The Original Architect of the Two Nation Theory

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Long before Jinnah demanded a separate homeland for Muslims, Hindu Mahasabha's Savarkar (left) had propounded the theory of two nations (Hindus and Muslims) being split.
Long before Jinnah demanded a separate homeland for Muslims, Hindu Mahasabha’s Savarkar (left) had propounded the theory of two nations (Hindus and Muslims) being split.

Nowhere in Quran or Prophet’s tradition do we find the instruction that those who want to lead an Islamic life should divide God’s earth between Muslims and non-Muslims

PROF SYED ASIM ALI

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the religious and political discourse of Pakistan, two-nation theory is painted with such a sacred halo around it as if it is a synonym of Islam, or one of its fundamental precepts, or at least its inevitable ideological or political upshot. Naturally, therefore, the question arises whether or not this theory has any basis in the Quran as a fundamental divine commandment, or there is any precedence of the same in the Prophet’s holy Practice? And if this theory cannot be traced in these two sources, we will have to find out who its original founder is.

When we turn to the Quran for this purpose, we get nothing but disappointment. This heavenly scripture is just devoid of the political concept of the two-nation theory.

Nowhere in it do we find the instruction that those who want to lead an Islamic life should divide God’s earth between Muslims and non-Muslims. And, being content with a small portion for themselves, Muslims should allow the disbelievers to occupy the rest of the land.

On the contrary, the Quran declares God to be the real owner of the entire earth. And in this ownership, it does not entertain the partnership of even Muslims, let alone non-Muslims.

Instead, it repeatedly lays the responsibility on Muslims that, in the spirit of true slaves of God, they should make the divinely ordained principles of peace and justice practically operative on this earth in the form of a welfare system equally accessible and beneficial to all Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Quran condemns all those, whatever their creed, as ‘mischief-makers’ [mufsideen] who try to disrupt this divinely ordained system of peace and justice. If God alone is the real owner of the land, how much against the spirit of the Quran, therefore, it would be to willingly give away any part of His property to His rebels where they would but impose unjust and exploitative systems and make the life of common people hell.

Not only is the Quran free from any such divisive ideology, but it does actually solicit positive cooperation of all, Muslims as much as non-Muslims, towards the mission of establishing the order of peace and justice in this world. It says: “O People of the Book! Come to a term common between us and you” (2:6) [قل یا اھل الکتاب تعالوا الی کلمۃ سواء بیننا و بینکم].

The inclusive principle it lays down for peaceful coexistence in this world is: “For you is your way of life and for us ours”(109:6), [لکم دینکم ولی دین], and “For us are our actions and for you your actions”(2:139) [لنا اعمالنا ولکم اعمالکم]. It assures that “There is no coercion in religion”(2:256) [لا اکراہ فی الدین]. Nowhere does it make the Prophet say that ‘for you is your land and for me mine’ [[لکم ارضکم ولی ارض, or ‘For you is Makkah and for me Yathrib (Madinah)’ [لکم مکۃ و لی یثرب], or ‘For you the rest of Arabia and for me Hijaz’ [لکم بقیۃ العرب ولی حجاز], or ‘For you the rest of the world and for me Arabia’ [لکم عجم و لی عرب].

The principles of comprehensive justice are meant for each society and for the collective progress and prosperity of the entire mankind, whatever their creed.   Non-Muslims in the Quran are the ‘nation of addressees’[امت دعوت] , rather than the ‘nation of enemies [امت عداوت] ,’ to whom the Prophet and his followers are commanded to have a sympathetic and affectionate attitude: “Call them unto the path of God with sagacity and goodly exhortation”(16:125) [ادع الی سبیل ربک بالحکمۃ والموعظۃ الحسنۃ], and “have a dialogue with them in the best possible way”(16:125) [جادلھم بالتی ھی احسن], and “create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order”(7:56) [ولا تفسدوا فی الارض بعد اصلاحھا].

