Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, founder of the Pakistan National Movement, was born in 1895. From his early childhood, Rahmat Ali showed signs of great promise as a student. After completing his schooling, he joined the Islamia College of Lahore in order to get his Bachelor of Arts degree. Rahmat Ali finished education in England, obtaining MA and LLB with honors from the universities of Cambridge and Dublin.
Education and career
Rehmat Ali was born into a Gujjar family in the town of Balachaur in Hoshiarpur District of Punjab (now Nawanshahr District), India. After graduating from Islamia Madrassa Lahore in 1918, he taught at Aitchison College Lahore before continuing Law studies at Punjab University. In 1930 he moved to England to join Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1931. In 1933, he published a pamphlet, Now or Never, coining the word Pakistan for the first time. Subsequently, he obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from University of Cambridge. In 1943, he was called to the Bar, Middle Temple Inn, London. Until 1947, he continued publishing various booklets about his vision of the South Asia. The independence process disillusioned him due to the mass killings and mass migrations. He was also dissatisfied with the distribution of areas among the two countries and considered it a major reason for disturbances. He died on 3 February 1951 and was buried on 20 February at Newmarket Road Cemetery, Cambridge, UK.
Conception of ‘Pakistan’
He was the Secretary of Pakistan Movement in U.K with Muhammad Aslam Khan Khattak as President, and Dr. Abdur Rahim as Vice President. In this Organisation the name “PAKISTAN” was first suggested.
There are several accounts to the conceptualising of the name. According to a friend (Abdul Kareem Jabbar) the name came up when Rehmat Ali was walking along the banks of the Thames in 1932 with his friends Pir Ahsan-ud-Din and Khawja Abdul Rahim. According to Rehmat Ali’s secretary Miss Frost, he came up with the idea of the name ‘Pakistan’ while riding on the top of a London bus.
The front page of Now or Never pamphlet
In the early 1930s, Ali began writing about the formation of a Muslim nation in India. On January 28, 1933, he voiced his ideas in the pamphlet entitled “Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?”. The word ‘Pakstan’ referred to “the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, (Afghanistan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan “”. By the end of 1933, ‘Pakistan’ become common vocabulary where an i was added to ease pronunciation .
Like Allama Iqbal, Ali believed that the Muslims of India had to undergo a reformation politically in order to remain a viable, and independent community there. Ali noted that Hazrat Muhammad had succeeded in uniting fractured Arab tribes and that this example was to again be used by Muslims of India to pool together in order to survive in what he perceived to be an increasingly hostile India.
As such, Chaudhary Rahmat Ali’s writings, in addition to those of Iqbal and others were major catalysts for the formation of Pakistan. He offered “Bang-i-Islam” for a Muslim homeland in the Bengal, and “Usmanistan” for a Muslim homeland in the Deccan. He also suggested “Dinia” as a name for a South Asia for various religions.
Ali dedicated a lot of time and energy to the idea of Pakistan, and after its formation in 1947, he argued on its behalf at the United Nations over the issue of occupied-Kashmir.
While Chaudhary Rahmat Ali was a leading figure for the conception of Pakistan, he lived most of his adult life in England. The Cambridge-based pamphleteer had been voicing his dissatisfaction with the creation of Pakistan ever since his arrival in Lahore on April 6 1948. He was unhappy over a Smaller Pakistan than the one he had conceived in his 1933 pamphlet Now Or Never.
In a subsequent book Rehmat Ali discussed the etymology in further detail.
‘Pakistan’ is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our South Asia homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan. It means the land of the Pure.
In the history of Pakistan, Chaudhry Rehmat Ali holds immense respect because of his valuable contribution to his country by suggesting its ultimate name, which the world would later recognize the state as. He suggested this name based on the comprehension of its meaning which read as ‘Land of the Pure’.
Apart from that Chaudhry Rehmat Ali was the unofficial pioneer who presented the idea that the Muslims should have a separate state of their own. Nevertheless in the initial phases great Muslim leaders like Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal weren’t in agreement with the idea and instead believe in having a loose federation within united India with protected rights. In this way, Chaudhry Rehmat Ali was way ahead of the Muslim League as he had envisaged the repercussions the Muslims would face in a united subcontinent, way before the great Muslim leaders had realized it.
It is rather ironic that Rehmat Ali and Quaid-e-Azam never agreed in the political arena yet both of them had the same interest and goodwill at heart. However it doesn’t fade the vitality of the role that Chaudhry Rehmat Ali played in the creation of Pakistan.
It was during the years 1930 through 1933, that he seemed to have established the Pakistan National Movement, with its headquarter at Cambridge. On January 28, 1933, he issued his first memorable pamphlet “Now or Never; Are we to live or perish forever?” He continued to write pamphlets and urge the Muslim leaders to bring the very demand forward. He coined the word “Pakistan” for 30 million Muslims who live in the five northern units of India; Punjab, North West Frontier (Afghan) Province, Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan. The pamphlet also gave reasons for the establishment of Pakistan as a separate nation. He spoke of an independent homeland for Muslims, Pakistan, in the northern units of India, “Bang-i-Islam” for Muslims in Bengal, and “Usmanistan” for the Muslims in Hyderabad-Deccan.
Chaudhry Rahmat Ali propagated the Scheme of Pakistan with a missionary zeal since its inception in 1933. In August 1947, Pakistan came to be established and in 1948 Chaudhry Rahmat Ali visited Pakistan. Later he proceeded to England to champion the cause of Kashmir through the United Nations.
Chaudhry Rahmat Ali Pictures