Introduction

Choudhry Rehmat Ali was born into a Muslim Gujjar family in the town of Balachaur in Hoshiarpur District of Punjab (now Nawanshahr District), India. After graduating from Islamia Madrassa Lahore in 1918, he taught at

Choudhry Rehmat Ali


Professional Achievements


Choudhry Rehmat Ali was born into a Muslim Gujjar family in the town of Balachaur in Hoshiarpur District of Punjab (now Nawanshahr District), India. 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. In 1933, he founded Pakistan National Movement in England. Subsequently, he obtained a BA degree in 1933 and MA in 1940 from the 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 South Asia. The independence 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.

Choudhry Rahmat 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 (pbuh) 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, Choudhry 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 South Asia 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, and the rights of Muslim minority of India.

In 1932 he moved to House no 3 on Humberstone Road, Cambridge. It was one of the rooms of this house that he wrote the word PAKSTAN for the first time. There are several accounts to the conceptualization 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 'Pakistan' referred to the five Northern units of India, Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan’. By the end of 1933, 'Pakistan' became 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 South Asia homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan. It means the land of the Pure. While Choudhry Rahmat Ali was a leading figure for the conception of Pakistan, he lived most of his adult life in England. After the creation of Pakistan he returned to Pakistan in April 1948, planning to stay, but he was ordered by the then Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan to leave the country. His belongings were confiscated, and he left empty-handed for England in October 1948.

He died in February 1951 and was buried on 20 February at Newmarket Road Cemetery, Cambridge, UK. Emmanuel College's Master, who had been Rahmat Ali's Tutor, himself arranged the burial in Cambridge on 20 February 1951.