Mohammad Iqbal and Communalism in modern India: Iqbal’s Hindustan is the Mughal India as Dar-Ul-Islam – We are Muslims and the whole world is our homeland.
Iqbal was the greatest political thinker of the Muslims in British India. Although he was described as a Sufi, his doctrine went counter to the quietism and acceptance preached by traditional Sufism. Iqbal’s philosophy was a rather militant doctrine of action, of fight to achieve an ideal placed before man, and this ideal was of that of a primitive Islam, which in Iqbal’s opinion was preached by the Prophet
He was one of the earliest proponent of the ‘Two Nation Theory’ after Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, now Aligarh Muslim University. One of the most prominent leaders of the All India Muslim League, Muhammad Iqbal encouraged the creation of a “state in northwestern India for Muslims” under the British rule. In his Presidential Address at the All-India Muslim League Session at Allahabad in 1930, he suggested that for the healthy development of Islam in South-Asia, it was essential to have a separate Muslim state at least in the Muslim majority regions of the north-west of British India. Later on, in his correspondence with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, he included the Muslim majority areas in the north-east also in his proposed separate nation for the Muslims.
Iqbal, just like Jinnah, has three phases in his life. He has started as a nationalist, then he became a staunch loyalist of the British Raj, ultimately he became the philosopher-creator of Pakistan. The early phase was characterised by three categories of poems – (i) Ghazals and lyrics (e. g, Gul-i-Pashmurdah); (ii) romanticist and nature poems (e.g “The Himalayas”, “Kashmir” and “On the Bank of Ravi”) and (iii) patriotic and nationalistic poems. To this last category belongs poems like Hindustan Hamara, Hindustani Bachoon Ka Qaumi Geet, Naya Shiwala, and Taswir-i-Dard. Unfortunately those in India promote Iqbal forgot to read the poems in full, where he had glorified the Muslim conquests in general.
After his return from Britain and Europe, Iqbal later has transformed himself. While he was in jail in 1932, Mahatma Gandhi decided that Iqbal had become anti-nationalist. After going through an account of Iqbal’s speech to the Muslim League published in the newspaper, Mahatma Gandhi commented: “Other Muslims too share Iqbal’s anti-nationalism; only they do not give expression to their sentiments. The poet now disowns his song Hindustan Hamara”. However, Gandhi never knew that ‘Hindustan’ of Iqbal is a pan-Muslim concept, alien to Gandhi’s concept of India.
Iqbal was against secularism and was a fanatical Muslim. In his book, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, he expressed fears that secularism would weaken the spiritual foundations of Muslim society. India’s Hindu-majority population would destroy Muslim heritage, culture and political influence.
In a letter to Jinnah on 21 June 1937, Iqbal wrote: “Why should not the Muslims of north-west India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are”? Iqbal approved the concept of Aurangzeb that “the strength of Islam in India depended not on the goodwill of its inhabitants but on the strength of the ruling Muslims”. Aurangzeb, according to Iqbal, was the “first exponent of Muslim nationalism in the Indian sub-continent”.
Tarana-e-Milli, written by Iqbal, reveals his mindset. “China and Arabia are ours. India is ours .We are Muslims and the whole world is our homeland. We have grown up in the shadow of swords. Our mascot is the crescent shaped dagger. Our prayer calls have reverberated in the valleys of the west. The force of our flow could not be stopped by anyone”.
Iqbal’s ‘Hindustan’ has nothing to do with India, but it is a mythical land for the Muslims. He evolved a synthetic concept of ‘Muslim’ nationalism, which should be according to Iqbal, a multi-nationalism within Islam. He had promoted that concept of communalism in a message to the Central Khilafat Committee, Bombay, on March 10, 1922.
Iqbal wrote, “Communalism is its higher aspect, is indispensable to the formation of a harmonious whole in a country like India. The units of Indian society are not territorial as in European countries. ….The principle of European democracy cannot be applied to India without recognizing the fact of communal groups. The Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India within (British) India is, therefore, perfectly justified.” Initially Iqbal sought a Muslim province with the British India, as he was then a loyal servant of the British Empire. Later, when it was clear after 1935 reform, that the British would give India a kind of self-rule sooner or later, Iqbal demanded a separate state.
Iqbal considered the Koran not only as a book of religion in the traditional sense, but also a source of foundational principles upon which the infrastructure of any organization must be built as a coherent system of life. In his Rumuz-e-Bekhudi (Hints of Selflessness), Iqbal seeks to prove the Islamic way of life is the best code of conduct for a nation’s viability.
In Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam he wrote: “I confess to be a pan-Islamist. The mission for which, Islam came into this world will ultimately be fulfilled, the world will ultimately be purged of infidelity and the worship of false gods, and the true soul of Islam will be triumphant. This is the kind of pan-Islamicism that I preach”. “Islam as a religion has no country”. In his zeal to promote the unity of the Muslims, he has no hesitation to falsify the world history, when he wrote, “The history of Islam tells us that the expansion of Islam as a religion is in no way related to the political power of its followers”; and again “that Islam gained its greatest and most lasting missionary triumphs in times and places in which its political power has been weakest, as in South India and Eastern Bengal.” Karl Marx in his book ‘Notes on Indian History’ would have seriously disagreed with Iqbal for this concocted history, when Marx has described in detail the destruction of Vijaya Nagar in South India by the Muslim invaders and the Muslim invasion of Bengal.
Iqbal did supported Muslim conquests by various means. He writes to Miss Farquharson: “The Jews also have no right over Palestine. They had bid farewell to Palestine willingly long before its occupation by Arabs.” [Miss Farquharson was the President of the National League of England. Iqbal’s letters dated July 30 and September 30, 1937 respectively, regarding Palestine, are included in Iqbal Namah (Makatib I Iqbal) Vol. 1, pp. 446-50]
About the Jews he wrote:
“The usurious Jews are waiting since long
To whose deceit the prowess of the tiger is no match
The West is bound to fall by itself like a ripe fruit
Let us see in whose lap the West falls”
About the Muslim conquest of Spain, Iqbal wrote in his poem A Ia mosquée de Cordoue:
“Oh! Holy Mosque of CórdobaOnly in a true Muslim’s heart”
Shrine for all lovers of art
Pearl of the one true faith
Sanctifying Andalusia’s soil
Like Holy Mecca itself
Such a glorious beauty
Will be found on earth
[The so-called Holy Mosque of Cordoba was created by demolishing a massive Christian Cathedral, when most parts of Spain was occupied in 711 by the Muslims of Morocco. Later in 1236, Córdoba was liberated by King Ferdinand III, who had turned it back into a Christian church.]
The common Muslim idea that ‘“ We came to Hindustan and we ruled’ is reflected in Iqbal’s poem ‘Sare Jahase Acha’, where he wrote:
“Our caravan landed on the banks of your Ganges”,
That indicates Muslim conquest of India. Iqbal’s Hindustan is the Mughal India as Dar-Ul-Islam, where Muslims were the rulers, and Hindus were subjugated.
Iqbal also wrote his Shikwah in sorrowful remembrance of the failure of the Muslim invasion in India, when he mourned that the invincible armada of the Muslims, that had swept over so many seas and rivers, met its watery grave in the Ganges. Iqbal wept over the defeat of Islam in India and elsewhere in the past, and looked forward to a re-conquest. He wrote:
“Qahar to yeh hai ke kafir ko mile Hur-o-qusur
Aur bichaare Muslmaan ko faqt vada i Hur . . .”
“The shameful thing is that Kafirs enjoy Houries in this life
But Poor Muslims have only a promise of Houries in after life”
His two poems Shikwa (complaint) and Jawab-I-Shikwah (Reply to the Complaint) are about the Muslim revivalists in India who were for the separation from India in both spirit and political rehabilitation to his proposed Pakistan. These poems are in the form of a complaint before Allah, about the adverse circumstances in which the Indian Muslims had fallen, and the sequel, given the remedies prescribed by God for Muslim upliftments.
Mysticism and Iqbal:
Iqbal in Pakistan is being propagated as a mystic poet. In India he is propagated as a Sufi. Both of these ideas are wrong. As Iqbal did his PhD in Persian Philosophy in the University of Munich, Iqbal’s so-called mysticism was heavily influenced by two German philosophers, Emile Durkheim and Friedrich Nietzsche, both of whom are considered to be the philosopher of the Nazism.
Nietzsche was in turn influenced by the Persian philosopher Zorathrustra. Nietzsche’s thought was that of a Superman or the Übermensch. In his book, ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’, Nietzsche wrote, “ “The Overman is the meaning of the earth. Man is a rope, tied between beast and Overman, he is a bridge and not an end.”
Iqbal has interpreted the basic element in Nietzsche’s idea , the “will to power” (der Wille zur Macht), as the basis for understanding human behavior. The natural condition of life and the struggle to survive are less important than the desire to expand one’s power. Iqbal has a critical view of mysticism. He believes that life is activity, and a person having communication with God cannot be a passive individual. A human being, coming in touch with the Supreme Being gets illuminated. He becomes a moving spirit in the society. It seems that such an individual is having a burning fire within him and he is part of God’s activity in this world.
Iqbal urges for the restoration of the Caliphate, and seeks that mobilization of the spirit which would make it:
“To once again establish,
The foundation Khilafah in the world,
You must bring from somewhere,
The mettle of your ancestors.”
“Out of the seclusion of the desert of Hejaz,
The Guide of the Time is to come.
And from this far, far away valley,
The Caravan is to make its appearance.”
