537 Assignment no 1

Q. 3     Discuss the Contributions of Shah Waliullah to the development of society in the subcontinent. He did not want the Muslims of the subcontinent to permit their cultural affiliation with the rest of their co-religionists in the world get diluted. Elucidate your answer in the light of Shah Waliullah’s teachings.

Answer:

In the 18th century, Islam in the Sub-continent was faced with menacing problems. Sectarian conflict, low moral tone of the society, poor understanding of the Holy Quran, and general ignorance of Islam were just some of the issues which gave rise to fear that political collapse would be accompanied by religious disintegration. This did not happen; rather an era of religious regeneration was inaugurated, which was due more than anything else to the activities of one man, Shah Wali Ullah.

Shah Wali Ullah belonged to a religious family. He was educated at Madrasa-i-Rahimiyah by his father Shah Abdul Rahim. After finishing his education, he went for pilgrimage and higher studies to Saudi Arabia. At this time, Muslims in India were divided into Hanfia, Sufi, Shia, Sunni and Mullah sects. While in Hijaz, he decided to launch a campaign to popularize Islamic values amongst the Muslims and to present Islam in a rational manner. On his return to the Sub-continent, he started working towards the achievement of these goals.

Shah Wali Ullah’s singular and most important act was his translation of the Holy Quran into simple Persian, the language of the land, so that people of the Sub-continent could understand and follow it. He studied the writings of each school-of-thought to understand their point of view, then wrote comprehensive volumes about what is fair and just in light of the teachings of Islam. He worked out a system of thought, beliefs, and values, on which all but the extremists could agree. He thus provided a spiritual basis for national cohesion.

Shah Wali Ullah trained students in different branches of Islamic knowledge and entrusted them with the teaching of students. He recommended the application of Ijtihad against blind Taqlid. He also interpreted Quran and Hadith according to the context of the times.

Shah Wali Ullah directed his teachings towards reorienting the Muslim society with the concepts of basic social justice, removing social inequalities, and balancing the iniquitous distribution of wealth. He established several branches of his school at Delhi for effective dissemination of his ideas. In his book “Hujjat-ullah-il-Balighah”, he pinpointed the causes of chaos and disintegration of Muslim society. These were:

  • Pressure on public treasury, the emoluments given to various people who render no service to the state.
  • Heavy taxation on peasants, merchants, and workers, with the result that tax evasion was rampant. According to Shah Wali Ullah, a state can prosper only if there were light and reasonable taxes.

He wrote open letters to:

  • Mughal rulers, to give up their corrupt and inefficient practices.
  • Soldiers, to inculcate within them the spirit of Jihad.
  • Artisans, workers, and peasants, to remind them that the economic prosperity of the state depended on their labors.
  • The Emperor, asking him to teach a lesson to the Jats threatening the Mughal Empire. He also wrote and advised him not to give jagirs (land) to mansabdars who were not loyal to the state.
  • Masses, to be conscious of their duties and not to indulge in the accumulation of wealth.

Shah Wali Ullah tried to reconcile the basic differences amongst the different sections of the Muslims and considered the government as an essential means and agency for regeneration of the community. He wrote to Ahmad Shah Abdali; “…give up the life of ease. Draw the sword and do not to sheath it till the distinction is established between true faith and infidelity…”.

His efforts resulted in the defeat of the Marhattas at the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali and Najib-ud-Daula, in the third battle of Panipat in 1761.

Shah Wali Ullah was responsible for awakening in the community the desire to win back its moral fervor and maintain its purity. To rescue a community’s conscience, belief and faith from destruction was no small achievement. Even after his death in 1762, his sons and followers carried on his work. Many future Islamic leaders and thinkers were inspired by his example.

As most people know, Shah Wali Ullah was one of the most influential people in the subcontinent during the time at which Hindu-Muslim conflicts were at it’s peak. There were many more, like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, but I had to write a report on Shah Wali Ullah and I don’t have useless time to research and write reports on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan for no reason so here you go: an article about Shah Wali Ullah and his work.

The work of Shah Wali Ullah (1703  –  1762) was very important in the revival of Islam in the subcontinent during the eighteenth century. The most important work of Shah Wali Ullah was the teaching and preaching of the basic, pure and true meanings of Islam in ‘Madarsa’ (aka, where kids go to learn how to read the Quran) through which he trained his sons (and other kids)  who continued his work through several generations. This allowed him to spread his thoughts and beliefs, even when he was dead. He sent several missionaries to different countries, and even in parts of the subcontinent since, you know, it was so freaking huge. But he didn’t just talk into a microphone, he wrote fifty freaking one books in order to explain the proper teachings of Islam. The books presented the correct concept and beliefs of Islam in a very simple form. Besides writing books, he wrote other stuff too. Like translating the entire Holy Quraninto Persian, which was the dominating language at the time. Later, his sons translated the Holy Quran into Urdu, which allowed for more people to read and understand it.

