‘Just call me Muslim’

Published: February 26, 2012

When a man asked Jinnah if he was Sunni or Shia, Jinnah replied angrily that he was just a Muslim.

This year there have been a number of reports that what were clearly acts of sectarian violence, hatred and discrimination. In January, three lawyers – a father, his son and nephew–  were gunned down. They were Muslims who belonged to the Shia sect. On the same day, three other professionals from the Shia community were killed in Quetta. This all follows the year of 2011 where hundreds of Shias were murdered – and it seems as if nothing has, or will change.

The Shia community is not the only minority sect that is being targeted. For a couple of weeks, attempts were made to shut down an Ahmadi place of worship; a week ago, the food and beverage brand ‘Shezan’ was banned from all court premises by the Lahore Bar Association because the owners belong to the Ahmadiyya community.

This is just recent news.

Sadly, sectarian violence and discrimination in Pakistan is frequent. Some argue that the Pandora’s box was opened in 1974, when extremist Sunnis clashed with Ahmadis until they were declared non-Muslim by Pakistan’s constitution, though sectarian violence was reported as early as the 60s.

My personal belief is that the reason behind the rise in sectarianism is the increasing subconscious acceptance of it by our society.

Today discrimination amongst sects is openly publicised in Pakistan. I can confirm that the Islamiat textbook I studied from in high school preached religious inequality and even anti-Semitism. Due to a lack of quality education and teachers, irresponsible textbooks in our schools, statements made by religious scholars, things some of our elders say society in Pakistan has made assumptions based on people’s religious views. For many people, being Jewish is a crime. Being Christian is only slightly better, and then the fact that you are a Muslim makes you a superior and better Pakistani. Among Muslims people belonging to a sect feel they are ‘better’ than the others. I once sat in a majlis at a Shia mosque only to hear a long speech explaining all that was wrong with Sunnis, and heard similar sermons about Shia Muslims at Sunni mosques.

Keeping in mind the stories shared above and other incidents from the past, I find it safe to say the Ahmadiyya community receives the most hatred and discrimination. Some clerics have gone as far as announce the justification and permission for their murder. In fact in 2008, the leader of the anti-Ahmadi movement was invited to Dr Aamir Liaqat’s TV show on which he repeated exactly that. The next day, two Pakistani citizen’s from the community were killed.

The problem we face in Pakistan is this extreme ‘holier than thou’ attitude; a strong feeling of self-righteousness and moral superiority. People believe that their personal beliefs are of greater virtue than those of others, and through a biased study with an ill-informed and poorly educated mind, have used words of Holy Scriptures to justify violence against those with differing religious views.

This is completely against what religion actually teaches.The Holy Quran tells us to approach those with different beliefs by starting on the points of agreement or equitable words. Islam also teaches us to accept that believers and non-believers both have their own religion and worship their own Lord(s) and in forbids any compulsion in religion.

Extremist groups behind these attacks target the Shia and Ahmadi community to incite fear within the sects and hence reduce, and eventually finish their ability to practice their faith openly. Keeping in mind the targeted killings in broad daylight last month, it is understandable that many people from the communities have fled the country as a result. Their tactics are working.

It should also be brought to light that these sectarian extremist groups have split since their inception in the 1980s and have regrouped under different titles and movements. They have spread all over the country from their starting point of Southern Punjab, taking their radical ideas to all parts of the state.

Much needs to be done to stop this. The country’s intelligence agencies need to find out how and where these groups operate, observe them and keep a check on local madrassas and what is taught there.  A strategy must be devised on how to isolate and tackle them. Why we have waited so long to tackle this is a mystery. But in my opinion, these groups are only half the problem.

The other problem is our radicalised society. This polarisation of  views is due to a combination of the spread of these sectarian groups, and the lack of impartial, quality education. With more than half the country living under the line of poverty, the vast majority cannot afford sound education, as it exists in Pakistan’s private schools that only the elite can afford. This leaves a colossal portion of the population exposed to sub-standard schooling, if any at all, and hence vulnerable to the acceptance of extremist ideas and versions of religion bestowed upon them. These are the people the sectarian groups feed on and this is where their support comes from.

It may seem absurd, but I have personally witnessed many educated people agree with the fatwa that allows the murder of Ahmadis. After everything he has done and said, countless people have undying, unconditional support for Dr Amir Liaqat; people have celebrated the death of the former Governor of Punjab and hailed his murderer as a hero; some still think it is ‘okay’ to target Shias.

And that is essentially the problem. People accept it.

But I don’t think these people are entirely to blame. It is our governance that is educating these people. Pakistan is the only state to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims. When the state has numerous discriminating laws and education against entire sects, how could you expect its people to be any different?

How many of our text books proudly mention that Dr Abdus Salaam was from the Ahmadiyya community? He put Pakistan on the map by becoming the country’s only Nobel Prize winner but then left the nation in protest when his sect was declared non-Muslim. His gravestone was also modified after his death so that it would not read ‘Muslim’.

How many of our textbooks tell us that our founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was a member of a minority sect, which was a minority community in an already Muslim minority in India?

How many of our textbooks tell us that our first ever foreign minister, Chaudhry Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who Jinnah referred to as his ‘son’, was a scholar of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, drafted the Pakistan resolution, represented the country at the United Nations and served as a judge at the International Court of Justice? The answer is: not many.

Once a man asked Jinnah if he was Sunni or Shia and Jinnah responded angrily that he was just a Muslim. He was against sectarianism. That’s why Jinnah wanted faith, discipline and unity – virtues we lack the most.

