New Age Islam wrote:
Why 'who is a Muslim?' has no easy answer
The Muslim community, argues a new book, is far from the unified group the media make it out to be
Natasha Bakht, Haroon Siddiqui and sociology professor Carmela Murdocca
As per historian Dr Mubarak Ali
"Religion did not mix well with the state. He said talk of ijtihad was meaningless because there was no guarantee that any Muslims would accept it. He said every time someone did ijtihad it gave birth to a new sect. He said the two-nation doctrine was no longer valid in Pakistan. The concept of ummah was equally irrelevant." SECOND OPINION: Who is listening to the ‘new debate’?—Khaled Ahmed’s TV Review Tuesday, February 21, 2006 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\02\21\story_21-2-2006_pg3_3 end quote of Mr Mubarak Ali [PhD (on Mughal Period, India) from Ruhr University, Bochum,Germany]
Religious ‘scholars’ who could not even agree on the definition of a Muslim when they were questioned by Justice M. Munir and Justice M. R. Kayani in the court of inquiry into the Punjab disturbances of 1953. The inquiry was launched after the campaign against the Ahmadis initiated by the then Jamaat-e-Islami chief Maulana Mawdudi.
The Munir Commission Report (Lahore, 1954) states:
“Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulema, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental? If we attempt our own definition, as each learned divine has, and that definition differs from all others, we all leave Islam’s fold. If we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulema, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim, but kafirs according to everyone else’s definition.” The report elaborated on the point by explaining that the Deobandis would label the Barelvis as kafirs if they are empowered and vice versa, and the same would happen among the other sects. The point of the report was that if left to such religious ‘scholars’, the country would become an open battlefield. Therefore, it was suggested that Pakistan remain a democratic, secular state and steer clear of the theological path.
Unfortunately, this suggestion was not heeded and, consequently, the exact opposite happened. Pakistan became hostage to the mullahs and is now paying a heavy price. Our politicians played into the hands of these fanatics for expedient political reasons and overlooked the diminishing returns from such an unwise overture.
The journey of politicising Islam began with the Objectives Resolution. Jinnah envisioned a secular Pakistan, but Liaquat Ali Khan made the mistake of adopting the Objectives Resolution in 1949 that stated, “Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.” This stipulation gave the mullahs the chance they were looking for, a chance to flash their religious card and put fear in the heart of the ignorant masses. After moving the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly, Liaquat Ali Khan said, “As I have just said, the people are the real recipients of power. This naturally eliminates any danger of the establishment of a theocracy.” Although he believed in the power of the people and aimed for a secular, democratic rule, yet by bringing the name of religion into the Objectives Resolution, he gave an edge to the
mullahs who later claimed it as their licence to impose the Shariah. And so began the rise of the fanatics.
Ulema did not wait long to demand their share of power in running the new state. Soon after independence, Jamat-i-Islami made the achievement of an Islamic constitution its central goal. Maulana Maududi, after the creation of Pakistan, revised the conception of his mission and that of the rationale of the Pakistan movement, arguing that its sole object had been the establishment of an Islamic state and that his party alone possessed the understanding and commitment needed to bring that about. Jamat-i-Islami soon evolved into a political party, demanding the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan.
It declared that Pakistan was a Muslim state and not an Islamic state since a Muslim State is any state which is ruled by Muslims while an Islamic State is one which opts to conduct its affairs in accordance with the revealed guidance of Islam and accepts the sovereignty of Allah and the supremacy of His Law, and which devotes its resources to achieve this end. According to this definition, Pakistan was a Muslim state ruled by secular minded Muslims. Hence the Jamat-i-Islami and other religious leaders channeled their efforts to make Pakistan an "Islamic State."
Maulana Maududi argued that from the beginning of the struggle for Pakistan, Moslems had an understanding that the center of their aspirations, Pakistan, would be an Islamic state, in which Islamic law would be enforced and Islamic culture would be revived. Muslim League leaders, in their speeches, were giving this impression. Above all, Quaid-i-Azam himself assured the Muslims that the constitution of Pakistan would be based on the Quran.
This contrasts to his views about the Muslim League leaders before independence: Not a single leader of the Muslim League, from Quad-i-Azam, downwards, has Islamic mentality and Islamic thinking or they see the things from Islamic point of view. To declare such people legible for Muslim leadership, because they are expert in western politics or western organization system and have concern for the nation, is definitely ignorance from Islam and amounts to an un-Islamic mentality. On another occasion, Maulana Maududi said it was not clear either from any resolution of the Muslim League or from the speeches of any responsible League leaders, that the ultimate aim of Pakistan is the establishment of an Islamic government.....Those people are wrong who think that if the Muslim majority regions are emancipated from the Hindu domination and a democratic system is established, it would be a government of God. As a matter of fact, in this way, whatever would be achieved, it would be only a non-believers government of the Muslims or may be more deplorable than that.
