Nationalist Mythologies And Nuances Of History

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

In response to my article in Daily Times where I spoke about the menace of Maududism and its sordid history in Pakistan, several sections in India took umbrage to that part of the article in which I wrote about Mahatma Gandhi’s role in bringing Islamic religious clerics into the forefront of political struggle in South Asia.   This is the same section that would rather I had drawn a line linking Islamic extremism to Pakistan’s creation.  I would have done so gladly but that would be tantamount to denying history.

The problem with nationalist histiography is that it is unable to fully grasp or articulate nuanced realities that don’t fit in with the binary of good v. evil.   Indian nationalist mythology is no different.   The naive view amongst those Indian authors taking only a very superficial view of history is that Indian partition was brought about by Muslim religious fanatics and those who opposed it were somehow secular and moderate.  This binary then affects their entire view of history where they seek – quite unconvincingly- to imagine an unbroken link from Akbar to Darashikoh to Maulana Azad as a strand in South Asian Islam committed to Hindu Muslim Unity.    This again bears no semblance to actual history. 

The truth is that Mahatma Gandhi – himself more a conservative and a revivalist than a reformer- chose, very consciously, conservative Islamic clerics from amongst Muslims for his political struggle against the British.  He deliberately sidelined the more secular minded members of the Muslim intelligentsia and bourgeoisie because he did not find them as forthcoming in his struggle against the British which revolved around provoking and invoking ancient passions in aid of the hatred for all things English.   Thus for Mahatma Gandhi the Turkish Imperial Project of Khilafat with its Pan-Islamic connotations became a stepping stone against the British.  In this effort,  Jinnah- as the foremost Indian from the Muslim community and a secular liberal in the Congress-  trenchantly opposed Gandhi and warned against bringing “unwholesome” elements into politics.  These are all undeniable facts of history.     In his passion to rouse the masses, Gandhi lost all control and balance.   Ultimately – as Jinnah had warned – the movement fell flat on its face and Gandhi- along with the Islamic Khilafatists- was utterly humiliated but not before releasing the genie of identity politics in South Asia.   

 Achyuth Patwardhan, one of the Socialist stalwarts in the Congress, has given a remarkably candid and self critical analysis of the Congress Party vis-a-vis Khilafat:

 ‘It is, however, useful to recognise our share of this error of misdirection. To begin with, I am convinced that looking back upon the course of development of the freedom movement, THE ‘HIMALAYAN ERROR’ of Gandhiji’s leadership was the support he extended on behalf of the Congress and the Indian people to the Khilafat Movement at the end of the World War I. This has proved to be a disastrous error which has brought in its wake a series of harmful consequences. On merits, it was a thoroughly reactionary step. The Khilafat was totally unworthy of support of the Progressive Muslims. Kemel Pasha established this solid fact by abolition of the Khilafat. The abolition of the Khilafat was widely welcomed by enlightened Muslim opinion the world over and Kemel was an undoubted hero of all young Muslims straining against Imperialist domination. But apart from the fact that Khilafat was an unworthy reactionary cause, Mahatma Gandhi had to align himself with a sectarian revivalist Muslim Leadership of clerics and maulvis. He was thus unwittingly responsible for jettisoning sane, secular, modernist leadership among the Muslims of India and foisting upon the Indian Muslims a theocratic orthodoxy of the Maulvis. Maulana Mohammed Ali’s speeches read today appear strangely incoherent and out of tune with the spirit of secular political freedom. The Congress Movement which released the forces of religious liberalism and reform among the Hindus, and evoked a rational scientific outlook, placed the Muslims of India under the spell of orthodoxy and religious superstition by their support to the Khilafat leadership. Rationalist leaders like Jinnah were rebuffed by this attitude of Congress and Gandhi. This is the background of the psychological rift between Congress and the Muslim League’

This was also the beginning of what I call the sordid “Mahatma-Maulana-Alliance” (MMA)  in South Asian Islamic History.   No where did it become clearer than in Modern India, when Gandhi’s Congress Party struck a dastardly blow to the rights of Muslim women when it overturned Indian Supreme Court’s “Shah Bano Case” judgment which was to grant an old woman alimony.   Shah Bano’s lawyer who had won her the landmark judgment was Daniyal Latifi- a progressive leftist lawyer.  Daniyal Latifi had been coached in politics and law by Mahomed Ali Jinnah and had played a pivotal role in the creation of Pakistan and in Muslim League’s triumph in 1946 elections.

In 1940s, two very different Muslims came to represent two very different forces –   Jinnah was the public face of Muslim Nationalism and Maulana Azad was the poster boy for Composite Nationalism.  So far so good but truth is stranger than fiction.   History tells us that Jinnah was once known as the best ambassador of Hindu Muslim unity while Maulana Azad had around that time given a Fatwa for all Muslims to leave India or take up arms against it.   It tells us Jinnah’s life  was shaped entirely by European rationalism, Edwardian traditions and modernity  whereas  Maulana Azad was steeped in Islamic tradition and was an orthodox Sunni Muslim scholar.   While Jinnah’s trainees and associates include men like Daniyal Latifi and M C Chagla in India,    Azad taught and inspired Islamists like Maududi, Israr Ahmed and Agha Shorish Kashmiri in Pakistan. 

