By Rameez Raja
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a supporter of the two-nation theory and was delighted with the creation of the Muslim League. Throughout his life he thought that Muslims were an entirely separate entity and instructed his followers to keep away from the ‘Hindu’ Congress. His Son, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad purposely supported the demand of Pakistan as the second Caliphate of the AMC, and wrote several books for the guidance of the Muslims in British India. Mirza Mahmood’s book Muslim Rights and Nehru Report was against Jawaharlal Nehru’s one-nation theory. Ahmadis supported the Muslim League for the rights of an entire Muslim community or for the Pakistan movement but they did not participate politically to demand a separate state.
Mirza Mahmood, however, was known for his energetic contribution to the Kashmir liberation movement from the Dogra rule. The 1931 riots in Kashmir became the basis for the AMC’s political platform in South Asia. Historians, however, assumed that Mirza Mahmood failed to gain his political objectives in Kashmir. That might be the reason that AMC did not come forward as a political party (which it is not) to support the Pakistan demand, along with Muslims in British India. The question arises: why did the AMC relinquish its effort midway to liberate Kashmir from the Dogra rule? Some historians assumed that Mirza Mahmood was more inclined to propagate Ahmadiyyat in Kashmir rather than to liberate Kashmir from an autocratic Dogra rule. Muslims and main political parties in Kashmir thwarted the AMC’s political and religious ambitions in Kashmir. However, according to the AMC, Mirza Mahmood’s main mission was to make aware helpless and hapless Kashmiri Muslims and to liberate them from a despotic Dogra rule.
As I said Mirza Mahmood tried his best to unite Muslims and supported the demand for Pakistan. His father, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, argued that in case the British left India, Hindus will treat Muslims badly. Thus, a separate state was a suitable option for Ahmadis to safeguard their rights along with other Muslims who equally demanded Pakistan. However, all Muslims were not supporters of the Muslim League as well as the Pakistan movement. For instance, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Majlis-e-Ahraar, Jamiat-ul-Ulema Hind, and Khaksars were opponents of Pakistan demand and posed a serious threat to Jinnah’s Muslim League and his secular vision.
Historian Ayesha Jalal argues in her study The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan that the League leaders were directing a movement and not a party. From this argument, I assume that it might be the reason that the Muslim League failed as a successful mainstream political party in Pakistan because the League was not properly organized. The League was struggling to unite Muslims in British India because some Muslim majority provisions like Punjab and Bengal were engulfed in factionalism. One of the most awkward problems Jinnah faced was how to reconcile the interests of Muslims in majority provinces with the needs of Muslims in minority provinces. Interestingly, the Lahore Resolution (passed on 23 March 1940) did not mention about ‘Pakistan’ and ‘partition’; it was purely about the provincial autonomy, sovereign Muslim states with a weak Centre. Jinnah tried to keep the Pakistan demand as unspecific as possible because he was afraid of communalism that would destroy his purpose at the Centre. His main focus was to share power at the Centre to safeguard the rights of Muslims whether those were in majority or minority in the respective provinces.
Likewise, before the Lahore Resolution, Ahmadi jurist and a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, Choudhury Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan’s paper to the Viceroy Linlithgow looked for a constitutional scheme acceptable to Muslim opinion generally. His three schemes talked about the ‘Pakistan scheme’ along Choudhary Rehmat Ali’s lines. Rehmat Ali had coined the word ‘Pakistan’ which stands for P (Punjab), A (Afghan = NWFP), K (Kashmir), S (Sind), and Tan (Baluchistan). The second scheme envisioned two Muslim federations in the North-West and the North-East, in direct relation with the Crown but having treaty agreements with the non-Muslim federation (or federations) to cover matters of common interest. The third was the ‘separation scheme’, which demarcated the ‘Muslim Federations’ not on communal lines, but along the boundaries of existing provinces. Ayesha Jalal argues that Zafrulla Khan thought that this was the only way of safeguarding Muslim minorities in the non-Muslim federation (or federations). However, Jinnah rejected Zafrulla Khan’s all-India federal scheme because it denied the need for a strong force at the Centre.
