Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Choudhary Rahmat Ali - The Man Who Named Pakistan

A lot is written about the views, motives, and personalities of the persons, involved in the independence movement and the creation of Pakistan. We continuously discuss every aspect of these persons, from Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Liaquat Ali Khan, Khwaja Nazimuddin, Nawab Salimullah Khan and Allama Iqbal. Even some other leaders like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar appear more prominently in these discussions and writings. But the man, who gave this country its name Choudhry Rahmat Ali, seldom appears in our history. Frankly speaking, I know a lot more about Mahatma Gandhi or Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru than Choudhry Rahmat Ali. All that I know are some sketchy information about this person, who invented a word that is today the identity of more than 200 million people. In my view, if Quaia-i-Azam is the father of this nation, then we can call Rahmat Ali godfather of Pakistan. (I know it sounds a little bit amusing)

He was born on 16 November, 1897, in Mohar (31° 6'13.92"N;  76°19'0.22"E), a small village 4 kms north of Balachaur, district Hoshiarpur, now district Nawanshahr. This was confirmed to me by his family sources. His father was Haji Chaudhry Shah Muhammad Gujjar. The following excerpt is from Wikipedia:
After graduating from Islamia Madrassa Lahore in 1918, he taught at Aitchison College Lahore before joining Punjab University to study law. In 1930 he moved to England to join Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1931. In 1933, he published a pamphlet, Now or Never, coining the word Pakistan for the first time. In 1946, he founded Pakistan National Movement in England. Subsequently, he obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from the University of Cambridge. In 1943, he was called to the Bar, from Middle Temple, London. Until 1947, he continued publishing various booklets about his vision for South Asia. The final Partition of India disillusioned him due to the mass killings and mass migrations it ended up producing. He was also dissatisfied with the distribution of areas among the two countries and considered it a major reason for the disturbances.
Another website gives the following account of his political activity:
It was during the years 1930 through 1933, that he established the Pakistan National Movement, with its headquarter at Cambridge. Until 1947, he continued publishing various booklets about his vision for South Asia. On January 28, 1933, he issued his first memorable pamphlet “Now or Never; Are we to live or perish forever?” The pamphlet gave reasons for the establishment of Pakistan as a separate nation coining the word Pakistan for the first time.
The above-mentioned source also shed some light on his life after the creation of Pakistan in the following words:
Ali is known for his steadfast dedication to the idea of Pakistan. After its formation in 1947, he argued on its behalf at the United Nation over the issue of Kashmir. and the rights of Muslim minority of India.

While Choudhry Rahmat Ali was a leading figure for the conception of Pakistan, he lived most of his adult life in England. He had been voicing his dissatisfaction with the creation of Pakistan ever since his arrival in Lahore on April 6, 1948. He was unhappy over a Smaller Pakistan than the one he had conceived in his 1933 pamphlet “Now Or Never”.

After the creation of Pakistan he returned to Pakistan in April 1948, planning to stay in this country, but he was ordered by the then Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to leave the country. His belongings were confiscated, and he left empty-handed for England in October 1948. He died in February 1951 and was buried on 20 February at Newmarket Road Cemetery Cambridge UK. Emmanuel College’s Master, who had been Rahmat Ali’s Tutor, himself arranged the burial in Cambridge on 20 February 1951.


But the question on my mind for a long time was his and his family roots in Pakistan. I could not find any information on that aspect. However, I got a clue from the picture of the tombstone of the grave of Choudhry Rahmat Ali in Cambridge.  

 بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم – لا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللهِ
چوہدری رحمت علی، ایم-اے-ایل-ایل-بی بار ایٹ لاء کیمبرج
ولد حاجی شاہ محمد گجر عمر 54 سال تاریخ وفات 12 فروری 1951
بانی تحریک پاکستان – خالق لفظ "پاکستان"
تحریر کنندہ حاجی محمد بخش ولد چوہدری شاہ محمد چک نمبر 66، لائلپور، پاکستان


Now there was only one way to find more about the family and Choudhry Rahmat Ali's connection with the country, that was named by him and that was to visit the Chak No. 66JB. So on 13 July, 2017, I reached there. My intuition told me that I would be able to get some information from the oldest part of the Chak. Now, keep in mind that the Chak is very near to Faisalabad city is can be easily counted as a semi-urban area, unlike an ordinary traditional village. Apart from one part of the chak which was full of power looms, the residential section was very neat and clean. I was not expecting much. I thought that even if Rahmat Ali's family settled here 70 years ago after their migration from Hoshiarpur, most probably they would have moved to some other place a long time ago. 

