maudaudi and jamat islamis role in creation of pakistan.
When Pakistan was created in the summer of 1947, the Muslim League and the Jama‘at were at loggerheads, though instances of cooperation continued both before and after. The convergence of objectives of these two communalist programs, and Jama‘at’s hostility to the Congress party, in 1937–1939 had established a common ground. Mawdudi began his forays into politics by asserting Muslim communal consciousness against Congress’s secular nationalist platform in 1937, two years before he even took notice of the Muslim League in his proclamations or written works. His program was first articulated in a series of articles in the Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an and later published in Musalman Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash (1938–1940) (Muslims and the Current Political Struggle) and Mas’alah-i Qaumiyat (1947) (Question of Nationality), where he attacked his erstwhile mentors among Congress supporters, ‘Ubaidu’llah Sindhi, Abu’l-Kalam Azad, and the leaders of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind. In these works Mawdudi depicted the Congress as a convenient front for the Hindu drive for power and as a secular and, worse yet, socialist party, whose views were incompatible with Muslim values. He therefore challenged the wisdom of siding with the Congress, asserting: “There are no common grounds between our movements [Muslim and the Hindu]; our death is their life, and their death our life.” Nor was Mawdudi persuaded by the anti-imperialist rhetoric and logic of the Muslim supporters of the Congress. Combating the evil of imperialism, Mawdudi argued, did not justify sacrificing Islam.
The fight against imperialism…and expulsion of the British has meaning for us only in the context of la ilaha ila’llah [there is no god but God];…otherwise there is no difference between imperialism and idol-worshipping democracy [the Congress’s position]. Lot goes and Manat [Qur’anic terms referring to evil and pagan forces] replaces it.
Although Mawdudi’s line of attack was directed against pro-Congress Muslims as a whole, his most acid remarks were reserved for Mawlana Husain Ahmad Madani (1879–1957), the head of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind at the time, and one of the most outspoken and ardent supporters of the Congress party among Indian ulama. Madani was vehemently anti-British and dedicated to the nationalist cause; he was instrumental in establishing a base of support for the Congress among Muslims. In 1939 Madani had presented his views and the Jami‘at-i Ulama’s political platform in a pamphlet entitled Mutahhidah Qaumiyat Awr Islam (United/Composite Nationalism and Islam). The small tract soon became the basis for the Congress party’s Muslim policy, and hence the focus of Mawdudi’s most caustic invective. Mawdudi censured Madani’s thesis and challenged his political and ultimately religious authority, accusing him of sacrificing Islam at the altar of his anti-British sentiments. Mawdudi couched his arguments in religious terms, which not only undermined the Jami‘at-i Ulama’s political platform but also weakened its religious justification, hindering the ulama’s efforts to accommodate Indian nationalism within the framework of Muslim orthodoxy. So forceful was Mawdudi’s charge against Madani and the Jami‘at-i Ulama that Mufti Kifayatu’llah, a senior Jami‘at-i Ulama stalwart, advised his colleagues not to engage Mawdudi in embarrassing debates. These debates had already prompted Muhammad Iqbal to remark, “Mawdudi will teach a lesson to these Congressite Muslims,” and had led some enthusiastic Muslim League workers to refer to Mawdudi as “our Abu’l-Kalam [Azad].”
Desperate to attract some support for its two-nation platform from the religious quarter, the Muslim League developed a keen interest in Mawdudi’s anti-Jami‘at-i Ulama crusade, which gave it a religious justification for rejecting the Congress’s plea for a united stand against colonial rule. Muslim League speakers borrowed such terms as hukumat-i ilahiyah (divine government) and khilafat-i rabbani (divine caliphate) from Mawdudi’s repertory, and his contribution to the Muslim League’s political agenda was often cited and acknowledged in private along with those of Iqbal and Mawlana Hasrat Muhani.
