National Security Debates - We become what we focus on! Part III

National Security Debates - We become what we focus on! Part III

Written By : Air Marshal (Retired) Masood Akhtar
Founding Fathers' Vision (FFV) and National Security
Sir Muhammad Iqbal's 1930 Presidential Address

Iqbal applied himself in all fields and subjects especially in Islam and continued to evolve throughout his life. It is believed that he said and wrote for the ordinary in Urdu, and presented the more difficult concepts in Persian and then in English. People quote many of his verses for their own vested interests, but his Allahabad Address to the 25th Session of the All-India Muslim League on 29 December 1930 is generally considered to be his Magna Carta on Muslim Nation Building. But his Magnum Opus truly, is his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam which we shall cover later.

This great document presented the Pakistan Idea for the first time and gave many concepts for securing the rights of Muslims within a United India. These comprised ideas like Nationalism vs. Internationalism, National Identity/ Purpose/ Culture and Rights of Minorities etc. The big question today is, do these ideas apply to Pakistan today, with its multi-faceted and complex problems and crises in difficult times?

It is a long document of over 9000 words and 16 pages, thus we have sifted only the salient points and tenets to help evolve our values on National Security. Because of the enormity of scope and number of ideas presented this article is being published in four serials.


Islam: The Concept


Islam an Inclusive Concept

It has furnished those basic emotions and loyalties which gradually:

         Unify scattered individuals and groups, and finally transform them into a well-defined people,

         Possessing a moral consciousness of their own


In India, as elsewhere, the structure of Islam as a society is almost entirely due to the working of Islam as a culture inspired by a specific ethical ideal:

         What I mean to say is that Muslim society, with its remarkable homogeneity and inner unity, has grown to be what it is,

         Under the pressure of the laws and institutions associated with the culture of Islam.


Muslims Learn Nationalism from the West

The ideas set free by European political thinking, however, are now rapidly changing the outlook of the present generation of Muslims both in India and outside India.

         Our younger men, inspired by these ideas, are anxious to see them as living forces in their own countries, without any critical appreciation of the facts which have determined their evolution in Europe.

         In Europe Christianity was understood to be a purely monastic order which gradually developed into a vast church organisation.

The protest of Luther was directed against this church organisation, not against any system of polity of a secular nature, for the obvious reason that there was no such polity associated with Christianity.

Nationalism of Rousseau and Luther

Thus the upshot of the intellectual movement initiated by such men as Rousseau and Luther was:

         the break-up of the one into [the] mutually ill-adjusted many,

         the transformation of a human into a national outlook, requiring a more realistic foundation, such as the notion of country,

         and finding expression through varying systems of polity evolved on national lines, i.e. on lines which recognise territory as the only principle of political solidarity.

Religion as complete other-worldliness?

If you begin with the conception of religion as complete other-worldliness, then what has happened to Christianity in Europe is perfectly natural.

         The universal ethics of Jesus is displaced by national systems of ethics and polity.

         The conclusion to which Europe is consequently driven is that religion is a private affair of the individual and has nothing to do with what is called man's temporal life.

Islam’s Universal Constitution

Islam does not bifurcate the unity of man into an irreconcilable duality of spirit and matter. In Islam:

         God and the universe, spirit and matter, Church and State, are organic to each other.

         Man is not the citizen of a profane world to be renounced in the interest of a world of spirit situated elsewhere.

         To Islam, matter is spirit realising itself in space and time.


Iqbal Predicts in 1930, a Federated Europe of today!

Europe uncritically accepted the duality of spirit and matter, probably from Manichaean (a heretical Christian belief in the separate nature of matter and spirit) thought.

         Her best thinkers are realising this initial mistake today,

         But her statesmen are indirectly forcing the world to accept it as an unquestionable dogma.

The result is a set of mutually ill-adjusted States dominated by interests not human but national.

         And these mutually ill-adjusted States, after trampling over the moral and religious convictions of Christianity, are today feeling the need of a federated Europe, i.e. the need of a unity which the Christian church organisation originally gave them, but which,

         Instead of reconstructing it in the light of Christ's vision of human brotherhood, they considered fit to destroy under the inspiration of Luther.


Nationalism vs. Internationalism


Need to reinvent Islam

In the world of Islam we have a universal polity:

         Whose fundamentals are believed to have been revealed but whose structure, owing to our legists' [legal theorists'] want of contact with the modern world, today,

         Stands in need of renewed power by fresh adjustments

The great difficulty is how to save the foundations of religion when many antiquated notions have to be given up


Nationalism- The Problem!