To be brief, the Quran is for establishing the (divine) order of peace and justice on this earth for the overall progress and betterment of the entire mankind. It is certainly not for leaving the rest of the earth for ‘mischief-makers’ and ‘mischief-mongers’ and the confinement of Muslims to a small spot (ghetto) where they would do exactly what ‘mischief-makers’ do in their domains, rather worse.

Moreover, at many places in the Quran the prophets address even those who refuse to believe in him as ‘Ya qaumi’, i.e. ‘O my people!’ Not one of them appears to declare that ‘those who believe in me are ‘one nation’ and the rest the ‘other nation’, therefore, come on the people of my country, let us divide the land of Aad, the land of Thamud, the land of Lot, the land of Madyan, the land of Egypt, the land of Israel, and the land of Arabia between us. We will be happy on our side and you will be happy on your side.’

So, if the two-nation theory has no existence in the Quran or in the practice of the prophets, does it have any precedence in the holy Practice of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him? But, here too nothing but disappointment is what faces us.

During his struggle, as is common knowledge, the holy Prophet had to face extremely difficult situations. He had to endure disbelievers’ life-threatening raids.

His life underwent nerve-breaking trials and tribulations of the most severe type. But, throughout this struggle, not a single event shows him inclined to suggest to the disbelievers that ‘our religion is different and yours is different, you worship idols and we consider them filthy, you eat haram and we eat halal, you grow moustaches and we beards, you circulate Ka’aba naked and we dressed, you are polytheists and we monotheists. We cannot coexist. Therefore, let us partition Hijaz between us. Our country ‘Madinah’ would be the ‘Fort of Islam’ where we would live according to the principles of Islam, and the rest of Hijaz would be yours, where you would live according to your religion.’

No such policy of dividing Hijaz or Arabia was ever considered by the Prophet. The policy that always remained under his consideration, rather under actual, active pursuance, was to free the entire land of God from the clutches of ‘mischief-makers’ and to place it in the hands of virtuous reformers so that they reorganize and run it on the principles of peace, equality and justice rather than on the principles of oppression, exploitation and injustice.

The target was actually achieved during his very lifetime. Instead of taking ‘Medina’ for themselves by letting go of Makkah, Hijaz or Arabia to disbelieving majority, it was targeted to rid the whole society from the mischief-makers and their vile acts. Living very much amongst them, they achieved the target of ‘Makkah liberation’ [فتح مکہ] which resulted eventually in the liberation of Arabia.

The singular objective that guided this entire process was the pursuance of justice and peace for all people in the form of a virtuous socio-political order, which continued until disrupted by ominous imposition of the unjust dynastic rule.

In brief, along with the Quran, the Prophet’s tradition too remains alien to the present political concept of the two-nation theory. What is its source then and who is its fabricator?

Turning to personalities in this respect, one’s mind immediately goes to the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Alibhai Jinnahbhai Khojani who is assumed to be the founder of this theory. But Jinnah was actually an influential and successful propagator of this theory, but not its founder, simply because even before him, Savarkar, an anti-Muslim obscurantist of Hindu Mahasabha, had vociferously advocated the two-nation theory on his own terms.

For prejudiced communalists of his ilk, India was a country of two different and alien nations, Hindus and non-Hindus. Even before Savarkar, Lala Lajpat Rai had proposed in The Tribune (1924) the partition of the Punjab into two parts, Eastern Hindu-majority Punjab and Western Muslim-majority Punjab.

The latter would be ruled by Muslims and the former by Hindus. He also proposed to declare Sindh, Frontier, and East Bengal as Muslim ruled provinces.

This is almost the same proposition whose banner was later raised by Jinnah who, replacing Savarkar’s slogan of ‘Hindu and non-Hindu’ with ‘Muslim and non-Muslim’ actualized Lala Lajpat Rai’s dream into a political reality. Thus, the Hindu concept of ‘disunity of mankind’ attained in the Pakistani mind the status of a sacred concept by displacing the Islamic concept of ‘unity of mankind.’

