Iqbal and Muslim homeland | Pakistan Today

Iqbal and Muslim homeland

Reality check


Iqbal is credited with conceiving a separate homeland for Muslims of India. What distinguishes him from those who made similar depositions earlier like Ch Rehmat Ali is that Iqbal propounded the concept at some length in his address at Allahbad session of the Muslim League. He was moreover a famous poet known all over North India and immensely popular among the Muslims. Like most poets, the starry-eyed Iqbal did not care to go into the details of the plan leaving a number of questions unanswered.

There was no clarification in Iqbal’s concept regarding the future of the Muslims living outside the North Western provinces of India. The Muslim League leadership from UP itself remained silent on the issue till the end. The Lahore Resolution, passed three years after Iqbal’s death, called for the creation of ‘independent states’ for Muslims in north-western and eastern British India. The constituent units of these states were to be autonomous and sovereign. Muslim religious leadership was divided over the partition of India. The nationalist ulema opposed Pakistan. So did Jamaat-e-Islami. Those who thronged under Jinnah’s flag had different and often contradictory notion about Pakistan.

History moved fast after the end of WW II and Jinnah had little time to devise answers to these questions. Failing to reach a compromise with Congress that secured the removal of the Indian Muslims reservations within the framework of a united India, Jinnah was left with no option but to demand the partition of the county before the departure of the British. For this he needed the support of all sections of opinion among the community. Any debate on concrete issues was avoided as it could prove to be divisive. Once the creation of Pakistan was in sight an enlightened and practical Jinnah discarded the Two-Nation theory which he believed was good for dividing a country but not for keeping it united. His address to the Constituent Assembly visualised a modern pluralistic democratic country. How Iqbal would have reacted to this remains a matter of conjecture.