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1. History and Development

1. The Quest for a Holy Community

The Jama‘at-i Islami was originally the brainchild of Mawlana Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi (1903–1979),[1] who founded the party and headed it for thirty-one years (1941–1972).[2] Mawdudi traced his lineage to an old notable family of Delhi who had been associated with the Mughal court and had later served the nizams of Hyderabad. The family took pride in the glorious days of Islam in India and was acutely aware of its downfall following the sack of Delhi by the British in 1858; they therefore harbored a dislike for British rule. Mawdudi’s father was educated in law and began life as a modernist, but he eventually embraced Sufism and became a fervent ascetic. He educated his children in the Islamic tradition, insulating them from the Western culture and mores that so influenced Indian intelligentsia. Mawdudi received his early education in Urdu and Arabic, first at home and later in the traditional schools of Hyderabad, Bhopal, and Delhi. As a young man in Delhi, he studied the dars-i nizami curricula of the ulama with Deobandi tutors and received the certificate which would have permitted him to join that sodality.[3] He abandoned traditional education and the garb of the ulama, however, for an education in modern subjects. He studied English and Western thought on his own and embarked on a modern career in journalism. Between 1921 and 1924 he became involved in the Khilafat movement, which had been formed in the hope of preserving the Muslim caliphate, and for a while sympathized with the Congress party. His zeal and literary style soon caught the attention of the leaders of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind (Party of Indian Ulama), who invited the young Mawdudi to serve as the editor of their newspaper. Mawdudi did not remain attached to the Jami‘at-i Ulama for long, however; he eventually parted ways with the pro-Congress ulama party and embarked upon a crusade to revive Islam as the sole apodictic answer to the Muslim communal predicament in India.

Mawdudi’s religiopolitical awareness had first been aroused in Hyderabad, in the Deccan, when the nizam’s authority had begun to wane, and where political activism had shifted the time-honored balance of power to the Hindus. After the Great Mutiny of 1857 and the entrenchment of the British Raj, Muslim politics, religious thinking, and social organizations from Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s (1817–1898) Aligarh movement to Muslim agitations in Bengal and Punjab had been directed at reversing the continuous decline in Muslim political power before the rise in the fortunes of the British and subsequently the Hindus. The eclipse of Hyderabad’s magnificent Muslim culture and later of its Muslim community after the collapse of the nizam’s state in 1948 was to haunt Mawdudi in the subsequent years, leaving him with a sense of desperation and urgency directed at saving Islam from decline and eventual extinction,[4] an attitude he shared with most Muslims of Hyderabad.[5] Even before the partition these themes had appeared in Mawdudi’s writings.[6]

Mawdudi came of age just as colonial rule ended and Indian national consciousness was asserted, but the Muslims failed to salvage their status and restore the political prominence they had lost. Experiments with accommodation to imperial rule, such as those of Sayyid Ahmad Khan or Punjab’s Unionist Party, had failed to stop Hindu supremacy or assuage the ever increasing anxiety of the Muslim masses about life under Hindu rule. The Muslims of India had begun to think that restoring their political power was the only way to advance their interests and extricate themselves from their predicament. Between the two World Wars Muslims turned to communalism, channeling their political aspirations and energies into the formulation of political agendas whose only strength lay in their manipulation of Islamic symbols. As a result, in the 1920s and the 1930s Islam was catapulted into the political arena, and its symbols were politicized and utilized for purposes of mass mobilization. The results were communal riots and the estrangement of some from the Congress party.

However, communal agitation did not help either. The earliest organized expression of Muslim communalism, the Khilafat movement, to which Mawdudi belonged, collapsed in 1924 and with it the hopes and aspirations of the Muslims of India. The Khilafat movement was a beginning, however, that led Muslims to greater expressions of communalism throughout the following decade.[7]

Meanwhile, the home-rule (swaraj) effort, initiated by the Congress in 1924, had also come to naught. Hindu hostility and Muslim activism, which had emerged into the open in the wake of the Khilafat movement, continued to arouse the fears of the Muslim masses about their future. Following the collapse of the Khilafat movement in 1924, Muslims perpetrated acts of violence against Hindus all over India. The Hindus responded through their own revivalist movements such as the Mahasabha and the Arya Samaj, which launched aggressive anti-Muslim public campaigns. The most noteworthy of these was the Shuddhi campaign, whose mission was to reconvert unwilling low-caste converts from Islam back to Hinduism. The Shuddhi campaign was an affront to Muslim articles of faith and by implication challenged the place of Islam in India. The campaign therefore provoked angry responses from Muslims, resulting in more communal strife. In 1925 Swami Shradhanand, a renowned Shuddhi activist, was assassinated, causing much anti-Muslim bitterness in the Indian press and among the Hindus, and a feeling of desperation and apologetic resignation among Muslims.

Mawdudi witnessed all these events. His political thinking was shaped by considering all the solutions with which Muslims experimented. Mawdudi was not initially a revivalist; he simply wanted to solve the problems of his community. The search for a solution eventually led him to conclude that Islam was the best remedy for the problem.

After Shradhanand’s murder, Mawdudi plunged into the communalist movement, making a choice which determined the direction of his lifelong struggle to preserve the place of Islam in Muslim life. In 1929 he published his book Al-Jihad fi’l-Islam (Jihad in Islam). It was not only a response to Hindu challenges to Islam following Shradhanand’s death but was also a prologue to a lifetime of religious and political effort. By 1932 the Muslim predicament had become the focus of his life. He increasingly looked to Islam for solutions and gradually adopted a revivalist approach. The result is the movement that Mawdudi’s followers regard as the heir to the tradition of Islamic revival (tajdid) and as its greatest manifestation in modern times.[8]

Mawdudi’s vision unfolded in the context of rapid polarization of the Muslim community. Following the Government of India Act of 1935 and the elections of 1937, the Congress began to make serious overtures to Muslims.[9] Some were enticed into serving as junior partners to the Congress, thus acknowledging Hindu political ascendancy.[10] Others in the Muslim League, which was formed in 1906 as a party for the preservation of Muslim communal interests, under the leadership of Muhammad ‘Ali Jinnah (1876–1948) took the opposite course in the 1940s and demanded a separate state for Muslims.[11]

Mawdudi did not join either party. He started with the premise that Muslims should return to a pure and unadulterated Islam to brace themselves for the struggle before them. They should reject Hindu ascendancy and continue to lay claim to the whole of India.[12] He was especially perturbed by those Muslims who were willing to accommodate Hindus, and by supporting the Congress were acquiescing in the inevitability of a Hindu raj. His most venomous rhetoric was reserved for them. Irredentist as Mawdudi’s views may have appeared they were communalist in form and content. Hence, his revivalist exhortations did not preclude an endorsement of the “two nation theory.”[13] The struggle had to defend Muslim communalist interests in India and to preserve Muslim identity in the face of imminent Hindu challenges. But first Mawdudi had to vanquish the Muslim League, which he believed to be the sole impediment to his control of Muslim communal politics.

As the creation of Pakistan became more and more likely, Mawdudi’s polemical attacks on the Muslim League also increased. He objected to the idea of Muslim nationalism because it would exclude Islam from India and surrender the domain of the Mughals to the Hindus, which would make the eventual extinction of Islam all the easier. The increasingly communal character of the Indian politics of the time, and the appeal made to religious symbols in the formulation of new political alliances and programs by various Muslim groups as well as Muslim League leaders, created a climate in which Mawdudi’s theological discourse found understanding and relevance.[14] Although predicated upon secular ideologies, the Pakistan movement was able to mobilize the masses only by appealing to Islam. Nationalism thereby became dependent on Islam and as a result politicized the faith.

A number of Muslim religious and communal organizations, some of which remained nothing more than proposals, pointed to the importance of organizations for promoting Muslim political consciousness and communal interests. The Jama‘at emerged as part of this general organization of Muslim activism, which by the early 1940s had become the accepted channel for the expression of Muslim political sentiments. Rivalry with the Muslim League escalated with each step India took toward partition.

After the 1937 defeat of the Muslim League at the polls, Mawdudi’s thinking took an increasingly communalist turn, and following the Lahore Resolution of 1940, when the League committed itself to Pakistan, the Jama‘at was born as the “counter-League.”[15] Mawdudi had originally entered the political fray with the aim of halting the rise of Hindu power and converting the whole of India to Islam—to end forever the uncertainty of the Muslim place in the polyglot culture of India, but by 1940 he had accepted the inevitability of some form of partition of the Subcontinent. He therefore shifted his attention away from the Congress party and toward the Muslim League and its communalist program. Mawdudi’s opposition to the League from this point had nothing to do with Jinnah’s calling for Muslim autonomy. Mawdudi had simply decided that he should be the one to found and lead the Muslim state of Pakistan if there had to be one. As India moved closer to partition, Mawdudi’s political thinking became increasingly clear regarding the polity which he envisioned. He had to position himself to dominate the debate over Pakistan, and to do that he needed the Muslim League’s power and prominence, for he distrusted Jinnah’s intentions and even more the secularist inclinations of the League’s program. The fate of Islam in Kemalist Turkey and Pahlavi Iran had no doubt served as a warning to Mawdudi and to those other Muslims whose rationale for a separate Muslim state was the promise that it would preserve Islam in the Subcontinent.[16] Increasingly, Mawdudi reacted directly to the Muslim League’s policies, and the Muslim League’s conception of what Pakistan was to be was the subject of his strongest attacks. He denounced nationalism and berated secular politics as blasphemy (kufr).

In 1947, following partition, Mawdudi was escorted to safety after violence broke out in the Gurdaspur District of Punjab, where the Jama‘at was based. He was taken to Lahore by units of the Pakistan army, where his struggle for the soul of Pakistan was revealed. Calling the bluff of Muslim League leaders, who had continuously appealed to Islamic symbols to mobilize support for Pakistan, Mawdudi now demanded an Islamic state where he had once dreamed of an Islamic empire. His program was no longer to save Islam in India but to have it conquer Pakistan.[17]

Mawdudi’s Ideology

Mawdudi began to set forth his views on Islam and its place in Muslim life in 1932. In the following sixty-seven years until his death he expounded his vision in numerous lectures, articles, and books, and especially in his journal Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an. He advocated complete obedience to Islamic law, narrowly interpreted. Political power was the measure and guarantor of the continued vitality of Islam. Mawdudi chided Muslims for having eliminated politics from religious life, which he believed to be the result of gradual deviation from Islam’s true teachings. His interpretive reading of Islam and its history began with denunciation of traditional Islam and its centuries-old institutions. He argued that Islam had no possibility of success as a religion or a civilization—which he argued was meant to be its fate and the reason for its revelation—unless Muslims removed the encumbrances of cultural accretion and tradition, rigorously reconstructed the pristine faith of the Prophet, and gained power. Politics was declared to be an integral and inseparable component of the Islamic faith, and the “Islamic state” which Muslim political action sought to erect was viewed as the panacea to all problems facing Muslims.

As Mawdudi systematically mixed religion with politics, faith with social action, he streamlined the Islamic faith so that it could accommodate its newfound aim. He reinterpreted concepts and symbols, giving them new meanings and connotations. This allowed him to set down a political reading of Islam, in which religious piety was transformed into a structure of authority.[18] Faith became ideology and religious works social action. The resulting “system”—what Mawdudi referred to as din (literally, “religion”)—defined piety. This perspective was enunciated ever more lucidly over the years and was gradually extended to incorporate the structure of Islamic faith. It was applied to every aspect of Islamic thought and practice, producing a comprehensive interpretive reading of Islam. In the hands of Mawdudi the transformation of Islam into ideology was complete.

Mawdudi’s formulation was by no means rooted in traditional Islam. He adopted modern ideas and values, mechanisms, procedures, and idioms, weaving them into an Islamic fabric, thus producing an internally consistent and yet hybrid ideological perspective. Mawdudi’s vision was not modern through and through, but purported to modernity; he sought not to resurrect an atavistic order but to modernize the traditional conception of Islamic thought and life. His vision represented a clear break with Islamic tradition and a fundamentally new reading of Islam which took its cue from modern thought. In a Foucaultian sense, Mawdudi’s vision was the product of a discourse with the “other,” the West. His perspective was formed in response to greater Hindu ascendancy in Indian politics of the interwar period. However, for Muslims to mobilize their resources to confront the Hindu challenge, argued Mawdudi, they had to free their souls from Western influence. Hence, Mawdudi’s discourse, although motivated by the Hindu challenge, was directed at the West.[19] His ideology showed modernist tendencies, as did his political outlook. He premised his reading of religion and society on a dialectic view of history, in which the struggle between Islam and disbelief (kufr) ultimately culminates in a revolutionary struggle. The Jama‘at was to be the vanguard of that struggle, which would produce an Islamic utopia. In a similar vein, the Jama‘at’s views on government, as well as on the party’s own operations, also confirmed Mawdudi’s break with Islamic tradition, while the terms “revolution,” “vanguard,” “ideology,” “democratic caliphate,” and “theodemocracy,” which turned up over and over in his polemic and defined the Jama‘at’s agenda, attested to his modernism. His ideological perspective was openly hostile to both capitalism and socialism. Capitalism was denounced for its secularism, anthropocentrism, and association with the imperialist culture which had marginalized Muslims in India, and socialism for its atheism and its worship of society in place of God. Above all, both capitalism and socialism were seen as rivals which had to be defeated before Islam could dominate the life and thought of Muslims. In practice, however, Mawdudi always remained more wary of socialism than capitalism.

Ideology compelled the action that in Pakistan assumed the form of demanding an Islamic state. The Jama‘at demanded a government inspired by and obedient to the writ of the shari‘ah and which would promise a utopian order that gave direction to “Islamic” social action. For the Jama‘at that state would be erected according to rules and procedures stipulated by Mawdudi. Social action, however, did not imply revolution as the term is understood in the West. Mawdudi believed in incremental change rather than radical ruptures, disparaged violence as a political tool, did not subscribe to class war, and assumed that Islamic revolution would be heralded not by the masses but by the society’s leaders. Revolution, in Mawdudi’s view, did not erupt from the bottom up but flowed from the top of society down. The aim of Islamic revolution, therefore, was not to spearhead the struggle of the underclass but to convert society’s leaders. During an election campaign in 1958, Mawdudi summed up the Jama‘at’s plan of action in the following terms: “first of all it brings intellectual change in the people; secondly [it] organises them in order to make them suitable for a movement. Thirdly, it reforms society through social and humanitarian work, and finally it endeavors to change the leadership.”[20] Once the leadership had been won over to Islam—the Jama‘at taking power—the society would be Islamized and all socioeconomic maladies would be automatically cured. Education and propaganda were therefore singled out as the principal agents for furthering the revolutionary struggle. The Jama‘at’s efforts have always aimed at winning over society’s leaders, conquering the state, and Islamizing the government. Its plan of action has been designed to augment its influence in the inner sanctum of power rather than to curry favor with the masses. Its notions of social action therefore have peculiar meanings and aims.

