All-India Muslim League

political party within the Indian Empire

The All-India Muslim League (popularised as Muslim League) was a political party established during the early years of the 20th century in the British Indian Empire. Its strong advocacy for the establishment of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state, Pakistan, successfully led to the partition of British India in 1947 by the British Empire.

The All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in 1906, held at the Ahsan Manzil palace of the Dhaka Nawab Family, laid the foundation of the Muslim League.

Quotes edit

  • The Muslim League was always an extremely weak organization by comparison. Originally created by Islamic princes and nobles in 1906 “to foster a sense of loyalty to the British government among the Muslims of India” (to cite from its statement of aims), it was captured by the educated Muslim middle class led by Jinnah in the 1930s and for a brief period was in alliance with the Congress Party. However, its main thrust was always anti-Hindu rather than anti-British.
    • Tariq Ali-The Duel_ Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (2008)
  • The leaders of the Muslim League seem to have studied deeply Hitler's bulling tactics against Czechoslovakia in the interest of the Sudeten Germans and also learned the lessons which those tactics teach. See their threatening speeches in the Karachi Session of the League held in 1937.
    • B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • A gentlemen president from the upper strata of society, his upbringing seldom allowed anger and prejudices to get the better of him. He was also staunch Congressman, with a deep sense of commitment to secularism...later in life he had to contend with being called "communal" because he tried to attract young Muslims who had been educated at Aligarh Muslim University – a campus then perceived to be influenced by the communal ideas of the Muslim League – to the Congress.
  • It has been the tragic lesson of the history of many a country in the world that the hostile elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security than aggressors from outside. Is it true that all pro-Pakistani elements have gone away to Pakistan? It was the Muslims in Hindu majority provinces led by U.P. who provided the spearhead for the movement for Pakistan right from the beginning. And they have remained solidly here even after Partition. In those elections Muslim League had contested making the creation of Pakistan its election plank. The Congress also had set up some Muslim candidates all over the country. But at almost every such place, Muslims voted for the Muslim League candidates and the Muslim candidates of Congress were utterly routed. NWFP was an exception. It only means that all the crores of Muslims who are here even now, had en bloc voted for Pakistan. Have those who remained here changed at least after that? Has their old hostility and murderous mood, which resulted in widespread riots, looting, arson, raping and all sorts of orgies on an unprecedented scale in 1946-47, come to a halt at least now? It would be suicidal to delude ourselves into believing that they have turned patriots overnight after the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary, the Muslim menace has increased a hundred fold by the creation of Pakistan which has become a springboard for all their future aggressive designs on our country.
    • M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts
  • [A]ny attempt to label the All-India Muslim League as communalist would be wrong. True, it is the continuation of the party which achieved the Partition of India along communal lines. Yet, emphatically secularist parties like the Congress Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have never hesitated to include the Muslim League in coalitions governing the state of Kerala. No true communalist would get such a chance.
    • Elst, K. in India's only communalist. A short biography of Sita Ram Goel [1]
  • "I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India."
    • Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s 1930 Presidential Address to the 25th Session of the All-India Muslim League, Allahabad, 29 December 1930 (from University of Columbia website)
  • Notwithstanding this politico-cultural reality, early Indian nationalists sought to inculcate a spirit of inclusivity and accommodation into the emergent socio-political discourse. As the freedom movement developed however, the Muslim League articulated an ideology committed wholly to its Islamic fountainhead and stressed the need to maintain the community’s political dominance in the country. The League’s refusal or failure to come to terms with the forces of modernization ushered in by the British further pushed it on a trajectory away from the national mainstream.
    • Meenakshi Jain, "Power Equations in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century India: the Empirical Backdrop to Nationalism", International Forum for India's Heritage, 2003.
  • When we say 'This flag (Muslim League's flag) is the flag of Islam' they think we are introducing religion into politics - a fact of which we are proud. Islam gives us a complete code. It is not only religion but it contains laws, philosophy and politics. In fact, it contains everything that matters to a man from morning to night. When we talk of Islam we take it as all embracing word. We do not mean any ill. The foundation of our Islamic code is that we stand for liberty, equality and fraternity.
    • Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Address to the Gaya Muslim League Conference in January 1938