It passed my notice somewhere that a grade 10 textbook of Pakistani Punjab, Mutale’a-e-Pakistan, under the heading ‘Evolution of Two-nation Theory’ mentions an Englishman John Bright, who taught at Sir Syed’s College at Aligarh, as its founder who mooted the idea of a separate state for Indian Muslims (p. 20).

Now, he wanted to sow the seeds of discord or whatever, but he cannot be the actual inventor of this theory, simply because some people, going even further back, trace its origins to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan himself. In this respect, they quote those statements of Sir Syed in which he appears worried about the differences arising between Hindus and Muslims and looks extremely concerned about the future of the national unity and harmony.

True, Sir Syed felt hurt by the slighting attitude of certain Hindu extremists; nevertheless, from none of his speeches or writings or practical plans emerges the two-nation theory of geographical partition of Hindustan. He was doubtless anguished by the waves of Hindu-Muslim discord, but he was not a partaker in it.

Beyond any doubt, he was committed to the cause of the educational and social uplift of the Indian Muslims as well as for the security of their political future, but for this purpose the idea of partitioning of the homeland and creating a Muslim ghetto in the subcontinent never crossed his mind.

Nor was it possible that such an idea should have occurred to a genius of his stature which was destined to meet utter failure in a matter of only two and a half decades giving way to three-nation theory, and which would eventually split Indian Muslims into three or four helpless and vulnerable factions, instead of solidifying them into a one strong, educated and progressive nation. In a speech, Sir Syed says, “I have used the word ‘qaum’ (nation) repeatedly in this meeting whereby I mean not only Muslims. For me all (Hindus and Muslims) are one nation. I do not want that nation be based on religion, or sect, or group, we are all only Indians.”

In a Patna speech of 1883, he says, “My dear brothers!… As compatriots we (Hindus and Muslims) are one, and the progress of both of us and that of the country is possible only through communal harmony, and mutual affection and respect.” Little wonder, then, that even some Pakistani intellectuals, such as Ziauddin Lahori, do not consider Sir Syed the founder of the two-nation theory.

Sir Syed, too, cannot be the founder of the separatist two-nation theory which resulted but into the multiple fracturing of the centuries old homeland of Muslim Indians, built by their own blood and sweat, and into their own national degradation, humiliation and vulnerability. So much so, that one is not shocked to hear today the remark that 14 August is not the day of the partition of India but that of the dismembering of the body of the Muslims of India.

This theory is also traced to certain pronouncements of Allama Iqbal. True, Iqbal seriously considered a political unit where the divinely ordained, universal socio-plitico-economic principles of Islam would be tested, but this he wanted within the Indian confederation and that too for the sole purpose of gauging the relevance of the Islamic system of social justice in modern times. And for this no such prescription emerges from his grand Islamic thought as would lead to partitioning of the homeland but without the practical implementation of Islam’s universal principles of social justice.

And never ever did he entertain the idea of ‘partition’ solely targeted to protect and safeguard the interests of the privileged exploitative classes. If such a plan of homeland partition had been brought to his notice, he would have been among its loudest challengers, let alone its supporter.

He certainly wished, and strongly wished, to put to test Islam’s principles of social justice in modern times, but he never wished the shattering of India in such political fragments as remain eternally locked in political enmity and mutual hatred, wishing and actively seeking mutual destruction. On the other hand, Chaudhary Rahmat Ali of Cambridge is never reckoned as the founder of the two-nation theory, even though he is believed to have proposed the name of the state born out of the unfortunate conception of the two-nation theory.

However, when we cast a glance at the early history of Muslims, we do spot a character who can be identified as the true and original founder of the two-nation theory. He dispatched a message to the Prophet saying, [آلا إنى أوتيت الأمر معك فلك نصف الأرض ولي نصفها ولكن قريشاً قومُ يظلمون] “Hark! I have been made a partner with you in the (political) power, so half the earth [land] is yours and half of it is mine. But, Quraish are a people who transgress” [Bukhari].

