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Two-nation theory


Two-nation theory

A map of the British Indian Empire, 1909, showing the prevailing majority religions of the population for different districts.

The two-nation theory (Urdu: دو-قومی نظریہ‎ — Dō-qaumī naẓariyah, Devanagari: दो-क़ौमी नज़रिया, Bengali: দ্বিজাতি তত্ত্বDijati totto) is the ideology that the primary identity and unifying denominator of Muslims in the South Asian subcontinent is their religion, rather than their language or ethnicity, and therefore Indian Hindus and Muslims are two distinct nations, regardless of ethnic or other commonalities.[1][2] The two-nation theory was a founding principle of the Pakistan Movement (i.e. the ideology of Pakistan as a Muslim nation-state in South Asia), and the partition of India in 1947.[3]

The expulsion of all Muslims from India, establishment of a legally Hindu state in India, prohibition of conversions to Islam, and the promotion of conversions or reconversions of Indian Muslims to Hinduism.[5][6][7][8]

There are varying interpretations of the two-nation theory, based on whether the two postulated nationalities can coexist in one territory or not, with radically different implications. One interpretation argued for sovereign autonomy, including the right to secede, for Muslim-majority areas of the Indian subcontinent, but without any transfer of populations (i.e. Hindus and Muslims would continue to live together). A different interpretation contends that Hindus and Muslims constitute "two distinct, and frequently antagonistic ways of life, and that therefore they cannot coexist in one nation."[9] In this version, a transfer of populations (i.e. the total removal of Hindus from Muslim-majority areas and the total removal of Muslims from Hindu-majority areas) is a desirable step towards a complete separation of two incompatible nations that "cannot coexist in a harmonious relationship".[10][11]

Opposition to the theory has come from two sources. The first is the concept of a single Indian nation, of which Hindus and Muslims are two intertwined communities.[12] This is a founding principle of the modern, officially secular, Republic of India. Even after the formation of Pakistan, debates on whether Muslims and Hindus are distinct nationalities or not continued in that country as well.[13] The second source of opposition is the concept that while Indians are not one nation, neither are the Muslims or Hindus of the subcontinent, and it is instead the relatively homogeneous provincial units of the subcontinent which are true nations and deserving of sovereignty; this view has been presented by the Baloch,[14] Sindhi,[15] and the Pashtun[16] sub-nationalities of Pakistan.


  • History 1
    • Start of Muslim self-awakening and identity movement (19th century–1940s) 1.1
    • Aspects of the theory 1.2
    • Pakistan, or The Partition of India (1945) 1.3
    • Justifications by Muslim leaders 1.4
    • Savarkar's opposition to the formation of Pakistan 1.5
    • Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan's opposition to the partition of India 1.6
    • Gandhi's View 1.7
  • Post-partition debate 2
    • Ethnic and provincial groups in Pakistan 2.1
    • Pan-Islamic identity 2.2
    • Post-partition perspectives in India 2.3
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


A map of the British Indian Empire, 1909, showing the percentage of Hindus in different districts.

In general, the British-run government and British commentators made "it a point of speaking of Indians as the people of India and avoid speaking of an Indian nation."[2] This was cited as a key reason for British control of the country: since Indians were not a nation, they were not capable of national self-government.[17] While some Indian leaders insisted that Indians were one nation, others agreed that Indians were not yet a nation but there was "no reason why in the course of time they should not grow into a nation."[2]

Similar debates on national identity existed within India at the linguistic, provincial and religious levels. While some argued that Indian Muslims were one nation, others argued they were not. Some, such as

  • Story of Pakistan website, Jin Technologies (Pvt) Limited. "The Ideology of Pakistan: Two-Nation Theory". Retrieved 2006-04-22. 
  • A critique of the Two Nation Theory: Sharpening the saw; by Varsha Bhosle; July 26, 1999; Rediff India

