Objective of All India Muslim League

Muslim League was established in December 1906, initially led by Aga Khan and ultimately by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was instrumental in creating public opinion in favour of Muslim nationalism and finally in achieving Pakistan in 1947. Up to the end of nineteenth century, the Muslims had stayed away from organized polities. However, Hindu agitation against the partition of Bengal, and Hindu religious revivalism and hostility to the Muslims injected into the Congress by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a fundamentalist Hindu leader changed the situation. By 1906, Muslim leaders were convinced that they should form their own party to protect Muslim interests and speak for the community on all important occasions.

The Simla Deputation strengthened this belief by demonstrating the potency of united action. The background of the foundation of the Muslim League at Dhaka on 30 December 1906 may be traced back to the establishment of the Indian national congress in 1885. The Western educated Hindu elite with the objectives of sharing power with the raj and motivating it to establish representative government in India established the Congress. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the most, widely respected leader of the Muslim community, warned the Indian Muslims not to join the congress in the interest of the Muslim community. He started his movement by establishing ‘a college at Aligarh. Sir Syed and like him, many other Muslim leaders believed, that the Muslims as a downtrodden nation could ‘get more benefit from the loyalty to the British rather than from any opposition to them. He called upon his followers to devote their energy and attention to popularizing English education among the Muslims. This, perception and consequent activism has been known as the Aligarh Movement.

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In the line of this thought Muslim elite like Nawab Abdul Latif, syed amir and others established cultural organizations for propagation of English education among the Muslims in the absence of which the community remained deprived of the benefits of the colonial state. Thus the Muslim cultural organizations like the Mohammedan literary society (1863), central national Mohammedan association (1877), Sir Syeds United Indian Patriotic Association (1888) and many other local anjumans became more active in social regenerative activities than in politics.

The Muslim leaders of India met informally once a year in a conference to discuss educational problems of the Muslim community and to disseminate the thought of loyalty to the raj. Such a conference (All India Muslim Education Conference) was held at Shah Bag in Dhaka in 1906 against the backdrop of the Congress sponsored agitation against the partition of Bengal (1905) and the Swadeshi movement. Previously, a deputation of Muslim leaders met Governor General Lord Minto at Simla in order to ventilate problems special to the Muslim community of India. Nawab salimullah of Dhaka, the staunchest supporter of the Partition of Bengal, felt the need to form a political party to counter the anti-partition agitation launched by the Congress cadres.’ He proposed in this conference to make a political platform with the objectives of safeguarding the interests of the Indian Muslims.’ Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, chairman of the conference, supported the motion and thus the All India Muslim League (AIML) came into being.

Following were the Objectives of the Muslim League:

  • To inculcate among Muslims a feeling of loyalty to the government and to disabuse their minds of misunderstandings and misconceptions of its actions and intentions.
  • To protect and advance the political rights and interests of the Muslims of India and to represent their needs and aspirations to the government from time to time.
  • To prevent ‘the growth of ill will between Muslims and other nationalities without compromising to its own purposes.

The headquarters of the All India Muslim League was established in Lucknow, and Sir Aga Khan was elected as its first president.’ Also elected were six vice presidents, a secretary and two joint secretaries for a term of three years. The initial membership was 400, with members hailing proportionately from all provinces. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar wrote the constitution of the League, known as the “Green Book”. Branches were also setup in other provinces. Syed Ameer, Ali established a branch of the league in London in 1908, supporting the same objectives.

The League was intended to promote loyalty among Indian Muslims to the British government and to remove any misconceptions about the intentions of the government. Second it aimed to protect and advance the political rights and interests of Indian Muslims and represent their needs and aspirations to the government finally, it hoped to prevent the rise of Muslim hostility towards other communities.

It was provided that the membership of the All-India Muslim League would not exceed four hundred, which would be distributed among the different provinces according; to -, fixed proportions. Every candidate was to be a Muslim, not less than 25 years of age, capable of reading and writing in one of the languages and possessing an annual income of not less than Rs. 500. The League was to have a president, six vice-presidents, a secretary and two joint secretaries, all elected for a term of three years.

In another resolution, a provisional committee consisting of sixty members including members of the Simla Deputation was appointed to draft the’ constitution. The League constitution was written in English, by a graduate ‘of Cambridge University, Maulana ‘Muhammad Ali Johar. The book was named The Green Book.

