This Day in History (2-Nov-1953) – Pakistan becomes Islamic republic

When India and Pakistan became independent states in 1947, each inherited a bristling minority problem. Twelve million apprehensive Hindus stayed in Pakistan; 43 million Muslims stayed in India. The Indian Parliament guaranteed its minorities equality, and Prime Minister Nehru conspicuously appointed Muslims and Christians to his Cabinet. But Pakistan, in framing its own constitution, chose the dark path which might lead to theocracy and fear. The Constituent Assembly ruled that the nation should become “the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” (presumably within the British Commonwealth, like India)

Pakistan became independent of the United Kingdom in 1947, but remained a British Dominion like Canada or Australia until 1956. Under Section 8 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, with certain adaptations, served as the working constitution of Pakistan, but the need of a full independence and a constitution to be framed by the elected representatives of the people was all the more necessary for the free citizens of a sovereign state. Since India became a republic in 1950, the feeling had increased that Pakistan should assume the same special status that India felt she had attained. Republican sentiment had almost certainly been further strengthened by what many Pakistanis consider Britain’s failure to support her openly in the Kashmir dispute. Even so, Pakistan had no present intention of dissociating herself from the Commonwealth. A proposal to do so was quietly dropped.

There was no indication of what precisely the term ‘Islamic Republic’ would mean, but the leader of the Hindu members of the Constituent Assembly, who walked out in protest, had already labelled it as.” an attempt to make Pakistan a theocratic State,” in which Hindus (13 per cent of the population) would be placed on a separate electoral rolls, denied the highest office of State, and forced into a position of inferiority. Certainly it would not help to solve the problem of the Hindus of East Bengal, nor improve relations with India.

Pakistan was the first country to become Islamic Republic, followed by Mauritania, Iran and Afganistan over a period.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/november/2

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,819249,00.html

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/6th-november-1953/4/the-islamic-republic-of-pakistan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_republic

This Day in History (29-May-1936) – Gandhi’s eldest son creates a controversy as he converts to the Muslim faith

Harilal Mohandas Gandhi was the eldest son of Mahatma Gandhi. Harilal wanted to go to England for higher studies and hoped to become a barrister as his father had once been. His father firmly opposed this, believing that a Western-style education would not be helpful in the struggle against British rule over India. Eventually rebelling against his father’s decision, in 1911 Harilal renounced all family ties. Harilal converted to Islam at the Jumma Masjid, Bombay on 29th May 1936 and took up the name Abdullah Gandhi. Gandhiji wrote to his another son, Ramdas Gandhi, the following day, “There could be no harm in his being converted to Islam with understanding and selfless motives. But he suffers from greed for wealth and sensual pleasures. I shall be spared all mental pain if I find my impression wrong and he turns a new leaf.” However as Gandhiji had predicted, Harilal followed Islam for a very brief period. In November he reconverted to Arya Samaj Hinduism.

Harilal married to Gulab Gandhi and they had five children, two of whom died at an early age. He appeared at his father’s funeral in such derelict condition that few recognized him. He died from liver disease on 18 June 1948 in a municipal hospital in Bombay. Harilal described Gandhiji as “the greatest father you can have but the one father I wish I did not have.” Mahatma Gandhi once confessed that the greatest regret of his life was that there were two people he had not been able to convince. One was Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose demand for a separate homeland for Muslims led to the partition of India and Pakistan in August 1947 and the other person was his own eldest son Harilal.

Nilam Parikh, the daughter of Ramibehn, who was the eldest of Harilal’s children, wrote a biography on him, titled Gandhiji’s Lost Jewel: Harilal Gandhi. The troubled relationship between Harilal and his father is the subject of the film and play Gandhi, My Father.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harilal_Gandhi

http://www.newseveryday.com/articles/5363/20141230/http-timesofindia-indiatimes-com-city-ahmedabad-understand-a-faith-before-adopting-it-bapu-wrote-to-son-articleshow-45682404-cms.htm

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2007/aug/10/india

This Day in History (15-Mar-1564) – Akbar removed ‘jizya’ or toll-tax for his non-Muslim subjects

Akbar succeeded his father Humayun at the age of 14 years. The kingdom Akbar inherited was little more than a collection of frail fiefs.  Akbar continued his military expansion throughout his reign. Known as much for his inclusive leadership style as for his war mongering, Akbar ushered in an era of religious tolerance and appreciation for the arts.  By the time he died, his empire extended to Afghanistan in the north, Sindh in the west, Bengal in the east, and the Godavari River in the south.  Akbar’s success in creating his empire was as much a result of his ability to earn the loyalty of his conquered people as it was of his ability to conquer them. He allied himself with the defeated Rajput rulers, and rather than demanding a high “tribute tax” and leaving them to rule their territories unsupervised, he created a system of central government, integrating them into his administration.

Akbar was known for rewarding talent, loyalty, and intellect, regardless of ethnic background or religious practice. In addition to compiling an able administration, this practice brought stability to his dynasty by establishing a base of loyalty to Akbar that was greater than that of any one religion. He did not force India’s majority Hindu population to convert to Islam; he accommodated them instead, translating Hindu literature and participating in Hindu festivals. Akbar in 1563 repealed a special tax placed on Hindu pilgrims who visited sacred sites, and in 1564 completely repealed the jizya, or yearly tax on non-Muslims. What he lost in revenue by these acts, he more than regained in good-will from the Hindu majority of his subjects.

Akbar also formed powerful matrimonial alliances. When he married Hindu princesses—including Jodha Bai, the eldest daughter of the house of Jaipur, as well princesses of Bikaner and Jaisalmer—their fathers and brothers became members of his court and were elevated to the same status as his Muslim fathers- and brothers-in-law. While marrying off the daughters of conquered Hindu leaders to Muslim royalty was not a new practice, it had always been viewed as a humiliation. By elevating the status of the princesses’ families, Akbar removed this stigma among all but the most orthodox Hindu sects.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/eventdate.php/Religion/15-March-1564

http://www.biography.com/people/akbar-the-great-9178163

http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/p/akbarthegreatbio.htm