Chaudhary Rahmat Ali (Urdu/Punjabi: چودھری رحمت علی) (or Rehmat Ali Khan; Urdu/Punjabi: رحمت علی خان) (November 16, 1897 – February 3, 1951) was an Indian Muslim nationalist who was one of the earliest proponents of the creation of the state of Pakistan. He is credited with creating the name “Pakistan” for a separate Muslim homeland on the Indian subcontinent.
Education and career
Rehmat Ali was born in the town of Balachaur in Hoshiarpur District of Punjab (now Nawanshahr District). 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 subcontinent. The partition 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’ 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. 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 (as in Afghan-i-stan). 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 Indian Sub-continent homelands; that is, Panjab, Afghanistan (Pashtunistan), Kashmir, Sindh (including Kach and Kathiawar), Tukharistan, Afghanistan, and Balochistan. It means the land of the Paks- the spiritually pure and clean. It symbolizes the religious beliefs and ethnical stocks of our people; and it stands for all the territorial constituents of our original Fatherland. It has no other origin and no other meaning; and it does not admit of any other interpretation. Those writers who have tried to interpret it in more than way have done so either through the love of casuistry, or through ignorance of its inspiration, origin and composition.
Philosophy 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 subcontinent 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 Kashmir.
Post-independence 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.Consequently, Rahmat Ali died in 1951, buried in Cambridge City graveyard.