Jinnah – to quote Alex Von Tunzelmann- was a bad Muslim in practice who didn’t care much for religious taboos and lived a very anglicized and secular lifestyle, a lifestyle that Jinnah never made any effort to hide.  Unlike most good Muslims,  Jinnah enjoyed his whiskey, cuban cigars,  relished his ham sandwiches and  loved his dogs which he kept till the end of his life.    As a self made lawyer- the best in the British Empire it was said-  he knew how to live with class – owning several cars and houses at a time.  He also sent his only daughter to  study in England and made little effort to teach her about the Islamic faith.  With origins heterodox Shia Islam of Khoja variety (which meant that his community follows Hindu family law), Jinnah was the most irreligious Muslim leader and head of state since Akbar the Great himself.

In contrast Maulana Azad- it will shock Indians who wish to imagine the non-existent unbroken link between Azad and Akbar- considered Akbar the great a heretic.    Azad drew his inspiration from Shaikh Sirhindi who had opposed Akbar’s attempts at finding common ground between Hindus and Muslims through his Din-e-Ilahi.   Sirhindi’s project was to cleanse and purify Islam of “Hindu traditions”.    Maulana Azad also drew his inspiration from Ibn-e-Taimiyya – a scholar Azad greatly admired and quoted.   Ibn-e-Taimiyya is also cited as inspiration by the globally Salafi movement that is also closely linked with global Jihad.  

This is not to impugn Maulana Azad’s reputation.  Azad was no doubt a first rate Islamic scholar and his commitment to United India was genuine. Indeed impartial historians will credit Azad for having devised the scheme that came to be known in its more refined form as the Cabinet Mission Plan.  His book “India Wins Freedom” shows him as an honest man who did not hesitate from the telling the truth.  However a liberal heterodox he was not.  To imagine otherwise would be a grave injustice to history and the man himself.

Partition of India was not the result of an ideological Islamic movement.   It was the result of a rising Muslim business and professional class which Congress – as predominantly the guardian of the entrenched Hindu capitalist class despite its secular protestations- could not accommodate.    Instead the Congress chose to go over the head of these Muslim classes and speak directly to what it thought were representatives of the Muslim masses i.e. the religious and clerical classes of Islam.    The apparent paradox of secular and westernized Muslims championing Muslim separatism while the religious and devout Islamic minded clerics opposing the creation of Pakistan appears less a paradox and more a logical outcome of the forces at play.  The rising Muslim business and professional classes then found in the Muslim League a vehicle for their political and economic aspirations. 

 Thus the inability of two great representative bourgeoisie movements to agree on a constitution for United India led to partition in 1947.  Given these facts,  I must ask those in India who try and imagine Darahikoh in Azad and an Aurangzeb in Jinnah, the ultimate what if-  if by time travel,  Darashikoh and Aurangzeb were brought to the India of 1940s,  who would be on what side of the divide?   Dara Shikoh would no doubt be a Muslim Leaguer like all his kin-  the Sufis, Barelvis, Ahmadis and the heterodox Shias.     Aurangzeb would be a camp follower of Maulana Azad and Maulana Maududi, trenchantly opposed to the creation of Pakistan.

All major Islamization pushes in Pakistan, starting with the 1953 anti-Qadiani movement , have come from Islamist groups that had directly opposed the creation of Pakistan.   This fact alone should give some pause to those in India and Pakistan who weave imaginary tales of secular and Islamic nationalisms.   Indeed for secular India this could only be of tangential importance but for Islamic Pakistan this realization is a matter of life and death for it is Pakistan which has been choked by its Islamic nationalism.


Filed under India, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Pakistan

32 responses to “Nationalist Mythologies And Nuances Of History

  1. zinda tilismath

    Wow! Hats off to you. For saying something so truthful and with logical analysis. We in India refuse to see these things. We are spoon fed about mahatma and his contribution.
    Staying in middle east, sometimes I am soo overwhelmed, spe4cially in the Pakistani “Chandni bars” with paki dancing girls, etc. Pakis in general are as human as us. Most of them are NOT wahabi. Then why partition? Just to keep them in bondage to islam by force?

  2. anaisanais

    So donor countries pay to keep your Islamic nationalism alive and kicking?Begging,and Blaming,seem to the fundamental bricks of this money milking game.

  3. Hayyer

    Well written and not a moment too soon.
    But if Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb had been transported to the 20th century it is just as likely that Dara Shikoh would have ended up in India and Aurangzeb in Pakistan.

  4. Ron

    Hats off to YLH.

    i am enlightened by his article as i have no time to read historical books. WELL DONE.

  5. Vijay Goel

    I think a well argued piece.I remember reading Netaji Subhash Chandrajis book in early 1960’s where he bitterly opposed Gandhiji’s strategy of siding with Ali Brothers and I think he also eugolised Jinnah sahib there.I have not delved into that further since India had got partitioned got independence and even at that time those matters seemed to be of far gone days.I did not understand Khilafat and what was the whole trouble about,how did Turkey come into the picture and not being interested in History left it at that.Personally my concern has only with the greatness in persoalities and try to get inspiration from them.Netaji differed from Gandhiji and was a disciple of Chittaranjan Babu whom he reverred.He also found Nehruji intelligent.I only remember all this from the book.
    But This may have been a fault of Gandhiji to use religion for political ends and he may not have realised he was trying to ride a tiger but otherwise he was a coollosus.He was a person who tried to reform the whole Indian society and his contribution there are so so huge that some aberrations can be tolerated.Only one person and that from only one action can not be held responsible for religious adventurism.His whole life was devoted to root out religious practises which were sociallly unacceptable and to bring out the humanity in each religion.The support to Ali Brothers seems only a political strategy while his other efforts seem right from his innermost soul.