Mawdudi’s writings were widely distributed in Muslim League sessions between 1937 and 1939. League workers found this effort especially productive in Amritsar in 1939, when scores of copies of the Musalman Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash were distributed. A similar attitude was evident in the League’s central committee, which authorized the widespread circulation of Mawdudi’s religious decrees against the Jami‘at-i Ulama leaders in 1939. Mawdudi’s usefulness to the League, however unintended, was nevertheless significant. One Muslim League leader wrote of Mawdudi in retrospect that “the venerable Mawlana [Mawdudi]’s writings in Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an greatly furthered the League’s religious and national demands.” The Jama‘at’s contribution to the League’s enterprise is perhaps the best example of an aspect of the growth of support for Pakistan in north and northwest India that has not thus far received its due attention.
So favorable was the impression that the Muslim League had of Mawdudi in 1939 that Mawlana Zafar Ahmad Ansari, then the secretary of the central parliamentary board of the Muslim League, who was at the time advocating the party’s cause before the senior ulama, took it upon himself to approach Mawdudi with a view to officially enlisting his support for the Muslim League. Mawdudi, not unexpectedly, turned down his offer, for he saw his contribution to the League and his success in stemming the tide of Muslim religious fervor for the Congress as a sign not of the confluence of his views and those of the Muslim League, but of the fundamentally religious nature of the Pakistan movement, his own inherent qualities as a leader, and his ultimate destiny to lead that movement. The nature of relations between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League was not decided by Mawdudi’s opposition to the Congress alone, but involved the competition between the two for power.
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Relations with the Pakistan Movement
Mawdudi’s revivalist agenda took shape at a time when the Muslim League was a force to be reckoned with and the question of a separate Muslim homeland became a serious proposition. As a result, the course of the Jama‘at’s development became ineluctably bound to Muslim League politics. Since then the relationship between the two has influenced both the Jama‘at’s development and the Islamization of the political discourse in Pakistan. It has been a curious aspect of these relations, which the Jama‘at’s critics characterize as “opposition to Pakistan,” that the Jama‘at was more tolerant of the Muslim League’s support for a separate Muslim homeland in 1941 than it was in 1947. Its attacks on the character of the Muslim separatist struggle became more virulent as the League became more prominent in Muslim politics. The Jama‘at did not object to Pakistan but to its creation under the aegis of the League. Mawdudi readily admitted that he was opposed to the Muslim League because it was clear to him that Jinnah never intended Pakistan to be an Islamic state and later lamented that Jinnah’s successors had construed all criticisms of the League as criticisms of Jinnah, and all criticisms of Jinnah as disloyalty to Pakistan. Malik Ghulam ‘Ali, who had been an ardent supporter of Pakistan when he joined the Jama‘at in 1941, recollects that many proponents of Pakistan like himself congregated around Mawdudi. They did not see Mawdudi as anti-Pakistan but viewed his position as reflective of the vision for a “true Pakistan.” The problem of harmonizing the Jama‘at’s roles of holy community and political party unraveled in the face of the Jama‘at’s stand on Muslim separatism.
Jinnah helped form Mawdudi’s political thinking. It was Jinnah who showed Mawdudi the political potential of religion and, by the same token, blinded him to the importance of socioeconomic factors in the development of the Pakistan movement. Although Mawdudi followed the Muslim League’s example in courting the politically important educated Muslim middle classes, this measure by itself did not constitute a socioeconomic reading of what was involved in the Pakistan movement. For Mawdudi never saw the League’s success as a product of the Congress party’s Hinduization of India under Gandhi’s influence and its subsequent intransigence vis-à-vis Muslim demands, nor did he believe that it was born of the frustrations of the educated Muslim middle classes with British rule. Instead, Mawdudi understood the power of the Muslim League to stem from Jinnah’s appeal to Islamic symbols and Muslim religious sensibilities, and this conviction lay behind his adherence to the idea of the holy community’s political relevance, which early in its existence put a built-in brake on the Jama‘at’s development into a full-fledged party. Time and again over the course of the next four decades, the Jama‘at leaders cited the Muslim League’s famed slogan, “Pakistan ka matlab kiya hey? La ilaha ila’llah” (What is Pakistan about? “There is no god but God”), to prove this point. For Mawdudi the League’s successful use of religious symbols proved that Islam was the ultimate source of power and legitimacy in the Muslim community. The composition of the League’s leadership—which Mawdudi regarded as secular and Westernized men who were at best modernist or “nominal” Muslims—was ample testimony to this. Mawdudi was convinced that Muslim politics would be receptive to intrusive forays by religious forces, which, in turn, emboldened his demand for an Islamic state. He argued that the nature of the Muslim political discourse, as reflected in the increasingly chiliastic program of the Muslim League, attested to the Muslim community’s desire for such a state. Without it why part with India at all? There was no point in substituting Hindu rule with a godless one: “If I could secure one square mile of territory in which none other than God would reign supreme, I would value every speck of its dust more than the entirety of India.”
