AIOU Course 538-1: Genesis of Pakistan Movement (538) Semester: Autumn, 2022

Course: Genesis of Pakistan Movement (538) Semester: Autumn, 2022

Level: M.Sc













Q.1 Discuss the contribution of Syed Ahmad Khan’s successor in the growth of separate Muslim political identity.


Sir Syed Ahmad Khan KCSI FRAS (17 October 1817 – 27 March 1898; also Sayyid Ahmad Khan) was an Indian Muslim reformer, philosopher, and educationist in nineteenth-century British India. Though initially espousing Hindu-Muslim unity, he became the pioneer of Muslim nationalism in India and is widely credited as the father of the two-nation theory, which formed the basis of the Pakistan movement. Born into a family with strong debts to the Mughal court, Ahmad studied the Quran and Sciences within the court. He was awarded an honorary LLD from the University of Edinburgh in 1889.

In 1838, Syed Ahmad entered the service of East India Company and went on to become a judge at a Small Causes Court in 1867, retiring from 1876. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, he remained loyal to the British Raj and was noted for his actions in saving European lives. After the rebellion, he penned the booklet The Causes of the Indian Mutiny – a daring critique, at the time, of various British policies that he blamed for causing the revolt. Believing that the future of Muslims was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook, Sir Ahmad began promoting Western–style scientific education by founding modern schools and journals and organising Islamic entrepreneurs.

In 1859, Syed established Gulshan School at Muradabad, Victoria School at Ghazipur in 1863, and a scientific society for Muslims in 1864. In 1875, founded the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, the first Muslim university in Southern Asia.[11] During his career, Syed repeatedly called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Raj and promoted the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Indian Muslims. Syed criticized the Indian National Congress.

Sir Syed maintains a strong legacy in Pakistan and among Indian Muslims. He strongly influenced other Muslim leaders including Allama Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. His advocacy of Islam’s rationalist tradition, and at broader, radical reinterpretation of the Quran to make it compatible with science and modernity, continues to influence the global Islamic reformation. Many universities and public buildings in Pakistan bear Sir Syed’s name.

Aligarh Muslim University celebrated Sir Syed’s 200th birth centenary with much enthusiasm on 17 October 2017. Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest

Having recognized the steady decline in Mughal political power, Sir Syed decided to enter the service of the East India Company. He could not enter the colonial civil service because it was only in the 1860s that Indians were admitted. His first appointment was as a Serestadar (lit. Clerk) of the Criminal Department in the Sadr Amin’s office in Delhi, responsible for record-keeping and managing court affairs. In February 1839, he was transferred to Agra and promoted to the title of Naib Munshi or deputy reader in the office of the Commissioner. In 1841 he was appointed as the Munsif or Sub-Judge of Fatehpur Sikri and later transferred to Delhi in 1846. He remained in Delhi until 1854 except for two short-term postings to Rohtak as officiating Sadr Amin in 1850 and 1853. In 1855 he was promoted to the post of Sadr Amin in Bijnor.

Acquainted with high-ranking British officials, Sir Syed obtained close knowledge about British colonial politics during his service at the courts. At the outbreak of the Indian rebellion, on 10 May 1857, Sir Syed was serving as the chief assessment officer at the court in Bijnor. He stood by the British officers of Bijnor and saved the lives of many officers and their family members from the revolting soldiers. The conflict had left large numbers of civilians dead. Erstwhile centres of Muslim power such as Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur were severely affected. He lost several close relatives who died in the violence. Although he succeeded in rescuing his mother from the turmoil, she died in Meerut, owing to the privations she had experienced.

In 1858, he was appointed as Sadarus Sudoor, a high-ranking post at the court in Muradabad, where he began working on his most famous literary work, The Cause of the Indian Revolt. In 1862, he was transferred to Ghazipur, and later to Aligarh in 1864. In 1864 he was sent to Banaras and elevated to the position of a Sub-Judge of Small Causes.

In April 1869, he accompanied his two son Syed Mahmood, who had obtained a scholarship for study in England and Syed Hamid to England.

Sir Syed retired from government service in 1876 and settled in Aligarh. In 1878, he was nominated as an additional member of the Imperial Legislative Council, which he served from July 1878 to July 1880. He got the second term that lasted until 1883. He served the Legislative Council of the Lieutenant Governor of the North- Western Provinces for two terms from 1887 until 1893.


