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The plain Mr Jinnah

By Saad Hafiz:

Muhammed Ali Jinnah who founded Pakistan in 1947 was a refined, anglicised and secular Indian Muslim and lawyer. To Indian Muslims he was a man of sterling personal qualities, the Quaid-e-Azam, ‘Great Leader’. To many Indians, Jinnah was an anti-Hindu demagogue and a political shyster, an unyielding humour-less man with a vainglorious nature. To the colonial masters,
Jinnah was a worthy adversary who respected British constitutional and liberal political traditions.

Jinnah has been described as a highly conventional politician, who can take no credit for original political thinking at any point. His ‘-isms’ were nationalism and liberalism. He began his career thinking within an ‘Indian’ framework, in the sense of nationalist opposition to British rule. Later, he renamed India’s Muslim community a ‘nation’ and continued his opposition from a narrower base. His resistance to colonialism, then Hindu majority rule, were both for the sake of liberal values: self-determination and political rights. It is thus entirely possible to read Jinnah in western terms, despite the Muslim label.

Jinnah was not averse to turning to religious elements when he desperately needed anything that would bolster support. His critics have tended to focus on this, ignoring the fact that he was only using religion for political purposes — something we have seen elsewhere as well. Jinnah himself was a frequent target of Islamist criticism for being too secular and not being a strong proponent of Islamic religious laws. Jinnah also wanted a secular state and yet Pakistan became an Islamic state.

Jinnah was also the only Muslim leader to have been able to stand up to the Congress party and the British on a regular basis, asserting Muslim independence from Hindu and British interests and power. This, rather than his western lifestyle, was the point upon which many Muslims focused the most. In a community that had had few powerful and charismatic leaders to whom people could point with pride, Jinnah became a hero.

Jinnah had made himself the foremost representative of the Muslims by a devotion to what he thought was in the best interest of the Muslims. He had secularist leanings. Jinnah was a sophisticated man who disliked the Hindu and Muslim small-mindedness that produced what some call fanaticism. He did not like holy men or mullahs.

Nationalist and secular in nature, the Jinnah-led All-India Muslim League relied on developing Muslim national consciousness as a means of uniting them against perceived adversaries, the Hindus and the British. The ‘renaissance’ of Indian Muslims was striven for through secular means while the historical basis was constituted at least largely on the basis of religion. This secular/religious ideological contradiction continues to plague Pakistan today.

Jinnah had been asking for Partition ever since 1940 but the Congress had resisted. Then with the country becoming ungovernable, their idea was to get the best India and create the worst possible Pakistan. Jinnah had no choice but to accept the Partition as he had asked for it so often. He wanted a bigger Pakistan but he got a smaller Pakistan and the provinces he got were poor. Therefore, Pakistan was a poor country from the start.

Jinnah had big ideas but he never had the time to resolve them at a local level or in any detail. His vision of Pakistan was that it should not be Hindu-dominated or British-dominated and filled with Muslims. But he made few attempts to define what a Muslim nation was.

The communal approach of the Muslim League under the leadership of Jinnah stoked and contributed to the stark horrors, contention and strife of the Partition.

Once Pakistan got its independence, Jinnah famously stood up and said that it was to be a liberal democracy that would respect the rights of minorities, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs. Jinnah would not like the Pakistan of today because of the poverty and intolerance.

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124 Responses to "The plain Mr Jinnah"

  1. Maggu India Google Chrome  GT-N7100 Build/JRO03C) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19 says:

    Nobody denies the glory and contributions of islam till the 17th century. The steady degeneration of its followers and their faith since then is what people are repelled by.

  2. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:


    Prince Charles yesterday urged the world to follow Islamic ‘spiritual principles’ in order to protect the environment.
    In an hour-long speech, the heir to the throne argued that man’s destruction of the world was contrary to the scriptures of all religions – but particularly those of Islam.
    He said the current ‘division’ between man and nature had been caused not just by industrialisation, but also by our attitude to the environment – which goes against the grain of ‘sacred traditions’.

    Outspoken: Prince Charles speaks to Islamic studies scholars at Oxford. He argued that man’s destruction of the world was particularly contrary to Islam
    Charles, who is a practising Christian and will become the head of the Church of England when he succeeds to the throne, spoke in depth about his own study of the Koran which, he said, tells its followers that there is ‘no separation between man and nature’ and says we must always live within our environment’s limits.
    The prince was speaking to an audience of scholars at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies – which attempts to encourage a better understanding of the culture and civilisation of the religion.
    His speech, merging religion with his other favourite subject, the environment, marked the 25th anniversary of the organisation, of which he is patron.
    He added: ‘The inconvenient truth is that we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason – and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us.
    ‘Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with creation

  3. Maggu India Google Chrome  GT-N7100 Build/JRO03C) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19 says:

    Given the techniques of the ghazis even his corpse will accept sunni islam

  4. Milestogo United States Safari iPhone says:

    Islam is not limited by death. Conversions can happen after death – although somewhat slower.