When the question of constitution-making came to the forefront, the Ulema, inside and outside the Constitutional Assembly and outside demanded that the Islamic Shariah shall form the only source for all legislature in Pakistan.
In February 1948, Maulana Maududi, while addressing the Law College, Lahore, demanded that the Constitutional Assembly should unequivocally declare:
1. That the sovereignty of the state of Pakistan vests in God Almighty and that the government of Pakistan shall be only an agent to execute the Sovereign's Will.
2. That the Islamic Shariah shall form the inviolable basic code for all legislation in Pakistan.
3. That all existing or future legislation which may contravene, whether in letter or in spirit, the Islamic Shariah shall be null and void and be considered ultra vires of the constitution; and
4. That the powers of the government of Pakistan shall be derived from, circumscribed by and exercised within the limits of the Islamic Shariah alone. On January 13, 1948, Jamiat-al-Ulema-i-Islam, led by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, passed a resolution in Karachi demanding that the government appoint a leading Alim to the office of Shaikh al Islam, with appropriate ministerial and executive powers over the qadis throughout the country. The Jamiat submitted a complete table of a ministry of religious affairs with names suggested for each post. It was proposed that this ministry be immune to ordinary changes of government. It is well known that Quaid-i-Azam was the head of state at this time and that no action was taken on Ulema's demand. On February 9, 1948, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, addressing the Ulema-i-Islam conference in Dacca, demanded that the Constituent Assembly "should set up a committee consisting of eminent ulema and thinkers... to prepare a draft ... and present it to the Assembly.
It was in this background that Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, on March 7, 1949, moved the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly, according to which the future constitution of Pakistan was to be based on " the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam."
While moving the Resolution, he said: "Sir, I consider this to be a most important occasion in the life of this country, next in importance only to the achievement of independence, because by achieving independence we only won an opportunity of building up a country and its polity in accordance with our ideals. I would like to remind the house that the Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam, gave expression of his feelings on this matter on many an occasion, and his views were endorsed by the nation in unmistakable terms, Pakistan was founded because the Muslims of this sub-continent wanted to build up their lives in accordance with the teachings and traditions of Islam, because they wanted to demonstrate to the world that Islam provides a panacea to the many diseases which have crept into the life of humanity today."
The resolution was debated for five days. The leading members of the government and a large number of non-Muslim members, especially from East Bengal, took a prominent part. Non-Muslim members expressed grave apprehensions about their position and role in the new policy.
Hindu members of the Constitutional Assembly argued that the Objectives Resolution differed with Jinnah's view in all the basic points. Sris Chandra Chattopadhyaya said: "What I hear in this (Objectives) Resolution is not the voice of the great creator of Pakistan - the Quaid-i-Azam, nor even that of the Prime Minister of Pakistan the Honorable Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, but of the Ulema of the land." Birat Chandra Mandal declared that Jinnah had "unequivocally said that Pakistan will be a secular state." Bhupendra Kumar Datta went a step further: ...were this resolution to come before this house within the life-time of the Great Creator of Pakistan, the Quaid-i-Azam, it would not have come in its present shape...."
The leading members of the government in their speeches not only reassured the non-Muslims that their position was quite safe and their rights were not being impaired but also gave clarifications with regard to the import of the Resolution. Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, the Deputy Leader of the House, while defending the Resolution said: "It was remarked by some honorable members that the interpretation which the mover of this Resolution has given is satisfactory and quite good, but Mr. B.C. Mandal says: "Well tomorrow you may die, I may die, and the posterity may misinterpret it." First of all, I may tell him and those who have got some wrong notions about the interpretation of this resolution that this resolution itself is not a constitution. It is a direction to the committee that will have to prepare the draft keeping in view these main features. The matter will again come to the House in a concrete form, and all of us will get an opportunity to discuss it."
In his elucidation of the implications of the Objectives Resolution in terms of the distribution of power between God and the people, Omar Hayat Malik argued: "The principles of Islam and the laws of Islam as laid down in the Quran are binding on the State. The people or the state cannot change these principles or these laws...but there is a vast field besides these principles and laws in which people will have free play...it might be called by the name of 'theo-cracy', that is democracy limited by word of God, but as the word 'theo' is not in vogue so we call it by the name of Islamic democracy.
Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi further elaborated the concept of Islamic democracy: Since Islam admits of no priest craft, and since the dictionary meaning of the term "secular" is non-monastic -- that is, "anything which is not dependent upon the sweet will of the priests," Islamic democracy, far from being theocracy, could in a sense be characterized as being "secular." However, he believed that if the word "secular" means that the ideals of Islam, that the fundamental principles of religion, that the ethical outlook which religion inculcates in our people should not be observed, then, I am afraid,...that kind of secular democracy can never be acceptable to us in Pakistan.
