Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Maulana Azad and the Demand for Pakistan a Reappraisal

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Maulana Azad and the Demand for Pakistan a Reappraisal

Article excerpt

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Those Muslims who supported Gandhi, Nehru and the All India National Congress but opposed the Muslim League's programme and its Pakistan plan have been termed and also called themselves as 'Nationalist Muslims' and Maulana Äzäd was probably the leading Nationalist Muslim leader of all India level. One of the foremost leaders of Indian freedom struggle, Maulana joined the All India National Congress in 1920. He believed in a composite Nationalism and thus was against the demand for Pakistan on the basis of two-nation theory. His ideas, efforts and policies as the Congress leader impacted the course of history of the freedom movement, therefore, it is important to inquire about his political thoughts and the role he played in it. Äzad was a religious scholar, poet, writer and politician. There are numerous aspects of Maulana Äzad's life which already have been examined by many writers in isolation, but hardly any effort has been made to analyze his role in the decade of the 1940s because this was a decisive period in the freedom struggle in British India. While dealing with the basis of arguments used by Maulana Äzad in making his case against Pakistan this paper will argue that finally he was convinced of the two-nation theory and, therefore, became the main architect of the Cabinet Mission Plan. In the Cabinet Mission Plan not only the principle of two-nation theory was accepted by the parties concerned, namely the Congress, League, British and Sikhs but also the principle of partition of India was conceded if the Cabinet Mission fails to achieve the standards of Indian Federation within ten years. Many historians have penned about the contributions of Maulänä Abul Kaläm Äzäd in the freedom movement but they have not academically analyzed Maulana's role in the endgame of the Raj especially when he was president of the All-India Congress. Therefore, this study will throw light on this aspect of Maulänä Äzäd and will investigate only his response to the two-nation theory and demand for Pakistan.

Maulänä Äzäd stood for safeguarding the rights of all the communities in a post-British united India. He was impressed by Congress's political methods and ideology which had left deep imprints on his political psyche. Maulänä Äzäd's stand for a united India eventually clashed with the Muslims' demand for a separate homeland. The Congress policies caused the raising of communal sentiments in marginalized groups and forced them to move towards consolidation of their community's political power on the basis of their primordial sentiments. This paper argues that in the 1940s Maulänä Äzäd though, was not in favour of a separate homeland for Indian Muslims but he finally began to believe in the two-nation theory and that is why he agreed to work upon the Cabinet Mission Plan. He believed that undivided India with provincial autonomy envisaged in the Cabinet Mission Plan was the best package for the Indian Muslims, whereas the creation of India with a strong centre will not be the best alternate to a United Federal India with autonomous provinces.1

Maulana's Äzäd's Political Ideas

Gändhi initiated the idea of the Non-Cooperation Movement during the Khiläfat Movement in 1920 and Maulänä Äzäd supported it strongly because he believed that "now matters have gone beyond memorials and deputations".2 In fact, Äzäd had also suggested similar programmes3 in his articles published in Al HilälV Though he was elected as the youngest president of the special session of the Congress in Delhi (1923)5 but the whole movement fizzled out when in 1924 Khiläfat was abolished in Turkey.

Äzäd supported the Nehru Report in 1928 and as a result of it he had to break ties with the Muslim League and Khiläfat Conference.6 He was one of the very few Muslims who supported the Congress demand for complete independence and took part in the Non-cooperation Movement against the British government in 1930-1931. …

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