    Jinnah has been fully converted.

  5. Maggu India Google Chrome  GT-N7100 Build/JRO03C) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19 says:

    I just saw the fastest conversion after death, Steve Jobs.

  6. saadh Cayman Islands Google Chrome Windows says:

    Jinnah was just another lawyer like Bapu and Pandiji!

  7. Maggu India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    “A Muslim man was jailed for life today for stabbing his devout Christian ex-girlfriend 13 times after they split following bitter rows about him wanting their young daughter to convert to Islam.”
    Stupid woman, she didn’t know her daughter was getting the final word of God.

  8. MilesToGo United States Safari Mac OS says:

    Steve Jobs conversion was really fast may be because Allah really liked him.

  9. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    These nations have progressed through this sequence:
    From bondage to spiritual faith;
    from spiritual faith to great courage;
    from courage to liberty;
    from liberty to abundance;
    from abundance to selfishness;
    from selfishness to complacency;
    from complacency to apathy;
    from apathy to dependence;
    from dependency back again into bondage.”

  10. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Pope Benedict XVI has claimed the entire Christian calendar is based on a miscalculation and that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly believed.

    In the book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives published on Wednesday, the octogenarian pontiff claims the ‘mistake’ was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus.

    “The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years,” the book reads.

    “The actual date of Jesus birth was several years before,” it asserts.

    Many had challenged the authenticity of the Christian calendar with many historians putting Christ’s date of birth sometime between 7 BC and 2 BC.

    The point about Christ’s date of birth is not the only controversy raised in the Pope’s new book.

    He also said that contrary to the traditional nativity scene, there were no oxen, donkeys or other animals at Jesus’ birth.

    He also rejects arguments offered by some scholars that the prophet was born in Nazareth, but rather insists he was born in Bethlehem.

    Christian academics agree with the Pope that the Christian calendar was wrong, that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly thought, and that the idea that Christ was born on Dec. 25 also has no basis in historical fact.

    But striking is the highly sensitive issues, which cast doubt over the keystones of Christian tradition are now raised by the leader of the world’s nearly one billion Catholics.

  11. Dronacharya Saudi Arabia Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Bengaluru. 12 Dec 2012.

    Mohammed Fayaz of Shivajinagar Bangalore lodged a complaint High Grounds Police Station against Nirmala, Teacher St Mary’s Public School on Queens Road – Bangalore, for slapping his nine-year-old son SO HARD that it broke his front teeth !

    Nirmala had slapped the 9-yr old boy for not completing his homework, thus breaking his front tooth. The boy was in tears when he returned home. He narrated the story to Fayaz after he returned from work. Police are investigating into the matter.

    PS : The 2 Hindu teachers – killers of Aslam Ansari, aged 10 – of Madhya Pradesh are on bail (Rs. 5000/- each) and living life “as usual”. This is Hindutva-Raj on the Ground. The Constitution of India is a dead document.. otherwise how could one explain.. that a consistent-breaker of the Law (for a whole lifetime) gets a “State Funeral” in Mumbai. The Constitution of India was below the feet of Bal Thackerey ! He was Supra-Constitutional.. Non-State Actor.. or Superstar..

    So where is (was) the state ? Only on Paper. The State fell to the Goondas., who used religious symbolism to grab power.. and make money.

  12. Vish United Kingdom Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ss, Thanks. Had seen a comment in DAWN, similar to what you have written. Just wondering if PTH can do a write-up on post-independence Jinnah, even if it lasted only 1 year. Plenty of articles on pre-1947 Jinnah, but nothing much on post-1947 Jinnah. Would answer the question, about what kind of legacy his post 1947 actions left behind.

  13. Vish United Kingdom Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ss, Read ‘pre-1947′ as ‘pre-independence’ and ‘post-1947′ as ‘post-independence’

  14. HistoryBuff United States Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Prince Charles’ lecture was in 2010.

  15. Dronacharya Saudi Arabia Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    HAR DIN EK KAYAMAT HAI. One 3-year boy Fazal, killed by Narayan in Bangalore., and here is another Hindutva-Gem!

    13 Dec – Hyderabad, :A Muslim taxi driver was killed after a petty quarrel at L B Nagar. The incident occurred following a petty quarrel during driving.

    40 year old Syed Iqbal resident of Shankar Nagar, Malakpet was taking 2 passengers to Film City when street race began between him and a car driver, following which the driver of Mercedes Benz No AP29BC9999 stopped Syed Iqbal’s vehicle. Few persons stepped out from Mercedes and attacked Syed Iqbal. At first they hit him with slippers, then attacked with sticks ! Consequently Iqbal died on the spot. The attackers fled.

