Azhar Aslam & Shaista Kazmi
In the part I of this series we have argued that while the identity of Pakistan is inextricably linked to renaissance and revival of Islam (A beginning from the Original). We also believe and in the course of these articles we intend to demonstrate that Jinnah’s Pakistan was neither Secular nor theocratic, but simply Islamic.
Jinnah talked of Islam along with the modern notion of the state, constitutionalism, civil and political rights and equal citizenship irrespective of religion or any other consideration. He truly believed these ideals to represent Islam. Jinnah viewed Pakistan as a modern, democratic state underpinned by universal ethical principles of Islam.
Of course Jinnah is the lynch pin here. Secularists quote him and so do the Islamists. The secularists always claim, supported by many biographies written by western writers especially Bolitho’s and Wolport’s, that Jinnah’s life style was western (which means so many different things to different people). Even a more fundamental charge is that he was even unaware of even the most basic Muslim rituals and was a ‘non~practicing’Muslim.
By calling someone a non~practicing Muslim one falls into classic trap of narrowly defining what a Muslim is in terms of ritual performance. And the debate suddenly lands itself on Mullah’s turf. There are two points of critical importance to be noted and understood clearly. First such a narrow ritual based definition of a ‘Muslim’has no basis, what so ever, in Quran, Sunnah or even history of Muslims and Islam. Second by accepting this (narrow and wrong in every sense of the word) definition is akin to giving oxygen to the moribund theology of Mullahs and provides them a powerful stick to beat every one with. Last but not the least some secularists who insist on appropriating this as the sole definition are themselves guilty of playing into the hands of extremist Mullahs and their motives for doing so remain highly contentious if not suspect.
Then there is also an all important question. And that is following. If we are to accept that Jinnah wanted a ‘Secular Pakistan’(in the sense claimed by the secularists) then why did he made so many statements and speeches about Islam and its role in the making and definition of Islam. An explanation
that he used this for political expediency is not only against the very character of the man, it is not borne out by any serious study of the history.
Alternatively we have the case made mostly by Indian authors, of Jinnah who for his narcissistic ego split asunder a country and was responsible for the death of millions.
Ajeet Jawed concludes ‘He was sad and sick, He cried in agony, ‘I have committed biggest blunder in creating Pakistan and would like to go to Delhi and tell Nehru to forget the follies of the past and become friends again’….trap he could not escape and had to meet his tragic end.’ (Secular and nationalist Jinnah 244). Or shall we concur with M. V. Kamath that this after Pakistan he changed again (third phase) inexplicable…basing that assessment of Jinnah’s mountainous ego, inevitable. (Chavan iii). Mr. Chavan’s own conclusion is ‘The million dollar question… why did he convert from and Ambassador to Creator of Pakistan? The reply according to me is it was only for the psychological satisfaction to show that, he was more than a match to Ghandi, Nehru, Patel, and Azad put together. Because they had hurt his ego in one way or the other and did not give him the recognition as he expected.
The world Jinnah lived in 1876 to 1906
Clearly this enigma has to be solved. We either accept that Jinnah was a Mullah in disguise, which clearly he was not by no stretch of imagination. Or he was an egoistic narcissistic man, who cared about nothing and was responsible for the death, destruction and miseryof scores of millions. Fortunately we have a way out of this dilemma. Jinnah was neither. He was an ordinaryMuslim, who over the course of his life has struggled to upliftand relieve the miseryof scores of his countrymen. He was also an anti colonialist and anti imperialist, whose whole public life was devoted to struggle for the freedom against the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
Jinnah’s methodology was his own, which he had learned, developed and worked out as a self made man. He was a staunch believer and follower of the principles he espoused. Nevertheless he was also a man of his times. To expect a hard working, self made, proud man to have a static mind is an insult. To expect someone like Jinnah not to learn, imbibe and change and transform his views that best serve his people is a particular affront to one of the greatest figures of the history, whose singular achievement is unmatched in the annals of mankind.
