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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

The Maudoodi formula of 1938 - i

Has it Contemporary Significance?, asks Syed Shahabuddin

In the October-December, 1938 issue of his journal Tarjuman Al’Quran, Maulana Abul Ala’ Maudoodi, the founder and Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, before Partition and subsequently the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan after Partition, presented his Proposals for the future constitutional order of India. The translation of the core of his Proposal by Omar Khalidi (Radiance, 24 September-4 October, 2003 and 5 -11 October, 2003) follows:

"First Proposal:
The just and true procedure for establishing a democratic state in a multi-national country is as follows: First, it should be based on the principle of an international federation. In other words, it should be based not on the idea of a state of a single nation, but a state of federating nations. Secondly, each nation entering this federation should have cultural autonomy. That is, each nation should be able to use the power of the state within its own particular circle of life for organization and reform. Third, those who have tried to understand the Indian conditions from a political point of view (have been) only one aspect of the issue. The other aspect has escaped their attention. They have noted that the native princely states and the British Indian provinces are different from each other. But they have not seen that here - i.e. India - just as the (native) states and provinces differ, so do the nations. Between (the nations) there are plenty of differences over the principles of civilization, way of life, national traditions, and collective needs. By ignoring these differences, they have tried to tie various nations into accepting one form of government, whereas the same reasons that apply in the case of (native) states and provinces also apply in the case of nations.

What is the spirit of federation? Briefly, it may be understood as a compromise reached by parties who have some common interest with each other but also possess some differences, which prevent them from merging into each other. This result is a compromise so that they can preserve internal autonomy while at the same time cooperating in certain spheres. In a federation, sovereignty is divided between the Centre and its constituent units.

For the implementation of the purposes noted above each nation should separately have - district-wise and province-wise councils. These councils should be headed by a supreme council. All the matters noted earlier should be presented to this council (for) legislation.... The laws passed (by) this council should have the same force as the ordinary laws of the country. A permanent executive council should be charged to carry out the laws of the council, and be answerable to the national council. This council should have the power to levy and collect taxes in order to meet the cost of the administration. Each nation should have a quota of funds to contribute to the country’s treasury, just as each state constituting a federal system would do.

In case of constitutional disputes between the federating nations or units with the Centre a federal court should decide the case.

Each federating nation should have a permanent judiciary of its own possessing full judicial powers.

At this point, we can only state the outlines of cultural autonomy. If there is agreement on principle, then a detailed map can be drawn in an international round table conference or a constituent assembly.

After this arises the question of a central government, we do not mean a central government of provinces but that of nations. This central government is meant to be the federation of sovereign nations. It should be made sure that no federating nations should be able to seize the sovereignty of any other nation. We also present an outline of cultural autonomy whose detailed form can be worked out in a legislative assembly.

Each nation’s share in the legislative, executive, judicial and defence departments of the federated state should be in proportion to national population. That portion should possess the capacity to change according to the change in proportion in the population dynamics. The system of passing weightage should be abolished.

The present electoral system should also be changed. Instead of small constituencies, each state should be declared one constituency, each state should be declared one constituency. In that single constituency, recognized political parties should present a list of their candidates, and compete for their election (for the fixed number of seats). And in this case (and in this case only), the system of Separate Electorates can be terminated; as living in closed forts would be harmful for all the nations. Separate electorates are needed only as long as small, single member constituencies modeled after the English democracy are formed. If we select a truly democratic system by utilizing the system of proportional representation as experimented in modern European democracies, we can eliminate the system of Separate Electorates. This will permit, first, even the smallest part of the society to be represented; second, the electoral contest should be between parties contesting on the basis of a programme and not a fight between individuals; third, the systems of electoral contest between parties would enable each party to be able to appeal to all the nations. It is possible that in the beginning, we might lose against better organized parties because of our disunity, but after obtaining cultural autonomy this loss will not be so harmful.... (The rest of the proposals pertain to the mechanics of the democracy system in India without particular reference to Muslims).

Second Proposal:
If this proposal of inter-national federation is not accepted, the second proposal could be the demarcation of separate territorial units for each nation, where they can establish their own democratic states. Some 25 years or so should be fixed as the time limit for the exchange of population. Each state should have maximum internal autonomy, and the federal centre’s powers should be minimal. In this case, we would not only agree to form a federal state with non-Muslim states, but would even prefer it.