  6. Azad

    Initially it appears that there are some really valid points made but some arguments have not been substantiated. Let us take the Gandhi support of the Khilafat movement to begin with. He worked with the leaders that Muslims had at that time. Jinnah did not support the Khilafat movement but most of the Muslims supported that movement. It is also a fact that it was the first significant movement on National level by Indian Muslims against the British. Gandhi’s instinct to support that movement appeared to be right. He was supporting the Muslim arrival at the national politics or rather in the mainstream after years of rotting on the sidelines. Jinnah did not support the movement primarily because he thought it was against the British. Not that he wanted the British to remain masters of India forever but it appears that he was of the view that it was too early to start a movement against the British. Jinnah’s departing point from the Congress was not his opposition to the Khilafat movement but it was his isolation from the emerging anti-British trends in the Congress. Gandhi, not a liberal by any means, captured that trend by both hands so the Khilafat movement at that time was a good fit for the growing belief in India that India needs independence from the British. Congress and Gandhi supporting a movement which was inherently anti British was a right thing to do for Gandhi and the Congress.

    Except for Jinnah there was no other liberal leader on the Muslim side. All were either mullahs or mullah-lite like the Ali brothers. So what other choices Gandhi had? He was not supporting the mullah; in his political mind he was supporting a major movement by Indian Muslims that was anti- British. I don’t think it was his fault that the Muslim leadership was primary Mullah. He did not set out to make Mohatama-Mullah Alliance and it is unfair to depict his support of the Khilafat movement as such.

    “Thus for Mahatma Gandhi the Turkish Imperial Project of Khilafat with its Pan-Islamic connotations became a stepping stone against the British.”

    Was making a movement strongly supported by the Muslims a significant minority in the country, against the British a bad thing? And how is that so?

    “Jinnah …….trenchantly opposed Gandhi and warned against bringing “unwholesome” elements into politics.”

    Did Jinnah oppose the Mullah leadership of the Khilafat movement or did he call the mass participation of the Muslims in movement equivalent to bringing the “unwholesome” elements? There is never any mention of “unwholesome” Muslim leadership in the movement by Jinnah but it appears that “unwholesome” elements were really the common folks that were part of the movement. This is supported by the fact that Jinnah was opposed to taking the movement to the people from the very beginning and his intellectual disagreement with Gandhi was Gandhi’s attempt to make the Congress more people oriented political party rather than the elitist party that congress was before 1916.

    Gandhi’s taking up of the dhoti, simple living, attracting the poor and the middle class folks to the Congress were the reason a significant portion of the old guard departed or retired from Congress and Jinnah was one of them.

    Gandhi’s politics to take the party to the people caused Gandhi-Jinnah split. Let us also not forget that the most Muslim leaders from the Khilafat days did not stay with congress for long because they too were unsure of the slowly dominating left in Congress.

    When Jinnah finally came back to lead the Muslim league, he too caused a split in the JUH and created an Osmani group to support the Muslim League. What Gandhi is accused of doing in the 20s was repeated by Jinnah in the 40s.

    You see some events can be stretched to fit the story but the reality is that Gandhi did not create mullah leadership in Muslims. It was there before he even got to India. His only fault was that he did not wait for Jinnah to have the political maturity to understand that British would leave only when the masses are behind the political parties. Jinnah did not realize it until the late 30s and when he did, he too was traveling up and down the hot and humid India to attract masses to support his demand for Pakistan.

    A word about Darashikoh… Darashikoh in his political wisdom thought that his alliance with the indigenous population would take him to the throne. Aurangzeb on the other hand relied on the elite that already had control of the country, the Generals in the Mughal army and the mullah. He understood what working within the system means and Darashikoh did not. In today’s vernacular, Darashikoh was trying to win the popular vote and Aurangzeb found support in the elite and did not care for the popularity contest. The elite won, which is normally the course in any imperial court.

    Aurangzeb catered to the elite that brought him to the power and rest assured Darashikoh too would have worked with the system, had he won the power struggle.

  7. YLH


    This view that you have presented has been thoroughly rejected by historians. I recommend three books to you:

    1. Ian Bryant Wells’ “Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity”.

    2. A G Noorani’s “Jinnah and Tilak”

    3. Ajeet Javed’s “Secular and Nationalist Jinnah”

    All three prove conclusively that:

    1. Jinnah did not want an elitist party. Jinnah had been indulging in mass politics before Gandhi agreed to.

    2. Jinnah’s opposition to khilafat was because he thought basing a mass struggle around a Pan-Islamic cause would hurt Indian Unity. Indeed he told Gandhi in the same letter “ultimately this will turn not just Hindu against Muslim, but Hindu against Hindu and Muslim against Muslim”. Chaura Chauri and Moplah uprising proved him right.

    3. Jinnah wanted the masses to be organized after Congress had schooled them in non-cooperation and was opposed to the nonsense that Gandhi brought into Indian politics.

    Indeed George Lloyd (not to be confused with Lloyd George) named Jinnah for deportation to Burma along with Gandhi in 1919. How does that gel with the other view?

    Also on count of Dara Shikoh… Dara lived likd a prince and was entirely royal… Aurangzeb lived like a pauper and interacted with the masses. Aurangzeb actually sidelined the Turko-Persian Muslim elite and brought indigenized Afghans and other local Muslims who were far more fanatical into power. One of the reasons why Dara fell was because unlike Aurangzeb he did not have his pulse … Shikoh was confined to intellectual pursuits and a happy go lucky type elitist in the tradition of Akbar. Aurangzeb was entirely a local Indian Mullah who didn’t dress like a prince, earned his own living and made a fetish out of simplicity ….

  8. YLH


    After General Zia there is no question what country dara shikoh would have chosen. But then that would be true too of Jinnah himself.