A street in Chak No. 66JB, Faisalabad. (13.07.2017.)

Another view of the Chak No. 66JB, Faisalabad. (13.07.2017.)

House of Haji Muhammad Baksh, elder brother of Choudhry Rahmat Ali, Chak No. 66JB, Faisalabad. ( 31°23'29.99"N;  72°58'15.47"E)  (13.07.2017.)

After reaching almost in the centre of the Chak, I asked a shopkeeper about the house of Choudhry Rahmat Ali, the man who gave Pakistan its name. I was expecting him to ask me who was he? But he simply said to go a little ahead and then turn right. I was happily surprised and after a few minutes, I found myself in front of the home of his relatives. There was a shop beside it and the shop owner also turned out to be a member of this family. After a few minutes, we were welcomed in by an old lady. Her son was out and he joined us half an hour later. They were happy to know the purpose of our visit and served us with cold drinks. 

This was the immediate family of Choudhry Rahmat Ali. They informed us that he did not have any children and his elder brother Haji Muhammad Bakhsh had two sons and one daughter. During the violence of 1947, he lost all of his three children.  Later on, Haji Mohammad Bakhsh's wife adopted a daughter of her brother and that was Bilqis Begum. So this is the place, which we can call the home of Choudhry Rahmat Ali. I tried to keep in touch with Mr Muhammad Zakaria and asked him some more questions, but he did not extend any help and due to some reason ignored all my messages and calls. 

Bilqis Begum, adopted daughter of Haji Mohammad Baksh, the elder brother of Choudhry Rahmat Ali and her son Chaudhry Zakaria Gujar. Chak No. 66JB, Faisalabad. (13.07.2017.)

Choudhry Zakaria Gujar (left) with the writer. (13.07.2017.)

As can be well expected, they were acutely aware of the fact that Choudhry Rahmat Ali has not been given a status he deserved. They also mentioned an effort made about a decade ago to bring the body of Choudhry Rahmat Ali to Pakistan. They even offered to pay half of the expenses for this exercise. But nothing came out of that enterprise. This was a brief visit to that Chak but very satisfying. Finally, I was able to find a place in Pakistan, which we can call the home of the person who gave this country its name. I came to know for the first time the that he also gave the blood his dear ones to lay down the foundations of this country.

It was in 1933, when he wrote a pamphlet, presenting his view about the future of Muslims of five northern administrative units of India. In this pamphlet, he demanded a separate independent state for the Muslims and not only outlined the geographical boundaries for this state but also suggested a name for this state, PAKISTAN. Following is the complete text of this pamphlet.

Front Page of Now Or Never. 

28th January, 1933.

Dear Sir,
I am enclosing herewith an appeal on behalf of the thirty million Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of India--Punjab, N.W.F.P. (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan, embodying their inexorable demand for the recognition of their separate national status, as distinct from the rest of India, by grant of a separate Federal Constitution on social, religious, political and historical grounds. 
May I venture to request you to acquaint me please with your valuable opinion as to the proposed solution of this great Indian problem as explained herein. 
I do hope and trust that, vitally interested as you are in the permanent solution of this problem, the objects outlined in the appeal will meet with your fullest approval and active support. 

Yours truly,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ

 لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍ
For each (such person) there are (angels) in succession, before and behind him: They guard him by command of Allah. Allah does not change a people's lot unless they change what is in their hearts. But when (once) Allah willeth a people's punishment, there can be no turning it back, nor will they find, besides Him, any to protect.

Ar-Ra'd, 11

Are We to Live or Perish for Ever?

