Allama Iqbal’s theory of Pakistan

The most intelligent analysis of Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s mind in its pilgrimage to the shrines of so many ideals in search of a solution for Muslims India is the one offered by Sir Hamilton Gibb:

“Perhaps the right way to look at Iqbal is to see in him one who reflected and put into vivid words the diverse currents of ideas that were agitating the minds of the Indian Muslims. His sensitive poetic temperament mirrored all that impinged upon it—the backward-looking romanticism of the liberals, the socialist learning of the young intellectuals, the longing of the militant Muslim Leaguers for a strong leader to restore the political power of Islam.”

In the pan-Islamic phase of his writings, which began in 1908 and continued until his death in 1938, Allama Muhammad Iqbal dissociated politics from nationalism and tried to correlate it with religion and culture. This also implied the rejection of the modem western concept of the duality of church and state.

“If you begin with the conception of religion as complete other-worldliness, then what has happened to Christianity in Europe is perfectly natural. The universal ethics of Jesus is displaced by nationalist systems of ethics and policy. The conclusion to which Europe is consequently driven is that religion is a private affair of the individual, and has nothing to do with what is called man’s temporal life. Islam does no bifurcate the unity of man into an irreconcilable duality of spirit and matter. In Islam Allah and the universe, spirit and matter, church and state are organic to each other.

The real significance of the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) hijra from Mecca to Medina in 622 lay in the repudiation of the concept of local patriotism. The concept of political society in Islam does not accept geographical regionalism or a common race as valid criteria for defining an ethic group. The earth belongs to Allah, and as such is the common habitation of all men. Potentially Muslim people can live in any part of it. In their universal political life in the midst of humanity in general there can be only two criteria of political grouping in so far as Islam is concerned—Muslims and non-Muslims. All non-Muslims constitute a single community, he argues on the basis of a hadis which is probably apocryphal, and are antithetical to the community of Islam. This does not justify a striving for a Muslim imperialism at the expense of others. In fact the success of historical Islam in carving out empires was detrimental to Islam’s cultural growth because of irrelevant borrowings from external cultures. Nor dies it mean that Muslim are in any sense a superior or a chosen people. In fact the Muslim community is potentially and not actually the khayr al0umam (best among the communities), not by the mere virtue of following the Prophet of Islam, whose prophethood was meant to promulgate freedom, equality, and brotherhood among all mankind, but by the community’s own maximum effort to apply the ethical values of the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) teaching to harnessing the forces of nature.

The state to which the universal Islamic society can belong is to far on unrealized ideal Muslim state. A great deal of effort is devoted throughout the works of Iqbal to the attempt to define this ideal state in terms of modern idealogies. Of these he rejects modern western democracy as essentially plutocratic and based on racial inequality and the exploitation of the weak.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal makes a distinction between Islam as conceived as the legal basis of the state and theocracy which connotes fanaticism. A separate Muslim state within the subcontinent would not be a theocracy. It would provide, on the other hand, an opportunity for Islam ‘to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilize its law, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its original spirit and with the spirit of modem times’. This mixture of modernism and fundamentalism which he has in ‘One Lesson’, he continues, ‘I have learnt from the history of the Muslims. At critical moments in their history it is Islam that has saved Muslims and not vice-versa.

During 1936-7 Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Jinnah came into very close contact politically. Ina series of letters to Jinnah, Iqbal pressed the view that the creation for separate Muslim state was the only feasible solution for the Muslims and for peace in India. The Muslims of north-west India and Bengal should ignore Muslim-minority provinces in the interest of Indian Muslims as a whole.

In his introduction to this series of Iqbal’s letters Jinnah acknowledged that Iqbal’s views finally led him to the same conclusions, i.e. the demand for separate Muslim state which found due expression in the “Pakistan” resolution passed by the Muslim League in its annual session in 1940.


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