    Nor do Islamists – who had opposed Pakistan- now regret its creation increasingly after General Zia.

  9. YLH


    Thanks. Mostly in agreement.

    I think not just Subhas Bose but his brother Sarat saw things very differently from mainstream Congress.

  10. Vijay Goel

    However let me clarify that I do not think Khilafat is a big issue in the context of Indian Indipendence movement or conversion of Muslim psyche.This I do not say as a History student which I am not but because of my experience and interactions.I first heard of Khilafat only through reading Netajis book whereas had heard of the Salt agitation Quit India movement or the Chura Churi burning of the police post or boycott of British goods as mass movements which led to indipendence.About the Khilafat movement I have also asked my erudite Muslim friends after reading many of YLH’s posts here but many of them have not heard of it and all of them think it was not effective as a political movement to oust the British.
    I may also add that Gandhiji is not considered as a Hindu spiritual leader by any.He is considered a social reformer by all and a politician by some.

  11. YLH

    Well I cannot agree with that in the least. It is not YLH’s posts that have spoken about Khilafat movement. Every historian who has studied the independence movement has spoken about and written about it in detail.
    Gandhi’s non-cooperation early 20s was primarily the Khilafat Movement. It was Khilafat Movement that propelled people like Azad and Ansari and Kidwai into national politics. It was the Khilafat Movement that led to the founding of Jamiat e Ulema Hind …before Khilafat Mullahs did not have a party. The events of Moplah uprising and Chaura Chauri are all directly linked to Khilafat Movement. At the time it was touted as Gandhi’s greatest achievement …Hindu-Muslim Unity at a mass level on the basis of Khilafat and protection of the cow.

    If some “erudite” Muslims haven’t heard of it then may be you should question their erudition and not the one event that made Gandhi a leader of international importance.

    Ofcourse it wasn’t a useful means of driving the British out. The British used the Khilafat movement and the appended non-cooperation movement to deny Malaviya’s roundtable conference in the early 20s.

  12. Ajay

    There is no point in trying to argue YLH’s contention, which he has been ranting since the time he started reading a book. Apart from the pedestrian research, he is a master at manufacturing theories or quoting selective passages to support his asinine claims. He is, for all respects, a publicity hound, riding on the coat-tails of this dubious theory of how Jinnah is a perpetually misunderstood figure.
    90% of the Muslim leadership in the 20’s was composed of Mullahs and their cohorts. So it was a thankless task to choose from them. Damn if you do, damned if you don’t. Even Jinnah, after being poster boy for Hindu-Muslim unity, started giving rabidly venomous communal speeches post 39. So, when the push came to shove, he realized what needed to be done to get the Muslim “masses” together.
    A G Noorani is a joke. He should restrict himself to interpreting pious passages from Quran.
    It’s a facile excuse and thoroughly irresponsible to say that all Muslim extremism can be traced back to Gandhi. Ass! How different is this from some idiots who routinely put the blame at the doorstep of Al Ghazali for Muslim obscurantism. Jinnah knew he was riding a devil. However, nn the 40s he fed it with gusto. To then go back and start spouting nonsense about ” you can go to your temple and blah blah” is the worst piece of chicanery that can be inflicted on a population torn from their homes and left to wolves.

    As for Aurangzeb, I would suggest YLH to read some authentic sources rather than quoting from his dream or from bazaar gossip. A good source would be:
    (1) Sir JN Sarkar
    (2) Stanley Lanepoole.

  13. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Ajay,

    Can you please point out for the benefit of all the readers what is there in Sir J N Sarkar and Stanley Lanepoole’s description of Aurangzeb that is at variance to what I have written?

    I am afraid your problem is that you have taken everything personally and because you can’t argue with me on facts, you’d rather abuse me (and abuse anyone who disagrees with you ).

    On A G Noorani… you might want to write to The Hindu newspaper and ask them to fire him to put him in his place i.e. interpretting passages of the Quran.

    As for your 90 percent leadership was Mullah claim … before Gandhi and his Khilafat Movement, no Mullah was in any leadership position.

    Ashrafia’s Muslim Gentlemen and western educated nobility i.e. Aga Khan, Wazir Hassan, Muhammad Shafi, Fazli Hussain, Syed Ameer Ali etc dominated the Muslim leadership and none of them was a Mullah.

    And in the Congress camp you had in addition to Jinnah, men like Mazharul Haque and Badruddin Tyabji.

    Most major religious cleric leaders like Maulana Azad, Ali Brothers etc were notables etc but were not leaders till the Khilafat Movement. Maulana Azad became famous after his “Hijrat” Fatwa … which sent 20,000 Muslims to Afghanistan during the Khilafat Movement.

    The only religious figures who had existed in and around this time in politics were people like Maulana Hasrat Mohani… who was a communist … and Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi… who too was a left-leaning revolutionary and an exile in Afghanistan since the mid 1910s I believe.

    So my friend just because you can’t tolerate me is no reason for you to come here and start barking at will.

  14. Hayyer

    Jinnah had become prominent as a pan Indian Congress leader pretty early which is why the Muslim League was eager to have him as a member. He became prominent enough among Muslim leaders of the Muslim League to be able to bring about the Lucknow pact between the Congress and the League in 1916. One might even speculate that the pact would have achieved its goals through Hindu Muslim cooperation if it had not been for the arrival of Gandhi and his insistence on incorporating entirely personal religious predilections into the struggle for independence.
    From the very beginning Gandhi rejected cooperation with secular Muslims in favour of cooperation with religious Muslims.
    We’ve had this hagiolatry of Gandhi for a pretty long time now-much of it undeserved.

