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National Institute of Pakistan Studies
Name of ScholarSarfraz Hussain Ansari
Title of Dissertation Political Thought of Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi
Issue Date1996
PublisherNational Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad

The study seeks to present a systematic treatment of political ideas of Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi (1888-19630.Born to a Muslim family in the Eastern Punjab (now part of India), he passed four triposes from the Cambridge University, England, in such subject as Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Geography, Mechanical Sciences and Oriental Languages. He adopted the teaching profession but observing the Muslim decline all over the world, he published his views on the rise and fall of nations in 1924. He entered politics of independence in 1931 believing that existing parties had not been able to advance the cause of India’s freedom satisfactorily. During 1930s, he tried to organise Muslim into an effective body and criticised the Indian national Congress for its role which he described as an effeminate one. During the decade of 1940s he incurred the anger of the British government as well as the Congress and Muslim League. He opposed the League for its feudalistic connection and did not actively support the League’s demand for division of India. He disagreed with the Congress for its emphasis on unitary structures. He is often blamed for his seemingly contradictory positions. However, any such judgement must await a study of Mashriqi’s aims in politics and philosophy of politics.

The study is concerned with Mashriqi’s world-view and his political values which, in turn, rest on the synthesis he tried to effect between religion and science. He argued that the spirit of the two was complementary; science studies nature (work of God) and religion was concerned with revelation (word of God). The impact of theories of relativity and atomic science helped Mashriqi to argue for the existence of God. At the same time, he believed that religion could be studied scientifically in that religion brought by Prophets was meant to teach mankind the principles of establishing durable and prosperous polities. Scientific study of religion could show which religion (s) contained sound principles for organising durable and prosperous polities. And, indeed, here Mashriqi also invited scientists to undertake the task of establishing truth or otherwise of various religions.

On the foundation of religio-scientific synthesis Mashriqi builds his concept of man and attendant political values and institutions. Man for him is a product of evolution, whose metal and spiritual superiority over other beings imparts dignity to him. Human dignity is enhanced when we take into account human destiny –man’s evolution to a higher form of being incorporating more and more of the characteristics of God. Such evolution was to be facilitated by struggle of united mankind to conquer the universe. Mashriqi’s political thought, thus, deals with two constants i.e. two core values human dignity and unity of mankind. Variables of his thought are institutional forms proper to realization of two values at the level of individuals, of the communal groups or communities, of nations/states and of mankind as a whole.

Mashriqi’s writings fall into three periods. In the first period are included his main essay, Tazkirah (1924) and related works before his movement was banned and he was jailed in 1940. During this period he mostly wrote about the rise of ‘dynamic nation’, i.e. nation whose members would be imbued with such physico-moral characteristics as would elevate them to the status of a free, independent nation; they would enjoy dignity at the level of nation. The second period covers the decade of 1940s, when Muslim League, refusing the status of a permanent minority in an  independent India, worked for the creation of separate country— Pakistan. The Congress party opposed such division. Mashriqi’s major work during this period was The Constitution of Free India 1946 A.C. In this document, he suggested the sort of institutions that he thought were more likely to promote the dignity of various communities in a heterogeneous society. He advocated the establishment of a a corporate state. He also gave his views on how to enhance the dignity of individual human being by laying down inviolable fundamental rights of man. The third period of Mashriqi’s writings effectively begins with his letter, in 1951, to scientists asking them to assert themselves politically, to take over power in their respective societies and put mankind on the path of conquest of the universe. This, Mashriqi’s thought, would lead to a unity of the mankind as a whole, and process of conquest, likely to involve billions of years, would raise man to a form of being possessing characteristics akin to those of God.