March Special

Pakistan's National Narrative

Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947 after a long Movement successfully led by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In this way he became Father of both our Nation as well as the State of Pakistan. The concept of a modern Muslim nation in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, which was initiated by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and gained momentum with the help of other Muslim leaders, materialized in the philosophy of Allama Iqbal – the poet philosopher of Pakistan – in his famous Allahabad Address at the AIML annual session in December 1930. Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, in his pamphlet Now or Never, published from Cambridge (UK), strengthened it further and gave concept of Pakistan as a nation. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as the foremost politician and statesman, gave it a final and practical shape in the form of “Pakistan Resolution” presented at the AIML, Lahore session on March 23, 1940. In 1942, the Quaid published Jinnah-Iqbal correspondence and in its Foreword, he termed the Pakistan Resolution as having been framed on the basis of Iqbal’s philosophy. Thus the state of Pakistan as the modern Islamic democratic state was established. As per the vision of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-i-Azam, the narrative of the state of Pakistan should be based on modern approach towards Islam, our history, traditions, and culture. Islam is to be taken as an international force that is to say wherever Islam went, it helped in the growth of independent nations based on their own culture, traditions, geography, and historical background. It is also how Islam helped the Pakistani nation in the growth of its culture, history, and attitude towards religion. A particular type of attitude towards Islam emerged in some areas of Pakistan which meant that they learnt Islam from the Sufi saints who served as guiding force of religion not only in their life, but even after their death. Their tombs emerged as the sacred shrines where people thronged continuously, especially at their annual Urs
Within one year of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) arrival in Medina, he concluded a pact with about 20 groups of the city including the Muslims of Bani Aws and Khazraj, Jews, Christians, and Mushrikeen. He established rule of law in the city by giving each group internal autonomy in social, religious and cultural fields. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) interfered wherever he was called upon or he saw any violation of the agreed principles. His teachings as well as the Holy Quran – the Book of God – revealed to him, further provided for this broad spectrum that each nation can mould its identity on the basis of its local culture, traditions, living conditions, living sources, and geography. All the Muslim majority states have emerged on the basis of their own history, culture, geography, and ethnicity, etc.
With the emergence of the United Nations Organization in 1945 as a platform for all the world nation states, a common approach towards humanity has grown strongly. This is perfectly according to Islam and the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). According to Islam, with the passage of time all the human beings born of Adam and Eve will become one. Thus we are moving in that direction. The Muslim world should understand this message of God who is indicating the turn of our history towards the achievement of united humanity.
First Muslim government in Pakistan was formed in 712 A.D. when Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab came under the Muslim rule. Since 1021 A.D., the whole of present Pakistan came under the Muslim rule headed by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna. The Ghaznavi period continued up to 1192 when Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori extended Muslim rule to the whole of northern Indo-Pak subcontinent. Qutab al-Din Aibak assumed the title of first Sultan of Delhi in 1206, this was gradually extended to the whole subcontinent later under Sultan Alauddin Khilji. The Delhi Sultanate continued up to 1526. Zahir ud-Din Babur founded the Mughal Dynasty in 1526 which continued til 1857. The Mughal Empire remained effective only up to 1707 when the entry of Europeans in the subcontinent resulted in the British emerging as powerful force. However, the Muslim rule continued up to 1857 when the War of Independence broke out and last Mughal ruler King Bahadur Shah was imprisoned by the British and sent to Rangoon, the present capital of Burma (Myanmar). When the British Raj was established in 1858, the Muslims suffered immensely in terms of loss of employment, properties, position, and a number of other matters. The alliance between the British and Hindus turned cruel to the Muslims. In this scenario, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan emerged as a savior of the Muslims and implored Muslims to understand modern education as the only way Muslims could rise again. This emphasis on modern education and the acknowledgement of difference between Muslims and Hindus served as the basis of his Two-Nation Theory. As a result of this concept a number of Muslim educational institutions were established at Aligarh and other parts of Indo-Pak subcontinent. The All India Muslim League was founded in 1906, as a result of the emergence of a sizable educated class, and later championed the cause of Pakistan.
When on August 14, 1947 Pakistan was founded, the Quaid famously had said that for Muslims this freedom was not a new thing, but for Hindustan it was a new thing because the Muslims had been ruling this subcontinent for centuries.
