Allama Iqbal’s Presidential Address 1930

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The topic we are going to discuss today is the Allama Iqbal’s Address of December 1930.All India ML held its annual session at Allahabad on 29 and 30th December 1930.A I presided that session and gave his presidential address and we are going to discuss that address. His address is also described as the Allahabad Address because the session of the ML was held at Allahabad. Our today’s presentation will be divided into three parts.

  • Background
  • The Presidential Address
  • Importance

Allama Iqbal ranks among the intellectuals who had deep impact on history. He inspired Muslims in the Sub Continent and else where Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan where Muslims were inspired by his poetry and writings. He was moving spirit of Muslim’s search for identity and he gave a political option to deal with the situation and how that solution fitted well with his notion and concept of Ummah.He was in a way offering a dream a vision of future that was materialized after his death. Now we will discuss the 1st section of our lecture and that is,

Background:

Hindu-Muslim question was crucial to the history of British India; Hindu Muslim question meant is that what would be the relationship between the two communities in the political and constitutional domains, what would be the rights provided to the Muslims and what are going to be the safeguards and guarantees for those rights. That was the Hindu Muslim question that acquired salience in the 20th century and this became a kind of a central question which the Muslims were dealing with. The Congress perspective was that this issue of Hindu Muslim relationship is the product of divide and rule policy. The British had consciously created splits and divisions therefore it was an artificial issue which should not be emphasized. For Muslims it was the core issue, I was the central issue, it related to their culture, civilization, heritage and the type of arrangement that were to be done in the future political and constitutional arrangements of India.

Therefore Muslims were talking in terms of two nations not in terms of communities; they were talking about nations with distinct identities, nations with their own interests and their rights. So this was the basic difference that had developed between the Muslims and the other communities at that time when Iqbal gave this address. During that time three major issues were of concern for the Muslim community.

  • The 1st was the decline and degeneration of the Muslims, there was a time when Muslims were at the height of their power, they were ruling large section of the World, they were making great contributions o knowledge to science and technology but this phase ended and started a period of degeneration. Most of the Muslim states became the colonies of the European states. Then the industrial; revolution, development of science and technology became a preserve of the European nations. So, the question for Muslims was why the decline and degeneration has set in amongst the Muslims. The people who were important in the history of the World at one time were no longer important. The pivot of the international system has shifted to Europe, so this was one important issue that concerned the Muslims.
  • The 2nd issue was how to work for revival and regeneration of Muslims in general and how Muslims could overcome the decline and again assume their rightful place in the international system.
  • The 3rd issue was specific to the Muslims of South Asia who shared the problems of the Muslims as a whole, problem of decline and degeneration but in addition to this there were certain specific problems which pertain to British India and one important problem which they faced here was that Muslims here were a minority here, the majority were not Muslims and this makes the situation in British India different from the situation in the Middle Eastern Countries where Muslims were in majority. They did not have the fear or threat of being overwhelmed by an unsympathetic majority. In British India the problem was that they could be overwhelmed by the other community, therefore they were emphasizing on their identity, value, culture and also heritage and civilization which they thought and emphasize time and again that it gave them a different, distinct and an exclusive identity. They were not simply a minority but a community and a nation. The reason was that they did not wanted to be absorbed into the majority community. If you have situation of minority and majority and if minority gets absorbed into the majority then this one way that the problem is solved but the Muslims of British India were conscious of their heritage and their historical importance and they were defining their identity with reference to these characteristics and attributes, and they wanted that there have to be certain political arrangements, certain constitutional arrangements whereby their identity is protected and they live with others within certain constitutional framework which assures them their rights and interests which were important to them.

Phases of Development of Iqbal, s Thoughts:

By 1930, this sentiment had developed very clearly which was very much demonstrated in the development of history of India or the question of relationship between the Muslims and the other communities. It was in this context that Allama Iqbal delivered his presidential address. A I, political thoughts developed in three phases.

Pre-1905:

The 1st phase pertains to pre-1905 period, in this period he was talking about the factors for the decline of the Muslims and his focus was on Indian nationality, nationhood or Indian unity. He was talking about resolving differences; this type of poetry can be found in his book BAANG-E-DARRA.He writes Taran-e-Hindi, Naya shawala where he talks of doing away of differences.

The Stay in Europe 1905-08:

The 2nd phase pertains the period from 1905 to 1908, during these 3 years he was in Europe, basically in England where he was getting higher education and also in Germany from where he got his doctorate from Monique University. His stay in Europe mainly in England help to crystallize his views and ideas, the views and ideas he was already developing.Iqbal appreciated certain things in the West, for example quest for knowledge, their efforts for innovation and change. However he was critical of materialism, capitalism and competition an unrestricted and unlimited competition that was undermining the society and it is during this period that he began to think philosophically and scientifically about the Muslims and he emphasized on the importance of spiritualness in one’s life.

