Stand on Jinnah Asks for Re-Writing History of Indo-Pak Partition
By Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor
Special to the South Asia Tribune
June 24: LK Advani's surprising statement at the mausoleum of
Mohammad Ali Jinnah has not only signaled his country's acceptance
of what Jinnah achieved in 1947, but may also help change the
perceptions about the two-nation theory propounded so far by mainly
history of partition has been mostly written by those Indian and
British authors who were associated with the Colonial power by
employment and who despised the Muslim leadership for their efforts
in mobilizing their co-religionists for the demand of a "Safe
homeland" for Muslims.
Many historiographers have tried to put the record straight in
order to unravel the real drama behind partition. However, the
history of partition is still misrepresented to millions in India,
who are led to believe that Jinnah wanted to create an Islamic
empire based on Sharia, where there would be no place for non-Muslims.
Indians including the Hindu leadership regarded Jinnah as the
mastermind of the two nation theory that broke India up, whereas
Congress was fighting for Indian nationalism and striving to keep
India united under the principles of equality, freedom and secularism.
statements will certainly do a lot to make people think again
about partition and delve into the history books to find out the
reality of Indian partition. When a leader of the party whose
edifice stands on the ideology of "Hindutva" says that
Jinnah was secular, people have good reason to ask why, for the
last six decades, were they forced to believe that Jinnah had
played the role of a devil in destroying the unity of Indian nationalism.
then is Advani's objective to put history in its correct perspective
or does he now want Hindus and Muslims to forget the past and
move forward? The answer to this question is difficult because
only time will tell whether Advani's words are followed up by
a change in Indian thinking towards Pakistan.
revisionist historians such as Stanley Wolpert, Asim Roy and Ayesha
Jalal have stressed the fact that Jinnah was not wholly responsible
for the division of the Subcontinent, and that the Indian National
Congress leaders were equally responsible. The revisionists believe
that Jinnah wanted the safe homeland within the boundaries of
the united federal India.
Congress leadership could not accept the proposal because of many
apprehensions about the future of this arrangement. The Congress
leadership was fully aware about the role played by Muslim religious
leadership during the Khilafat movement which was looking for
the wider Indian Muslim Community to unite together at a universal
Hindu leaders thought the sentimental involvement of Muslims with
Turkey would create problems in a post-colonial India, where the
loyalty of Indian Muslims to their motherland would forever be
relations between Hindus and Muslims during the pre-partition
period became strained due to Congress's Wardha scheme of education,
the anti-cow slaughter movement of the Hindu Mahasabha and the
exclusion of Muslim Leaguers from the Congress-led government
of the United Province.
confrontations led the Muslim League to pass the Lahore Resolution
demanding an independent Pakistan. Some historians think that
this Resolution was not so much a resolute demand as a compromise
tactic intended to force Congress to come to terms with the League,
so that they could find a way out of their disagreement. The name
"Pakistan" did not exist in the Lahore resolution but
Congress did not leave any stone unturned to project it as a declaration
of a separate Islamic state based on the demarcation of the boundaries
on communal lines.
had to deal with two forces at a time. Fighting with the Congress
was not as difficult as tackling the "Ulema" of the
Jamait-ul-ulema-i-Hind and Deoband. He had to tackle the Ulema
who had no problem in accepting the Congress nationalism but had
serious reservations about throwing their lot in with Jinnah's
the post-partition champion of Islamisation in Pakistan, the Jamaat-i-Islami,
was most vocally opposed to the demand for a safe homeland for
Muslims. The Ulema and Muslim Leaguers were always at loggerheads
with each other and many Ulema joined or supported the Congress's
mass contact program with Muslims.
was a visionary leader - an eloquent English-educated barrister
who had no time for mullahs. He did not demand a homeland for
Muslims on a religious basis but on a cultural basis. For him
Muslims were a "cultural group". The Muslim republic
which he envisioned, although inspired by the principles of Islam,
would not be based on a strict application of Sharia.
followed the philosophy of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who wanted to eliminate
the sufferings of Muslims by "putting the Quran in one hand
and Science in the other" so that Muslims could compete with
non-Muslims in all fields of public life. Jinnah was afraid that
in a United India, Muslims, who had already lost their political
authority, would have to live in subjugation to Hindus for generations
Muslim clergy issued fatwas advising Muslims to come
into the fold of Congress instead of joining the Muslim League.
Rumors were spread among the Muslim masses that the Leaguers were
propagating an Islamic Nation.
the other hand, the Muslim League under the leadership of Jinnah
was demanding the safe homeland within the Subcontinent without
seceding from the motherland. However, Jinnah was portrayed as
the divider of India when Congress itself was engaged in much
communal activity and had committed many acts conducive to partition.
Muslim League was left with no option but to mobilize the masses
by rallying them around the Islamic symbols which not only turned
the party into the savior of Muslims but exposed the so-called
religious leaders of their double standards in the eyes of their
most ardent Muslim supporter of Congress nationalism, Maulana
Abul Kalam Azad did not acquit Congress from its share of responsibility
for partition. If after 60 years of partition, Advani has taken
the bold step of correcting his party's perceptions about Jinnah,
who according to Anil Seal was agnostic in his personal life,
it is time that historians looked back into the events of 1947
and tried to paint a more accurate picture than has hitherto been