Everyone thinks their beliefs are perfect, but none of us is God and no one should be allowed to judge anyone else.

Sectarian groups must be eliminated, madrassas monitored and education heavily reformed to change this mindset. If not, Pakistan will be contaminated with far too many fanatics.

The Quran asks us to show kindness to people of all faiths and calls Christians and Jews ‘people of the Book’. Today, Muslims in Pakistan can’t even be civil to sects of their own religion. It further says that when you see any injustice, fix it. If you can’t fix it, then raise your voice against it. And if you can’t raise your voice against it, then condemn it in your heart.

I think it would help if Pakistan started with the latter.


Abu Bakr Agha

Abu Bakr Agha

A software engineer, musician, writer and activist from Islamabad, currently based in Chicago. He tweets @AB_Agha (twitter.com/AB_Agha)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nadir

    Why does anyone need to state who they are to begin with? Recommend

  • Sajid

    The problem is that religion has clicked the “disable” button on peoples’ conscience. The sectarian division occurred right after prophet’s death, and it turned into a bitter one after the even of Karballa. The Sunni puritans have always threatened and oppressed the shia’s. The hero in our books, Salahuddin Ayubi that everyone has to praise to secure marks mass massacred Shias in egypt. So did many other Islamic Heroes that we study about. Recommend

  • Sajid

    Quot This is completely against what religion actually teaches.The Holy Quran tells us to approach those with different beliefs by starting on the points of agreement or equitable words.

    I am wondering WHAT IF religion didn’t tell us to be courteous? would you then be non courteous? I find it very bigoted when people say “I can’t do this because my religion doesn’t allow me”, but nobody seems to be saying “I can’t do this because this is wrong”. I can’t kill cuz Islam doesn’t allow me to! NO! YOU SHOULDN”T KILL BECAUSE KILLING IS WRONG! Perhaps that is why someone said Religion is for the one who doesn’t have a conscience, if you have a conscience, you do not need a religion to tell you what is right and what is wrong. Recommend

  • http://zaidzamanhamid.wordpress.com Zaid Hamid

    There is no need to be a human. Being Muslim is our priority. Recommend

  • Ali Rahmatullah

    Very strong piece Agha–good to see you still expressing your very rational thoughts. It’s high time us Pakistanis became simply Pakistanis.Recommend

  • hareem

    Great piece. We’re all Muslim.Recommend

  • Umer Khan

    I am Sunni and I believe Shia are most patriotic Pakistanis. If you have looked in Pakistan’s history, it was always Sunni who gave Pakistan problem. The Bengali Sunnis in 1971 and now the Baloch Sunnis. The Shias were always Pro-Pakistan. So I support Shia Muslim Pakistani brothers. Recommend

  • Lone Star

    A well balanced POV. But I’m afraid you are selling reading glasses to the blind folks.

  • WhatTheWhaa?

    Why are Sunnis being cut out to be some sort of Monsters that are responsible for all the sectarian violence in pakistan? In Karachi in some areas even Sunnis have been victims, but obviously we dont make the news since we are the oppressive majority. If anything Sunnis are the one’s who give protection to the Shia processions during Ashura (the 1000’s of sunni cops who actually work on an otherwise public holiday). The handful of crazies and their sporadic attacks should not be used to malign the entire sect which has otherwise been really chilled out and supportive of this minority.The violence is not one-sided and there have been cross exchange of violence on both sides. In pakistan shias have it a lot better than anywhere else, we have a shia-majority government leading a sunni majority country.
    Yes minorities rights need to be respected, but being a minority does not automatically mean you are a victim. Case-inpoint is Syria, where the shia alawite minority which is barely 10 percent of the population has oppressed the sunni majority for decades and are brutally crushing the current uprising.
    The more you pick sides on who oppresses whom the more it serves to drive a wedge between communities. In pakistan each and every person suffers from violence of some kind or the other: member of a certain ethnicity, member of certain sects, member of certain political parties, member of certain class, member of certain gender. The problem is that because of the rule of the law perpetrators are never brought to justice which is why you see violence of every frame take place here.Recommend

  • narayana murthy

    “Once a man asked Jinnah if he was Sunni or Shia and Jinnah responded angrily that he was just a Muslim.”

    Now I know why Pakistan is doomed!!!! Jinnah set a horrible example.

    To that question, Jinnah’s reply should have been “I’m a Pakistani”.

    However, Jinnah was also narrow minded and formed a country on bigoted idea.

    So, this is exactly what happens to such a country!!!!Recommend

  • Naila

    I completely agree with you over here. Islam, the word which means peace and submission is being totally misunderstood. I, myself, am a proud member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and because of that, I don’t believe that this comment will even be published. No one, and I mean no one is allowed to judge someones faith. Only GOD has the right to judge.

    All I’m saying is, bring EQUALITY to Pakistan. NO ONE should be allowed to either question nor judge, anyones faith or declare them as “non muslims”.