In the increasingly religious context in which the struggle for Muslim interests took place—when religion portended power and political success—the Jama‘at’s proclivity for political activity soon turned into an open claim to leadership. Mawdudi believed that the religious tenor of the League’s discourse had created expectations among Muslims which, given the party’s secular nature, it was neither willing nor capable of fulfilling. Only the Jama‘at, argued Mawdudi, was equipped, qualified, and truly willing to advocate the Muslim cause and to deliver on Muslim demands. He was naturally superior to the Westernized Jinnah, who neither prayed nor spoke proper Urdu as a leader for his community. The Muslim League, Mawdudi surmised, could at best only partially satisfy the appetite for the Islamic polity which it had whetted among the Muslims; the League was to be the precursor to “a veritable Pakistan,” pointing the way for the “vanguard”—the Jama‘at—to create and run the Islamic state for the Muslims of India. If Muslims had mobilized so enthusiastically around Muslim League’s half-baked Islamic appeal, then the Jama‘at was bound to sweep away the Pakistan movement once Muslims had heard Mawdudi’s message and learned of the Jama‘at’s religiously more meaningful program. Mawdudi’s conclusion required that the Jama‘at act as a political party, but it also underscored its claim to being a holy community—the true repository of the Islamic message that would shape the future of the Muslims. Thus began the Jama‘at’s muddled understanding of its sociopolitical function.
Mawdudi also saw the Muslim League as a “one-man show,” and therefore incapable of the kind of organizational activity which the realization of a Muslim state demanded. It was bound to falter with its frail leader and its weak ties to the religious sentiments that were sustaining it. Mawdudi therefore kept his distance from the League, preparing the Jama‘at as a “rear guard” (‘aqab lashgar), waiting in the wings for the opportune moment to step into the Muslim League’s shoes, despite pressures among members for cooperation with the League, especially whenever electoral victory by the Congress threatened. This attitude was most clearly reflected in the Jama‘at’s decision not to support the League in the Indian elections of 1945; Mawdudi argued that he could not render assistance to “a party with no morals.” In later years, he explained: “we did believe in a separate Muslim state, but chose not to interfere with the League. Had the Qa’id [Jinnah] failed, then we would have stepped in.”
When the Jama‘at was formed in August 1941, then, although it was a direct response to the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution of March 1940, which resolved to create Pakistan, its intent was not to stop the creation of Pakistan but to take the Muslim League’s place at the head of the struggle for a Muslim state, to prevent Pakistan’s secularization, and to deliver what the Muslim League had promised but could not possibly deliver. The Jama‘at’s agenda and objectives were devised to counter what it saw as the shortcomings of the League, which Mawdudi had viewed as serious enough to warrant the Jama‘at’s “wait-and-see” policy. In May 1939, Mawdudi had asserted that forming the party “implie[d] changing the government.” When the Jama‘at was formed two years later, the only government it sought to change, as is evident from its propaganda and political activities, was that of the future Muslim state. The Jama‘at emerged as a movement leading to the “renaissance” of Islam (nash’at-i naw) that would culminate in the rule of religious law (iqamat-i din), as distinguished from the Muslim League’s territorial and cultural conception of Muslim nationhood combined with a secular government. As early as 1942, the Jama‘at began to devise plans for operating in Pakistan should it materialize.