Return to India 1908 onward:

The 3rd phase starts when he comes back to India after spending time, after getting degrees from England and Germany he came back to India and examined the situation. Here his exclusive attention and focus was on the Muslim. He talked about the centrality of Islam, question of submission to God, Oneness of God, He emphasized in his writings pros as well as poetry and he talked about the Holy Prophet as the ideal leader as the leader that the Muslims should try to follow.To, him returns to principles and ideals of Islam assures the Muslims that they can recover from their decline and Islam offers them their salvation, Islam can assures them that they can again become a force to recon with. So the greater identification with the spirit of Islam was to him one way to deal with the kinds of problems, the Muslims not only in the Indo-Pak Sub-Continent but Muslims else where.

However, his focus was on primarily Muslims of this region when he dealt with the political or the constitutional issues of India.Iqbal got the title of SIR in 1922 in recognition of his intellectual work. In 1927 Iqbal was elected to the Punjab Legislative Council, so far next little over two years he served in the Punjab legislative council that is from 1927 to 1930, little over two years.

The Address 1930:

In 1930 he delivered the Presidential Address the Allahabad Address which we are going to discuss but before this address he also delivered land mark lectures on Islam in 1928 and 1929 in Aligarh, Hyderabad and Madras. These lectures are available in publish form. In fact these lectures provide a comprehensive view on Islam. These lectures are published under the title of “Religious Reconstruction in Islam” although they were published in 1930 for the first time but these lectures are still available because they are published time and again and are available in libraries and if you want to do a detail study of Iqbal, s views on Islam and how could you deal with the modern conditions and modern situation then these lectures would help you to do that, then comes the Allahabad Address that we will be discussing in detail shortly.

In 1932, Iqbal also presided over All India Conference that was held at Lahore and during that conference he repeated some of the ideas and some of the thoughts which he had presented in his Address at 1930.

The Address December 1930:

Now we move on to the Address or the presidential address or the ML session which was held in December 1929 and 1930.It was a detailed surway of the conditions and problems of the Muslims in this Sub Continent and also the role Islam can play in their lives and then he goes on to suggest the solution of the problems of the Muslims. He talked about the importance of Islam in the lives of the Muslims as a whole and Muslims of this Sub Continent that Islam had a central place in his world view and in his thinking’s and that shapes his outlook ,his choices and his preferences. Islam as to him serves as a kind of framework for the Muslims; it offers an ethical order, a socio-political structure, a legal framework, code of life, culture and civilization. This s a very comprehensive view of Islam in the lives of the Muslims.

Iqbal rejects the European notion of duality in human life that is state and religion. He does not accept the western contention that state and religion, society and religion are two entirely different things. He rejects the western notion that religion and in this case he was talking about Islam that religion is only and totally an individual person concerns. He emphasizes that in case of Islam, this kind of division is not possible because Islam is a code of conduct, is a comprehensive set of principles and it offers you guidance for all avenues of life personal and public. Islam is a living and dynamic force, a force that can put all Muslims together that is the scattered community can be turned into a force and Islam has the capability to address the modern issues and modern questions. On that basis Iqbal argued that ideal of a united nation in India is unthinkable, that you think as the Congress was thinking that in India there s one nation and that is the Indian nation and other differences are not relevant and are not important.

Iqbal was arguing in his 1930 address that this kind of notion is an unrealistics.This notion of a united nation in India does not reflect the ground realities, the reality and the truth as it exist in India because the Muslims in India assigns greater importance to their distinct identity and culture and they are not willing to be absorbed into the majority community, they would like to maintain their cultural separateness or cultural individuality.

Another problem in view of Iqbal was that there is lack of trust and confidence and lack of understanding on how to deal with eachother.So in a diversified society when you have these kinds of developments and situations when there is lack of trust and understanding and one community is conscious of its identity and wants to preserve its identity then you cannot talk of one nation in India. For him Muslims are a separate identity with separate interests. After suggesting all these things Iqbal then addresses the Muslims and he emphasizes that the Muslims should devote themselves to Islam because greater the contact they have with the spate of Islam the better it is for them and their future because it is this that had made them into a political identity therefore they will have to go back to its spirit and Muslims had to identify with its true spirit and that is how he thought Muslims can deal with their problems.

Then going back to Indian question or the Hindu Muslim question he said that federalism cannot work unless, it takes into account the ground realities, the distinctive character and concerns which the Muslims have in this Sub Continent. Therefore, he was arguing that the Muslims can deal with the situation if they recognize these realities and that reality is that they will have to talk about the redistribution of territories, that is what he was emphasizing that in order to solve the problems of this Sub Continent that there is a need of redistribution of territories in British India.

After making this argument that is redistribution of India and not federation he emphasizes that.

………Punjab, NWFP that is the frontier province, Balouchistan and Sind should be amalgamated into a political entity within British Empire or without that is that these areas should be created into a consolidated into a North Western Muslim state which would be within the British Empire or without and to him this political entity through redistribution of territory was to be the destiny of the Muslims at least of North Western India.

In other words he was talking about the establishment of a territorial unit by redistribution of territory a territorial unit where Muslims would be in a majority. In all the 4 provinces Iqbal referred to Muslims were in a majority and he thought if they are turned into a consolidated Muslim state then this would serve the interests of the Muslims as well as India.

