Can We Let Jinnah Speak for Himself?

Aug 11th, 2020 | By | Category: history, Latest, Pakistan

For over 70 years, the vision of the founding father Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah has been a matter of intellectual debate, where points and counterpoints are made by writers in order to prove validity of their own personal views and vision of Pakistan. Dialogue, discussion and even debate always helps in at least understanding the positive and negative dimensions of an issue. It is highly unfair and unethical to make a generalisation based on an individual understanding of a single incidence, that too considered out of its context. This onslaught has been going on for a long time specifically with reference to the August 11, 1947, speech of the Quaid as the first President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. This presidential speech is mentioned again and again as perhaps his legal will. No one has the courage to stand up and say that even if a particular interpretation of this speech is allowed, his more than 100 statements contradict this interpretation made by some scholars.

Setting emotions aside’ no one can doubt the honesty, boldness, integrity and clarity of ideas of the Quaid. He was a man of strong principles, integrity and resolution. He never played with words nor with the emotions of people. If we read his post-1940 public policy statements, messages and speeches, he is consistent, coherent and uniform in his views. He never used doublespeak. Let us first understand the context of his address as President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.
The Quaid first touched on three social evils that he called “curses” inherited from the colonial past, namely bribery and corruption, black marketing, and nepotism and jobbery. He declared jihad against all these and stated his zero tolerance towards them.

Then he mentioned the mixed feelings among Hindu and some Muslim segments about the division of India into two sovereign states. Respecting their difference of opinion, he advised them to be realistic and accept the ground reality as a unique event in the modern history of mankind. This is because Pakistan is the only country founded on an ideology of two nations based on their faith and not on ethnicity, color, race or geographic territory like the European nation states.

He referred to another national problem of looking at the Hindu or Sikh minority in the context of the communal riots, brutal murders, rape, hate and violence during partition. He said: “As you know, history shows that in England conditions some time ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some states in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. The people of England in the course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen, of Great Britain and they are all members of the nation.”

In the same context the Quaid said:

“Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal, and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”

The context of this statement makes it very clear that he is not talking about relation between “religion” and state which has been haunting the minds of most of the so-called liberal intellectuals globally. The context is Hindu-Muslim riots and violent clashes during partition. He is saying once Pakistan is created, this bitter past need to be buried and like England there shall be no more hate and clash between Hindus and Muslims. They will be just citizens. Why he talks about religious freedom of going to temples and mosques again has to be understood in its proper context. Even before independence that much religious freedom was enjoyed by all religious communities in India. Then why does he mention it?

Dr Javed Iqbal, a known jurist, intellectual and former chief justice and for sure not a ‘fundamentalist’, puts this matter in its proper perspective: “Islamic theology recognises a distinction of meaning in the words ‘mazhab’ and ‘din’. Mazhab means personal faith, viewpoint, or path; whereas din means a body of those universal principles of Islam which are applicable to the entire humanity. Therefore, in this sense, Pakistan does not have any specific ‘mazhab’ because it is neither founded on nor projects the personal viewpoint of any particular Muslim sect. This very important aspect of the State of Pakistan was clarified by Quaid-i-Azam in his famous presidential address to Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947 when he proclaimed:

‘You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State… We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State…”

In other words, as a legal mind, the Quaid elaborated that the state will not follow any specific maslak; it will not be sectarian. This fully confirms not only his earlier and later statements but declared policy of the Muslim League since the 1930 Allahabad Convention. Allama Iqbal, in his presidential address at the Allahabad session, made it clear that:

“The religious ideal of Islam, therefore, is organically related to the social order which it has created. The rejection of one will eventually involve rejection of the other. Therefore, the construction of a polity on national lines, if it means a displacement of the Islamic principles of solidarity, is simply unthinkable for a Muslim.”

Addressing the hostel parliament of Ismail Yusuf College, Jogeshwar, Bombay, on February 1, 1943, the Quaid said:

“In Pakistan we shall have a state which will be run according to the principles of Islam. It will have its cultural, political and economic structure based on the principles of Islam. The non-Muslims need not fear because of this, for fullest justice will be done to them, they will have their full cultural, religious, political and even equal economic rights safeguarded. As a matter of fact, they will have more safeguards than in the present day so-called democratic parliamentary form of government.”

In his written message to the Frontier Muslim Students Federation Conference, Peshawar, he said:

“Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim ideology, which has to be preserved, what has come to us as a precious gift and treasure, and which we hope others will share with us.”

The Quaid, in his recorded broadcast to the people of Australia, again makes his vision of Pakistan clear:

“The great majority of us are Muslims. We follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. We are members of the brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, dignity and self-respect. Consequently we have a special and a very deep sense of unity but make no mistake: Pakistan is not theocracy or anything like it. Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds and we welcome in closest association with us all those who of whatever creed are themselves willing to and ready to play their part as true and loyal citizens of Pakistan. Not only are most of us Muslims but we have our own history, customs and traditions and ways of thought, outlook and instinct which go to make up a sense of nationality.”

In his talk on Pakistan broadcast to the people of the United States in February 1948, the Quaid candidly called Pakistan a Premier Islamic State. “This dominium which represents the fulfilment, in a certain measure, of the cherished goal of 100 million Muslims of this sub-continent, came into existence on August 15, 1947: Pakistan is the Premier Islamic State and the fifth largest in the world.”

The founder was convinced that Islam is the raison d’etre of Pakistan. On February 21, 1948, while addressing the officers and men of the 5th Heavy Ack Ack and 6th Light Ack Ack regiments at Malir in Karachi, he said:

“You have fought may a battle on the far-flung battlefields of the globe to rid the world of the fascist menace and make it safe for democracy. Now you have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and equality of mankind in your own national soil. You will have to be alert for the time for relaxation is not yet there. With faith, discipline, and self-devotion to duty there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.”

Dr Javed Iqbal sums up the issue: “Hence the first principle of the ideology of Pakistan as laid down by the Quaid-i-Azam is that for Pakistan Islam is the basis of their ‘nationalism’ as well as ‘patriotism’ but there is no room for sectarianism in Islam. Similarly, Pakistan is not excepted to be a ‘theocratic’ state because Islam is essentially a polity and aspires to create a civil society.”

I think we should learn to accept facts even when we may not like them. We should work to translate the dreams of the Quaid and Allama Iqbal in our national policies. Liberate our minds from the hold of the Eurocentric intellectual heritage of so-called liberalism and concept of nation state, which is a past matter even in Europe and America.

Professor Dr. Anis Ahmad

About the author

Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmad, a PhD from the Temple University, Pennsylvania, USA, is a social scientist of international repute and founding Vice-Chancellor of Riphah International University. He is former Vice President of International Islamic University, Islamabad and founding Dean, Faculty of Revealed Knowledge & Human Sciences, International Islamic University, Malaysia. He is former President & Secretary General of Association of Muslim Social Scientists, USA and a Fellow of The University of Sains Malaysia. He has contributed articles in the Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Muslims World, New York, the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Istanbul, Turkey, the Encyclopaedia of Islamic Economy, London, the Muslim World Book Review, UK and other professional journals.

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