  • Shahid Aziz

    Wonderful article. I lived my early years in Pakistan. This was in early 1960s. Our teacher found out that I was a Lahori-Ahmadi and started regularly punishing me without reason. Eventually, I was permanently expelled from the Quran reading classes. Those years are regarded as years of tolerance so I can’t even imagine what its like now.
    I was in Pakistan recently and saw the official text books used in schools. They are full of intolerance, prejudice and hatred for non-Muslims. Some years ago the Saudi’s tried to introduce similar text books into and Islamic school in England and there was uproar.
    Sunnis complain there is anit-Islam propaganda in the West. Sunnis provide the West with enought materia themselves and no propaganda is needed!
    Have a look at http://www.virtualmosque.co.uk Recommend

  • rizwana

    i remember when during a concert in Kinnaird college the singer started singing ali mola and i was clapping and enjoying it.my friend looked at me and said in a very derogatory manner “tum shia ho jo isko enjoy ker rahi ho chup ker k khaari ho jao” i always wonder how she would have reacted if i had told her that i was an Ahmadi :PRecommend

  • athar mahmood

    why we are running towards self-dig hell?the answer is so simple as the writer has mentioned it.firstly there is a lack in quality and moderate education.secondly state doesn’t pay much heed to sectarian and ethical matters even in some cases it becomes a part of the controversy.as this happened in Rawalpindi where police set the cameras off from a worship place of Ahmadies with out any legal authority.these acts must be noticed and condemned for the sack of moderate society. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Rather long but nicely argued.
    Religion, any religion is like a torch, lifted up it provides light to guide you, play with it (misuse it) and surely you are bound to get burnt.Recommend

  • Mir

    I once travelled 300km away from Karachi deep in desert in Balochistan, where there was no water,road,health facility and school, i found there a beautiful building where there were all basic facilities, it was a madrassa and i couldn’t understand how come in this far flung deserted area where a madrass can be built but basic facilities of life cant be reached to poor villagers, then a thought came in my mind that fanatacism grows where state doesnt provide basic facilities equally to all sections of society and discriminates on the basis of religion,race or geography.Recommend

  • Naqvi

    Excellent piece! Spread Unity and coexistence!Recommend

  • RJ

    Jinnah is probably turning in his grave because the Pakistan he envisioned is not what it is…The freedom to practice religion seems like a pipe dreamRecommend

  • http://Austria Dee

    Nice effort I would say, We are still trying to prove others wrong which is totally pathetic. The 1st principle should be being a human, as Abdul Sattar Edhi said ” Their is no religion higher then humanity”. we all know his contribution towards humanity.
    I can see above Zaid Hamid (I am not sure is he the real one or not) saying “There is no need to be a human. Being Muslim is our priority.” how preposterous and immature statement. if you are not a nice human being then how can you claim that you are Muslim?? its impossible.
    These sort of mid-set has destroyed the real image of Islam and Pakistan, these sort of people who misguides the younger generation should hang till death.
    I would suggest even asking a question about religion or sects should be banned in Pakistan, coz no one has the right to ask about my personal beliefs its me who is answerable to God not you. so better keep you nose out of my business. Recommend

  • BlackJack

    The reason is that the Land of the Pure was formed on the basis of differentiation (concept of the other), and to protect the religion from the infidel. Now the infidels has more or less disappeared, and new targets are needed to ensure that the purification process goes on and for Islam to remain the unifying factor. Once the Ahmadiyyas, Shias and Sufism adherents also become unavailable, new metrics will emerge to assess the level of conformance to a homogenous religion (Taliban was the pilot project). All the best Pakistan.Recommend

  • Atta

    @Zaid Hamid:
    And you cannot be a Muslim without being a human…Recommend

  • http://Ayazsays.wordpress.com Ayaz ahmad khan

    You said how many books mention he is an ahmadi, mentioning that is a means to promoting inter religious diacrimination, not to go into secretarian as they are non muslims, these books also dont mention what and what sunni and shia schloard did what, totally ruined argument.

    Once you say secretarian groups should be eliminated and before it you siad they should be mentioned in books, totally disgusting argument

    I also want to inquire of you being in favour of ahmeadis as muslims and if you are an ahmadi yourself?Recommend

  • http://www.elucidations.org Abu Bakr

    @Ayaz ahmad khan:
    My point was that because of their religious views they are not talked about in general. Pakistan has forgotten Abdus Salam. The Express Tribune edited that sentence to make it seem like i wanted people to know WHAT his religious views were. I just meant we never learn about these people in detail. If we learned about them we would see how unity of different sects of Muslims and even non-Muslims worked for Pakistan and its creation. People today think Pakistan belongs to Sunni Muslims. Thats the mindset i’m working at isolating.

    As for your question; I don’t think anyone should have the right to say who is more, or less of a Muslim than him or herself. Everyone thinks his or her views are correct. So I think its wrong to call Ahmedis non-Muslim. I am against the law. And i’m a Sunni Muslim.Recommend

  • Madiha Bhatti

    It’s just getting worse every single day. Recently my mom was telling me how my cousin in Pakistan who had just enrolled in a medical college has returned home and is so scared to go back because guess what? His class mates are threatening him to convert to Islam and leave Ahmadiyyat! Is this normal? Recommend

  • http://www.nerdcrunch.com Moderate

    Anti-Semtism, seriously? If you are making fun of ayaat from Quran that says Jews and others can never be your friend then you and your kind can go to HELL! Quran said it 1400 years ago and even history teaches us that yet we are still trying so hard to be friends with non-Muslims.

    When you say you are a Muslim then you have to live by the code of Quran and Sunnah and no other way around.

    Yes discrimination is done with non-Muslims in our society but that dosnt mean that we start abrogating the teaching of Quran in the name of your so called humanitarianism. Non-Muslims do have rights in Islam and they should be treated as such.