Such a state would provide benefit to India and this will offer peace and security due to internal balance of power, the balance of power between the Muslims and the other community they will have their own territorial unit and others will have their own territorial units so it would provide a kind of balance of power.

To the Muslims such a territory would provide such an opportunity for greater contact with the spirit of Islam and such a unit would also contribute to their role part of the Ummah.He thought that this kind of a solution will provide them an arrangement will benefit the Muslims because they will have their own arrangements and a redistributed territory where they could lead their lives in a manner that they have a more effective contact with the spirit of Islam.

For Iqbal Islam was a people building force, a force that consolidated Muslims, the people of this Sub Continent and he also was convinced that in difficult times and in difficult situations ,it is Islam that comes to the salvation of the Muslims. He firmly believed that given the conditions that existed at that time the ideas he presented that is the redistribution of territories and establishment of a Muslim territorial unit within British Empire or without the Empire offered a kind of a satisfactory solution, a solution that would facilitate the resolution of the Hindu Muslim question, the question the type of relationship the Muslims and the others have and it offered them guarantees, assurances and commitments to protect their identity, heritage and civilization. This was in very brief of what he said in his Allahabad Address. It’s a detailed Address if, you like to read the text and the text is available in the books on Pakistan Movement but what we have done hare is to give them the main points and the basic ideas which he had tried to present.

To repeat his basic ideas can be summed up in 2 or 3 sentences.

  • First he thinks that Islam can play a central and vital role in the lives of the Muslims and their salvation lies in identification with the spirit of Islam.
  • Second, Muslims cannot be absorbed into the majority community and they cannot be viewed simply as a minority but they have rights and interests.
  • Third, on that basis he talked about the redistribution of the territories and the amalgamation of Punjab, Sind, Balouchistan and the frontier province as a kind of solution for the Muslims living in North Western parts of India.

Importance:

Now let us talk about the importance of the Address. We talked about the background, about the main points of his address. Now what is the significance of this address in the history of British India or Indo-Pak Sub Continent. His Allahabad address is a very forceful and logical presentation of the Muslim demands, issues that Muslims are a separate entity, they are a separate nation were being raised but now in his presidential address he sights historical evidence from India to substantiate his case. He talked about what had been happening in Sub Continent for the last 25 years going back to the establishment of the ML in 1906 then he talked about the period of 1916 and in the 20s and he argued that such a proposal was presented was presented at different at different levels in past.

To the Simon Commission which was presented so it was so logical in the sense that if you look at the historical development in India starting from 1857 particularly from the beginning of the 20th century from 1906 and if you move from 1906 to 1930 when Iqbal delivered this lecture then you will have enough empirical evidence, concrete evidence and historical developments to support what Iqbal was saying in his lecture. The most significant thing in his address was the answer which he gave to a question that is why should be Muslims treated as a separate entity rather than a minority. The difference between a minority and a distinct entity or a nation is very significant when you are talking of political rights and political interests and constitutional arrangements and at that time the issue of constitutional arrangements was being discussed by the British govt, it was very significant that he presented a case for the separate and distinct entity of the Muslims in India.

On the basis of that advocacy he talked about the rights and interests of the Muslims, if you remove this advocacy then this proposal, the political formula which he gave does not hold grounds, that hold grounds only if you examine his arguments.

If you look at this address in a related but different aspect that is the importance of Hindu Muslim question in Indian history and his address clearly shows that it was an important issue and he tried to find a response and a formula to solve that question.

Another way to look at this lecture is when you try to understand how he was defining the Muslim identity with reference to Islam. His address that we are discussing and other writings emphasize that Islam plays an important role in Muslim identity formation in British India. When we talk of distinct Muslim identity for Iqbal Islam was central to that, Islam was holding key to that and as I have mentioned when I was discussing the content of his address, he was saying that Islam is a people building force, a force that can really transform Muslims scattered groups diversified groups, from people living in different parts of India into a cohesive and united community with a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, a desire to assert their identity and desire to be recognized in the political and constitutional arrangements which were to be introduced in India by the British. You can also talk about the redistribution which he suggested; he was talking about the redistribution of the territory in North West or what is today’s Pakistan.

If you read His letters which he wrote to M A Jinnah from May 1936 to Nov 1937.During this period he wrote several letters to Jinnah and those letters have been published, they are available in publish form and you can read. In those letters Iqbal articulates the views that he has presented in his address at Allahabad. In fact he elaborates on those issues. In his letter to Jinnah he argued that why the Muslims of North West and Bengal can’t be considered entitle to self determination like any other nation. In his letters he also emphasized that a state is needed to implement Shariat.To him that implementation is not possible unless Muslims have their own state in which they can implement Shariat.

Then the last important issue which he raised or outlined is the advice which he gave to Muslims, mind it that this advice was given 1930 and that advice is even relevant today, his advice was that they should rise above their differences and devote themselves to Islam and this message rise above your differences and your self interests and devote yourself to Islam, identify yourself with the spirit of Islam; is valid today, we need this advice even today.

Iqbal also emphasized on role of faith, culture and civilization in ones life. To him these are more important than territory or the territorial units because they are the basis of identity and culture.

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