The All-India Muslim League (popularised as the Muslim League) was a political party established in 1906 in British India
. Its strong advocacy for the establishment of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state
, successfully led to the partition of India
in 1947 by the British Empire
The party arose out of a literary movement
begun at The Aligarh Muslim University
and was formed in Dhaka
(now in Bangladesh
) many years after the death of Syed Ahmad Khan
who was central figure for the formation of the University. It remained an elitist organization until 1937 when the leadership began mobilising the Muslim masses and the league then became a popular organization.
In the 1930s, the idea of a separate nation-state
and influential philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal
of uniting the four provinces
in North-West British India further supported the rationale of the two-nation theory
aligning with the same ideas proposed by Syed Ahmad Khan
who in 1888 at Meerut said, "After this long preface I wish to explain what method my nation — nay, rather the whole people of this country — ought to pursue in political matters. I will treat in regular sequence of the political questions of India, in order that you may have full opportunity of giving your attention to them. The first of all is this — In whose hands shall the administration and the Empire of India rest? Now, suppose that all English, and the whole English army, were to leave India, taking with them all their cannon and their splendid weapons and everything, then who would be rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations — the Mahomedans and the Hindus — could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable." With global events leading up to World War II
and the Congress
party's effective protest against the United Kingdom unilaterally involving India in the war
without consulting the Indian people, the Muslim League went on to support the British war efforts
. The Muslim League played a decisive role in the 1940s, becoming a driving force behind the division of India along religious lines and the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state in 1947.
After the partition and subsequent establishment of Pakistan, All-India Muslim League was formally disbanded in India and the leftover Muslim League diminished to a minor party, that too only in Kerala, India. In Bangladesh
, the Muslim League was revived in 1976 but it was reduced in size, rendering it insignificant in the political arena. In India a separate independent entity called the Indian Union Muslim League
was formed, which continues to have a presence in the Indian parliament
to this day. In Pakistan, the Pakistan Muslim League
eventually split into several political parties
, which became the successors of the All-India Muslim League.
With the sincere efforts by the pioneers of the Congress to attract Muslims to their sessions the majority of the Islamic leadership, with exception of few scholars like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan
and Syed Ameer Ali
, who focussed more on Islamic education and scientific developments, rejected the notion that India's has two distinct communities to be represented separately Congress sessions.
In 1886, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Educational Conference
, but a self-imposed ban prevented it from discussing politics. Its original goal was to advocate for British education, especially science and literature
, among India's Muslims
. The conference, in addition to generating funds for Sir Syed
's Aligarh Muslim University
, motivated the Muslim upper class to propose an expansion of educational uplift elsewhere, known as the Aligarh Movement
. In turn, this new awareness of Muslim needs helped stimulate a political consciousness among Muslim elites, For few of them, many years after the death of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
the All-India Muslim League was formed in Dhaka
The formation of a Muslim political party on the national level was seen as essential by 1901. The first stage of its formation was the meeting held at Lucknow
in September 1906, with the participation of representatives from all over India. The decision for the re-consideration to form the all-Indian Muslim political party was taken and further proceedings were adjourned until the next meeting of the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference. The Simla Deputation reconsidered the issue in October 1906 and decided to frame the objectives of the party on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Educational Conference, which was scheduled to be held in Dhaka. Meanwhile, Nawab Salimullah Khan published a detailed scheme through which he suggested the party to be named All-India Muslim Confederacy.
Pursuant upon the decisions taken earlier at the Lucknow meeting and later in Simla, the annual meeting of the All-India Muhammadan Educational Conference was held in Dhaka from 27 December until 30 December 1906.
[Pakistan movement. Commencement and evolution, p. 167, 168, by Dr. Sikandar Hayat Khan and Shandana Zahid, published by Urdu Science Board, Lahore. ]
Three thousand delegates attended,
headed by both Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk Kamboh
and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk
(the Secretary of the Muhammaden Educational Conference), in which they explained its objectives and stressed the unity of Muslims under the banner of an association.
It was formally proposed by Nawab Salimullah Khan
and supported by Hakim Ajmal Khan
, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar
, Zafar Ali Khan
, Syed Nabiullah
, a barrister from Lucknow, and Syed Zahur Ahmad, an eminent lawyer, as well as several others.
The Muslim League's insistence on separate electorates and reserved seats in the Imperial Council were granted in the Indian Councils Act after the League held protests in India and lobbied London.