My friend Dr. Sayyid Abd al-Latif has published a treatise Cultural Future of India from Hyderabad. It presents a good map for the division of territorial units between India’s various nations. This is a fair division by which the East Bengal, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Junagarh, Jaora, Tonk, Ajmer, Delhi, Awadh, Northwestern Punjab, Sindh, Frontier and Baluchistan regions are specified for Muslims. This way it is possible that in 25 years, Muslims from other parts of India would migrate to these regions, and Hindus would leave these areas to neighbouring (Hindu) areas. In the rest of India, if the Untouchables desire to form their own nation, chunks of territories can be demarcated for them in proportion to their population percentage. Similarly, the Sikhs may also be given a portion of territory in proportion to their population.

Third Proposal:
If even the second outline is not acceptable, we will demand that our separate national states be formed, with a separate federation. Similarly, there should be a separate federation for Hindu states. Between and among them, there should be a confederation. In this confederation, cooperation should be possible on matters of defense, communications and trade on agreed conditions."

Critique of Maudoodi Formula: ‘Federation with many Mini-Pakistans’
Maulana Maudoodi’s pre-partition formula for a ‘federal’ structure in India was published in October-December, 1938 before the All India Muslim League had adopted the Pakistan Resolution in March, 1940. However, the Maudoodi Formula conceived a federation not of territorial units but of religious communities which he calls ‘nations’. Obviously this concept may be viable for a city state or a mini-state but not for a country of continental dimensions which cannot be administered at one level but needs several levels of administration, no part of which is religiously homogeneous.

In British India, all provinces, all districts, all villages were multi-religious, inhabited by persons who professed different religions and belonged distinct religious communities.

The Maudoodi Formula, in the words of the author, was ‘a positive plan under which a future Constitution for governance could be framed which would be both practical as well as acceptable to other ‘nations’ and in which the Muslim nation’s aspiration could be realized. Let us examine this claim in detail.

Under the Maudoodi Formula, each of those communities, whom he calls ‘nations’, shall have their own District and Provincial Councils and, one imagines, Central Councils. The Formula also envisages a Central Supreme Council which shall have legislative powers. One presumes it shall be an inter-religious Council with the representation of Central Councils of various ‘nations’. But, it is not clear whether there shall be inter-religious councils at the district and provincial levels. The relationship between the central, provincial and district councils of a ‘nation’ is also left undefined.

The Formula envisages a ‘Permanent Executive Council’ which would be answerable to the Central Supreme Council.

The key question of how the Permanent Executive Council or the Federal Executive, or, for that matter, the Provincial Executive or the District Executive, is to be constituted is not addressed.

The Formula is silent on the basic question of franchise i.e. who shall be eligible to vote for the district, the provincial and the Central Councils. Whether it shall be universal adult franchise or qualified by education and/or property. Shall they be elected, directly or indirectly? The Formula is also silent on the composition of the Supreme Central Council or of the Permanent Executive Council. Even the proportion of representation of the various Central Councils or various ‘nations’ in the Central Legislature or the Central Executive is not spelt out.

The Formula introduces proportional system of electoral representation as substitute for separate electorate. So perhaps he expects that different ‘nations’ shall come to be represented in various Federal Councils in proportion to their population or their eligible voters and even to their changing proportion with the passage of time. This implies an exclusive political party of each ‘nation’. But the Formula is silent on what will happen if there are more than one political parties to represent each ‘nation’.

Judicial Structure
The Formula even envisages a separate judiciary for each ‘nation’, presumably from the lowest to the highest level, apart from a Federal Court to decide constitutional disputes. With the federal or inter-religious principle in operation at the district as well as the provincial and national level, one presumes that there shall have to be such courts not only at the central but at the provincial and district levels.

The Formula is silent on whether in administration of criminal and civil laws these courts shall apply a common law or separate laws of various communities. To put it more clearly, the Formula is silent on whether the Shariat shall be the rule of law for the Muslim ‘nation’ and Manusmriti for the Hindu nation and which law shall apply in case of conflict of laws, for example, civil disputes and criminal cases involving persons belonging to different ‘nations’.

Territorial Demarcation
Despite rejecting territorial nationalism, the Formula recognizes the need of territorial demarcation for each ‘nation’ and envisages progressive exchange of people ‘over 25 years or so’ and the eventual emergence of nearly homogeneous Muslim and non-Muslim States within a Federal State. Whether the Formula envisages an eventual exchange of entire populations of various ‘nations’ resulting in states with no religious minorities is not clear. This is in any case impossible to achieve because even a totally non-religious state may become multi-religious in course of time through migration or conversion unless citizenship was bound to religion as in Israel or Saudi Arabia. However, what is more important, the Formula sees many Muslim states in the Sub-continent in East Bengal, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Junagarh, Jaora, Tonk, Ajmer, Delhi, Awadh, Northwest Punjab, Sindh, Frontier Province and Baluchistan, apart from states for the untouchables and for the Sikh nation. It is interesting that the list of ‘Muslim States’ includes Muslim minority area like Delhi, Awadh and Ajmer, apart from Muslim-minority princely states of Hyderabad, Bhopal, Junagarh, Jaora and Tonk. Obviously Maudoodi Did not anticipate that democracy would usher with the federal order!