  • Each group blamed the other for the violence. Jinnah blamed the “Viceroy, Mr. Gandhi, and the Congress”. Nehru placed the responsibility “for all that has happened” in Calcutta on the Muslim League.
  • Ye Musalmans, arise, awake! Do not read in the same schools with the Hindus. Do not touch any article manufactured by the Hindus. Do not give any employment to the Hindus. Do not accept any degrading office under a Hindu. You are ignorant, but if you acquire knowledge you can send all Hindus to Jahannum (Hell). You form the majority of the population in this province. The Hindu has no wealth of his own and has made himself rich only by despoiling you of your wealth. If you become sufficiently enlightened, the Hindus will starve and soon become Mohammedans.
    • Lal Ishtahãr (Red Pamphlet) [of Samiullah, the Nawab of Dacca] which was circulated all over Bengal in the wake of the first Muslim League meeting at Dacca in December 1906. Cited in R.C. Majumdar (ed.), History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume XI, Bombay, 1978, p.54.
  • The Calcutta carnage was followed by the 'Noakhali Riot' in October 1946. There, Hindus including Scheduled Castes were killed and hundreds were converted to Islam. Hindu women were raped and abducted. Members of my community also suffered loss of life and property. Immediately after these happenings, I visited Tipperah and Feni and saw some riot-affected areas. The terrible sufferings of Hindus overwhelmed me with grief, but still I continued the policy of co-operation with the Muslim League.
    • Excerpted from the resignation letter of J. N. Mandal, Minister for Law and Labour, Government of Pakistan, October 8, 1950. [2] [3]
  • The details of atrocities committed on Sikhs and Hindus given in these pages are not full or even a fairly large proportion of what actually befell. They are only representative episodes of what happened in a few villages and towns all over West Punjab and other West Pakistan areas. Imagine such things happening in thousands upon thousands of villages and hundreds of towns, and you will then be able to take in the proportions somewhat close to what the reality was which, in the last analysis must, however, remain inexpressible in its full horror. The facts drawn upon are statements of sufferers of these horrors, recorded from complaints made to the authorities, from reliable press reports and from statements recorded with scrupulous fidelity and signed by those who made them, in the refugee camps in East Punjab.
    • Gurbachan Singh Talib, Muslim League Attack on the Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab, 1947 (1950)
  • All these happenings occurred at a time when in India, Mahatma Gandhi undertook his last fast to get better treatment for the Indian Muslims. That was the response in Pakistan to the Mahatma's gesture, and the faithfully carrying out of the Mahatma's instructions by Hindus and Sikhs. Exactly when Delhi was being made safe for Muslims, in Karachi 800 Sikhs were massacred, and all Hindus looted and despoiled, had to move into refugee camps.
    • Gurbachan Singh Talib, Muslim League Attack on the Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab, 1947 (1950)
  • Perhaps, however, there was one beneficial, though unintended, side effect to the Quit India Movement—it wiped an abject compromise proposal off the table. Gandhi and many in the Congress leadership were still reluctant to accept the idea of dividing the country along communal lines, and increasingly irrational emergency solutions calculated to appease the Muslim League were floated. The ultimate appeasement offer was to keep India united by handing power entirely to the Muslim League. Maulana Azad made this proposal, and Gandhi approved it on 6 August 1942, confirming it again in a letter dated 8 August, ‘the Congress will have no objection to the British Government transferring all the powers it today exercises to the Muslim League on behalf of the whole of India.’
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • It is exaggerated to say that ‘the Muslim community continuously backed the Muslim League.’ ... It is only in the elections held at the turn of 1946 that the Muslim vote swung dramatically towards the Muslim League, which cornered 86.6 per cent, i.e., a resounding mandate for the creation of Pakistan. On the other hand, no credible political force effectively opposing Jinnah emerged from the 91 per cent of the Muslim electorate who had refused to support the League in 1937. While the HMS was sidelined as a political force by the Congress, no comparable anti-League operation was initiated by any section of the Muslim elite. Muslim-led multi-religious parties (e.g., Sikandar Hayat Khan’s Unionists in Punjab, Fazlul Haq’s Krishak Praja Party in Bengal) did not at all oppose the privileges which the Muslim League had demanded and achieved for the Muslims. In Struggle for Freedom R.C. Majumdar mentions that after a moment of Muslim disunity at the Round Table Conference of 1930–32, Muslims, of all shades of opinion, insisted that their claims must be met. In his book, Majumdar further expounded that while opposing the League, they endorsed, at least passively, some of the League’s communal policies, and it was their active support which ‘put new life into the League’ after its 1937 defeat. Similarly, the conservative Ulema opposed the Pakistan project (because they aimed at controlling the whole rather than a part of India) but supported most other communal demands of the League, thus strengthening further the communal outlook which underlay the Pakistan demand. Welcomed by the Congress as ‘nationalist Muslims’, they helped Gandhi and Nehru in suppressing all articulate Hindu voices in the Congress. This way, Muslim support for the League policies was considerably larger than the League’s own vote percentage.