The Origins of the Jama‘at-i Islami, 1932–1938

Mawdudi often said that the idea for establishing the Jama‘at-i Islami came to him as he reflected on the problems the Muslims of India faced on the eve of partition.[21] The solution to those problems, he had concluded, would require the services of a political party that could initiate radical changes in Muslim society and at the same time safeguard its interests in India. If the Islamic state was to solve any problem, it could do so only if Muslims were organized and worked for it; they should not expect a miracle to produce a solution.[22] Twenty-two years of observation, reminisced Mawdudi in later years, had led him to believe that no Muslim party was likely to succeed unless it followed high ethical and religious standards and enjoined Muslims to be morally upright and to adhere without compromise to the values of their religion: “I was of the opinion that the importance [of a party] lies not in numbers of its members, but in the dependability of their thoughts and actions.”[23] This conviction had its roots in how Mawdudi had read early Islamic history.[24] Mawdudi was greatly impressed by the way the Prophet organized the first Muslims in Mecca and later Medina shortly after the revelation of Islam and harnessed their energies to project the power of Islam across Arabia. For Mawdudi the success of the Prophet’s mission could not be explained simply by the power of his message, nor did it owe its fulfillment to the will of God; rather it reflected the Prophet’s organizational genius: “Within thirteen years the Prophet was able to gather around him a small but devoted group of courageous and selfless people.”[25] Mawdudi thought the Jama‘at could do the same: “All those persons who thus surrender themselves are welded into a community and that is how the "Muslim society’ comes into being.”[26]

Mawdudi felt that an important aspect of the Prophet’s organization had been segregating his community from its larger social context. This enabled the Prophet to give his organization a distinct identity and permitted the nascent Muslim community to resist dissolution into the larger pagan Arab culture. Instead they were able to pull the adversary into the ambit of Islam. For Mawdudi the Jama‘at, much like the Prophetic community, had to be the paragon for the Muslim community of India. It would have to stand apart from the crowd and still draw the Muslim community into the pale of Mawdudi’s Islam. The Jama‘at was, therefore, at its inception a “holy” community (ummah) and a missionary (da‘wah) movement.[27]

Indian history also provided more immediate and tangible examples for Mawdudi. Since the nineteenth century, when the Fara’izi movement of Haji Shari‘atu’llah (d. 1840) in Bengal had introduced its elaborate hierarchical structure of authority to Indian Muslims, organization had a central place in their politics. The penchant for organization building reached its apogee with Abu’l-Kalam Azad (1888–1958). Azad, for the first time, tied the fortunes of the Muslim community of India to finding a definitive organizational solution. In the second decade of the twentieth century he promoted in his journal Al-Hilal the Hizbu’llah (Party of God), an organization which he charged with the revival of Muslim religious consciousness while safe-guarding Muslim political interests. Although the Hizbu’llah never amounted to much, its raison d’être and the way it worked were outlined in detail and with the customary force and passion of Azad’s pen. This scheme left an indelible mark on a whole generation of Muslim intellectuals and political activists across India, among them Mawdudi, who read Al-Hilal avidly in his youth.[28]

In 1920, Azad proposed yet another organizational scheme. At the height of the Muslim struggle during World War I, Azad, along with a number of Indian ulama, proposed that the Muslims choose an amir-i shari‘at (leader of holy law) in each Indian province, to be aided by a council of ulama to oversee the religious affairs of Muslims.[29] These provincial amirs would in turn elect an amir-i hind (leader [of the Muslims] of India), a coveted title on which Azad had set his own eyes. While this scheme also came to naught, Azad proceeded to launch an independent campaign for securing the title of amir-i hind for himself. He instructed a few close associates who had sworn allegiance (bai‘ah) to him to travel across India, argue for Azad’s claim to the title, and take additional bai‘ahs on his behalf. One such emissary was Mistri Muhammad Siddiq, a close companion of Mawdudi in the 1930s who influenced Mawdudi’s thinking on organization greatly and helped found the Jama‘at.[30] The notion of an omnipotent amir-i hind—a single leader for the Muslims of India—enjoying the unwavering allegiance of his disciples later found an echo in the organizational structure of the Jama‘at and in Mawdudi’s conception of the role and powers of its amir (president or executive).

Despite Azad’s widely publicized and popular clamor for an organizational solution, Muslims did not actually initiate one until the Khilafat movement in 1919–1924,[31] which, for the first time, mobilized the Muslim community under a single political banner. Although the Khilafat movement eventually lost its aim and collapsed following the abrogation of the Muslim caliphate by the Turkish government in 1924, its appeal and indefatigable organizational work captured the imagination of Muslims and anchored their politics in the search for an effective organization. As a young journalist at the Taj newspaper in Jubalpur, Central Provinces (1920), and later as the editor of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind’s newspaper, Muslim, in Delhi (1921–1923), Mawdudi had been active in the Khilafat movement and organized Muslims to support it.[32]

The Khilafat movement’s decline left a vacuum in Muslim politics. The experience had aroused the Muslims’ political consciousness and heightened their sense of communal identity, but it had also left those it had mobilized frustrated and disappointed. Still its considerable success in organizing Muslims did not go unnoticed by those who continued to struggle for the Muslim cause. The Muslim community began to organize and call for unity to face the challenges to Islam. Keen observer as he was, Mawdudi took note of the success of some of these organizations such as the Tahrik-i Khaksar (movement of the devoted; created in 1931) or the Muslim League.[33] In fact, the Khaksar, under the leadership of ‘Inayatu’llah Mashriqi (1888–1963), who was renowned for his organizational talent, had grown to be a major force in Punjab at the time. Equally instructive was Muhammad ‘Ali Jinnah’s organization of the Muslim League. Values which formed the basis of the Jama‘at in later years echoed Jinnah’s emphasis on solidarity, organization, morality, and perseverance: “Organize yourselves, establish your solidarity and complete unity. Equip yourselves as trained and disciplined soldiers…. [W]ork loyally, honestly for the cause of your people…. There are forces which may bully you, tyrannize over you and intimidate you…. But it is by going through the crucible of fire of persecution which may be levelled against you,…it is by resisting…and maintaining your true convictions and loyalty, that a nation will emerge, worthy of its past glory and history…. [A]s a well-knit, solid, organized, united force [the Musalmans] can face any danger, and withstand any opposition.”[34]

Sufism also influenced the Jama‘at’s organization. The Sufi order (tariqah)—which governs the practice of Sufism—facilitates the spiritual ascension of the Sufis.[35] It organizes Sufi members into a set of hierarchically arranged concentric circles, each of which is supervised by a Sufi of higher spiritual rank. The circles eventually culminate in a pyramidal structure, at the pinnacle of which sits the Sufi master (shaikh,pir, or murshid). This pyramidal organizational structure of the Sufi order is symbolic of the spiritual journey of the Sufis from novice to master. It not only governs the practice of Sufism but also creates clear doctrinal and intellectual boundaries around the Sufis, sequestering them from the society at large. The spiritual seclusion of the Sufi community eliminates outside influences and promotes concentration, learning, and character. To join the Sufi order, a novice must undergo initiation and submit to a form of “conversion”—declare his commitment to the spiritual path and surrender his soul to the guidance of the Sufi master—which is popularly known as the sarsipurdagi (literally, placing one’s head on the master’s lap). The initiation into Sufism involves an allegiance (bai‘ah), which symbolizes and confirms the Sufi’s commitment to his master. The allegiance demands of a Sufi total submission and obedience to the master, for he commands the Sufi’s soul, guiding it through the maze of spiritual experiences and mundane travails to the realization of the Absolute Truth which is God.[36] A Sufi order is often centered in a hospice (khanaqah), where many Sufis take up residence in order to be close to their master.

Committed to reforming Islam, Mawdudi had little tolerance for what he believed to be the latitudinarian tendencies of Sufism. But, despite his ambivalence toward the esoteric dimension of Islam, in the Sufi order he saw a valuable organizational model:

Sufis in Islam have a special form of organization…known as khanaqah. Today this has a bad image…. But the truth is that it is the best institution in Islam…. [I]t is necessary that this institution be revived in India, and in various places small khanaqahs be established. Therein novices can read the most valuable religious sources, and live in a pure environment. This institution encompasses the functions of club, library and ashram [Hindu place of worship]…. [The] entire scheme rests on selection of the shaikh [master]…. [A]t least I do not know of someone with all the qualifications…. [I]f this task is to be undertaken, India should be searched for the right person.[37]

Many elements of this laudatory description were featured in the Jama‘at’s original plans and governed the party’s early stages of development at Pathankot between 1942 and 1947.

The Sufi order’s emphasis on the central role of the Sufi master and total submission to his example and ideas was akin to Mawdudi’s conception of the role of the amir in the Jama‘at. In a letter dated March 1941, some four months before the formation of the Jama‘at, Mawdudi compared membership in an “Islamic party” with the Sufi’s giving allegiance (bai‘ah) to the master, and emphasized the primacy of the overseer of such a party in its functioning.[38] Mawdudi, however, made a distinction between his views and those of the Sufis by proclaiming that allegiance in the Jama‘at was to the office of the amir, and not to himself personally.[39] Many Jama‘at leaders have since lamented that as a consequence of this attitude, from its inception Mawdudi exceeded the managerial duties the amir was supposed to perform, because he looked upon his relation with the Jama‘at members as that of a master (murshid) with his disciples (murids).[40] In fact, for some the prospects of giving allegiance, albeit not openly, to Mawdudi was a compelling enough reason not to join the Jama‘at.

Despite its roots in the Islamic tradition, the Jama‘at-i Islami is a modern party. Its structure, procedural methods, and pattern of growth reflect modern ideas and attest to a successful accommodation of modernization within an Islamic milieu. It has managed to escape the decay that has, for instance, reduced the Congress party, the Muslim League, and the Pakistan People’s Party to patrimonial and dynastic political institutions, and in the case of the last two led to debilitating factionalism. The Jama‘at has rather created mechanisms, bureaucratic structures, and management that have thus far withstood the pressures of the fractious and patrimonial system in which it operates. This organizational strength owes much to the European models on display in the 1930s—fascism and, even more, communism.[41] Mawdudi had avidly studied these models. As a result, the Jama‘at was never a “party” in the liberal democratic sense of the term—translating popular interests into policy positions; it is, rather, an “organizational weapon”[42] in the Leninist tradition, devised to project the power of an ideological perspective into the political arena. While Mawdudi differed with Lenin in seeking to utilize this “weapon” within a constitutional order, its structure and functioning closely paralleled those of bolshevism.

Smith writes that Lenin replaced the working class with the party, as the vanguard without which the working class would be unable to gain political consciousness and become a revolutionary movement.[43] Lenin’s party worked on the principle of “democratic centralism, [wherein] rank-and-file members [were] strictly subordinate to the leadership….decision making was to be "central’ in formulation, with rank-and-file members copying out orders received, but that higher bodies were to be "democratically’ accountable to the membership at periodic meetings.”[44] Propaganda, while designed to further the cause of the revolution, also acted to reinforce group solidarity within the party, forming the basis of a well-knit administrative party and network of cadres.[45]

For Lenin the vanguard was won over by the doctrine and then charged with the task of maneuvering the masses into position for the struggle against the economic and political order.[46] The Jama‘at fulfilled the same function with the difference that it focused its attention not so much on organizing the masses as on maneuvering the leaders of society. This was a significant departure from the Leninist model and one that muddled the meaning of revolution in Jama‘at’s ideology. Mawdudi defined revolution as an irenic process, one which would occur once the leaders of the society were Islamized. Although he used the term “revolution” to impress upon his audience the progressive image of his discourse, he did not view it as a process of cataclysmic social change. Rather, he used revolution as a way of gauging the extent of differences between an Islamized society and the one that preceded it.[47] As a result, Mawdudi’s “organizational weapon” was never as lucidly defined as Lenin’s was. For Mawdudi, the Jama‘at was both a “virtuous community” and a political party. It would bring about change by expanding its own boundaries and waging a struggle against the established order, but with the aim of winning over leaders rather than the toiling masses. The mechanisms and working of the process of change therefore remained less clearly defined, reducing its strength considerably. What the role of the party in realizing the ideology should be was, however, essentially the same.

The similarity between the two movements is not just conjectural. Mawdudi was familiar with Communist literature,[48] and true to his style, he learned from it, and from the Communist movement in India, especially in Hyderabad, in the 1930s and in the 1940s, when the Communist-inspired Telangana movement seriously challenged the nizam’s regime. Mian Tufayl Muhammad, Jama‘at’s amir between 1972 and 1987, recollects a conversation in which Mawdudi commented: “no more than 1/100,000 of Indians are Communists, and yet see how they fight to rule India; if Muslims who are one-third of India be shown the way, it will not be so difficult for them to be victorious.”[49] In later years former Communists joined the ranks of the Jama‘at, bringing with them additional expertise in the structure and operation of Communist parties.

That the Jama‘at’s and Lenin’s ideas about the “organizational weapon” were similar confirms that the relation of ideology to social action in Mawdudi’s works closely followed the Leninist example. Mawdudi argued that in order for his interpretation of Islam to grow roots and support an Islamic movement he had to form a tightly knit party. An organizational weapon was therefore the prerequisite to making Islam into an ideology and using religion as an agent for change. “No particular event prompted the creation of the Jama‘at,” recollects the senior Jama‘at leader, Fazlu’rrahman Na‘im Siddiqi; “it was the culmination of the ideas which Mawdudi advocated and the agenda which he had set before himself since 1932.”[50]

Mawdudi first proposed an organizational solution to the political predicaments of Indian Muslims in 1934: “The erection, endurance and success of a social order requires two things: one, that a jama‘at [party or society] be founded on that order’s principles…and second, that there be patience and obedience to that jama‘at.”[51] His notion of a jama‘at was not clear at this stage; its boundaries were vague for the most part. It reflected Mawdudi’s desire to invigorate the Islamic faith and re-create a rigorous, virtuous community (ummah) as a force for change and a bulwark against the political marginalization of Indian Muslims. It could not remain abstract for long. The definition of the jama‘at had to be narrowed from an amorphous community to a concrete entity. Although Mawdudi knew this, he failed to appreciate the need to draw a clear line between holy community and political party. Consequently, the Jama‘at has since its inception remained committed to both its avowedly religious and its essentially sociopolitical functions.

This division first became manifest as Mawdudi became more and more involved in Indian politics from 1937 onward. When politics led him to depend on an organizational solution to the quandary before the Muslim community, his agenda and plan of action became increasingly confused. Political exigencies blurred the distinction between a revived ummah, defined in terms of greater religious observance, and a communally conscious political party dedicated to social action. It was not clear whether Muslims were supposed to take refuge in the spiritual promise of the holy community and withdraw from Indian society, or whether they were to immerse themselves in social action with the hope of reversing the fortunes of their beleaguered community. For Mawdudi the dichotomy between social action and spirituality, between the party and the ummah, was unimportant: the two would eventually be one and the same. A party would be a vehicle for harnessing the political power of the Muslims, not only by virtue of its organizational structure but also by the power of its moral rectitude. The strength of the party would emanate as much from its structure as from its embodiment of the Islamic ideal. In Mawdudi’s eyes, just as safeguarding Muslim political concerns required turning to Islam, so enacting the dicta of Islam would ipso facto lead to political action. Religion had no meaning without politics, and politics no luster if divorced from religion. Mawdudi saw the connection between Islam and politics not as a hindrance but as an ingenious idea, an intellectual breakthrough, of using Islamic ideals to reshape the sociopolitical order.

Integrating Islam and politics was of course not a new idea, but it had thus far found no institutional manifestation in Islamic history.[52] Throughout the ages, Muslims were even aware that the two were inherently incompatible. They paid lip service to the political directives of the Islamic revelation, but more often than not they separated religious institutions from political ones, lest politics corrupt the faith. Political leaders had sought to mobilize Islam in the service of the state, but rarely sought to extend the purview of their faith to include politics. For Muslims, the integration of religious and political authority in the person of Prophet Muhammad, like every aspect of the Prophet’s mission, was a unique and metahistorical event. The Medina community was not institutionalized in the structure of Islamic thought, nor in the body politic of the Islamicate.[53] It rather remained a normative ideal, one which has surfaced time and again, in the form of Muslim chiliasm and atavistic yearning. The historical development of Islam—into what has been termed “traditional” Islam—was, therefore, predicated upon a de facto delineation of the boundary between religion and politics and a sober understanding of the relative weight of normative ideals and the imperatives of exigent realities in the life of man. The historical reality of Islam was even canonized in Islamic political doctrine, in lieu of the normative ideal of a holistic view of Islam. Muslim theorists from al-Mawardi (d. 1058) to al-Ghazzali (d. 1111) implicitly sanctioned the separation of religion and politics using the largely symbolic institution of the caliphate. Insisting upon the continuity between religion and politics is, therefore, an innovation of modern Islamic political thought.

The lesson of Islamic history and the logic of the traditional Islamic perspective clearly eluded Mawdudi, who like most revivalist thinkers was driven by faith and the promise of a utopia modeled after the Prophet’s community. Contemporary revivalists, Shaikh writes, have “approached the notion of [political] power not as a quantity that is intrinsically corrupting, apropos say of Christian doctrine, but as God’s most eminent instrument for Man in the service of Divine justice,…a legitimate pursuit without forfeiting morality.”[54]

The political circumstances of the prepartition years and the frustration Mawdudi shared with his coreligionists only added to his inability to see the inconsistency in combining religion and politics, holy community and political party. Organization, he believed, would harmonize spirituality and politics, and would provide a panacea for Muslims. This conclusion further underscored the Janus face of the jama‘at, as an exemplary community which would be the repository of Muslim values, and as a party which was to spearhead their drive for power. This contradiction tore the Jama‘at between the conflicting requirements of its claim to pristine virtuosity and the exigencies of social action. The inability to resolve this confusion satisfactorily has been the single most important source of tension in the Jama‘at, and hence the impetus for continuous clarification of the party’s religious role, social function, and political aims.

The Emergence of the Jama‘at-i Islami, 1938–1941

Mawdudi’s organizational solution took shape between 1938 and 1941, the years when Indian politics had become hopelessly polarized between the Congress and the Muslim League. In the face of the mounting crisis Mawdudi exhorted Muslim parties and organizations to unite, but his exhortation fell on deaf ears. India continued to slide toward partition, and the only parties that thrived were the Congress and the Muslim League. Mawdudi had no confidence in their ability to realize Muslim goals, and he was even less sanguine about the prospects under the aegis of the smaller Muslim parties and organizations that cluttered the political scene. The gap between the religious and the political aspects of their program, Mawdudi believed, made them ineffectual; they were either too secular in their outlook, as was the case with the Muslim League, or too preoccupied with purely religious concerns, as was the Tablighi Jama‘at (Missionary Society).

