On The Paradox Of Urdu As A Symbol Of Muslim Nationalism | 2017-03-17 | daily-sun.com

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On The Paradox Of Urdu As A Symbol Of Muslim Nationalism

A.B.M. Razaul Karim Faquire

    17 March, 2017 12:00 AM printer

On The Paradox Of Urdu As A Symbol Of Muslim Nationalism

The Muslims in erstwhile Hindustan and British India are the creole population with the disproportionate admixture of the people of different ethnic origin, different casts and different regions of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. Though they bear creolized ethnic identity, their nationhood would have been characterized in terms of a common religion, i.e. Islam and a common language, i.e. Urdu. Islam as a common religion and Urdu as a Lingua Franca served as the basis for their Muslim nationalism during Indian Independence Movement which gave birth to two-nation theory leading to the partition of British India into two main countries: Bharat and Pakistan in 1947.


However, the Muslim league and Jamiat Ulema I Hind contrasted over the issue of partition of British India into Bharat and Pakistan. While the Muslim league was in favor of separate independent State of Pakistan, the Jamiat Ulema I Hind opposed the creation of separate State of Pakistan. Urdu has been developed as a Lingua Franca based on a vernacular of Northern India descended from Shourseni Prakrit (an Indo-Aryan creole) with the support of mediaeval Muslim rulers. For centuries, it served as a Lingua Franca in the erstwhile Turko-Mughol Hindustan and later erstwhile British India. Hindi is a cognate variety of Urdu transcribed in Devanagari alphabet, which has been recognized as a distinct language in 1881 in the province of Bihar.

 

 

‛‛In Pakistan, the people of different states except Punjab opposed the plan to implement Urdu as a national language. It is because though Urdu was a mother tongue for a considerable number of populations, it became a minority language in Pakistan at the independence from British Empire. As a result of which language movements occurred throughout the Pakistan. The consequences of these language right movements can be characterized as the regional autonomy, cessation and irredentism, one of the examples of which is the creation of Bangladesh.

 

 

After the partition of British India, an initiative of language policy have been undertaken to adopt Hindi and Urdu respectively as the national language of Bharat and Pakistan which led to the outburst of language right movements both in India and Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the people of different states except Punjab opposed the plan to implement Urdu as a national language. It is because though Urdu was a mother tongue for a considerable number of populations, it became a minority language in Pakistan at the independence from British Empire. As a result of which language movements occurred throughout the Pakistan in reaction to the policy of introducing Urdu as national language, soon after the Independence of Pakistan from British Imperial authority. The consequences of these language right movements can be characterized as the regional autonomy, cessation and irredentism, one of the examples of which is the creation of Bangladesh.


These language right movements can be seen as the deconstruction of Urdu as a symbol of Muslim nationalism. Though the language right movements in postcolonial South Asian countries led to the deconstruction of Muslim nationalism in South Asia, Urdu has been adopted as one of the national and official languages of Pakistan and Indian states, e.g. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. It still serves as the means of communication of Muslims both in India and Pakistan irrespective of their mother tongues. Now the Muslims use Urdu as a language of communication in their pan-South Asian Islamic get-togethers. Although the language right movements throughout India and Pakistan undermined the status of Urdu as national language, it is still of worth as one of the symbols of pan-South Asian Muslim nationalism given that nationalism is a desire by a large group of people who share same historical experiences, language and culture to form a separate nation of their own.  

 

(The writer is a Professor, Institute of Modern Languages, University of Dhaka.)


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