By Yasser Latif Hamdani
I had earlier exposed Indian Express’ oped columnist Tufail Ahmad’s shameless distortions in my blog post http://pakteahouse.net/2014/06/28/what-passes-for-history-these-days-tufail-ahmad-of-indian-express/.
He had then with great fanfare declared that he would prove me wrong by producing the Chattan newspaper from the dates I had mentioned. It has been more than 6 months and he has failed.
But it has not stopped him from distorting the facts of history on Jinnah however. In his recent article, named “Jinnah of Modern India” http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Jinnah-of-Modern-India/2015/02/09/article2658963.ece where he desperately wants to conflate Asaduddin Owaisi with Jinnah, he ascribes these fake quotes to Jinnah:
“The goal of Pakistan is not only to get freedom and autonomy but the Islamic concept of life”
“It is Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual blessing that Pakistan came into being. Now it is Pakistanis’ responsibility to turn it into the model (state) of the Righteous Caliphs.”
On the contrary Jinnah had vetoed resolutions saying precisely this in Delhi session of 1943. But as usual Tufail does not rely on any authentic sources. Tufail’s sources are Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islamists who had opposed the creation of Pakistan.
In his shameless revisionist retelling of history, Tufail forgets to mention that the most bigoted of the Islamist organizations including Majlis-e-Ahrar, Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind and others sided with Congress and called Pakistan Kafiristan and Jinnah Kafir-e-Azam. Majlis-e-Ahrar – Congress’ baby – attacked Jinnah on the following counts:
1. Jinnah was a Shia.
2. Jinnah included Ahmadis in the Muslim League which was unacceptable to Majlis-e-Ahrar.
3. Jinnah had forwarded the inter-marriage bill early in his career.
4. Muslim League refused to commit itself to an Islamic polity.
Quite different from the myths that Tufail Ahmad’s shrill articles want to perpetuate. He wants paint Jinnah as having converted to Islamism because he spoke for Muslims. Jinnah was only speaking out against the tyranny of the majority. Unfortunately the accusation of Islamism flies in the face of reality and especially when viewed against the dubious character of the use of Islam by Congress Party against secular Muslim like Jinnah:
Congress encouraged and supported the Majlis-e-Ahrar in its use of the vilest religious propaganda against Jinnah, Muslim League, Shias and Ahmadis so long as their objective of weakening the League was met. Ayesha Jalal writes on pages 457 in her classic Self and Sovereignty:
“There was something peculiar about a ‘secular’ nationalist party counting on the vocal support of anti-imperial cultural relativists of Ahrar and Madani to claim a Muslim following. A spate of pamphlets published by Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind and Ahrar delighted in exposing League’s lack of Islamic credentials, pointing to Jinnah’s emphatic assertions about Pakistan being a democracy in which Hindus and Sikhs would have an almost equal population. Substantiation that pro-Congress Muslims did much to weaken the Muslim League’s case on equal citizenship rights is the rejection by Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind and Ahrar laity of any possible equation between a democratic and an Islamic government….Throughout the run-up to the 1945-1946 elections and beyond, Punjabi leaders like Shaukat Hayat and Mumtaz Daultana not to mention Iftikharuddin and Communists tried reassuring Hindus and Sikhs that their citizenship rights would be protected in Pakistan. They had considerable backing from the Punjab League and the Press.”
And then on bottom of page 457 and then on Page 458 Ayesha Jalal writes:
“Yet it (Ahrar) felt no pangs of conscience spreading sectarian hatred amongst Muslims. While Bashiruddin Mahmud was excoriated for being a ‘drunkard’ and a ‘womaniser’, Ahmadis were ‘warned’ that they would cease to exist once the British quit India. Mazhar Ali Azhar’s threat to restart the Madha-i-Sahaba against the Shias of Lucknow aimed ‘at retarding Muslim League by creating internal religious differences.’… Hailing Dr Khan sahib’s Congress ministry as a step in the direction of Hukumat-e-Illahaya, Ahrar demanded more emphatic evidence of Shariat rule in the province. The Frontier Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind also claimed to be the only representative Muslim party. It believed that ‘Hindus and Muslims belonged to the same race” but it still wanted the Congress to sanction a department of Qazis to prove its Islamic credentials”.
Congress’s biggest Islamist supporter Madani did not attack Jinnah personally but attacked him for having supported the right to civil marriage between Hindus and Muslims and for watering down Shariat bills. On Pages 459-460 ibid Jalal says:
“He (Madani) recalled how the lawyer turned leader of India’s Muslims had consistently watered down Shariat bills in the Central Assembly. During the debate on Child Marriage Act, Jinnah had supported the right of educated Hindu and Muslim youth to contract a civil marriage. He had dismissed the contention that this was contrary to the principles of Islam, noting that laws were constantly being passed which ran counter to the Quran… Intrepid in the face of his religious opponents,,Jinnah’s attittude is a reflection of the crisis of moral authority in the Muslim community. Hoping to lead it in some unison on the negotiating table, he was not ready to give quarter to men who could live the contradictions in the Congress but not with those of a political party trying to extract maximum benefits for Indian Muslims.
Congress’ unholy alliance with the Islamists and religious fascists with which its political ideas could not be reconciled is a fact of history. This had started with the Khilafat Movement where Gandhiji had chosen to reach out to the Mullahs instead of the modernists. In the heat of battle Congress therefore was ready to use every Muslim organization that attacked Jinnah. Unfortunately those who criticize the Muslim League for resorting to the use of Pirs and Mashaikh in the elections forget that they were up against vilest of religious propaganda which sought to divide Muslims along sectarian lines. Ahmadis and Shias were thus acceptable collateral damage to the Congress.
Tufail Ahmad wants to whitewash history for his own purposes but in doing so only exposes himself as a man without any intellectual honesty or integrity.