Ulema and Pakistan Movement
Muslim religious organisations of the sub-continent -- Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, Majlis-i- Ahrar- i-Islam and Jamat-i-Islami -- were politically very active during the struggle for Pakistan but all of them opposed tooth and nail the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims. The opposition of Jamiat and Ahrar was on the plea that Pakistan was essentially a territorial concept and thus alien to the philosophy of Islamic brotherhood, which was universal in character. Nationalism was an un-Islamic concept for them but at the same time they supported the CongressParty's idea of Indian nationalism which the Muslim political leadership considered as accepting perpetual domination of Hindu majority. Jamat-i-Islami reacted to the idea of Pakistan in a complex manner. It rejected both the nationalist Ulema's concept of nationalism as well as the Muslim League's demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims.
The most noteworthy feature of the struggle for Pakistan is that its leadership came almost entirely from the Western-educated Muslim professionals. The Ulema remained, by and large, hostile to the idea of a Muslim national state. But during the mass contact campaign, which began around 1943, the Muslim League abandoned its quaint constitutionalist and legalist image in favor of Muslim populism which drew heavily on Islamic values. Wild promises were made of restoring the glory of Islam in the future Muslim state. As a consequence, many religious divines and some respected Ulema were won over.
The Muslim political leadership believed that the Ulema were not capable of giving a correct lead in politics to the Muslims because of their exclusively traditional education and complete ignorance of the complexities of modern life. It, therefore, pleaded that the Ulema should confine their sphere of activity to religion since they did not understand the nature of politics of the twentieth century.
It was really unfortunate that the Ulema, in general and the Darul Ulum Deoband in particular, understood Islam primarily in a legal form. Their medieval conception of the Shariah remained unchanged, orthodox and traditional in toto and they accepted it as finished goods manufactured centuries ago by men like (Imam) Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf. Their scholasticism, couched in the old categories of thought, barred them from creative thinking and properly understanding the problems, social or philosophical, confronting the Muslim society in a post-feudal era. They were intellectually ill-equipped to comprehend the crisis Islam had to face in the twentieth century. 
The struggle for Pakistan -- to establish a distinct identity of Muslims -- was virtually a secular campaign led by men of politics rather than religion and Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his lieutenants such as Liaquat Ali Khan who won Pakistan despite opposition by most of the Ulema.
Jinnah was continuously harassed by the Ulema, particularly by those with Congress orientation. They stood for status quo as far as Islam and Muslims were concerned, and regarded new ideas such as the two nation theory, the concept of Muslim nationhood and the territorial specification of Islam through the establishment of Pakistan as innovations which they were not prepared to accept under any circumstance. It was in this background that Jinnah pointed out to the students of the Muslim University Union: "What the League has done is to set you free from the reactionary elements of Muslims and to create the opinion that those who play their selfish game are traitors. It has certainly freed you from that undesirable element of Molvis and Maulanas. I am not speaking of Molvis as a whole class. There are some of them who are as patriotic and sincere as any other, but there is a section of them which is undesirable. Having freed ourselves from the clutches of the British Government, the Congress, the reactionaries and so-called Molvis, may I appeal to the youth to emancipate our women. This is essential. I do not mean that we are to ape the evils of the West. What I mean is that they must share our life not only social but also political." 
The history of the Ulema in the sub-continent has been one of their perpetual conflict with intelligentsia. The Ulema opposed Sir Syed Ahmad Khan when he tried to rally the Muslims in 1857. Nearly a hundred of them, including Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, the leading light of Deoband, ruled that it was unlawful to join the Patriotic Association founded by him. However, the Muslim community proved wiser than the religious elite and decided to follow the political lead given by Sir Syed Ahmad.
The conflict between conservative Ulema and political Muslim leadership came to a head during the struggle for Pakistan when a number of Ulema openly opposed the Quaid-i-Azam and denounced the concept of Pakistan. It is an irony of history that Jinnah in his own days, like Sir Syed Ahmad before him, faced the opposition of the Ulema.