    As for quoting Jinnah again and again, your Islam starts from Jinnah not ours. Our Islam is what Prophet and his followers did! Recommend

  • http://www.elucidations.org Abu Bakr

    Did i say the Quran was antisemitic? I don’t think it is at all. That verse is written in a particular context, but thats a different debate. The books we used in school for Islamiat said a lot of things about Jewish people were completely unnecessary and untrue. I’m saying we don’t need books, TEXTBOOKS with non-facts and distorted history. How am I making fun of the Quran?! Did you use the Quran in Islamiat class? Your comment is extremely offensive. Recommend

  • xxxx

    very well written!! thanks for your rational views.Recommend

  • http://Ohio Sameera

    This is an emphatic, stunning piece of writing. Brilliant work. The end makes a statement.Recommend

  • Talha

    Jinnah also said this to the Raja of Mahmudabad:

    “I am an Indian first second and last.”

    Your biased views won’t let you see the reality or read the entire story.Recommend

  • http://Ayazsays.wordpress.com Ayaz ahmad khan

    Also please point out te things that feel discriminating and falifying in islamiat books, please cite with in which class islamiat book and the original text, dont make claims in the airRecommend

  • Shahid Aziz

    I guess my last two comments have been delted by the moderator.Recommend

  • samar

    A man once told Jinnah, ‘ I am not going to vote for you, as you are a shia’

    Jinnah replied, ‘ok! vote for Gandhi then, he is a sunni ‘ Recommend

  • Pravin

    just call me human being.Recommend

  • Pole

    @narayana murthy:
    At that time Jinnah was a Indian first, second and last but he still said he was Muslim. There lies the crux of the issue.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    Quaid-e-Azam was born in a Shia family but he himself became a Sunni Muslim.Recommend

  • Noise

    @Mustafa Moiz
    Thats not true, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born an Ismaili Shia of the Khoja race and later became a Twelver Shia. Although he wasn’t a practicing religious man at all. Why cant you people simply accept that Jinnah was a Shia and a secularist? Even today there are two types of Khojas, the Ismaili Shias and the Twelver ShiasRecommend

  • mir wali mohmad

    We are all muslims and have to work for unity of muslim ummah.Both shia and sunni have given secrefices for the cause.some forces are there who try to divide us.Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @Mustafa Moiz:

    While it shouldn’t matter, given the spirit of this article, it’s still not true, no matter how many times you repeat the false ‘Jinnah was Sunni’ claim which has been debunked repeatedly.

    It persists due to old anti-Shia sectarian prejudice and discrimination, cemented in the 80’s Sunnification white-washing narrative under Wahhabi/Deoband inspired Zia. The sectarianism problem is so deep that Jinnah’s own minority Shia background is denied by blind religio-supremacist nationalists who can’t accept or uncomfortable with Jinnah being non-Sunni.

    The revisionist history, truth’s casualty and denial is part and parcel of Pak’s bigoted religious intolerance and sectarianism.Recommend

  • MilesToGo

    Better still – We would like to call you just human, let us know when you are ready. We are waiting.Recommend

  • Ali

    “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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”

    M. A. Jinnah

  • Shahnaz Latif

    Very good article. I am a member of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, requesting to all readers, please read Holy Quran with meanings and see what, “Islam teaches us that” unless man learns to live at peace with himself and his fellow human beings, he cannot live at peace with God. In Islam, you shall find peace and tranquility of the heart which is the fruit of submitting to the Will of God. Islam re-en forces the concept of humanity and respect for individual liberty. It also reminds man of his fundamental human right of being free to choose his own religion as it is stated in the Qur’an that “there is no compulsion in religion”. No religion teaches violence and terrorism or killing innocent peoples in the name of religion. Our Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) is the Rahmat-ul-alameen, Mercy of mankind not only for Muslim; he was for all mankind. All Muslims should follow his Sunnah. Please visit http://www.alislam.org to get the true teaching of Islam. Recommend

  • suhail Kausar

    Discrimination and hatred which are being promoted by a section of the society has been getting a positive nod by almost all the ruling elites, assuming that this will keep them in the chair for ever. The nation now has to decide collectively, where do they want to go next. The level of degradation it has reached because of the bigotry is not difficult to see.Recommend

  • Al Ahmadi

    Why was my post promoting the unity of all Muslims under the leadership of our Holy messiah not published? Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    I am not denying Quaid-e-Azam’s vision for Pakistan, and I know that probably one of his favourite political figures was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who made Turkey into a secular and modern country. But he himself was still a Sunni Muslim.Recommend

  • spogmay sardar

    You have spoken on the behalf of the whole nation. Pakistan is not a muslim nation and people need to accept that.It is fot minorities and that includes non believers. if anyone has a problem with that then they need to set an example for everybody in order to attract them to accept their religion.

    well done Abu bakr Agha, its one of your best articles :-)Recommend

  • ITouchTheFuture

    I commend Mr. Agha for his insightful article, and the Express Tribune for publishing it.

    The situation in Pakistan is indeed dire. The killer of the Punjab governor is lionized by a section of the educated public; 90 Ahmadis are massacred while saying their Friday prayers, and mullahs condemn a leader who dares to call the victims “our brothers”; public demands are openly made for murder, violence, and mayhem targeting minorities; sundry other examples exist.

    I humbly suggest a first step: let the government exit the fratricidal business of determining an individual’s religion, as it fatefully did in 1974. Let every person simply be identified as a Pakistani on official documents, including passports. At the same time, let it put down with a firm hand any attempt at creating hatred between different groups. It should nullify those parts of the Constitution that militate against human rights.

