There is no greater lie in Pakistan history than the supposed role of the Punjabi poet, Sir Muhammad “Allama” Iqbal in the creation of Pakistan. Today, Iqbal is officially venerated as Muffakir-e-Pakistan (مفکر پاکستان, “The Thinker of Pakistan”) and Hakeem-ul-Ummat (حکیم الامت, “The Sage of the Ummah”). His birthday (Iqbal Day) is a National Holiday in Pakistan, and Lahore airport is named Allama Iqbal International Airport. Many people in Pakistan (particularly Punjabis) seem to believe that Iqbal somehow created the ideology of Pakistan, and then Jinnah merely implemented it. Iqbal’s tomb was built in 1951 (4 years after Pakistan independence and 13 years after his death) within the grounds of the magnificent Mughal-built Badshahi Mosque complex in Lahore. Today, Pakistan’s Punjabi leaders bring foreign dignitaries to lay wreaths at Iqbal’s tomb.
The irony in all these lies is that Iqbal was a mortal political enemy of Jinnah. As the no.2 of Sir Mohammed Shafi, Iqbal engineered a split in AIML in 1927 which tried to remove Jinnah as leader and effectively expel him from the party. It took 3 years for the Shafi (Punjab) and Jinnah (non-Punjab) AIML factions to reunite, and Jinnah went in exile in London. He returned to India in 1934, after Shafi died and with Iqbal out of the picture.
The true reason why Iqbal has been venerated post-independence is simple: there was no other Punjabi who played any significant role in creating Pakistan. Punjabis originally opposed Jinnah, and the idea of Pakistan. In the 1937 all-India Constituent Assembly elections, Jinnah’s AIML emerged as the 2nd largest all-India party after Congress, yet won only 2/175 seats in Punjab. It later became apparent that the Pakistan Movement was gaining momentum. At this stage, the Punjabi landlords switched their support to Jinnah/AIML, in order to seize Hindu/Sikh lands and businesses, which is indeed what happened in 1947. After independence, Iqbal’s role was somehow aggrandised into somehow being alongside Jinnah in rank.
Muhajir Ideology of Pakistan
The Muslims of present-day India were articulating their concerns at the prospect of Hindu-majority local government in British India in the late nineteenth century. As this extraordinary letter from H.M Ismail of Datavli (a small hamlet near Aligarh) shows, the desire of Indian Muslims to retain control of their own destiny had nothing whatsoever to do with Iqbal. It was a consequence of the fall of the Mughal Empire, a secular desire for freedom, and a fear of being totally swamped by the better-educated Hindus. In 1906, as a consequence of the sentiments of millions of present-day Indian Muslims, the community leaders secured from the Viceroy (Lord Minto) an agreement of separate Hindu/Muslim electorates. With this single act, the creation of Pakistan on a democratic basis became a reality.
At this time, Iqbal was a young man, often frequenting the halls of Qadian, and writing charming Hindustan nationalist poems. The ideology of Pakistan came solely from Muhajirs (of all classes), expressing feelings such as those of H.M. Ismail.
Iqbal played no role in shaping the Muhajir consciousness, he also had minimal electoral impact in his own home province of Punjab. Iqbal died in 1938, so it seems the people of Punjab were not moved in the slightest to support Jinnah and AIML in the 1937 elections. Of the 2/175 Punjab seats won by Jinnah, at least 1 was won by an Ahmadi (Zafrullah). When and where was the ideology provided by Iqbal visible?
Iqbal – Enemy Of Jinnah
In 1927, a Punjabi politician called Sir Mohammad Shafi engineered a split in the AIML, over the issue of the Simon Report. From 1927 to 1930, the AIML was bitterly split, with 2 factions – Shafi Faction and Jinnah Faction – each claiming primacy. Iqbal was Secretary (no.2) of the Shafi faction, and was therefore a leading enemy of Jinnah.
By way of background, the British-led Simon Commission (with no Indians on it) was tasked in 1927 to produce a report with recommendations for the future of India’s goverment. The resulting Simon Report was bitterly opposed by Jinnah, Nehru, and Gandhi, who all insisted on increased provincial autonomy, whilst the Simon report recommended continued British control in India’s local government.
Shafi (Iqbal) – Jinnah Split
[Click on the Date to see original news article]
11 March and 17 March, 1925– Muddiman Report (pre-cursor to Simon Report), supported by Shafi, opposed by Jinnah. Note: Shafi voted with the 3 European Committee members, along with a Maharaja. Jinnah voted against, with the remaining Indian members.
