Some people believe that if you repeat a lie enough times it becomes the truth. Making the rounds on the internet these days is a “suddenly discovered” interview of Maulana Azad which he allegedly gave to Agha Shorish Kashmiri of Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam in April 1946.
Well I hate to break it to all of you – Agha Shorish Kashmiri was a fraud and the interview itself was most probably cobbled together through excerpts from Azad’s book “India Wins Freedom” and his famous address to the Muslims left behind in India in Jamia Masjid- both easily available texts. Before I come to the actual nature of the forgery, let us re-cap for a second what this creature Majlis-e-Ahrar was and just how deep its motivation ran in discrediting Pakistan and the leadership of Mr. Jinnah who Majlis-e-Ahrar considered an outright Kafir. Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam, a group of Islamic fanatics closely allied to the Congress party, was one of the most rabid anti-Pakistan movements around.
Their leaders Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar and Maulana Ataullah Shah Bukhari were foul mouthed bigots who resorted to choicest abuses from the pulpit against the Muslim League and Mr. Jinnah. The elections of 1946 resulted in their complete rout and after Pakistan was created, this group was in the forefront of the conspiracies against the state. Agha Shorish Kashmiri was one such Ahrari remnant who was in the forefront of anti-Ahmaddiya rioting in Pakistan and whose hatred for Pakistan was boundless. The internal struggle in Islam has always pitted liberal Muslim leadership against the clergy especially in the subcontinent. The difference in the closing days of the Raj was that through a freak chance, liberal and secular Muslim leadership in form of Jinnah was isolated from the Hindu leadership i.e. Gandhi and Nehru led Congress which in turn used the fanatical Muslims making common cause with them against British raj. Maulana Azad was the blue-eyed boy of the Ulema who opposed the Muslim League. Azad was a religious scholar of renown, a salafi who followed Ibn-e-Taimiyya. He commanded respect amongst the Ahraris and he was admired by the nationalists. That Azad was a smart politician is evidenced from his support for the Cabinet Mission Plan, where he alone in the Congress was ready to work it to its logical conclusion. He was also an intelligent man who did predict the separation of Pakistan’s Eastern Wing in his book “India Wins Freedom” as dictated to Humayun Kabir in 1957. He did not however make the predictions that are being attributed to him in the so called interview.
Now let us see the obvious gaping holes in this so called interview:
1. First of all the interview finds no mention in any of the official works on Azad. It is only found in Agha Shorish Kashmiri’s book on Abul Kalam Azad which was financed and published by Kashmiri himself.
2. Azad says “H S Suhrawardy does not hold Jinnah in esteem”. Jinnah’s relationship with Suhrawardy soured in late 1947 but in April 1946 there were no such signs. Till 1947, Suhrawardy was tipped to be Pakistan’s firs t Prime Minister. Infact in his book “India Wins Freedom” Azad hints that Jinnah sidelined Nazimuddin because Nazimuddin was not the loyalist others (presumably Suhrawardy) were.
3. Azad is quoted as saying that “East Pakistan’s confidence will not erode as long as Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan are alive”. This is a rather odd statement on three counts. One in April 1946 no one used the term “East Pakistan”, secondly Liaqat Ali Khan just did not enjoy the kind of importance that is being attached to him and third that while Jinnah was ageing and was expected to die sooner or later, Liaqat Ali Khan was relatively young, and certainly younger than Azad. This sounds eerily similar to something our established Pakistan Studies’ books would say about Quaid-e-Azam and Quaid-e-Millat.
4. Azad is shown to speak about the “assertion of the subnational identities of Punjab, Sindh, Frontier and – please note- Balochistan”. There was no Balochistan issue till the annexation of Kalat. Balochistan did not exist as a proper province, let alone register as a possible hotbed in April 1946. All of Baloch grievances revolve around the purported events of March 1948 and the annexation in 1956. There is no way Azad could have spoken about Balochistan in April 1946.
5. Then Azad is quoted as saying “incompetent leadership will pave way for military dictatorship as has happened in many Muslim countries”. Till April 1946, there were no known coups in Muslim countries. Perhaps Azad was referring to Turkey but then Turkey was not a military dictatorship as Ataturk had retired from the military and was the elected – though autocratic – president of Turkey. His prime ministers, Ismet Inonu and Celal Bayer, had followed suit.
6. Azad then looks into his crystal ball and speaks of “heavy burden of foreign debt”. Foreign debt was an unknown and unlikely creature in Pakistan till the 1960s when Pakistan financed the building of a new capital. In April 1946, there were no apprehensions of foreign debt. Pakistan no doubt asked for military aid from the US soon after independence but that was hardly debt. Unless ofcourse Azad knew that the Congress planned on withholding Pakistan’s share of the treasury- another unlikely proposition since in April 1946 it wasn’t even clear that there would be a partition (except maybe in the note sent from V P Menon to George Abell on January 23rd 1946 which demarcated Pakistan exactly and precisely).