Mawdudi’s aversion to the Muslim League and its policies was not only doctrinal but it also had its roots in his understanding of what the trials and tribulations of the Muslims in India had been. For Mawdudi, who had witnessed the decline of the nizam’s state in Hyderabad, Muslim rule by itself was a hollow and ephemeral concept. When and where it had existed, it had not guaranteed the rights and political fortunes of Muslims; it was a model of government the shortcomings of which were borne out by history. If Muslims sought a panacea to their quandary, they had to look farther than the League’s manifesto to the fundamental sources of power and glory in Islam. In Tonk (Rajasthan) in 1947, Mawdudi exclaimed, “[If the Muslim League] sincerely stood up as the true representative of Islam, the whole of India could become ‘Pakistan.’ ”
From its inception the Jama‘at emphasized the distinction between “Islamic” and “Muslim” and, more important, “Islamic” and “secular.” For instance, it contrasted its members with the secular and Westernized leaders of the Muslim League with their moral laxity and fleeting loyalties, the blatant “opportunism” of the likes of Bengal’s Fazlu’l-Haq, and the “heterodox” faith of the Shi‘i Jinnah, the Isma‘ili Sir Aga Khan, and the Ahmadi Sir Chaudhri Zafaru’llah Khan. By emphasizing this point and comparing their claims that they led the Muslims with its own claim of being a holy community, the Jama‘at gained a political advantage. In so doing it also came perilously close to undermining the League’s leadership, a sin of which the Muslim League has not absolved the Jama‘at to this day. Blunt as Mawdudi had been in his attacks on the Muslim League and its leadership and contrary to assertions by his critics, he did not promulgate an incontrovertibly anti-Pakistan platform. His rhetoric against the League always came in tandem with some form of support for partition.
The Two-Nation Theory
In 1935 Mawdudi shared a train compartment with B. G. Kher, the Congress party’s chief minister-designate of Bombay. Mawdudi felt that Kher humiliated those Muslims with whom he came into contact during the trip, and there and then decided that he could not live in a state ruled by Hindus. As idealistic as he may have been, by the late 1930s even he could see that the dream of converting the whole of India to Islam no longer seemed possible. For that reason Mawdudi increasingly succumbed to the communalist feelings that had all along influenced his turn to revivalism and political activism. If he was opposed to Congress’s secular nationalism—aimed at gaining independence for India—it was primarily because he was a Muslim communalist at heart.
Many, including Mawdudi’s own supporters, have argued that the Jama‘at’s opposition to the Pakistan movement and the Muslim League was only the logical result of Mawdudi’s opposition to secular nationalism. Yet, Mawdudi’s rejection of secular nationalism was neither as steadfast, nor as jejune, as both his critics and his followers suggest. It was communalism, behind the facade of Islam—creating distinctions between the “self” and the “other”—which governed Mawdudi’s binary view of the world as sacred and profane. For Mawdudi, secular nationalism was a threat to communalism, and only for that reason did it feature in his ideological demonology, because secular nationalism meant Congress rule—a “Hindu Raj” in Mawdudi’s words. In 1938, in a lengthy article in Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an, he wrote, “Nehru’s promises of scientific progress and nationalist democracy will be tantamount to the extinction of Islam, and hence Muslims.”
