Arshad, New Age Islam
Abul Kalam Azad was one of the Muslim nationalist leaders of India who
staunchly opposed the partition of India on religious basis. He had delivered
his famous speech from the stairs of Jama Masjid of Delhi dissuading Muslims from
migrating to Pakistan. He knew that the partition was done on the basis of
petty political aspirations of Jinnah and Nehru and the migration of Muslims to
the newly carved out Pakistan did not find justification in the Quran.
an artificial crisis caused by the Muslim League and some narrow minded Muslim
leaders who presented Hindus as enemies of Muslims forgetting the fact that
Hindus and Muslims had been living in the country for centuries and had jointly
fought the British to free the country from the foreign powers. Hindus had not
forced the Muslims to leave the country but some Muslim intellectuals and
ideologies like Mohammad Iqbal instilled fear of Hindus in the mind of Muslims
on the basis that after Independence, Hindus will suppress their religious
and take away their rights. The Muslim League and some religious leaders
intensified the demand for Pakistan and the common Muslims fell for the dream.
The frenzy over the dreamland Pakistan overtook illiterate Muslim masses to the
extent that in Kolkata, the illiterate Muslims would shout the slogan, "Haath
Me Beedi Munh Me Paan, Ladkey Lenge Pakistan" (With Beedi in hand and
betel leaf in the mouth, we shall fight for Pakistan).
Azad was above this kind of petty politics. He opposed the partition and wanted
a united India.
Azad's political outlook was not communal. He did not see the Hindus as the
enemies of Muslims. He wanted political awareness among Muslims and tried to
bring Muslims into the mainstream of national politics. During the first decade
of the 20th century, Muslims did not take much interest in national movement
for Independence. The reason was that a coterie of Ulama had issued Fatwas
against political meetings in which Hindu women participated. They thought that
joining political movement along with Hindus was not permitted by Sharia. Maulana
Azad launched his periodicals Al Hilal and Al Balagh to promote nationalist
ideas among Muslims.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan discouraged Muslims to take part in politics because after
the failure of 1857 revolt in which Muslims had taken a leading role, the
British government had crushed Muslims both politically and economically.
Therefore, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan wanted Muslims not to confront the British and
concentrate on their educational and economic upliftment.
the second decade of the 20th century, the political and social scenario had
changed and Muslims had become a political force to reckon with but still the
Ulama discouraged them from joining national politics on flimsy grounds.
Maulana Azad wrote in Tarjumanul Quran on this outlook of Ulama:
must have read Fatwas by Muslim Ulama which said Muslims should not attend
political meetings because the meetings are attended by veil-less non-Muslim
women and their presence is not devoid of mischief (Fitna). Similarly, it is
also said that due to their presence, collective prayers (Namaz-e-ba Jama'at)
have to be skipped which is against piety. Remember, it is not piety and
righteousness that which makes them oppose such activities but it is a kind of Nafaq
(hypocrisy) which the Quran testifies to."
the reason Maulana Azad joined the Khilafat Movement under the leadership of
Mahatma Gandhi. He knew that Muslims will only join the Independence movement
when they are convinced that they are fighting for a religious cause. The reinstatement
of the Ottoman Caliphate was an emotional and religious issue for Muslims and
Maulana Azad succeeded in doling in the Muslims in national Independence
movement under the garb of Khilafat Movement.
1912, he had launched a religious organisation of Muslims called Hezbollah. The
purpose behind the launch of this organisation was to unite the Muslims of
India to wage jihad against the British after seeking co-operation of Hindus.
Thousands of Muslims joined Hezbollah. Another objective was to get the support
of Ulama on the issue of jihad against the British. But before launching a
united assault against the British, it was necessary to elect a religious
leader of Indian Muslims or Imam ul Hind. A section of Muslim Ulama accepted
Maulana Azad as Imamul Hind but leaders of Jamiat-e- Ulema Hind did not want to
hand over the leadership of Indian Muslims to Maulana Azad and cleverly skipped
Therefore, Muslims could not be united under one banner and Maulana
Azad's objective of launching a decisive jihad against the British government
under the flag of Hezbollah could not be accomplished. If all the Ulama had
accepted Maulana Azad as their lmam and united under the banner to launch a
joint offensive against the British, together with the Hindus, the history of
India would have been different.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for
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