External links

  1. ^ Robin W. Winks, Alaine M. Low (2001), The Oxford history of the British Empire: Historiography, Oxford University Press,  
  2. ^ a b c d Liaquat Ali Khan (1940), Pakistan: The Heart of Asia, Thacker & Co. Ltd., ... There is much in the Musalmans which, if they wish, can roll them into a nation. But isn't there enough that is common to both  
  3. ^ a b "Two-Nation Theory Exists". Pakistan Times. 
  4. ^ Jinnah: "Islam and Hinduism are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but in fact different and distinct social orders, and it is only a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality.... To yoke together two such nations under a single state ... must lead to a growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.
  5. ^ Economic and political weekly, Volume 14, Part 3, Sameeksha Trust, 1979, ... the Muslims are not Indians but foreigners or temporary guests - without any loyalty to the country or its cultural heritage - and should be driven out of the country ... 
  6. ^ M. M. Sankhdher, K. K. Wadhwa (1991), National unity and religious minorities, Gitanjali Publishing House,  
  7. ^ Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Sudhakar Raje (1989), Savarkar commemoration volume, Savarkar Darshan Pratishthan, ... His historic warning against conversion and call for Shuddhi was condensed in the dictum 'Dharmantar is Rashtrantar' (to change one's religion is to change one's nationality) ... 
  8. ^ N. Chakravarty (1990), "Mainstream", Mainstream, Volume 28, Issues 32-52, ... 'Dharmantar is Rashtrantar' is one of the old slogans of the VHP ... 
  9. ^ Carlo Caldarola (1982), Religions and societies, Asia and the Middle East, Walter de Gruyter,  
  10. ^ S. Harman (1977), Plight of Muslims in India, DL Publications,  
  11. ^ M. M. Sankhdher (1992), Secularism in India, dilemmas and challenges, Deep & Deep Publication, ... The partition of the country did not take the two-nation theory to its logical conclusion, i.e., complete transfer of populations ... 
  12. ^ Rafiq Zakaria (2004), Indian Muslims: where have they gone wrong?, Popular Prakashan,  
  13. ^ Pakistan Constituent Assembly (1953), Debates: Official report, Volume 1; Volume 16, Government of Pakistan Press, ... say that Hindus and Muslims are one, single nation. It is a very peculiar attitude on the part of the leader of the ppposition. In fact if his point of view was accepted, then the very justification for the existence of Pakistan would disappear ... 
  14. ^ Janmahmad (1989), Essays on Baloch national struggle in Pakistan: emergence, dimensions, repercussions, Gosha-e-Adab, ... would be completely extinct as a people without any identity. This proposition is the crux of the matter, shaping the Baloch attitude towards Pakistani politics. For Baloch to accept the British-conceived two-nation theory for the Indian Muslims ... would mean losing their Baloch identity in the process ... 
  15. ^ Stephen P. Cohen (2004), The idea of Pakistan, Brookings Institution Press,  
  16. ^ Ahmad Salim (1991), Pashtun and Baloch history: Punjabi view, Fiction House, ... Attacking the 'two nation theory' in Lower House on December 14, 1947, Ghaus Bux Bizenjo said: "We have a distinct culture like Afghanistan and Iran, and if the mere fact that we are Muslim requires us to amalgamate with Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran should also be amalgamated with Pakistan ... 
  17. ^ Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1918), Greater European governments, Harvard University Press, ... The people of India are not a nation, but a conglomerate of many different races and religions ... enabled the British to conquer and hold the country. If the inhabitants should act together, and were agreed in wanting independence, they could get it. In short, if they were capable of national self-government, the English would live on a volcano ... 
  18. ^ "History books contain major distortions". Daily Times. 
  19. ^ Prakash K. Singh (2008). Encyclopaedia on Jinnah 5. Anmol Publications. p. 331.  
  20. ^ "Pakistan Movement". 
  21. ^ Daily Express, Lahore, December 15, 2010
  22. ^ a b c d e Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan
  23. ^ Rubina Saigol (1995), Knowledge and identity: articulation of gender in educational discourse in Pakistan, ASR Publications,  
  24. ^ a b Mahomed Ali Jinnah (1992) [1st pub. 1940], Problem of India's future constitution, and allied articles, Minerva Book Shop, Anarkali, Lahore,  
  25. ^ a b Shaukatullah Ansari (1944), Pakistan - The Problem of India, Minerva Book Shop, Anarkali, Lahore, ... In the East, religion is considered not merely religion ... a complete social order which affects all the activities in life ... In countries where the allegiance of people is divided on the basis of religion, the idea of territorial nationalism has never succeeded ... the conception of Indian Muslims as a nation may not be ethnically correct, but socially it is correct ... 
  26. ^ Nasim A. Jawed (1999), Islam's political culture: religion and politics in predivided Pakistan, University of Texas Press,  
