Akbar’s misplaced perception of ‘hatred’ – a rejoinder By M.T. Hussain, Dhaka


14 December 2008

Akbar’s misplaced perception of ‘hatred’ – a rejoinder By M.T. Hussain, Dhaka

This has a reference to the Indian journalist Mr. M J Akbar’s item published in a Dhaka English daily on the 12th December, 2008, wherein he has blamed the Muslim League leader Jinnah for his Two Nation Theory that, according to him, gave birth to ‘hatred’ and the partition of the British India in 1947. How much he was right?

The historical truth is that during the colonial British rule in India for two centuries (1757-1947), misfortunes fell no doubt on the whole population, but the Muslims as a religious group felt more badly than any other religious group en bloc. The Muslims’ feeling so perceived might not have been reasonable as some of the Congress leaders did maintain, but the Muslims in general had that feeling generated not in a day or two but for many valid reasons over the period of the British rule.

The alienation of the Muslims from the British and their native good boys had many good valid reasons. First, the Muslims en bloc turned almost pauper in matter of decades beginning enforcement of the Permanent land settlement in 1793 A.D. by forfeiture of almost all of their landed property that remained theirs for centuries. The final blow was the application of the so-called Sun Set Law in 1841 that took away the remnant few of some other Muslims landed property. In addition, the Muslim learned society was also labeled in reality as uneducated almost overnight through introduction of the English education system abandoning formally in 1835 the century old but developed Muslim education system and then in two years replacement of the official Persian language until then for centuries in India had been the Muslims media for higher education by English. Thus poverty in terms of economic fortune and ignorance so far as higher level of learning was concerned became the obvious fate of the Muslims who earlier had been fortunate on both accounts. Such changes of socio-economic status had the impact not only in backwardness but also instilling a sort of inferiority complex and alienation from both the British rulers and the newly emerging native elite who happened to be all non-Muslims. Another stark reality was that as the English historian and highly learned and experienced bureaucrat William Wilson Hunter had in 1871 stated very clearly how the well off Muslims in about one hundred years of the British rule in India became poor and destitute.

There were, no doubt, other poor Muslims even during the Muslim rule, but their richer co-religionists would maintain and care for them in needs. Unfortunately, when the richer and educated ones turned poor and disadvantaged except very few, the whole Muslim mass had nothing but complete darkness all around.

The other crucial fact was that the Muslims of Bengal, of East Bengal, in particular, had the worst exploitation suffered not only for the British rule but also more so for their henchmen but native lackeys who perpetrated torture and inflicted exploitation of the most cruel nature. Poet Rabi Thakur’s epic poem ‘Dui Bigha Zami’ is a replica of the cruelty of the landlords during the British rule whose overwhelming large numbers in East Bengal happened to be the Hindus but their tenants at will Muslims- subsistence farmers, day laborers, artisans etc. who had short of bare necessities to sustain life and living.

Such subjective conditions prevailing in society made the Muslim League gradually popular as the people through growing awareness and so shied away not only from the better organized Congress but also from the Krisak Sramik Proja Party led by the early nineteen thirties charismatic leader of Bengal, a Muslim, A.K. Fazlul Haq.

Whatever might have been others appreciation about the psyche for the shying away, the Muslims felt akin with the Muslim League and they made it themselves popular organization by 1940s, particularly when Muhammad Ali Jinnah took up its leadership at the second go in mid 1930s.

Jinnah was an astute politician, if not a statesman. He developed his own strategy for the disadvantaged Muslims of the subcontinent, to win over both the British and the Congress. The Two Nation Theory happened to be his effective strategy to establish a Muslim majority nation out of the Himalayan sub-continent along with the departure of the British granting self rule and independence. As soon as that was achieved due to his strong iron will thus defeating all adversaries and Pakistan got to its start on the 14th August 1947, he took not long time to redefine the nature of the country as a modern democratic and welfare nation guarantying equal rights and protections to all citizens of the country irrespective of religion, race, caste, ethnicity etc.

As is known to all Jinnah was never a communal Muslim who bread hatred as no Muslim can be. He had been a Congress worker and leader for decades and afterwards getting tired of the Hindu Congress leaders, not in personality score but for perceptional difference in problem solving, he parted with the Congress for good and joined the Muslim League providing full dedication and commitment. The Muslims, as well, deeply appreciated his commitment and took him as their Great Leader or the Quaid E Azam. Incidentally, the term Great Leader, was first conferred to him in address not by the Muslims but by the India’s great leader M.K. Gandhi.

He was so broad minded and liberal in thinking that even after the Muslim mass and the other League leaders had been fully committed to secure independent Pakistan, he went on trying compromising formula to keep India united as per the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946. He went further on and nodded go ahead to Huseyn Shaheed Sohrawardy and Sarat Bose to make greater Bengal independent, not only keeping that outside the proposed Pakistan but also of independent India, if the other party or the Congress would accede to any such proposition. Unfortunately, the greater Bengal plan failed just as the Cabinet Mission Plan not for Jinnah’s ‘hatred’ of anybody but for the clear hatred of the Congress leaders like Nehru, Patel etc. Is this not the truth of history?

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One Response to “Akbar’s misplaced perception of ‘hatred’ – a rejoinder By M.T. Hussain, Dhaka”

  1. ghulammuhammed Says:

    I will recommend all serious students of partition history, to read Narendera Singh Sarila’s well-documented book – ‘THE UNTOLD STORY OF INDIA’S PARTITION – The Shadow of the great game. India would never have been partition, if the British did not have their own designs on a piece of the subcontinent for their own global strategic exigencies in the post-war era, when they felt Soviet Russia should be prevented to move south and further to protect their ‘wells of power’ – the oil wells of the gulf, that were to fuel the reconstruction of Europe. All our follies and foibles fade in comparison to the perfidy of the British and the US.

    Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

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