Home Social Culture Muhammad Iqbal and the debate over Two Nation Theory
Culture - November 16, 2017

Muhammad Iqbal and the debate over Two Nation Theory

Muhammad Iqbal is a widely celebrated political theorist and a renowned Urdu poet of modern times among Muslims. He is a pre-independent poet of united India who died before the liberation and division of India and Pakistan.

Beside the other fact, he influenced the Pakistan movement and considered as the spiritual father of Pakistan. 9th November is marked as the National Poet of Pakistan but his worldwide influence in Urdu and Persian literature gave him the recognition of ‘poet of east’.

On 9th of November, his birthday was celebrated also in India and many people took social media and expressed their views. The scholarly figure has a significant contribution in moulding the ideas of Muslims in modern times. However, criticism goes along with his scholarly work and social ideas.

His philosophical exposition on ‘Two Nation Theory’ has been always subject to scrutiny. It was then publically opposed by Deoband, several political figures like Maulana Azad and Ghaffar Khan. Many Muslim clerics also joined hand against the theory.

However, the theory was equally praised and supported by a significant number of Muslim leaders. Muhammad Ali Jinnah later becomes the torchbearer of the theory and liberated Pakistan on the notion of same theory.


Muhammad Iqbal, however, wrote a letter to ‘The Times, London’ in October 1931 in which he talked about his idea of two nation theory.

From The Times, London, 12 October 1931, page 8

Text of Muhammad Iqbal’s letter to The Times

“Sir, writing in your issue of October 3 last, Dr E. Thompson has torn the following passage from its context in my presidential address to the All-India Moslem League of last December, in order to serve as evidence of Pan-Islamic plotting

I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind, and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Moslem State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Moslems, at least in North-West India.

May I tell Dr Thompson that in this passage I do not put forward a demand for a Moslem state outside the British Empire, but only a guess at the possible outcome in the dim future of the mighty forces now shaping the destiny of the Indian sub-continent. No Indian Moslem with any pretence to sanity contemplates a Moslem state or series of States in North-West India outside the British Commonwealth of Nations as a plan of practical politics.

Although I would oppose the creation of another cockpit of communal strife in the Central Punjab, as suggested by some enthusiasts, I am all for a redistribution of India into provinces with effective majorities of one community or another on lines advocated both by the Nehru and the Simon Reports.

Indeed, my suggestion regarding Moslem provinces merely carries forward this idea. A series of contented and well-organized Moslem provinces on the North-West Frontier of India would be the bulwark of India and of the British Empire against the hungry generations of the Asiatic highlands.”


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