Sir Syed’s early influences were his mother Aziz-un-Nisa and maternal grandfather Khwaja Fariduddin both of whom took special interest in his education. Apart from serving as a Wazir in the Mughal court Khwaja Fariduddin was also a teacher, mathematician and astronomer. He was also disposed towards Sufism, which left its impact on Sir Syed since his early childhood. His maternal uncle Khwaja Zainuddin Ahmad, who was an expert in music and mathematics also influenced him in his early days.

Sir Syed’s early theological writings demonstrate the influence of three school of religious though on his outlook – the Naqshbandi tradition of Shah Ghulam Ali Dahlavi, Shah Waliullah Dehlawi and his teachings, and the Mujahidin movement of Syed Ahmad Barelvi and his earliest disciple Shah Ismail Dehlvi. While Sir Syed shared the desire for religious forms in India with the Mujahidin movement, he was opposed to the Indian Wahhabi movement.

During his formative years in Delhi he came in contact with Ghalib and Zauq whose exquisite style of prose and poetry influenced Sir Syed’s style of writing. He would often visit Imam Baksh Sahbai and Sadruddin Khan Azurda Dehlawi in his learning years. Another influence on him was his teacher and friend in Agra, Nur al Hasan of Kandhala, a teacher in Arabic at Agra College in the early 1840s who encouraged and corrected his early works.

He was also influenced by the works of the Tunisian reformer Hayreddin Pasha and adopted his approach of utilising freedom of expression for bringing reforms in the Muslim community.

The western writers who most influenced his political thoughts were the Utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill whose works he often quoted in his own writings. He was also influenced by the essays of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and modelled his own journals after their Tatler and Spectator.




Q.2 Discuss the nature and purpose of Khilafat movement: Critically examine the impact of this movement on the subsequent development of Muslim politics in India.


The Khilafat movement (1919-1924) was an agitation by Indian Muslims allied with Indian nationalism in the years following World War I. Its purpose was to pressure the British government to preserve the authority of the Ottoman Sultan as Caliph of Islam following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the war. Integral to this was the Indian Muslims’ desire to influence the treaty-making process following the war in such a way as to restore the 1914 boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, even though the Turks, allies of the Central Powers, had been defeated in the war. Indian supporters of the Khilafat cause sent a delegation to London in 1920 to plead their case, but the British government treated the delegates as quixotic pan-Islamists, and did not change its policy toward Turkey. The Indian Muslims’ attempt to influence the provisions of the Treaty of Sevres thus failed, and the European powers, most notably Great Britain and France, went ahead with territorial adjustments, including the institution of mandates over formerly Ottoman Arab territories.

Significance and Leadership

The significance of the Khilafat movement, however, lies less in its supposed pan-Islamism than in its impact upon the Indian nationalist movement. The leaders of the Khilafat movement forged the first political alliance among western-educated Indian Muslims and ‘ulema over the religious symbol of the khilafat (caliphate). This leadership included the ‘Ali brothers – Muhammad ‘Ali (1878-1931) and Shaukat ‘Ali (1873-1938) – newspaper editors from Delhi; their spiritual guide Maulana Abdul Bari (1878-1926) of Firangi Mahal, Lucknow; the Calcutta journalist and Islamic scholar Abu’l Kalam Azad (1888-1958); and Maulana Mahmud ul-Hasan (1851-1920), head of the madrasa at Deoband, in northern India. These publicist-politicians and ‘ulema viewed European attacks upon the authority of the Caliph as an attack upon Islam, and thus as a threat to the religious freedom of Muslims under British rule.

The Khilafat and Indian Nationalism

The Khilafat issue crystallized anti-British sentiments among Indian Muslims that had increased since the British declaration of war against the Ottomans in 1914. The Khilafat leaders, most of whom had been imprisoned during the war because of their pro-Turkish sympathies, were already active in the Indian nationalist movement. Upon their release in 1919, they espoused the Khilafat cause as a means to achieve pan-Indian Muslim political solidarity in the anti-British cause. The Khilafat movement also benefited from Hindu-Muslim cooperation in the nationalist cause that had grown during the war, beginning with the Lucknow Pact of 1916 between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, and culminating in the protest against the Rowlatt anti-Sedition bills in 1919. The National Congress, led by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), called for non-violent non-cooperation against the British. Gandhi espoused the Khilafat cause, as he saw in it the opportunity to rally Muslim support for nationalism. The ‘Ali brothers and their allies, in turn, provided the non-cooperation movement with some of its most enthusiastic followers.