    Any delay in implementing the reversal of past governmental blunders will push the country beyond the point of no return.

    Peace to all, and may a just society soon arise!

  • Parvez

    @Mustafa Moiz: Do you have any credible source of information to claim that Jinnah as a Sunni Muslim ? I ask simply to educate myself.Recommend

  • Saladin

    @narayana murthy:

    sir, this is a pakistani forum.not an indian forum. dont spread your poison over hereRecommend

  • Ahsan Nisar

    Two of the Jinnah’s speeches made in February and August 1948 at State Bank of Pakistan are often misquoted. Below are some of the extracts of his speeches:

    “Let us lay the foundations of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideals and principles. Our Almighty has taught us that our decisions in the affairs of the state shall be guided by discussion and consultations.” (Sibi Darbar, 1948)

    “When you talk of democracy, I am afraid you have not studied Islam. We learned democracy thirteen centuries ago.”(15th July, 1947)

    Furthermore, the obituary published in The Times of London on September 13, 1948, two days after his death noted that: ‘Mr. Jinnah was something more than Quaid-e-Azam, supreme head of the state, to the people who followed him; he was more even than the architect of the Islamic nation he personally called into being … Few statesmen have shaped events to their policy more surely than Mr. Jinnah. He was a legend even in his lifetime.’ Recommend

  • Ather Sultan

    The article was a good effort to create confusions in the mind of readers which is a good technique used by many i.e. if you can’t change other peoples’ beliefs, create some confusions amongst them and half of your job is done.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    I believe that the state should treat all citizens equally, whether they are muslims / non muslims, Shias or sunnis. Even if a community has been declared as non muslim, that doesnt mean that they are non pakistanis. They should still be entitled to the same benefits as are available to any other citizen. But Ahmadis were declared as non muslim by all the sects (sunnis, shias, berelvis etc). Secondly, there are secterian organisations of both Shias (sipah e muhammad) and Sunnis (Sipah e sahaba). Both Shia and sunni clerics are being killed. There is not one discriminating law in Pakistan for Shias, so why the writter all of a sudden starts to blame sunnis for everything. The state is not functioning correctly and the governments are incompetent. Why start blamming a particular community. The writer should consider these points Recommend

  • Zakaria

    @narayana murthy
    The statement Jinnah made was before Pakistan existed as a nation. Also, when someone asks what religion you follow and discriminates between two sects of it, you typically don’t reply with your nationality. Also, it’s not really possible to found a country on a bigoted idea given the amount of support from the people that is required. Our country is here today because a lot of people wanted it to be. I don’t think a narrow minded man with a bigoted idea could lead a movement to liberate a nation. The vast majority of this nation wants to see it prosper, I’m not sure if you’re one of them but bashing our founder without a supporting debate and making nonsensical comments about the origins of our country sure won’t help.

    “The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of flowing passion, but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others.”
    – Adolf Hitler

    Before someone bashes me for quoting Hitler, It’s just a quote from one of the most successful military generals in History. I don’t in any way support what he did. He knew how to lead a nation, what he led it towards is a different story altogether.Recommend

  • Mandeep

    All Pakistanis should copy Mr. Jinnah as their role model and become Muslims such as he was. This would heal them of their national trauma of Islam fixation. Recommend

  • Moiz

    @narayana murthy:
    Jinnah was asked about his faith. to answer with his nationality would have been irrational, furthermore, it would have seemed to go along with the assumption that only Muslims can be Pakistanis. please do not try to deliberately twist incidents to suit your warped view of Jinnah, if all you want it to massage your ego.Recommend

  • Ahmad

    I agree that it’s the silence of masses which has aggravated the situation to current extent Recommend

  • John B

    The article and all the comments supporting this article and the comments arguing for “Muslim” Pakistan have an inherent problem-being a Pakistani.

    The article should be titled “Just call me a Pakistani. Instead it took a religious tone of “Ahmedian ” want to be called as Muslims, or demand equal rights as Muslims as described in Quran. As such, all who supported this article or spoke in favor of Muslim Unity have turned into bigots, by alienating all the other religious and ” non religious” communities living in Pakistan.

    Then again, there is a paradox with my own suggestion: “What does being a Pakistani mean?”

    It is time for Pakistan to start thinking about new constitutional principles. Recommend

  • M.Wolverien

    I don’t think its right to blame ONLY sunnis for the current situation!! for we must realise that sunni’s are not the only inhabitants of this land..! time for us to shoulder our responsibilities. time for us to end THIS blame game and find solutions to live together peacefuly ..
    Pakistan zindabad!!Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    For all those who are asking, I doubted the claim that Jinnah was a Sunni Muslim but after looking through everything I can currently find on the issue, I am convinced that he was indeed a Sunni Muslim. Not that it makes any difference.Recommend

  • Noise

    @Mustafa Moiz
    So its your sectarian bias vs history. I choose history. keep your bias to yourselfRecommend

  • Rsingh

    Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born as Shia but later became Sunni though he married a Parsi but when his daughter decided to marry a Parsi he disowned her. Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    When Gandhi was asked the same question he said he is a Hindu, Muslim as well as a Christian!

    That’s why India doesn’t have identity issues but Pakistan has. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @Mustafa Moiz:
    In other words, you can’t name a credible source, but will continue sticking with the false prejudiced claim which satisfies the cognitive bias. Not that it makes a difference…Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @John B:
    Good point. It is still the crux of the confusion of national identity with a religious one since inception.


