Last modified on February 4, 2019, at 13:43

Opposition to the partition of India

Opposition to the partition of India was widespread in British India in the 20th century and it continues to remain a contentious issue in South Asian politics. Most individuals of the Hindu and Sikh faiths were opposed to the partition of India (and its underlying two-nation theory),[1] as were many Muslims in that country (these were represented by the All India Azad Muslim Conference).[2][3]

Pashtun politician Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of the Khudai Khidmatgar viewed the proposal to partition India as un-Islamic and "contrary to the history of Muslims in the subcontinent, who had for over a millenium considered India their homeland."[4] Mahatma Gandhi opined that "Hindus and Muslims were sons of the same soil of India; they were brothers who therefore must strive to keep India free and united."[5]

Muslims of the Deobandi school of thought "criticized the idea of Pakistan as being the conspiracy of the colonial government to prevent the emergence of a strong united India" and helped to organize the Azad Muslim Conference to condemn the partition of India.[6] They also argued that the economic development of Muslims would be hurt if India was partitioned,[6] seeing the idea of partition as one that was designed to keep Muslims backward.[7] They also expected "Muslim-majority provinces in united India to be more effective than the rulers of independent Pakistan in helping the Muslim minorities living in Hindu-majority areas."[6] Deobandis pointed to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which was made between the Muslims and Qureysh of Mecca, that "promoted mutual interaction between the two communities thus allowing more opportunities for Muslims to preach their religion to Qureysh through peaceful tabligh."[6] Deobandi scholar Maulana Sayyid Hussein Ahmed Madani argued for a united India in his book Muttahida Qaumiyat Aur Islam (Composite Nationalism and Islam), promulgating the idea that different religions do not constitute different nationalities and that the proposition for a partition of India was not justifiable, religiously.[8]

Khaksar Movement leader Allama Mashriqi opposed the partition of India because he felt that if Muslims and Hindus had largely lived peacefully together in India for centuries, they could also do so in a free and united India.[9] Mashriqi saw the two-nation theory as a plot of the British to maintain control of the region more easily, if India was divided into two countries that were pitted against one another.[9] He reasoned that a division of India along religious lines would breed fundamentalism and extremism on both sides of the border.[9] Mashriqi thought that "Muslim majority areas were already under Muslim rule, so if any Muslims wanted to move to these areas, they were free to do so without having to divide the country."[9] To him, separatist leaders "were power hungry and misleading Muslims in order to bolster their own power by serving the British agenda."[9]

The Deccan Herald, in an article titled The tragedy of Partition, argued that:[10]

The Muslim and the non-Muslim population lived together since centuries on the Indian soil, peacefully and harmoniously, without any major conflict. It was clear that if ever a separate Muslim nation-state was formed, it could not possibly contain all or even most, Indian Muslims. And there would inevitably be many non-Muslims in it. No amount of social engineering could separate India’s Muslims from non-Muslims. It was simply not possible. The Indian Muslims did not have a common culture or speak one major language. A Punjabi Muslim had very little in common with a Muslim in Bengal or in Malabar, except, of course, religion. There was no single language that could be called a Muslim language. For centuries, Indian Muslims shared the language and culture of the region along with non-Muslims. The second claim, that Indian Muslims were fundamentally different from non-Muslims, was even more absurd. Syncretism had been an important feature of Indian culture since early times. Culture and language were generally based on region, more than religion. And so a Bengali Muslim had much more in common with a Bengali Hindu than with a Punjabi Muslim. Considerable cultural diversity existed within Muslims and multiple connections existed between Muslims and non-Muslims. It was simply not possible to draw a dividing line, either of territory or of culture, between India’s Muslims and non-Muslims.[10]

After it occurred, critics of the partition of India point to the displacement of fifteen million people, the murder of more than one million people, and the rape of 75,000 women to demonstrate the view that it was a mistake.[11]

Organisations and prominent individuals opposing the partition of IndiaEdit

Political partiesEdit


Religious organizationsEdit

  • Darul Uloom Deoband[38]