7. Azad is lavish in his praise of Jinnah as the best ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity, something he misses out completely in his book “India Wins Freedom”. Other than this purported interview Azad has never acknowledged Jinnah’s contributions to the Congress. It was just not Azad’s style. The description itself seems to follow the passages on Jinnah by Dr. B R Ambedkar’s “Pakistan or Partition of India”. Granted that this book was in circulation at the time but my bet will be that it was Kashmiri and not Azad who read it.
8. Azad then goes on to say “In the battle of Jamal, Qurans were displayed on the lances”. How strange and ironic that a learned Islamic scholar and authority would make such a major error? It was Jang-e-Sifin – between Muawiyah and Ali- where the Qurans were displayed on the lances. I for one cannot believe that Maulana Azad would say something like that given that this was his bread and butter. Had this been suggested about Jinnah or even Nehru or Iqbal it would have been believable but certainly not Azad.
My objective in posting this is to counter the lie and propaganda that Ahrari crook Agha Shorish Kashmiri is carrying out posthumously with the help of those who want to see Pakistan disintegrated. That this was translated by an Indian MP and published in a magazine that calls itself “Covert” only adds to the mystique of it, since the timing couldn’t be better. But as they say in Punjabi/Saraiki “Naqal kan aqal chaidee”. The planners and executors of this third rate attempt at forging this interview and enhancing Maulana Azad’s credentials as India’s Nostradamus have done the ex-Congress president a disservice.
On our part it is time we stopped being impressed with such trickery.
Comment: I read with interest the highly readable, full of 'Richness and Depth of Vision' interview [as it has been termed so by Covert] given by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to Shorish Kashmiri, the veteran journalist of the days gone by, and editor of a political weekly ‘Chattan’ from Lahore.
In my boyhood days I was closely watching the activities of the Jaish-e-Ihrar-e-Islam [though I never did agree with their philosophy of brandishing Ahmadis as non Muslims, because personally I believe that anybody who has once recited the Kalema, is a Muslim. Its for Allah, the Almighty to decide whether he is a real Muslim, a fake or a non Muslim]. So with this in my mind I had a sort of academic attachment with the Ihraris. A good friend of mine was a staunch supporter of the Ihrars and it was mainly due to him that I attended many functions, meetings and indoor chit chats of the Ihrars in Lyallpur [now Faisalabad].
It was also the time when I learnt of Shorish Kashmiri and started reading his weekly ‘Chattan’ at a public library. Shorish was a prolific writer but more than that, was a remarkable speaker. I remembered, once he started his speech in Faisalabad’s Dhobi Ghat and it went for 4 hours. There was pin drop silence, not a single soul moved - so great and so strong was the spell of Shorish’s voice. It almost mesmerized the audience.
Shorish himself was a strong supporter of the Pakistan movement but at the same time was am ardent admirer of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, whom he considered an Islamic scholar next to Imam Ibne Taimmiya.
Now politically Ihrars were a religious party, but politically inclined toward the United India policy of All India Congress. Their principal manifesto was fighting against the Ahmadis whom they disdainfully called as Qadianis. Everything what the Ihraris wrote, spoke and preached was meant against the Ahmadis. I personally believe in the last prophet hood of our holy prophet [PBUH] but I also believe that brandishing a Muslim whether a Shia, Sunni, Ahmadi, Lahori, Qadiani, Brelvi, Deobandi, Ihrarai, Ismaili, Bohri or what ever denomination a sect may be having, should be left to the individual concerned and his Allah.
But the Ihrars were so much prejudiced against the Ahmadis that they were always in the forefront of calling them Non Muslims and if possible to kill them even.
With such background of Shorish, another special trait of him was that he blindly loved and kept the Maulana in high esteem. Now as far as Maulana’s services in the struggle for freedom are concerned, his scholarly work on Islam is concerned, there is no doubt about it, all of us respect and pay salute to him.
But apart from this high merit and honour, Maulana was but a Congressite. He strongly believed in a United India and therefore used all his strong traits of oratory excellence and highly moving scripts to defend his policy of United India. There is nothing wrong about that.
But when we talk of Maulana’s prophetic statement concerning Muslims and Pakistan, though I do agree with many observations that he made, but as far as the creation of Pakistan is concerned, his vision seems to be negated by the future events that took place in India itself.