Because of his domicile in a Muslim minority area but conscious of the Islamic heritage of such areas in the Sub-continent, Maudoodi did not favour Pakistan which would have left areas like Hyderabad, Delhi, Bhopal, Awadh and Tonk outside. He also favoured, in the final analysis, a Union of India so as to maintain linkage, constitutional, physical and cultural, between the Muslim majority provinces and the Muslim-minorities in the rest of the Union. It is doubtful that in 25 years, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Ajmer, Tonk, Delhi, not to speak of Junagarh or Jaora or Tonk would have emerged as viable Muslim-majority provinces, by conversion or migration.

The Formula links culture with religion and speaks of cultural autonomy but ignores that in vast territories, like Bengal, Punjab, Sindh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and practically all rural areas, people of different religions share a common language and a common culture, except in the Hindi belt where Hindi-Urdu controversy had created a cultural divide.

To sum up, the Maudoodi Formula envisages not one partition but multiple partitions on religious and even cultural ground and proposes a religious basis and con-federal form of governance at every administrative level - district, province and the Union. One presumes a federation of districts to form Provinces and a federation of Provinces to form the Union. In essence, the Maudoodi Formula does not stand for a decentralization of power from the Union to the Provinces and thence to the Districts, as Dr. Omar Khalidi opines, but for balkanization, a vivisection of India, with inbuilt mini-Pakistans in every administrative unit, at every level, on religious-cultural or caste basis.

The Maudoodi Formula, because of the highly complicated pattern of legislative, executive and judicial jurisdiction and multiple, multi-level federal or con-federal arrangement at every level, it envisaged or implied, when taken to its logical limits, was simply unworkable. That is why it had no takers even among the Muslim Nationalists who agreed with Maudoodi that the Muslims constitute a separate ‘nation’ in India in as much as they form part of the worldwide Islamic nation, the Ummah and that either they should have a separate state or constitutional - structural, electoral and administrative - safeguards to ensure due share of power at every level as well as every cultural autonomy.

Alternative Approach to Minority Rights
If the objective of the Maudoodi Formula was to ensure the religious and cultural identity of the Muslims of the Sub-continent, it should have called for practical and feasible constitutional safeguards and guarantees for religious and other minorities, for their proportional representation in the legislatures, for the introduction of electoral system of proportional representation or for reservation in legislatures under joint electorate and also for reservation in the executive - political as well as permanent - and in the judiciary. In due course, the existence of minorities at every level would have led to the evolution of a Common Code for the Treatment of Minorities based on mutual inter-dependence and the adoption of norms of civil behaviour which would have reduced the incidence of inter-group friction and conflict to the absolute minimum. Power-sharing and participation in governance as well as physical security, religious freedom and linguistic rights, call it cultural autonomy or by whatever name, are legitimate and internationally accepted rights of minorities ever since the beginning of the twenthieth century. But cultural autonomy or religious freedom was never stretched to serve as a means of territorial fragmentation and division of the executive and judiciary at every working level. Federation or even confederation of federal states, were and are fundamentally territorial concepts based on the concept of common nationality for the inhabitants of the federating or confederating states, irrespective of religion, language or race. The Maudoodi Formula strikes at the very concept of territorial statehood and nationalism. International Law and Political Science recognize nationalities and minorities, but not ‘nations’ within one state. That explains why the Maudoodi Formula was totally out of tune with the modern concept of formation of nation-states. Even Pakistan and all Muslim-majority States in the post-colonial world have had to adjust themselves to the existential realities and relate statehood and citizenship to territorial boundaries and respect multiple religious or cultural or linguistic or racial identities within the State.

Historically speaking, the Maudoodi Formula exemplifies not only the fear and confusion in the Muslim world but the loud thinking in Muslim India before (and even after the Partition) which created enormous misunderstanding and apprehension in the mind of the non-Muslims and distorted inter-community relationship. Such loud thinking led to the isolation of the Muslim community particularly in Muslim-minority areas and to the rejection of even reasonable, legitimate and constitutional aspirations of the Muslim community, as expressions of an inner urge (encouraged by Pakistan and fanatical and fundamentalist groups) to break up India or to restore Islamic rule over it. For this reason, it is essential that the Muslim community in India not only distance and dissociate itself from such ill-conceived plans and schemes but also analyze and examine such unworkable schemes and their impact on inter-communal relations.

— (To be Concluded)


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