Indian Reunification proposalsEdit

For a more detailed treatment, see Indian reunification.
In The Nation, Kashmiri Indian politician Markandey Katju has advocated the reunification of India with Pakistan under a secular government.[39] He stated that the cause of the partition was the divide and rule policy of Britain, which was implemented to spread communal hatred after Britain saw that Hindus and Muslims worked together to agitate against their colonial rule in India.[39] Katju called for the organization of the IPBRA (Indo-Pak-Bangladesh Reunification under a secular government Association) to spread the cause of Indian reunification.[40]

Pakistani historian Nasim Yousaf, the grandson of Allama Mashriqi, has also championed Indian Reunification and presented the idea at the New York Conference on Asian Studies on 9 October 2009 at Cornell University; Yousaf stated that the partition of India itself was a result of the British interests and their divide and rule policy that sought to create another buffer state between the Soviet Union and India to prevent the spread of Communism, as well the fact that a "division of the people and territory would prevent a united India from emerging as a world power and keep the two nations dependent on pivotal powers."[41] Yousaf cited former Indian National Congress president Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who wrote in the same vein:[41]

If a united India had become free...there was little chance that Britain could retain her position in the economic and industrial life of India. The partition of India, in which the Moslem majority provinces formed a separate and independent state, would, on the other hand, give Britain a foothold in India. A state dominated by the Moslem League would offer a permanent sphere of influence to the British. This was also bound to influence the attitude of India. With a British base in Pakistan, India would have to pay far greater attention to British interests than she might otherwise do. ... The partition of India would materially alter the situation in favour of the British.[41]

Yousaf holds that "Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of the All-India Muslim League and later founder of Pakistan, had been misleading the Muslim community in order to go down in history as the saviour of the Muslim cause and to become founder and first Governor General of Pakistan."[41] Allama Mashriqi, a nationalist Muslim, thus saw Jinnah as "becoming a tool in British hands for his political career."[41] Besides the pro-separatist Muslim League, Islamic leadership in British India rejected the notion of partitioning the country, exemplified by the fact that most Muslims in the heartland of the subcontinent remained where they were, rather than migrating to newly created state of Pakistan.[41] India and Pakistan are currently allocating a significant amount of their budget into military spending—monies that could be spent in economic and social development.[41] Poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, terrorism and a lack of medical facilities, in Yousaf's eyes, would not be plaguing an undivided India as it would be more advantaged "economically, politically, and socially."[41] Yousaf has stated that Indians and Pakistanis speak a common lingua franca, Hindi-Urdu, "wear the same dress, eat the same food, enjoy the same music and movies, and communicate in the same style and on a similar wavelength".[41] He argues that uniting would be a challenge, though not impossible, citing the fall of the Berlin Wall and the consequent German Reunification as an example.[41]