In venomous invectives against the Congress party and its Muslim allies, such as the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind, and against the Muslim League, the Khaksar, and other Muslim parties, Mawdudi belabored their shortcomings in an attempt to gain support, but it soon became apparent that he had to do more than excoriate his rivals; he had to establish a party that could relay his ideas to the masses and harness their energies in promoting his cause. Later Mawdudi recalled the idea of the Jama‘at as having been “a last resort,” necessitated by the collapse of the social order in Muslim India.[55]

Accompanied by a small groups of friends and followers, Mawdudi arrived in Lahore in January 1939. During the preceding three months, he had been stationed in the small village of Pathankot in East Punjab, where he had established a Muslim religious and educational institution called Daru’l-Islam (abode of Islam),[56] which he hoped would help revive Islam in India and thereby promote Muslim political power. He then decided to abandon the isolation of Pathankot and to take Daru’l-Islam to a major metropolitan center with a large Muslim community. But when he reached Lahore, he soon decided that the situation was too acute to await long-term solutions, and he abandoned the Daru’l-Islam project.[57]

Lahore sharpened Mawdudi’s focus, leading him not only to drop his insouciant attitude toward political activism but also to escalate his already incessant fulminations against the Muslim League in his journal Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an.[58] His expositions on Islam and Muslim politics often served as the pretext for tirades against colonialism and the Raj as well, which soon created problems for him with the provincial authorities. In the September 1939 issue of the Tarjuman, for instance, Mawdudi wrote an article entitled “Aqwam-i Maghrib ka ‘Ibratnak Anjam” (The poignant lesson of the fate of Western nations) in which he castigated the Raj and discouraged Indians from supporting the British war effort; that issue of the Tarjuman was censored by the press branch of the Punjab government.[59]

In the same month Mawdudi accepted a teaching position at Lahore’s Islamiyah College, but afraid of restrictions on his freedom of speech, he refused to take a salary.[60] His openly political classroom lectures were popular with the students.[61] A number of prominent Jama‘at members were students at the college at the time and became Mawdudi’s followers after hearing his lectures.[62] The lectures, however, raised the ire of the college administration, and of the Unionist Party government of Punjab, which found them inflammatory. Troubled by his rising popularity, it urged the college to dismiss him.[63] The college administration sought to curb his tongue by offering him a salary, but Mawdudi left the college in the summer of 1940, convinced that the cause of Islam would not fare well so long as the government was hostile to it.

Mawdudi wrote and traveled extensively during this period, delivering numerous lectures on the relation of Islam to politics. His audience was, by and large, composed of Muslim intellectuals, and because of that his discourse remained focused on educational concerns. During his tours he frequently visited Muslim schools such as the Aligarh Muslim University, the Muslim Anglo Oriental College of Amritsar, the Islamiyah College of Peshawar and the Nadwatu’l-Ulama in Lucknow. The accolades of the intellectuals greatly encouraged him and gave him confidence to discuss his ambitions more openly.[64] It was to them that, in 1939–1940, he first publicly proposed the creation of a new party, viewing it as the logical end of any struggle in the path of Islam, and the harbinger of a successful revival (tajdid) movement.[65] In a letter to Zafaru’l-Hasan (d. 1951) of Aligarh Muslim University, dated a.h. 23 Rabi‘u’l-Thani 1357 (1938–1939),[66] Mawdudi wrote of the political predicament before the Muslims and the Muslim League’s inability to formulate a solid ideological position to solve it. Alluding to his personal ambitions, he wrote that “preferably, such Muslim luminaries as ‘Allamah Mashriqi, Mawlana Husain Ahmad Madani, Dr. Khayri, Mawlana Azad Subhani or Mr. Durani should initiate and lead this effort,” but because they were not “likely to provide the necessary guidance,” the mantle of leadership, Mawdudi implied, would by default fall on his shoulders.[67] The names cited by Mawdudi ran the gamut of Muslim political opinion. Having found them incapable of providing the leadership necessary, Mawdudi was suggesting that he alone was able to give Muslims the leadership they needed. His lines to Zafaru’l-Hasan also revealed the extent to which his thinking was influenced by the politics of the Muslim League. For “the envisioned veritable organization” of which he wrote to Zafaru’l-Hasan was to “serve as a "rear guard’ [written in English] to the Muslim League.”[68] The consolidation of the Jama‘at’s agenda was thus predicated upon the vicissitudes of the League’s politics.

Mawdudi’s aim was to significantly alter the balance of power between Muslims, Hindus, and the colonial order. It was not “winning in elections”—a clear reference to the Muslim League’s strategy and objectives at the time—that interested him, but rather the revamping of the cultural and hence political foundations of the Muslim community of India, vesting Muslims with the ability to find a solution to their political weakness. This goal required great sacrifice and moral dedication which he did not believe the Muslim League, with its half-hearted commitment to Islam, to be capable of.[69] What the Muslims needed was a cadre of dedicated, morally upright, and religiously exemplary men who would both represent the ideals of the Islamic order and be prepared to achieve it.[70] The need for a “vanguard” became even more apparent when the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution was passed in 1940. That resolution formally advocated a separate state for Muslims in northern India and presented a whole new arena—a Muslim state—for Mawdudi’s ideas to operate in. It also showed that the Muslim League increasingly dominated Muslim politics, which in turn pushed him into launching his party to prevent the League from consolidating its hold over Muslims. Thenceforth, the policies of the Muslim League would become the Jama‘at’s calling, and Jinnah’s conception of Pakistan would be the single subject of Mawdudi’s invective.

Mawdudi’s perception of himself as the only leader capable of delivering Muslims from their predicament became increasingly more pronounced.[71] He harbored ambitions to lead Indian Muslims as a scholar, renewer of the faith, and supreme political leader. His insistence on distributing his works far and wide in this period was part of an effort to establish his claim to the leadership of the Muslims.[72] His opinions were compiled in the three volumes of Musalman Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash (Muslims and the Current Political Crisis), in which he opposes both accommodating the Hindu-led “composite nationalism” of the Congress party and the pro-British and secular Muslim nationalism of the Muslim League. Many have concluded that Mawdudi therefore favored preserving the unity of India under Muslim rule, after a wide-scale conversion of the population to Islam, but this is not the case.[73] While at an earlier time Mawdudi might have thought on an all-Indian scale, by the time he settled in Lahore in 1939 he believed that the social and political ascendancy of the Hindus in India was irreversible.[74]

His firsthand observation of the decline of the last bastion of Muslim power in southern India, the Hyderabad state, experiences with the Shuddhi campaign, and the Congress party’s attitude toward the Muslims following the Khilafat movement had convinced him that Muslims were destined for a servile coexistence with the Hindus, a future in which he wished to have no part. Nor had he high hopes for the wide-scale conversion of Hindus to Islam, nor did he command the Jama‘at to undertake such a mission. Between 1938 and 1947, although the Jama‘at continued to operate across India, Mawdudi’s attention was increasingly focused on the Muslim-majority northwestern provinces. He might have preferred the Muslims to rule a united India, but faced with the prospects of a Hindu political order he was in no way opposed to the idea of India’s partition and actually began to tailor his program to take advantage of such an eventuality. In the December 1938 issue of the Tarjuman he adumbrated “two nation” theories of his own within the context of a united India: “We are a distinct people whose social life is based on a particular ethical and cultural norm. We differ in fundamental ways with the majority population…. [N]o compromise or reconciliation will be possible.”[75] Although Mawdudi did not speak of partition, he was acquiescing to the political realities of the time. His plan, much like those of his contemporaries, was initially set in the context of a united India. Its inner logic, however, nudged Muslims closer and closer to partition. In later years Mawdudi, reflecting on his thinking during this period, stated that he never opposed the Muslim League’s demand for partition but rather was against the party’s secularist attitude: “Our concern then [1941–1947] was Islam, and the ability of those who sought to represent it.”[76]

Mawdudi’s view of his own leadership was formed not in competition with the ulama or the pirs, or with other self-styled Muslim leaders such as Mashriqi, Mawlana Muhammad Iliyas (1885–1944), or Azad, but in rivalry with Jinnah, the qa’id-i a‘zam (supreme leader) of the Muslim League. Mawdudi shared Jinnah’s concern for the future of Indian Muslims and their rights to cultural and social autonomy, but parted with Jinnah in that the former looked to Islam as the principle legitimating force in Muslim politics whereas the latter appealed to the normative values of the Indo-Muslim tradition. Mawdudi’s vision had little room for compromise on Islamic ideals, whereas Jinnah defined the Muslim community in broad and latitudinarian terms. Mawdudi, no doubt, viewed the anglicized style and the secular beliefs of Jinnah with contempt and no doubt eyed his power and popularity with a certain degree of envy.

Jinnah’s success as a political leader had convinced Mawdudi of his own potential. For if a Westernized lawyer could sway the masses in the name of Islam,[77] then a “true” Muslim leader could certainly attain even greater success. “Abu’l-A‘la not only compared himself to Jinnah,” recollected Abu’l-Khayr, Mawdudi’s elder brother, “but also viewed himself as even a greater leader than Jinnah.”[78] Jinnah’s power, Mawdudi had concluded, was tenuous—predicated upon Islam, to which the Muslim League leader had no real attachments. Shaikh writes that, confronted with Congress’s claim to representing Muslims as well as Hindus, Jinnah’s strategy was “to affirm that, Congress could not represent Indian Muslims because it was not representative, that is to say typical, of Indian Muslims.”[79] Taken to its natural conclusion, the argument could be turned against Jinnah by Mawdudi, who could assert that he and the Jama‘at were more representative and “typical” of Muslims than the anglicized Jinnah and the secularist Muslim League. Mawdudi said of Jinnah’s enterprise: “No trace of Islam can be found in the ideas and politics of Muslim League…. [Jinnah] reveals no knowledge of the views of the Qur’an, nor does he care to research them…yet whatever he does is seen as the way of the Qur’an…. All his knowledge comes from Western laws and sources…. His followers cannot be but jama‘at-i jahiliyah [party of pagans].”[80] The term jama‘at-i jahiliyah was no doubt coined to make the contrast between the Muslim League and the Jama‘at-i Islami more apparent. If the argument of affinity as a basis for representation could win the day for the Muslim League against Congress, all the more could it justify the Jama‘at’s claim to leadership of the Muslims.

Mawdudi also saw the Muslim League as essentially a one-man show, in contrast to his movement, which was more disciplined and therefore better poised to manipulate Muslim politics. The Jama‘at, Mawdudi believed, was what the League pretended to be and was not.[81] Mawdudi thought that the League’s appeal came not from the intransigence of the Congress party or that of the Raj in the face of Muslim demands, nor from the dynamics of the struggle for independence, but from its appeal to the religious sensibilities of Muslims. The use of Islamic symbols in enunciating Muslim communalist demands had become so pervasive that, by the mid-1940s, the Muslim League resembled “a chiliastic movement rather than a pragmatic party.”[82] Mawdudi clearly took the League’s rhetoric at face value and concluded that Islam—and not only the cultural norms of the Indo-Muslim traditions—formed the crux of Muslim politics and provided those who claimed to represent it with legitimacy. From this it followed that the Jama‘at was the only party equipped to deliver to the Muslims what the Muslim League had promised them. Having understood the politics of the Muslims of India solely in terms of Islam, Mawdudi became oblivious to the actual political dynamics of his community, a blind spot that continued to characterize his approach to politics during his years in Pakistan. Convinced of his eventual domination of Muslim politics, he groomed the Jama‘at to be the “true Muslim League”[83]—the “rear guard” of which he had written to Zafaru’l-Hasan—and prepared it to take advantage of the League’s expected demise.[84] The Jama‘at was therefore opposed not to Pakistan but to the Muslim League. It was the expectation that Mawdudi would become its leader and not the partition of the Subcontinent that led him to oppose the Muslim League both before and after the creation of Pakistan.

Jinnah’s meteoric rise enticed Mawdudi into politics, giving him the false expectation that as soon as his message was heard by the Muslims of India, and, later, of Pakistan, he would enjoy even greater prominence. The Jama‘at was created, in part, to disseminate Mawdudi’s message and catapult him into a position of power. Jinnah’s example therefore both guided and misguided Mawdudi. It reinforced his political ambitions and effectively committed him to communal politics, the end result of which was the creation of Pakistan.

The Early Years, 1941–1947

In the April 1941 issue of the Tarjuman, Mawdudi invited all those who were interested in forming a new Muslim party based on Islamic ideals to a meeting in Lahore.[85] On August 26, 1941, seventy-five men, most of whom had not known Mawdudi previously,[86] responded to his invitation and gathered at the house of Mawlana Zafar Iqbal.[87] The Jama‘at was officially formed after each of the seventy-five, following the example of Mawdudi, stood up and professed the Muslim testament of faith (shahadah)—thereby reentering Islam and forming a new holy community.[88] The constitution of the Jama‘at and the criteria for membership were all duly agreed upon during the course of that first session of the party, which lasted for three days. While all those who attended this gathering were familiar with Mawdudi’s articles in the Tarjuman and therefore by virtue of their presence concurred with his views on the simultaneously religious and sociopolitical function of the Jama‘at, they were not in agreement over the manner in which the party was to be governed. Some of those present favored an amir, as did Mawdudi who told the gathering, “Islam is none other than jama‘at, and jama‘at is none other than imarat [amirate].”[89] Others advocated a ruling council. Among those who favored an amir there was little concord regarding the extent of his powers. Mawdudi with the help of a number of those present struck a compromise: the Jama‘at would be led by an amir with limited powers—a primus inter pares.[90]

The debate then turned to the selection of the party’s first amir. The founding members agreed that, in the interests of minimizing the corrupting effects of politicking, no one would be permitted to forward his own candidacy. In addition to Mawdudi another possible contender for the office of amir was Muhammad Manzur Nu‘mani, a Deobandi religious leader, who was the editor of Al-Furqan, a respectable religious journal in Lucknow. Nu‘mani had known Mawdudi since a visit to him at Pathankot in 1938 and believed that he and Mawdudi had jointly conceived of the idea of the Jama‘at after the two read Sayyid Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi’s biography of the revivalist jihad leader Sayyid Ahmad Shahid (1786–1831).[91] Nu‘mani had used his journal to support Mawdudi’s call for the Jama‘at and his influence to get prominent men such as Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi to attend the first session of the Jama‘at.[92] Nu‘mani therefore wielded considerable clout in that first session, and as his differences with Mawdudi in later years indicate, he was not uninterested in being the Jama‘at’s leader. Amin Ahsan Islahi, too, was a strong contender for the position of amir.[93] As the editor of Al-Islah, a student of Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi (1884–1953) and Hamidu’ddin Farahi (d. 1930), and an instructor at the Madrasatu’l-Islah seminary (daru’l-‘ulum) of Sara’-i Mir in United Provinces, he was a towering figure among the Jama‘at’s founders. Islahi was not under the sway of Mawdudi’s intellect and had, in fact, in the 1937–1938 period taken issue with some views expressed by Mawdudi which had led to an open and spirited debate between the two.[94]

However, most of those present felt that since the Jama‘at was Mawdudi’s idea and brainchild he should serve as its first head,[95] and a committee was formed to nominate Mawdudi and Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Kakwarwi for the office of amir.[96] Mawdudi was elected by a majority of the founding members on August 27, 1941.[97] Their mandate was not religious; they simply chose the best manager among them to lead the party.

After the meeting in Lahore the founding members dispersed to recruit new members. Nu‘mani and his journal again propagated the Jama‘at’s cause and invited new members into its fold, efforts which soon led Nu‘mani to claim the party’s leadership.[98] Those who joined were drawn from among those who were disturbed by the direction Muslim politics had taken, who objected to the Congress party’s Muslim Mass Contact Campaign, which was designed to create support for the Congress party among Muslims, and who regarded as dangerous the domination of Muslim politics by Congress and the Muslim League. Many of them thought that Muslims lacked effective leaders and were attracted by the Jama‘at’s anti-British rhetoric, which they had missed in the Muslim League’s platform.[99] Many had been influenced by Azad and the fiery articles of Al-Hilal, and then deserted him after Azad’s decision to embrace the Congress party,[100] to find solace in the Jama‘at.

