A Leadership Odyssey: Muslim Separatism and the Achievement of the Separate State of Pakistan | By Muhammad Ali Baig


THE book “A Leadership Odyssey: Muslim Separatism and the Achievement of the Separate State of Pakistan” authored by Sikandar Hayat,gave a balanced yet holistic analysis on the genesis of the Muslim separatism and political movement in the sub-continent.

The book has seven chapters excluding the ‘Introduction’ and ‘Conclusion’ sections. It mainly revolves around six important Muslim personalities of the sub-continent, namely Syed Ahmad Khan; Aga Khan; Syed Ameer Ali; Maulana Mohamed Ali; Allama Muhammad Iqbal; and Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Apart from Chapter 1, each chapter is dedicated separately to discuss these personalities.Hayat’s work is highly commendable; however, “Four chapters, 1, 2, 5, and 6, are revised, expanded, and updated versions” of his early published research articles during the 1980s.

The seven-chapter book is around 300-page long and concisely covered the events happened from 1857 till 1947. Alternatively, it can be argued that the book summed up the relentless century-longPakistan Movement stretching from Muslim separatism.

The ‘Introduction’ section discussed the strategic setting of the sub-continent and served as the academic and literary bedrock of the book.

The section is very strong as it conducted ‘literature review’ citing prominent ethnolinguistic and nationalism scholars including Paul Brass (American), Francis Robinson (British), W. W. Hunter (British), Farzana Shaikh, Venkat Dhulipala, Ram Gopal, S. R. Mehrota, Walter Bennett Evans, Hafeez Malik, Ayesha Jalal, Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Abdul Hamid, Khalid bin Sayeed, Nirad C. Chaudhri, and H. M. Seervai.

The aforementioned authors have made considerable works regarding the emergence and life of nations, ethnopolitics, and Muslim struggle for separate political identity and destiny in the sub-continent.

The book is well-structured and candid in its approach. The Chapter 1 “Origins and Development of Hindu-Muslim Separatism in India” undertook a historical analysis of Hindu-Muslim unity and dis-unity, and later separatism in India.

The Chapter 2 “Syed Ahmad Khan and the Foundation of the Muslim Separatist Political Movement in British India” gave a detailed account on the services rendered by Sir Syed, especially the establishment of educational institutions of Aligarh.

The Chapter 3 “Aga Khan and the Growth of the Muslim Separatist Political Movement in British India” discussed the foundations of All-India Muslim League and the demand of separate electorates for Muslims in India. The Chapter 4 “Syed Ameer Ali and the Consolidation of the Muslim Separatist Political Movement in British India” highlighted the services of Syed Ameer Ali in Bengal.

The Chapter 5 “Maulana Mohamed Ali and the Revival of the Muslim Separatist Political Movement in British India” examined the fluctuation of Maulana from separatism towards Khilafat Movement and later back again to demanding Muslim separatism.

The Chapter 6 “Allama Muhammad Iqbal and the Formulation of the Idea of a Separate State in India” debated Iqbal’s ‘Muslim Nationalism’ and a separate state based on such ideals. The Chapter 7 “Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah the Pakistan Movement and the Achievement of the Separate State of Pakistan”indeed served as the most important chapter of the book.

It holistically viewed that how and why the ‘Ambassador’ of ‘Hindu-Muslim Unity’altered his views regarding the possibility of such an unholy unity and focused for a separate Muslim homeland.

Hayat cited prominent Western scholars, i.e., Francis Robinson, Paul Brass, and W. W. Hunter; however, Hayat did contend their theories and arguments in a very sound manner.

Hayat contended Robinson’s argument that “There was ‘no deliberate attempt’ by the British government ‘to foster communal hostility; indeed the aim was to avoid it.” Also, Hayat made serious criticism regarding the idiosyncrasy of Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Sangh.

In other words, Hayat criticised British and Hindus equally for invoking separatism in Muslims. Moreover, it ably noted that due to such discriminatory behaviour, the Muslim separatism was a reaction – not a pro-active strategy. Dr. Sikandar Hayat’s tremendous work is novel.

It was published by Oxford University Press in 2021, and in almost 300-page length, the book has made considerable contribution to the existing literature and could effectively serve as a reference book or even a textbook for graduate students. Besides the relatively good legible quality, its modest price being under Rs. 1000/- is a strength. Apart from, taking a holistic overview of history into account, Hayat made its arguments in light of nationalism theories which strengthened the research and opened new horizons for researchers and scholars.

Such theoretical frameworks could be helpful in finding lacunas in existing theories and could help in creating new theories with reference to historical and chronological order of events.

—The author is a Research Associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).

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