Islam and Nationhood: Part II

Another scholar who opposed Partition of India and advocated for the Hindu-Muslim unity was Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani.

Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani championed the cause of composite nationalism.

He said:

“All should endeavor jointly for such a democratic government in which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis are included. Such a freedom is in accordance with Islam”

As Indian independence approached in 1947, Maulana Madani stood as a staunch opponent of those calling for the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. Instead, he wrote, argued, and campaigned for the position that Muslims could live as observant Muslims in a religiously plural society where they would be full citizens of an independent, secular India. 

His importance rests in his being both a political activist and an influential scholar who made Islamic arguments to support his position. Maulana Madani’s life and thought thus challenge common assumptions about the incompatibility between Islam and democracy. More fundamentally, his life serves as an example of the varied and pluralistic ways in which traditionalist Islamic scholars can engage with their scholarly tradition to address the political and social issues of their day. 

Maulana Madani opposed Pakistan as someone deeply committed to a Muslim presence in the whole of India.

He couched his argument within the framework of modern territorial nationalism, asserting Muslim indigeneity and ties to the land. He thus challenged Hindu “communalists” who marginalized non-Hindus in their vision of Indian nationalism.

In this, he also broke with Muslim separatists ready to sever their tie to the larger territory.

In taking this position, he, like other Indians, moved beyond historic patterns of de-territorialized loyalties in favor of the modern commitment to national belonging defined by homeland. 

Maulana Madani argued that India had had an Islamic presence from the beginning of human history.

He argued that the blessed soil of India was the repository of centuries of deceased holy men and that India was Indian Muslims only and beloved home. To those who attacked him as a “slave” of Hindus who sacrificed the interests of Islam, he replied that he in fact visualized Islam’s true interest.

Only by remaining within India could Muslims fulfill their obligation continuously to present the message of Islam to others.

Madani opposed the divisive policy of the country and forcefully argued that all communities living in India constitute one nation. At the end of 1937, Maulana Madani addressing a political meeting in Delhi made a very pertinent point:-

“Today a nation is made on the basis of the country .If there are different religions in the country, the nation does not become different”.

In the  modern  age,  nations  are  formed  by  the  countries  and  not  by  race  or religion. See  all  the  inhabitant  of  England  comprise  one  nation,  which  includes  the  Jews,  the Christians,  the  Protestants,  and  Catholics.  The same thing is with America, Japan and France."

“The whole world’s thought is that the Indians are one nation and all are slaves. And slaves are always in distress and do not have any self-respect. Therefore, they are treated in foreign countries very badly. The people of these countries do not differentiate between Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or they do not have any difference between genders and races but derive all the people by only one stick.”

 

“In  other  countries,  Indians  are  deprived  not  only  from  their  citizenship  rights  but also  forfeited  their  human  rights  and  they  cannot  have  any  protest.  This is the sign of slavery.”