At the present moment the national idea is radicalizing the outlook of Muslims, and:

         Thus materially counteracting the humanizing work of Islam. And

         The growth of racial consciousness may mean the growth of standards different [from] and even opposed to the standards of Islam.


Answer: Ijtehad

Never in our history has Islam had to stand a greater trial than the one which confronts it today.

         It is open to a people to modify, reinterpret or reject the foundational principles of their social structure;

         But it is absolutely necessary for them to see clearly what they are doing before they undertake to try a fresh experiment


Is it possible to retain Islam as an ethical ideal and to reject it as a polity (a state, society, or institution regarded as a political entity), in favour of national polities in which [the] religious attitude is not permitted to play any part?

Therefore the construction of a polity on national lines, if it means a displacement of the Islamic principle of solidarity, is simply unthinkable to a Muslim. This is a matter which at the present moment directly concerns the Muslims of India.

Answer: Inclusive Islam

Such a formation is quite possible, though it involves:

         The long and arduous process of practically remaking men and furnishing them with fresh emotional equipment.

         It might have been a fact in India if the teaching of Kabir and the Divine Faith of Akbar had seized the imagination of the masses of this country.


Full and Free Development of Cultures


Communal Development: Right of every Community

I have no hesitation in declaring that if the principle that

         The Indian Muslim is entitled to full and free development on the lines of his own culture and tradition in his own Indian home-lands,

         Is recognized as the basis of a permanent communal settlement, he will be ready to stake his all for the freedom of India

A community which is inspired by feelings of ill-will towards other communities is low and ignoble.


I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws, religious and social institutions of other communities.

         Nay, it is my duty, according to the teaching of the Quran, even to defend their places of worship, if need be

         Yet I love the communal group which is the source of my life and behaviour; and

         Which has formed me what I am by giving me its religion, its literature, its thought, its culture, and thereby recreating its whole past as a living operative factor, in my present consciousness

Internationalism! Internationalism!

But the staunchest internationalist recognises that

         Without the fullest national autonomy it is extraordinarily difficult to create the international State

         So also without the fullest cultural autonomy – and communalism in its better aspect is culture – it will be difficult to create a harmonious nation"


Muslim India within India (with a distinct National purpose?)

Nationalities and Sub-Nationalities

India is a continent of human groups belonging to different races, speaking different languages, and professing different religions (so is Pakistan?). Their behaviour is not at all determined by a common race-consciousness.

The principle of European democracy cannot be applied to India without recognising the fact of communal groups.

The resolution of the All-Parties Muslim Conference at Delhi is, to my mind, wholly inspired by this noble ideal of a harmonious whole which,

         Instead of stifling the respective individualities of its component wholes,

         Affords them chances of fully working out the possibilities that may be latent in them.

The Pakistan Idea

Personally, I would go farther than the demands embodied in it.

         I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State.

         Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.

The idea need not alarm the Hindus or the British.

         India is the greatest Muslim country in the world.

         The life of Islam as a cultural force in the country very largely depends on its centralisation in a specified territory

It will intensify their sense of responsibility and deepen their patriotic feeling.

Unitary Government is Impractical

I may frankly tell him that the Muslim demand is not actuated by the kind of motive he impugns (to suggest that something cannot be trusted, relied on, or respected) to us;

         It is actuated by a genuine desire for free development

         Which is practically impossible under the type of unitary government contemplated by the nationalist Hindu politicians with a view to secure permanent communal dominance in the whole of India


Islam Conceived a Contractual State Well before Rousseau ?

Islam is not a Church. It is a State conceived as a contractual organism long before Rousseau ever thought of such a thing,

         And animated by an ethical ideal which regards man not as an earth-rooted creature, defined by this or that portion of the earth,

         But as a spiritual being understood in terms of a social mechanism, and possessing rights and duties as a living factor in that mechanism.

Times of India pointed out some time ago in a leader [front-page article] on the Indian Banking Inquiry Committee.

         "In ancient India," the paper points out, "the State framed laws regulating the rates of interest;

         But in Muslim times, although Islam clearly forbids the realisation of interest on money loaned, Indian Muslim States imposed no restrictions on such rates."


Federal States?

Federation not Unitary State?