In the same article Mawdudi systematically attacked Congress’s position on secular nationalism and democracy as unworkable and detrimental to the interests of Indian Muslims. In its place he offered two “two-nation” schemes of his own, proposing a state within a state (riyasat dar riyasat) that echoed Muhammad Iqbal’s demand for a “Muslim India within India.” He then offered plans that would preserve the territorial integrity of India and still give Muslims substantial communal autonomy. The first plan favored dividing India into two “culturally autonomous” democratic entities, which would form the “international federation” of India with a constitution similar to those of “Switzerland, Australia, or the United States.” The constituent entities would be equal partners in running the state, would have distinct boundaries, and would be sovereign in their internal affairs, with the power to formulate and implement their own laws. For matters pertaining to the state as a whole, such as the formulation of its confederate constitution, a constituent assembly would be formed, the members of which would be chosen through elections based on proportional representation.
Should the first plan not prove popular, Mawdudi devised a second one, in which India would again be reorganized along confederate lines, this time with fourteen territories, thirteen of which—Ajmer, Awadh, Baluchistan, East Bengal, Bhopal, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jawrah, Junagadh, North-West Frontier Province, North and West Punjab, Sind, and Tonk—would be awarded to Muslims, and a single large fourteenth would be Hindu. The thirteen were “justly” suggested by Sayyid ‘Abdu’l-Latif whom Mawdudi lauded for the plan’s wisdom in redrawing the map of India along communal lines. Twenty-five years would be allotted for exchanging populations between the thirteen territories and their Hindu neighbor. The fourteen territories would be bound by an Indian confederacy, but would enjoy sovereignty over their internal affairs. These plans clearly underscored Mawdudi’s communalist inclinations, but still in an Indian framework. But that would not be the case for long. Even at the end of this revealing article he wrote that if the second plan too was rejected, Muslims would “have no choice but to demand a completely autonomous unit, tied together [with its Hindu counterpart] only for defense, communications, and trade,” an idea which was not too distant from what the Congress, the Muslim League, and the viceroy were debating at the time.
These ideas of Indian confederacy, however, increasingly gave way to sober realization of the fractious direction in which Indian politics were heading. Mawdudi, like most Muslim communalists, began to feel the constraint of the narrowing range of options before him. When asked in 1938–1939 about his choice of the title “Daru’l-Islam” (Abode of Islam) for his project in Pathankot, Mawdudi explained “it means only a Muslim cultural home and not a Muslim state, but if God wills it, the two may become one.” By Muslim state, he surely no longer meant the entirety of India, for he had left South India two years earlier, having concluded that there was no future for Muslims in that region. It was following the elections of 1937, when Indians were given limited self-government, and over the course of the following decade that, like many of his coreligionists who resided in Muslim minority provinces, Mawdudi, too, began to succumb to the temptation of secessionism. As his dream of an “Islamic India” was shattered by harsh realities, talk of converting the whole of India to Islam gave way to talk of an “Islamic state” in a separate Muslim territory. From this point on, the Jama‘at’s relations with the Muslim League became more complex, marked by both competition and concord. Beyond the rivalry which characterized the relations between the two, the basis for a symbiotic relationship anchored in their shared communal outlook also emerged during this period.
Competition with the Muslim League
Between 1941 and 1947 the language and tone of the League’s political program was increasingly Islamized, and relations between the two parties in those years were affected by this change in character, which not only created a common ground between the two but also made the Muslim League more susceptible to Mawdudi’s maneuvers. The League’s appeal to Islamic symbols created a niche in the political arena for the Jama‘at and prepared the ground for its activities. The Muslim League’s actions began directly to influence the Jama‘at’s reactions. In collaboration, and more often in confrontation, with the League, the Jama‘at found a political existence, as the League’s policies became the Jama‘at’s calling. When in a speech before the students at Aligarh Muslim University in 1938 Mawdudi first outlined his idea of the Islamic state, he did so by comparing and contrasting it with the Muslim League’s plans for Pakistan.
