– Subcontinent’s First Islamic Extremist Political Party
The role of Majlis-e-Ahrar (truly the real grandfather organization of all Islamic Extremist Parties in the subcontinent and also of all anti-Shia and anti-Ahmadi agitation in Pakistan subsequently) is the most significant when it comes to Militant Islam in the subcontinent. This was a pre-partition body of Nationalist Muslims who had sided with the Congress throughout the independence movement and had been part of satyagraha (this is significant) at the time they believed in secular nationalism and secular India and in 1931 formed itself as a Indian Nationalist Muslim body, separate from the Congress, but always in support of it and in staunch opposition to the Muslim League.
It started its anti-Ahmaddiya movement in 1933 … when it clashed with All India Kashmir Committee – a rival organization fighting against Dogra Rule in Kashmir. Besides Dr. Muhammad “Allama” Iqbal (who was till 1933 or so probably an Ahmadi and whose father and elder brother were staunch Ahmadis), the AIKC consisted of Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud – the second caliph of Jamaat Ahmaddiya… the rivalry of these two organizations turned Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam against the Ahmadis altogether. (Ironically Bashiruddin Mahmud’s presidency of the said organization turned Dr. Iqbal against Ahmadis as well but that is another story. Majlis-e-Ahrar is clearly the oddest Islamic movement in the subcontinent… it was for “secular” and “united India”, was extremely anti-Ahmadi and was also fighting for “Madh-e-Sahaba” (or the honor of Sahaba) against Shias while its president – another significant point- was a Shia Muslim by the name of Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar. So it was an Indian Nationalist “Secularist” anti-Ahmadi, anti-Shia, anti-Jinnah Movement led by a Shia Alim!!!! Ironies never cease. I hope my Indian friends are taking note: the Majlis-e-Ahrar was part and parcel of the Quit India Movement launched by the Congress and denounced the Muslim League for not taking part in it. Majlis-e-Ahrar’s greatest propaganda was against Mahomed Ali Jinnah … who they denounced as “Kafir-e-Azam”.
Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar wrote the famous couplet: “Ik Kafira kay peechay Islam ko chora, Yeh Quaid-e-Azam hai kay Kafir-e-Azam”
Repeatedly Pakistan was described as “Palidistan”, “Kafiristan” and “Khakistan” by the Majlis-e-Ahrar. In 1946…. it’s candidates were soundly defeated by the Muslim League’s candidates. This is when Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar said “Madhe Sahaba can be a weapon against the League”- an obvious reference to Jinnah’s own background as a Khoja Shia Mahomedan (It is worthwhile to remember that Madhe-Sahaba is very much being used against Pakistan and Sipah-e-Sahaba is a direct result of this line of thinking). When the Muslim League launched its Direct Action especially in Punjab against the Unionist government, Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam logically remained completely aloof from it (This is also very significant- I’ll come to it later… because Muslim League’s short sighted policy in Punjab also met its come-uppance) .
The creation of Pakistan and partition of India in 1947 came as a complete shock to the Ahrar leadership. They went underground, resurfacd in May 1948, announced that they were disbanding as a political party and would continue as a religious group only. They also declared that in political matters they would take Muslim League’s lead but refused to join it on account of “unIslamic views” of Sir Zafrulla and Mian Iftikharuddin. In Pind Daddan Khan in 1949, they raised two significant demands: 1. Ahmadis be declared Kafir. 2. No Non-muslims should be allowed to hold positions in the new state’s government (Please note above that till 1947, the same group was advocating a United Secular India and was completely fine with Hindus or any other group ruling India.
In 1949, the same year Sahibzada FaizulHassan – another crook (who later hobnobbed with Ayub Khan) from the Majlis-e-Ahrar declared that: 1. All women without Purdah- especially Raana Liaqat Ali Khan- were prostitutes. 2. Muslim women were raped in East Punjab because Quaid-e-Azam wanted to be the governor general of Pakistan. By 1950, Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam began to reinvent itself politically. Their objective was to gain state power…. for this purpose alone they formed Majlis-e-Amal (consisting of religious parties) …. which raised again the demand that 1. Ahmadis be declared Non-Muslim 2. Zafrullah being a Non-Muslim should be thrown out of the government. By 1953… they gave Khawaja Nazimuddin – the Prime Minister and the leader of the Muslim League- an ultimatum- either accept the demands or face civil disobedience i.e. “Raast-Iqdaam”… the plan for Raast Iqdam was modelled on the “Satyagraha” of the Quit India movement… with individuals offering themselves for arrest and so and so forth. But what is significant is the name “Raast Iqdam”… Raast Iqdam translates neatly into English as “Direct Action”… Muslim League was getting a taste of its own medicine and in this one stroke, Mullahs were about hijack the Pakistan idea… the same Mullahs who had not only stayed away from the League’s Direct Action but had opposed the Pakistan Movement tooth and nail. Khawaja Nazimuddin – himself a veteran of the League’s Direct Action- knew that civil disobedience in the subcontinent was never peaceful immediately arrested crooks in chief the leaders of the Majlis-e-Amal which led to open rioting in Lahore.
Munir Report is the most significant document in Pakistan’s history. It establishes the roots of Anti-Ahmaddiya movement in the erstwhile anti-Pakistan forces amongst the Muslim clergy who now used the age-old dispute to weaken the new state. It also exposes shameless opportunists like Daultana- a feudal politician with otherwise a largely secular and left-leaning world view (a Punjabi forerunner of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) and a Punjab Leaguer- who encouraged the Ulema to strengthen his own position and then even had the audacity to suggest that it was happening because of Ahmadis’ attitude and because Pakistan had a vague religious basis for creation which gave too much power to the Mullahs. The last statement is significant, however. There was nothing vague about what Jinnah said on 11th August or repeatedly about the principle of equal citizenship… but the Muslim League leaders subsequently (including Sir Zafrulla himself) did deliberately create the vague religious basis legally when they passed the Objectives Resolution. However Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly had also passed a resolution promising equal citizenship without any bar and the right to profess and propagate one’s religion without any fear. And there was nothing vague about Nehru-Liaqat Pact between India and Pakistan, wherein, largely on Pakistan’s suggestion, the same principle was embodied. The Munir Report’s statement that “a party even of the background of Ahrar could bring down a government in the name of religion in Pakistan” … shows how urgent it was for Pakistan to be declared a secular state.
Furthermore,I think the pre-partition politics of civil disobedience of both Congress and the League was totally disastrous… and here one must give Congress the credit of having spawned, funded and encouraged what in my opinion was the first real terrorist group of the subcontinent i.e. Majlis-e-Ahrar. Given that LeT chief Hafiz Saeed is “intellectually and morally inspired” by Maulana Ataullah Shah Bokhari of the Majlis-e-Ahrar, not just Pakistanis but Indians are paying for the Congress’ encouragement of the Mullahs starting with the Khilafat movement and which continued throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Khawaja Nazimuddin, who was a profoundly religious man himself, refused the demands saying that the issue of whether Ahmadis are Muslim or not is upto the constituent assembly and two that Zafrulla was appointed by Jinnah himself and there was no way a Muslim Leaguer would remove him.
Pakistan today faces the same old enemy yet again but on a much magnified scale. Pakistan must make a clear break with the crooks, cranks and madmen who continue to stab it in the back. This battle is one that has to be fought on an ideological plane much more than on a military front. Today Pakistan’s very existence is at stake because these crooks, cranks and madmen and their ideologies strike at the root of Jinnah’s Pakistan- a return to which idea can alone save us from our humiliation.