At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKISTAN -- by which we mean the five Northern units of India. viz.: Punjab, North West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan -- for your sympathy and support in our grim and fateful struggle against political crucifixion and complete annihilation.
Our brave but voiceless nation is being sacrificed on the altar of Hindu Nationalism not only by non-Muslims, but to the lasting disgrace of Islam, by our own so-called leaders, with reckless disregard to our future and in utter contempt of the teachings of history.
The Indian Muslim Delagation at the Round Table Conference have committed an inexcusable and prodigious blunder. They have submitted, in the name of Hindu Nationalism, to the perpetual subjection of the ill-starred Muslim nationa. These leaders have already agreed, without any protest or demur and without any reservation, to a Constitution based on the principle of an All-India Federation. This, in essence, amount to nothing less than signing the death-warrant of Islam and its future in India. In doing so, they have taken shelter behind the so-called Mandate from the community. But they forgot that suicidal Mandate was framed and formulated by their own hands. That Mandate was not the Mandate of the Muslims of India. Nations never give Mandates to their representatives to barter away their very soul; and men of conscience nevery accept such self-annihilating Mandates, if given -- mcuh less execute them. At a time of crisis of this magnitude, the foremost duty of saving staesmanship is to give a fair, form and fearless lead, which, alas, has been persistently denied to eighty millions of our co-religionists in India by our leaders during the last seventy five-years. These have been the years of false-issues, of lost opportunities and of utter blindness to the most essential and urgent needs of the Muslim interests. Their policy has throughout been paralysed with fear and doubt, and have deliberately, time and again, sacrificed their political principles for the sake of opportunism and expediency. To do so even at this momentous juncture is a policy of Bedlam. It is idle for us not to look this tragic truth in the face. The tighter we shut our eyes, the harder that truth will hit us. 
At this critical moment, when this tragedy is being enacted, permit us to appeal to you for your practical sympathy and active support for the demand of a separate Federation --a mtter of life and death for the Muslims of India -- as outlined and explained below.
India, constituted as it is at the present moment, is not the name of one single country; nor the home of one single nation. It is, in fact, the designation of a State created for the first time in history, bu the British. It includes peoples who have never previously formed part of India at any period of its history; but who have, on the other hand, from thhe dawn of history till the advent of the British, possessed and retained distinct nationalities of their own. 
In the five Northern Provinces of India, out of total population of about forty millions, we, the Muslims constitute about thirty millions. Our religion, culture, history, tradition, economic system, laws of inheritance, sucession and marriage are basically and fundamentally different from those of the people living in the rest of India. The ideals which move our thirty million brethren-in-faith living in these Provinces to make the highest sacrifices are fundamentally different from those which inspire the Hindus. These differences are not confined to the braod basic principles -- far from it. They extend to the minutest details of our lives. We do not inter-dine; we do not inter-marry. Our national customs and calendars, even our diet and dress and different. 
It is preposterous to compare, as some superficial observers do, the differences between Muslims and Hindus with those between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Both the Cathlics and Protestants are part and parcel of one religioius system -- Christianity, while the Hindus and Muslim are the followers of two essentially and fundamentally different religious systems. Religion in the case of Muslims and Hindus is not a matter of private opinion as it is in the case of Christians; but on the other hand constitute a Civic Church which lays down a code of conduct to be observed by their adherents from birth to death. 
If we, the Muslims of Pakistan, with our distinct marks of nationality, are deluded into the proposed Indian Federation by friends of foes, we are reduced to a minority of one to four. It is this which sounds the death-knell of the Muslim nation in India for ever. To realise the full magnitude of this impending catastrophe, let us remind you that we thirty millions constitute about one-tenth of the whole Muslim world. The total area of the five units comprising PAKISTAN, which are our homelands, is four times that of Italy, thee times that of Germany and twice that of France; and our population seven times that of the Commonwealth of Australia, four times that of the Dominion of Canada, twice that of Spain, and equal to France and Italy considered individually. 
These are facts -- hard facts and realities -- which we challenge anybody to contradict. It is on the basis of these facts that we make bold to assert without the least fear of contradiction that we, Muslims of PAKISTAN, do possess a separate and distinct nationality from the rest of India, where Hindu nation lives and has every right to live. We, therefore, deserve and must demand recognition of s separate national status by the grand of a separate Federal Constitution from the rest of India. 
In addressing this appeal to the Muslims of India, we are also addressing it to the two other great interests -- British and Hindu -- involved in the settlement of India's future. They must understand that in our conviction our body and soul are at stake. Our very being and well-being depends upon it. For our five great Northern to joinand All-India Federation would be disastrous , not only to ourselves, but to every other race and interest in India, including the British and the Hindu. 