The draft proposals for the reforms communicated on 1 October 1908 provided Muslims with reserved seats in all councils, with nomination only being maintained in Punjab. The communication displayed how much the Government had accommodated Muslim demands and showed an increase in Muslim representation in the Imperial and provincial legislatures. But the Muslim League's demands were only fully met in UP and Madras. However, the Government did accept the idea of separate electorates. The idea had not been accepted by the Secretary of State, who proposed mixed electoral colleges, causing the Muslim League to agitate and the Muslim press to protest what they perceived to be a betrayal of the Viceroy's assurance to the Simla deputation.
On 23 February Morley told the House of Lords that Muslims demanded separate representation and accepted them. This was the League's first victory. But the Indian Councils Bill did not fully satisfy the demands of the Muslim League. It was based on the October 1908 communique in which Muslims were only given a few reserved seats. The Muslim League's London branch opposed the bill and in a debate obtained the support of several parliamentarians. In 1909 the members of the Muslim League organised a Muslim protest. The Reforms Committee of Minto's council believed that Muslims had a point and advised Minto to discuss with some Muslim leaders. The Government offered a few more seats to Muslims in compromise but would not agree to fully satisfy the League's demand.
Minto believed that the Muslims had been given enough while Morley was still not certain because of the pressure Muslims could apply on the government. The Muslim League's central committee once again demanded separate electorates and more representation on 12 September 1909. While Minto was opposed, Morley feared that the Bill would not pass parliament without the League's support and he once again discussed Muslim representation with the League leadership. This was successful. The Aga Khan compromised so that Muslims would have two more reserved seats in the Imperial Council. The Muslim League hesitantly accepted the compromise.
Sultan Muhammad Shah (Aga Khan III)
was appointed the first honorary president of the Muslim League, though he did not attend the Dhaka inaugural session. There were also six vice-presidents, a secretary, and two joint secretaries initially appointed for a three-year term, proportionately from different provinces. The League's constitution was framed in 1907, espoused in the "Green Book," written by Maulana Mohammad Ali
Aga Khan III shared Ahmad Khan's belief that Muslims should first build up their social capital through advanced education before engaging in politics, but would later boldly tell the British Raj that Muslims must be considered a separate nation within India. Even after he resigned as president of the AIML in 1912, he still exerted a major influence on its policies and agendas. In 1913, Mohammed Ali Jinnah
joined the Muslim league.
Intellectual support and a cadre of young activists emerged from Aligarh Muslim University
. Historian Mushirul Hasan
writes that in the early 20th century, this Muslim institution, designed to prepare students for service to the British Raj
, exploded into political activity. Until 1939, the faculty and students supported an all-India nationalist movement. After 1939, however, sentiment shifted dramatically toward a Muslim separatist movement, as students and faculty mobilised behind Jinnah and the Muslim League.
Politically, there was a degree of unity between Muslim and Hindu leaders after World War I, as typified by the Khilafat Movement
. Relationships cooled sharply after that campaign ended in 1922. Communalism grew rapidly, forcing the two groups apart. Major riots broke out in numerous cities, including 91 between 1923 and 1927 in Uttar Pradesh alone. At the leadership level, the proportion of Muslims among delegates to the Congress party fell sharply, from 11% in 1921 to under 4% in 1923.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
became disillusioned with politics after the failure of his attempt to form a Hindu-Muslim alliance, and he spent most of the 1920s in Britain. The leadership of the League was taken over by Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who in 1930 first put forward the demand for a separate Muslim state in India. The "Two-Nation Theory
", the belief that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations who could not live in one country, gained popularity among Muslims. The two-state solution was rejected by the Congress leaders, who favoured a united India based on composite national identity. Congress at all times rejected "communalism" — that is, basing politics on religious identity. Iqbal's policy of uniting the North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Sindh into a new Muslim majority state became part of the League's political platform.
The League rejected the Committee report (the Nehru Report
), arguing that it gave too little representation (only one quarter) to Muslims, established Devanagari as the official writing system of the colony, and demanded that India turn into a ''de facto'' unitary state, with residuary powers resting at the centre – the League had demanded at least one-third representation in the legislature and sizeable autonomy for the Muslim provinces. Jinnah reported a "parting of the ways" after his requests for minor amendments to the proposal were denied outright, and relations between the Congress and the League began to sour.