  15. Ajay

    “One of the reasons why Dara fell was because unlike Aurangzeb he did not have his pulse … Shikoh was confined to intellectual pursuits and a happy go lucky type elitist in the tradition of Akbar. Aurangzeb was entirely a local Indian Mullah who didn’t dress like a prince, earned his own living and made a fetish out of simplicity”

    That is such a naive and silly understanding of both Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb that I do not know where to start pointing out the faults in your knowledge.

    The problem with you dear YLH is that in order to accommodate some rather unsavory facets of Jinnah, you are ready to subvert entire sections of History. This “growing” Muslim middle class that you talked about has been, ever since I have heard, a part of the so-called silent majority. I am an admirer of Jinnah in other respects, but don’t call him a “mass” leader, at least not in the 20s. He became a mass leader post 39, but then a different kind of mass leader, exhorting his followers to take oath on Quran, etc. I have always been confused about his role in the freedom movement. I thought he went into a perpetual sulk before coming out and reviving Muslim League. I have read Azad’s India wins Freedom, and if you wish, I can quote what he wrote about Jinnah. It fits in precisely with what his role post 30 was:watch till the struggle got over and then barge in the negotiations to make demands according to his whims and fancies. No one denies that Gandhi made mistakes, but to lay the blame of current turmoil in Pakistan to his actions would be stretching things too far.

    All these secular Muslim leaders that you have listed here were part of the “elite” class whose only contribution, in manner of Gokhale, was to pass pleading resolutions against the British.

    I find it amusing and mildly irritating that this whole nonsense gets repeated over and over again: if only this and that hadn’t happened, we would have a thoroughly secular Pakistan. I wonder why Bhutto allied himself to the religious right.

    Azad was a scholar, not merely an Islamic scholar. He had a better sense of history than the two bits Jinnah quoted and misquoted. Depending on the day, he would ramble about the unity of India or why Hindu and Muslims were two separate nations. I can see why an ordinary Pakistani would be so confused.

  16. YLH


    Once again why don’t you quote from Stanley Poole and/or J N Sarkar on Aurangzeb or Dara Shikoh which shows the obvious “flaws” in what I have written. Merely going in circles about it does not make sense.

    You also claimed “90 percent” of the leaders were “Mullahs” but when asked to prove this lie the best you can do is call these leaders “elite”. No matter how you put it …there were no Mullahs in mainstream politics before Gandhi encouraged them.

    On Jinnah – you’ve again completely missed the point. Historians like Wells have argued that Jinnah’s opposition to Gandhi was not a general opposition to mass politics but Gandhi’s use of religion. As for what kind of mass leader Jinnah became …he became the kind of mass leader that was needed to fix a big one up Gandhi and his Mullah allies.

    The problem with you reading history is that you are likely to mistake shadows for substance. Azad’s comments about Jinnah as his principal opponent are partisan and of no consequence in his book to a historian reading it. It is Azad’s commentary on Patel, Nehru and Gandhi – his comrades- that is the substance. When Azad admits grudgingly that Jinnah on the whole was right on Cabinet Mission Plan and his suspicions of Congress, Azad grudgingly accepts what H M Seervai spelt it out later again entirely inspired by Azad’s work.

    How ironic that everyone from Seervai to Noorani to Jalal to French to Embree …nay the entire academic establishment of the west studying partition …. is subverting a “section of history” to cover up “unsavory facets” of Jinnah.

    Your little knowledge about Azad (who was schooled in nothing but Islam) or even things like Islamic history is indeed very dangerous. I note that you are no longer keen in claiming the Shorish Kashmiri interview as genuine given its finer points about Azad’s antipathy to Akbar and admiration for Sirhindi and Ibne Taimiyya. Perhaps instead of wasting my time by coming with these ignorant posts from time to time you should invest in some books as well as opening your mind.

    Either get what is being argued, plant a few knowledge trees or just shut up.

  17. Mustafa Shaban

    Just wanted to point out, Quaid E Azam was a Shia. There are 3 sub sects within Shiasm. There is the Ithna Asheri (Twelvers), Ismaili (Seveners) and Zaidi (Four). There are 2 theories of which sub sect Quaid E Azam belonged to:

    1. He was and remained an Ismaili his whole life.

    2. He was Ismaili and later converted to Ithna Asheri.

    Dunno which one is true.

    Within Islam and different sect you have communities based on ethnicity and ancestral background. Khojas are an example, they originate in India and were Hindus until a few centuries back a man came to India and converted them to Ismaili Shiasm, however later on they split into Ithna Asheri and Ismaili Shiasm. Khojas are just like other muslims not much difference.

    Didnt get the part where YLH mentions hindu family law. The practices of Khojas are based on Islam.

  18. YLH

    Mustafa he was born Khoja Ismaili Shia. His sister Mariam Peerbhoy was excommunicated by Aga Khan after which Jinnah opted out and joined the Khoja Twelvers.

    Khoja Twelvers, like Khoja Ismailis and Cutchie Memons, follow Hindu family law.

    There is a signed affidavit by Fatima Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan to this end.

  19. PMA

    Mustafa Shaban (May 24, 2010 at 1:50 am):

    Are you sure there are only three sub-sects within Shias? There are Shia clans of Persian origin settled in north-western parts of Balochistan Province of Pakistan, parts of North West Frontier Province, and western Punjab that do not fall into any of the three sub-sects you have pointed out.