So long as he was unsure of the future, Mawdudi had sought to keep his options open by maintaining the Jama‘at’s distance from the Pakistan movement. This did not attest to his aversion to Muslim communalism but to his rivalry with the Muslim League. Behind Mawdudi’s sanctimonious derision of the League’s enterprise lay his own political ambitions. To attract the League’s constituency, the Jama‘at intensified its campaign to expose the “un-Islamic” nature of the Muslim League’s program, believing that a people moved by religious concerns and loyalties were bound to gravitate toward the party that best represented the essence of their communal identity. That Mawdudi was proved wrong suggests that religion could serve as the handmaiden of communalism, but not as its mainstay. Although Muslims were attracted by the Islamic symbols, their political decisions were not religiously motivated. Muslim communalism encompassed Islam, but went far beyond the theological boundaries of the faith. It was not long before it became apparent that the Jama‘at’s campaign had failed to dent the League’s following, let alone derail its plans for Pakistan. Party members, however, did not lose heart and decided that theirs was not a political problem. Mawdudi explained the Jama‘at’s failure to attract a following by citing Jinnah’s wealth and his own comparatively meager means. He could not find much solace in that argument for long, however, and relieved his frustrations by further escalating his scurrilous attacks on the Muslim League.
From 1939 onward, Mawdudi ceased to attack the Jami‘at-i Ulama and the Congress and directed his invective against the Muslim League instead. As uneasy as the Muslim League felt about Mawdudi’s broadside blasts against Jinnah and his program and despite its reactions to them, he presented no real dangers to the League. For Mawdudi and the Jama‘at in those years had no concrete strategy; their idea of an Islamic state was too vague, intangible, and often unpalatable to the average Muslim to be persuasive; and their hatred of the Congress and the Hindus still outweighed their dislike for the League. More important, unlike the Ahrar, the Jama‘at had never openly sided with the Congress and, unlike the Khaksar, their anti–Muslim League rhetoric had never been translated into violence. Therefore, the Muslim League’s attitude toward the Jama‘at between 1939 and 1947, despite the party’s periodic genuflections toward Mawdudi, remained by and large cautious but cordial.
The rapport between the two parties was further strengthened by personal and, on occasion, institutional contacts. While the Jama‘at and the League found themselves at loggerheads in the 1940s, the cordial relations between Mawdudi and the League’s leaders continued to determine the Jama‘at’s politics. Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali (a future prime minister of Pakistan), himself a deeply religious man, had been an acquaintance of Mawdudi since the 1930s; Nawwab Bahadur Yar Jang, also a pious man and a prominent Muslim League leader, was also close to Mawdudi. They not only reduced Mawdudi’s distance from the League but also tempered the League’s reaction to Mawdudi’s rhetoric. A similar influence was exerted by Muslim League workers who had grown close to the Jama‘at, and on occasion had even joined the party. As a result, Mawdudi himself proved to be more flexible toward the Muslim League than is today thought to have been the case. A copy of Mawdudi’s Islam ka Nazriyah Siyasi (Islam’s Political Views), for instance, inscribed with the compliments of the author, is kept in the collection of Jinnah’s papers at the Ministry of Culture of Pakistan.
Mawdudi proved even more amenable if Muslim League overtures raised his and the Jama‘at’s standing in the Muslim community. In 1940 the president of the Muslim League of the United Provinces, Nawwab Sir Muhammad Isma‘il Khan invited Mawdudi to participate in the Majlis-i Nizam-i Islami (Council of Islamic Order) in Lucknow, which was convened to devise a plan for incorporating religion into the structure of the future Muslim state. Mawdudi accepted without hesitation. The council was to consist of Isma‘il Khan, Chaudhri Khaliqu’l-Zaman, Nawwab Shamsu’l-Hasan, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Mawlana Azad Subhani, ‘Abdu’l-Majid Daryabadi, and Mawdudi. To be invited to this select council with religious luminaries was no doubt a great honor. The Muslim League may have been hard-pressed to find other religious leaders who would attend; or it may have sought to placate Mawdudi through this invitation; or it may have viewed the occasion as an opportunity for rewarding Mawdudi for his denunciation of the Congress and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind. Isma‘il Khan may also have been asked to invite Mawdudi by his friends among the League’s leaders. Whatever the case, it boosted Mawdudi’s ego and raised his stature as a religious leader. Between 1939 and 1947, the Muslim League paid back the favor Mawdudi had rendered it during the two preceding years by taking on the pro-Congress Muslim leaders.
