If you walk down Zaildar Road in Ichhra, you cannot miss a house with an old car framed behind windows. This is the house of a “genius of untold possibilities” as Albert Einstein described him, a man who almost won the Nobel Prize, and probably the greatest freedom fighter of the sub-continent.

This is my third column over the last 12 years on this great man, a man who remains completely, and deliberately, ignored by the establishments of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. The reason being that he thought that the very idea of Partition ignored the very concept of the teachings of Islam. “It is against the Message of Medina” he wrote. For that matter his Nobel Prize recommendation was for his book ‘Tazkara’, an amazing description of why Islam was the most scientific of religions, that the ‘mullah’ class earned money by ‘selling’ the message of Allah, which is prohibited.

Just as the Holy Prophet (PBUH) concentrated on ‘Amal’ (practice) he believed that all political leaders should live like the poor and work for them. All political leaders dislike such demands.

His Nobel Prize recommended book explained what Islam was all about. For these and other reasons Pakistan ignores him. The name of this gentleman was Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi, known better as Allama Mashriqi. His grave is nearby in the Khaksar Graveyard on Zaildar Road. A simple man beyond description. His movement was called the Khaksar Movement, the ‘Movement of the Humble’. His theory about the behaviour of the people, explained by historic examples, was that “people behave in exact proportion to the behaviour of their leaders”. His obituary in ‘The Times of London’ (August 29, 1963) stated that he proved that the people, the poor, very quickly learn every detail of the behaviour of their leaders. If leaders are corrupt so do their people become, he concluded.

What made me write this piece again about this great man was an article I just read, which said: “My analysis is that the Indian National Congress promotes ‘water in milk’ nationalism, which is a hidden nationalism that will promote religious hatred that is sinister and will harm Muslims immensely”. How prophetic can an analysis be? He saw Jinnah promoting an inverted concept of Muslims being a separate nation. These views shocked the British rulers, who immediately offered him a knighthood. They were shocked when Inayatullah Khan refused, with him claiming that they were trying to buy his soul.

In an earlier piece written in August 2014, we had dwelt on the man and his achievements. They deserve repeating. The sole reason for him not being given the Nobel Prize was that ‘Urdu was not a recognised language’. This genius has the rare distinguishing academic achievement of earning four tripos degrees in only five years from Cambridge University. The British academic world was shaken. Albert Einstein was to say: “This genius can solve a mathematical problem we struggle with on the back of a cigarette pack in an hour”. The archives at Cambridge University Library, which I consulted for this piece, describes him as “the greatest brain of British India”.

But the predictions of Allama Mashriqi make astounding reading. In 1953 he was to write: “By my calculation, given rising political corruption and extreme economic exploitation of East Pakistan, I see them declaring Independence by 1970”. But then his calculation on Kashmir has also proven to be correct. He was to write: “Do not take the Kashmir cause to the United Nations. Accept this fact and fight to regain the lost portion. This will be better for Pakistan. Or else we will one day accept its partition just as we have accepted that of the Punjab”.

All these views saw this great man being jailed a number of times. He was to write from jail: “The rise of the mullah, promoted by the feudal establishment, will harm Islam immensely. Pakistan will end up paying a very heavy price. Maybe the mullah might even manage to dismember the country”. As we see today his sayings and writings, as are his books, remain suppressed. He is never mentioned as the greatest freedom fighter of the sub-continent when August 14 comes every year.

But his lifetime achievements need to be resurrected and the poor, the people, informed of the immense harm we have brought upon the State of Pakistan. Our current leaders harp upon the ‘Message of Madina’, but have they ever read the interpreted book of that message by Allama Mashriqi. So let us now return to just who was the man, what is that framed motorcar on Zaildar Road, and why should we accept him as the greatest freedom fighter of the sub-continent.

Inayatullah Khan was born in Amritsar in August 1888. His forefathers had served the Mughal and Sikh courts, and the family knew the elite of those ages well. After schooling in Amritsar he joined Lahore’s FC College and was the very first person to earn a First Class in mathematics in the Punjab University’s history. He joined Christ’s College Cambridge in 1907 and studied for a tripos in mathematics. He went on to study oriental languages and natural sciences.

Inayatullah Khan then also went on to study mechanical science and became the very first man in history to achieve four tripos. On his graduation he was conferred a DPhil in mathematics. He was offered the ambassadorship of Afghanistan by the British, as well as a knighthood. He refused both and settled down in his old family house in Ichhra.

In his book his theory was that broadly, with a few exceptions, what Darwin discovered was correct, only that all religions are the science of collective evolution of the human race. “All prophets came to unite mankind, not to divide them. That is the central message of Islam”. His views were, for obvious reasons, criticised by all clerics, who saw him as an anarchist. But then Einstein was to say that “Inayatullah is a religious activist born much ahead of his time”.

About the two-nation theory he was of the view that it was a British invention so that both countries remain pitted against one another, and the colonialists of every age will exploit both. Nothing could today be analysed as closer to the truth than the analysis of Mashriqi.

Just before the Ayub Khan coup of 1958, Allama Mashriqi led 300,000 of his spade-bearing followers to the borders of Kashmir so that it could be united as the fifth province of Pakistan. The establishment managed to convince him to give up his scheme as there would be a lot of bloodshed.

Just a word about that old decaying car in a window case. It is a Mercedes Renault especially prepared by the Mercedes company in France’s Renault factory by Adolph Hitler, who presented it to him for being one of the greatest brains of the world. There the car lies decaying. His message and his amazing books have been deliberately ignored, or let’s say suppressed. He died on the 27th of August 1963 and was buried nearby. Just how would you the reader describe the thoughts and work of this great man?

We know Pakistan has an array of very corrupt politicians and parties, all undemocratic one-man shows. We have a judiciary that, given immensely long time periods in the decision-making process, what to speak of laws full of loopholes, has made itself ineffective. We have an elite class whose values are all opposed to what they profess. Lastly, we have a rich and influential preacher class, devoid of simplicity, with a grip on the power brokers, for they promote superstition. Is this not the time for Pakistanis to study what Allama Mashriqi wrote? It is time to ponder.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2022

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