  20. Mustafa Shaban

    @YLH: I am a Ithna Asheri Khoja, I dont understand what you mean exactly by hindu family law. What is hindu family law??

    @PMA: As far as I know yes. Actually you mite be confusing Shiasm with other people like the Alawites who believe Hazrat Ali (A.S) is God and maybe other sects. However if there are really more subsects than the ones I mention then please tell me thier beliefs and practices, would realy like to know.

  21. YLH

    What do you think “khoja” means exactly?

    My friend…in my view you are not a Khoja Ithna Ashari …maybe a simple Ithna Ashari Shia.

    If I am wrong please inform us :

    1. Where is your family from and what is your last name?

    2. Was your family ever Ismaili? If yes when?

    3. Assuming the answer to 2 is yes, what kind of Ismaili were they? Nizari? Bohra? Dawoodi Bohra?

    Here is my view: if you were a Khoja you would know what I mean by Hindu family law and secondly you wouldn’t be inspired by Zaid Hamid or hold the views you do.

  22. PMA

    Mustafa Shaban (May 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm):

    As you and I both know ‘ithna-ashra’ in Arabic means twelve. Shias, depending upon their acknowledgement of the lineage as well as the numbers of Imams acknowledged, are classified and categorized accordingly. One group may acknowledge one set of twelve or lesser Imams while other may acknowledge an other set of twelve or lesser Imams. But the nomenclature of ‘twelvers’ or ‘seveners’ is not correct. Most Shias identify themselves based upon the Imam significant in their family believes or histories. Therefore you will see Askaris, Zaides, Jafris, Rizvis, Kazmis, Gillanis and so forth and so on. The ‘Alawites who believe in Hazrat Ali (A.S) as God’ or something like that are mostly confined to certain areas of Turkey, Syria and Lebanon and are not to be confused with the Alawies of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Most Alawies of Pakistan, both Sunnis and Shias, are ‘Ahle-Bait’ followers of Imam Ali, and while acknowledging All of the Shia Imams do not believe in the ‘numerical’ Shia classification that you have pointed out in your earlier comments.

  23. Azad

    May 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm
    There is no point in trying to argue YLH’s contention, which he has been ranting since the time he started reading a book.
    You are right! I did a little research and read some other article by the same author. The theme that I gathered was not any different than what we see in Pakistani urdu papers and TV channels. Pakistanis have never made any mistakes (Where did I claim this- If you had actually done your research and read articles like “Parliamentary Theocracy” or my articles denouncing anti-Ahmadi sentiment, you would know that I have always blamed Pakistanis for the wrongs they have committed-YLH). EDITED (Moderator)

    Pakistan has Taliban because Gandhi supported the Khilafat movement (Where have I claimed this?(can you show me where have I claimed this-YLH). Army ruled Pakistan because America wanted that EDITED (moderator) The Afgahn jihad was because of the US and the current situation is because the US wants to destroy Muslims and take away Pakistan’s nuke (Quote what article I claimed this in-YLH).

    We have a national habit or culture of blaming others for our own faults (speak for yourself- I for one haven’t blamed Indians, Americans or the global zionist body for Pakistan’s ills. Pakistan’s ills have to do with Pakistan’s Mullahs who have played the role of willing condoms be it in the hands of Indian National Congress Pre-partition- or with the US in the Afghan war-YLH). No Pakistan leader (Where did I claim this- If you had actually done some research, you would know that my articles are a scathing criticism of every leader of Pakistan-YLH) starting with Jinnah ever made a mistake (Read my article “Jinnah’s Folly”-YLH). Jinnah was always right and Gandhi was always wrong and the story goes on and on…( Jinnah wasn’t always right but Gandhi was almost always wrong-YLH)

    This is so frustrating to see people finding obscure historians and newspaper columnist to support their imaginary world. History and the truth be damned.

    I see no reason to continue this discussion. (Figures- YLH)

  24. YLH

    Azad mian,

    I tried to be civil with you and you responded like a typical crook. Instead of such personal attacks – which needed to be moderated- may I suggest that you write point by point which of the abovementioned arguments/claims you find to be historically inaccurate.

    I find your comments rather ironic. Only some one completely dishonest will accuse someone like me of resorting to Hindu-zionist conspiracy theories. Those conspiracies are concocted by the camp followers of the people I have delineated above. On the contrary I have spent a lot of time arguing against and fighting the conspiracy theorists you have arbitrarily tried to compare me to.

    And I haven’t claimed Pakistan has Taliban because of Gandhi supported the Khilafat Movement. However what I have written above is historically accurate and I welcome you to demolish it with facts instead of such strawmen arguments. Calling historians like Ayesha Jalal, Embree, Wells, Patrick French etc or H M Seervai obscure is a rather ridiculous argument. Why don’t you recommend a few historians that argue otherwise?

    I strongly recommend that you check this “oh but it is typical Pakistani behavior” argument at the door. Those people you’ve tried to brush me with are even more opposed to these facts than you are. So you have something in common with the Islamist fanatics, crooks and conspiracy theorists that you have decried in your last post.

  25. yasserlatifhamdani

    At the risk of having Indian author MJ Akbar being accused of being your run of the mill “Pakistani” conspiracy theorist, I quote the following from his article:

    1920 was a seminal year of the freedom movement, for Mahatma Gandhi took over its leadership and launched the non-cooperation, or Khilafat, movement with a marriage of two currents: the overall anger against British colonisation and the Muslim outrage against the defeat of the Caliph of Muslims, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and the fall of the holy cities, Mecca and Medina, to the British in the First World War. When Gandhi allied with the ulema, and challenged the rule of law, Jinnah, a pre-eminent leader of the Congress as well as the Muslim League, objected. He walked out of the Nagpur session of the Congress rather than endorse Gandhi’s leadership. As he said, “Well, young man. I will have nothing to do with this pseudo-religious approach to politics. I part company with Congress and Gandhi. I do not believe in working up mob hysteria.”