    Ahmadis did not declare themselves non-Muslims, so it wasn’t unanimous by all ‘sects’ and a group were being discriminated by the majority, as the majority ridiculously went out of their way to make this a state issue for a reason to downgrade their citizenship to institutionalize their prejudice which the state obliged in. So no, you nor the state of Pakistan, don’t think all are equal as clearly Ahmadis weren’t heard, and Ahmadis aren’t given the same benefits, as it is open fact that Muslim Pakistani citizens have different rules compared to non-Muslims citizens.

    It’s so obvious that a group is even singled out in your passports in some nationalist-religious pseudo-qalimah. Any other groups equally mentioned in Pakistani passports? No. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    It’s not demonizing an entire group, and let’s not be emotionally defensive and reactionary to criticism. We are talking about PAKISTAN. Of course there’s opposites in tyrannical Syria and dogmatic Iran, but doesn’t excuse our particular Pakistani Sunni Muslim majority, nor gives a free hand to Saudi Arabia or the like. And yes Pak has a history of Shiite Muslim establishmentarians like the current civil government, but that’s like believing Obama in office means discrimination against African Americans has ceased. Nope. But particular to Pakistan and it’s part in playing host to global terrorism (Thank you Saudi Wahhabis/Salafis and local Deobands!), as the author correctly noted who too is from the majority Sunni sect, the root of the societal problems cannot be ignored continuing in denial.

    Critics called the 80’s the Sunnification of Pak. If that’s too harsh, it at least was the Wahhabification or Deobandization of Pak. Sectarianism victims are ‘both sides’ but let’s not be disingenuous using false equivalences…they’ve been mostly from the minority Shia Muslim Pakistanis. Non-Sunni Muslim and non-Muslim are facing discriminatory issues and they can’t be downplayed any more, such as blasphemy laws and Ahmadis status.

    I’m just thankful there was no RAW conspiracy lie thrown in by anybody, as once propagated in the past even by well wishing uncles, but themselves who were sadly steeped in sectarian denial and religious ignorance, deflecting towards xenophobic nationalist propaganda. Recommend

  • Silent Observer

    ISLAM is not about “We are better than you”. ISLAM is about “Let me show you something that is better for us”.Recommend

  • abc

    We think we are doing Allah a favor by deciding matters ourselves assuming He will also agree with our decisions. Why can’t we simply tolerate and leave some matters for The Almighty to decide?
    Good read! Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Mustafa Moiz: Sorry Sir, not convinced by your reply.Recommend

  • Shahid Aziz

    Anoop, if Ghandi was a Hindu, a Muslim and a Christian why did he denounce his daughter for marrying a Muslim. It seems these were just wordsRecommend

  • http://www.elucidations.org Abu Bakr

    @Mustafa Moiz:
    I’m sorry, but my study of history and Mr. Jinnah tells me exactly what ‘Noise’ said. If you are convinced otherwise, you have to prove it.

    Noise Feb 26, 2012 – 10:37PM
    @Mustafa Moiz
    Thats not true, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born an Ismaili Shia of the Khoja race and later became a Twelver Shia. Although he wasn’t a practicing religious man at all. Why cant you people simply accept that Jinnah was a Shia and a secularist? Even today there are two types of Khojas, the Ismaili Shias and the Twelver ShiasRecommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    It doesn’t matter, I just don’t want people to preach their ideologies using Jinnah’s name falsely.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    I don’t have time to do your research for you. I gave my previous reply in a hurry, and I have things to do. I wouldn’t have replied at all, but I wanted you to know that I didn’t accept the claim at face value. Not that you’re provided any credible evidence on your part either.Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    I would direct you towards Stanley Wolpert, Vali Nasr and Khaled Ahmed. Jinnah was a Twelver Shia.

    Yes, Jinnah’s relationship with his daughter Dina got strained. He claimed that his wife had become Muslim and was not a matter of patriarchy and hypocrisy. Regardless, while showing his religious preference Jinnah was still civilized and secular, he did not forcibly stop his daughter, nor make a discriminatory state law in regards to such personal matters, and still kept formal relations with her after her marriage into a Parsi family.Recommend

  • A well wisher


    “Perhaps that is why someone said Religion is for the one who doesn’t have a conscience, if you have a conscience, you do not need a religion to tell you what is right and what is wrong.”

    That is deep and profound. I would also add that religion is for people without conscience and without the ability to think.Recommend

  • Cynical

    Instead of saying ‘I’m a Muslim’, he (Jinnah) could (actually should) have said ‘I’m a human’ or at the least ‘I’m a Pakistani‘.Apparently being a Muslim or to put it more emphatically, being known as a Muslim was more important to him than being more ‘Humane’ or at the least more ‘Pakistani’.
    No wonder where Pakistan is today, where it is. Recommend

  • nadia siddiqua

    nice article.In my opinion this is not our duty to decide who is better muslim who is not.This belongs to Allah like He says in Holy Quraan that”the best among you are those who are most righteous”.Killing in the name of religion is not allow in any religion.We can see that in this time pakistan is the only muslim country where muslims are killing each other because every sect thinks that they are better than other sects.Its surprising that they forget the teaching of Holy Quraan that “whosoever killed a person…it shall be as he had killed all mankind”.Please open your eyes and get true knowledge of islam which is the religion of love and provides peace and comfort not only to muslims but also to all mankind.to see the loing teachings of islam please visit http://www.alislam.orgRecommend