 This is more especially true when there is a just and reasonable alternative to the proposed settlement, which will lay the foundations of a peaceful future for this great sub-continent, and should certainly allow of the highest development of each of these two peoples without one being subject to another. This alternative is a separate Federation of these five predominantly Mulism units -- Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir Sind and Baluchistan. The Muslim Federation of Indian would provide bulwark of a buffer state against any invasion either of ideas or of arms from outside. The creation of such a federation would not materially disturb the ratio of the Muslim and Hindu population in the rest of India. It is wholly to the interest of Britsh and Hindu statesmanship to have as an ally a free, poweful and contented Muslim nation having a similar but separate Constitution to that which is being enacted for the rest of India. Nothing but a separate Federation of our own homelands would satisfy us. This demand is basically different from the suggestion put forward by Doctor Sir Muhammad Iqbal in his Presidential address to the All-India Muslim League in 1930. While he proposed the malgamation of these Provinces into a single state forming a unit of the All-India Federation, we propose that these Provinces should have a separate Federation of their own. There can be no peace and tranquility in the land if we, the Muslims, duped into a Hindu-dominated Federation where we cannot be the masters of our own destiny and captains of our own souls. 
Do the safeguards provided for in the Constitution give us any scope to work for our salvation along our own lines? Not a bit. Safeguard is the magic word which holds our leaders spellbound and has dulled their consciences. In the ecstacy of their hallucinations they think that the pills of safeguards can cure nation-annihilating earthquakes. Safeguards asked for by these leaders and agreed to by the makers of the Constituion can never be a substitute for the loss separate nationality. We, the Muslims, shall have to fight that course of suicidal insanity to death. What safeguards can be devised to prevent our minority of one in four in an All-India Federation from being sacrificed on every vital issue to the aims and interests of the majority race, which differs from us in every essential of individual and corporate life? What safeguards can prevent the catastrophe of the Muslim nation smarting and suffering eternally at the frustration of its every social and religious ideal? What safeguards can compensate our nation awakened to its national consciousness for the destruction of its distinct national status? However, effective and extensive the safegurds may be, the vital organs and proud symbols of our life, such as army and navy, foreign relations, trade and commerce, communications, posts and telegraphs, taxation and customs, will not be unde our control, but will be in the hands of a Federal Government, which is bound to be overwhelmingly Hindu. With all this, how can we, the Muslims, achieve any of our ideals if those ideals conflict--conflict as they must-- with the ideals of Hindus?
The history of the last century, in this respect, is full of unforgettable lessons for us. Even one who runs may read them. To take just one instance: Despite all these safegurds and guarantees we have enjoyed in the past, the very name of our national language--URDU, even now the lingua franca of that great sub-continent--has been wiped out of the list of Indian Languages. We have just to open the latest census report to verify it. This by itself is a tragic fall. Are we fated to fall farther? But that too is dust in the scales by comparison with the tremendous national issues involving our whole future as a nation and a power not only in India but also in the whole of Asia. 
 In the face of these incontrovertible facts, we are entitled to ask for what purpose we are being asked to make the supreme sacrifice of surrendering our national and submitting ourselves and our posterity to Non-Muslim domination? What good is likeky to accrue to Islam and Muslims by going into the Federation is a thing which passes our understanding. Are we to be crucified just to save the faces of our leaders, or to bolster up the preposterous falsehood that India can be a single nation? Is it with a view to achieve [sic] a compromise at all costs, or is it to support the illusion that Hindu nationalism is working in the interests of Muslims as well as Hindus? Irony is flattered to death by a mental muddle of such a nature and on such a scale. We have suffered in the past without a murmur and faced dangers without demur. The one thing we would never suffer is our own self-strangulation. We will not crucify ourselves upon the cross of Hindu nationalism in order to make a Hindu-holiday. 
May we be permitted to ask of all those statesmen--Muslim or British or Hindu--supporting the Federal Constitution, if it is really desirable to make our nation sacrifice all that Islam has given us during the last fourteen hundred years to make India a nation? Does humanity really stand to gain by this stupendous sacrifice? We dare say that still in Islam the ancient fire glows and promises much for the future, if only the leaders would let it live. Whilst in Europe, excluding Russia, in about the same area as that of India and with about the same population, there live and prosper as many as twenty-six nations, with one and the same religion, civilisation and economis system, surely it is not only possible byt hihgly desirable for two fundamentally different and distinct nations, i.e., Muslim and Hindu, to live as friendly neighbours in peace and prosperity in that vast sub-continent. What bitter irony is it that our leaders have not the courage to stand up and demand the minimum for our political salvation. 
We are face to face with a first-rate tragedy, the like of which has not been seen even in the long and eventful history of Islam. It is not the question of a sect or a community going down; but it is the supreme problem which affects the destiny of whole of Islam and the millions of human beings who, till quite recently, were the custodians of the glory of Islam in India and the defenders of its frontiers. We have still a greater future before us, if only our soul can be saved from the perpetual bondage of slavery forged in an All-India Federation. Let us make no mistake about it. The issue is now or never. Either we live or perish for ever. The future is ours only if we live up to our faith. It does not lie in the lap of gods, but it rests in our own hands. We can make or mar it. The history of the last century is full of open warnings and they are as plain as were ever given to any nation. Shall it be said of us that we ignored all these warnings and allowed our ancient heritage to perish in our own hands?

