Allama Iqbal, Zaid Hamid, and Khalifat ideology

Aug 26th, 2011 | By | Category: Express News

Following Zaid Hamid’s recent appearance on Meher Bokhari’s show Crossfire, South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) announced that it was planning to file a libel notice against Zaid Hamid for accusations he made during the programme. Last night, to discuss the issue on his show Shahid Nama, Shahid Masood invited as his guests two individuals whose views could not be further apart.

On the one hand was SAFMA co-founder Marvi Sirmed, a political commentator and journalist who holds Masters’ degrees in Political Science, Science Education and English Linguistics and has worked with Members of Parliament. She has also been the Institutional Development Specialist with the Ministry of Women Development, Government of Pakistan and as Policy Advocacy Specialist with National Commission on the Status of Women.

On the other hand was Zaid Hamid, a political commentator who has a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree in Computer Systems Engineering and the individual at the center of SAFMA’s complaint. Mr Zaid Hamid is the former host of the programme Brasstacks.

During the debate between Marvi Sirmed and Zaid Hamid one point of disagreement related to a claim by Marvi Sirmed that Allama Muhammad Iqbal was against the creation of an Islamic state. Miss Sirmed claimed that she had proof in a letter written by Iqbal to The Times newspaper of London in 1931. Due to the research of a reader of this blog, we are able to confirm that this letter was written. A photocopy of the letter is below:

Letter to The Times by Allama Muhammed Iqbal

The question is part of an ongoing debate about  the way that Zaid Hamid presents Allama Iqbal in his media programmes as an advocate of the creation of a new Khalifat. An example can be seen in this video clip:

But was this the view of Allama Iqbal? According to Dr Javid Iqbal writing in October 1987 issue of Iqbal Review, the answer is no. Justice Iqbal wrote that Allama Iqbal “has no hesitation in approving the establishment of a multi-party system or political groupings in modern Islamic Democracies, for, in his opinion, this was in accordance with the practice of early republican phase in Islam”. He goes on to quote Allama Iqbal as supporting an expressly democratic system of governance and rejecting an imperialist Khalifat as “failed in practice”.

Let us now see how the Grand National Assembly has exercised this power of Ijtihad in regard to the institution of Khilafat. According to Sunni law, the appointment of an Imam or Khalifah is absolutely indespensable. The first question that arises in this connexion is this – Should the Caliphate be vested in a single person? Turkey’s Ijtihad is that according to the spirit of Islam the Caliphate or Imamate can be vested in a body of persons, or an elected Assembly…Personally, I believe the Turkish view is perfectly sound. It is hardly necessary to argue this point. The republican form of government is not only thoroughly consistent with the spirit of Islam, but has also become a necessity in view of the new forces that are set free in the world of Islam*…In order to understand the Turkish view let us seek the guidance of Ibn Khildun – the first philosophical historian of Islam.

Ibn Khildun, in his famous ‘Prolegomena’, mentions three distinct views of the idea of Universal Caliphate in Islam.

(1) That Universal Imamate is a Divine institution, and is consequently indispensable.

(2) That it is merely a matter of expediency.

(3) That there is no need of such an institution. The last view was taken by the Khawarij.

It seems that modern Turkey has shifted from the first to the second view, i.e. to the view of the Mu‘tazillah who regarded Universal Imamate as a matter of expediency only. The Turks argue that in our political thinking we must be guided by our past political experience which points unmistakably to the fact that the idea of Universal Imamate has failed in practice. It was a workable idea when the Empire of Islam was intact. Since the break-up of this Empire independent political units have arisen. The idea has ceased to be operative and cannot work as a living factor in the organisation of modern Islam*…Such is the attitude of the modern Turk, inspired as he is by the reality of experience, and not by the scholastic reasoning of jurists who lived and thought under different conditions of life.

Would Allama Iqbal have supported Zaid Hamid’s desire to see “the flag of Pakistan fly atop Delhi fort”? Did he believe in “Two Nation Theory”? Unfortunately, Iqbal is not here to answer the question himself, and so we are left to debate our own interpretations and hypotheses about his beliefs. Debates about interpretations of the words and intentions of Jinnah and Iqbal will continue, and it is perfectly reasonable to debate these issues as a part of discussions about politics and history. But these debates should be based in the actual words of the fathers of the nation, and not fantasy re-imaginings of what someone might wish Iqbal or Jinnah had said.