In view of India's infinite variety in climates, races, languages, creeds and social systems,

         The creation of autonomous states, based on the unity of language, race, history, religion and identity of economic interests,

         Is the only possible way to secure a stable constitutional structure in India.

Proper redistribution will

         Make the question of joint and separate electorates automatically disappear from the constitutional controversy of India.

         It is the present structure of the provinces that is largely responsible for this controversy. (Likewise in Pakistan?)

Separate Electorates: For Economically Unequal Communal Groups Only

The Hindu thinks that separate electorates are contrary to the spirit of true nationalism, because

         He understands the word nation to mean a kind of universal amalgamation in which no communal entity ought to retain its private individuality.

         Such a state of things, however, does not exist. Nor is it desirable that it should exist.

India is a land of racial and religious variety.

         Add to this the general economic inferiority of the Muslims, their enormous debt, especially in the Punjab, and their insufficient majorities in some of the provinces as at present constituted, and

         You will begin to see clearly the meaning of our anxiety to retain separate electorates.


In such a country and in such circumstances territorial electorates cannot secure adequate representation of all interests, and must inevitably lead to the creation of an oligarchy (form of government in which the supreme power is vested in a few persons)

The Muslims of India can have no objection to purely territorial electorates if

         Provinces are demarcated so as to secure comparatively homogeneous communities,

         Possessing linguistic, racial, cultural and religious unity


Federation As Understood in the Simon Report

The pundits of England, on the other hand, realising that

         Democracy in the Centre tends to work contrary to their interests and

         Is likely to absorb the whole power now in their hands, in case a further advance is made towards responsible government,

         Have shifted the experience of democracy from the Centre to the provinces

The Muslims demand federation because it is pre-eminently a solution of India’s most difficult problem, i.e. the communal problem

The Nehru Report, realising

         Hindu majority in the Central Assembly, reaches a unitary form of government because such an institution secures Hindu dominance throughout India;

         the Simon Report retains the present British dominance behind the thin veneer of an unreal federation


Federal Scheme As Discussed in the Round Table Conference

It was a kind of surprise to the people of India, particularly the minorities, to see

·        The Indian Princes dramatically expressing their willingness at the Round Table Conference to join an all-India federation and,

·        As a result of their declaration, Hindu delegates – uncompromising advocates of a unitary form of government – quietly agreeing to the evolution of a federal scheme

·        The questions is not one of the Muslim share in a British Indian Assembly, but

·        One which relates to representation of British Indian Muslims in an All-India Federal Assembly

·        Our demand for 33 per cent must now be taken as a demand for the same proportion in the All-India Federal Assembly, exclusive of the share allotted to the Muslim states entering the Federation


The Alternative

The two most important constitutional problems of India:

1.      A redistribution of British India, calculated to secure a permanent solution of the communal problem, is the main demand of the Muslims of India.

2.      If, however, the Muslim demand of a territorial solution of the communal problem is ignored, then I support, as emphatically as possible,

  1. The Muslim demands repeatedly urged by the All-India Muslim League and the All-India Muslim Conference.
  2. The Muslims of India cannot agree to any constitutional changes which affect their majority rights, to be secured by separate electorates in the Punjab and Bengal, or
  3. Which fail to guarantee them 33 percent representation in any Central Legislature.

There were two pitfalls into which Muslim political leaders fell:

1.      The first was the repudiated Lucknow Pact, which originated in a false view of Indian nationalism and deprived the Muslims of India of chances of acquiring any political power in India.

2.      The second is the narrow- visioned sacrifice of Islamic solidarity:

a.       In the interests of what may be called Punjab ruralism,

b.      Resulting in a proposal which virtually reduces the Punjab Muslims to a position of minority.

c.       It is the duty of the league to condemn both the pact and the proposal.


Common Identity

Nor should the Muslim leaders and politicians allow themselves to be carried away by the subtle but fallacious argument that Turkey and Persia and other Muslim countries are progressing on national, i.e. territorial, lines. The Muslims of India are differently situated.

1.      The countries of Islam outside India are practically wholly Muslim in population.

2.      The minorities there belong, in the language of the Quran, to the 'people of the Book'.

3.      There are no social barriers between Muslims and the 'people of the Book'.

4.      A Jew or a Christian or a Zoroastrian (Iqbal considers Parsees also as the people of the Book!!!) does not pollute the food of a Muslim by touching it, and the law of Islam allows intermarriage with the 'people of the Book'.


