South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Between the Muslim League and the INC: Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, Majlis-i-Ahrar, and Muslim-Indian Nationalism

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Tamarind, New Building

Majlis-i-Ahrar-Islam, Deobandi in ideology and Indian nationalist in outlook, mounted a strong albeit short-lived opposition to the Muslim League in Punjab in the 1930s and 40s. With popular agitational politics in Kashmir, Punjab, and the United Provinces, they excited the North-Indian Muslim imaginary into possibilities distinct from the two-nation theory. With Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, its third president, there was a markedly distinct secular stance vis-à-vis other religious groups of India, particularly Hindus and Sikhs. However, with regards to the Ahmadiyya community, the heterodox Muslims considered blaspheming unbelievers by Deoband, Majlis-i-Ahrar developed a condemnatory rhetoric that limited the party from a socialistic, popular Muslim political front to an Islamic-theological party that came to rely primarily on religious discourse for its politics. The paper traces the birth, quick popular growth, and the rapid decline of Majlis-i-Ahrar in terms of subcontinental Muslim politics, while focusing particularly on the figure of Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi as an example of the counter-two-nation-theory secularism that the party embodied. The paper concludes by focusing on the current state of the party in Independent India and Pakistan and their diverging fortunes.

Maaz Bin. Bilal

O. P. Jindal Global University, India

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1 - Between the Muslim League and the INC: Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, Majlis-i-Ahrar, and Muslim-Indian Nationalism



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