Another cooperative effort between the Jama‘at and Muslim League came about at the request of Mawdudi following the Jama‘at’s formation. It pertained to a division of opinion between the Muslim League and the Jama‘at over the ultimate shape of the state of Pakistan. Soon after the formation of the Jama‘at in 1941, Qamaru’ddin Khan, the secretary-general of the Jama‘at, was dispatched to Delhi to meet with Jinnah. Through the good offices of Raja Mahmudabad—a deeply religious and generous patron of the League—a meeting was arranged between Qamaru’ddin Khan and Jinnah at the latter’s residence. During the meeting, which lasted for forty-five minutes, Qamaru’ddin Khan outlined the Jama‘at’s political platform and enjoined Jinnah to commit the League to the Islamic state. Jinnah responded astutely that he saw no incompatibility between the positions of the Muslim League and the Jama‘at, but that the rapid pace at which the events were unfolding did not permit the League to stop at that point simply to define the nature of the future Muslim state: “I will continue to strive for the cause of a separate Muslim state, and you do your services in this regard; our efforts need not be mutually exclusive.” Then he added, “I seek to secure the land for the mosque; once that land belongs to us, then we can decide on how to build the mosque.” The metaphor of the mosque no doubt greatly pleased Qamaru’ddin Khan, who interpreted it as an assurance that the future state would be Islamic. Jinnah, however, cautioned Qamaru’ddin Khan that the achievement of an independent Muslim state took precedence over the “purification of souls.”
At the time, the Jama‘at decided not to make this meeting public, although it had served to quell the anxieties of the pro-Pakistan members of the Jama‘at and had been seen as a green light for greater political activism by the party. If anything, Jinnah had hinted that his task was only to secure the land for the “mosque”; its building, the Jama‘at concluded, would be the work of the religiously adept. What this meant for the Jama‘at was that a continuum existed between the activities of the Muslim League and those of the Jama‘at; where one ended at partition the other began: the Jama‘at-i Islami was to inherit Pakistan. The symbiotic relationship between the League and the Jama‘at, within a communalist framework, was strengthened.
As India moved closer to partition, however, the Jama‘at’s competition with the Muslim League intensified, gradually overshadowing the concord which the contacts with the League in 1939–1941 had engendered. Perturbed by the League’s domination of the Pakistan movement, the Jama‘at increasingly focused its energies on undermining Jinnah’s position in the movement. The party’s attacks became more venomous and direct, transforming the relations between the Jama‘at and the League.
In October 1945, Mawdudi issued what amounted to a religious decree (fatwa) forbidding Muslims to vote for the “secular” Muslim League in the crucial elections of 1945. Muslim League leaders were understandably irritated at such behavior from the head of a party that was not even taking part in the elections and concluded that the move proved the Jama‘at’s pro-Congress sentiments. But, unperturbed by the implications of its anti–Muslim League campaign, the Jama‘at pushed ahead with its line of attack, which by 1947 became caustic vituperations. Mawdudi himself set the tone when in Kawthar in January 1947 he referred to the “Pakistan of the Muslim League” as “faqistan” (the land of the famished) and “langra” Pakistan (crippled Pakistan). While these insults were directed at the secular nature of Jinnah’s program for the new state, they incensed Muslim League leaders and rank-and-file members alike; they were having enough trouble defending their cause against the Congress party. They began to retaliate: when, at a regional Jama‘at-i Islami convention in Madras, Mawdudi said that “the Jama‘at’s sole objective is to present Muslims with virtuous leadership and to stop the ascendancy of a corrupt [fasiq’ufajir] leadership at the helm [of the Pakistan movement],” the crowd erupted into chants of “Long live the Muslim League,” “Long live the qa’id-i a‘zam [Jinnah],” and “Down with the Jami‘at-i Ulama [i.e. the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind].” The crowd then turned the meeting into a Muslim League rally.