    The young man was a journalist, Durga Das. The older man was Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The reference is from Durga Das’ classic book, India from Curzon to Nehru and After. Jinnah said this after the 1920 Nagpur session, where Gandhi’s non-cooperation resolution was passed almost unanimously. Jinnah’s decision was entirely in character with his liberal-secular record….

    When he rose to speak at the Nagpur session in 1920, where Gandhi moved the non-cooperation resolution, Jinnah was the only delegate to dissent till the end among some 50,000 “surging” Hindus and Muslims. He had two principal objections. The resolution, he said, was a de facto declaration of swaraj, or complete independence, and although he agreed completely with Lala Lajpat Rai’s indictment of the British Government he did not think the Congress had, as yet, the means to achieve this end; as he put it, “it is not the right step to take at this moment. You are committing the Indian National Congress to a programme which you will not be able to carry out”. [Gandhi, after promising swaraj within a year, withdrew the Non-Cooperation Movement in the wake of communal riots in Kerala and of course the famous Chauri Chaura incident in 1922. Congress formally adopted full independence as its goal only in 1931.]

    For most of his life, Jinnah was the epitome of European secularism, in contrast to Gandhi’s Indian secularism. Jinnah admired Kemal Ataturk, who separated religion from state. Gandhi believed that politics without religion was immoral; advocated equality of all religions, and even pandered to the Indian’s need for a religious identity. He never publicly disavowed the ‘Mahatma’ attached to his name, even when privately critical, and understood the importance of ‘Pandit’ before Nehru, although Jawaharlal was not particularly religious. Azad had a legitimate right to call himself a Maulana, for he was a scholar of the Holy Book.

    Jinnah was not an agnostic. He was born an Ismaili Khoja, and consciously decided to shift, under the influence of an early mentor, Badruddin Tyabji, from the “Sevener” sect, which required obedience to the Aga Khan, to the Twelvers, who recognized no leader. But his faith did not include ritual. He might have posed in a sherwani to demand Pakistan, but he would have considered ‘Maulana Jinnah’ an absurdity. In the end, Jinnah and Gandhi were not as far apart as the record might suggest. Jinnah wanted a secular nation with a Muslim majority; Gandhi desired a secular nation with a Hindu majority. The difference was the geographical arc.

    Time to accept the facts dear Azads and Ajays. Same goes for the Mullahs on our side.

  26. Ajay

    I would give detailed replies to Ylh’s posts but I am not sure he would allow them here. In the past, I have wasted hours writing a response only to discover that they were not posted. Such is the nature of freedom of expression as understood by ylh. I will, however, reply in succession and hope that he will post my replies. They may have a tone of a trenchant critic, but we are all humans after all. A mild display of anger or irritation is only natural.
    Back to the main points:
    “One of the reasons why Dara fell was because unlike Aurangzeb he did not have his pulse … Shikoh was confined to intellectual pursuits and a happy go lucky type elitist in the tradition of Akbar. Aurangzeb was entirely a local Indian Mullah who didn’t dress like a prince, earned his own living and made a fetish out of simplicity..”

    Ref: Lane-poole 1901 Ed. Pg: 22
    “Their characters have been drawn by Bernier, who knew Dara and Aurangzeb personally(and was more sympathetic to Dara)… Dara Shukoh, he tells us, was not wanting in good qualities, and could be both gracious and generous; but he was inordinately conceited and self-satisfied, very proud of his intellectual gifts, and extremely intolerant of advice and contradictions, which easily roused his imperious and violent Mughal temper… It has been suggested that Dara’s wide relligious sympathies were assumed for political reasons(something that the author doesn’t agree with and neither do I, but the important point is that there is/was a faction that believed this theory)…”
    There are other references that I can quote but I will let you do some research as well. The two authors that I have mentioned were barely sympathetic to Aurangzeb’s religious fanaticism. There are more recent claims that the effect of his intolerance is over hyped, or that he suffers from “bad press” in a lot of cases. That is something I do not agree with. Please get your hands on Romilla Thapar’s book too.
    I hope this post would be taken in the right spirit. As a nominal Hindu, I would have little sympathy with Aurangzeb’s orthodoxy, but it’s important to pillory someone with facts.
    I guess we took care of your airy-fairy view of Dara. Let’s go to the second point:
    The “fetish” and playing to the gallery claim, which someone else made,
    Ref: Pg 87
    “The very loftiness of his nature kept his people at a distance, while his inflexible uprightness and frigid virtue chilled their hearts..
    This cold austerity of Aurangzeb destroyed his influence. Few kings have had better intentions, but the best will in the world will not bring popularity….The people saw through the suave manner and placid amiability of the judge who listened so indulgently to their petitions, and perceived a bigot’s atrophied heart behind the gracious smile….”

    I have a fondness for Lane-poole’s book because I read it when I was a kid, from my grandfather’s library. Subsequently, as I have found out, all his(as anyone’s) writings may not pass the strict academic criticism.

    I must also confess that I doubt if the Mughal history would have changed much even if Dara was the ruler.

    Also, I admit I was a little overzealous in branding most of the Muslim leadership as dominated by Mullahs. They were more of the elite class.

