On December 30 1906, the annual meeting of Muhammadan Educational Conference was held at Dhaka under the chairmanship of Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk. Almost 3,000 delegates attended the session making it the largest-ever representative gathering of Muslim India. For the first time the conference lifted its ban on political discussion, when Nawab Salim Ullah Khan presented a proposal for establish a political party to safeguard the interests of the Muslims; the All India Muslim League.
Three factors had kept Muslims away from the Congress, Sir Syed’s advice to the Muslims to give it a wide berth, Hindu agitation against the partition of Bengal and the Hindu religious revivalism’s hostility towards the Muslims. The Muslims remained loyal to Sir Syed’s advice but events were quickly changing the Indian scene and politics were being thrust on all sections of the population.
But the main motivating factor was that the Muslims’ intellectual class wanted representation; the masses needed a platform on which to unite. It was the dissemination of western thought by John Locke, Milton and Thomas Paine, etc. at the M. A. O. College that initiated the emergence of Muslim nationalism.
The headquarters of the All India Muslim League was established in Lucknow, and Sir Aga Khan was elected as its first president. Also elected were six vice-presidents, a secretary and two joint secretaries for a term of three years. The initial membership was 400, with members hailing proportionately from all provinces. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar wrote the constitution of the League, known as the “Green Book”. Branches were also setup in other provinces. Syed Ameer Ali established a branch of the League in London in 1908, supporting the same objectives.
Following were the objectives of the Muslim League:
- To inculcate among Muslims a feeling of loyalty to the government and to disabuse their minds of misunderstandings and misconceptions of its actions and intentions.
- To protect and advance the political rights and interests of the Muslims of India and to represent their needs and aspirations to the government from time to time.
- To prevent the growth of ill will between Muslims and other nationalities without compromising to it’s own purposes.
Many Hindu historians and several British writers have alleged that the Muslim League was founded at official instigation. They argue that it was Lord Minto who inspired the establishment of a Muslim organization so as to divide the Congress and to minimize the strength of the Indian Freedom Movement. But these statements are not supported by evidence. Contrary to this, the widely accepted view is that the Muslim League was basically established to protect and advance the Muslim interests and to combat the growing influence of the Indian National Congress.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003