  27. ^ Dr. Sajid Khakwani (2010-05-29), امہ یا ریاست؟ (Ummah or Statehood?), News Urdu, retrieved 2010-07-09, ... یہی مقصود فطرت ہے یہی رمز مسلمانی اخوت کی جہانگیری محبت کی فراوانی , بتان رنگ وخوں کو توڑ کر ملت میں گم ہو جا نہ تورانی رہے باقی نہ ایرانی نہ افغانی (Yehi maqsūd-e fiṭrat hai, yehi ramz-e Musalmānī, Uxuwwat kī jahāⁿŋgīrī, muḥabbat kī farāwānī; Butān-e raⁿŋg ō-xūⁿ kō tōṙ kar millat mēⁿ gum hō jā; Nah Tūrānī rahē bāqī, nah Īrānī, nah Afġānī ... 
  28. ^ a b Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji (1945). Pakistan or the Partition of India. Mumbai: Thackers. 
  29. ^ Official website, Iqbal Academy, Lahore. "Iqbal and the Pakistan Movement". Retrieved 2006-04-22. 
  30. ^ Official website, Nazaria-e-Pakistan Foundation. "Excerpt from the presidential address delivered Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Lahore on March 22, 1940". Archived from the original on 2006-06-28. Retrieved 2006-04-22. 
  31. ^ Chitkara, M. G. (1 January 2001). Indo-Pak Relations: Challenges Before New Millennium. APH Publishing. pp. 51–.  
  32. ^ a b Husain Haqqani (2005), Pakistan: between mosque and military, Carnegie Endowment,  
  33. ^ a b "کالم نگار جهالت اور جزبات فروشی کا کام کرتے هیں ('Columnists are peddling ignorance and raw emotionalism')", Urdu Point, retrieved 2010-10-22, ... 'جب ہنوستان میں اتنے مسلمان ہیں تو کہاں گیا دو قومی نظریہ؟ بنگلہ دیش علحده ہو گیا، کہاں گیا دو قومی نظریہ؟' ('When so many Muslims are in India, what is the validity of the two-nation theory? When Bangladesh seceded, what is the validity of the two-nation theory?') ... 
  34. ^ Craig Baxter (1994), Islam, continuity and change in the modern world, Syracuse University Press,  
  35. ^ Craig Baxter (1998), Bangladesh: From a Nation to a State, Carnegie Endowment,  
  36. ^ Two Nation Theory
  37. ^ India and Pakistan in the Shadow of Afghanistan, Amaury de Riencourt, Foreign Affairs, Winter 1982/83
  38. ^ The slogan of two-nation theory was raised to deceive the one hundred million Muslims of the suboncontinent
  39. ^ Faruqui, Ahmad (2005-03-19). "Jinnah's unfulfilled vision: The Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Cohen". Asia Times (Pakistan). Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  40. ^ Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan (2005), Pakistan political perspective, Volume 14, ... Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM, a grouping of nationalist parties from Balochistan, NWFP and Sindh) ... 
  41. ^ Sayid Ghulam Mustafa, Ali Ahmed Qureshi (2003), Sayyed: as we knew him, Manchhar Publications, ... Sindhi nation, its culture, language and literature cannot coexist with the above colouring or mode of teachings. If Pakistani Muslims are to be taken as one nation, then their cultures, language and literature have to be leveled ... 
  42. ^ Paul R. Brass, Achin Vanaik, Asgharali Engineer (2002), Competing nationalisms in South Asia: essays for Asghar Ali Engineer, Orient Blackswan,  
  43. ^ a b Shahid Javed Burki (1999), Pakistan: fifty years of nationhood, Westview Press,  
  44. ^ Moonis Ahmar (2001), The CTBT debate in Pakistan, Har-Anand Publications,  
  45. ^ Ghulam Kibria (2009), A shattered dream: understanding Pakistan's underdevelopment, Oxford University Press,  
  46. ^ Gurpreet Mahajan (2002), The multicultural path: issues of diversity and discrimination in democracy, Sage,  
  47. ^ "Majority Pakistanis think separation from India was justified: Gallup poll". Express Tribune. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  48. ^ Raja Afsar Khan (2005), The concept, Volume 25, ... The important point is that Bangladesh did not merge with Indian Bengal even though both shared the same language and several other cultural traits ... Did not Bangladesh reconfirm that way the two nation theory ... 
  49. ^ a b "India and Partition". Daily Times. 
  50. ^ Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, John L. Esposito (2000), Muslims on the Americanization path?, Oxford University Press US,  
  51. ^ Tarik Jan (1993), Foreign policy debate, the years ahead, Institute of Policy Studies, ... Today, if we have this intense longing for pan-Islamism, if we entertain those notions of establishing a universal Islamic State, it is only because the essence of our nation is Islam, because it is committed historically and constitutionally to the Islamic aspirations of ... 
  52. ^ S. M. Burke (1974), Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani foreign policies, University of Minnesota Pres,  
  53. ^ Anwar Hussain Syed (1974), China & Pakistan: diplomacy of an entente cordiale, University of Massachusetts Press,  
  54. ^ A discourse of the deaf, by Irfan Husain, Dawn, November 4, 2000
  55. ^ Dawn, December 25, 2004
  56. ^ The News, March 23, 2011
  57. ^ Daily Express, Lahore, March 24, 2011
  58. ^ Sridharan, Kripa (2000), "Grasping the Nettle: Indian Nationalism and Globalization", in Leo Suryadinata, Nationalism and globalization: east and west, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 294–318,  
  59. ^ Yogindar Sikand, Muslims in India: contemporary social and political discourses, Hope India Publications, 2006,  
  60. ^ Clarence Maloney, Peoples of South Asia, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974,  
  61. ^ a b Jasjit Singh, Kargil 1999: Pakistan's fourth war for Kashmir, Knowledge World, 1999,  
  62. ^ Lawrence Kaelter Rosinger, The state of Asia: a contemporary survey, Ayer Publishing, 1971,  