Marvi Sirmed and Zaid Hamid are both entitled to their own visions for the future of Pakistan. But nobody is entitled to re-writing the past.

*Emphasis added

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  1. Dear author

    First of all I would like to mention that I have no interest in what were Iqbal thoughts of khilafate etc..

    Neither this was the point of Marvi nor it has any relevance to the debate. The problem is not how Zaid Hamid want to portray Iqbal as he is not the first one or the only one to draw his own conclusions or base his own illusions on the incoherent poetic ramblings and mutually contradicting ideas of Iqbal.

    As per my understanding, Marvi’s reference to Iqbal was only about the oft repeated claim by the right wing ideologues that ‘Iqbal had a dream and Jinnah changed it to a reality’.

    She refuted this claim only, which you too has endorsed by producing his letter to Times.

    The point is Iqbal has no relevance to the political demand of Pakistan by AIML, though Pakistan today is nearer to his poetic ramblings,

    As his verse like,
    ‘Afghan ki ghairat-e-deeni ka hei Elaj
    Mulla ko un ko eskey kuh-u-damam se nikal do

    is a perfect poetic expression of Pakistan Army strategic fallacies aka strategic depth.

    Or as Iqbal says,
    Hei dil ke liye maut machino ki hakumat, ehsas-e-murawwat ko kutchal dete hein Aalat

    portrays our abhorrence to rationality, industrial culture and modern institutions and stressing on a being consumers of the same machines and ruled by emotionlity than logic and reason.

    Its a long list…

  2. Asalam o Alekum

    First of all i would like to say that it is a pure national talk, so please do not invite the indian agents like marvi. If marvi has problem from Pakistan and he like the india so she should leave the pakistan.
    The Sacrifices of the KASHMIRi Muslims is meaning less for her and the culture of Pakistan and India is important for her.
    For the information
    Why the Quaid-e-Azam wrote the Reply of nehro report? Is she read the Quid-e-Azam Reply to Nehro?
    Why the Quaid-e-Azam wrote the 14 Points? Is she read the Quid-e-Azam 14 points?
    Were the Quid-e-Azam desire to leave togather with ondia?
    Quid-e-Azam say’s to Nehro, We eat the meat of Cow and you worship the cow, How We can leave togather?
    This is the Two Nation theory. and Marvi is from indian nation theory.
    Quid-e-Azam says that our Dastoor is 1400 year old.

    Sham on Marvi Sarmid Sham Sham Marvi
    Bloody basted marvi

  3. AOA,
    I watched the whole video.. i did not understand how come the writer has manged to misunderstand and misinterpret the notion of KHILFAT…

    It does not necessarily mean ONE man controlling the fate… a khilafat has a Shoora.. like Parliament… chosen ppl..representatives… they regulate, guide control and select the KHALIFA…

    There is one difference though, all the ppl do not hold same weightage to select the SHOORA.. the educated, literate & pious have more weightage and the others have less. makes sense.. doesn’t it.. they have more knowledge and foresight… think of it like a persons criminal and educational record having influence on how much he can interfere in the affairs of the society…we can say.. persons vote is a set of marks (out of hundred)- criminal records + educational qualification.

    I think what all Zaid Hamid said.. may be dramatic.. OK but it does not in any way CONTRADICT Allama Iqbal or History.. at least not his video..

    I totally disagree with what Marvi had to say.. really.. i have researched quite a lot on what Iqbal and Quaid e Azam thought of Pakistan to be. agreed.. not an imperial islamic state but not a SECULAR one. as the term means… Islam is a SECULAR religion.. all ppl in Islamic society are free to do as they wish in their homes.. but being part of a social system they need to regulate their actions in public. Isn’t public nudity an offense in USA.. Y… what about the freedom acts?? same is the connotation here.. I dont understand what the problem is… Islam provides all the ppl not muslims FREEDOM to act as they believe individually except in public as they are part of a system.. i think that is GLOBALLY ACCEPTED FORM OF FREEDOM. Marvi has dovetailed it to mean a totally different statement…

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