The Ahrar Ulema -- Ataullah Shah Bukhari, Habibur Rahman Ludhianawi and Mazhar Ali Azhar -- seldom mentioned the Quaid-i-Azam by his correct name which was always distorted. Mazhar Ali Azhar used the insulting sobriquet Kafir-i-Azam (the great unbeliever) for Quaid-i-Azam. One of the resolutions passed by the Working Committee of the Majlis-i-Ahrar which met in Delhi on 3rd March 1940, disapproved of Pakistan plan, and in some subsequent speeches of the Ahrar leaders Pakistan was dubbed as "palidistan". The authorship of the following couplet is attributed to Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar, a leading personality of the Ahrar:
Ik Kafira Ke Waste Islam ko Chhora
(He abandoned Islam for the sake of a non-believer woman , he is a great leader or a great non-believer)
During the struggle for Pakistan, the Ahrar were flinging foul abuse on all the leading personalities of the Muslim League and accusing them of leading un-Islamic lives. Islam was with them a weapon which they could drop and pick up at pleasure to discomfit a political adversary. Religion was a private affair in their dealings with the Congress and nationalism their ideology. But when they were pitted against the Muslim League, their sole consideration was Islam. They said that the Muslim League was not only indifferent to Islam but an enemy of it.
After independence, the Ahrar leaders came to Pakistan. But before coming, the All India Majlis-i-Ahrar passed a resolution dissolving their organization and advising the Muslims to accept Maulana Azad as their leader and join the Congress Party.
The Jamat-i-Islami was also opposed to the idea of Pakistan which it described as Na Pakistan (not pure). In none of the writings of the Jama'at is to be found the remotest reference in support of the demand for Pakistan. The pre-independence views of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of the Jamat-i-Islami were quite definite:
"Among Indian Muslims today we find two kinds of nationalists: the Nationalists Muslims, namely those who in spite of their being Muslims believe in Indian Nationalism and worship it; and the Muslims Nationalist: namely those who are little concerned with Islam and its principles and aims, but are concerned with the individuality and the political and economic interests of that nation which has come to exist by the name of Muslim, and they are so concerned only because of their accidence of birth in that nation. From the Islamic viewpoint both these types of nationalists were equally misled, for Islam enjoins faith in truth only; it does not permit any kind of nation-worshipping at all.
Maulana Maududi was of the view that the form of government in the new Muslim state, if it ever came into existence, could only be secular. In a speech shortly before partition he said: "Why should we foolishly waste our time in expediting the so-called Muslim-nation state and fritter away our energies in setting it up, when we know that it will not only be useless for our purposes, but will rather prove an obstacle in our path." 
Paradoxically, Maulana Maududi's writings played an important role in convincing the Muslim intelligentsia that the concept of united nationalism was suicidal for the Muslims but his reaction to the Pakistan movement was complex and contradictory. When asked to cooperate with the Muslim League he replied: "Please do not think that I do not want to participate in this work because of any differences, my difficulty is that I do not see how I can participate because partial remedies do not appeal to my mind and I have never been interested in patch work."
He had opposed the idea of united nationhood because he was convinced that the Muslims would be drawn away from Islam if they agreed to merge themselves in the Indian milieu. He was interested more in Islam than in Muslims: because Muslims were Muslims not because they belonged to a communal or a national entity but because they believed in Islam. The first priority, therefore, in his mind was that Muslim loyalty to Islam should be strengthened. This could be done only by a body of Muslims who did sincerely believe in Islam and did not pay only lip service to it. Hence he founded the Jamat-i-Islami (in August 1941). However, Maulana Maududi's stand failed to take cognizance of the circumstances in which the Muslims were placed  at that critical moment.
The Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind, the most prestigious organization of the Ulema, saw nothing Islamic in the idea of Pakistan. Its president, Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, who was also Mohtamim or principal of Darul Ulum Deoband opposed the idea of two-nation theory, pleading that all Indians, Muslims or Hindus were one nation. He argued that faith was universal and could not be contained within national boundaries but that nationality was a matter of geography, and Muslims were obliged to be loyal to the nation of their birth along with their non-Muslim fellow citizens. Maulana Madani said: "all should endeavor jointly for such a democratic government in which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis are included. Such a freedom is in accordance with Islam."  He was of the view that in the present times, nations are formed on the basis of homeland and not on ethnicity and religion. He issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims from joining the Muslim League.
Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani accepted the doctrine of Indian nationalism with all enthusiasm and started preaching it in mosques. This brought a sharp rebuke from Dr. Mohammad Iqbal. His poem on Hussain Ahmad  in 1938 started a heated controversy between the so-called nationalist Ulema and the adherents of pan-Islamism (Umma).
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a member of Indian National Congress regrets that he did not accept Congress president ship in 1946, which led Nehru to assume that office and give the statements that could be exploited by the Muslim League for creation of Pakistan and withdrawal of its acceptance of the Cabinet Plan that envisaged an Indian Union of all the provinces and states of the sub-continent with safeguards for minorities.  He had persuaded the pro-Congress Ulema that their interests would be better safeguarded under a united India, and that they should repose full confidence in Indian nationalism. However, they should make efforts to secure for themselves the control of Muslim personal law, by getting a guarantee from the Indian National Congress, that the Muslim personal law would be administered by qadis (judges) who were appointed from amongst the Ulema.
In a bid to weaken the Muslim League's claim to represent all Muslims of the subcontinent, the Congress strengthened its links with the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind, the Ahrars and such minor and insignificant non-League Muslim groups as the Momins and the Shia Conference.
Along with its refusal to share power with the Muslim League, the Congress pursued an anti-Muslim League policy in another direction with the help of Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind . It was not enough to keep the Muslim League out of power. Its power among the people should be weakened and finally broken. Therefore, it decided to bypass Muslim political leadership and launch a clever movement of contacting the Muslim masses directly to wean them away from the leadership that sought to protect them from the fate of becoming totally dependent on the sweet will of the Hindu majority for their rights, even for their continued existence. This strategy -- called Muslim Mass Contact Movement -- was organized in 1937 with great finesse by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. 
Congress leaders .... employed Molvis to convert the Muslim masses to the Congress creed. The Molvis, having no voice in the molding of the Congress policy and program, naturally could not promise to solve the real difficulties of the masses, a promise which would have drawn the masses towards the Congress. The Molvis and others employed for the work tried to create a division among the Muslim masses by carrying on a most unworthy propaganda against the leaders of the Muslim League.  However, this Muslim mass contact movement failed.
It is pertinent to note here that a small section of the Deoband School was against joining the Congress. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (1863-1943) was the chief spokesman of this group. Later Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Othmani (1887-1949), a well-known disciple of Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani and a scholar of good repute, who had been for years in the forefront of the Jamiat leadership quit it with a few other Deoband Ulema, and became the first president of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam established in 1946 to counteract the activities of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind. However, the bulk of the Deoband Ulema kept on following the lead of Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani and the Jamiat in opposing the demand for Pakistan.
Contrary to the plea of the nationalist Ulema, the Muslim intelligentsia was worried that the end of British domination should not become for the Muslims the beginning of Hindu domination. They perceived through the past experience that the Hindus could not be expected to live with them on equal terms within the same political framework. Therefore they did not seek to change masters. A homeland is an identity and surely the Muslims of the sub-continent could not have served the cause of universal brotherhood by losing their identity, which is what would have inevitably happened if they had been compelled to accept the political domination of the Hindus. The Ulema thought in terms of a glorious past and linked it unrealistically to a nebulous future of Muslim brotherhood. This more than anything else damaged the growth of Muslim nationalism and retarded the progress of Muslims in the sub-continent.
The nationalist Ulema failed to realize this simple truth and eventually found themselves completely isolated from the mainstream of the Muslim struggle for emancipation. Their opposition to Pakistan on grounds of territorial nationalism was the result of their failure to grasp contemporary realities.  They did not realize that majorities can be much more devastating, specifically when it is an ethnic, linguistic or religious majority which cannot be converted into a minority through any election.
The Ulema, as a class, concentrated on jurisprudence and traditional sciences. They developed a penchant for argument and hair splitting. This resulted in their progressive alienation from the people, who while paying them the respect due to religious scholars, rejected their lead in national affairs. While their influence on the religious minded masses remained considerable, their impact on public affairs shrank simply because the Ulema concentrated on the traditional studies and lost touch with the realities of contemporary life.