INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS AND PARTITION OF INDIA – PART-I

Though the Muslim League passed the resolution on Pakistan in 1940, but for the help rendered by the British, Pakistan would not have materialized. What was the reason for the British to divide India before they quit? Here the role of the Congress in antagonizing the British and its incompetence to deal with the communal issue played an important role in the British resorting to partition before they left India.

The Genesis of Muslim Separatism

The separatist and intolerant tendencies of the Muslims in India were dormant even before the establishment of British rule in India. During the Medieval period, though the Hindu rulers and the people accorded a generous treatment to Muslims, they did not reciprocate the same. For example, the Zamorin of Calicut gave orders that in every family of fishermen in his dominion; one or more of the male members should be brought up as Mohammedans. The Hindu reformers and teachers emphasized that Hinduism and Islam were two different paths leading to the same goal. They preached that Ram and Rahim, Krishna and Karim, Ishwar and Allah, were different names of the same god. An earnest attempt was made to bring about unity between the two communities by deprecating priestly ritualism and formalities and emphasizing inner religious devotion. Not only were the foreign Muslims honoured and respected, but even Indian converts to Islam were shown regard and a treatment which was better than that meted out to lower castes among the Hindu themselves.The Muslims on the other hand, believed in their superiority and branded the Hindus as an inferior people, feeble and unprogressive. If a Hindu, who was converted to Islam, showed any inclination to revert to the religion of his forefathers, he was, according to the law of the Sultanate, put to death, and if any Hindu preached that Hinduism and Islam alike were true religions, he was liable to capital punishment. Moreover, according to the Quranic injunction it is not permissible for a Muslim male to marry a non-Muslim woman without first converting her to Islam; nor it was permissible for a Muslim woman to be given in marriage to a Hindu, unless he himself became a Muslim. Further, by the orders of the Quran, Muslims were prohibited from showing any respect or consideration for their non-Muslim ancestors. This Quranic injunction made it impossible for Indian Muslim, most of them who were converts from Hinduism, to have anything to do with their Hindu ancestors, or to have legitimate pride in the ancient history of this country. (Srivastava A.L, Medieval Indian Culture pp. 230-32) 

Kafirs must pay Jiziya

The Quranic law divides all non-Muslims into two classes, namely those who are, according to it, the possessors of some kind of revealed scripture (ahle-kitab) and those who are not and are idolaters (kafirs and mushriks). The first group consisting of Jews and Christians is permitted by the authority of the Quran to enjoy partial tolerance in a Muslim state on payment of an invidious tax, called the Jiziya; but the other consisting of polytheists is not eligible for any kind of toleration. Subsequently, a third group of non-Muslims, that is, of those who resembled the possessors of revealed books (musahab ahl-I-kitab) was recognized and Zoroastrians were placed under this category. They were also allowed to live in a Muslim country on payment of the Jiziya like the Jews and Christians. Of the four early and authoritative commentators of the shariat, who become the founders of the four well-known school of Muslim law, three namely, Malik Ibn Anas (715-795 A.D.), Ash Shafi (767-820 A.D.) and Ahmad bin Hanbal (780-855 A.D.), lay down in unmistakable terms that idolaters have no right to live in a Muslim country (i.e., one either ruled by Muslims or peopled by Muslims) and that they must either embrace Islam or suffer death. But the fourth commentator named Abu Hanifah (699-766 A.D.) is of the opinion that idolaters might be given, beside the choice between Islam and death, one more alternative, namely, permission to live as Zimmis (living under a contract) or as inferior citizens with an obligation to pay the Jiziya (poll tax) and to submit to certain political, legal and social disabilities. Muhammad bin Qasim, the conqueror of Sindh, finding it impossible to enforce the rigid interpretation of the Quranic law upon the Hindus, on account of numerical superiority and their being armed to the teeth, wisely anticipated the ruling of Abu Hanifah, and extended partial religious tolerance, which was the special privilege of the Jews and Christians, to the Hindus of Sindh and Multan. This became a precedent to be followed by the later Turkish and Afghan conquerors and rulers. (Srivastava A.L, Medieval Indian Culture. p.3)

The Meaning of Jihad

According to historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar, the highest duty of a Muslim ruler is to carry on jihad by waging war against infidel lands (Dar-ul-Harb) till they became a part of the realm of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam), and their populations are converted into true believers. (Srivastava A.L, Medieval Indian Culture. p 4) Jihad has two meanings in Islamic theology. Apart from the popular concept of Jihad Bil-Saif (striving with sword), the term Jihad also implies discovering the truth within, that is, Jihad Bin-nafs (striving with oneself). Since the birth of Islam, the term Jihad (striving, in the cause of God) has been uniformly interpreted as signifying a holy war against the infidels (kafirs). The Jihad had five distinct objectives: (1) Forcible spreading of Islam;(2) destruction of the kafir population against which the Jihad is mounted;(3) imposition of tax (Jiziya) on the defeated infidels;(4) the wresting of war booty; and (5) the enslavement of the females and children of the vanquished kafirs. There was never any doubt about the meaning of Jihad in Islamic theology or history. (Balbir K. Punj, Islam, Jihad and terrorism, The New Indian Express, 12-07-2000) For example after the sack of Somanath Temple by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1025 A.D., the idol of Somanath was broken to pieces and sent to Ghazni, Mecca and Medina and cast in streets and staircases of chief mosques to be trodden by the Muslims going there for their prayers. (Srivastava A.L, The Sultanate of Delhi. p. 59) Mahmud also sent huge quantities of gold and silver and presents of incalculable value to the Caliph, who in turn, congratulated him and bestowed royal titles on two of his sons. (Mehta J.H., Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India. p.60) If Jihad had really meant something else, the Caliph would have definitely admonished Mahmud for bringing bad name to Islam through his acts. The above fact confirms that the supreme head of the Muslims had justified the act of Mahmud done in the name of Jihad. (To be continued)  

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