See also

The theory has provided evidence to the allegation that Indian Muslims "cannot be loyal citizens of India" or any other non-Muslim nation, and are "always capable and ready to perform traitorous acts".[59][60] Constitutionally, India rejects the two-nation theory and regards Indian Muslims as equal citizens.[61] From the official Indian perspective, the partition is regarded as a tactical necessity to rid the subcontinent of British rule rather than denoting acceptance of the theory.[61][62]

In post-independence India, the two-nation theory has helped advance the cause of groups seeking to identify a "Hindu national culture" as the core identification of an Indian. This allows the acknowledgement of the common ethnicity of Hindus and Muslims while requiring that all adopt a Hindu identity in order to be truly Indian. From the Hindu nationalist perspective, this concedes the ethnic reality that Indian Muslims are "flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood" but still presses for an officially-recognized equation of national and religious identity, i.e., that "an Indian is a Hindu."[58]

Post-partition perspectives in India

According to Prof. Sharif al Mujahid, arguably the preeminent authority on Jinnah in Pakistan, the two-nation theory was relevant only to the pre-1947 subcontinental context.[55] He is of the opinion that the creation of Pakistan rendered it obsolete because the two nations had transformed themselves into Indian and Pakistani nations.[56] The columnist Muqtida Mansoor has quoted Dr. Farooq Sattar, a prominent leader of the MQM, as saying that his party did not accept the two-nation theory. "Even if there was such a theory, it has sunk in the Bay of Bengal."[57]