The Congress party was quick to take advantage of these confrontations, and this further deepened the antagonism between the League and the Jama‘at. The subtlety of the Jama‘at’s own communalism was all but drowned by the clamor of its confrontation with the League. Hopeful of enlisting the Jama‘at’s support and anxious to embarrass the League, the Congress openly wooed Mawdudi. In April 1947, during the Jama‘at’s regional convention in Patna, Gandhi attended a lecture by Amin Ahsan Islahi. After the lecture, Congress officials in the city announced that Gandhi had been invited to the session by the Jama‘at’s leaders, and a possible merger of the party into the nationalist movement might be in the making. Gandhi also lauded Islahi and endorsed his views, which the Mahatma argued “attacked the political uses of Islam!” Muslim League officials, already distressed by Mawdudi’s attacks, were finally provoked into saying what some of them had felt all along: the Jama‘at was Congress’s Trojan horse among the Muslims. The pro-Muslim League Nawa’-i Waqt of Lahore led the charge against Mawdudi, accusing him of anti-Pakistan activities, collaboration with the Congress party, and political duplicity. For the Muslim League, the Jama‘at had until that day been at worst a tolerable inconvenience, and at times a valuable “Islamic” tool against the pro-Congress ulama; it was now clearly a nuisance. Gandhi’s remarks changed the balance of relations between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League to the latter’s advantage. The Jama‘at, however, was not reconciled either to this change in its status or to the shift in its debate with the League from questioning the orthodoxy of the Muslim League’s program and leaders to questioning its own loyalty to the Muslim separatist cause.
Caught off guard, the Jama‘at appealed to Nawa’-i Waqt to publish the whole text of Islahi’s speech that Gandhi had alleged had been favorable to the Congress’s position, and it denied ever having invited Gandhi to the session. Nawa’-i Waqt declined to publish either the text or the denial; the League was not going to let Mawdudi off the hook that easily. To the dismay of the Congress, in May Mawdudi issued another salvo against the “secular, irreligious nationalist democracy” promised by the League, but sensing the adverse climate, desisted from attacking it further. In June 1947, Mawdudi wrote an open letter to the Muslims of India, encouraging them to choose Pakistan over the “Indian Republic,” and in July 1947 he encouraged the Muslims of the North-West Frontier Province to turn out their Congress ministry and to vote for Pakistan in the referendum which was scheduled to decide the fate of that province. In the same month, he issued a terse rebuttal to the well-publicized and damaging charge by the Congress that those Muslims who complained about the idea of the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine—as many Indian Muslims including Jinnah had—could hardly justify their demand for a Muslim one. Fearful of giving vent to accusations of being anti-Pakistan, the party withdrew into the “splendid isolation” of Pathankot.
Although the birth of Pakistan followed an ebb in the relations between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League, the concord which had characterized the relations between the two until 1945 continued to define their relationship at a more fundamental level. Since both were ultimately striving to secure communal rights for Muslims, the Jama‘at and Muslim League each legitimated the political function of the other in furthering their common communalist cause. It was the structure of this relationship that determined the interactions between the Jama‘at and the fruit of the League’s toil—the Pakistan state—more than their bickering over the nature of that state may suggest. The Jama‘at legitimated communalism in Islamic terms and helped the League find a base of support by appealing to religious symbols. The Muslim League, in turn, increasingly Islamized the political discourse on Pakistan to the Jama‘at’s advantage, creating a suitable gateway for the party’s entry into the political fray. The Muslim League leaders elevated the Jama‘at’s status, while institutional contacts and personal links between the two parties gave more concrete shape to the structure of relations between the two. Conflict, contact, and concord was rooted in communal interests and the legitimating role of Islam. That framework has governed the scope and nature of relations between the two parties since partition.