  • Sanjeev

    Even after 60 years they cant decide what they stand for……..!!!!!!Recommend

  • Ather Sultan

    After reading the article, I felt that I have arrived at the root cause of the problem plaguing Pakistan. We all know that Allama Iqbal dreamt of Pakistan that’s why he is called the “Thinker of Pakistan”. Based on this dream, Jinnah founded Pakistan. Now, if one happens to read Iqbal’s poetry, one clearly gets an impression that Iqbal never dreamt of Pakistan to become a secular state. Having said that, I am not of the opinion that Jinnah wanted a secular state either. But if we believe what the author says that Jinnah wanted a secular Pakistan, then the nightmare we are experiencing nowadays is not, in any way, the result of the dream once envisioned by Iqbal. In other words, Pakistan today is the product of dichotomy between dream and reality.Recommend

  • @Mufazzil

    There are some points that i guess should have been posted too. First of all, Jews and christians cant become our friends as it is in Quran, but to kill them for no reason is nowhere in our religion.
    And about sectarian violence :In January, three lawyers – a father, his son and nephew- were gunned down. They were Muslims who belonged to the Shia sect. On the same day, three other professionals from the Shia community were killed in Quetta.
    I strongly condemn their killing being a Pakistani, but what if these lawyers were sunni? Would Media have highlighted it the same way? The answer is: No. The sunnis are known as Pakistani, remaining people belonging to different sects or religions are called by their believes. And I 100% believe that its not my fault, the difference is created by whatever source Media should definitely be accused of this.
    About ahmadis, I personally dont know why people hate them, I mean if we cant love them then atleast we should stop hating them. And i guess i have a got a very simple solution for it. Ahmadis have separated themselve from Islam by their own people, then why do sunni or shia even care, let them do whatever they want to do, why to give them enough importance, seriously they are not worth it.
    Hathe the Sin, Not the Sinner (The true message of peaceful Islam) Recommend

  • Mish

    I think religion actually taught humanity, if you look down at the history.
    Just a thought.

    Anyways a great piece to be read by all!Recommend

  • sohail

    A very well written article Mr. Agga.
    I hope the real issues in pakistan of education, healthcare, freedom and security can be dealt with by some straight and clear minds like your and by the educated youth in Pakistan. The current people in administration of pakistan are self centered and dishonest, and a sudden twist towards a developing pakistan is a very long shot. We can only hope that our new generations from all sects who have grown together studying in same schools and grown helping each other in homeworks and sharing lunch boxes in lunch times and playing together can get the train of pakistan back on track of unity. Recommend

  • Rabia

    All Pakistan needs is UNITY and unfortunately that is THE most important thing we lack.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    @Shahid Aziz:

    Gandhi didn’t have a girl child, genius!! He had 3 sons and no daughters.

    FYI, the “secular” Jinnah flayed his daughter for marrying a non-muslim. I think you have mistaken Gandhi with Jinnah.

    Thanks for the laughs though. :)Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @Mustafa Moiz:

    Excuses, Moiz. You have no credible source. You don’t accept the claim period out of bias.

    Not that you’re provided any credible evidence on your part either.

    Let’s not be disingenuous. I have, many times. Here’s comments, full of references and explanation, but dismissed and twisted to suit your false claims, bias and illogic at the end.


    I regret my longer reply wasn’t posted under your last comment in that topic. I seriously took issue with how there was an outright false claim and misattribution to me ‘As you say, there’s no evidence of Quaid-e-Azam’s religious leanings’. Just very wrong and more than a bad mistake. Absurdly you would then claim he was secular and therefore by default became Sunni Muslim because of the majority (akin to saying Catholic JFK became Protestant). Beyond fallacy and illogic.

    Regardless, for references, read Stanley Wolpert, Vali Nasr and Khaled Ahmed. Links are available in the comments in the linked article above. Better yet, Wiki it. Not like it’ll make a difference…Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    Jinnah’s daughter married someone against her father’s wishes. To interfere in someone’s personal life and personal religious choices, like you are doing, doesn’t prove he isn’t secular. All it proves is that you don’t understand secularism, where personal and public life are separated.Recommend

  • Zalmay

    The converted usually become fanatics. Pakistan adopted the Wahabi/Deoband fundamental doctrines of Islam in the early 80s transforming a relatively secular state into a fanatic intolerant state. Most Punjabis never prayed or fasted and now they have turned into zealots propagating all this hatred and bigotry. Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    I have read the first two authors thatyou mentioned, and Vali Nasr twists facts not just about Pakistan but other areas as well. If he’s one of your sources, well, I’d just say look again. Pakistan has had Shia leaders, at least five, and military generals who were Shias. I don’t deny any of that. But Jinnah was not a Shia. His sister was, I also accept that.Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    Please, refer to my reply to RSingh above.

    Secularism is separation of religion and state. Not separation of religion and individual.

    Jinnah’s daughter’s decision was personal and so was his civil reaction.Recommend

  • Zalmay

    Just call me Muslim, the grandson of one Poonja Gokuldas Meghji, a Hindu who converted. Quaid E Azam was a true son of India with both Hindu and Muslim roots. Anyone still denying his Hindu and Shia roots are simply delusional and in perpetual denial. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @Mustafa Moiz:
    Yet you can’t name your source or give a proper rationale?

    What did you find Harvard scholar Vali Nasr twisting? Does it tie in with your own strong anti-Iran prejudiced views you’ve made known elsewhere?

    What about Wolpert and Ahmed’s claims? Why do you dispute them?