Mawdudi had sent invitations to join to some fifty senior Indian ulama, including Manazir Ahsan Gilani, ‘Abdu’l-Majid Daryabadi, Qari Muhammad Tayyib, and Husain Ahmad Madani, all of whom declined.[101] Young ulama, however, were well represented among the early members of the Jama‘at. Sixteen joined in 1941; six from Madrasatu’l-Islah, four Deobandis, four Nadwis,[102] and at least two of the Ahl-i Hadith. By 1945 the Jama‘at boasted some 224 ulama members, 60 of whom continued to teach at various religious seminaries.[103] Some of the Jama‘at’s most loyal and dedicated members such as Mian Tufayl and Malik Ghulam ‘Ali also joined the party at this time. They proved to be Mawdudi’s staunchest supporters and became leaders of the Jama‘at in Pakistan.

Given the diversity of its membership and the stature of many as ulama and votaries of different schools of Islamic thought, in its early years the Jama‘at did not become a centralized movement, nor did its amorphous structure permit its effective control by the amir. It operated by gaining a consensus on its objectives: to imbue Muslim character with religious values and to serve as an alternative to both the Muslim League and the Congress. Great emphasis was placed on moral rectitude and education in these years, confirming the party’s view of itself as essentially a holy community. The Jama‘at sought to shape Muslim politics by encompassing society as a whole; winning elections was not as yet an overriding concern. It viewed its strategy as a more fundamental and definitive solution to the intractable problems which beleaguered the Muslim community. Hence, from its inception the Jama‘at saw education and propaganda as central to its program, even if at the cost of an effective political agenda.

Some six months after the Jama‘at was founded, Mawdudi and Nu‘mani decided to leave Lahore. They were afraid that their nascent party would be engulfed by the Pakistan movement. Emulating the Prophet’s example, the new party had to withdraw from the larger society, lest its ideological purity be compromised.[104] At first Sialkot, a small city in West Punjab, was considered as a base, but later leaders turned to Pathankot and the site of the Daru’l-Islam project.[105] On June 15, 1942, the Jama‘at moved to Pathankot.[106]

The Pathankot years (1942–1947) were a time of organizational and intellectual consolidation. A significant number of the Jama‘at’s members also moved there to form strong personal, intellectual, and organizational bonds, away from the tumult of national politics. Pathankot provided time for learning, debate, and intellectual creativity. Many of the Jama‘at’s members belonged to different religious schools of thought, and the impact of the debates between Deobandis, Nadwis, Islahis, and the Ahl-i Hadith during this period was later to appear in some of the ways Mawdudi read Islam and its place in society.

Both leaders and members periodically emerged from their holy community to travel across India from Peshawar to Patna to Madras, holding regional and all-India conventions, addressing audiences, and establishing a nationwide organizational network.[107] These itinerant gatherings were a source of new recruits and sympathizers for the party and permitted the Jama‘at to remain in the political fray despite its seclusion in Pathankot. The strategy was also successful in diversifying the Jama‘at’s ethnic and geographic base of support. In 1946, of the party’s 486 members, 291 were from Punjab, 60 from United Provinces, 36 from Hyderabad, 31 from Madras, 14 from Delhi, 12 from central India, 10 from North-West Frontier Province, 9 from Bombay, 8 from Sind, 7 from Bihar, 6 from Mysore, and 2 from Bengal.[108]

By 1947 the Jama‘at boasted at least one member in every Indian province except Assam, Baluchistan, and Orissa.[109] Its leaders, as reflected in the geographical distribution of the central consultative assembly (markazi majlis-i shura’) between 1945 and 1947, however, remained predominantly North Indian and from Muslim minority provinces. Of the sixteen shura’ members in those years, four were from Punjab, three from United Provinces, one from Delhi, one from Bihar, two from Hyderabad, and one from Bombay.[110] Changes in the national representation were significant, the more so in that the number of members from areas that were inherited by Pakistan increased in these critical years. In 1947, 277 requests for membership were submitted to the Jama‘at, 136 of which were accepted. Some 50 percent of the applications came from Pakistan’s future provinces, as were 40 percent of those accepted into the Jama‘at.[111]

Moving to Pathankot brought out a problem latent in the Jama‘at’s structure. The powers of the amir had been left undefined by the founding members, and Mawdudi saw his position as that of a spiritual and political leader of an ideologically committed movement. Many others, however, regarded the office of the amir as that of director or overseer. As a result, the obedience which he demanded from members was not always forthcoming, especially from those who saw themselves as Mawdudi’s equal, or even superior in religious matters, and who had a religious education. The communal life at Pathankot brought the tension between Mawdudi’s leadership and the perception of it among members into the open, and led to defection in the ranks. Nu‘mani, for one, a Deobandi religious leader and the editor of Al-Furqan, thought himself superior to Mawdudi in piety and scholarship.[112] While he had acquiesced to Mawdudi’s election to the office of the amir, at Pathankot he began to challenge Mawdudi’s authority by demanding that Mawdudi relinquish control to the Jama‘at of the royalties of the Tarjuman and his celebrated book Risalah-i Diniyat (Treatise on religion, 1932)[113] and by questioning Mawdudi’s own moral standing and piety.

The early years of the Jama‘at were a time of great financial difficulties and personal sacrifices, the more so for those who had left city living for the provincialism of Pathankot. Discrepancies in the way the amir and other members lived, therefore, quickly became an intractable problem. While other residents lived spartan lives, Mawdudi maintained a separate house, a servant, and amenities not available to others.[114] The irritation this situation caused was sufficiently pronounced to permit Nu‘mani to manipulate it to his advantage. Nu‘mani demanded that the publication royalties, which Mawdudi claimed were providing his livelihood, be turned over to the Jama‘at for the benefit of all members. The very notion of a holy community precluded differences in the members’ standard of living and the separation of personal affairs from group interests. The Jama‘at, argued Nu‘mani, was not an extension of Mawdudi, but should encompass his whole livelihood—as Mawdudi had demanded of other members.[115] Mawdudi retorted that both the journal and the book had been his personal undertakings long before he conceived of the Jama‘at. The party, argued Mawdudi, had no propriety rights over his scholarship.[116] For both Mawdudi and Nu‘mani, raising this issue challenged the authority and person of the amir.

Nu‘mani then followed this initial assault with another. He contended that Mawdudi’s beard was not the right length, his wife did not cover herself properly before their male servant, Mawdudi himself had not been prompt for dawn prayers, and, generally, his piety was not in keeping with what was expected of the amir of a holy Muslim community.[117] Mawdudi rather apologetically conceded that his behavior and that of his wife were not always ideal, but they had changed their ways to accord with what the position of the amir required of them. However, suspicious of Nu‘mani’s ambitions, Mawdudi remained unrepentant and refused to acknowledge the charges brought against him as a reflection on his moral standing and as sufficient cause to warrant his resignation.[118] Nu‘mani then pressed the Jama‘at to convene a special session of the shura’ to decide the argument.[119]

Nu‘mani had, in the meantime, consulted with a number of Jama‘at members, notably Amin Ahsan Islahi and Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, regarding the issues at stake. Convinced that he had support for his position, Nu‘mani sought to use the shura’ session that met in October 1942 to unseat Mawdudi altogether. In response to the complaints which Nu‘mani placed before the shura’, Mawdudi offered either to resign from the office of amir or, alternatively, to dissolve the Jama‘at. Nu‘mani and his supporters opted for dissolution. The shura’, however, was not prepared for that and moved to Mawdudi’s side. Nu‘mani’s faction, consisting of Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, Muhammad Ja‘far Phulwari (briefly the deputy amir of the Jama‘at), and Qamaru’ddin Khan (the secretary-general of the Jama‘at at the time) resigned from the party.[120] The defectors were few in number, but significant in status.

Defeated, Nu‘mani began a public campaign against Mawdudi in his journal Al-Furqan, claiming that since he had been responsible for enlisting the support of so many for the Jama‘at, he now had the moral responsibility to inform them of the reasons for his resignation from the party.[121] Privately, too, Nu‘mani worked diligently to convince others to leave. He was not successful; the organizational structure proved strong enough to withstand Nu‘mani’s challenge, and the members’ notion of what a holy community was proved to be far more permissive and supple than Nu‘mani had expected. As Islahi put it, “I am not fanatical enough to jeopardize the future of Islam over the length of Mawdudi’s beard.”[122]

The crisis Nu‘mani precipitated, however, did expose an important dilemma for the Jama‘at: What was the proper mix in emphasizing ideological principles and serving organizational needs and political aims? The shura’, in the first of a series of decisions, voted to strengthen the organizational structure of the party and serve its interests and still further confirmed the primacy of the amir, somewhat resolving the initial ambiguity regarding his role and the extent of his powers. Nu‘mani’s resignation, meanwhile, gave Mawdudi greater room to maneuver and to establish his leadership over the party. Assured of the backing of the shura’, Mawdudi set out to spread the reach of the Jama‘at. He traveled across India, presenting the Jama‘at’s ideological position and inviting Muslims to support it. The imprint of Mawdudi’s views on the party became increasingly more pronounced. The Jama‘at’s convention in Dharbanga, Bihar, in 1943, for instance, turned into a forum for the discussion of Mawdudi’s theory of divine government (hukumat-i ilahiyah).[123]

Mawdudi was elected to the office of amir again in 1945 at the party’s first all-India convention.[124] Thenceforth, the Jama‘at came increasingly under the control of Mawdudi, a trend already evident in his speech following his election to a second term as amir, in which he repeatedly underlined the primacy of his office in the organizational design of the Jama‘at.[125]

The Jama‘at conventions were of some consequence in Muslim political circles, sufficiently so to boast the attendance of Mahatma Gandhi at one of them.[126] They also helped the Jama‘at to grow and to find a following. Eight hundred people attended the Jama‘at’s first all-India convention in Pathankot in 1945, ten times more than those who had gathered in Lahore to form the party.[127] The number was still modest, but given the Jama‘at’s forbidding ideological demands, it was nevertheless noteworthy.

Expansion was not, however, free of problems. Organizational development lagged behind the increase in membership. A good deal of attention at conventions between 1943 and 1947 was devoted to resolving internal problems, usually revolving around discipline and ethics.[128] The Jama‘at was repeatedly purged during this period of its less than fully committed members. In 1944 Mian Tufayl, the secretary-general of the Jama‘at at the time, reported to the shura’ that 300 members—over 50 percent of the membership—had been expelled from the party, and he set down sterner criteria for new members.[129] Still, in 1947, 135 new members joined, and 85 left the party.[130] The lion’s share of Mawdudi’s speeches before the Jama‘at conventions at Allahabad and Muradpur in 1946, and again in Madras and Tonk (Rajasthan) in 1947, was devoted to lamenting poor morale and discipline and emphasizing character building.[131] Mawdudi had clearly favored swift expansion so the party would be large enough to influence the highly fluid and rapidly changing Indian political scene. But the problems of discipline that threatened to nip the notion of holy community in the bud compelled him to greater caution. As early as 1943 he declared that the pace of growth of the Jama‘at should be restrained, a declaration which was thenceforth repeated along with every lament over the party’s problems of morale. Despite his openly political orientation, Mawdudi was clearly committed to the holy community idea as well.

These organizational difficulties only augmented Mawdudi’s powers. Emphasis upon ideological unity and especially organizational discipline favored vesting greater powers in the office of amir. Some members were not reconciled to Mawdudi’s preeminence in the party. Islahi, for example, time and again registered his opposition, most vociferously at the Jama‘at’s Allahabad session in 1946.[132] However, despite sporadic expressions of concern, the consolidation of power in the office of the amir continued unabated, especially as partition necessitated effective leadership at the party’s helm. During the Jama‘at convention in Tonk in 1947, the shura’ ceded some of its powers to the amir, notably control over finances.[133]

Paramount at this time was the question of Pakistan. Since the Jama‘at’s establishment, the party had not taken a clear stand on the issue. Despite its vehement opposition to the Congress and favoring of communalism, it had viewed close association with the Muslim League as detrimental to its integrity and autonomy. Hence, the party had favored Pakistan to the extent of advocating the case for an Islamic state but had remained aloof from the Muslim League–led Pakistan movement. When partition materialized, Mawdudi decided in favor of it but rejected the idea of retaining a united organizational structure for the two countries, arguing that the needs of the Muslims and hence the agenda of the Jama‘at would be so different in India and Pakistan as to make the operation of a united Jama‘at-i Islami unfeasible. He set the Jama‘at of India free from his command and became the amir of the Jama‘at of Pakistan. The breakup in the party limited its power but brought it more effectively under Mawdudi’s control. The new Muslim state presented the Jama‘at with greater opportunities and new problems, the resolution of which would determine the pattern of the Jama‘at’s subsequent development and how its organizational structure, ethos, and political agenda took shape.


1. The Jama‘at-i Islami has not been much studied. A number of accounts of its ideology exist, which have, by and large, focused on the place of its program in, and its implications for, contemporary Islamic thought. See, for instance, SAAM, vol. 1; Erwin I. J. Rosenthal, Islam in the Modern Nation State (Cambridge, 1965); Aziz Ahmad, Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan, 1857–1964 (London, 1967); Hamid Enayat, Modern Islamic Political Thought (Austin, 1982); Charles J. Adams, “Mawdudi and the Islamic State,” in John L. Esposito, ed., Voices of Resurgent Islam (New York, 1983), 99–133; Mumtaz Ahmad, “Islamic Fundamentalism in South Asia: The Jamaat-i-Islami and the Tablighi Jamaat,” in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms Observed (Chicago, 1991), 457–530; and Kalim Bahadur, The Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan (New Delhi, 1977). Bahadur’s study addresses the political dimensions of the Jama‘at’s history, but remains focused on the ideological orientation of the party. Also of significance in this regard is Leonard Binder, Religion and Politics in Pakistan (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1961). However, Binder’s excellent study of the Jama‘at’s role in the constitutional debates following the creation of Pakistan is limited to the years 1947–1956. [BACK]

2. For a more thorough discussion of Mawdudi’s biography, see Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, “The Politics of an Islamic Movement: The Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan,” Ph.D. dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991. [BACK]

3. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Watha’iq-i Mawdudi (Lahore, 1986). [BACK]

4. In a eulogy which he wrote for Hyderabad in the TQ of September 1948, Mawdudi equated the collapse of nizam’s state with the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols in 1258, the expulsion of the Moors from Spain in 1492, and the fall of the Mughal Empire in 1858. [BACK]

5. On the significance of the fall of Hyderabad for South Asian Muslims, see Akbar S. Ahmed, Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society (London, 1988), 143–71. [BACK]

6. See, in this regard, TQ (October 1934). In a telegram to Shaikh Mujibur Rahman in March 1971, Mawdudi warned him against creating a debacle greater than the tragedy of “Islamic Spain”; cited in Sarwat Saulat, Maulana Maududi (Karachi, 1979), 80. Elsewhere, Mawdudi referred to the eclipse of Islam from the centers of power in India as the “tragedy of Andalusia”; see Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Tahrik-i Islami ka A’indah La’ihah-i ‘Amal (Lahore, 1986), 134. Ahmed, Discovering Islam, 2, has termed this anxiety about a Moorish fate the “Andalus Syndrome.” [BACK]

7. Francis Robinson, Separatism among Indian Muslims: The Politics of United Provinces’ Muslims, 1860–1923 (Cambridge, 1974), 320ff. [BACK]

8. See for example, Maryam Jameelah, Islam in Theory and Practice (Lahore, 1973), 260–326. [BACK]

9. On the Congress party’s Muslim mass contact program, see Mushirul Hasan, “The Muslim Mass Contact Campaign: An Attempt at Political Mobilization,” Economic and Political Weekly 21, 52 (December 27, 1986): 273–82. Mawdudi attacked the mass contact movement of the Congress severely in TQ (December 1937): 243–44, and in the following issue (January 1938), which served as the first installment of Mawdudi’s famous book Musalman awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash (Lahore, 1938–1940). [BACK]

10. Gail Minault, The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolisms and Political Mobilization in India (New York, 1982), 79–84, and Robinson, Separatism among Indian Muslims, 326–41; for the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind’s relations with the Congress party, see Yohanan Friedmann, “The Attitude of the Jam‘iyyat-i ‘Ulama-i Hind to the Indian National Movement and the Establishment of Pakistan,” in Gabriel Baer, ed., The ‘Ulama’ in Modern History (Jerusalem, 1971), 157–83. [BACK]

11. For more on the history and politics of the Muslim League, see Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan (Oxford, 1984). [BACK]

12. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Tanqihat (Lahore, 1989), 177ff. [BACK]

13. On Mawdudi’s version of this idea, see TQ (October–December 1938): 85–320, where Mawdudi presented a “two nation” scheme of his own. For more on this issue, see chapter 5. [BACK]