Iqbal has translated a number of poems of the Turkish poet Ziya Gokalp, pseudonym of Mehmed Ziya, who had promoted the Pan-Turkic Muslim Empire, from China to Europe, the dream of Iqbal. Ziya used the writings of Dukheim to repudiate secularism as a disuniting factor and proposed religion as a uniting force–all concepts found in Iqbal‘s Reconstruction of Islamic Thought (“Aik ho Muslim haram kee pasbani keh liyeh, Neel keh sahil seh ta ba khak e Kashghar”).
Iqbal claimed that his writings were influenced by ‘Surah e Nafas’ of the Koran, but in reality it reflects the views of Ziya who had translated the works of Émile Durkheim. Both Iqbal and Ziya concluded that Western ‘liberalism’, as a social system, was inferior to ‘solidarism’, because ‘liberalism’ encouraged ‘individualism’, which in turn diminished the integrity of the state. For Iqbal, religion is a mean to unify a population socially, and the life of the group was more important than the life of the individual.
Iqbal has rejected Sufism by saying in his book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam that, “The rise and growth of ascetic Sufism… was developed under the influences of a non-Islamic character, a purely speculative side. The spirit of total other-worldliness in Sufism obscured men’s vision of a very important aspect of Islam as a social polity” (p21, p 221). Khalid Alavi has observed, “For Iqbal, Sufism is an activity and a “source of inspiration; but the unworthy occupants of spiritual seats have destroyed its image and spoiled its usefulness”. Iqbal accepted mystic experience or inner experience of the Sufis as a source of knowledge, but he has pointed out that The Koran declares that there are other two sources of knowledge, history and nature, which Sufism does not acknowledges. Thus, it is wrong to say that Iqbal was a Sufi poet, as Iqbal did not appreciated the Sufi idea of universal love and existence of ‘The God’ in every creature, which had their origins in Hindu Bhakti movement of Sri Chaitannya and Ramanuj with its ultimate expression in Rabindranath Tagore. For Iqbal, “Sufi orders ….caused disintegration of the social cohesiveness of the Muslim community”.
Iqbal was against both democracy and secularism. The Muslim communalism in the British India had its origin in the fear of the Muslim of a democratic system with the majority rule, where Muslims would be a permanent minority, and in a romantic concept of the history of the Muslim conquests in Eurasia and North Africa, that had glorified anti-Hindu sentiments.
Iqbal has promoted that “Utopian intellectualization of the Muslims minority complex”, as Nadeem Paracha wrote in The Dawn on 24 Jan, 2010. To Iqbal, Indian nationalism that propagated a joint Hindu-Muslim struggle against the British, was contrary to the concept of a united Muslim Ummah, spanning from Morocco to Indonesia. After a meeting with Egyptian and Palestinian Arab leaders in 1946, Mohammad Ali Jinnah has repeated the idea of Iqbal, “If a Hindu empire is achieved, it will mean the end of Islam in India, and even in other Muslim countries.”
Iqbal feared the exploitation of the Muslims in a Hindu-dominated future India, and as a result, promoted separatism among the Muslims. He said, in his 1930 speech for the creation of Pakistan, that “The Muslim demand ……is actuated by a genuine desire for free development which is practically impossible under the type of unitary government contemplated by the nationalist Hindu politicians with a view to secure permanent communal dominance in the whole of India.”
To achieve that dream he was prepared to go at any length when he wrote, “khanjar hilal ka ho qaumi nishan hamara”. He also said in his speech in 1930 in Allahabad, “India is a continent of human groups belonging to different races, speaking different languages and professing different religions. …. To base a constitution on the conception of a homogeneous India …. is to prepare for a civil war”.
Islam, according to Iqbal, is a complete way of life. No other path is acceptable to God. So, in the absence of an Islamic polity, it is difficult for the Muslims to lead their lives entirely in accordance with the rules of Islam, which apply to social affairs as much as they do to personal affairs. Muslim’s duty must be to work to establish an Islamic dispensation in the lands where they live so that they can lead their lives fully in accordance with Islam and its laws.
Iqbal’s book in English, the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, expressed fears that not only would secularism weaken the spiritual foundations of Islam and Muslim society, but that India’s Hindu-majority population would crowd out Muslim heritage, culture and political influence. He thus became the first politician to articulate the Two-Nation Theory — that Muslims form a distinct nation and thus deserve political independence from other communities of India. Thus, it is a great shame that Indians, without reading Iqbal’s writings, accepted the poem Hindustan Hamara, which is the National Song of Pakistan, as the most popular national song of India. It demonstrate that the campaign of the Aligarh school, to rewrite Indian history to glorify the Muslim invaders as social reformers, is highly successful due to the continuous support of a group of pro-Pakistani historians in India and their Western followers along with the assorted journalists in English language newspapers both in India and in the Anglo-American world. For them, both Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Mohammad Iqbal are the symbols of secularism and Hindi-Muslim unity, although they are the creator of Pakistan, due to which millions of people of all religions were butchered, and million more have lost all their livelihood.
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