah was obviously not too inclined towards such a vision hailing as he did from the minority Khoja sect which applied Hindu law to inheritance issues. In 1943 when Dr. A H Kazi tabled a resolution to commit the League to an Islamic constitution,  Jinnah described it as nothing less than “censure” on every leaguer. When asked about Sharia, Jinnah replied “Sharia? Whose Sharia? No. I shall have a modern state in Pakistan”-   to him modernity was not in conflict with the true spirit and the true sharia of Islam.  –YLH

My dear Mr. Jinnah, 

Thank you so much for your letter which reached me in due course. I am glad to hear that you will bear in mind what I wrote to you about the changes in the constitution and programme of the League. I have no doubt that you fully realise the gravity of the situation as far as Muslim India is concerned. The League will have to finally decide whether it will remain a body representing the upper classes of Indian Muslims or Muslim masses who have so far, with good reason, no interest in it. Personally I believe that a political organisation which gives no promise of improving the lot of the average Muslim cannot attract our masses.  Continue reading

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