Importance and Collapse of the Movement

The combined Khilafat Non-Cooperation movement was the first all-India agitation against British rule. It saw an unprecedented degree of Hindu-Muslim cooperation and it established Gandhi and his technique of non-violent protest (satyagraha) at the center of the Indian nationalist movement. Mass mobilization using religious symbols was remarkably successful, and the British Indian government was shaken. In late 1921, the government moved to suppress the movement. The leaders were arrested, tried, and imprisoned. Gandhi suspended the Non-Cooperation movement in early 1922. Turkish nationalists dealt the final blow to the Khilafat movement by abolishing the Ottoman sultanate in 1922, and the caliphate in 1924.




Q.3 Give a critical appraisal of the partition of Bangal of 1905 focusing on Hindu Muslim relations. 


The first Partition of Bengal (1905) was a territorial reorganization of the Bengal Presidency implemented by the authorities of the British Raj. The reorganization separated the largely Muslim eastern areas from the largely Hindu western areas. Announced on 19 July 1905 by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, and implemented on 16 October 1905, it was undone a mere six years later.

The nationalists saw the partition as a challenge to Indian nationalism and that it was a deliberate attempt to divide Bengal on religious grounds, with a Muslim majority in the east and a Hindu majority in the west.

The Hindus of West Bengal complained that the division would make them a minority in a province that would incorporate the province of Bihar and Orissa. Hindus were outraged at what they saw as a “divide and rule” policy, even though Curzon stressed it would produce administrative efficiency. The partition animated the Muslims to form their own national organization along communal lines. To appease Bengali sentiment, Bengal was reunited by Lord Hardinge in 1911, in response to the Swadeshi movement’s riots in protest against the policy.

The Bengal Presidency encompassed Bengal, Bihar, parts of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Assam. With a population of 78.5 million it was British India’s largest province. For decades British officials had maintained that the huge size created difficulties for effective management and had caused neglect of the poorer eastern region. The idea of the partition had been brought up only for administrative reasons. Therefore, Curzon planned to split Orissa and Bihar and join fifteen eastern districts of Bengal with Assam. The eastern province held a population of 31 million, most of which was Muslim, with its centre at Dhaka. Once the Partition was completed, Curzon pointed out that he thought of the new province as Muslim. Lord Curzon’s intention was to specifically divide Hindus from Muslims, but not to divide Bengalis. The Western districts formed the other province with Orissa and Bihar. The union of western Bengal with Orissa and Bihar reduced the speakers of the Bengali language to a minority. Muslims led by the Nawab Sallimullah of Dhaka supported the partition and Hindus opposed it.


The English-educated middle class of Bengal saw this as a vivisection of their motherland as well as a tactic to diminish their authority In the six-month period before the partition was to be effected the Congress arranged meetings where petitions against the partition were collected and given to impassive authorities. Surendranath Banerjee had suggested that the non-Bengali states of Orissa and Bihar be separated from Bengal rather than dividing two parts of the Bengali-speaking community, but Lord Curzon did not agree to this. Banerjee admitted that the petitions were ineffective; as the date for the partition drew closer, he began advocating tougher approaches such as boycotting British goods. He preferred to label this move as swadeshi instead of a boycott. The boycott was led by the moderates but minor rebel groups also sprouted under its cause.

Banerjee believed on that other targets ought to be included. Government schools were spurned and on 16 October 1905, the day of partition, schools and shops were blockaded. The demonstrators were cleared off by units of the police and army. This was followed by violent confrontations, due to which the older leadership in the Congress became anxious and convinced the younger Congress members to stop boycotting the schools. The president of the Congress, G.K. Gokhale, Banerji and others stopped supporting the boycott when they found that John Morley had been appointed as Secretary of State for India. Believing that he would sympathise with the Indian middle class they trusted him and anticipated the reversal of the partition through his intervention.

The day of partition (16 October 1905) also coincided with Raksha Bandhan day, which celebrates sibling relationships. In protest, renowned novelist Rabindranath Tagore made it compulsory for every individual to tie rakhi, especially to Muslims, to emphasize inter-religious bonds and that Bengal did not want partition.

Political crisis

The partition triggered radical nationalism.

