The triad of Jinnah, Aligarh Muslim University, and the idea of Pakistan was bounded by intimacy and proximity in history. However, when the present replicates the past, we have to ring the bell!
Aligarh Muslim University
A portrait of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah inside the campus of prestigious Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has sparked a fresh controversy. It all started when Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) lawmaker from Aligarh Satish Gautam wrote a letter to AMU Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor and sought and ‘explanation’ over Jinnah’s portrait hung inside the Students’ Union Office.
It must be reminded that ‘the idea of Pakistan’ was resolutely visualised and envisaged in the then United Provinces (UP), before 1940, by many prominent students of Aligarh. Even though UP was a Muslim minority province, the educated Muslim youths of the province worked out closely to define the state of Pakistan. These deliberations had started simultaneously with the Lahore session of All India Muslim League (AIML) where the demand for Pakistan was officially put out at first in 1940.
Anis al Din’s Pakistan
Historian Venkat Dhulipala’s Creating a New Medina (Cambridge University Press, 2015) tells us that even before the Lahore session had begun, there was anticipation about it in Bareily district in western U.P. as evident from a treatise published here in late February 1940, succinctly titled ‘Pakistan’. It was uuthored by one Anis al Din Ahmad Rizvi, and presented a cogent case for creating Pakistan besides outlining the expectations harboured by Muslims in western U.P. about this ‘ideal goal’. Anis al Din had earned a Bachelor’s degree in law (LLB) as well as an MA (Honours) from the Muslim University at Aligarh.
In his treatise, a map of the Indian subcontinent with Pakistan areas clearly marked out stood right behind the title page of the treatise. One does not have much information about.
We are further told that, in his dedication, Anis al Din credited the idea of Pakistan to the poet Muhammad Iqbal, who at the 1930 Allahabad AIML session had floated the idea of establishing a Muslim state in the northwestern Muslim majority provinces of British India. While Iqbal may have visualized this state within the confines of an all India federation and even disavowed Pakistan in a subsequent communication to the British historian Edward Thompson, Anis al Din clearly interpreted it as a separate independent state (alahida azad hukumat).
Pakistan Day in Badayun
On April 19, 1940, in an addressed, the Vice President of the District AIML, Maulvi Musavvir Ali Khan, in Badayun explained the Pakistan demand to the gathering. Again, as in the case of Anis al Din Ahmad Rizvi, one does not know a whole lot about him other than the fact that he too earned LLB and MA degrees from Aligarh.
Dhulipala tells us that Musavvir Khan first dismantled the Congress ideal of ‘complete independence’. He derisively noted that although the Congress frequently spouted phrases like Purna Swaraj, whenever an opportunity to overthrow British rule arose it usually ended up concluding gentlemen’s agreements with them that always fell far short of that goal.
He went on to assert that Islam was an eternal and comprehensive way of life (mustaqil nazariya-i-hayat) and entailed cultural unity (tamadduni wahdat) born out of a unity of religion and politics. It broke all connections with narrow solidarities such as wataniyat and an individual subjecting himself to the discipline of Islam’s complete way of life became part of its vast brotherhood. More importantly, he averred that Islam permitted only the government of God, based on His laws, which were already fixed (mo‘ay’yaan wa muqarrar) and could not be made by man. Thus, if Muslims accepted a common Indian nationality based on territorial nationalism they would cease to be Muslims.
Is Jinnah still the Qaid?
Mohammad Ali Jinnah had been given lifetime membership of the student body of AMU before 1947. He had addressed the students there many times. Unsurprisingly, under his influence, prominent alumni of AMU like Anis al Din and Mussavir Khan were visualising the ‘idea of Pakistan’ a decade before the Partition actually took place.
Therefore, a question must be raised today. Are the young students of AMU still getting inspired by Jinnah? Do they still consider him the Qaid (leader)? If not so, there is no reason for Jinnah’s portrait to continue in the Students’ Union office. But if yes, we have a situation here which needs to be relooked with caution and an alarm must be raised.