He presumed that the coexistence of those who believed in his prophethood was not possible with Muhammad’s followers in the same land, particularly when the political dominance of the latter was eminent who were in his perception not justice-loving but oppressive. To escape from their supposed oppression the only political solution in his view was to partition the land of Arabia between his followers and Muslims. One part should be under his rule, and the other under the rule of Muhammad, peace be upon him, so that he could save his religion from destruction and his people (qaum) from the supposed transgression of the Quraish (read Muslims).

This was the political two-nation theory that was thrown up first of all by the devilish mind of a false claimant to prophethood. Now, had there been ANY room at all for this theory in Islam, this would have been the best occasion to grab a ‘God-granted State’ and ‘castle of Islam’ for the severely persecuted Muslim minority of Hijaz/Arabia.

But, the response of the Prophet to this proposition, rather ultimatum, distinguishes false prophethood from the genuine one both in tone and temper. It also immediately brings to light the stance of a true Prophet towards this theory.

And it clinches once and for all the non-status of the political two-nation theory in Islam. In his reply, the Prophet (SAW) only wrote, السلام على من أتبع الهدى، أما بعد، إِنَّ الْأَرْضَ لِلَّهِ يُورِثُهَا مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ “Peace be upon him who follows (divine) guidance. Surely, the earth belongs to God Who bequeaths it to whom He wishes amongst His slaves. And ultimate success is for those who are pious and God-fearing.”

From this very brief but very comprehensive response of the Prophet Muhammad, four principles could be derived:

1. Those who follow (divine) guidance are rewarded with the blessings of peace and security.

2. No person or group owns this earth who could divide it by their own discretion.

3. The real owner of this earth is God, Who makes anyone He pleases its inheritors (not owners).

4. The inheritance of Land is not a guarantee to ultimate success, but that is the lot of only the pious and the upright (‘muttaqeen’) who establish on this earth the divinely enjoined system of peace and justice. The first and last parts of this reply that dumbfounded the fabricator of the diabolic two-nation theory deserve special attention: that is, first ‘peace and security’ and lastly ultimate ‘eternal success’ are the portion of those who actually act out the universal guidance of peace, equality and justice in their lives and establish it in the world for the benefit of the whole mankind.

Otherwise, these objectives cannot be achieved merely by partitioning homelands and creating ghettos. This incontrovertible truth is in front of us in the form of the fractured and sick Pakistan.

The name of the real founder of the two-nation theory is Musailama bin Habeeb, who was branded ‘the great liar’ (kazzab) in his reply by the Prophet, peace be upon him, and who is commonly known as Musailama al-Kazzab. How ironical it is that the inheritors of Muhammadan theory of the ‘Makkah Liberation’ (Fath Makkah) became the upholders of the ‘fallacious) two-nation theory’ and are proud of it too.

All opinions and views expressed in columns and blogs are those of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Caravan

3 COMMENTS

  1. The establishment of Islamic State is a religious obligation, because its main object is the defence of the Faith and the preservation of order through the implementation of Revealed Law. A secular state is based on the principles derived through human reasoning, and therefore it promotes only the material advancement of its citizens. but Islamic State promotes the material as well as the spiritual advancement of the people.The struggle for the establishment of Allah’s Deen is a concrete reality. One’s love for Pakistan is due to its special relationship with Islam, due to the fact that Pakistan came into being in a miraculous manner on the 27th night of Ramadan. No doubt the situation in Pakistan is rapidly deteriorating in terms of Islam, but still one cannot question its creation,which was the will of Allah and not Jinnah.

  2. The message of the article can be instrumental in the present contest and may serve to explore the idea of Hindu Muslim unity to attain long lasting peace and tranquility in order to strengthen social bonding by downplaying the divisive discourse.

  3. I am simply astonished that after living in the U.S.A. for so many years, and going back to India, Mr. Lala Lajpati Rai proposed dividing Punjab into Hindu and Muslim Punjab. Did he actually come up with the proposal or simply discussed the pros and cons of the proposal orally prevailing in Punjab at that time? What is the exact reference (exact date of publication and page number) in The Tribune of 1924 for his proposal? I am just curious.

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