    • R.C. Majumdar. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • ‘Our big fight is with the 22 crores of our Hindu enemies, who constitute the majority (…) if they become powerful, then these Hindus will swallow Muslim India and gradually even Egypt, Turkey, Kabul, Mecca (…) So it is the essential duty of every devout Muslim to fight on by joining the Muslim League so that the Hindus may not be established here and a Muslim rule may be established in India as soon as the English depart.’
    • Maulana Azad Sobhani quoted in B.R. Ambedkar: Pakistan, p. 273. Azad Sobhani’s speech published in the Anand Bazar Patrika. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • "When Nehru returned after a brief visit to Europe in 1938, he was struck by the similarity between the propaganda methods of the Muslim League in India and the Nazis in Germany: 'The League leaders had begun to echo the Fascist tirade against democracy... Nazis were wedded to a negative policy. So also was the League. The League was anti-Hindu, anti-Congress, anti-national... The Nazis raised the cry of hatred against the Jews, the League [had] raised [its] cry against the Hindus.'"
    • (B.R. Nanda: Gandhi and His Critics, OUP, Delhi 1993 (1985), p.88) Quoted from Elst, K. Was Guru Golwalkar a Nazi ?, 1999. [4] also in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism".
  • The Muslim League, therefore, had this two-pronged thrust to make in its assault on the non-Muslims of the Muslim majority areas. In the first place it was preaching its two-nation theory and its uncompromising opposition to the Hindus, and in the Punjab, to the Sikhs as well.... Secondly, the Muslim League had been preparing the Muslims physically and militarily for such a fight, which when it came, the Hindus and Sikhs were caught unawares, and suffered heavily in the dead and in the injured, in women abducted and dishonoured, in property looted and houses and religious and educational places burnt. Such retaliation as came from the Hindus and Sikhs was only belated, and after the Muslim onslaught was becoming continuous and a threat to their very existence. Before August, 1947 such retaliation wherever it came, it even served the purpose of the Muslim League, for it created that atmosphere of a civil war in India, which the Muslim League found necessary for the furtherance of its programme and policy. It could trot out atrocity stories and incite Muslims elsewhere to fall upon Hindus and Sikhs, as they actually did in the N.-W. Frontier Province in December, 1946, and January, 1947. Such was the aim and method of the Muslim League.
  • Muslim League leaders had long advocated exchange of population between Muslim and non-Muslim India. All those who advocated the establishment of a Muslim State also advocated as its necessary corollary the exchange of population.
  • The Muslim League depended for its political success on the assassin’s knife, the murderer’s bullet and the drafting into the field of thousands of fire-raisers, murderers of helpless women and children, brigands and desperadoes of all kinds. This ‘army’ was led by a group of intelligent and coolly planning leaders on top, who deliberately instilled religious hate for others into the minds of their co-religionists, whipped up such hate into a violent frenzy, and then let loose these hate-inspired mobs on such helpless Hindus and Sikhs, as were in a small minority in particular areas, and so went under easily. This way the Muslim League wanted to render it impossible for one unified Government to be established in India, and to create a situation in which the political division of the country became inevitable.
  • It may be noted here that, in the course of unleashing mindless violence for seceding Pakistan in 1947, the Muslim League Party, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, circulated secret pamphlets amongst Muslims, saying, ‘‘One Muslim should get the right of five Hindus, i.e., each Muslim is equal to five Hindus.’’
    • Khosla GD (1989) Stern Reckoning: A Survey of Events Leading Up To and Following the Partition of India, Oxford University Press, Delhi, p. 313 [17] quoted from M.A. Khan Islamic Jihad: A legacy of forced conversion, imperialism and slavery (2011)
  • [if the British left India], then the rule of India would pass into the hands of that community which is nearly four times as large as ourselves … Then, our life, our property, our honor, and our faith will all be in great danger. … woe betide the time when we become the subjects of our neighbors, and answer to them for the sins, real or imaginary of Aurangzeb, … and other Mussalman conquerors and rulers who went before him.
    • Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk Kamboh alias Mushtaq Hussain Zuberi, one of the founders of the All India Muslim League, quoted in Balakrishna, S., Lessons from Hindu History in 10 Episodes (2020)
  • The Muslim League — the ruling party in Pakistan — set forth and directed their volunteers known as the National Guards to go ahead with terrorising the Hindus and reduce them to second-class citizenship. The Muslim League itself was a fascist organisation founded upon racial hatred and their volunteer organisation was conducted on the principles and models of the storm-troopers of Hitler. On the first flush of independence, the Muslims in general in Pakistan began to feel that they were a superior class, a ruling race.
    • Lahiry P. C. (1964). India partitioned and minorities in pakistan. p 8 quoted in Kamra A. J. (2000). The prolonged partition and its pogroms : testimonies on violence against Hindus in East Bengal 1946-64. pp. 9

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