See alsoEdit


  1. (2017) War and Religion: An Encyclopedia of Faith and Conflict [3 volumes] (in English). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610695176. “Upon the assurances of the Congress Party that Sikh interests would be respected as an independent India, Sikh leadership agreed to support the Congress Party and its visiion of a united India rather than seeking a separate state. When Partition was announced by the British in 1946, Sikhs were considered a Hindu sect for Partition purposes. They violently opposed the creation of Pakistan since historically Sikh territories and cities were included in the new Muslim homeland.” 
  2. India’s Muslims and the Price of Partition. The New York Times (17 August 2017). “Many Indian Muslims, including religious scholars, ferociously opposed the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The dissenters (English). The Friday Times (27 May 2016). “However, the book is a tribute to the role of one Muslim leader who steadfastly opposed the Partition of India: the Sindhi leader Allah Bakhsh Soomro. Allah Bakhsh belonged to a landed family. He founded the Sindh People’s Party in 1934, which later came to be known as ‘Ittehad’ or ‘Unity Party’. ... Allah Bakhsh was totally opposed to the Muslim League’s demand for the creation of Pakistan through a division of India on a religious basis. Consequently, he established the Azad Muslim Conference. In its Delhi session held during April 27-30, 1940 some 1400 delegates took part. They belonged mainly to the lower castes and working class. The famous scholar of Indian Islam, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, feels that the delegates represented a ‘majority of India’s Muslims’. Among those who attended the conference were representatives of many Islamic theologians and women also took part in the deliberations.”
  4. (2018) Dirty Hands and Vicious Deeds: The US Government’s Complicity in Crimes against Humanity and Genocide (in English). University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442635272. 
  5. (2012) Gandhi's Pilgrimage of Faith: From Darkness to Light (in English). SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791483510. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 (2015) The Deoband Madrassah Movement: Countercultural Trends and Tendencies (in English). Anthem Press, 84. ISBN 9781783084463. 
  7. (1963) The Deoband School and the Demand for Pakistan (in English). Asia Publishing House, 106-108. 
  8. (2007) Islam in Contemporary World (in English). Sterling Publishers. ISBN 9781932705690. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Why Allama Mashriqi opposed the partition of India? (English). Global Village Space (31 August 2018). Retrieved on 24 January 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The tragedy of Partition (English) (11 August 2012). Retrieved on 29 January 2019.
  11. The Great Divide: The Violent Legacy of Indian Partition (English). The New Yorker (29 June 2015).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 (2017) Muslims against the Muslim League: Critiques of the Idea of Pakistan (in English). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108621236. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Sajjad, Mohammad (January 2011). "Muslim resistance to communal separatism and colonialism in Bihar: nationalist politics of the Bihar Muslims". South Asian History and Culture 2 (1): 16–36. doi:10.1080/19472498.2011.531601. "Maghfoor Aijazi had set up the All India Jamhoor Muslim League, in 1940, to oppose Jinnah's scheme of Pakistan.". 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 (2018) Ideology and Identity: The Changing Party Systems of India (in English). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190623890. 
  15. (1990) Remembering Our Leaders, Volume 3 (in English). Children's Book Trust. ISBN 9788170114871. “The Indian National Congress and the nationalists of Bengal firmly opposed the partition.” 
  16. (2003) Mainstream, Volume 42, Issues 1-10 (in English). “The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind was uncompromisingly against the formation of Pakistan and remained in India after the partition, while the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam came to be in Pakistan.” 
  17. 17.0 17.1 (2000) Allama Inayatullah Mashraqi: A Political Biography (in English). Oxford University Press, 131. ISBN 9780195791587. “The resolution was a bad omen to all those parties, including the Khaksars, which were, in one way or the other, opposing the partition of the subcontinent.” 
  18. (2013) Khizr Tiwana, the Punjab Unionist Party and the Partition of India (in English). Routledge. ISBN 9781136790294. “He also enlisted the support of the Khaksars“ who had been bitter opponents of Sikander." They, nevertheless possessed the virtue of being outspoken critics of the Pakistan scheme.” 
  19. 19.0 19.1 (2003) Nehru: The Invention of India (in English). Arcade Publishing. ISBN 9781559706971. “Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1891–1991): the “Frontier Gandhi"; Congress leader of the North-West Frontier Province, organized nonviolent resistance group called the Khudai Khidmatgars; opposed partition and was repeatedly jailed for long periods by the government of Pakistan.” 
  20. (2015) From Sufism to Ahmadiyya: A Muslim Minority Movement in South Asia (in English). Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253015297. “Soon thereafter, in 1943, the Ahrar passed a resolution officially declaring itself against partition, which posed a problem in that it put the Ahrar in direct opposition to the Muslim League. The Ahrar introduced a sectarian element into its objections by portraying Jinnah as an infidel in an attempt to discredit his reputation.” 
