The Pakistan Idea: A Challenge to Geographical, Racial and Lingual Nationalism

by Miss Shamim Anwar


It has never been easy for anyone, great or small, to present something new and fresh in the realm of ideas and concepts.  Even if people may no longer be burnt or skinned alive for their convictions today, the best thinkers of any country have to wait a long time to make themselves heard above the noise and in of prevalent ideas, leave alone re-creating a new order and a new man.  Each idea seems to go its full circle before their warnings are heeded, entailing so much suffering and so much pain.  And yet all this need not be necessary. 

It has not been easy to present the “Pakistan Idea”.  In the uncritical onrush of man’s march in a particular direction, it is terribly out of step.  It is all the more difficult because here, as Dr. Muhammad Iqbal put it, “Islam is (being presented as) a protest against all religions in the old sense of the word” – a word that, significantly has never been used in the Quran.  Thus whenever Iqbal uses the word “religion” it is used in a very different context and background. 

It has been noted during the writing of this little book that the Pakistan Idea can best be reconstructed on the basis of the speeches and writings of the main characters, with Quranic concepts as the touch-stone. This method becomes necessary in this case for the simple reason that the Quran was professedly the basis of their ideology. 

This little book has been no easy venture, but it became possible because of my great teacher and mentor, Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez.  Indeed without him this book could never have been written. 

Allama Parwez’s greatest forte was clarity of thought and his knowledge of semantics.  The way he clarified words and concepts and the “Pakistan Idea” as no one else did, I developed a keen sensitivity to the fact that I must write it down.  I also felt it so as a duty and a responsibility, being a student of history, although in no way do I claim to be a writer or a historian.  Also, during his public lecturesand conversations, Allama Parwez repeatedly warned that the Pakistan Movement can be put into perspective only if Jinnah’s political career is studied in two distinct phases--from 1906 to 1930 and from 1934 onwards.  What happened during this period of time between 1930 and 1934 is what makes all the difference. 

Secondly, Allama Parwez emphasised that the “Tolu-e-Islam” magazine issues from 1938 to 1942, wherein the ideological battle was fought must be researched, for it lies enshrined in these pages.  Without reference to it, the challenges and responses of the “Pakistan Idea” will be overshadowed by controversies and misinterpretations.  In fact that is exactly what has happened in the last four and a half decades, both the theocratics and secularists trying to pull it in their own directions.  They have a right to project their views but no one has the right to distort history.  I have picked up the gauntlet and have attempted to write.  Some of it was written during Allama Parwez’s lifetime.  Readers will notice that I have given him a pride of place in the presentation of the “Pakistan Idea.” However he had disapproved of it, for, that was not his purpose in exhorting us to research, such was his humility.  But I stand by what I have written.

At the end one more point needs to be clarified.  The contents of this book are not in the form of a narration, for I did not wish to repeat what already has been copiously undertaken by qualified historians.  My emphasis is on the conceptual and abstract principles. 

I hope this small effort will be followed by better efforts.