The Indian nationalist press dismissed the Muslim League as a rickety structure, destined to a speedy dissolution. It is true that initially the League as a political organization lacked dynamism as it was founded by those persons who had persistently suggested the Muslims of the subcontinent to keep aloof from politics during the second half of the nineteenth century. The Muslim League remained in a moribund condition for full one year after its inception in December 1906. But within a few years younger generation of the Muslims with ‘middle class’ background and radical ideas found their way into the politics of the Muslim League. They not only discarded the program me of unqualified loyalty to the British rulers, but also challenge the British colonial rule in India and demanded self-government.

In the 1910s the League adopted a creed similar to that of the Indian National Congress. When the Hindu-Muslim relation improved considerably, for instance during the period of Lucknow Agreement (1916) and the period of Khilafat and Noncooperation Movement AIML became almost a dead organization. For several years since 1920, the Muslim League was in a state of suspended animation as the Khilafat organization had taken up all the work of the community at the time, and the League had practically nothing to do.

Many Hindu historians and several British writers have alleged that the Muslim League was founded at official instigation. They argue that it was Lord Minto who inspired the establishment of a Muslim organization so as to divide the Congress and to minimize the strength of the Indian Freedom Movement. But these statements are not supported by evidence. Contrary to this, the widely accepted view is that the Muslim League was basically esta6lished to protect and advance the, ‘Muslim interests and to combat the growing influence of the, Indian National Congress. The Muslim League did not develop any noticeable political program me even within the framework of loyalty to the raj. It was never a meaningful organization politically until Muhammad Au Jinnah took up its leadership in 1935. Implored by, many Muslim leaders, Jinnah returned from London ‘to India and took up the presidency of the Muslim League. In view of the ensuing general elections under’ the ‘India Act of 1935, Jinnah reorganized and restructured the central and provincial branches of the Muslim ‘League and asked the new committees to get ready for electoral politics ahead.

In the elections held in 1937, the Muslim League had an astounding performance in Bengal. Of the total 482 seats reserved for the Muslims in all nine provinces, the League could secure only 104. As high as 36 seats, more than one third of the total, were bagged from Bengal alone. Party-wise, the Muslim League emerged as the second largest group in the legislature the first being the Congress. The Bengal victory of the League was said to have been scored on account of the combined support of the Western educated Bengal Muslim professionals and the Muslim landed gentry. The Ulama class, it may be noted, tended to remain aloof from the Muslim League activities.

In 1937, a Faziul-Huq, Chief Minister of Bengal, joined the Muslim League and with that his ministry had, become virtually a Muslim League one. Using the immense personal popularity of Huq, Bengal was made the fortress for the League. Fazlul-Huq as the leader of the Bengal Muslims moved the Lahore resolution for independent ‘homelands’ for the Indian Muslims from the platform of the Muslim League. The Lahore Resolution of 1940 had a tremendous effect on the Bengal Muslim public opinion.

Muslim League had formed the ministry under the leadership of khwaja nazimuddin in 1943 when Fazlul Huq tendered his resignation on he advice of the Governor, John Herbert. The period from 1943 to 1946 was the period for making the Muslim League a real national organization. Under the leadership of ‘Huseyn shaheed suhrawardy and abul hashim, the League became so popular that in the elections of 1946 it bagged 110 seats out of 117 reserved for the Muslims of Bengal. ‘It established the fact that the Muslim League was the sole spokesman of the Bengal Muslim community.

The League performance in other Muslim dominated provinces of India was equally enthusiastic besides the North West Frontier Province which was still under the Congress influence. The performance of the League in the elections of 1946 made its leader Muhammad All Jinnah the undisputed leader of the Indian Muslims. So far as the Muslim community was concerned, Jinnah was now inevitably to be consulted with mall negotiations and agreements concerning the ‘transfer of power by the British. Six years after the Lahore Resolution, HS Suhrahardy moved the resolution for ‘a Muslim state’ at the Delhi Convention of the Muslim Legislators. The Muslim League became the organization for almost every Indian Muslim when the independence came’ on 14 August 1947. [Sirajul Islam]

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