Nationalists all over India supported the Bengali cause, and were shocked at the British disregard for public opinion and what they perceived as a “divide and rule” policy. The protests spread to Bombay, Poona, and Punjab. Lord Curzon had believed that the Congress was no longer an effective force but provided it with a cause to rally the public around and gain fresh strength from. The partition also caused embarrassment to the Indian National Congress. Gokhale had earlier met prominent British liberals, hoping to obtain constitutional reforms for India. The radicalization of Indian nationalism because of the partition would drastically lower the chances for the reforms. However, Gokhale successfully steered the more moderate approach in a Congress meeting and gained support for continuing talks with the government. In 1906 Gokhale again went to London to hold talks with Morley about the potential constitutional reforms. While the anticipation of the liberal nationalists increased in 1906 so did tensions in India. The moderates were challenged by the Congress meeting in Calcutta, which was in the middle of the radicalised Bengal. The moderates countered this problem by bringing Dadabhai Naoroji to the meeting. He defended the moderates in the Calcutta session and thus the unity of the Congress was maintained. The 1907 Congress was to be held at Nagpur. The moderates were worried that the extremists would dominate the Nagpur session. The venue was shifted to the extremist free Surat. The resentful extremists flocked to the Surat meeting. There was an uproar and both factions held separate meetings. The extremists had Aurobindo and Tilak as leaders. They were isolated while the Congress was under the control of the moderates. The 1908 Congress Constitution formed the All-India Congress Committee, made up of elected members. Thronging the meetings would no longer work for the extremists.

How did the establishment of Muslim league contribute towards the emergence of Muslim Nationalism in India? 

Q.4 write a brief note on the history on Hindu Muslim relationship as it evolved through the period of Muslim supremacy in India, (712 to 1707).


Interactions between the followers of Hinduism and Islam began very soon after the advent of the latter in the Arabian Peninsula, in the 7th century, mainly through trade across and around the Indian Ocean. Historically, these interactions formed contrasting patterns in northern and southern India. In the north of India there is a history of conquest and a legacy of Hindus living under the domination of Muslim rulers stretching back to the Delhi Sultanate of the 13th century. The relations between Hindus and Muslims have historically been largely peaceful in Kerala and Tamil Nadu (except during Mappilla rebellion, Coimbatore bomb blasts and Marad riots).

Hinduism and Islam share some ritual practices such as fasting and pilgrimage but differ in their views on various aspects. Their historical interaction since the British colonial rule in India has witnessed periods of cooperation and syncretism, as well as periods of religious discrimination, intolerance, and violence. As a religious minority in India, Muslims are part of the Indian culture and have lived with Hindus over a period of 13 centuries. The boundaries between Islam and Hinduism remained flexible to some extent until the period of British colonial rule.

Hinduism is an Indian religion and a way of life of the Hindu people, primarily practiced in the Indian subcontinent and other regions which have experienced Hindu influence since ancient and medieval times. Hinduism mostly shares common terms with the Dhārmic religions that it influenced, including Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. The scriptures of Hinduism are the Śruti (the four Vedas, which comprise the original Vedic Hymns, or Samhitas, and three tiers of commentaries upon the Samhitas, namely the Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas, and Upanishads); these are considered authentic knowledge and wisdom of the past, collated, compiled and codified into written form, for future generations. Furthermore, Hinduism is also based on the Smṛti literature, which includes the Rāmāyana, Mahābhārata, Bhagavad Gītā, and Purānas, also considered to be sacred Hindu texts.

Islam is a monotheistic religion that originated in the Arabian peninsula, in which God is Allah, the final Islamic prophet being Muhammad, who Muslims believe delivered the central Islamic scripture, the Qurān. Islam shares common terms with the Abrahamic religions which pre-date it─those religions claiming descent from Abraham. It influenced many faiths such as Sikhism, the Baháʼí Faith, and others. The Quran and the Ḥadīth literature are the primary Islamic scriptures, while the sunnah consists of the Islamic traditional customs and practices which all Muslims are expected to follow.

Comparison between Islam and Hinduism

Theology and concept of God

Hinduism is a system of thought in which the concept of God varies according to its diverse traditions. Hinduism spans a wide range of beliefs such as henotheism, monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, atheism and nontheism. One popular theological interpretation is the Advaita Vedanta tradition, which relies mainly on the Upanishads and declares absolute monism, exemplified in the concept of Brahman (the ultimate reality). When a person is devoid of ignorance (Avidyā), he/she finds the truth by realizing that his/her true nature, pure soul, or inner Self (Ātman) is identical to Brahman. Until then, he/she is usually ignorant of the ultimate reality and therefore believes that the material world around him/her is real and indulges in it, when it’s actually not and is an illusion (Māyā). The Brahman, which is absolute and pure, and the Ātman, which is also absolute and pure, are the same in this school of Hindu thought, which exemplifies the Hindu concept of God.

