Evolution of the “Two Nation” theory



“Two Nation Theory” was not introduced formally until the Allahabad address of Allama Iqbal in 1930, however, the term, and the concept behind it had been around in the sub-continent for many years before that. While the idea that Hindus and Muslims are two different nations and do not have the tendency to absorb each other’s traditions, practices, believes, habits, theology, and culture were coined by many thinkers in the past, it has never been recognized and put forth unitedly and forcefully until Allama Iqbal realized the graveness of the repercussions Muslims of Indian subcontinent could have faced at the hands of Nationalist Hindu regime. After all, the Indian subcontinent was a Hindu majority region and the democratic setting favored them; the untiring efforts of many Muslim leaders for the separate electorate is clear evidence.


Meaning of Two Nation Theory


Two Nation theory, in essence, means that owing to the differences and contrasts in culture, history, beliefs, economic and social setup, religion and practices, the Muslims and Hindus of the Indian subcontinent belong to separate nations and cannot merge into a united nation. Because of these gleaming differences in several aspects of everyday life, the atrocities and prejudices of the Hindu regime in the 1930s and the desire of the Muslims to practice their religion of Islam without hurdles led to the successful culmination of the Two-Nation theory in the form of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.


The evolution of the “Two Nation” theory


The statement from the founder of Pakistan, Quaid e Azam that “Pakistan was established the day when the first Indian national embraced Islam” strengthens the concept of “Two Nation” theory as right after the first Indian national came under the umbrella of Islam, his/her identity, culture, believes and practices became distinct from other Indian nationals following the ways according to their own history and believes.

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Al-Beruni’s Kitab ul Hind and the “Two Nation” theory


Al-Beruni, who came to India in 1001 AD with Mehmud Ghaznavi, writes in his book Kitab ul Hind “the Hindu fanaticism is directed against those who do not belong to them – and more particularly against the Muslims whom they call Maleecha – impure, and forbid having any relation with them, be it by any kind of relationship by sitting, eating and drinking with them because they think they would be polluted. They consider as impure anything which touches the person of any foreigner”. He further says that “the Hindu society maintained this peculiar character over the centuries. The two societies, Hindu and Muslim, like two streams, have sometimes touched but never merged, each following its separate course”. Therefore, the Hindu ideology of caste system and its prejudicial nature does not have the agility to absorb the Islamic concept of equality.


Religious differences:


The main reason for this separateness of the two societies within the larger society was the religion of Islam which does not recognize anyone as inferior to anyone on the basis of color, class or caste. Islam provides a complete code of life, whether it be social, political or economical, whereas Hinduism does not deal with the detailed aspects of human life. Above all, the separate identity of Muslims is recognized by the fact that they believe in only one God, whereas Hinduism’s followers pray to many gods. The communities, however, lived for centuries together, but could not merge into a whole because of basic ideological differences and had to split apart into two different nations eventually.


Hindu Nationalism


Although the concept of the “Two Nation” theory is generally attached to the Muslims’ identity and Islam, Hindus were the first to originate the separatism in the shape of nationalist movements in the 19th century. The rise of Arya Samaj intensified the hatred Hindus were carrying inside their hearts for the Muslims of the region; the program of Shuddi had the motive to convert non-Hindus to Hinduism. Brahmo Samaj, another nationalist organization, was involved in spreading anti-Muslim sentiment and promoting Hindu nationalism. Therefore, it can be said that although the “Two Nation” theory existed for centuries, the major cause for its mainstreaming was the antagonism of Hindu leadership.

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Cultural and Social differences


Sociology tells us that communities thrive when its subjects have a strong binding force; Al-beruni called this force “Al Asabiya”. The ways of life, customs, believes, thinking, behaviors, traditions hold a society together under every thick and thin. The two religions of the subcontinent had completely opposite ways of life. Muslims slaughtered cows, whereas Hindus worshiped them; the Hindus burnt their dead bodies, while Muslims buried them; the Muslims were considered impure and the two communities did not inter-dine or inter-marry; anything touched by a Muslim was first washed with the sacred water of ganga; the Hindus did not eat meat, while Muslims were meat eaters.

The clothes, foods, greetings, gestures, home utensils and outlook of Hindus and Muslims alluded to the inevitable fact that the two entities are distinct. The two communities lived with each other for centuries but could be distinguished at a glance from each other.


Political causes


The Urdu-Hindi controversy of 1864 ignited the flames of the political rivalry and exposed Hindu thinking. Urdu was the language of a common man; it was spoken in every nook and corner of the region. Hindus demanded that Urdu should be replaced by Hindi as the official language. This severely damaged the potential of the two communities to co-exist peacefully and ignited a political controversy.

All India National Congress portrayed itself as the representative of the whole of India, however, it emerged to be a Hindu party and promoted only Hindu interests. It demanded western democracy of majority rule and inclusion of Hindus in upper echelons of power and tried to alienate the Muslim community of the subcontinent.

In 1905, Bengal province was divided into two halves; one part had a Muslim majority and the other, Hindu. The partition was purely on administrative grounds, however, Hindus protested severely as they were not ready to accept Muslim autonomy. The partition of Bengal was annulled in 1911, putting Muslims in a subservient position yet again. Muslim sentiment was again hurt by the extremist and subjugating behavior of the Hindus.

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The hostile Hindu attitude towards Muslims made Muslim leaders worry about their future in the subcontinent as an entity; Quaid e Azam and Allama Iqbal, along with other great leaders pushed for a separate homeland where Muslims could live their lives according to their wishes without getting subjugated by Hindu majority. It was the culmination of untiring efforts of Muslims, their sacrifices and persistence in achieving what was necessary for securing their futures in the subcontinent region, that Pakistan came into being in 1947.










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