During the heated debate, Liaquat Ali Khan stressed:
the Muslim League has only fulfilled half of its mission (and that) the other half of its mission is to convert Pakistan into a laboratory where we could experiment upon the principles of Islam to enable us to make a contribution to the peace and progress of mankind. He was hopeful that even if the body of the constitution had to be mounted in the chassis of Islam, the vehicle would go in the direction he had already chosen. Thus he seemed quite sure that Islam was on the side of democracy. "As a matter of fact it has been recognized by non-Muslims throughout the world that Islam is the only society where there is real democracy." In this approach he was supported by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani: " The Islamic state is the first political institution in the world which stood against imperialism, enunciated the principle of referendum and installed a Caliph (head of State) elected by the people in place of the king."
The opposite conclusion, however, was reached by the authors of the Munir Report (1954) who said that the form of government in Pakistan cannot be described as democratic, if that clause of the Objectives Resolution reads as follows: " Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Allah Almighty alone, and the authority which He has delegated to the state of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust." Popular sovereignty, in the sense that the majority of the people has the right to shape the nation's institutions and policy in accordance with their personal views without regard to any higher law, cannot exist in an Islamic state, they added.
The learned authors of the Munir Report felt that the Objectives Resolution was against the concept of a sovereign nation state. Corroboration of this viewpoint came from the Ulema themselves, (whom the Munir Committee interviewed) "including the Ahrar" and erstwhile Congressites with whom before the partition this conception of a modern national state as against an Islamic state was almost a part of their faith. The Ulema claimed that the Quaid-i-Azam's conception of a modern national state....became obsolete with the passing of the Objectives Resolution on 12th March 1949.
Justice Mohammad Munir, who chaired the committee, says that "if during Quaid-i-Azam's life, Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister had even attempted to introduce the Objectives resolution of the kind that he got through the Assembly, the Quaid-i-Azam would never have given his assent to it.
In an obvious attempt to correct the erroneous notion that the Objectives Resolution envisaged a theocratic state in Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan repeatedly returned to the subject during his tour of the United States (May-June 1950). In a series of persuasive and eloquent speeches, he argued that "We have pledged that the State shall exercise its power and authority through the chosen representatives of the people. In this we have kept steadily before us the principles of democracy, freedom equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam. There is no room here for theocracy, for Islam stands for freedom of conscience, condemns coercion, has no priesthood and abhors the caste system. It believes in equality of all men and in the right of each individual to enjoy the fruit of his or her efforts, enterprise, capacity and skill -- provided these be honestly employed."
The Objectives Resolution was approved on March 12, 1949. Its only Muslim critic was Mian Iftikhar-ud-din, leader of the Azad Pakistan Party, although he believed that "the Islamic conception of a state is, perhaps as progressive, as revolutionary, as democratic and as dynamic as that of any other state or ideology."
According to Munir, the terms of the Objectives Resolution differ in all the basic points of the Quaid-i-Azam's views e.g:
1. The Quaid-i-Azam has said that in the new state sovereignty would rest with the people. The Resolution starts with the statement that sovereignty rests with Allah. This concept negates the basic idea of modern democracy that there are no limits on the legislative power of a representative assembly.
2. There is a reference to the protection of the minorities of their right to worship and practice their religion, whereas the Quaid-i-Azam had stated that there would be no minorities on the basis of religion.
3. The distinction between religious majorities and minorities takes away from the minority, the right of equality, which again is a basic idea of modern democracy.
4. The provision relating to Muslims being enabled to lead their life according to Islam is opposed to the conception of a secular state.
It was natural that with the terms of the Resolution, the Ulema should acquire considerable influence in the state. On the strength of the Objectives Resolution they made the Ahmadis as their first target and demanded them to be declared a minority.
After the adoption of Objectives Resolution, Liaquat Ali Khan moved a motion for the appointment of a Basic Principles Committee consisting of 24 members, including himself and two non-Muslim members, to report the house on the main principles on which the constitution of Pakistan is to be framed. A Board of Islamic Teaching was set up to advise the Committee on the Islamic aspects of the constitution.
In the course of constitutional debates, a number of very crucial issues were raised that caused much controversy, both inside and outside the Constituent Assembly over specific questions such as the following:
1) The nature of the Islamic state: the manner in which the basic principles of Islam concerning state, economy, and society were to be incorporated into the constitution.
2) The nature of federalism: questions of provincial autonomy vis-a-vis federal authority with emphasis on the problems of representation on the basis of population and the equality of the federating units; the structure of the federal legislature -- unicameral or bicameral.
3) The form of government: whether it was to be modeled on the British or the U.S. pattern -- parliamentary or presidential.
4) The problem of the electorate: serious questions of joint (all confessional groups vote in one election) versus separate (each confessional group votes separately for its own candidates) electorate.
5) The question of languageboth national and regional. These very fundamental issues divided the political elites of Pakistan into warring factions that impeded the process of constitution-making.