One of the arguments that is preponderantly used by western writers and secularists is Jinnah’s life style. That he drank. His culinary habits. That he wore western clothes. If we use pork eating as a standard, then using Mirza Ghalib’s famous reply we may have few, but not many half Muslims. Lowering ourselves to the next standard to drinking of alcohol, Mullah will force us to exclude many Muslims, including some very famous figures, and controversially according to some historical reports, seven certain Sahaba, from ‘Daera~e~Islam’. But if were to go down to the lowest denominator of western clothing then I am afraid everyMuslim living in the western countries and a significant number of Muslims living in the Muslim lands will be out of it.
Is this what we recognize as Islam? We find it hard to believe that even the most ardent secularists would use these silly arguments to judge a man’s Islam. But they do. As does the Mullah. This is due to their warped sense of religion, religiosity and a convenient way out of a difficult argument. We will endeavor to tackle these arguments as we build a picture of a man who was Muslim first, Muslim in between and Muslim last, but not in any orthodox or Mullah sense and thank Allah for that.
We begin by exploring the world Jinnah lived in late 19th and early 20th century. This was the world in transformation. The industrial revolution based on the science and technology which in turn had developed out of the enlightenment, had by now transformed into a true scientific revolution where everything in the world of nature and humans was being explored, explained, laid bare and open to challenge and question. This was the age where Christian theology was being systematically deconstructed by likes of Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.
Politically the colonialism with its imperialistic majesty was at its height and White man ruled the world, with a sense of cultural and intellectual superiority immersed in arrogance and approbation. The electromagnetic phase of the scientific revolution had ushered in a spate of technological inventions and discoveries such as the light bulb, photography, phonogram, telegram, telephone, Xray and such like. The old Newtonian world was about to be demolished. A new Einsteinian / Quantum era with is far
reaching and fundamental altering, consequences for philosophy, sciences, sociology, economics, and politics was about to usher in. The world was young, hopeful and bright.
It was also the period when Afghani and Syed Ahmed were awakening a new sense of Muslim renaissance. The Indian National Congress had just been formed and a nascent sense of Indian nationalism was developing. Indian National Congress founded by A OHume, is considered a direct political consequence of the great famine of 1876. Hume was an administrator who was perturbed by the British reaction to this famine and this would in turn later influence a generation of nationalists such as Naoraji and Romseh Dutt ,for whom the ‘Great Famine would become a cornerstone of the economic critique of the British Raj.( Hall~Matthews, David (2008), Modern Asian Studies 42 (1): 1–24)
To quote Jaswant Singh (Jinnah P 60) ‘Great Britain was at the height of its imperial glory, Queen Victoria reined majestically supreme, the lords, the ladies, and the sahibs who ruled on her behalf of the Queen in India saw not a very small dot of cloud obstructing their imperial vision; not one troublesome dot existed then on the horizon of their future. How, in such a scenario, a rather poor Khoja5 socially very far from the ashraf of India, not the inheritor family wealth, standing or name, did this young entrant to the cosmopolitan world of Bombay, etch his name so boldly and so indelibly on the social and political firmament of India? That was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, from Kathiwar. Kathiwar, a fertile part of Saurashtra (literally meaning – a land of hundred kingdoms); inhabited by fine Kathiwari horses; beautiful women; sharp traders and rich business families, both Hindu and Muslim.
It was in this world that Jinnah was born and grew up. This is where the storyof Jinnah began.
Born 25 December 1876, as Mahomedali Jennabhai, he was the first born child to to Mithibai and Jennabhai Poonja. His father (1857–1901) was just nineteen then. Nineteen mind you. He had moved to Karachi from Kathiawar Gujrat before Jinnah’s birth in 1875. Migrating at such a young tender age with (or without) his wife, he must have been a veryconfident and sure footed young man. A trait he passed onto his eldest born.