14. See David Gilmartin, Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1988), 2–3 and 169–73, on Jinnah’s advocacy of the Shariat Application Act of 1937; and Wolpert, Jinnah, 230, on the Muslim League’s use of religious divines to undermine the Unionist Party. Similar policies were also followed in Sind; see Sarah F. D. Ansari, Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sind, 1843–1947 (Cambridge, 1992), 117–28. [BACK]

15. Interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad. [BACK]

16. Mawdudi’s association with the Khilafat movement had made him particularly suspicious of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and he came to view Kemalism as a symbol of godless secularism posing danger to Muslim societies. Mas‘ud ‘Alam Nadwi, a leading Jama‘at thinker, openly alluded to Muslim League members, in a derogatory fashion, as “Kemalists”; cited in RJI, vol. 6, 175–77. For similar expressions of abhorrence of Kemalism, see Khurshid Ahmad, ed., Adabiyat-i Mawdudi (Lahore, 1972), 296–302; Mawdudi, Tanqihat, 96–110; Abad Shahpuri, Tarikh-i Jama‘at-i Islami (Lahore, 1989), vol. 1, 297–98. Similar references also exist in the Jama‘at’s literature regarding Pahlavi Iran; see Kawthar (February 21, 1948): 21, where Mawdudi specifies that Pakistan should not be modeled after Iran or Turkey. [BACK]

17. RJI, vol. 6, 180–95; and Kawthar (July 5, 1947): 1. [BACK]

18. The word ‘ibadah, or “worship,” was interpreted by Mawdudi to mean obedience to religious law; ‘ibadah in Arabic comes from ‘abd, which means “slave.” Therefore, to worship in Islam meant to render unswerving obedience to God’s will, an act that stripped Muslims of all volition. Most critics of Mawdudi had taken issue with equating worship with obedience, for it reduces religious spirituality to blind adherence to religious dictums. See, for instance, Sayyid Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, ‘Asr-i Hazir Main Din Ki Tafhim’u Tashrih (Karachi, n.d.). [BACK]

19. See Nasr, “The Politics of an Islamic Movement,” 272–353. [BACK]

20. Short Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Conference, Jamaat-e-Islami, East Pakistan, March 14–16, 1958, 2; enclosed with U. S. Consulate, Dacca, disp. #247, 4/3/1958, 790D.00/4–358, NA. [BACK]

21. See for instance, JIKUS, 31. [BACK]

22. S. Abul A‘la Maududi, The Process of Islamic Revolution (Lahore, 1980), 17–18. [BACK]

23. JIKUS, 32. [BACK]

24. Shahpuri, Tarikh, vol. 1, 402–4. [BACK]

25. Sayyid Abul A‘la Maududi, Islam Today (Beirut, 1985), 12. [BACK]

26. Idem,The Islamic Way of Life (Leicester, 1986), 16. [BACK]

27. See RJI, vol. 5, 195, where the organization’s missionary outlook is discussed. [BACK]

28. Mujibu’l-Rahman Shami, “Karan Se Aftab Tak,” in HRZ, 31. [BACK]

29. Minault, The Khilafat Movement, 153. [BACK]

30. Rahman Siddiqi, “Mawlana Azad Awr Mawlana Mawdudi ki Mabain ik Gumshudah Kari”, Nida (February 7–13, 1990): 21. [BACK]

31. For a thorough account of this movement, see Minault, The Khilafat Movement. [BACK]

32. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, “Khud Nivisht,” in Muhammad Yusuf Buhtah, Mawlana Mawdudi: Apni Awr Dusrun ki Nazar Main (Lahore, 1984), 34–35. [BACK]

33. Following the creation of Pakistan in 1948, the Khaksar changed its name to the Islam League, and its uniformed wing became the Islam League Razakars (volunteers). [BACK]

34. From a speech delivered by Jinnah to Muslim League members in Lucknow in October 1937; cited in Wolpert, Jinnah, 153–54. [BACK]

35. While each Sufi order has its own set of rules, all follow the same organizational model. See Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Sufi Essays (London, 1972), 45–71. [BACK]

36. On relations between the Sufi master and his disciples, see Mohammad Ajmal Khan, “A Note on Adab in the Murshid-Murid Relationship,” in Barbara D. Metcalf, ed., Moral Conduct and Authority: The Place of Adab in South Asian Islam (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1984), 241–51, and Margaret Malamud, “The Development of Organized Sufism in Nishapur and Baghdad from the Eleventh to the Thirteenth Century,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1990. [BACK]

37. The note is dated August 21, 1935, and is reprinted in Mawdudi, Watha’iq, 82. [BACK]

38. Reprinted in ‘Asim Nu‘mani, ed., Makatib-i Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi (Lahore, 1977), vol. 2, 8–10. [BACK]

39. Nu‘mani, Makatib, vol. 2, 14. [BACK]

40. Interviews with Amin Ahsan Islahi and Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi. [BACK]

41. Adams suggests that while Mawdudi was not enamored by the ideas of fascism, he was impressed by the efficacy of its organizational methods; see Charles J. Adams, “The Ideology of Mawlana Mawdudi,” in Donald E. Smith, ed., South Asian Politics and Religion (Princeton, 1966), 375. Others have viewed the Jama‘at as modeled after communism; see Eran Lerman, “Mawdudi’s Concept of Islam,” Middle Eastern Studies 17, 4 (October 1981): 492–509. Evidence from the biography of Mawdudi tends to support the latter view. [BACK]

42. Philip Selznick, in The Organizational Weapon: A Study of Bolshevik Strategy and Tactics (New York, 1952), utilizes this term in reference to Lenin’s conception of “party.” [BACK]

43. Tony Smith, Thinking Like a Communist: State and Legitimacy in the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba (New York, 1987), 72–83. [BACK]

44. Ibid., 83–84. [BACK]

45. Selznick, The Organizational Weapon, 10–11. [BACK]

46. Ibid., 9. [BACK]

47. For a detailed discussion of this theme, see Nasr, “The Politics of an Islamic Movement,” 352–82. [BACK]

48. See JIKUS, 18 and 21–22, and Mahiru’l-Qadri, “Chand Nuqush-i Zindagi,” in Buhtah, Mawlana Mawdudi, 241–42. [BACK]

49. Interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad; the comment was made during the 1944–1947 period. [BACK]

50. Interview with Na‘im Siddiqi. [BACK]

51. TQ (November 1934): 162. [BACK]

52. Hamid Dabashi, “Symbiosis of Religious and Political Authorities in Islam,” in Thomas Robbins and Ronald Robertson, eds., Church-State Relations: Tensions and Transitions (New Brunswick, 1987), 183–203. [BACK]

53. Ayubi argues that in fact very little is said of the Medinan community in Islamic sources and that Muslims did not develop a clear notion of a “state” until modern times; Nazih Ayubi, Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World (New York, 1991), 6–8. [BACK]

54. Farzana Shaikh, Community and Consensus in Islam: Muslim Representation in Colonial India, 1860–1947 (Cambridge, 1989), 16. [BACK]

55. Cited in SAAM, vol. 1, 215. [BACK]

56. For a discussion of the Daru’l-Islam project, see Nasr, “Politics of an Islamic Movement,” 136–54. [BACK]

57. CRTIN, 85–88, and Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Nu‘mani, Mawlana Mawdudi Miri Sath Rifaqat ki Sarguzasht Awr Ab Mira Mauqaf (Lahore, 1980), 30–33. [BACK]

58. These articles were eventually published in the form of the second and third volumes of Musalman Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash but began to fully elaborate and espouse his notion of rule of religion (iqamat-i din). [BACK]

59. Shahpuri, Tarikh, vol. 1, 448–49. [BACK]

60. Chaudhri ‘Abdu’l-Rahman ‘Abd, Mufakkir-i Islam: Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi (Lahore, 1971), 152–64. [BACK]

61. See the college’s newspaper, Crescent (December 1939): 11. [BACK]

62. Shahpuri, Tarikh, vol. 1, 356–57. [BACK]

63. See Haftrozah Zindagi (October 14–28, 1989): 38–39. [BACK]

64. The famous ‘alim, Sulaiman Nadwi, was ostensibly impressed with Mawdudi’s Tanqihat (Lahore, 1989), while the famous Khilafat activist, ‘Ubaidu’llah Sindhi, was approving of Mawdudi’s articles in TQ; ‘Abd, Mufakkir-i Islam, 96–97, and 156–57. [BACK]

65. TQ (May 1939): 2–13. Also see Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, “Ihya’-i Nizam-i Islami,” in Al-Furqan, Shah Waliu’llah Number (1940): 18. [BACK]

66. Reprinted in Al-Ma‘arif 18, 2 (April–May 1985): 249–50. Zafaru’l-Hasan was then formulating plans of his own for a Muslim organization, to be called Shabbanu’l-Muslimin (Muslim Youth). Zafaru’l-Hasan’s papers concerning this organization are kept in the archives of the Institute of Islamic Culture. [BACK]

67. Ibid., 249. [BACK]

68. Ibid., 250. [BACK]

69. See TQ (April 1941): 98. [BACK]

70. Maududi, The Process, 18. [BACK]

71. Sayyid Abu’l-Khayr Mawdudi writes that his younger brother viewed himself as a great leader of his community; see Sayyid Abu’l-Khayr Mawdudi, in Nigar (September 1963): 63. Mawdudi’s career in later years further confirmed his ambitions; see, for instance, Amin Ahsan Islahi’s critical letter to Mawdudi, dated January 16, 1958, reprinted in Nida (March 7, 1989): 28. [BACK]

72. With no organization yet in the making, in August 1940, Mawdudi wrote to Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi at the Nadwatu’l-‘Ulama of Lucknow, requesting the services of an Arabist who could translate his writings on Islam into Arabic for the benefit of the Arab world. See Shahpuri, Tarikh, vol. 1, 466. [BACK]

73. Across the board in Pakistan it is believed that Mawdudi was opposed to the Pakistan movement and the partition. This belief is the result of the anti-Jama‘at propaganda campaigns by successive governments that tried to depict the Jama‘at as unpatriotic. This view has also gained currency in academia. See, for instance, Aziz Ahmad, “Mawdudi and Orthodox Fundamentalism of Pakistan,” Middle East Journal 21, 3 (Summer 1967): 369–80; Kalim Bahadur, The Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan (New Delhi, 1977); or Freeland Abbott, Islam and Pakistan (Ithaca, 1968). [BACK]

74. Nasr, “The Politics of an Islamic Movement,” ch. 1. [BACK]

75. TQ (December 1938): 304–5. [BACK]

76. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, “Ham ne Tahrik-i Pakistan ke Sath Nehin Diya Tha,” Nawa’i Waqt (August 15, 1975): 3. [BACK]

77. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Tahrik-i Pakistan Awr Jama‘at-i Islami (Multan, n.d.), 6. [BACK]

78. Cited in Ja‘far Qasmi, “Mujhe Yad Hey Sab Se Zara Zara,…” Nida (April 17, 1990): 32. [BACK]

79. Shaikh, Community and Consensus, 209. [BACK]

80. TQ (February 1941): 66. [BACK]

81. Mawdudi, Tahrik-i Pakistan, 7–8. [BACK]

82. Peter Hardy, The Muslims of British India (Cambridge, 1972), 239. [BACK]

83. Mawdudi, Tahrik-i Pakistan, 7–8. [BACK]

84. It is important to note that Mawdudi was not alone among the self-styled Muslim leaders of the time to put forward such a claim. ‘Allamah Mashriqi, for instance, in 1948 changed the name of Tahrik-i Khaksar to the Islam League—closely paralleling the Muslim League’s appellation, but underscoring the greater religious dedication of the Khaksar. The claim to being the “true League” was implicit in Mashriqi’s maneuver. [BACK]

85. TQ (April 1941): 90–101. [BACK]

86. SAAM, vol. 1, 244. [BACK]

87. JIKUS, 5, and Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, The Islamic Movement: Dynamics of Values, Power, and Change (Leicester, 1984), 6. [BACK]

88. Interviews with Mian Tufayl Muhammad and Na‘im Siddiqi. [BACK]

89. RJI, vol. 1, 25. [BACK]

90. Ibid., 27–30. [BACK]

91. Nu‘mani, Mawlana Mawdudi, 32. [BACK]

92. Ibid., 41–43. [BACK]

93. Islahi was not present at the first meeting of the Jama‘at in Lahore, but later Nu‘mani persuaded him to join. His name was therefore cited among the organization’s founding members; interview with Amin Ahsan Islahi. [BACK]

94. On this debate see NGH, 58. [BACK]

95. Interviews with Nadwi and Malik Ghulam ‘Ali. [BACK]

96. ‘Abd, Mufakkir-i Islam, 175–76. [BACK]

97. Ibid. [BACK]

98. Nu‘mani, Mawlana Mawdudi, 40–43. [BACK]

99. Na‘im Siddiqi, Al-Mawdudi (Lahore, 1963), 35. [BACK]

100. Interview with ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf. [BACK]

101. Shahpuri, Tarikh, vol. 1, 525. [BACK]

102. Sayyid As‘ad Gilani, “Jama‘at-i Islami, 1941–1947,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Punjab, 1989–1990, 360–65. [BACK]

103. Ibid., 365. [BACK]

104. JIKUS, 47, and Nu‘mani, Mawlana Mawdudi, 43–46. [BACK]

105. SAAM, vol. 1, 256. [BACK]

106. RJI, vol. 1, 60. [BACK]

107. By 1946 the Jama‘at had grown large enough to hold regional conventions and to organize the Jama‘at’s finances locally; RJI, vol. 4, 115–18 and 124–26. [BACK]

108. RJI, vol. 4, 41. [BACK]

109. Cited in RJI, vol. 5, 43. [BACK]

110. RJI, vols. 4 and 5. [BACK]

111. RJI, vol. 5, 57–58. [BACK]

112. Interview with Amin Ahsan Islahi. [BACK]

113. This book was written in Hyderabad at the behest of the nizam’s government and was used as a textbook in that state’s schools. It is Mawdudi’s first and best known exposition on Islamic revivalism. The first work of Mawdudi to be translated into English (in 1947), by 1974 it had appeared in twenty-six languages. [BACK]

114. See Begum Mahmudah Mawdudi, “Mawlana Mawdudi Apne Ghar Main,” in Buhtah, Mawlana Mawdudi, 263. [BACK]

115. Nu‘mani, Mawlana Mawdudi, 46–52. [BACK]

116. SAAM, vol. 1, 256. [BACK]

117. Nu‘mani, Mawlana Mawdudi, 46–52. [BACK]

118. In a letter to Nu‘mani at a later time Mawdudi wrote: “If you were attracted to the Jama‘at because of me, then you should never have joined; and if you were attracted to it because of its cause, then how can I prompt you to fall from a path you deemed to be in the interest of Islam?”; cited in Abu’l-Afaq, Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi: Sawanih, Afkar, Tahrik (Lahore, 1971), 266–67. [BACK]

119. SAAM, vol. 1, 256. [BACK]

120. SAAM, vol. 1, 256; and RJI, vol. 1, 71–76. [BACK]

121. Nu‘mani, Mawlana Mawdudi, 60–62. [BACK]

122. As quoted in an interview with ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan. [BACK]

123. SAAM, vol. 1, 284–85. [BACK]

124. Ibid., 297. [BACK]

125. Ibid. [BACK]

126. RJI, vol. 5, 251ff.; see chapter 5 for more on this issue. [BACK]

127. SAAM, vol. 1, 297. [BACK]

128. RJI, vol. 1, 8ff. [BACK]

129. Cited in Bahadur, The Jama‘at-iIslami, 19. The 50 percent estimate is based on figures for membership for 1942 and 1946. [BACK]

130. RJI, vol. 5, 58–59. [BACK]

131. SAAM, vol. 1, 297, and 318–21. [BACK]

132. Nida (March 7, 1989): 23. [BACK]

133. RJI, vol. 5, 94–106. [BACK]

2. From Holy Community to Political Party

Following partition the Jama‘at continued to change; interacting more vigorously with other political forces, it refined and restructured its organizational design. The search for a successful political strategy led the party to sublimate ideological posturing in favor of more pragmatic politics. Ideological imperatives soon clashed with involvement in politics, creating tensions in the ranks. Those members interested in questions of principle revolted. The party was forced to reexamine its role and mission in Pakistan, reassessing the relative importance of religious ideals and political interests in its plan of action.