    “Azad’s comments about Jinnah as his principal opponent are partisan and of no consequence in his book to a historian reading it. It is Azad’s commentary on Patel, Nehru and Gandhi – his comrades- that is the substance. ”

    That logic seems strange. Azad had cast his lot with the Congress and actually had much to lose from criticizing Nehru and company. It is because of his honest criticism of Nehru et al. that I have more reason to trust his view about Jinnah. In fact, my respect for Azad (and Gandhi) grew after reading his book.

    I did not quote from the interview that you mentioned. You did raise some reasonable doubts about its authenticity. However, I doubt if all of that interview was cooked up. I doubt Shoroshi had such intellectual breath to come up with something like that. Comparing Azad’s previous writings to the interview, a lot of it appears genuine. I didn’t quote from that because it does not add anything new to this discussion. In future I will do so.

    I will reply to your other points as time permits.

    And, for heaven’s sake please stop bringing this issue of whether Jinnah was secular or not. That is not under discussion. It seems like a time honored tactic,your “takiya kalam”, to throw a smoke screen and veer a discussion to a totally different point, but it just gets really boring and quite silly. For that matter, Savarkar was an atheist. This is not to compare the two but just giving you an idea. Some of Gandhi’s nutty ideas have been well documented. That’s besides the point.

  27. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Ajay,

    1. None of your posts have been deleted except on account of abuse.

    2. Thanks for your reference from Lanepoole but I don’t see how it contradicts my point of view.

    How does Lanepoole’s claim that Dara Shikoh was bad tempered or intolerant of advice and contradictions question what I have written above?

    As for your claim that Aurangzeb’s intolerance is hyped… I have read Romilla Thapar’s book and it is very balanced. But my point was not about Aurangzeb’s intolerance but his religious orthodoxy. Do you deny that he was religiously orthodox and Dara Shikoh heterodox?

    I wrote;

    if by time travel, Darashikoh and Aurangzeb were brought to the India of 1940s, who would be on what side of the divide? Dara Shikoh would no doubt be a Muslim Leaguer like all his kin- the Sufis, Barelvis, Ahmadis and the heterodox Shias. Aurangzeb would be a camp follower of Maulana Azad and Maulana Maududi, trenchantly opposed to the creation of Pakistan.

    Your Lanepoole excerpt only proves my point manifolds.

    Then you write: Azad had cast his lot with the Congress and actually had much to lose from criticizing Nehru and company. It is because of his honest criticism of Nehru et al.

    Once again shows how little you know. Azad’s criticisms of Nehru did not surface till 1988 when both Nehru and Azad were long gone. Azad had through will ordained that several critical portions of his book were kept out and added only after all the principal characters of partition were gone.

    The 1988 edition contains Azad’s grudging admission that partition was caused by Congress, that Jinnah’s interpretation of the Cabinet Mission Plan was on the whole right and it was Patel and Nehru who were holding the flag of partition.

    My own view of Azad is that he was an extremely weak man who had thrown in his lot with the Congress Party and was unable to back out of it in 1946 when he saw several unprincipled things happening … including Gandhi’s rejection of Azad’s letter about what needed to be done to avert partition… and Gandhi’s decision to force Azad to resign and make way for Nehru. Unfortunately the Maulana could not come out and say the things he wrote down for posterity to discover.

    You write:

    “I did not quote from the interview that you mentioned. You did raise some reasonable doubts about its authenticity.”

    Thank you.

    “However, I doubt if all of that interview was cooked up.”

    Well we won’t know because no one has produced Chittan.

    “I doubt Shoroshi had such intellectual breath to come up with something like that.Comparing Azad’s previous writings to the interview, a lot of it appears genuine. ”

    Shorish Kashmiri in my opinion concocted it by basing it on some of Maulana’s writings. However those portions that I objected to also strip it of its alleged prescience.

    “I didn’t quote from that because it does not add anything new to this discussion.”

    The parts that mirror Azad’s writings .. for example on Taimiyya and Sirhindi as well Azad’s vitriol against Akbar-e-Azam … have a direct relevance to this article.

  28. YLH

    Unprincipled not unprincipalled.

  29. Mustafa Shaban

    @ YLH:

    1. My grandfather is from a village in Gujrat called Vijpadi. They moved to Dhaka briefly and then to Hydrebad Pakistan. My family’s last name is Shaban. It was previously Pirani but we changed it to Shaban after my grandfather came to Dubai.

    2. No it was not.

    3. My dad is one of the founder of the Pakistani Imambarghah in Dubai , we are registered with the Khoja World Federation.

    4. Can you specify Hindu Family Law? I mite be familiar bt just dunt know it by that name.

    @PMA: Interesting, I am aware of sub sub sects that you talk about. However the families who have last names of Jafari and Rizvi and so on , are descendants of the Imam that is in thier last name.

  30. Mustafa Shaban

    @YLH :

    Read it from beginning

    Correction : We were Ismailis a long time ago, probably century or 2 back but soon converted.

  31. Mustafa Shaban

    @as far as ZH is concerned he is not sectarian in nature, infact he is alwayz called for unity in the islamic world. Also his ideas are not all particular to one sect.

  32. Ajay

    I shall reply to this post in coming week. At this time, it would be insensitive for me to talk about things that may reek of lack of empathy. You guys just suffered an attack by barbarians. As such, I don’t feel it’s the right time for me to rake up old issues.
    However, I would like to add that my view of Azad stems from the earlier publication of his book without the so-called offending pages. For some reason, I thought that the controversy had died down just recently and so, the new version was only lately available. The edition that I have is from 70s which my cousin used to prepare for his civil services. I have since then, got the new version. I shall elaborate on these points later on.