Islam Aimed at One World-One Nation

Indeed the first practical step that Islam took towards the realisation of a final combination of humanity was to call upon peoples possessing practically the same ethical ideal to come forward and combined.

         The Quran declares: "O people of the Book! Come, let us join together on the 'word' (Unity of God) that is common to us all."

         The wars of Islam and Christianity, and later, European aggression in its various forms, could not allow the infinite meaning of this verse to work itself out in the world of Islam.

         Today it is being gradually realised in the countries of Islam in the shape of what is called Muslim Nationalism.


Let me tell you frankly that, at the present moment, the Muslims of India are suffering from two evils.

1.      The first is the want of personalities.

a.       Sir Malcolm Hailey and Lord Irwin were perfectly correct in their diagnosis when they told the Aligarh University that the community had failed to produce leaders.

b.      By leaders I mean men who, by Divine gift or experience, possess a keen perception of the spirit and destiny of Islam, along with an equally keen perception of the trend of modern history.

c.       Such men are really the driving forces of a people, but they are God’s gift and cannot be made to order.


2.      The second evil from which the Muslims of India are suffering is that the community is fast losing what is called the herd instinct:

a.       This [loss] makes it possible for individuals and groups to start independent careers without contributing to the general thought and activity of the community.

b.       We are doing today in the domain of politics what we have been doing for centuries in the domain of religion.

c.       But sectional bickerings in religion do not do much harm to our solidarity. They at least indicate an interest in what makes the sole principle of our structure as a people.

d.      Moreover, the principle is so broadly conceived that it is almost impossible for a group to become rebellious to the extent of wholly detaching itself from the general body of Islam.

e.       But diversity in political action, at a moment when concerted action is needed in the best interests of the very life of our people, may prove fatal.


How shall we, then, remedy these two evils?

Leaders? The remedy of the first evil is not in our hands.

Herd Instinct? As to the second evil, I think it is possible to discover a remedy. I have got definite views on the subject; but I think it is proper to postpone their expression till the apprehended situation actually arises.

1.      In case it does arise, leading Muslims of all shades of opinion will have to meet together, not to pass resolutions, but finally to determine the Muslim attitude and to show the path to tangible achievement.

2.      In this address I mention this alternative only because I wish that you may keep it in mind and give some serious thought to it in the meantime.


Conclusion: Common Identity & Purpose?


I cannot but impress upon you that the present crisis in the history of India demands

  1. Complete organisation and unity of will and purpose in the Muslim community,
  2. Both in your own interest as a community, and in the interest of India as a whole.
  3. The political bondage of India has been and is a source of infinite misery to the whole of Asia. It has suppressed the spirit of the East and wholly deprived her of that joy of self-expression which once made her the creator of a great and glorious culture. We have a duty towards India where we are destined to live and die.

Our duty towards Asia and India cannot be loyally performed

1.      Without an organised will fixed on a definite purpose.

2.      In your own interest, as a political entity among other political entities of India, such an equipment is an absolute necessity.


One of the profoundest verses in the Holy Quran teaches us that the birth and rebirth of the whole of humanity is like the birth and rebirth of a single individual.


Why cannot you who, as a people, can well claim to be the first practical exponents of this superb conception of humanity,

  1. Live and move and have your being as a single individual? I do not wish to mystify anybody when I say that things in India are not what they appear to be.
  2. The meaning of this, however, will dawn upon you only when you have achieved a real collective ego to look at them.
  3. In the words of the Quran, "Hold fast to yourself; no one who erreth can hurt you, provided you are well guided" (5:104).

We request the readers to debate, comment and derive the guidelines for the values of:

National Purpose (Equality of all people, institutions, provinces, Liberty or Freedom and Fraternity or Brotherhood); Personal values (Integrity, Service before Self and Excellence in Whatever We Do); National Values (Pluralism, Federalism, Constitutionalism, Internationalism; Equal Rights of Minorities; Joint Electorates etc)? Additionally does it give us the basis for our Common National Identity and the basis for evolving our National Interests?


Note: The emphasis and topics of various tenets are added by the scribe. We request the readers to publish their comments/critique in all newspapers and magazines for a wider debate. Let us make Pakistan more secure!

The writer has been CI at NDC and a visiting faculty for “Statecraft and National Security” at the National Security Workshop and the Administrative Staff College. E-mail: mak366 @