The Hindus and the Muslims had peacefully coexisted in the country for centuries. They respected the culture and traditions of each other. The Hindus and the Muslims had fought together against the British during the revolt of 1857. The British thus followed the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ and tried to sow the seeds of discord between the two communities to put a check on the rising tide of nationalism in the country.
The British termed the Revolt as an effort by the Hindus to establish Hindu rule in India and instigated the Muslims to establish their own political organization. This was one of the reasons which led to the formation of the Muslim League in India. In this article, we have written about 6 major factors leading to the formation of the Muslim League.
Factors Leading to the Formation of the Muslim League
Factors Leading to the Formation of the Muslim League #1
Loss of Sovereignty by Muslim Rulers
- The British established their power and rule in India after dethroning the Mughal rulers. The Muslims thus became the bitter enemies of the British.
- The British discriminated against the Muslims against the Hindus as they held the Muslims responsible for the uprising of 1857.
- Later, after 1870, the British changed their attitude towards the Muslims to put a check on the rising tide of nationalism. They thus encouraged separatist and communal tendencies in the country.
Factors Leading to the Formation of the Muslim League #2
The policy of Divide and Rule
The British encouraged the separatist tendencies in India and followed a policy of divide and rule. This policy was carried out in the following manner:
- In 1871, Urdu was made the medium of instruction for Muslims in primary and secondary schools. Governmental aid was also provided to educational institutions which were run by the Muslims.
- They tried to create religious hatred among the Hindus by portraying Muslim rulers as plunderers and instigated the Muslims by outlining Hindu rulers as cruel to the Muslim subjects.
- They made efforts to justify the partition of Bengal by convincing the Muslims that Hindus would not be able to economically thwart them in the Muslim majority province of East Bengal.
- Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs were treated not as one nation but as separate communities.
- The British tried to spread communal hatred through press, posters and literature.
Factors Leading to the Formation of the Muslim League #3
Relative Educational and Economic Backwardness of Muslims
The Muslim society in India was economically and educationally backward because of the following reasons:
- The upper-class Muslims comprising the zamindars and aristocrats were anti-British and were hostile to western education.
- The British government in India discriminated against Muslims after the uprising of 1857 as they held Muslims responsible for the uprising. They were thus discriminated against in the recruitment to civil and military services.
- The Muslims were not involved in the growth of any organized industry.
- Most of the Muslims were conservatives, and they did not readily accept western education; the Hindus, on the other hand, received modern education gaining an upper hand in civil and other government services.
Factors Leading to the Formation of the Muslim League #4
Role of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan
- Sir Sayyid Ahmad khan was a great educationist and a social reformer. Earlier, he considered Hindus and Muslims to be one nation, but later, under the influence of British policies, he declared that the Hindus and the Muslims were vastly different from each other.
- He founded the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh in 1875 which later became the Aligarh Muslim University.
- He also founded the United Indian Patriotic Association in 1888 mainly with the motive of opposing Congress.
- He believed that since the Hindus constitute the majority in the country, they would dominate the Muslims after the British withdrawal from India. He was of the opinion that the continuation of British rule would bring education and prosperity to the Muslims.
Factors Leading to the Formation of the Muslim League #5
Erroneous Interpretation of History
The way in which history was interrelated during British rule also contributed to the growth of communalism.
- British historians like James Mill divided Indian history into Hindu, Muslim and British periods. The ancient period was depicted as the Hindu period, while mediaeval India was classified as the Muslim period. This created communalism among the masses.
- The idea of composite Indian history was ignored by British historians and there was a deliberate attempt to create a rift between the two communities.
- Communal historians stressed that Indian culture and society had reached a great height during the ancient period but began to decline during the mediaeval period. These historians ignored the scientific, technological and cultural advancements which were made during the mediaeval period.
Factors Leading to the Formation of the Muslim League #6
Economic Backwardness of India
- The economic backwardness of the country contributed to the rise of communalism in India. As jobs were few, people demanded reservations in services on the basis of caste, class and creed.
- This demand for reservations was used by the British to adopt the policy of divide and rule.
- The unemployed youth however failed to realize that the British policies were actually responsible for the economic backwardness of the country.
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