Islam is a system of thought that believes in the concept of the unity and uniqueness of God (Tawḥīd), which declares exclusive monotheism, is considered to be the defining doctrine of the Islamic religion. God in Islam is conceived as the absolute one, the all-powerful and all-knowing ruler of the universe, and the creator of everything in existence. According to Islam, God is transcendent, therefore Muslims do not attribute human forms to God. God is described and referred to by several names or attributes. Muslims are required to affirm daily (in five canonical daily prayers each include a recitation of the Shahada), as one of the five pillars of Islam, the Shahada, declaring that “There is no other god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Scriptures and messengers

The sacred scriptures of Islam are the Qurān and the Ḥadīths i.e. reports about what Muhammad said and did. Ḥadīths are varied and have many versions. According to the Islamic doctrine, Jesus Christ was also one of the messengers from God. Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last messenger and the Qurān was the last revelation from God, delivered to him through the angel Jibrīl. The Ḥadīths contain the sunnah, or the reports of Muhammad’s life, sayings, actions, and examples he set. The Qurān and the reliable Ḥadīths are considered in Islam as the sources of Islamic law, or Sharīʿah.

Unlike Islam, Hinduism doesn’t have centralized religious authorities, governing bodies. It has some defining historical and religious texts, the sacred Hindu scriptures, traditional ecclesiastical order, incarnations, and the legal code Manusmṛti. Spiritual knowledge of Hinduism is contained in texts called Śruti (“what is heard”) and Smṛti (“what is remembered”). These sacred texts discuss diverse topics, including theology, cosmology, mythology, philosophy, rituals and rites of passage, and many others. Major scriptures in Hinduism include the Vedas and Upanishads (both Śruti), the Epics (Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata), Purāṇas, Dharmaśāstras, Āgamas, and the Bhagavad Gītā (all Smṛti).


According to Islam, one after death either enters Paradise (Jannah) or Hell (Jahannam), depending on their deeds. Unlike Muslims, Hindus believe in cycle of reincarnation. However, the concept of higher and lower realms of existence can be found in Hinduism, though the realms are temporary places.

Both know demons (Shaitan/Asura), who are constantly war against human’s desires and the Divine. Asuras are part of Hindu mythology along with Devas, Yakshas and Rakshasas. Asuras feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism. Asuras are sometimes considered nature spirits. They battle constantly with the devas.

Similarities can still be found at the concept of the Divine and the world. Both belief in the existence of an entirety supreme power, either called Brahman or Allah. Brahman is a metaphysical concept which is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe,  while Allah is the Arabic word for God in Abrahamic religions. Assimilated in local lore, the Islamic concept of God became comparable to the notion of the ultimate reality expressing itself through different names as the creator, the maintainer and the destroyer. Some Islamic scholars belief that the worlds created by God will perish and created anew resembling the Hindu notion of an endless process of generation and decay.

Pilgrimage is found in both religions, Hajj to Mecca in Islam, while Kumbh Mela and Tirtha Yatra in Hinduism. Muslims performs 7 rounds around Kaaba during Hajj which is called Tawaf. Hindus also perform one or more rounds around the center (Garbhagriya) of a temple (one to twenty-one which is called as Parikrama (known in Sanskrit as pradakśiṇā). Both of them are commonly called circumambulation.

By some members of the Ahmadiya Muslim Community, Islamic Prophet Muhammad is believed to be the Hindu Avatar Kalki; some of the Muslim scholars and a few of the Hindu scholars including also argued that Kalki is mentioned indicating Muhammad in some Hindu scriptures. Ved Prakash Upaddhayya, a Hindu scholar, claimed Muhammad as Kalki in his book Kalki Avatar Aur Muhammad Saheb, which argument was both welcomed and criticised by both Hindu and Muslim scholars.