The Punjab Elections of 1951

Following the creation of Pakistan and Jama‘at’s move to Lahore, Mawdudi escalated the party’s involvement in politics just as he consolidated its identity and organizational structure. The Jama‘at grew in numbers during these years, but more important, it was able to do so with greater facility. It was no longer plagued with the kinds of problems of morale and discipline that had characterized its prepartition years. Difficulty, however, continued to loom on the horizon for a party which remained divided over the extent of the rights of its leader, its religious calling, and political agenda, and the question of ideological principles versus political interests. Even as late as 1951 the Jama‘at had described its plan of action as (1) the reform of the life and minds of individual Muslims, (2) organization and training of virtuous men, (3) social reform, and (4) reform of the government and the political structure.[1] Politics was not only listed last, but it could not be addressed until the first three phases of the plan had been completed. Until the end of the first decade of its existence, the Jama‘at remained a movement immersed in religious work; it strove to control the souls of men and eyed politics with awe and suspicion. Although it spoke of its political ideals, it stayed aloof from the day-to-day conduct of politics, preferring the seclusion of its holy community to the vicissitudes of action. It deliberately, for instance, avoided any involvement in the Indian national elections of 1945.[2]

The resolution of the conflict over the party’s ultimate aim continued to attract the attention of the Jama‘at’s leaders during an otherwise uneventful period in the party’s history following its move to Pakistan. It continued to operate as it had in its days in India. No longer inhibited by the fear of lending support to the Congress, it became bolder in its opposition to the Muslim League, but its politicization remained in the nature of moral guidance and the articulation of an ideal for Pakistan. It continued to rely on the power and appeal of its message and to operate more in the mold of a holy community than that of a political party. This was in keeping with Mawdudi’s reading of Jinnah’s success. Pakistan was the product not of the Muslim League’s efficacy as a political machine but of the appeal of Islam on the one hand and Jinnah’s ability to relay his vision to the multitude of Indian Muslims on the other. The Jama‘at therefore began its activity in Pakistan debating with the country’s founders and its citizens, hoping to replicate the intellectual and emotional process which Jinnah had initiated a decade earlier. The party’s emphasis remained on propaganda, and its campaign to publish its literature during those early years is indicative of its understanding of politics in Pakistan.

It was not long before the Jama‘at’s hopes for a quick and easy Islamization of Pakistan were dashed. Mawdudi’s political naïveté and the limits of the Jama‘at’s ingenuous political program began to show. Pakistan was not going to fall into the hands of the Jama‘at through propaganda alone; the party had to politicize its activities to stave off challenges from a hostile government and to push Pakistan toward an Islamic goal. Elections scheduled in Punjab for March 1951 provided the occasion for the Jama‘at to initiate a new plan of action and enter into an era of more direct political involvement.

Participation in elections and expanding the Jama‘at’s political horizons were questions that came before the party when Mawdudi was temporarily out of power. He had been put in prison for questioning the Islamicity of the state, and the party was being led by the two provisional amirs, ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan and ‘Abdu’l-Jabbar Ghazi. They put the matter before the shura’, which debated it extensively. Despite the opposition of some members to participating in the elections and associating with the political system, the shura’ sanctioned the party’s participation,[3] but did not put forward any candidates of its own. It would lend support to those candidates whom it deemed virtuous (salih)[4] as determined by voters’ councils (panchayats). Each of these councils would consist of fifty-three members, twenty-three of whom would be appointed by the Jama‘at. The role the Jama‘at chose in the elections was peculiar: it was not vying for its own political gain but fighting to prevent the election of those who would prevent it from gaining in the future. The party still saw its role as providing religious education and propaganda and regarded elections as merely a tool for sanitizing politics.

The election results were not a triumph for the Jama‘at. The candidates it favored collected only two hundred thousand votes in the thirty-seven constituencies in which it was active.[5] Either the people of Punjab had not heard the Jama‘at’s call or they had chosen to ignore it. Whichever the case, the Jama‘at was clearly dejected by the results, aside from Mawdudi, who saw gains even in defeat. The election, he argued, had served to propagate the Jama‘at’s program far and wide and had strengthened the party by bringing in many new members, workers, and sympathizers, an argument that was ever after repeated by the Jama‘at leaders to justify participation in elections and to make defeats therein palatable.

Despite Mawdudi’s optimism, the defeat was serious enough to cause much soul-searching. The party thenceforth became more diligent in its organizational and propaganda efforts, hoping to amend those shortcomings which it saw as responsible for its defeat and to redeem itself in future elections. Coveting electoral victories required a different organizational outlook and a different attitude toward politics and elections. The Jama‘at found it had a vested interest in the electoral process. It began to compare itself with other political parties, transforming its aim of establishing virtuous leadership (salih qiyadat) from a distant goal into an immediate objective.

The election campaign had also presented the Jama‘at with an unwelcome breakdown of discipline. To the chagrin of Mawdudi and the elders of the Jama‘at, workers and rank-and-file members were sufficiently swayed by the demands of the electoral campaign to transgress the party’s code of ethics. The frequency and extent of complaints put before the party’s leaders were disconcerting and led Mawdudi to reiterate the need to maintain party discipline. The election and its aftermath had, all in all, thrown the Jama‘at into confusion. On the surface, the party continued to adhere to its four-point plan of action, outlined shortly before the elections in November 1951. In reality politics was no longer last on the list. Debates over whether the party’s mission was religious propaganda or politics were waged with increasing frequency. Senior members such as Mas‘ud ‘Alam Nadwi, ‘Abdu’l-Jabbar Ghazi, and ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf, citing the deleterious effect of electoral politics on the morale of the holy community, argued against remaining active in politics for the time being.[6] Mawdudi and Islahi were inclined toward politics, and hence suggested two agendas—political activism and religious work—simultaneously, which only added to both the confusion and the debate.[7] The anti-Ahmadi agitations of 1953–1954 and Mawdudi’s subsequent imprisonment gave them no opportunity to resolve this issue satisfactorily. It was left to fester until it eventually caused the most serious rupture in the party’s history.

The Machchi Goth Affair, 1955–1957

Mawdudi was released from prison in 1954. After his release a general meeting was held in Karachi, a routine session that unexpectedly turned into a forum for airing grievances about procedural matters, the electoral defeat of 1951, and government harassment in 1953–1954.[8] In that session Sa‘id Ahmad Malik, a one-time Jama‘at amir of Punjab, leveled charges of ethical misconduct and financial embezzlement against another high-ranking member. Mawdudi was greatly disturbed by Malik’s allegation, all the more so because it had been aired before the entire body of the Jama‘at. Eager to spare the holy community the shock of confronting its fall from grace, Mawdudi sent Islahi to dissuade Malik from further registering his complaint before the gathering by promising a full investigation.

Malik agreed, and, true to his promise, Mawdudi announced the formation of a review (ja’izah) committee, consisting of seven members of the shura’ and Malik himself. The committee was to investigate Malik’s charges and prepare a report on the general discontent in the Jama‘at that had been aired in the Karachi meeting. The committee immediately made apparent a concealed source of power in the party. In its early years the Jama‘at had few office holders and hardly any “workers”; there was no real division of power or duties and no payroll. The Jama‘at’s members in those years had all been part-time religious organizers and missionaries.[9] The expansion and rationalization of the Jama‘at in Pakistan after 1947, however, had generated an organizational machine managed by party operatives out of the secretariat in Lahore. These party workers and managers, many of whom were full-time employees, had by 1954 gained considerable control over the Jama‘at’s operations. They were mainly younger and more politically inclined members and had vested interests of their own, both with regards to the Jama‘at’s internal policies and its stand on national issues.[10]

The Jama‘at’s bureaucracy supported the leader whom Malik had accused of wrongdoing. The complaints the committee would be reviewing in most cases involved the policies and operational procedures followed by the Lahore secretariat. Afraid that the bureaucracy would be blamed, Mian Tufayl Muhammad, the secretary-general at the time, procrastinated to hinder the committee from beginning its work. ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf, appointed by Mawdudi to head the committee, brought up the subject in the shura’ meeting of November 1955.[11] With the shura’’s sanction the committee began its deliberations, but the bureaucracy managed to trim it down to four members—Ashraf, ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan, ‘Abdu’l-Jabbar Ghazi, and Sultan Ahmad—all of whom were ulama and senior leaders, and none of whom was either a functionary or stationed in Lahore.

No sooner had the committee begun its investigations than it became clear that the scope of complaints and misconducts far exceeded what had initially been suspected, and worse yet, they reached far up in the hierarchy. At the time they met Mawdudi was away touring the Arab world; he was therefore not aware of the scope of the committee’s probes and findings. In his absence, ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan was made interim overseer of the party, which permitted him to stifle any resistance to the investigation by the Lahore bureaucracy. The investigations lasted a year, during which its members interviewed some two hundred members across Pakistan, noting their complaints and questioning them regarding their attitude toward the party.

The findings were not complimentary and were in many ways disturbing. Wide-ranging ethical transgressions and financial misdeeds were reported, and complaints were registered against the procedures and behavior of the Lahore bureaucracy. Even Mawdudi and Islahi were implicated. The committee prepared a comprehensive report of its findings and submitted it to the shura’ for consideration during its session in November 1956: the Jama‘at had strayed from its path of “upholding the truth” (haqq-parasti) to opportunism (maslahat-parasti) and following popular will (‘awam-parasti); it had departed from its original educational aim and mission and had become a political organization; its moral and ethical standards had sharply dropped, and political work was occupying an increasing share of its time to the exclusion of religious studies and even worship; the treasury was relying to too great an extent on outside sources of funding, which influenced the members and the decisions of the party, and since 6.7 percent of its members were paid employees that part of the membership had lost its independence of thought and action.[12] The report suggested that, since the issues raised by the committee’s findings were in part the result of the party’s premature involvement in politics and their remedy would require the lion’s share of the party’s time and resources, the party should not participate in the general elections which were expected to follow the passage of the constitution of 1956 in Pakistan. This recommendation enmeshed the committee’s findings in the party’s debate over its future course of action, further complicating the resolution of the problems. Ethics was posited as the antithesis of politics, forcing the party to choose between them.

The shura’ meeting of November 1956 lasted for fifteen days. This was the longest and liveliest session in its history. The four committee members, led by Ashraf, presented their case: (1) the Jama‘at had gone completely astray, as the extent and nature of the complaints registered in the committee’s report indicated; (2) politics had come to dominate the Jama‘at’s activities with dire results; and (3) if the Jama‘at did not desist from political activities it would lose what it had gained. Ashraf, in a nine-hour speech presented their points and argued that any departure from the four-point plan of action stipulated in November 1951 would seriously compromise the Jama‘at’s doctrinal position.[13] Mawdudi and Islahi, although supported by some of the shura’’s members, were unable to argue with the findings of the report and, at best, staved off some of the sharpest criticisms leveled against the party. Mawdudi tendered his resignation a number of times during the session but was dissuaded: committee members argued their objective was not to oust him but to restore the party’s moral standing.[14] Mawdudi was not, however, thoroughly convinced, but he was outvoted.

The fifteen-day shura’ session ended with a four-point resolution: First, the Jama‘at had veered from its proper course. While the party had made gains, it had also been damaged, and this damage should be repaired. Second, the decisions of the shura’ session of July 1951, the four-point plan that de-emphasized politics, continued in effect; therefore the new stress on politics since 1951 should be reversed. Third, the Jama‘at’s position on various issues was based on the Qur’an, hadith, and decisions of the amir and the shura’, and not on any party document. In other words, Mawdudi’s works did not dictate policy, and the Jama‘at was not an extension of him. Finally, Islahi along with two other senior members of the Jama‘at would form a committee to see that the resolution was carried out.

Mawdudi was clearly upset by the proceedings of the shura’ and by the resolution, which was constitutionally binding on him. Not only had the fifteen-day meeting revealed problems and curbed the party’s appetite for politics, but it had also challenged his authority. For the first time in the Jama‘at’s history it was the shura’, rather than he, who was deciding the party’s future. The party’s constitution had been invoked to assert its autonomy from his person. The guarantees of the autonomy and efficacy of the Jama‘at’s organizational structure, which had been designed by none other than Mawdudi, were now in competition with him. He was by no means reconciled to the decision of the shura’, and this allowed the Lahore bureaucracy to enter the fray.

Remedying the problems cited in the review committee’s report would certainly encroach upon the bureaucracy’s powers. It consisted mainly of lay religious activists and had a different view of the choice between ethics and politics than the ulama members of the committee. Young activists were predicting imminent victory at the polls in the forthcoming elections, and this expectation of victory made them eager to run candidates in the elections, to ignore the four-point plan, and to become a national party. But men like Ashraf anticipated a repeat of the party’s 1951 electoral performance.[15] Hence, no sooner had Mawdudi arrived back in Lahore than the activists led by Sayyid As‘ad Gilani, ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad, and Kawthar Niyazi approached Mawdudi to encourage him to defy the writ of the shura’. They argued that it had been biased, and its resolution represented mutiny against Mawdudi’s authority that would encourage factionalism and even the party’s dissolution. These were far graver transgressions against the party’s constitution, they argued, than the amir’s disobeying the shura’’s decisions.[16] Moreover, since the resolution had been based on an “erroneous” report—which the committee members were accused of having contrived with ulterior motives in mind—it could not be binding, and the issue should be reopened. The Jama‘at, or at least elements in it, were showing a surprising independence in trying to influence the amir in a manner hitherto not associated with that party.

Mawdudi allowed himself to be persuaded by the arguments of the Lahore bureaucracy, because they presented an opportunity to break the unwelcome restrictions the shura’ had placed on the party and on his office.[17] Mawdudi’s two-year stint in prison had given him prestige and made him a hero.[18] He was not prepared to forego his newly found stature, and expected the respect that went with it. The prolonged shura’ session had led to recriminations and bitterness. Mawdudi regarded criticism of his leadership as disrespect for the office of amir, as well as representing a vendetta against his person. The latent disagreement over the extent of the amir’s powers and the nature of his leadership, which had first become apparent when the Jama‘at was founded in 1941, was once again casting its shadow. The ulama members continued to view the amir as primus inter pares and as a manager rather than a spiritual guide, while Mawdudi felt the amir’s role should be that of a preeminent and omnipotent religious leader.

On December 23, 1956, thirteen days after the shura’ session, Mawdudi wrote to the members of the review committee, arguing that by exceeding the powers mandated to them they had at best inadvertently conspired against the Jama‘at. He accused them of factionalizing the organization to further their own ambitions.[19] Given the gravity of their “crime,” and the fact that their performance in the shura’ had proven destructive, Mawdudi demanded their resignation. Should they not resign, he threatened, he would go to their constituencies and demand that the Jama‘at members “turn them out.”[20]

The four members of the committee appealed to Islahi for justice. Islahi, a man of mercurial temperament, had up to this point supported Mawdudi, but now he took it upon himself to respond on behalf of the four. He chastised Mawdudi for his prevarication and pointed out that the four were among the Jama‘at’s most senior members and all men of the highest moral standing. Mawdudi had himself approved of their selection for the review committee. Three of them, ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan (1948–1949, 1956), ‘Abdu’l-Jabbar Ghazi (1948–1949), and Sultan Ahmad (1953–1954), had been appointed by Mawdudi as provisional amirs. How could their integrity be slighted without casting aspersions on Mawdudi’s own judgment? Islahi furthermore charged that Mawdudi was being influenced by the insidious propaganda of “the staff of the Jama‘at’s central offices” to act “undemocratically” and against the Jama‘at’s constitution.[21] Islahi was, at a more fundamental level, trying to consolidate or defend the constitutional powers of the shura’ against what he regarded as encroachments upon them by the amir.

When he read Islahi’s letter, Mawdudi was incensed. He wrote to Mian Tufayl that the party should choose a new amir, as “if [he] had died.”[22] Mawdudi was no doubt doing just what he had already threatened the review committee he would do: force the Jama‘at to choose between him and his critics. Clearly Mawdudi was confident of where their loyalty lay.[23] Mian Tufayl, Na‘im Siddiqi, and Malik Nasru’llah Khan ‘Aziz, three of Mawdudi’s most loyal lieutenants, went to Islahi to end the mounting crisis. Islahi ordered them not to disclose the news of Mawdudi’s resignation to anyone, within or outside the Jama‘at, and quietly to call a session of the shura’. Siddiqi, a fervent Mawdudi loyalist, thought otherwise. He resigned from the Jama‘at forthwith to relieve himself of the obligations of the party’s code of conduct and Islahi’s order, and proceeded to spread the news of Mawdudi’s resignation, along with incriminating reports against Islahi and the review committee. The news soon spread beyond the party; it appeared in the press.

