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Anthologizing Islam in South Asia

Mohammad Sajjad

Edited by Mushirul Hasan
Manohar Books,New Delhi, 2010, pp. 369, Rs. 950.00


Having worked on the themes of Indian Nationalism, South Asian Islam, Muslim Communities, Partition, and related subjects for about three decades the historian Mushirul Hasan thought of bringing out a series of anthologies on Islam in South Asia which could put most of the shades of analysis pertaining to such explorations together in one place. The volume under review is sixth and last in the series. It has sixteen essays, about half of these consist essentially of excerpts taken from the memoirs (English language) of some important persons (mostly Muslims) who lived and experienced the Partition and its impact; some of them acted in those events of history either in the capacity of political activists or administrators, and recorded their observations, impressions, and analysis. The purpose of the compilation as stated by the editor is, ‘to introduce lesser known texts, explore marginalized voices, reveal the religious and secular identity of a people as reflected in the literatures about them or on them and, last but not the least, present the unity and variety of a religion that is almost universally, and mistakenly understood to be undifferentiated’ (p. 8). These excerpted memoirs supply considerable inputs to the scholarly works on the theme. (One looks for such excerpts, translated into English, from Urdu, and other vernacular memoirs also). The introductory essay (it is rather a prefatory note) of the volume contributed by the editor is too brief perhaps because two long scholarly essays by him are included in the volume. The first chapter is from the autobiography (1972) of K. A. Hamied, the founder (1935) of CIPLA (Chemical, Industrial, and Pharmaceutical Laboratories). Hamied, very close to Gandhiji, considered the system of separate electorates as the root of all evils of Partition; he persuaded Gandhiji to launch a mass agitation against Partition rather than accepting it; Gandhi expressed helplessness in doing so and insinuated the unwillingness of Patel and Nehru. Frantically Hamied called on Patel who said that all Muslims would have voted for Pakistan, to which Hamied rebutted, ‘in the election in 1946, (as many as) 36 per cent of the (franchized; only a tiny fraction of the Muslims were franchized) Muslims voted against Jinnah’s Muslim League’, hence Patel’s contention, he said, was wrong. He proposed to Patel that there should have been a special ballot for this plebiscite with three columns: one for those who voted for Pakistan, another for those against Pakistan, and ...

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