The first~born Jinnah was soon joined by six siblings, brothers; Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, and Rahmat Ali, and sisters; Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. Their mother language was Gujrati. Later on they learnt sindi, kutchi and English. The proper Muslim names of Mr. Jinnah and his siblings, unlike those of his father and grandfather, are the consequence of the family’s immigration to the predominantly Muslim state of Sindh. Old Karachi was the town of mellow houses that Jinnah knew as a boy. Some of the streets are so narrow, and the houses so low, that the camels ambling past can look in the first~floor windows. In one of these narrow streets, Newnham Road, is the house where he was born. (Bolitho)
Now let us picture a nineteen year old second or third generation Muslim, whose wife has given birth to a young boy. They were keen to confirm their credentials as Muslims. Reportedly Jinnah was taken to a saint’s tomb (Hassan Pir Dargh). According to Jaswant Singh the newly converts stayed a step lower for a generation or two and Muslim orthodoxy did not demand or accept the same standards of ritual performance and social harmony form them. But it would also be natural and logical to assume that the newly converts would be more zealous in an effort to integrate and ‘prove their credentials’. If the ritual circumcision had taken place as had Aqiqah, it is logical to assume that some sortof education of Quran must have been imparted in those early years before his admission to a school.
Later on he attended Sindh Madressah. The official record reads as follows:
“Muhammadali Jinnahbhaoy”was first admitted to standard I on 14 July 1887. “Khoja”was mentioned as his sect. In the column under ‘previous instructions’, he had been shown to have passed Standard IV Gujrati After few months, on 23rd December 1887, he came back to seek admission again. This
time he brought with him a certificate from Anjuman~e~Islam School Bombay, stating that he had passed
Standard I from there…… Afterwards, he studied continuously at Sindh Madressah for more than three
years. But again on 5th January 1891, while studying in Standard IV, “Muhammadali Jinnahbhaoy”left
the school…………… Finally, after about four and a half year of his association with the institution, while
studying in Standard V, he left Sindh Madressah on 30th January 1892, with these remarks in the General Register: “Leftfor Cutch on marriage.”
Sindh Madressatul Islam was established by Hassanally Effendi, after a lot of hard work and against opposition from traditional Mullah class. The history of this can be read on the schools’web site. For us
it is important to note that the institution imparted education in English, Sindhi, Urdu and Gujrati. The Quran classes were regularly conducted in the prayer halls. The first prize distribution ceremony for the students was held in 1887, where the proceedings began with the recitation of Sura Al~Rehman from Holy Quran.
After having read the above about first years’ of Jinnah’s life and his schooling, any one insists that Jinnah only came to know of Islam and Quran at the end of his life, then they are either fooling themselves against the evidence or being deliberately malicious. We are not claiming, nor do we want to, that he was well versed and thoroughly bred in ‘Islamic Knowledge’(in Mullah sense), but it is also a blatant lie to say that he knew nothing of his own religion. This lie has been perpetuated ad infinitum with proof to the contrary. He lived in a Muslim house hold and studied in Muslim schools. How could he not know his origins?
The way he changed his name between 1893 to 1896 is also instructive. Mohomedalli Jinnahbhai became Mohamed Alli Jinnah by dropping ‘bhai’first. Later on ‘l’from Alli was dropped to become Ali. Finally an additional ‘m’was added to become Mohammed. The final version appeared as Mohammed Ali Jinnah. To say or even think that the young barrister Mr. Jinnah, brought up in Shia tradition would not have known the significance of these changes, would be akin to slapping the history in the face. Even more crucially these changes happened, while he was in England. Anglicizing the Indian and Muslim names is a well known trick used, and considered by many to succeed, in Britain. But here was a young barrister, a native of India, announcing his identity by making his Muslim origin more prominent in his name. I am sure 120 years on another simpler explanation can be offered as an alternative, such as convenience of convention and spelling. But who can look into the mind of young barrister Jinnah to say they are right and we are wrong. Considering his pride and youthful exuberance we are confident that he was simply being proud of who he was, a Muslim native of India. It is an affront to historythat this man knew nothing of his Muslim heritage or was not influenced by it.