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Title: A third way : Muslim arguments for secular nationalism in mid-twentieth century North India
Author: Sohal, Amar
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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From the late colonial period, three eminent Indian Muslim nationalists—Abul Kalam Azad, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, and Abdul Ghaffar Khan—conceived of a third way to nationalism which had till now been ignored by historians. Drawing confidence from the nationwide strength of the Muslim community and/or presence of their overwhelmingly Muslim regional homelands, these thinker-politicians abjured the separatism of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League and embraced an Indian national movement for the establishment of a secular republic. However, since they wished to avoid being reduced to a subordinate role within the Indian nation from the subject position of minority, they insisted on imagining it in terms of socio-cultural parity between Hindu and Muslim. This separated them from their colleagues Jawaharlal Nehru and M.K. Gandhi who had little need to concern themselves with this question. Nevertheless, by refusing to make religion a determinant of nationality while still retaining it within the public space, this thought must be understood as part of India’s broader secular nationalist tradition. This endeavour—to establish an unequivocally Indian nationalism marked by Hindu-Muslim equality—did not preclude substantial differences between Azad, Abdullah, and Ghaffar Khan. How they imagined the Indian nation was informed by their contrasting ethnolinguistic inheritances and whether their respective Muslim constituencies—Hindustani, Kashmiri, and Pashtun—occupied the position of a regional majority or minority. But these figures understood that their principle of Indian equality had meaning for other groups, too; they were not parochial thinkers. Therefore, what this thesis uncovers is a new set of perspectives on major South Asian debates about: majority and minority; national history and culture; secularism; and subidentities and their political representation. And by placing these in dialogue with alternative secular and communal nationalisms, it contributes to a wider discussion about the meaning of political concepts in India and Pakistan.
Supervisor: Devji, Faisal Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Global History ; South Asian History ; Intellectual History ; Global Intellectual History ; South Asian Political Thought ; Indian Political Thought ; Indian History