Letter to The Statesman
The Statesman published Allama Dr. Iqbal's statement on "Qadianis and Orthodox Muslims" along with a criticism of it in the first leader. The following letter was in reply addressed to The Statesman and was published on June 10, 1935.
I am very thankful to you for your critical leader on my statement which was published in your issue of the 14th May. The question which you have raised in your leader is a very important one, and I am really very glad that you have raised it. I did not raise it in my statement because I felt that, considering the separatist policy of the Qadianis, which they have consistently pursued in religious and social matters ever since the birth of the idea of building a new community on the foundations of a rival prophethood and the intensity of the Muslim feeling against this move, it was rather the duty of the Government to take administrative cognizance of such a fundamental difference between the Qadianis and the Muslims without waiting for a formal representation on behalf of the Muslim community of India. I was encouraged in this feeling by the Government's attitude in the matter of the Sikh community which till 1919 was not administratively regarded as a separate political unit, but which was later treated as such without any formal representation on the part of the Sikhs, in spite of the Lahore High Court's finding that the Sikhs were Hindus.
However, now that you have raised this question, I should like to offer a few observations on a matter which I regard as of the highest importance both from the British and the Muslim points of view. You want me to make it perfectly clear whether, when or where I can tolerate official cognizance of any one community's religious differences. Let me point out:
First, that Islam is essentially a religious community with perfectly defined boundaries — belief in the Unity of God, belief in all the Prophets and belief in the Finality of Muhammad's Prophethood. The last mentioned belief is really the factor which accurately draws the line of demarcation between Muslims and non-Muslims and enables one to decide whether a certain individual or group is a part of the community or not. For example, the Brahmos believe in God, they also regard Muhammad (on whom be peace) as one of the prophets of God, yet they cannot be regarded as part and parcel of Islam because they, like the Qadianis, believe in the theory of perpetual revelation through prophets and do not believe in the Finality of Prophethood in Muhammad. No Islamic sect, as far as I know, has ever ventured to cross this line of demarcation. The Bahais in Iran have openly rejected the principle of Finality, but have at the same time frankly admitted that they are a new community and not Muslims in the technical sense of the word. According to our belief, Islam as a religion was revealed by God, but the existence of Islam as a society or nation depends entirely on the personality of the Holy Prophet. In my opinion, only two courses are open to the Qadianis, either frankly to follow the Bahais or to eschew their interpretations of the idea of Finality in Islam and to accept the idea with all its implications. Their diplomatic interpretations are dictated merely by a desire to remain within the fold of Islam for obvious political advantages.
Secondly, we must not forget the Qadianis' own policy and their attitude towards the world of Islam. The founder of the movement described the parent community as "rotten milk" and his own followers "fresh milk", warning the latter against mixing with the former. Further, their denial of fundamentals, their giving themselves a new name (Ahmadis) as a community, their non-participation in the congregational prayers of Islam, their social boycott of Muslims in the matter of matrimony, etc., and above all their declaration that the entire world of Islam is Kafir — all these things constitute an unmistakable declaration of separation by the Qadianis themselves. Indeed, the facts mentioned above clearly show that they are far more distant from Islam than Sikhs from Hinduism, for the Sikhs at least intermarry with the Hindus, even though they do not worship in the Hindu temples.
Thirdly, it does not require any special intelligence to see why the Qadianis, while pursuing a policy of separation in religious and social matters, are anxious to remain politically within the fold of Islam. Apart from the political advantages in the sphere of Government service which accrue to them by remaining within the fold of Islam, it is obvious that in view of their present population, which, according to the last census, is fifty-six thousand only, they are not entitled even to a single seat in any legislature of the country and cannot, therefore, be regarded as a political minority in the sense in which you seem to be using the expression. The fact that the Qadianis have not so far asked for separation as a distinct political unit shows that in their present position they do not find themselves entitled to any representation in legislative bodies. The new constitution is not without provisions for the protection of such minorities. To my mind, it is clear that in the matter of approaching the Government for separation, the Qadianis will never take the initiative. The Muslim community is perfectly justified in demanding their immediate separation from the parent community. If the Government does not immediately agree to this demand, the Indian Muslims will be driven to the suspicion that the British Government is keeping the new religion in store, as it were, and delaying the separation because in view of the small number of its adherents, it is, for the present, incapable of functioning as a fourth community in the province which may effectively damage the already marginal majority of Punjab Muslims in the legislature. The Government did not wait for a formal representation for separation by the Sikhs in 1919, why should they wait for a formal representation by the Qadianis?