After Mawdudi’s resignation, Chaudhri Ghulam Muhammad was named vice-amir (qa’im maqami amir) by Mian Tufayl, so that he could oversee the party’s operations. Ghulam Muhammad set out to bring about a reconciliation between the two men. The party’s leaders were aware that government intrigue would make the Jama‘at’s internal problems worse if they dragged on or were exposed in national news with embarrassing consequences for the holy community. Arguing that the very future of the Jama‘at was at stake, Ghulam Muhammad asked Mawdudi to withdraw his resignation; ordered those aware of the dispute to maintain strict silence; and suggested that the issues in dispute be put before an open Jama‘at meeting at the earliest possible date. The trepidation of the Jama‘at’s leaders and members regarding possible government machination in this crisis no doubt assisted Mawdudi. He was a national figure; his resignation from the office of amir, many felt, could spell the end of the party.

The shura’ called by Mian Tufayl met on January 12, 1957. Islahi, Ashraf, and Ghazi were not present. Islahi charged that the Jama‘at’s bureaucracy had deliberately arranged the session so that critics of Mawdudi could not attend.[24] Already sensitive to allegations that in his dispute with Mawdudi he was motivated by personal ambition, Islahi tendered his resignation.[25] A delegation of senior Jama‘at members led by Ghulam Muhammad managed to dissuade him pending the result of the open meeting, scheduled for February 1957 in Machchi Goth, a small and desolate village in the Chulistan Desert in southern Punjab. Islahi acquiesced and withdrew his resignation. He was receptive to compromise, and those who approached him in this spirit found him forthcoming.[26] Islahi demanded redress for the grievances of the members of the review committee and limits on Mawdudi’s powers, but Mawdudi and his supporters felt no need to compromise and continued to force a showdown.

Under pressure from Ghulam Muhammad the handpicked shura’ accepted his proposals without change and ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan was compelled to ask Mawdudi to withdraw his resignation.[27] Mawdudi agreed on the condition that an open party meeting be given the power to resolve the dispute. He would not return to his duties until they had reached a decision.[28] He intended to hold the threat of resignation over the shura’ and the review committee, because he was convinced that the rank and file of the party supported him and that an open session would circumvent the constitutional powers of the shura’, which was stacked against him by supporters of Islahi and the review committee. Faced with constitutional restrictions and unable to win his case through regular channels, Mawdudi circumvented the very rules he had himself devised to prevent the domination by any one leader. This was a volte-face with momentous implications and a testament to the fundamental role politics and personal ambitions played in Mawdudi’s decisions and policies. By acceding to an open meeting and Mawdudi’s demand that Jama‘at members arbitrate the issues in dispute, the shura’ surrendered its constitutional powers to an ad hoc body, opening the door for the amir to undermine the authority of the shura’ with the blessing of its members.

Meanwhile, warned by Siddiqi, the Jama‘at’s bureaucracy mobilized its resources—organizational circulars, newspapers, and magazines—to inveigh against Islahi and the review committee, and to sway minds before the antagonistic parties could put their cases before them in the open session.[29] The bureaucracy especially sought to shift the focus of the debate away from the report, the grievances of leaders against the amir, the constitutional implications of Mawdudi’s attack on the committee, and the future of the holy community and toward the victimization of Mawdudi and his resignation from the office of amir. The bureaucracy also helped embolden Mawdudi by casting in a conspiratorial light all the criticisms leveled against him or Jama‘at’s functionaries. They convinced him that, with the backing of the review committee, Islahi was maneuvering himself into the position of amir, an accusation which had enough truth to it to seem compelling to Mawdudi.[30] He took to treating criticism of his decisions as invidious efforts to paralyze the Jama‘at, and became uncompromising in his drive to cleanse the organization of dissent and to use, if needed, extraconstitutional measures to preserve its unity. This accusation put Islahi on the defensive and effectively silenced him. Unwilling to give credence to rumors regarding his own ambitions, Islahi approved all resolutions that confirmed Mawdudi’s leadership.

With Mawdudi’s backing the bureaucracy now went on the offensive. Sa‘id Ahmad Malik, who had started the review committee’s investigation, and ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf, who led the committee, were first suspended and later expelled from the Jama‘at by the amirs of Rawalpindi and Faisalabad (Lyallpur).[31] Disgusted with the turn of events, ‘Abdu’l-Jabbar Ghazi resigned from the Jama‘at, and the tide began to turn to Mawdudi. He was not content with victory alone, nor did he seek conciliation; he set out to purge the Jama‘at of his critics. In a meeting of the shura’ which convened in Machchi Goth before the open session began, it was suggested that Mawdudi resume his activities as amir and a committee be appointed to study the findings of the review committee. Mawdudi, smelling victory, rejected the suggestion out of hand—if such a committee was formed, he would resign from the Jama‘at. Only his resignation and participation in future elections were to be discussed in the open session. At the behest of Mawdudi’s supporters, the shura’ declared that it preferred having Mawdudi as amir over pursuing the review committee’s report.

Of the Jama‘at’s 1,272 members, 935 attended the Machchi Goth session.[32] They came anxious about where their party was heading and sympathetic to Mawdudi, as the circulars, journals, magazines, and newspapers meant them to be. Islahi was the most prominent of those in dissent, but he made no mention of the questions of principle that had caused his break with Mawdudi and instead spoke of the organization’s four-point plan of November 1951.[33] He preached moderation and balance (tawazun) between religious pursuits and political activism. Politics had begun to fill all the hours of Jama‘at members, lamented Islahi, leaving no room for pious works. The content and tone of Islahi’s speech showed interest in a reconciliation, but Mawdudi wanted no part of it. This refusal infuriated Islahi, and he left the Jama‘at. In a letter to Mawdudi afterward, Islahi wrote that he had been assured by Chaudhri Ghulam Muhammad that Mawdudi had at least accepted partially some of his grievances and was willing to accommodate him. Islahi’s expectation was not realized at Machchi Goth, proving that Mawdudi was hoping to mollify him and tone down his hostility before that session, without actually intending a compromise. This realization, wrote Islahi, was a major reason why he left the Jama‘at.[34] He had withdrawn his earlier resignation on assurances given to him by Mawlana Zafar Ahmad Ansari, a confidant of Mawdudi, that a compromise would be reached at Machchi Goth. Islahi felt that he had kept his part of the bargain and that Mawdudi had reneged on his.

Islahi’s cautions therefore fell on deaf ears, and his appeal for the party to return to its original agenda was rejected. With events moving in Mawdudi’s direction, his supporters became even less compromising, and all dissenters were barred from addressing the gathering.[35] Having kept the review committee’s report and his own high-handed policies out of the proceedings, Mawdudi went on the attack. In a six-hour speech, he demanded more political action and introduced a new agenda in place of the four-point plan of 1951.[36] He reiterated the Jama‘at’s original objectives and reviewed the party’s history; he said that the party would continue as a holy community and a religious movement but it would now participate in electoral politics. Reforming the political order was moved up from a distant fourth to a primary aim. Mawdudi argued that the Jama‘at had been formed with the objective of establishing the rule of religion (iqamat-i din) and a divine government (hukumat-i ilahiyah). Neither would be attainable if the Jama‘at permitted the secular forces to become too entrenched. The organization must abandon its isolation and enter the political scene, if not to further its own cause, at least to deny success to its adversaries.[37] The Jama‘at was therefore to revise its original agenda; it would now pursue political objectives and religious education and propaganda with equal vigor.

Mawdudi’s speech struck such a receptive chord that subsequent efforts to temper his call to politics met with hostility from the rank and file. Mustafa Sadiq, one of those who sought to temper Mawdudi’s powers, however, managed to secure only 148 votes for a resolution which censured overt politicization.[38] At the end of the session, participation in politics was put to a vote. All but fifteen voted in favor; the fifteen handed in their resignations then and there. A peculiar feature of this whole episode was that the two things that had originally precipitated the crisis—the review committee’s report and Mawdudi’s reaction to it—were not even discussed at Machchi Goth. Neither Mawdudi nor the opposition ever mentioned it. An ethical issue had turned into a political one and served as the handmaiden for the party’s greater politicization.

Mawdudi and his supporters were not content with their victory at Machchi Goth. They met in the nearby village of Kot Shair Sangh and initiated a purge, which Ashraf dubbed “the Jama‘at’s Karbala.” Mawdudi set out to reestablish the authority of the amir’s office and to bring the party back to its original unity of thought and practice. The idea of a holy community found new meaning when, its moral content eviscerated, it persisted only to legitimize the party’s political activities. The review committee’s report was to be destroyed to eliminate any possibility of division over its content. Na‘im Siddiqi, who had violated the orders of Islahi and Ghulam Muhammad by leaking the news of Mawdudi’s resignation, was reinstated as a member. At Kot Shair Sangh the meeting also decided that all those who had differed with Mawdudi, like non-Muslims (zimmi) in an Islamic state, could remain in the party but were henceforth barred from holding office or positions which could influence the party’s platform. This decision, interpreted by many as sheer vindictiveness, led to further defections from the ranks, including Israr Ahmad, Mustafa Sadiq, and ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan. Hasan resigned primarily to protest the purge of those who had spoken their minds.[39]

The immediate impact of these defections was muted. Islahi’s resignation was perhaps the most damaging, for he enjoyed a certain following in the Jama‘at, especially among those who had studied the Qur’an with him. Yet even his departure did not lead to a mass exodus.[40] Mawdudi, it appeared, had overcome the challenge to his authority with great dexterity and at minimal cost. In the long run, however, the purge had a debilitating effect on the intellectual caliber of the party’s members. Fifty-six members left the Jama‘at at Machchi Goth, Kot Shair Sangh, and in the months that followed; most were ulama and represented the party’s religious weight and intellect.[41] They were replaced by lay activists and functionaries.

Mawdudi was not greatly discomfited by these desertions; had they stayed, those who had left would have interfered with his plans. Those who left were simply given up as souls who had fallen from the path of Islamic revolution.[42] Those who remained would be more servile and amenable to his leadership. In a letter to Ghulam Muhammad after Machchi Goth, Mawdudi clearly showed no interest in patching up his differences with Islahi.[43] Shortly after, the Jama‘at presented candidates for the elections of the Karachi municipal corporation and won nineteen of the twenty-three seats it contested. This showing vindicated Mawdudi and erased the last traces of the Machchi Goth affair. Despite all, however, the party waged a campaign based on the four-point plan of 1951.[44]

The Machchi Goth affair and the subsequent purge reoriented the party toward politics, redefined its conception of Islam and its place in the life of men, and replaced its ideological outlook with a more pragmatic one. The Jama‘at had begun as a movement of cultural and religious rejuvenation; it had been premised on ethics and religious teachings. Its primary target was man, whose “reconversion” to the unadulterated truth of his faith would catalyze social change and eventually bring political reform. At Machchi Goth, this puritanical and somewhat traditional formula was altered. The conversion of men would now occur in tandem with, if not in pursuance of, the reform of politics. The Jama‘at, much like revivalist movements everywhere, began to show more interest in governing how Muslims lived than in their individual souls. By overlooking the review committee’s report and Malik’s allegations of financial misconduct to maintain the Jama‘at’s role in politics, Mawdudi suggested that Islamization ultimately flowed from politics to society to the individual, and not the other way around.

It can be argued that at Machchi Goth Jama‘at’s bureaucracy was manifesting the party’s reaction to outside changes. The Jama‘at had been founded in India; it had operated in Pakistan for a decade with little modification in perspective. By 1956, the Pakistani polity had consolidated and the country was now unlikely to wither away. The Jama‘at’s notion that it could conquer the new country’s soul and centers of power had proved to be fleeting. Its campaign for an Islamic constitution had, moreover, reached its aim with the passage of the constitution of 1956, which the Jama‘at had accepted as “Islamic.” The Jama‘at, therefore, had to find a new role. To remain relevant to Pakistani politics and the future development of the country, the party had to move out of its organizational shell and beyond single causes; it had either to engage in concrete debates or be yet another missionary (tabligh) movement. While, even after the Machchi Goth affair, the Jama‘at did not fully abide by these directives to its own detriment, the party was pushed to rationalize its structure and refine its plan of action.

By 1956 the Jama‘at had lost its intellectual momentum. Its zeal and ideological perspective had been important for the development of contemporary Muslim thought in the Subcontinent and elsewhere, but the party was no longer producing ideas which would sustain its vitality as a religious movement and secure a place for it at the forefront of Islamic revivalist thinking. Most of Mawdudi’s own seminal works, outlining his views on Islam, society, and politics had been written between 1932 and 1948. His worldview and thought had fully taken shape by the time he moved to Pakistan. All subsequent amendments to Jama‘at’s ideology pertained to politics more than theology. Its experience over the decade of 1946–1956 had shown that its contribution and influence lay not so much in what it espoused but in its organizational muscle and political activism. Its survival as a holy community could no longer be guaranteed; it was in politics that the party had to search for a new lease on life. This imperative was most acutely felt by the party’s lay activists and bureaucratic force, who had the least grounding in Islamic learning, and for whom the Jama‘at was the sole link to a holistic view of the role of Islam in the world. Many ulama whose ties to Islam were independent from the Jama‘at felt the depletion of the party’s ideological energies less acutely. They did not have the sense of urgency the first group felt, nor were they prepared to sacrifice values and principles to resuscitate a party. Their departure from the Jama‘at no doubt worsened its intellectual and ideological crisis and strengthened the bureaucratic element that would continue to politicize the Jama‘at.[45]

The outcome of the Machchi Goth session sowed the seeds of a “cult of personality” around Mawdudi in tandem with the bureaucratization of the Jama‘at. The political needs of the party required its amir to be more than primus inter pares; the party needed a command structure which precluded the kind of discussion, debate, and dissension which the ulama members of the Jama‘at—and most of those who had left the Jama‘at in 1957—were accustomed to. The Machchi Goth affair, much as Nu‘mani’s departure from the Jama‘at, had augmented the powers of the amir and institutionalized this eventuality as a corollary of any resolution of tensions and crises surrounding the party’s politicization. This was a cost which a party bent on a more active political role had to incur.

The Machchi Goth affair also marked the “end of ideology” and the beginning of pragmatic politics and decision making in the party. Interestingly, Mawdudi oversaw the routinization of his own chiliastic and romantic idealism. While his earlier works and career had done much to kindle revivalism across the Muslim world, his arguments for abandoning the ideological perspective in favor of greater pragmatism in large measure went unnoticed by his admirers across the Muslim world.

Mawdudi was not altogether oblivious to the problems that had produced the Machchi Goth imbroglio in the first place. At Kot Shair Sangh he initiated far-reaching constitutional reforms which would guarantee greater organizational unity and prepare for the new plan of action. Some of these reforms were designed to devolve power from the office of the amir and to contain abuses of power by himself as well as other Jama‘at members. In May 1957, the Jama‘at’s constitution was revised to iron out the anomalies and sources of discord in the organizational structure and to guard against a repeat of Machchi Goth. The amir was made subject to the writ of the shura’, but he would no longer be elected by the shura’ but by the Jama‘at’s members; the shura’ was expanded to fifty members; its procedures were streamlined; the amir was given greater control over the agenda and discussions; the shura’ was given veto power over the amir’s decisions, and vice versa; procedures were set to govern disagreements between the two; and finally, a majlis-i ‘amilah (executive council)—a politburo of sorts—was formed to serve as the ultimate arbiter between the amir and the shura’, its members to be appointed by the amir from the shura’ members.

Schism and Purge after 1957

The Machchi Goth affair by no means resolved the party’s problems, nor did it render the party invulnerable to the ethical pitfalls of pragmatic politics. In fact, it exposed the increasing discrepancy between its religious facade and the pragmatic political reality of its program. Because of that, other Machchi Goths were likely to occur.

While Mawdudi was in prison following a government crackdown on the Jama‘at in 1963, the party joined the Combined Opposition Parties, a group that had organized to resist Ayub Khan’s rule. The alliance decided to challenge Ayub Khan in the presidential elections of January 1965 and proposed to run Fatimah Jinnah (d. 1967) as its candidate for president. The Jama‘at endorsed this choice, a decision which flew in the face of Mawdudi’s oft-repeated arguments against any public role for women.[46] It was a monumental doctrinal compromise which, given the national attention focused on it, could not be easily justified. The Jama‘at appeared to have abandoned its ideological mainstay and declared itself a political machine through and through, one which recognized no ethical or religious limits to its pragmatism.

Mawdudi responded to the resulting clamor by arguing that the decision was made by the whole party and not by himself. He then went on to justify the decision as an evil warranted by the necessity of combating yet a greater evil, Ayub Khan and his martial-law regime.[47] Mawdudi’s explanation did not convince those outside the Jama‘at and led to dissension within the party as well. Kawthar Niyazi, then the amir of Lahore and an ardent defender of Mawdudi during the Machchi Goth affair, began in the pro-Jama‘at journal Shahab openly to question the wisdom of his position.[48] Niyazi argued against supporting a woman candidate and claimed that the Jama‘at had gone too far in compromising its principles; as a result it had ceased altogether to be a religious entity. In a deft maneuver against Mawdudi, Niyazi then digressed from the Jinnah candidacy to widen the debate to include Mawdudi’s other doctrinal compromises in accommodating the Jama‘at’s political interests. He repeated all Mawdudi’s arguments against elections in earlier times, juxtaposing them with the Jama‘at’s policy of putting up candidates since 1951. Inferring duplicity on the part of Mawdudi, Niyazi sought to put both Mawdudi and Jama‘at’s political agenda on trial yet again.