What happened next? British India was divided into two separate and independent states (India and Pakistan) on 15 August, 1947. I understand that the newly created Pakistan was more aligned to Dr. Iqbal’s lines rather than Rehmat Ali’s. Iqbal’s Pakistan included Northwest India, Punjab, Sind, the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), and Baluchistan. Rehmat Ali’s Pakistan included Kashmir which remained outside of the newly created Pakistan in 1947. Also, Rajagopalachari’s proposal publicly demanded the partition of Punjab and Bengal. Subsequently, Ahmadis, who fought for ‘the land of the pure’, were challenged in 1953 by JI as an impure sect within Islam in Pakistan. Interestingly, JI was the same organization which entirely opposed the Pakistan demand and were critical of Jinnah’s Muslim League. In what can be termed as a gory development, Pakistani National Assembly in 1974 declared AMC as a non-Muslim minority under the leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Surprisingly, after the declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims, Dr. Abdus Salam, Ahmadi Nobel Laureate, resigned in protest. However, Bhutto told Salam, “This is all politics. Give me time, I will change it.” Bhutto refused to write down this in a private note to Dr. Salam.
Later on, the controversial XX ordinance in 1984 under the Zia-ul-Haq regime curtailed the religious and political rights of Ahmadis that eventually culminated in the gruesome persecutions of the minority community in Pakistan. Ahmadis believed that the clerics played an important part in declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims because of the false allegation that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had violated the “finality of the prophethood of Muhammad” by claiming himself as the ‘nabi’ (prophet).
It is also equally true that Ahmadis supported Bhutto and his party (PPP) but, unfortunately, he was deterministic to save his political career in a garrison state like Pakistan. And for his political gains, he embittered the minority community to declare them as non-Muslims in Pakistan. Ahmadis failed to read Bhutto’s dangerous intentions toward them. Similarly, Zia said in his television broadcast in Urdu: “Don’t give up your faith and don’t touch other man’s faith.” However, within two years, Zia brought the Ordinance XX in 1984 for the legitimacy of his political rule.
As a religious community, Ahmadis should have participated in the political affairs in Pakistan. Both Zafrulla Khan and Dr. Abdus Salam were involved in the civilian affairs in the Pakistani government but they did not have any interest to form a political party in Pakistan. Albeit a minority in Pakistan, they might have supported such a political party to safeguard their rights. Also, Ahmadis were part of the mainstream Muslim community before 1974; thus, it was easy for them to launch a political party without facing opposition from the other side. They might have won the sentiments of the Pakistani people by good governance. Is it right to say that Kashmir dispute might have been solved if they had come power? The fourth Caliph of the AMC, Mirza Tahir Ahmad argued that the main Kashmir valley should be declared independent; the rest of Jammu and Kashmir should be given to India; and Pakistan should settle with their part of Kashmir as a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute.
In reality, Ahmadis trusted Bhutto who appeared as a Sunni Muslim to segregate Ahmadis in Pakistan in 1974. It might be a mistake for the minority community to read Bhutto’s perilous intentions by supporting him in his political career. AMC considers itself as a purely religious organization, thus, it might be unsound for them to launch a political party in Pakistan. However, they supported (morally and financially) the Muslim League during pre-partition, Kashmir freedom movement, demand for Pakistan; Bhutto and his party was supported financially, too.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself was a supporter of two-nation theory and was pleasant with Jinnah’s Muslim League. Is this not a sign to the AMC from its founder to politically settle some issues which were hard to settle religiously? For instance, Kashmir, in which historians acknowledged Mirza Mahmood’s political role. It was equally important to get involved in the political affairs in Pakistan after its independence from British India. The 1953 agitation by JI against Ahmadis should have been taken as a warning by the minority community to launch a political party because, at that time, the military court charged Maududi (founder of JI) with sedition and sentenced him to death. The majority of Muslims were not against Ahmadis and it was illogical for Muslims and the Supreme Court judges to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim in Pakistan. The clear definition of Muslim was simply one who calls himself a Muslim and says ‘Kalima’ (the Muslim creed).
Rameez Raja, Ph. D. Candidate, Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
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