What was the well being of the Muslims at the time of take over of India by the Britishers?

The failure of the uprising in 1857, also called the war of independence or the mutiny by the British signaled the final take over of India by the British Empire. The parliamentary act of 1858 caused the Muslims to be in an unfortunate position. The Muslims being the rulers of India (Mughals) could not take the sudden change in power well, but the Hindus took it well. The Mughals being the foreigners themselves caused the Hindus to adjust to the changing times and had to adapt when the Mughals conquered India. This time it was the same and the Hindus adapted well to the changing times while the Muslims did not.

The British changed the lingua franca from Persian to English, much to the difficulty of the Muslims. The Hindus had no difficulty in switching from Persian to English because they had an exposure to British culture, education, liberal ideas and above all the English language. The British had entered India from the cities of Bombay of Madras, and Calcutta which were predominantly Hindu majority areas. Also the first educational institutions were opened in the stated cities in 1858.

The Muslims could not get administrative and clerical jobs as their Persian language did not help because English was now a requirement which they knew not. It was a very trying time for the Muslims and they were at their lowest point ever. After the war of independence the Muslims were deprived as a community from economic means. Feudal structure of the Muslim society and Muslim aristocracy were made to disintegrate.

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Attempts at Hindu-Muslim Unity

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan believed in Hindu-Muslim Unity. He was nominated in the legislative council which was provided by the 1861 Act, wherein 6 to 12 members would be nominated by the governor general of India from within India.

However, the 1892 Act amended the 1861 Act by increasing the membership from "6 to 12" to "10 to 20". There were also changes in the number of members in the Presidency and the Provinces. Seeing this increasing trend, Sir Syed felt that it was damaging for the Muslims if the representative government were to enlarge, and the Muslims would loose out due to the majority principle.

To improve the condition of the Muslims Sir Syed had the following aims in his mind:

  1. To minimize all grounds of animosity which the Muslims were harboring against the Muslims.
  2. To remove all doubts from the British mind that the Muslims were not loyal.

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The strategies that he employed are as follows:

Muslims to acquire education with emphasis on learning English language and science due to the following reasons:

  1. It was in the worldly interest of the Muslims to do so. English would enable them to be good and efficient clerks, and administrative officers.
  2. Command over English would enable the Muslims to defend their religion and their legitimate position.
  3. Be able to discharge their social obligations and political responsibilities and for the progress and welfare of their community.
  4. The learning would enable young Muslims to be rational so that they could show that every doctrine of Islam could measure up to all the principles of science, reason, and common sense (rationalism).

Sir Syed also established Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh in 1857. He synthesized English and Oriental subjects (modern education as well as Islamic education). He was able to produce graduates as good as those of Oxford.

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From Indian Nationalism to Muslim Nationalism. How and why?

Allama Iqbal

Before Iqbal's trip to Europe (1905-1908) he was a firm believer of Indian Nationalism. He had the idea of India being superior to the rest of the world. His feelings are clearly shown in his poetry, such as the Tiran-e-Hind.

However, during his stay in Europe Iqbal realized that nationalism was a weapon used by Europe to break up the Muslim empire (Ottoman Empire). After world war one Europe had been successful in disuniting the Muslims and managed to plant the seed of nationalism in their minds.

Seeing this Iqbal realized that nationalism was harmful for Muslim unity, and hence converted from Indian Nationalism to Pan-Islamist Nationalism. He exhorted to build up a single Millat or Ummah.

But his plan for a Pan-Islamic society was not practicable after world war one as many Muslim countries stood for nationalism. Nationalism was now a fact of life in the Muslim world, so now Muslim Nationalism had to be confined to just one country, and that was India. Hence, the chapter of Muslim Nationalism had opened in Iqbal's life.

The purpose of Iqbal's thought was rehabilitation of the Muslims in the contemporary world. He believed that the time had come for Islam to be re-interpreted according to the present times, and he stood for reconstruction of religious thought. He wanted to produce a blue print for a tolerant democratic and just human society based on the spirit of Islam.

Iqbal provided intellectual foundation of Muslim India as he destiny of Muslims was based on the ideological legacy of Indian Islam. His demand for was for the creation of autonomous states on the basis of unity of religion, language, history, and geography, and identity of economic interest.