The 10th-century Persian polymath Al-Biruni in his book Tahaqeeq Ma Lilhind Min Makulat Makulat Fi Aliaqbal Am Marzula (Critical Study of Indian Speech: Rationally Acceptable or Rejected) discusses the similarity of some Sufism concepts with aspects of Hinduism, such as: Atman with ruh, tanasukh with reincarnation, Moksha with Fanaa, Ittihad with Nirvana: union between Paramatman in Jivatma, Avatar or Incarnation with Hulul, Vedanta with Wahdat al-Wujud, Mujahadah with Sadhana.

Other scholars have likewise compared the Sufi concept of Waḥdat al-Wujūd with Advaita Vedanta, Fanaa to Samadhi, Muraqaba to Dhyana and tariqa to the Noble Eightfold Path.

Al-Biruni observed in his history of India that the fundamental ideas behind metempsychosis or reincarnation in Hinduism are not so very different from the sense of the immanence of God in all things and the idea of a universal soul in some Sufi doctrines, and that for Sufis who believe in such things, “the course of metempsychosis is of no consequence”.

The Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi wrote verse that played on such themes:

I died as mineral and became a plant,

I died as plant and rose to animal. I died as animal and I was man.

Why should I fear?

When was I less by dying? Yet once more I shall die as man

To soar with angels blest;

But even from angelhood I must pass on..

— Jaladuddin Rumi (Translation by Arberry, A.J. Classical Persian Literature. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1958.)

The 9th-century Iranian mystic Bayazid Bostami is alleged to have imported certain concepts from Hindusim into his version of Sufism under the conceptual umbrella of baqaa, meaning perfection. Ibn al-Arabi and Mansur al-Hallaj both referred to Muhammad as having attained perfection and titled him as Al-Insān al-Kāmil. The Sufism concept of hulul has similarly been compared with the idea of Ishvaratva, that God dwells in some creatures in Hinduism and Buddhism, and godhood of Jesus in Christianity.



Q.5    How did the establishment of Muslim league contribute towards the emergence of Muslim Nationalism in India?


The All-India Muslim League (AIML) was a political party established in Dhaka in 1906 when a group of prominent Muslim politicians met the Viceroy of British India, Lord Minto, with the goal of securing Muslim interests on the Indian subcontinent.

The party arose out of the need for the political representation of Muslims in British India, especially during the Indian National Congress-sponsored massive Hindu opposition to the 1905 partition of Bengal. During the 1906 annual meeting of the All India Muslim Education Conference held in Israt Manzil Palace, Dhaka, the Nawab of Dhaka, Khwaja Salimullah, forwarded a proposal to create a political party which would protect the interests of Muslims in British India. Sir Mian Muhammad Shafi, a prominent Muslim leader from Lahore, suggested the political party be named the ‘All-India Muslim League’. The motion was unanimously passed by the conference, leading to the official formation of the All-India Muslim League in Dhaka. It remained an elitist organization until 1937, when the leadership began mobilising the Muslim masses, which turned the league into a popular organization. The Muslim League’s paramilitary wing was the Muslim National Guard.

In the 1930s, the idea of a separate nation-state and influential philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s vision of uniting the four provinces in North-West British India further supported the rationale of the two-nation theory. This aligned with the ideas proposed by Syed Ahmad Khan who, in 1888 at Meerut, said, “After this long preface I wish to explain what method my nation — nay, rather the whole people of this country — ought to pursue in political matters. I will treat in regular sequence of the political questions of India, in order that you may have full opportunity of giving your attention to them. The first of all is this — In whose hands shall the administration and the Empire of India rest? Now, suppose that all English, and the whole English army, were to leave India, taking with them all their cannon and their splendid weapons and everything, then who would be rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations — the Mahomedans and the Hindus — could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable.” When the Congress party effectively protested against the United Kingdom unilaterally involving India in World War II without consulting the Indian people, the Muslim League went on to support the British war efforts. The Muslim League played a decisive role in the 1940s, becoming a driving force behind the division of India along religious lines and the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state in 1947.

After the Partition of India and the establishment of Pakistan, the All-India Muslim League was formally disbanded in India in December 1947. The League was officially succeeded by the Pakistan Muslim League, which eventually split into several political parties. Other groups diminished to a minor party, that too only in Kerala, India. In Bangladesh, the Muslim League was revived in 1976, but it was reduced in size, rendering it insignificant in the political arena. In India, a separate independent entity called the Indian Union Muslim League was formed, which continues to have a presence in the Indian parliament to this day.