Conception of Pakistan
On 29 December 1930, Sir Muhammad Iqbal delivered his monumental presidential address to the All-India Muslim League annual session. He said:
Sir Muhammad Iqbal did not use the word "Pakistan" in his address. Some scholars argued that
"Iqbal never pleaded for any kind of partition of the country. Rather he was an ardent proponent of a 'true' federal setup for India..., and wanted a consolidated Muslim majority within the Indian Federation".
Another Indian historian, Tara Chand
, also held that Iqbal was not thinking in terms of partition of India, but in terms of a federation of autonomous states within India. Dr. Safdar Mehmood also asserted in a series of articles that in the Allahabad address, Iqbal proposed a Muslim majority province within an Indian federation and not an independent state outside an Indian Federation.
On 28 January 1933, Choudhary Rahmat Ali
, founder of the Pakistan National Movement, voiced his ideas in the pamphlet entitled "Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?"
In a subsequent book, Rehmat Ali discussed the etymology in further detail.
'Pakistan' is both a Persian and an Urdu word and literally means the land of the pure. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our South Asia homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir
It means the land of the Pure".
and the India
n Press vehemently criticised these two different schemes and created confusion about the authorship of the word "Pakistan" to such an extent that even Jawaharlal Nehru
had to write:
Campaign for Pakistan
Until 1937, the Muslim League had remained an organisation of elite Indian Muslims. The Muslim League leadership then began mass mobilisation and it then became a popular party with the Muslim masses in the 1940s, especially after the Lahore Resolution.
Under Jinnah's leadership, its membership grew to over two million and became more religious and even separatist in its outlook.
The Muslim League's earliest base was the United Provinces
, where they successfully mobilised the religious community in the late 1930s. Jinnah worked closely with local politicians, however, there was a lack of uniform political voice by the League during the 1938–1939 Madhe Sahaba riots in Lucknow. From 1937 onwards, the Muslim League and Jinnah attracted large crowds throughout India in its processions and strikes.
At a League conference in Lahore
in 1940, Jinnah said:
In Lahore, the Muslim League formally recommitted itself to creating an independent Muslim state which would include Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province, and Bengal, and which would be "wholly autonomous and sovereign". The Lahore Resolution
, moved by the sitting Chief Minister of Bengal A. K. Fazlul Huq
, was adopted on 23 March 1940, and its principles formed the foundation for Pakistan's first constitution. In the Indian provincial elections of 1946, the Muslim League won 425 out of 476 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating the independent state of Pakistan, and with an implied threat of secession if this was not granted. Congress, led by Gandhi and Nehru, remained adamantly opposed to dividing India
In opposition to the Lahore Resolution, the All India Azad Muslim Conference
gathered in Delhi in April 1940 to voice its support for a united India.
Its members included several Islamic organisations in India, as well as 1400 nationalist Muslim delegates;
the "attendance at the Nationalist meeting was about five times than the attendance at the League meeting."
The All-India Muslim League worked to try to silence those Muslims who stood against the partition of India, often using "intimidation and coercion".
For example, Deobandi scholar Maulana Syed Husain Ahmad Madani
traveled across British India, spreading the idea he wrote about in his book, ''Composite Nationalism and Islam
'', which stood for Hindu-Muslim unity
and opposed the concept of a partition of India;
while he was doing this, members of the pro-separatist Muslim League attacked Madani and disturbed his rallies.
The murder of the All India Azad Muslim Conference leader Allah Bakhsh Soomro
also made it easier for the All-India Muslim League to demand the creation of Pakistan.
Role in communal violence
In the British Indian province of Sind
, the historian Ayesha Jalal
describes the actions that the pro-separatist Muslim League used in order to spread communal division and undermine the elected government of Allah Bakhsh Soomro
, which stood for a united India
In the few years before the partition, the Muslim League "monetarily subsidized" mobs that engaged in communal violence against Hindus and Sikhs in the areas of Multan, Rawalpindi, Campbellpur, Jhelum and Sargodha, as well as in the Hazara District
The Muslim League paid assassins money for every Hindu and Sikh they murdered.
As such, leaders of the Muslim League, including Muhammad Ali Jinnah, issued no condemnation of the violence against Hindus and Sikhs in the Punjab.
Impact on the future courses of the Subcontinent
After the partition
of the British Indian Empire
, the Muslim League played a major role in giving birth to modern conservatism in Pakistan
and the introduction of the democratic process
in the country.