Iqbal said the following in his presidential address at the 1930 session of All Indian Muslim League:

"I would like to see the Punjab, NWFP, Sind, and Balochistan amalgamated into a single state with self-government, either within the British Empire or without it. The formation of a consolidated North West Indian Muslim state appears to be the final destiny of the Muslims in the North West of India."

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

When Jinnah came into politics in 1906 he was an Indian Nationalist. HE believed in Hindu-Muslim unity, and worked tirelessly to protect the unity. Jinnah joined the Congress in 1906 instead of the newly formed Muslim League, because he was then opposed to the idea of separate representation. He thought that it would break the unity between the Hindus and the Muslims. He was also elected in the Imperial Legislative Council against the constituency for Muslims from Bombay as a Congressman.

In 1912 Jinnah was instrumental in conducting the meetings between the Muslim League and the Congress, and as a result was successful in convincing the Muslim League to adopt a resolution of "self-government" suitable to India as its new ideal. Then in 1913 he joined the Muslim League, and also retained his Congress membership.

The Lucknow Pact was a success for Muslim League as it gained it's objectives. It got its separate representation and was recognized as the sole representative of the Muslim community. Due to Jinnah's hard work in making the Lucknow Pact was a success, earned him the title of "Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity".

During the Khilafat movement, Jinnah remained neutral as he believed that the collaboration between the Hindus and the Muslims would inevitably fail as the Hindu-Muslim unity did not reach the grass root levels. The Mopla's rising and the subsequent clashes with the Britishers and the Hindus proved Jinnah's point.

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This was one of the first occurrences where it was clear that the Muslims and the Hindus could not live as one.

After the 1914 Act, Congress' attitude towards the Muslims disappointed Jinnah and in 1920 left the Congress and the Home Rule League. Also his fourteen points were rejected in the Nehru Report, and this was a huge blow to Jinnah.

1930s was the start of a new era for Jinnah as now he was a Muslim Nationalist. In 1923 due to Gandhi's stubbornness the round table conferences ended in a disaster. From 1940 onwards the movement for Pakistan began.

Following is an excerpt from Jinnah's speech to the Constituent Assembly:

"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other of your worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State."

Jinnah's famous fourteen points

  1. The form of the future Constitution should be federal with the residuary powers vested in the Provinces.
  2. A uniform measure of autonomy shall be granted to all provinces.
  3. All Legislatures in the country and other elected bodies shall be constituted on the definite principle of adequate and effective representation of minorities in every Province without reducing the majority in any, Province to a minority or even equality.
  4. In the Central Legislature, Mussulman representation shall not be less than one third.
  5. Representation of communal groups shall continue to be by means of separate electorates at present: provided it shall be open o any community, at any time, to abandon its separate electorate in favor of a joint electorate.
  6. Any territorial redistribution that might at any time be necessary shall not in any way affect the Muslim majority in the Punjab, Bengal and the North- West Frontier Province.
  7. Full religious liberty, i.e. liberty of belief, worship and observance, propaganda, association and education, shall be guaranteed to all communities.
  8. No Bill or resolution or any part thereof shall be passed in any legislature or any other elected body if three fourths of the members of any community in that particular body oppose such a Bill, resolution or part thereof on the ground that it would be injurious to the interests of the community or in the alternative, such other method is devised as may be found feasible and practicable to deal with such cases.
  9. Sind should be separated from the Bombay Presidency.
  10. Reforms should be introduced in the North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan on the same footing as in the other Provinces.
  11. Provision should be made in the Constitution giving Muslims an adequate share, along with the other Indians, in all the Services of the State and in local self-governing bodies having due regard to the requirements of efficiency.
  12. The Constitution should embody adequate safeguards for the protection of Muslim culture and for the protection and promotion of Muslim education, language, religion, personal laws and Muslim charitable institutions and for their due share in the grants-in-aid given by the State and by local self-governing bodies.
  13. No Cabinet, either Central or Provincial, should be formed without there being a proportion of at least one-third Muslim Ministers.
  14. No change shall be made in the Constitution by the Central Legislature except with the concurrence of the States constituting the Indian Federation.
Sources/ Acknowledgments:

Notes of Dr. Shafqat Hussain Chaudry Professor of Humanities, and lecturer of Pakistan Studies at National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences Lahore Pakistan (NUCES), or also known as Foundation of Advancement in science and Technology (FAST).
Jinnah's fourteen points, Dr. Khalid Bin Sayeed,author of Pakistan the Formative Phase, chapter: Hindu-Muslim Unity, page: 72-73.

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