With the sincere efforts by the pioneers of the Congress to attract Muslims to their sessions the majority of the Islamic leadership, with exception of few scholars like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Syed Ameer Ali, who focused more on Islamic education and scientific developments, rejected the notion that India’s has two distinct communities to be represented separately Congress sessions.

In 1886, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Educational Conference, but a self-imposed ban prevented it from discussing politics. Its original goal was to advocate for British education, especially science and literature, among India’s Muslims. The conference, in addition to generating funds for Sir Syed’s Aligarh Muslim University, motivated the Muslim upper class to propose an expansion of educational uplift elsewhere, known as the Aligarh Movement. In turn, this new awareness of Muslim needs helped stimulate a political consciousness among Muslim elites, For a few of them, many years after the death of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan the All-India Muslim League was formed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The formation of a Muslim political party on the national level was seen as essential by 1901. The first stage of its formation was the meeting held at Lucknow in September 1906, with the participation of representatives from all over India. The decision for the re-consideration to form the all-Indian Muslim political party was taken and further proceedings were adjourned until the next meeting of the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference. The Simla Deputation reconsidered the issue in October 1906 and decided to frame the objectives of the party on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Educational Conference, which was scheduled to be held in Dhaka. Meanwhile, Nawab Salimullah Khan published a detailed scheme through which he suggested the party to be named All-India Muslim Confederacy.

Pursuant to the decisions taken earlier at the Lucknow meeting and later in Simla, the annual meeting of the All-India Muhammadan Educational Conference was held in Dhaka from 27 December until 30 December 1906. Three thousand delegates attended, headed by both Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk Kamboh and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk (the Secretary of the Muhammaden Educational Conference), in which they explained its objectives and stressed the unity of Muslims under the banner of an association. It was formally proposed by Nawab Salimullah Khan and supported by Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Zafar Ali Khan, Syed Nabiullah, a barrister from Lucknow, and Syed Zahur Ahmad, an eminent lawyer, as well as several others.

Separate electorates

The Muslim League’s insistence on separate electorates and reserved seats in the Imperial Council were granted in the Indian Councils Act after the League held protests in India and lobbied London.

The draft proposals for the reforms communicated on 1 October 1908 provided Muslims with reserved seats in all councils, with nominations only being maintained in Punjab. The communication displayed how much the Government had accommodated Muslim demands and showed an increase in Muslim representation in the Imperial and provincial legislatures. But the Muslim League’s demands were only fully met in UP and Madras. However, the Government did accept the idea of separate electorates. The idea had not been accepted by the Secretary of State, who proposed mixed electoral colleges, causing the Muslim League to agitate and the Muslim press to protest what they perceived to be a betrayal of the Viceroy’s assurance to the Simla deputation.

On 23 February Morley told the House of Lords that Muslims demanded separate representation and accepted them. This was the League’s first victory. But the Indian Councils Bill did not fully satisfy the demands of the Muslim League. It was based on the October 1908 communique in which Muslims were only given a few reserved seats. The Muslim League’s London branch opposed the bill and in a debate obtained the support of several parliamentarians. In 1909 the members of the Muslim League organised a Muslim protest. The Reforms Committee of Minto’s council believed that Muslims had a point and advised Minto to discuss with some Muslim leaders. The Government offered a few more seats to Muslims in compromise but would not agree to fully satisfy the League’s demand.

Minto believed that the Muslims had been given enough while Morley was still not certain because of the pressure Muslims could apply on the government. The Muslim League’s central committee once again demanded separate electorates and more representation on 12 September 1909. While Minto was opposed, Morley feared that the Bill would not pass parliament without the League’s support and he once again discussed Muslim representation with the League leadership. This was successful. The Aga Khan compromised so that Muslims would have two more reserved seats in the Imperial Council. The Muslim League hesitantly accepted the compromise.

Early years

Sultan Muhammad Shah (Aga Khan III) was appointed the first honorary president of the Muslim League, though he did not attend the Dhaka inaugural session. There were also six vice-presidents, a secretary, and two joint secretaries initially appointed for a three-year term, proportionately from different provinces. The League’s constitution was framed in 1907, espoused in the “Green Book,” written by Mohammad Ali Jauhar.

Aga Khan III shared Ahmad Khan’s belief that Muslims should first build up their social capital through advanced education before engaging in politics, but would later boldly tell the British Raj that Muslims must be considered a separate nation within India. Even after he resigned as president of the AIML in 1912, he still exerted a major influence on its policies and agendas. In 1913, Mohammed Ali Jinnah joined the Muslim league.