  21. The dissenters (English). The Friday Times (27 May 2016). “Here, not only anti-colonial Muslims were opposed to the Partition – and there were many all over Punjab – but also those who considered the continuation of British rule good for the country – Sir Fazl-e-Hussain, Sir Sikander Hyat and Sir Khizr Hayat Tiwana for instance – were opposed to the Partition. The campaign against Sir Khizr during the Muslim League agitation was most intimidating and the worst type of abuse was hurled at him.”
  22. (2011) Abdul Matlib Mazumdar (in English). Aud Publishing. ISBN 9786137449219. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 (2014) At Home in India: The Muslim Saga (in English). Hay House, Inc. ISBN 9789384544126. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 The dissenters (English). The Friday Times (27 May 2016). “Here, not only anti-colonial Muslims were opposed to the Partition – and there were many all over Punjab – but also those who considered the continuation of British rule good for the country – Sir Fazl-e-Hussain, Sir Sikander Hyat and Sir Khizr Hayat Tiwana for instance – were opposed to the Partition.”
  25. Justification of Partition in Books & Educational Syllabi Breeds Hatred and Terrorism (English). The Milli Gazette (26 June 2012).
  26. Ghose, Sankar (1 January 1991). Mahatma Gandhi. Allied Publishers. ISBN 9788170232056. “Later, K.M. Munishi, with Gandhi's blessing, also resigned from the Congress to plead for Akhand Hindustan as a counter blast to Pakistan. Gandhi, who previously thought that swaraj was impossible without Hindu-Muslim unity, subsequently came to the conclusion that as Britain wanted to retain her empire by pursuing a policy of divide and rule, Hindu-Muslim unity could not be achieved as long as the British were there.” 
  27. On Frontier Gandhi’s death anniversary, a reminder of how the Indian subcontinent has lost its way (English). (20 January 2018).
  28. (2014) Sources of Indian Traditions: Modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (in English). Columbia University Press, 906. ISBN 9780231510929. “Khwaja Abdul Majid (1875–1962) was a lawyer, educationalist, and social reformer who supported Gandhi in his opposition to the partition of India.” 
  29. (2007) The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts (in English). SAGE Publications India. ISBN 9788132101116. “The brother of the Nawab of Dhaka, Khwajah Atiqullah collected 25,000 signatures and submitted a memorandum opposing the partition (Jalal 2000: 158). The anti-partition movement was 'actively supported' by 'Abdul Rasul, Liakat Hassain, Abul Qasim, and Ismail Hussain Shirazi' (Ahmed 2000: 70).” 
  30. (2015) Gandhism (in English). JSC Publications. ISBN 9781329189133. “As a rule, Gandhi was opposed to the concept of partition as it contradicted his vision of religious unity.” 
  31. (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (in English). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191004124. “Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana, a Unionist, who was the last Premier of the unified Punjab opposed Jinnah and the 1947 partition of India from a Punjabi nationalist perspective.” 
  32. In Prophetic Historical Interview, Indian Islamic Scholar Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Warned Against Creation Of Pakistan Based On Hindu-Muslim Disunity: 'We Must Remember That An Entity Conceived In Hatred Will Last Only As Long As That Hatred Lasts' (English). Memri (21 February 2014).
  33. View: The lesser known Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who sought 'United India' to the bitter end (English). The Economic Times (10 November 2018).
  34. The truth about partition (English). Times of India (8 July 2014).
  35. The dissenters (English). The Friday Times (27 May 2016). “We are indeed informed about the strong opposition by Congress stalwart Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and the leader of the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madni, to the demand for a separate Muslim state made by the All-India Muslim League, but the general impression in both India and Pakistan is that Indian Muslims as a whole supported the Partition.”
  36. (2006) Historical Dictionary of India (in English). Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810865020. “Both Sikander Hayat Khan and his successor, Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana, vehemently opposed the idea Partition when it was mooted in the early 1940s, partly because as Punjabi Muslims they did not agree with Jinnah on the need for a Pakistan and largely because the thought of partitioning Punjab, as an inevitable consequence, was so painful.” 
  37. Partition of India and Patriotism of Indian Muslims (English). The Milli Gazette (17 July 2017).
  38. (2012) Confessions of an Old Labour High Tory (in English). ISBN 9781471606175. “Even the Darul Uloom Deoband, although it supported Indian independence, opposed and opposes the Muslim League's theory of two nations, and therefore opposed and opposes partition.” 
  39. 39.0 39.1 The truth about Pakistan (English). The Nation. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved on 29 January 2019.
  40. India And Pakistan Must Reunite For Their Mutual Good (English). The Huffington Post (10 April 2017).
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 41.5 41.6 41.7 41.8 41.9

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    (English). New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYSCAS) (9 October 2009).

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