Showing posts from June, 2007

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part IX)

The seeds of religious extremism were sown long before Pakistan came into being. They were fostered further when Pakistan was born amidst bloody riots between the Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs of the Indian Subcontinent. After the creation of Pakistan, the politico-religious parties that had opposed the very idea of a new Muslim state then started projecting themselves as the rightful custodians of the infant state.

In Rewriting the History of Pakistan, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Abdul Hameed Nayyar observe: “Maulana Maudoodi and the Jamaat-e-Islami had rejected nationalism because it ‘led to selfishness, prejudice, and pride’.” Till 1947 Maudoodi maintained that he would not fight for Pakistan, that he did not believe in Pakistan, and that the demand for it was un-Islamic. Some ten years before Partition he had maintained: “Muslim nationalism is as contradictory a term as a ‘chaste prostitute’” (Abul Ala Maudoodi, Mussalman Aur Maujooda Syasi Kashmakash, quoted in K. K. Aziz, The Making of Pakis…

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part VIII)

On numerous occasions, Jinnah criticised Gandhi for introducing religion into politics by using Hindu symbolism, but Jinnah himself was compelled to incorporate religion into the movement for Pakistan later. The failure of the Congress ministries in addressing the grievances (in fact, aggravating those grievances) of the Muslim populace in the Indian Subcontinent paved the way for the Muslim League’s new ‘Islam in danger’ theme and saving it from the infidels. This was the Muslim League’s ticket to popularity among the Muslim masses who now felt threatened despite assurances from Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and other Congress leaders. During the actual run-up to Pakistan’s independence, the Muslim League under Jinnah’s leadership succumbed to religious rhetoric. “…Jinnah’s resort to religion was not an ideology to which he was ever committed or even a device to use against rival communities; it was simply a way of giving a semblance of unity and solidity to his divided Musl…

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part VII)

During the rule of the Congress ministries, communal riots broke out across the Indian Subcontinent and Punjab became an important hub of communal violence in the years leading up to the Partition.

Due to the pressure of the orthodox Muslims, the Muslim leaders associated with the Khilafat Movement in Punjab distanced themselves from the Congress in 1931 and formed a separate organisation known as the Majlis-e-Ahrar Islam. In his first presidential address at the Ahrar’s first session, Maulvi Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi said that the Muslims were not ready to live as achoot (outcasts) in Hindustan. The organisation attracted a major portion of the Muslims, especially those belonging to the middle class and the lower class. This greatly affected the Congress support in Punjab. Other events, such as the Shahid Ganj Movement, also led to communal violence and fomented greater animosity between the Sikhs and the Muslims in Punjab.

“In 1925, the Sikh Gurdwaras Act was enacted. On December 22,…

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part VI)

The Government of India Act 1935 was a product of the three Round Table Conferences held in London and years of bureaucratic labour by the Indian political forces. The Act proposed a federal India of political provinces with elected local governments, but British control over foreign policy and defence. These concessions were made by the British to contain the rising wave of nationalism. The Act was practically implemented in 1937 and provincial elections were thus held in the beginning of 1937. At that time, the Muslim League was not very organised and the masses were not very familiar with its leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Muslim League’s disastrous performance in the 1937 elections further proved that it was not very popular among the masses, either Hindu or Muslim.

Out of a total of 485 seats reserved for Muslims in the Indian Subcontinent, the Muslim League only won 108. “The total Muslim votes cast nationwide were 7,319,445 and the Muslim League could obtain just 321,772 of th…

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part V)

The Khilafat Movement initially started as an anti-British movement, but by its very nature was inherently an Islamic movement. Some Hindu leaders feared that it would take the shape of an anti-non-Muslim movement at some point – in other words, it would ultimately become an anti-Hindu movement. Their fears were not unfounded.

Before the Khilafat Movement completely collapsed, there were some incidents that strengthened the divide between the Hindus and the Muslims, especially the ‘Mopla riots’. The Moplas, a Muslim community settled in the Malabar area of Bombay Presidency, were ardent agitators during the Khilafat Movement. While revolting against the British, their rebellion took on an anti-Hindu tinge in 1921 due to the religious colour of the Khilafat message. A Khilafat kingdom was declared by the Moplas who then murdered the Hindus, looted them, raped their women, burned their homes, desecrated their temples and forcibly converted many Hindus to Islam. A prominent Hindu leader,…