Through his teachings he corrected many un-Islamic ideas and beliefs, which had crept in the Muslim culture and society. Through his teaching he also brought different sects of Muslims, especially the Shias and Sunnis, close and emphasized the need of unity among the Muslims. Since many Muslims at the time were separating, as a lack of knowledge and understanding of the Holy Quran, he tried to unite all of them into a single community. He did so by firstly making and finding bridges between the different beliefs of Muslims and then secondly by uniting them into a single army to defend the subcontinent, which was being attacked by the Marathas. Yeah, through his efforts he managed to persuade the Afghan ruler, Ahmad Shah Abdali to attack and defeat the Marathas in the battle of Panipat in 1761. After this defeat the Marathas could not rise again. This sign of unity inspired many future reformers to revive Islam. His efforts made many, if not all, Muslims to unite together and made them desire a country which they could call there own. If Shah Wali Ullah hadn’t united the Muslims, Pakistan probably wouldn’t have been made, and as such Muslims would be more spread out and different from each other then ever before.

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Q. 4     How far do you think that the Lahore Resolution offered a way out of the difficulties in which the Indian Muslims found themselves confronted with? Discuss with reference to the course of events which led to the demand embodied in the Resolution?

Answer:

The resolution for the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of British India passed in the annual session of the All India Muslim League held in Lahore on 22-24 March 1940 is a landmark document of Pakistan’s history. The passing of the resolution marked the transformation of the Muslim minority in British India into a nation with its distinguishing socio-cultural and political features, a sense of history and shared aspirations for the future within a territory. The Lahore Resolution, popularly described as the Pakistan Resolution, employs modern political discourse for putting forward its demand rather than using a religious idiom for creating a religious-Islamic state for protection of Islam from the onslaught of other religions of India.

It made worldly demand keeping in view the peculiar problems of the Muslims of British India, the political experience of the Muslim community and the prevailing debate about the ways to protect Muslim identity, rights and interests against the backdrop of the modern state system established by the British in India. The Resolution addressed the Muslim question in the political and constitutional context of British India and pointed out to the course of action the Muslim League intended to adopt to secure the Muslim identity, rights and interests. It emphasized the principles that were relevant to modern state system and the political context of British India. It made five specific demands:

1. The Resolution rejected the federal system of government as envisaged in the Government of India Act, 1935 because it was “totally unsuited to and unworkable in the peculiar conditions of this country and is altogether unacceptable to Muslim India.”

2. The Muslims would not accept any revised constitutional plan unless it was framed with “their consent and approval.”

3. The adjacent territorial units should be demarcated into regions that may involve some territorial adjustments in a manner “that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in north-western and eastern zones of India “become “independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”

4. The resolution offered “adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards for religious minorities” in the Muslim majority units for the “protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them.” Similar rights will be given to the Muslims in “other parts of India.” 5. The Muslim League Working Committee was asked to formulate a constitutional scheme on the basis of the principles outlined in the Resolution.

The Resolution thus offered a new course of action for the Muslims of British India as compared to the Muslim League position adopted on constitutional and political issues in the past. The change was that of strategy but not of the goal. The Muslim League goal since its inception in December 1906 was to protect and advance Muslim socio-cultural identity, rights and interests in British India’s socio-political and constitutional context. Initially the Muslim League demanded separate electorate for the Muslims so that they could elect their representatives.

Later, it sought adequate Muslim representation in the cabinets and state services/jobs. It also demanded constitutional safeguards and guarantees for the Muslims. It supported federalism with autonomy for provinces, hoping that the Muslims would be able to exercise power effectively in the Muslim majority provinces which would not only boost the Muslim community but also provide greater opportunity for advancement of Muslim rights and interests. The change of strategy was caused by the political experience of the Muslim elite in their interaction with other communities, especially the Congress Party, and the policies of the British government. These strategies also manifested the growing desire of the Muslims to assert their separate socio-political identity. The Muslim League began to think about discarding the federal model in 1938, when the Sindh Provincial Muslim League proposed that the All India Muslim League needed to review its position on constitutional issues in view of the experience of the Muslims under the Congress governments in some provinces (1937-39). What weakened Muslim League’s confidence in the federal model for the whole of India was the bitter experience of the Muslim educated classes and urban population under the Congress ministries in the provinces. The cultural and educational policies of these ministries alienated the Muslims.

The Muslim elite in these and non-Congress provinces came to the conclusion that the Congress governments in the provinces were imposing Hindu ethos in the name of Indian identity. Further the Muslim leaders complained about the discriminatory policy for recruitment of Muslims to government jobs and they maintained that the Muslims suffered in the economic domain in the Congress-ruled provinces. The experience of the Congress rule in the provinces was the triggering factor that led the Muslim League leaders to explore a political alternative to a single Indian federation.

Though the Lahore Resolution talked of a Muslim homeland, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah did not wholly give up the idea of some political accommodation within the framework of a loose federal model. The Muslim League acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan (March -April 1946) clearly showed that its leaders were willing to work within a loose federal model that grouped the Muslim majority provinces into two political groups and non-Muslim majority provinces were put together as the third group. These three groups were joined together under a weak federal order. The provinces in each group could review their relationship with each other and the federal government after ten years.

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