    Police will close the file after 2 weeks ! The alleged owners of cars will provide a Medical Certificate from a Local Hospital that they were at the Hospital on that date (Appendix operation thaa).

    Response : If there is so much injustice, why dont you leave India and go to Afghanistan or Pakistan ? WHY SHOULD I ? I am not a Tenant. I am a Co-Owner. How can a Co-owner ask another Co-owner to leave ? I pay taxes that feeds Hindu Employees and runs their kitchens. So how can you ask your Anna-Daata (Food Giver) to leave and go elsewhere ? IF this continues, I am afraid, we are heading towards very horrible times… not to use stronger language. The 10% growth for 10% people will pull the whole thing down.

    French Revolution………….. would seem like child’s play.

  16. gautam United Arab Emirates Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Bangladeshi Muslim professor in a London University, Dr. Momin Chaudhary, in his book, Budhism in South Asia, says the Aryans, meaning Brahmins, met with stiff resistance from the original inhabitants of India, namely Dalits. Budha supported India’s original inhabitants to fight the invading Brahmins. For over 1,000 years Budhism ruled India. This was the “golden period” of Indian history. When the Brahmins failed to defeat Budhism, they infiltrated it. Some became Budhists and fought from within. Kerala’s notorious Adi Shankara and his Brahmin army fought our people, massacring the Budhists, destroying their religious places, libraries and historical monuments.

    The wholesale massacre of Budhism proves that Hinduism is the world’s most violent religion. Who says Hinduism stands for non-violence? Bullshit? Read this book, Violence in Hinduism, (DSA-1986) by Prof. K.S. Bhagvan of Mysore University.

    When Budhism was finally destroyed within India, Budhists fled to China and other South East Asian countries which became Budhist en bloc.

    Budhists, who failed to defeat Brahmins, then got converted to Islam and again fought the same Brahmins. Such a centuries-old rivalry between Brahminism and Dalits will continue until we kill the venomous cobra and liberate India.

    The Muslims of Bihar and those from undivided Bengal, which includes Bangladesh, were all originally Dalits. And sworn enemies of Brahminism

    My point is the Dalits and Brahmins have been like mongoose and serpent. The two are blood enemies. Read our book, Hindu Serpent Vs. Muslim Mongoose

  17. Maggu India Google Chrome  GT-N7100 Build/JRO03C) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19 says:


  18. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ gautam

    True, Hindu’s are the most violent people on earth. This is proved by history and the repentance of Asoka after mass killings and converting to Buddhism. However, My fav is Chandra Gupt Mauriya…. a great King without doubt!!

  19. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ gautum

    This is not correct …..”The Muslims of Bihar and those from undivided Bengal, which includes Bangladesh, were all originally Dalits. And sworn enemies of Brahminism”…..Only all Mirjai’s are converts from Dalits and Untouchables and they have again reincarnated into their initial form!!

  20. ss Qatar Safari iPad says:

    that piece in dawn was also writen by me, no one on PTH can deny these historical facts, people like YLH only come up with revisionist explanations…

  21. kaalabhartibhai India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    “Jinnah was also the only Muslim leader to have been able to stand up to the Congress party and the British on a regular basis”. This comment in the article should be countered. Sher-E-Bangla, fazlul Haque, was a hugely popular leader in Bengal who challenged and defeated the ML leader in Bengal (Khwaja Nazimuddin) in 1937. He was Premier of Bengal

  22. krupakaran India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Further to my post of 16 dec 1:10 pm:
    Fazlul Haque never got any honour from the Brits. In 1937, his krishak praja party came out the largest in Bengal provincial election. Subhas bose, who then led the bengal congress, wanted to support his govt, but Gandhiji at the urging of the industrialist G D Birla, refused to allow it. Had Congress extended support, history would have been different and partition would not have happened.The British governor intrigued and eased haque out of office and replaced his rule with an ML goivt supported by 25 European members of the provincial assembly. In 1946, Nehru wanted haque as a minister in the interim govt but, at the very suggestion, Wavell, the Viceroy, lost himself in transports of fury.

  23. kaalchakra United States Google Chrome Windows says:


    We have had that never-ending debate on these hallowed pages of pak tea house before – had congress done this, had nehru done that.

    People who cannot live together because this one leader didn’t do this one thing, that one party didn’t do those two things absolutely must not live together. Or else they will destroy each other.

    I, at least, have not the tiniest regret that Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah etc behaved precisely as they did. There is an inherent logic in the nature of things that, beyond a certain point, must be acknowledged and respected.

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