Friday, 7 January 2011

Islamic State (2)

Presented in the previous post were a few salient features of an “Islamic state” as conceived by the founding fathers of Pakistan – especially Iqbal, Quaid-i-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan. Looking at these features, we find that some of these overlap with secularism, some with theocracy and some with socialism.

This could be one of the three major reasons why the founding fathers’ vision was seldom understood by the intelligentsia. Already by 1947, the Muslim intelligentsia of the sub-continent had become sharply divided between secularist, conservative and socialist positions. Each of these groups saw only what it wanted to see in the statements of Iqbal and Quaid-i-Azam (and very often disregarding Liaquat Ali Khan altogether).

To say that the founding fathers of Pakistan wanted it to be a secular, theocratic or socialist state was equally wrong. Such a statement could only border on intellectual dishonesty. Secular Jinnah and Pakistan by Saleena Karim furnishes ample examples of such intellectual dishonesty – most famously committed by none less than a chief justice of Pakistan who attributed a “fake” quote to Quaid-i-Azam.

The Quaid may have foreseen this too. “Corruption is a curse in India and amongst Muslims, especially the so-called educated and intelligentsia,” he had written to his friend M. A. H. Ispahani in 1945. “Unfortunately, it is this class that is selfish and morally and intellectually corrupt.” (Quoted by Saleena Karim on p.133; emphasis is mine). This seems to be the second reason why the founding fathers’ concept of “Islamic State” got thrown into oblivion.

A third reason could be that this was a vision of the Islamic state as constantly developing through history – through “deed” of the masses rather than “ideas” of the elite. Grasping an ever-changing concept is a difficult thing, especially when it also requires us to be non-judgmental towards the less privileged.

This series of review will be concluded in the next post.

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