Prominent political commentator Irfan Husain, in his column in Dawn, observed that it has now become an “impossible and exceedingly boring task of defending a defunct theory".[54] However some Pakistanis, including a retired Pakistani brigadier, Shaukat Qadir, believe that the theory could only be disproved with the reunification of independent Bangladesh, and Republic of India.[49]

The emergence of a sense of identity that is pan-Islamic rather than Pakistani has been defended as consistent with the founding ideology of Pakistan and the concept that "Islam itself is a nationality," while the commonly-held notion of "nationality, to Muslims, is like idol worship."[51][52] While some have emphasized that promoting the primacy of a pan-Islamic identity (over all other identities) is essential to maintaining a distinctiveness from India and preventing national "collapse", others have argued that the Two Nation Theory has served its purpose in "midwifing" Pakistan into existence and should now be discarded to allow Pakistan to emerge as a normal nation-state.[43][53]

Pan-Islamic identity

Others have stated the theory is still valid despite the still-extant Muslim minority in India, and asserted variously that Indian Muslims have been "Hinduised" (i.e., lost much of their Muslim identity due to assimilation into Hindu culture), or that they are treated as an excluded or alien group by an allegedly Hindu-dominated India.[50] Factors such as lower literacy and education levels among Indian Muslims as compared to Indian Hindus, longstanding cultural differences, and outbreaks of religious violence such as those occurring during the 2002 Gujarat riots in India are cited.[3]

This criticism has received a mixed response in Pakistan. A poll conducted by Gallup Pakistan in 2011 shows that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis hold the view that separation from India was justified in 1947.[47] Pakistani commentators have contended that two nations did not necessarily imply two states, and the fact that Bangladesh did not merge into India after separating from Pakistan supports the two nation theory.[48][49]

Also, because partition divided Indian Muslims into three groups (of roughly 150 million people each in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) instead of forming a single community inside a united India that would have numbered about 450 million people in 2010 and potentially exercised great influence over the entire subcontinent, the two-nation theory is sometimes alleged to have ultimately weakened the position of Muslims on the subcontinent and resulted in large-scale territorial shrinkage or skewing for cultural aspects that became associated with Muslims (e.g., the decline of Urdu language in India).[45][46]

Several ethnic and provincial leaders in Pakistan also began to use the term "nation" to describe their provinces and argued that their very existence was threatened by the concept of amalgamation into a Pakistani nation on the basis that Muslims were one nation.[40][41] It has also been alleged that the idea that Islam is the basis of nationhood embroils Pakistan too deeply in the affairs of other predominantly Muslim states and regions, prevents the emergence of a unique sense of Pakistani nationhood that is independent of reference to India, and encourages the growth of a fundamentalist culture in the country.[42][43][44]

Ethnic and provincial groups in Pakistan

Some historians have claimed that the theory was a creation of a few Muslim intellectuals.[37] Prominent Pakistani politician Altaf Hussain of Muttahida Qaumi Movement believes history has proved the two-nation theory wrong.[38] He contended, "The idea of Pakistan was dead at its inception, when the majority of Muslims (in Muslim-minority areas of India) chose to stay back after partition, a truism reiterated in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971".[39]

The theory has been facing scepticism because Muslims did not entirely separate from Hindus and about one-third of all Muslims continued to live in post-partition India as Indian citizens alongside a much larger Hindu majority.[32][33] The subsequent partition of Pakistan itself into the present-day nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh was cited as proof both that Muslims did not constitute one nation and that religion was not a defining factor for nationhood.[32][33][34][35][36]

Since the partition, the theory has been subjected to animated debates and different interpretations on several grounds. In his memoirs entitled Pathway to Pakistan (1961), Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, the first president of the Pakistan Muslim League, approvingly quoted Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy as saying that it proved harmful to the Muslims of India. According to him, Jinnah bade farewell to it in his famous speech of August 11, 1947. In his August 11, 1947 speech, Jinnah had spoken of composite Pakistani nationalism, effectively negating faith-based nationalism that he had advocated in his speech of March 22, 1940. In his August 11 speech, he said that non-Muslims would be equal citizens of Pakistan and that there would be no discrimination against them. "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state."

