Moslem Nationalism in India and Pakistan

Moslem Nationalism in India and Pakistan

Moslem Nationalism in India and Pakistan

Moslem Nationalism in India and Pakistan


In these pages I endeavor to present the panorama of Moslem national development in terms of the social, economic, religious, and political factors which must be grasped before the lingering India-Pakistan conflict can be properly appreciated.

Since the partition of the Indian sub-continent many scholars have taken an increasing interest in this area. However, considerable difficulty has been encountered regarding research and access to sources. Tracing the Moslem stream of thought has been particularly challenging for Pakistani as well as American scholars because the history of Moslem thought in India is still buried in Arabic and Persian.

Although Urdu was established as the lingua franca of most Moslems soon after their arrival in the sub-continent, they continued to employ Arabic and Persian as the instruments of their education and scholarship. Even the founder of Moslem modernism in India, Shah Walīullāh, wrote all of his works in Arabic and Persian, and the poetphilosopher of Pakistan, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, composed much of his poetry in Persian.

Pakistani scholars have yet to translate the works of their ancestors into either Urdu or Bengali, the national languages of Pakistan, or into any western language. In fact they have yet to accomplish what the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal did almost two centuries ago for the Hindus.

Western interest in the Indian heritage started in the early eighteenth century, when the British established their control in Bengal. Encouraged by Warren Hastings, Sir William Jones and other scholarly administrators established the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal. This Society rendered yeoman service in translating Hindu classics from Sanskrit and Hindi into English. It not only introduced the western world to the intellectual accomplishments of the Hindus, but also brought to light the ancient pre-Moslem history of India, providing a rich source of inspiration for educated Hindus. It is a tribute to British scholarship that as eminent a leader as Mahatma Gandhi was introduced to the Gita via an English translation.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries practically all Hindu leaders, unlike their Moslem counterparts, expressed their philosophical and political doctrines in English. On the eve of the partition of India, western scholars were greatly impressed with India's intellec-

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