MOHD ASLAM KHAN,                                                  RAHMAT ALI
                      (Khattak),                                                       (Choudhary)
President, Khyber Union                                                                    

SHEIKH MOHD SADIQ,                                 INAYAT ULLAH KHAN      
         (Sahibzada)                                                             (of Charsaddah)
                                                                             Secretary, Khyber Union
The above map shows the idea of Pakistan as envisaged by Choudhry Rahmat Ali. 

Choudhry Rahmat Ali is a unique person in the history of the world. I am not aware of any person, who not only deliberated about a new country but also suggested a name for it. A name that never existed before. It is indeed strange that why we as a nation have failed to give him a place he deserves in our hearts and minds? Why did we choose to ignore a person who gave us a name? Sometimes voices are raised to bring his body back to Pakistan for the burial and give him the honour he rightly deserves, but that too are so faint that most of us never hear of them. Perhaps the state has not forgiven him for criticising it in the early days. He had criticised the leadership for accepting the partition as it was done. He also blamed the violence on the leadership. Perhaps they did not appreciate the circumstances through which his immediate family had to pass during their migration. Now I must say that his views whether right or wrong cannot change the fact that he gave us a word, which we daily use to identify ourselves. 

Tariq Amir

October 25, 2017.
Doha - Qatar

1 comment:

  1. Choudhry Rahmat Ali was one of the earliest advocates of the creation of the state of Pakistan. Rahmat Ali a Pakistani Muslim nationalist is generally recognized as the creator of the name “Pakistan” for a separate Muslim, homeland in South Asia and is known as the founder of the Pakistan National Movement. Ali was born in November 1895 into a Gujjar Muslim family in a District of Indian Punjab. From his early childhood, Rahmat Ali showed signs of great promise as a student. After completing his schooling, he joined the Islamia College of Lahore, after his graduation in 1918; he initially taught at Aitcheson College Lahore and later joined Punjab University in order to study law. However In 1930 he moved to England to join Emmanuel College Cambridge, in 1931. He obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from the University of Cambridge. In 1943, he was called to the Bar, Middle Temple Inn, London. Rahmat Ali finished education in England, obtaining MA and LLB with honors from the universities of Cambridge and Dublin.