This time it did not work. Unlike Islahi, Niyazi had no following of his own within the party, and some even disliked his bureaucratic style in the party’s secretariat. The Jama‘at had changed significantly since 1957. It was now more centralized, and, as Niyazi charged, had more members on the payroll, which hampered their ability to express their ideas, let alone voice dissent.[49] By airing the problem in his journal, Niyazi infuriated his fellow members, who accused him of doing the bidding of the government by trying to paralyze the Jama‘at before the elections. Mawdudi responded by asking Niyazi to resign from the party.[50]

Although Niyazi’s challenge to Mawdudi showed that the conflict between ideology and pragmatic politics continued to hound the party, the response also suggested the changes had enabled them to contend with internal differences.[51] The party had become sufficiently pragmatic not to be shocked by Mawdudi’s inconsistency in supporting Fatimah Jinnah. The other leaders of the party had already endorsed Miss Jinnah while Mawdudi was still in jail and were therefore fully prepared to defend his decision.

In the coming years the Jama‘at continued to suffer from tensions arising from its slide toward pragmatic politics, showing less tolerance for dissent and a greater ability to maintain unity.[52] The purge of dissenting members became more frequent until it was a routine mechanism for resolving disputes. As a result, a diverse movement built upon a tradition of discussion, debate, consensus, and a shared vision of the ideal Islamic order turned into a party in which policies were so pragmatic that its original purpose and intellectual vitality were destroyed and ideological roots weakened. Perhaps that is the fate of any holy community that ventures into politics. The Machchi Goth affair gave the party a new lease on life, but the price was that it evolved along lines neither anticipated nor necessarily desired by its founders, and it became a full-fledged political party. Mawdudi’s initial enthusiasm for politics may have clouded his vision, or perhaps he was simply unable to control the forces he had let loose. He could ride the tide of politicization, as he did in 1956–1957, but he, and later his successors, were hard-pressed to contain it. Politicization became a consuming passion that drowned out ethical considerations, intellectual vitality, pious works, and worship.

From the mid-1960s onward Mawdudi constantly referred to incidents of violence involving the Jama‘at and emphasized organizational discipline, showing his growing concern with what political pragmatism had done to his party.[53] His farewell address to the Jama‘at in 1972 following the election of Mian Tufayl to the office of amir centered on the need to reestablish a balance between ideological imperatives and pragmatic concerns.[54] Especially after the Jama‘at was routed at the polls in 1970, Mawdudi turned back to the idea of holy community, as the election results did not justify the sacrifices made nor the damage incurred by purges and compromises. His colleagues were, however, no longer willing to heed his advice. Mawdudi was at odds with his party, and after he stepped down as amir in 1972, he found his influence limited. In a clear departure from his attitude at Machchi Goth, he concluded that the party had given away too much to politics without gaining enough in return.[55] In 1972 he lamented to his wife that the party “was no longer up to his standards…. If he had the stamina he would have started all over again.”[56] “I hope this will not be the case,” he told a friend, “but when historians write of the Jama‘at, they will say it was yet another revival (tajdid) movement that rose and fell.”[57] Finally, he advised the shura’ in 1975 to move the Jama‘at away from politics and to revive the holy community; for elections had proved not only to be a dead end but also debilitating. His advice was largely ignored.[58]

Today the Jama‘at is an important political party in Pakistan, but Islamic revivalism in Pakistan has been passed on to other movements,[59] many of which were founded by former Jama‘at members, such as Israr Ahmad and Javid Ahmadu’l-Ghamidi.[60] The outcome may have saddened Mawdudi, but it was unavoidable and for some not unwelcome. What the party’s history shows is that the relation between ideology and social action in Islamic revivalism is neither as harmonious and spontaneous nor as permanent and immutable as is often believed. Mawdudi’s revivalism, as powerful as its synthesis between religious idealism and political action may seem, in reality produced an inherently contradictory attitude toward social action and spiritual salvation. To resolve the conflicts innate in Mawdudi’s program, ideological zeal gave way to greater pragmatism and transformed the movement from holy community to political party.


1. Cited in Mithaq 39, 3 (March 1990): 52–53. [BACK]

2. SAAM, vol. 1, 323. [BACK]

3. SAAM, vol. 1, 408–13. [BACK]

4. Interview with Mawdudi in Chatan (January 24, 1951): 2. [BACK]

5. SAAM, 419. [BACK]

6. Interview with ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf. [BACK]

7. See Mawdudi’s interview reprinted in A’in (October 1989): 33–36, and his speech before the Jama‘at’s annual session of November 20–23, 1955, cited in MMKT, vol. 3, 139–56, wherein Mawdudi asserted that the Jama‘at was not a party but a multidimensional organization. On Islahi’s views see, for instance, his article in TQ (September 1956): 377–402. [BACK]

8. Much of the following discussion unless otherwise stipulated is based on interviews with ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan, ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf, Israr Ahmad, and Mustafa Sadiq. [BACK]

9. RJI, vol. 2, 48–60 and 72ff. [BACK]

10. NGH, 68–69. [BACK]

11. Israr Ahmad, Tahrik-i Jama‘at-i Islami: Ik Tahqiqi Mutala‘ah (Lahore, 1966), 5. [BACK]

12. Cited in Ahmad, Tahrik-i Jama‘at-i Islami, 187–201. [BACK]

13. NGH, 21. [BACK]

14. Ibid., 22–24. [BACK]

15. Interview with Amin Ahsan Islahi. [BACK]

16. See, for instance, Gilani’s later account of Machchi Goth in Sayyid Asad Gilani, Maududi: Thought and Movement (Lahore, 1984), 10. [BACK]

17. For instance in a letter to Islahi after Machchi Goth, dated January 18, 1958, Mawdudi explains that he viewed the shura’ session of November–December 1956 as the proof of emergence of factionalism in the Jama‘at, which unless controlled there and then would destroy the party altogether. Since the factionalist tendency was unconstitutional and anti-Jama‘at, no compromise with it, as was evident in the resolution that shura’ session, was possible; and in the interests of preserving the Jama‘at, Mawdudi was justified in using all means available to him. The letter is reprinted in Nida, March 7, 1989, 29–30. [BACK]

18. Abd cites that even Islahi eulogized Mawdudi’s sacrifices in prison, stating, “I…spontaneously kissed his hands which Allah had endowed with the help of the pen to be testimony to the Truth”; cited in Abdur Rahman Abd, Sayyed Maududi Faces the Death Sentence (Lahore, 1978), 16–17. [BACK]

19. NGH, 31. [BACK]

20. Ibid. [BACK]

21. Ibid., 33–56. [BACK]

22. Archival papers of Islamic Studies Academy, Lahore. [BACK]

23. Israr Ahmad argues that Mawdudi knew that his resignation was serious enough to create fears in the hearts of the party’s members regarding the future of the Jama‘at, thus influencing their choice; see NGH, 73–75. [BACK]

24. NGH, 82. [BACK]

25. In a letter to Mawdudi in 1958, explaining his resignation, he denies harboring personal ambitions in the strongest terms. That letter is reprinted in Nida (March 14, 1989): 29. [BACK]

26. Mithaq 39, 3 (March 1990): 32. Israr Ahmad also reports that similar efforts were mounted by Jama‘at members from all over Pakistan to prevail upon their leaders to resolve their differences; ibid., 50. [BACK]

27. Since members of the review committee had never asked for Mawdudi’s resignation, they were hard-pressed not to go along with Ghulam Muhammad’s initiative. Sultan Ahmad did register a note of dissent regarding such manipulations of the shura’ to Mawdudi’s advantage. This note was excluded from circular no. 118–4–27 of January 19, 1957, which reported the proceedings of this shura’ session to the members; see NGH, 80–81. [BACK]

28. Ibid., 81. [BACK]

29. Islahi names Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an and Tasnim as most significant in this regard; see Nida (March 14, 1989): 30. [BACK]

30. Islahi had a following of his own in the party and was viewed as a more serious scholar than Mawdudi by many outside the Jama‘at. In later years a number of the Jama‘at’s rising intellectual leaders, notably among them, Javid Ahmadu’l-Ghamidi and Mustansir Mir, became impressed with Islahi’s Qur’anic commentaries and left the Jama‘at to study with him. [BACK]

31. NGH, 75. [BACK]

32. SAAM, vol. 2, 8–10. [BACK]

33. Mithaq 39, 3 (March 1990): 50–55. [BACK]

34. Nida (March 14, 1989): 30–31. [BACK]

35. Mithaq 39, 3 (March 1990): 58. Elsewhere Israr Ahmad reports that ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf had asked Chaudhri Ghulam Muhammad to guarantee adequate time for all views to be aired at Machchi Goth. Mawdudi turned down the request flatly, and Ghulam Muhammad complied; Mithaq 13, 2 (February 1967): 49. [BACK]

36. The speech was later published as Tahrik-i Islami ka A’indah La’ihah-i ‘Amal (Lahore, 1986). This book is seen today as the most lucid exposition of Mawdudi’s views on religion and politics, but it is often not examined within the context of the debate over the enfranchisement of the party which prompted its ideas. [BACK]

37. Mawdudi, Tahrik-i Islami, 172–73. [BACK]

38. Mithaq 39, 3 (March 1990): 58–68. [BACK]

39. Hasan was also disturbed by what he saw as Mawdudi’s innovative religious interpretation in an article in TQ (December 1956): 9–32. In that article, Mawdudi had responded to those who criticized his departures from his earlier position by arguing that Islam was a rational religion and it permitted choice between two evils when expediency necessitated such a choice; see SAAM, vol. 2, 59–60. [BACK]

40. Of Islahi’s disagreements with him and his departure from the Jama‘at Mawdudi said deprecatingly, “Amin Ahsan sahab was scared off by his experience with prison” (referring to his incarceration following the anti-Ahmadi agitations); interview with Begum Mahmudah Mawdudi. On a more serious note, Mawdudi explained to Chaudhri Ghulam Muhammad that Islahi’s temper, which had shown its full force throughout the Machchi Goth ordeal, was likely to be a source of trouble and had alienated many in the Jama‘at from him, hinting that Mawdudi was not eager for Islahi to return to the Jama‘at; Nida (March 7, 1989): 26. [BACK]

41. Among those who left, the most noteworthy were Amin Ahsan Islahi (Jama‘at’s second highest ranking leader, provisional amir, 1954; and later an important scholar and commentator of the Qur’an); Sultan Ahmad (member of the shura’; provisional amir, 1953–1954); ‘Abdu’l-Jabbar Ghazi (member of the shura’; provisional amir, 1948–1949); ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan (member of the shura’ provisional amir, 1948–1949 and 1956); ‘Abdu’l-Rahim Ashraf and Sardar Muhammad Ajmal Khan (both members of the shura’); Mawlana Abu’l-Haqq Jama‘i (former amir of Bhawalpur); Sa‘id Ahmad Malik (former amir of Punjab); Muhammad ‘Asimu’l-Haddad (director of the Arabic Translation Bureau); Arshad Ahmad Haqqani (editor of Tasnim); and Israr Ahmad and Mustafa Sadiq (both of whom became notable political and religious figures in later years). [BACK]

42. Sayyid Ma‘ruf Shirazi, Islami Inqilab ka Minhaj (Chinarkut, 1989). [BACK]

43. Mawdudi’s letter is reproduced in Nida (March 27, 1989): 24–25. [BACK]

44. For instance, in preparation for the general elections of 1958, the Jama‘at reiterated the four-point plan of action of 1951; see Short Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Conference, Jamaat-e-Islami, East Pakistan (March 14–16, 1958), 2; enclosed with U. S. Consulate, Dacca, disp. #247, 4/3/1958, 790D.00/4–358, NA. [BACK]

45. Rana Sabir Nizami, Jama‘at-i Islami Pakistan; Nakamiyun ke Asbab ka ‘Ilmi Tajziyah (Lahore, 1988), 47, and 76–77. [BACK]

46. Some years previously, in the summer of 1950, the Jama‘at had criticized a public appearance by Fatimah Jinnah, questioning the presence of a woman at such an occasion; see TQ (July–September 1950): 220. [BACK]

47. Mawdudi explained the Jama‘at’s position in the following terms: “On one side is a man; other than his gender there is nothing good about him; on the other side is a woman; aside from her gender nothing is wrong about her.” Cited in Israr Ahmad, Islam Awr Pakistan: Tarikhi, Siyasi, ‘Ilmi Awr Thiqafati Pasmanzar (Lahore, 1983), 37. [BACK]

48. Interview with Kawthar Niyazi; also see Kawthar Niyazi, Jama‘at-i Islami ‘Awami ‘Adalat Main (Lahore, 1973), 11–17. [BACK]

49. Niyazi, Jama‘at-i Islami, 31–32. [BACK]

50. Ibid., 38, and interview with Niyazi. [BACK]

51. The Jama‘at had become more adept at contending with internal dissent and had also became more sensitive to it over the years. While Niyazi was asked to resign, Mawlana Wasi Mazhar Nadwi, an elder of the Jama‘at and the one-time amir of Sind, was expelled from the Jama‘at in 1976 for divulging information about Mawdudi’s disagreements with the shura’ over the issue of the Jama‘at’s continued participation in elections (which is discussed later); correspondence between the author and Wasi Mazhar Nadwi, 1989–1990, and interview with Javid Ahmadu’l-Ghamidi. [BACK]

52. The Machchi Goth affair was replayed in Bangladesh following the bloody Pakistan civil war of 1971. During the civil war the Jama‘at of East Pakistan, which later became the Jama‘at-i Islami of Bangladesh, was drawn into the conflict and was thoroughly politicized. The debacle of East Pakistan and the calamity which befell the Jama‘at in Bangladesh after the war precipitated a major debate over the party’s mission—religious work or political activity. A schism followed when Mawlana ‘Abdu’l-Rahim, amir of Jama‘at-i Islami of East Pakistan during the war, left Jama‘at-i Islami of Bangladesh to form a new organization which would embody the original idea of the Jama‘at as a holy community, primarily immersed in religious work, and only indirectly interested in politics. See Mumtaz Ahmad, “Islamic Fundamentalism in South Asia: The Jamaat-i-Islami and the Tablighi Jamaat,” in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms Observed (Chicago, 1991), 503. Similarly, a major internal conflict erupted in the Jama‘at in 1988 over the party’s relations with General Zia, which is discussed in chapter 9. [BACK]

53. See, for instance, SAAM, vol. 2, 310. [BACK]

54. Ibid., 426–28. [BACK]

55. Mawdudi’s anguish was reflected in a letter to Wasi Mazhar Nadwi, wherein he discussed his disappointment with the Jama‘at; cited in Nizami, Jama‘at-i Islami, 101–2. Begum Mawdudi recollects that her husband was particularly perturbed about the breakdown of ethical conduct in the Jama‘at caused by the party’s politicization, something he introduced to the party and could not later control; interview with Begum Mawdudi. [BACK]

56. Interview with Begum Mawdudi. [BACK]

57. Interview with Khwaja Amanu’llah. [BACK]

58. Wasi Mazhar Nadwi, who had been present in that shura’ session, later wrote to Mawdudi and asked the Mawlana to reiterate his views and confirm what Nadwi had understood him to say. Mawdudi repeated his disdain for elections in a letter to Nadwi. Nadwi was subsequently expelled from the Jama‘at for divulging information about the shura’ session and Mawdudi’s letter to those outside the party. Correspondence with Wasi Mazhar Nadwi, 1989–1990; interview with Ghamidi; and Mithaq 39, 3 (March 1990): 11–12. [BACK]

59. The Jama‘at for instance no longer has a notable and widely respected religious thinker. While it does indulge in religious exegesis, its leaders are not at the forefront of revivalist thinking in Pakistan any longer. Mian Tufayl accedes to this conclusion: “the calibre of Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an despite its continued vitality has gone down since Mawlana Mawdudi’s death”; interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad. However, he takes comfort in the fact that “Mawlana [Mawdudi] was such a paramount thinker that the Jama‘at will not need one for another century”; interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad in Takbir (November 16, 1989): 52. [BACK]

60. Similarly, in India, Mawlana Wahidu’ddin Khan and in Bangladesh Mawlana ‘Abdu’l-Rahim left the Jama‘at to form more vital Islamic intellectual movements. [BACK]

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