The Impact of Debate on ‘Islam and Socialism’ in Colonial India: The Understanding of Chaudhry Afzal Haq

Samina Awan & Kausar Parveen


Socialism is a theoretical and practical response in modern times to combat the problems of inequalities between the rich and the poor due to the capitalist policies of colonial powers. For the last two centuries, western capitalistic institutions brought about economic disparity and social disparity in the arenas under their colonized influence. In colonial India, modern Muslim reformers sought to prove that the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah contain all elements needed to deal with modern economic problems. The problem stimulated many Muslim scholars to ponder over themes in vogue in the last century including current debate of socialism. Generally, the ‘ulemā find the capitalist system excluding interest more compatible to Islam. A few Muslim individuals and groups were inspired by the Russian socialist revolution led by socialist ideological thought. They considered the economic part of that socialism better matched to the code of Musawat (equality) in Islam. During the struggle for freedom, Indian Muslims were enthusiastic about the socialist movement against colonialism and its economic exploitation of India. The Majlis-i-Ahrar and its leaders were influenced by these socialist ideas of Musawat and parity in wealth. The Majlis’s two stalwarts Maulana Habib ur Rehman Ludhanivi and Chaudhry Afzal Haq penned extensively on the similarities between the idea of economic parity in socialism and the principle of musawat and Akhuwat in Islam. In this paper we aim to examine the understanding of Chaudhy Afzal Haq on the compatibility of both ideologies based on his articles published in the newspaper Zamzam in 1941.


Keywords: Islam, socialism, capitalism, Islamic socialism, Chaudhry Afzal Haq, Ahrar, Habib ur Rehman Ludhianvi, Russian Revolution, Ubaidullah Sindhi, Rešmī Rūmāl Movement, jagīrdārī system

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