Sayyid’s was not a “territorial” nationalism in its original form, the concentration of leadership in Aligarh, and the association with Aligarh Muslim University effectively grounded Muslim nationalism there. This grounded community of Muslims later became the leaders of a territorial demand for statehood, one linked not just to shared experience, but to the specific geography of North India in which Muslims mobilized in pursuit of common interests. This Muslim identity developed in large part around the idea of Hindu oppression. According to these Pakistani narrators, in post-1857 India the British favored the Hindu majority and Muslims, the former owners of power, were sidelined in the official arena and in education. This impression is grounded less in evidence than in the perception that Muslim civilization was in decline, an idea that Sir Sayyid himself was instrumental in advancing as an argument for loyalty to the British. This idea was re-deployed by the Muslim League to prove collusion between the British government and the Hindu majority. Each of the narrators recounts Hindu abuse of Muslims, a central argument used to justify the inevitability of Pakistan. Aligarhians, in particular, describe the lack of opportunity for educated young Muslims. 3 General Wajahat remembers: My father was in the civil service but the first Congress government came in 1937 and they treated him badly. That was happening all over India. All higher appointments and things were denied to the Muslims. Although there was a quota [for the] Hindu to Muslim ratio, they very cleverly used to fill up the quota by giving very low, menial jobs to the Muslims and keeping all of the good higher jobs for Hindus. I thought this would continue and it did continue. (personal interview, July 21, 2006) Whereas non-Aligarhian narrators describe physical abuse, particularly at the hands of Hindu schoolteachers, Aligarhians are concerned with the lack of educational and career opportunities for Muslims and often use this as an explanation for their decision to migrate to Pakistan (personal interview, July 21, 2006). Because their families had served the government in India for generations, their particular concern was that they would be abused by a Hindu government, or “Hindu Rāj.” Therefore, when they remember India, they remember these abuses, these relationships. 3
Evidence to the contrary is presented in Anil Seal, The Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboration in the Later Nineteenth Century (London: Cambridge University Press, 1968) 298-306.