Muslim Political Identity

By M.S. Jain

The book unravels the process which the elite leadership of the largest religious minority in India adopted to build its identity. This process had been changing: when the elite was in power, the focus was on discouraging liberal religious trends; when out of power, the duty of regaining lost power was emphasized. When the elite proved incompetent to do so, the leaders called upon the ulama to preserve the integrity of the community. After the foreign imperial rule was securely established, the elite took over the role of a loyalist elite, snatched the leadership of the community from the ulama, and became an 'ultra' loyalist group even making the loyalist nationalists appear as hostile critics. Partly as an additional proof of its loyalty to the imperial rulers, and partly as an assertion of its individuality, it advocated the view that there could not be peace even for a day if either the Hindus or the Muslims were to acquire control in India. When the nationalists began to wrest concessions from the colonial rulers, this elite developed the strategy, not of joining the nationalists in their struggle against the imperial rulers but of putting forward claims for a larger share of the concessions won by the nationalists from the imperial rulers. This share, unjustifiable on democratic representative principles, went on increasing as the concessions won by the nationalists from the imperial power became substantial. From the imperial rulers, it only sought the favour of recognizing its identity. The ashraf elite leadership was even afraid of the common Muslims and practically excluded them from the membership of the all-India political organization and developed a social exclusiveness. The community was defined in a manner so as to exclude its own masses. The recognition by the British of its individuality spurred the elite to exert pressure to gain political identity in the form of separate electorates. The majority community was persuaded to accept separate electorates and weightage for building up a joint charter of demands to be presented to the imperial power. A section of leadership later on felt separate electorates to be insufficient to safeguard its identity and denied the right of majority to rule over the country. Another section of the elite leadership emerged to deny the concept of a nation-state based on geographical or territorial unity, and instead raised the slogan of milli unity as the basis of a qaum and a state. It weakened the nationalist struggle for freedom of the country, and encouraged the imperialist rulers to patronize their efforts for the assertion of their individual identity.


320 pages

Publication Date: 1/1/2005
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9788170338888


Temporarily out of stock

Temporarily out of stock.