The Zakat Foundation has found itself in a raging controversy recently after allegations have been made that Muslims receive undue advantages in their efforts to gain recruitment into the civil services. Since then, we have published multiple reports highlighting the links of the foundation with international Islamist organisations, including radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
The Zakat Foundation has opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act and opposes the Uniform Civil Code. Its president, Syed Zafar Mahmood, had made ridiculous demands in return for conceding the Ram Janmabhoomi to Hindus while negotiations were underway between the Hindu and Muslim side. However, there is another aspect to their ideology that has yet not been received the focus that it deserves; that is, it’s the romanticisation of Muhammad Iqbal.
The Zakat Foundation uses compositions by Muhammad Iqbal to inspire Muslims to join the Civil Services. It believes that the bureaucracy rules the country and by joining civil services, Muslims can capture the Prime Minister’s Office and other ministries for the next 35 years. They believe that Muslims should join the bureaucracy not for employment but to empower the Muslim community.
Muhammad Iqbal was one of the significant proponents of the two-nation theory and the creation of Pakistan in the first half of the 20th Century. In his renowned composition, Tarana-e-Milli, Iqbal wrote, “Cīn o-ʿArab hamārā, Hindūstāṉ hamārā, Muslim haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai sārā jahāṉ hamārā”. This is the pure vision of the Ummah in poetry. The Ummah which does not constrain itself with any national boundaries but believes that it has an Allah-given right to lord over the entire world.
Iqbal wrote further, “The treasure of tawhid is in our hearts, It is not easy to wipe out our name and mark. The first house we have liberated from idols is the Ka’abah; We are its custodians, and It is our protector.” Tawhid refers to the concept of Monotheism in Islam. The words seen in unison reflect quite clearly the deep hatred for idolatry and polytheism that Muhammad Iqbal carried in his heart.
Muhammad Iqbal was an Ahmadiyya, a widely persecuted sect of Islam currently in Pakistan. But Ahmadiyyas were at the forefront of creating a separate state for Muslims, that is, Pakistan, during the 1940s. It was only during his later years that he quit the sect. It is widely known that he remained in touch with the Ahmadiyya leadership till 1931, when he vouched for the Ahmadi Khalifa as the most able person to lead as the first president of the newly founded all-India Kashmir Committee.
The president of Zakat Foundation, Syed Zafar Mahmood, is also the founder chairman of the Iqbal Academy India. Thus, quite clearly, despite Iqbal’s advocacy for the creation of Pakistan, the foundation clearly has no issues with romanticising him. Combined with other aspects of its ideology, it does present a rather dangerous picture. It is also to be noted that the foundation helps in the settlement of Rohingyas in India, who have been deemed to be illegal immigrants and a security threat to the country.