He is not known to an average Indian. Nehruvian Historians describe him as the author of “The Fraud of Islamic Pakistan”. For this work he gets a place in the annals of India’s Freedom Struggle as a hero & a nationalist But was he? Or was he a wolf in sheep’s skin? Was he a traitor of Hindustan? Or was he simply a Hypocrite? a religious Bigot? You, The reader decide.

Muhammad Sajjad was born in the Panhessa village in theĀ Nalanda District of Bihar in 1880. His father Hussain Baksh died when he was only 4 years of age. Sajjad was raised by his elder brother who was a sufi (Ahmad Sajjad). As a child Sajjad was not interested in religion but one day when he was 15 years old, his brother scolded him for his wayward ways. In anger, Sajjad ran away from home to Kanpur. Hungry and destitute, Sajjad took refuge in a madarsa. He studied there for 3 years and then moved to Deoband seminary – Dar-ul-Uloom. Here too Sajjad got expelled for fighting with students. He then moved to Allahabad (Prayagraj). Here he enrolled himself in Madarsa Subhania and finally managed to graduate in 1905. After that he went back to Nalanda and took up job as a teacher in a madarsa. He went on to establish his own seminary – Madarsa Anwar-ul-Uloom at Gaya.

HIS POLITICS & LEGACY

Sajjad’s political career took off after he had founded the Anjuman Ulema-i-Bihar, in Gaya in 1918. This was a momentous time in muslim politics of Hindustan. Led by the infamous Ali Brothers – Muhammad Ali & Shaukat Ali Jauhar, muslims were getting increasingly worried about the fate of the Ottoman Khilafat (centered around modern day Turkey, separated by over 4600 kms from India). In course of the next few years they had and would kill thousands of Hindus in support of European war against the Ottomans.

NOTE – The consequent agitations and riots by muslims were directed against Hindus. Ironically they killed Hindus in their demand that British either stop fighting the Ottomans & support Turkish empire. In essence Hindus were killed just so muslims of India wanted to support an islamic kingdom 4600 kms away

Sajjad was motivated by the belief that the ulema needed to intervene in politics and provide leadership to the Indian muslim community. He thought that the existing muslim leadership was too liberal (westernized) to represent the muslim ummat of Hindustan. It was around this time that he came under the influence of another fundamentalist muslim leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. In 1921 (when the infamous and genocidal Moplah Riots claimed countless Hindu lives) he wrote his seminal work- Imarat-i-Shariah ( influnced and quite similar to Abul Kalam’s Amir-i-Hind scheme)

He advocated that the ulema in each province elects an Amir, who would be assisted by a council of the ulema. This Amir would then set up the shariat courts and educational institutions in every districts. This provincial Amir would also appoint district Amirs. All these Amirs – District and Provincial, would then elect the supreme authority Amir-i-Hind. The overall idea advocated by Sajjad was that the muslims of Hindustan would exist as an autonomous, self regulating body. The muslim community would maintain a separate identity distinct from the composite Hindustani identity.

The muslim community would enter into a collective agreement with the nation’s government. This collective agreement would define muslim’s role & relationship within Hindustan BUT the community would as a whole owe its ULTIMATE ALLEGIANCE TO THE UNIVERSAL KHILAFAT OF ISLAM

PS – Khilafat off islam = Caliphate of the Islamic Caliph or Kalifa – King

Sajjad managed to establish his version of islamic utopia as per his work, The Imarat-i-Sahriah. He failed to replicate this model anywhere in India.

By now Sajjad was a big name in the ulema as well as in muslim politics. He floateed his own party Muslim Independent Part (MIP). His party won a majority of muslim seats in th 1937 Bihar assembly elections (1937). After winning, Sajjad sought and got into an alliance with the Muslim League and managed to form an interim government in Bihar between April-July 1937. This was the time when congress, led by nehru-gandhi had started giving ground to muslim league, and had refused to form government in Bihar. This refusal had opened the field for muslim league and muslim independent party to form a government in the Hindi heartland.

When congress finally decided to form the government, ML-MIP coalition had to resign. After congress came to power in Bihar, Sajjad blamed the congress for betraying the principles of Muttahida Qaumiyat – composite nationhood. He blamed congress for the “betrayal’-because his party was forced to resign from government. He further, galvanized muslims away from congress and blamed them for trying to wean muslims away from their ‘true leaders’ – the ulema.

LAHORE RESOLUTION & OPPOSITION TO IDEA OF PAKISTAN

In 1940, ML passed the infamous Lahore resolution that defined the idea of Pakistan and justified its existence. But here Sajjad opposed the resolution. However it must be noted that he opposed Jinnah’s version of Pakistan and NOT the idea of Pakistan. Sajjad’s opposition rose out of the concern that the Pakistan defined by Jinnah was not islamic enough. He questioned the islamic credentials of the muslim league leadership.Sajjad was of the firm view that ONLY the ulema- the mullahs & maulvis had the right and authority to lead muslims – rulers and commoners alike. He opposed the muslim league’s claim as being the sole representative of muslims.

It wasn’t that he disliked the idea of Pakistan. Instead he wanted the power to rule the new state to reside with the ulema and to this idea he was ready to oppose and destroy the very idea of Pakistan. He felt that with congress slowly succumbing to constant pressure of muslim leadership, why be satisfied with only a small pakistan when the ulema can rule over the entire undivided India.

To dismantle Jinnah’s idea of Pakistan he said that a truly islamic Paksitan could come into being ONLY if all non-muslim population of the new state was “removed” from Pakistan. The Hindu/Sikh population formed nearly 50% of the population of these areas. Secondly he wanted that muslim league should claim publicly that in the new state, non muslims – Hindu/Sikhs would not have any rights or role – in essence declaring Hindus as dhimmis living under islamic law. Since Jinnah had not declared publicly any such intention, the new state of Pakistan was NOT ISLAMIC enough.

He even tried to inflame emotions among muslims living as minority in many Hinustani provinces. He warned the muslims to not live in any illusion thattheir rights would be protected under Hindu majority governments.

This dual ideological jugglery has been the typical character of the muslim leadership of the time.

One one hand Sajjad seemed to oppose Pakistan – reality – he opposed because it was not islamic enough and in such a dispensation he and the ulema would not have power.

On the other hand, Sajjad agitated the muslim population with cries of victimhood – current and future.

At the end of this piece, I would ask you the reader, to think whether Syed Muhammad Sajjad was a Religious Bigot or a Power hungry Traitor.

What he wasn’t, was a freedom fighter

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