Post-partition debate

I find no parallel in history for a body of converts and their descendants claiming to be a nation apart from the parent stock.[31]

M.K.Gandhi was against the division of India on the basis of religion. He once wrote:

Gandhi's View

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as "Frontier Gandhi" or "Sarhadi Gandhi", was not convinced by the two-nation theory and wanted a single united India as home for both Hindus and Muslims. He was from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in present-day Pakistan. He believed that the partition would be harmful to the Muslims of the subcontinent. Post partition, Ghaffar Khan was a strong advocate of the Pashtunistan movement.

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan's opposition to the partition of India

Mr. Savarkar... insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution;... In the struggle for political power between the two nations the rule of the game which Mr. Savarkar prescribes is to be one man one vote, be the man Hindu or Muslim. In his scheme a Muslim is to have no advantage which a Hindu does not have. Minority is to be no justification for privilege and majority is to be no ground for penalty. The State will guarantee the Muslims any defined measure of political power in the form of Muslim religion and Muslim culture. But the State will not guarantee secured seats in the Legislature or in the Administration and, if such guarantee is insisted upon by the Muslims, such guaranteed quota is not to exceed their proportion to the general population.[28]

The Hindu Maha Sabha under the presidency of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, presented a stand of complete opposition to the formation of Pakistan. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar summaries Savarkar's position, in his Pakistan or The Partition of India as follows,

Savarkar's opposition to the formation of Pakistan

Islam is not only a religious doctrine but also a realistic code of conduct in terms of every day and everything important in life: our history, our laws and our jurisprudence. In all these things, our outlook is not only fundamentally different but also opposed to Hindus. There is nothing in life that links us together. Our names, clothes, food, festivals, and rituals, all are different. Our economic life, our educational ideas, treatment of women, attitude towards animals, and humanitarian considerations, all are very different.

In an interview to journalist Beverly Nichols, he said:

We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any definition or test of a nation. We are a nation of hundred million and what is more, we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportions, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and tradition, and aptitude and ambitions. In short, we have our own outlook on life and of life.

In 1944, Jinnah said:

It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, litterateurs. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspect on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built for the government of such a state.
— [30]

In Muhammad Ali Jinnah's All India Muslim League presidential address delivered in Lahore, on March 22, 1940, he explained:

In conclusion, I must put a straight question to Pandit Jawahar Lal, how is India's problem to be solved if the majority community will neither concede the minimum safeguards necessary for the protection of a minority of 80 million people, nor accept the award of a third party; but continue to talk of a kind of nationalism which works out only to its own benefit? This position can admit of only two alternatives. Either the Indian majority community will have to accept for itself the permanent position of an agent of British imperialism in the East, or the country will have to be redistributed on a basis of religious, historical and cultural affinities so as to do away with the question of electorates and the communal problem in its present form.
— [29]

Muhammad Iqbal's statement explaining the attitude of Muslim delegates to the London's round-table conference issued in December 1933 was a rejoinder to Jawahar Lal Nehru's statement. Nehru had said that the attitude of the Muslim delegation was based on “reactionarism". Iqbal concluded his rejoinder with:

Muhammad Iqbal

Justifications by Muslim leaders

In his 1945 book Pakistan, or The Partition of India, Indian statesman and Buddhist Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar wrote a sub-chapter titled "If Muslims truly and deeply desire Pakistan, their choice ought to be accepted". He asserted that, if the Muslims were bent on the creation of Pakistan, the demand should be conceded in the interest of the safety of India. He asks whether Muslims in the army could be trusted to defend India in the event of Muslims invading India or in the case of a Muslim rebellion. "[W]hom would the Indian Muslims in the army side with?" he questioned. According to him, the assumption that Hindus and Muslims could live under one state if they were distinct nations was but ""an empty sermon, a mad project, to which no sane man would agree"."[28]

Pakistan, or The Partition of India (1945)