16 December, 1927 – Major schism in AIML along Punjabi/non-Punjabi lines. Sir M. Shafi (supported by Iqbal), opposed Jinnah’s recommendation to boycott the Simon Commission. “Punjab Members” refused Simon Commission boycott and insisted on holding next year’s meeting in Lahore, not Calcutta. When this was refused, the Punjab members walked out (including Iqbal). The Aga Khan had the support of most proxy votes, but withdrew from the contest, handing over Presidency of AIML to Shafi. If the proxies had been made in favour of someone other than the Aga Khan, Shafi would not have been elected. The Punjabis went immediately to set up a rival Lahore group.
28 December, 1927 – Shafi refuses to attend Calcutta AIML meeting, insists on Lahore meeting. Plans to hold rival Lahore meeting.
2 January, 1928 – Shafi holds a Lahore AIML meeting and Jinnah holds AIML Calcutta meeting. At the Calcutta meeting, the Punjab Muslim League is disaffiliated, and Shafi is censured. This is exactly what happened in 1917 as well, when Shafi was also President of the Punjab League. As a rebuttal, the Punjab AIML passed a resolution voting Shafi as Permanent President of the AIML. As a graduate of Cambridge University, Iqbal most likely had a leading role in drafting these anti-Jinnah resolutions. On this day, more than any other, Iqbal was the enemy of Jinnah.
5 March, 1929 – Jinnah/Shafi factions agree to reunite, based on 50-50 representation in new AIML
1 April, 1929 – Chaos at AIML meeting. With Jinnah absent on urgent political business, the Punjab AIML faction tried to force through Shafi’s position by resolution. This was met by anger from the Jinnah faction supporters, and police were required to stop a fight. At this moment, Jinnah arrived at the conference and declared it adjourned, amid great pandemonium.
1 March, 1930 – Jinnah and Shafi reconcile
mid 1930 – Jinnah leaves for London Round Table conference
30 December, 1930 – Iqbal makes speech calling for Muslim Indian state (within British Empire) to be created in Punjab/Sindh/Balochistan/NWFP-KPK, at least for the Muslims of North-West India. This idea explicitly excludes the Muslims from the rest of India. This is the “Son of the Soil” ideology of Pakistan, which wishes the Muhajirs weren’t even there!
Note: Jinnah was in London at this time, and therefore did not attend Iqbal’s speech.
1938 – On Iqbal’s death, there was no formal ceremony to remember him in any way by Jinnah/AIML.
1947 – at the independence of Pakistan, there was no memorial ceremony of any kind held by Jinnah or Pakistan Government to remember Iqbal – which proves that his status as Muffakir-e-Pakistan was a later invention.
From 1930-1934, Jinnah was living in Hampstead in London and practising Law. It seems certain that his departure from India was triggered largely by the difficulties caused by Shafi/Iqbal’s revolt. He returned to India in 1934, when Shafi had passed away and Iqbal was out of the picture. In Jinnah’s absence, Iqbal assumed a greater leadership role, suggesting that Iqbal was more interested in an anti-Jinnah coup d’etat than providing Jinnah with any ideological gems.
Iqbal was a poet, who thankfully wrote more than 2/3 of his poetry in Persian, a language no longer understood by Pakistanis. His ideas, playing on Islamist revulsion at the modern world, were a fore-runner of Jihadi Taliban and Al-Qaeda ideology. Iqbal was a pan-Islamist, who dreamed of the Sword of Jihad conquering the entire world. At the peak of Iqbal’s political career, he used his energies to do all he could to cripple Jinnah politically. The split of AIML led to Jinnah’s departure from India, and he returned several years later to once more lead the Muhajir yearning for freedom and independence.
The idea that Iqbal made a major contribution to Pakistan’s creation is a complete lie. He was the backbone of Shafi’s Punjab Muslim League group, which humiliated Jinnah by holding a rival AIML meeting in Lahore to undermine Jinnah’s Calcutta conference. His Obituary (22 April, 1938) stated that Iqbal was “inspired by the vision of a New Mecca, a worldwide theocratic Utopian state in which all Moslem, no longer divided by the barriers of race and country, should be one” – this is identical to the ideology of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The obituary also states that Iqbal was “severely critical of Western life and thought on the basis of its materialism” – this is identical to the ideology of Imran Khan.
Iqbal is revered in Punjab. Imran Khan stands underneath his image at every rally. There is no purpose in us expending our energy to convince them otherwise. They have deliberately removed all negative references to Iqbal and replaced them with fantasies of Iqbal and Jinnah working as a team. But these are all lies, as I have shown with contemporary source evidence. Iqbal was a mediocre politician, a Jihadi ideologue, and a political enemy of Jinnah from Punjab.