While most Deobandis opposed the idea, Barelvi clerics spear-headed the movement for Pakistan

Written by Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed,Daily Times | Published on: December 1, 2017

Jinnah could not have been unaware of the fact that the religious establishment, including Barelvi clerics, saw the state he demanded and won as having been established in the name of Islam


Photo credit: The Nation

In light of the recent commotion created by some Barelvi clerics, which the federal government bungled up with its characteristic incompetence, it is time that someone speaks out the truth about the Pakistan movement and its ideology. Let me say without mincing words: Pakistan was created in negation of principles of secular democracy.

Barelvi clerics had spearheaded the All India Muslim League’s campaign for Pakistan ahead of the 1945-46 general elections. A handful of Deobandis led by the followers of Ashraf Ali Thanvi (who died in 1943) including Shabbir Ahmed Usmani also supported the demand for a separate state for Indian Muslims. However, the main Deobandi party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, led by Hussain Ahmed Madani advocated a vision of wataniyat or nationalism that was fore grounded in territory, rather than religious identity.

Madani warned that even if the Muslim League manage to win a separate state, it will inevitably be a state dominated by some sect of Islam — there could be no such thing as a Muslim or Islamic state of all Indian Muslims because the latter were notoriously divided into sects and sub-sects. Another prominent religious scholar, Abdul Kalam Azad also shared similar sentiments. His speeches are available on YouTube on the question of Muslims’ in a post-British India.
In my opinion, those who say that Pakistan, as it exists today, is not Jinnah’s Pakistan, are missing the point. Jinnah may not have anticipated that his two-nation theory would lay the foundation of a state in which the organic relationship between Islam and the state would result in the rule of the ulema. However, he could not have been unaware of the fact that the religious establishment, including Barelvi clerics, saw the state he demanded and won as having been established in the name of Islam.

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