Muhammad Iqbal had also championed the notion of pan-Islamic nationhood (see: Ummah) and strongly condemned the concept of a territory-based nation as anti-Islamic: "In tāzah xudā'ōⁿ mēⁿ, baṙā sab sē; waṭan hai: Jō pairahan is kā hai; woh maẕhab kā, kafan hai... (Of all these new [false] gods, the biggest; is the motherland (waṭan): Its garment; is [actually] the death-shroud, of religion...)"[26] He had stated the dissolution of ethnic nationalities into a unified Muslim society (or millat) as the ultimate goal: Butān-e raⁿŋg ō-xūⁿ kō tōṙ kar millat mēⁿ gum hō jā; Nah Tūrānī rahē bāqī, nah Īrānī, nah Afġānī (Destroy the idols of color and blood ties, and merge into the Muslim society; Let no Turanians remain, neither Iranians, nor Afghans).[27]

It asserted that "a Muslim of one country has far more sympathies with a Muslim living in another country than with a non-Muslim living in the same country."[24] Therefore, "the conception of Indian Muslims as a nation may not be ethnically correct, but socially it is correct."[25]

The theory asserted that India was not a nation. It also asserted that Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims were each a nation, despite great variations in language, culture and ethnicity within each of those groups.[23] To counter critics who said that a community of radically varying ethnicities and languages who were territorially intertwined with other communities could not be a nation, the theory said that the concept of nation in the East was different from that in the West. In the East, religion was "a complete social order which affects all the activities in life" and "where the allegiance of people is divided on the basis of religion, the idea of territorial nationalism has never succeeded."[24][25]

Aspects of the theory

The changing Indian political scenario in the second half of the 18th century.

The All-India Muslim League, in attempting to represent Indian Muslims, felt that the Muslims of the subcontinent were a distinct and separate nation from the Hindus. At first they demanded separate electorates, but when they came to the conclusion that Muslims would not be safe in a Hindu-dominated India, they began to demand a separate state. The League demanded self-determination for Muslim-majority areas in the form of a sovereign state promising minorities equal rights and safeguards in these Muslim majority areas.[22]

Islam has taught us this and I think you will agree with me, for whatever you may be and wherever you are, you are a Muslim. You belong to a nation now. You have carved out a territory, a vast territory, it is all yours; it does not belong to a Punjabi or a Sindhi or a Pathan or a Bengali, it is yours.

In 1948, Jinnah said:

The scholar Al-Biruni (973-1048) had observed, at the beginning of the eleventh century, that Hindus and Muslims differed in all matters and habits.[22] On March 23, 1940, Jinnah made a speech in Lahore which was very similar to Al-Biruni's thesis in theme and tone. Jinnah stated that Hindus and Muslims belonged to two different religious philosophies, with different social customs and literature, with no intermarriage and based on conflicting ideas and concepts. Their outlook on life and of life was different and despite 1000 years of history, the relations between the Hindus and Muslims could not attain the level of cordiality.[22]

The poet philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), (the poet of East), provided the philosophical exposition and Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1871–1948) translated it into the political reality of a nation-state.[22] Allama Iqbal's presidential address to the Muslim League on December 29, 1930 is seen by some as the first exposition of the two-nation theory in support of what would ultimately become Pakistan.[22]

The movement for Muslim self-awakening and identity was started by the Muslim modernist and reformer Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817–1898). Many Pakistanis describe him as the architect of the two-nation theory. However, the researcher Ziauddin Lahori, the author of seven books on Sir Syed, thinks otherwise. According to him, it is incorrect to say that Sir Syed propounded the two-nation theory.[21]

Start of Muslim self-awakening and identity movement (19th century–1940s)

According to the Pakistan studies curriculum, Muhammad bin Qasim is often referred to as the first Pakistani.[18] While Prakash K. Singh attributes the arrival of Muhammad bin Qasim as the first step towards the creation of Pakistan.[19] Muhammad Ali Jinnah also acclaimed the Pakistan movement to have started when the first Muslim put a foot in the Gateway of Islam.[20]


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