But before delving into that part of the history, I would go a bit earlier from my own personal encounters, in additions to what I had read and seen as a child about the great Hindu Muslim Divide in the Subcontinent. I would start from my childhood days. My late father used to be an employee of the North Western Railway which later became the Pakistan Railways. To receive him or to take Tiffin box for him for his train journeys on various express trains that he used to take as a senior Guard, I along with my other siblings used to go to the Railway station. There, we always noticed two separate dining rooms, one for the Hindus and other for the Muslims. There were inscriptions on the main entrance of each dining room, in English and Urdu but we being the students of schools, where there were only hessian mats or taats and sometime there were no taats and we used to have lessons on bare ground, which used to be ice cold in winters and seethig hot in summers, hence we were more proficient to understand Urdu than English. So we always read the Urdu inscription and it said “Hindu Shurfaa ke khanay ka kamra, and Musalman Shurfa ke khanay ka kamra”.
Back in our railway colony we had no running water in our father’s bungalow. Water used to come for a few hours and in summers there was always a shortage of water, so we had no recourse but to fetch water from a community water tap. And as we used to collect water, there used to be always two separate lines of pitchers, Muslim pitchers of baked clay in one line and Hindu pitchers of brass or silver in another line and the two types were always kept at a minimal distance of at last 10 feet away from each other. It sometimes used to happen that if some Muslim boy or a girl inadvertently touched the Hindu pitcher/s even with his/her shirt, the whole pitcher used to be discarded or to be purified with the urine of the cow, because everything touched by a Musalman was “Bhrisht” or gone impure.
Contrary to this, the general environment in our primary school was totally secular. We boys had Hindu friends and we never thought that we will debase a Hindu by mere touching or the Hindu boy think like this. By and large our Hindu teachers too were quite secular and kind, although there were exceptions amongst them too. [I put up a post on my blog on this very subject, here
There were the teachers who did express some prejudice against the Muslim students but even then this disdain was not that well pronounced.
Socially we mixed with the Hindus and Hindus befriended us with equal warmth. I think it could have been the class consciousness of the Hindu Dharma, where there are Brahmins, Keshtris, Yadavs and the Shudrahs. Could be that these people who befriended us were not Brahmins. I can’t comment with surety because it was the time I was not even 10.
Well that was what I experienced during my childhood days. Later when I had completed my Masters at Lahore, I was selected for post graduate scholarship at the Vienna Technical University. There in the hostel, a Hindu who used to be a junior professor at Patna University became a friend of mine. A very good, lovable and sociable type but to my surprise, he never did accept my offer of lunch or dinner together, whenever he came to my room. Many a times I asked why he always declined my offer; he used to say he already had taken. Once I told him that he would be my guest on coming Sunday for lunch. He said OK, came Sunday and I prepared the meals as I could, good or bad I don’t know, but whatever I did, I offered him to jointly eat with me. But this time he said he was not feeling well so he won’t eat anything. Now this made me suspicious and I then asked what cogent reason / s he had not to accept my offer for dinners. At long last he admitted that he could not take meals with me because his religion did not allow him to eat jointly with a Muslim.
So that was that when I was studying in Vienna, Austria.
Later I got a UNESCO scholarship for another course in Chemistry at the Prague University of Technology. There again I had friends from India, this of course because of what our late prime minister Benazir Bhutto used to say ‘in every Indian there is some pakistaniness and in every Pakistani there is some Indianness. So we always try to befriend the Indians whenever we are abroad. And believe me Sir, Indians are the best friends; it only becomes a different matter when you start talking of Pakistan. Its then that every Indian friend turns to be a rabid anti Muslim and anti Pakistani. Once there are 3-4 Indians and you are the only Pakistani amongst them, you will feel you are an outcast because they will start talking to each other and would forget that you too existed amongst them.
Many years after these episodes of my life, I happened to read a book, an autobiography of late Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir and as we all know Sh. Abdullah was a staunch Congressite, a follower of that great soul Mahtama Gandhi. He never had a word of praise for Qaid-e-Azam as never had that man of 'Richness and Depth of Vision' the Maulana.
Sh. Abdullah in Aatish-e-Chinnar quotes the Qaid that he tried to convince a Hindu religious leaded [not Mahatma Gandhi] at a dinner at his Mumbai residence. The Hindu religious leader did come but declined to take meals with Jinnah. Surprised he asked the man why he was not taking the dinner, the leader said, since you are a Muslim and am Hindu, so according to my religious teachings I cannot jointly eat with a Muslim. So said Qaid-e-Azam, “I
Comment: I must say that this author is suffering from sever indigestion to write such a bulox, specially about Agha Sagib Marhoom.
Shame Mr. Hamdani... No real proof...just daleel bara-e-daleel