The Pakistani incarnation was originally led by the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and later by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan
, but suffered from ill-fate following the military intervention
in 1958. One of its factions
remained supportive of President Ayub Khan
until 1962, when all factions decided to reform into the Pakistan Muslim League
led by Nurul Amin
, and to support Fatima Jinnah
in the presidential elections
in 1965. Furthermore, it was the only party to have received votes from both East
and West Pakistan
during the elections
held in 1970. During the successive periods of Pakistan, the Pakistan Muslim League went on to be one of the ruling parties holding alternating power within the nation.
After the partition of India in 1947, the All-India Muslim League was disbanded. It was succeeded by Indian Union Muslim League
in the new India.
Indian Union Muslim League
contests Indian General Elections
under the Indian Constitution.
The party has always had a constant, if small presence, in the Indian Parliament.
The party has had two members in every Lower House
from the third to the 16th House, with the exception of the Second, in which it had no members, and the fourth, in which it had three members. The party had a single member in the 14th Lower House. The party currently has four members in Parliament.
The party is currently a part of the United Progressive Alliance
in national level.
Indian Union Muslim League
is recognized by the Election Commission of India
as a State Party in Kerala
.The party is a major member of the opposition United Democratic Front
, the Indian National Congress
-lead pre-poll state-level alliance in Kerala.
Whenever the United Democratic Front
rules in Kerala, the party leaders are chosen as important Cabinet Ministers.
The Muslim League formed its government in East Bengal
immediately after the partition of Bengal
, with Nurul Amin becoming the first Chief Minister
Problems in East Pakistan for the Muslim League began to rise following the issue of the Constitution of Pakistan
. Furthermore, the Bengali Language Movement
proved to be the last event that led the Muslim League to lose its mandate in East Bengal. The Muslim League's national conservatism
program also faced several setbacks and resistance from the Communist Party of Pakistan
. In an interview given to print media
, Nurul Amin stated that the communists had played an integral
and major role in staging the massive protests, mass demonstrations, and strikes for the Bengali Language Movement.
All over the country, the political parties
had favoured the general elections
in Pakistan with the exception of the Muslim League
In 1954, legislative elections were to be held for the Parliament.
Unlike in West Punjab, not all of the Hindu population migrated to India, instead a large number stayed in the state.
The influence of the Communist Party deepened, and its goal of attaining power was finally realised during the elections. The United Front
, the Communist Party, and the Awami League returned to power, inflicting a severe defeat to the Muslim League.
Out of 309, the Muslim League only won 10 seats, whereas the Communist Party got 4 seats of the ten contested. The communists working with other parties had secured 22 additional seats, totalling 26. The right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami
had completely failed in the elections.
In 1955, the United Front
named Abu Hussain Sarkar as the Chief Minister of the State and he ruled the state in two non-consecutive terms until 1958, when martial law was imposed.
The Muslim League remained as a minor party in East Pakistan but participated with full rigour during the Pakistan general elections
in 1970. It won 10 seats from East Pakistan
and 7 seats from other parts of Pakistan. After the independence
of Bangladesh, the Muslim League was revived in 1976 but its size was reduced, rendering it insignificant in the political arena.
During the 1940s, the Muslim League had a United Kingdom chapter active in the British politics
. After the establishment
of Pakistan, the Pakistani community
's leaders took over the UK branch, choosing Zubeida Habib Rahimtoola
as president of the party to continue to serve its purpose in the United Kingdom.
At present, the Muslim League's UK branch is led by the PML-N
, with Zubair Gull as its president.
Historically, Pakistan Muslim League can also refer to any of the following political parties in Pakistan:
[Mumtaz, Ashraf. ''Dawn'' (Pakistan), 14 May 2006.]
* Muslim League
, the original successor of the All-India Muslim League, which was disbanded during the first martial law.
* Convention Muslim League
, a political platform created by General Ayub Khan
in 1962 when he became the president.
* Council Muslim League
, a party created by political leaders who opposed General Ayub Khan.
* Muslim League
, a party created by Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan
when he split with the ''Council Muslim League'' to run for the 1970 general elections
* Indian Independence Movement
* Indian Muslim nationalism
* Indian Nationalism
* List of presidents of the All-India Muslim League
Government of Pakistan websitePakistan News websiteThe Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Colloquium on the One Hundred Years of Muslim League at the University of Chicago, 4 Nov 2006
Category:Political parties established in 1906
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