Intellectual support and a cadre of young activists emerged from Aligarh Muslim University. Historian Mushirul Hasan writes that in the early 20th century, this Muslim institution, designed to prepare students for service to the British Raj, exploded into political activity. Until 1939, the faculty and students supported an all-India nationalist movement. After 1939, however, sentiment shifted dramatically toward a Muslim separatist movement, as students and faculty mobilised behind Jinnah and the Muslim League.

Communalism grows

Politically, there was a degree of unity between Muslim and Hindu leaders after World War I, as typified by the Khilafat Movement. Relationships cooled sharply after that campaign ended in 1922. Communalism grew rapidly, forcing the two groups apart. Major riots broke out in numerous cities, including 91 between 1923 and 1927 in Uttar Pradesh alone.  At the leadership level, the proportion of Muslims among delegates to the Congress party fell sharply, from 11% in 1921 to under 4% in 1923.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah became disillusioned with politics after the failure of his attempt to form a Hindu-Muslim alliance, and he spent most of the 1920s in Britain The leadership of the League was taken over by Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who in 1930 first put forward the demand for a separate Muslim state in India. The “Two-Nation Theory”, the belief that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations who could not live in one country, gained popularity among Muslims. The two-state solution was rejected by the Congress leaders, who favoured a united India based on composite national identity. Congress at all times rejected “communalism” — that is, basing politics on religious identity. Iqbal’s policy of uniting the North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Sindh into a new Muslim majority state became part of the League’s political platform.

The League rejected the Committee report (the Nehru Report), arguing that it gave too little representation (only one quarter) to Muslims, established Devanagari as the official writing system of the colony, and demanded that India turn into a de facto unitary state, with residuary powers resting at the centre – the League had demanded at least one-third representation in the legislature and sizeable autonomy for the Muslim provinces. Jinnah reported a “parting of the ways” after his requests for minor amendments to the proposal were denied outright, and relations between the Congress and the League began to sour.

Conception of Pakistan

On 29 December 1930, Sir Muhammad Iqbal delivered his presidential address to the All-India Muslim League annual session. He said:

I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province [modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa], Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.

Sir Muhammad Iqbal did not use the word “Pakistan” in his address. Some scholars argued that “Iqbal never pleaded for any kind of partition of the country. Rather he was an ardent proponent of a ‘true’ federal setup for India…, and wanted a consolidated Muslim majority within the Indian Federation”.

Another Indian historian, Tara Chand, also held that Iqbal was not thinking in terms of partition of India, but in terms of a federation of autonomous states within India. Dr. Safdar Mehmood also asserted in a series of articles that in the Allahabad address, Iqbal proposed a Muslim majority province within an Indian federation and not an independent state outside an Indian Federation.

On 28 January 1933, Choudhary Rahmat Ali, founder of the Pakistan National Movement, voiced his ideas in the pamphlet entitled “Now or Never”. In a subsequent book, he discussed the etymology in further detail: “’Pakistan’ is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our homelands … That is, Panjab, Afghania (North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Iran, Sindh (including Kachch and Kathiawar), Tukharistan, Afghanistan, and Balochistan.”

The British and the Indian Press vehemently criticised these two different schemes and created confusion about the authorship of the word “Pakistan” to such an extent that even Jawaharlal Nehru had to write:

Iqbal was one of the early advocates of Pakistan and yet he appears to have realised its inherent danger and absurdity. Edward Thompson has written that in the course of a conversation, Iqbal told him that he had advocated Pakistan because of his position as President of Muslim League session, but he felt sure that it would be injurious to India as a whole and to Muslims especially.

Course: Genesis of Pakistan Movement (538) Semester: Autumn, 2022

Level: M.Sc













How did the establishment of Muslim league contribute towards the emergence of Muslim Nationalism in India? 

Q.4 write a brief note on the history on Hindu Muslim relationship as it evolved through the period of Muslim supremacy in India, (712 to 1707).



Q.3 Give a critical appraisal of the partition of Bangal of 1905 focusing on Hindu Muslim relations. 

Q.2 Discuss the nature and purpose of Khilafat movement: Critically examine the impact of this movement on the subsequent development of Muslim politics in India.



Q.1 Discuss the contribution of Syed Ahmad Khan’s successor in the growth of separate Muslim political identity.


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