Realizing this aim and purpose of Islam as well as Pakistan, we, the Pakistani nation, should understand this message because Pakistani intellectuals are the fittest persons who can advance this concept not only among the Muslim world but also in the world at large.
In the light of this background and scenario we should frame our national narrative both internally and internationally and the following policy guidelines should be applied.
Main Points of our National Narrative
•    Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established himself above the Throne. He covers the night with the day, [another night] chasing it rapidly; and [He created] the sun, the moon, and the stars, subjected by His command. Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command, blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds (Quran 7:54). Man has been created on Earth to live for a certain period and then pass on to the next world. Life on Earth is the central point for which man is answerable to God on the Day of Judgment.
•   Islam should not be considered as one amongst other religions. It should be considered as a religion as well as way of life which has evolved from Adam to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Holy book of Quran is also such a book which encapsulates the teachings of all the previous books and the gist of all the previous teachings of all the prophets. It adds to what has already been said in the form of conclusion and the goals of humanity, both for Muslims and non-Muslims. What approach a modern man should have towards the universe and the world hereafter, has been given in this book. It indicates that the humanity of this globe should understand this message and develop understanding with all the peoples living in different geographical parts of the globe.
•    Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) approach towards the world and humanity is also wide ranging, reflecting what the Quran has said. His messages and letters to leaders of world, both Arabian and other rulers, are the same and humanity oriented.
•    Muslims as followers of Islam are asked to be kind not only to fellow Muslims but equally to all human beings irrespective of their faith, especially when they happen to live in their neighborhood.
•  Peaceful preaching of Islam is preferred at all times. Even in the wars which the Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself commanded, the white flag, presently the flag of the UNO, was always kept at the forefront indicating the peaceful message of Islam preferring peace, dialogue and settlement at any cost.
•    Islam came to Pakistan, India and other areas of the Indo-Pak subcontinent through Arab missionaries and preachers. The political Islam came to Balochistan in 644 A.D. and later to Sindh and Multan by Mohammad bin Qasim who conquered Sindh til Multan along the Indus River in 712 A.D. By 1021 A.D. all of the areas which constitute Pakistan were under the Muslim rule. Later in 1192 it was extended to north and the whole of India and Bangladesh and lasted up until 1857.
•   The British benefitted from the declining Muslim rule and established their own control in 1858 which lasted until 1947 when the subcontinent was partitioned into Pakistan and India. With the arrival of the British, modern European ideas were introduced in the subcontinent.  It was a result of the modern Muslim education that modern Muslim leaders like Allama Iqbal, Quaid-i-Azam and others established/presented the idea of Pakistan as a modern Islamic state so that the modern approach towards Islam could be developed.
•   Addressing the AIML annual session in December 1930, Allama Iqbal explained that the experience of Islam in the Indo-Pak subcontinent has been ‘unique’ in history meaning thereby that the Muslim rulers and the scholars of the subcontinent have made significant contributions towards human thought, civilization and culture. He demanded that in the Muslim state all these thoughts need to be understood in the light of modern ideas which hint towards a particular school of thought in the world. The Pakistani youth, especially the university students and teachers, should try to comprehend this message and advance it in the world.
•   Quaid-i-Azam believed in the parliamentary form of democracy where the supremacy of the Parliament, being the house of the peoples’ representatives, is to be guaranteed so that the cause of Islam in the democratic form can be realized. One may wonder, what kind of democracy is Islam oriented towards? It is a form of government where the decisions of the governance are taken by having maximum consultation for the purpose of advancing human ideals.
•    Justice to every segment of society is to be ensured by a written constitution.
•   We have a constitution which was drafted with consensus amongst all the major and minor parties represented in the parliament in 1973. What is required is only strict enforcement of its various articles by the successive governments. Unfortunately, that has not been done. It is for the youth who are the future generation to fulfill and realize all the requirements of the constitution, ideas of the Quaid and Iqbal.
•  Underprivileged segments of society are to be looked after not only by the state institutions but by fellow citizens as well in terms of provision of food, shelter, education, healthcare, social justice and other aspects of life so that every member of the state can enjoy an equal standard of living.

The writer is Ex-Director, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, and Professor at Quaid-i-Azam Chair (NIPS), Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]


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