What is the two nations theory


The Two Nations Theory is the basis for the justification of Pakistan as a separate state on the Indian subcontinent. It says that Muslims and Hindus cannot live together in the same state because of their different religions.

The theory is based on the inaugural address of the newly elected chairman of the All-Indian Muslim League (AIML), Muhammad Iqbal, at the party conference in Allahabad on December 29, 1930:

I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.[1]

In this context, Iqbal propagates a state structure in which the culturally and religiously differentiated groups form separate units that form a "harmonious whole"[2] to mold within India. The recognition of the differences between the ethnic groups is central to Iqbal. "The Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India within India is therefore fully justified."[3]

For Iqbal, Islam represents the central element for the development of a Muslim state. In Islam, he sees an ethical ideal developed into a legal and form of government that had a cultural impact on society in India. Iqbal is thinking of an Islamic state in the sense of a social legal structure.[4] In this context, Iqbal criticizes European societies, in which he sees a problematic separation of church and state, which leads to the fact that neighboring European states "get along badly".[5] He discovers major problems caused by the European privatization of religion and therefore sees the ethical component he identified in Islam as constitutive for a legal system. In this way, Islam becomes a constructive factor supporting the state for Iqbal. “The truth is that Islam is not a church. It is a state, conceived as a contractual organism [...] and animated by an ethical ideal that does not regard human beings as an earth-rooted creature [...], but as a spiritual being that is to be understood within a social mechanism and that has rights and obligations as a living factor in this mechanism [...]. "[6] Overall, Iqbal's remarks emphasize communalism within India. However, Iqbal has both the external harmony, in the sense of a peaceful coexistence of cultures, and the internal harmony of a Muslim state, for which Islam is decisive in his view, in view.

The later founder and first head of state of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah took up the idea of ​​a separate state for the Indian Muslims in his speech at a conference of the Muslim League on March 22, 1940:

Hindus and Muslims have different religious backgrounds, have different everyday lives and different literature. They do not marry or eat with each other because they belong to two different cultures based on conflicting ideas and concepts. […] Forcing such peoples together in a single state - some as a numerical minority, others as a majority - must lead to growing dissatisfaction and the ultimate destruction of the government structures of such a state.[7][8][9]

The next day the Muslim League passed the Lahore resolution.

The two nation theory was not supported by the whole Indian independence movement. The majority Hindu Indian National Congress (INC) rejected it because he saw himself as a secular organization and did not want to include religious issues in the establishment of the state. The advocates of the two-nation theory prevailed, which, with the implementation of the Mountbatten Plan, led to the division of British India into the two states of India and Pakistan.


  • Muhammad Iqbal: Pakistan speech, in the S.: Message from the East. Selected Works (original title: Payāmi-i mašriq, translated and edited by Annemarie Schimmel), Edition Erdmann, Tübingen 1977, pp. 54–64, ISBN 3-7711-0268-5 (= ifa (Ed.):Literary-artistic series of the Institute for Foreign Relations Stuttgart, Volume 21).

Individual evidence

  1. Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s 1930 Presidential Address to the 25th Session of the All-India Muslim League Allahabad, 29 December 1930, Speech transcript, Columbia University, June 20, 2013.
  2. ↑ cf. Iqbal 1977, p. 62.
  3. ↑ cf. Iqbal 1977, p. 62.
  4. ↑ cf. Iqbal 1977, p. 55.
  5. ↑ cf. Iqbal 1977, p. 57.
  6. ↑ cf. Iqbal 1977, p. 63.
  7. The Statesman: Allama Iqbal’s Presidential Address at Allahabad 1930 - Government of Pakistan Official website (Memento from January 27, 2006 in Internet Archive), December 30, 2008.
  8. History in Chronological - Order Information of Pakistan Official website, December 30, 2008.
  9. ^ Presidential address by Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the Muslim League Lahore, 1940, Speech transcript, Columbia University, June 20, 2013.

Categories:Political ideology | Nationalism | Partition of India

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