The Promise of a Lay Jinnah


Whether Jinnah wants an Islamic state or a state for Muslims is as contested a subject as it gets. I will try to substantiate the latter by taking examples from his personal and political life, values, ideals, public statements and practices.

Jinnah went to London in 1892 to become a lawyer. He takes an active interest in the British political system and is influenced by English culture. A follower of Western liberalism, he was impressed by Prime Minister William Gladstone. In London, he supported Indian nationalist Parsi, Dadabhai Naoroji [SB1]who ran for the British parliament and became the first Indian in the House of Commons. Jinnah, upon his return to India in 1896, began his legal practice in Bombay. He took a liking to Rattenbai, the daughter of a millionaire Parsi, and married her in 1918, despite opposition. This shows that he was not a rigid religious fanatic or a fanatic.

A strong supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity, Jinnah first joined Congress to work towards this goal. He aspired to be the Muslim Gokhale, a prominent Indian liberal. When the Muslim League was formed in 1906, the Quaid rejected its program by comparing it to the British conspiracy to divide and rule. Later in 1913 he joined the Muslim League and got the Lucknow Pact under his belt in 1916. Jinnah was awarded the title “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity” for his selfless efforts to unite the Indian people on a single platform regardless of their religious identity.

Although it is ironic, it was actually Gandhi who first created the division on the basis of religion and later became a beacon of secularism. He first used the religious card to support the Khilafat movement and recruited Muslim fundamentalists and Hindu conservatives in Congress which Jinnah strongly opposed and claimed “this must lead to disaster”. He ultimately resigned from Congress in 1920 due to frustration over the conflicting religio-political policies of Gandhi and Congress. Jinnah then used the Muslim League platform to propagate this vision of Islamic-Hindu unity and Indian nationalism.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah supported the “Interfaith Marriage Bill” and banned child marriages. In addition, he was part of the Fabian Society (The Fabian Society is a British socialist organization whose aim is to advance the principles of democratic socialism through gradual and reformist efforts in democracies, rather than through revolutionary overthrow.) In England. Jinnah was impressed with Mustafa Kemal Attaturk who was a secular dictator, so much so that his daughter Dina nicknamed him “Gray Wolf” which was basically Attaturk’s title. He was an Anglo-Saxon man at heart and his way of life is a clear manifestation of that.

Jinnah found himself in a dilemma when on the one hand he wanted interfaith unity rooted in Indian nationalism and on the other hand he needed to defend the interests of the Muslim minority in India. Ultimately, he had to choose the latter after considering the power deficit that Muslims would have hypothetically faced in a united India under Hindu rule. The Quaid realized that the Indian Muslim riddle was not so much religious as it was political. As it had already seen the indifference of the Hindu-led Congress to the demands of the Muslims, the Muslim League adopted the Lahore resolution and laid the groundwork for the creation of Pakistan.

Ayesha Jalal, in her book “The Sole Spokesman,” argues that Jinnah wanted to use Pakistan only as a negotiating platform and that in later stages it was Congress that insisted on partition while Jinnah was against it. According to her, Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan did not involve partition and it was not a pan-Islamic call, but rather a “secular regime with political choices and guarantees”.

When a member of the Muslim League chanted the slogan “Pakistan ka matlab kya, La Ilaha Illallah” during the last session of the Muslim League of India, the Quaid-i-Azam refuted it and said: “Neither the working committee of the Muslim League nor I have ever succeeded in a resolution [called] “Pakistan ka matlab kya” – you may have used it to collect some votes. “

Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah expressed his desire to keep religion and state separate in his famous speech; “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You can belong to any religion, caste or creed. – it has nothing to do with state affairs. In his speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, calling religion a personal matter, Jinnah assigned each citizen a value, rights and equal responsibilities; “You will find that over time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because it is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state. “

There are many examples of Jinnah appointing non-Muslims to important positions after the birth of De Jure from Pakistan. One of them is Jogendranath Mandal, who was the country’s premier law and labor minister and also served as the second minister for Commonwealth and Kashmir affairs. Sir M Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmedi, was the Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan. Jinnah warned of the threat of bigotry. At a public meeting on March 21, 1948, he declared: “Provincialism has been one of the curses; and the same is true of sectionalism – Shiite, Sunni, etc. You should think, live and act in terms that your country is Pakistan and that you are a Pakistani. “

In contemporary Pakistan, religious bigotry, discrimination, extremism, bigotry and violence are not only normalized but institutionalized. The militarization of religion by the state has become a Frankenstein who will spare no one, if not neutralized. Today, religious minorities cannot occupy important official positions and they are rejected by the state. In our false and exaggerated sense of religious self-righteousness and pride, we have arrogantly denied great intellectuals like Abdus Salam, Atif Mian, Pervez Hoodbhoy and others on religious differences.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan which persecutes people on religious grounds is not what the Quaid envisioned and he would be very unhappy to see where we are now. Jinnah did not fight for a safe haven for Muslims only to see the Muslim majority become the oppressor instead. Religion is for individuals, not for states. A state cannot have a religion since it is itself a socially constructed entity. Any social contract that brings people together should be based on safeguarding equal rights and opportunities for all, regardless of minor racial, ethnic, linguistic or religious differences.

When states acquire a religion and legislate on such dividing lines, incidents like the lynching of Priyantha Kumara by Sialkot become inevitable. The only hope for a better, peaceful, inclusive and well-being-oriented future lies in the separation of religion and state. Blasphemy laws should be removed from the constitution as they aggravate the prevailing religious intolerance. Pakistanis must be educated in a secular and democratic tradition and learn the wisdom to accept and respect diversity and tolerate differences of opinion. In this regard, raising awareness of the right to freedom of thought, speech and expression is essential.

–Areej Fatima is a graduate student in international relations, a social activist and a freelance analyst. She can be contacted at: [email protected]


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