    Of course the other Shia Pakistani leaders won’t matter to you. But when it comes to Jinnah and the implications of your own religious nationalist identity as a Sunni Muslim Pakistani citizen, where being Sunni is crucial in your personal religious beliefs and dogmatic national identity, considering your own views where you believe Shias as non-Muslims, it matters…A LOT…and hence your strong denial and desperation to hold onto a fantasy narrative of Jinnah’s background to justify the country and your identity’s existence, which would then be shattered otherwise and feel like a ‘mistake’, unless you were to somehow accept Shia Muslims as Muslims, which I doubt…even the façade of secularism that you tout, ultimately falls flat showcasing a hypocrisy where being Muslim, of the Sunni kind, matters in the formation of Pakistan…Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf


    but what if these lawyers were sunni? Would Media have highlighted it the same way? The answer is: No. The sunnis are known as Pakistani, remaining people belonging to different sects or religions are called by their believes.

    Come off it. Before those 3 Shia lawyers (with no links to particular organizations), an ASWJ Sunni extremist worker and lawyer was gunned down. Yes it has been highlighted like the Sunni security official killed in Gilgit-Baltistan (a non-province where majority Shia population are represented by Sunni Deoband lawmakers) by Shia militants, but now overshadowed with another anti-Shia massacre committed by Sunni militants (a Salafist anti-Shia Sunni militant organization, Jundullah). It’s called motive and trends. Not every Shia Muslim is killed on sectarian motives and vice versa with Sunnis.

    But there is a higher rate of sectarian killings against minorities than there are against the majority in Pak. The victims are mostly from the minority Shia sect, and yes, it’s acknowledged that there are victims of the majority Sunni sect, just not as many nor evidence of a deliberate wide scale cleansing agenda like majority extremist militant counterparts and the hegemony of their religious narrative over Pak’s institutions. I understand the defensiveness, but this projects anti-minority resentment, complaining that you face discrimination as a majority member in news media reporting, but the truth is and statistics and evidence show that this is not the case.

    And I 100% believe that its not my fault, the difference is created by whatever source Media should definitely be accused of this.

    No one says the murder is directly related to you. However, with such denials, or downplaying of minority discrimination and bigotry, it contributes to the intolerant violent atmosphere, because you deflect with false equivalences or majority grievances, and give cover to actual extremists, prolonging discussing and taking action against the root cause of the issue which is religious bigotry from a prejudiced hegemonic majority. That’s why condemnations feel weak, leading to unserious action, due to such defensive qualifiers. Recommend

  • John B

    Give it up buddy. You can’t win over anyone by reason or logic in present day PAK. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Vali nasr and like him many pre paid think tankers writes so twisted metrials forget about it
    i have seen his books and talks on pakistan very anti and biased and one more thing most of books on islam avalable in americans books store like Borders and Burns and noble are either Ahmedi written and Shias like vali nasr its a irony and pre plans.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    I guess before partition there was very little such things like shia are muslim or not its got start it after iran khomainis revolution and interfares in pakistan and other places wher ever
    little shias live.Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @John B:
    I have to try. The irrationality and bigotry is costing lives and progress.

    @Ali Tanoli:
    It’s Barnes (not Burns…a bit funny) and Noble. Apart from the Ad Hominem and your prejudice against Ahmedis or Shias, please point out something substantial where you can disprove Vali Nasr’s contention on Jinnah’s background. Otherwise I’m not interested in whatever irrational conspiracy you may have on how Islam is in danger from writers with minority sect backgrounds.

    You guess wrong. Sectarianism is centuries old. In pre-partition India to present Pakistan this ridiculous ‘kafir or not kafir’ by Sunni/Shia majority supremacists exercise existed pre-1979, and was even endorsed by those inclined towards the local Sunni Deoband school of thought.

    Be honest in giving the full story, instead of half truths. Who decided to jump in after and decided to fund Pakistani militants in violent response of local Shiites trying to gain more rights and autonomy? The paranoid Wahhabi/Salafist Saudis whose ideology is strongly steeped in anti-Shia sentiment.

    This futile defensive derail and deflection towards dogmatic Iran and distortion of history and the unravelling of sectarianism in Pakistan, neglecting to mention local and foreign Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremism, regardless does nothing in support of Moiz’s erroneous belief on Jinnah’s background.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    Again and again I’ve said, I am not going to go looking for this information right now, and I know even if I did, you wouldn’t be convinced. Being a Harvard scholar doesn’t change the fact that Vali Nasr takes great liberties with the truth.
    You don’t know my political views and you don’t know what I consider my identity, so don’t pretend you do, especially when you’re dead wrong. And I have also never said Shias are non-Muslims, so, again, don’t assume you know my views on these matters.
    You have now engaged in petty, and false, personal attacks, increasingly malicious, and so I leave this conversation.Recommend

  • http://www.nerdcrunch.com Moderate

    @Abu Bakr

    Then cite an example? You are offended by my comment but you have failed to cite an example of anti-semitism. You are offended by Jinnah’s comment yet you FAIL to quote any comment from Muhammad PBUH and his followers that compliments your arguments in article.

    If you are offended then open Quran and Hadith books, study them and then write an article! Recommend

  • Munir

    Please stop using the term minority for any one who lives here. calling any one minority makes that group alien , for God sake dont use this term.Recommend

  • Reluctant Fundamentalist

    “The dominant ideology of every society is the ideology of the dominant class” (Karl Marx)Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @Mustafa Moiz:
    When you propagate a false claim repeatedly, without prompt, and simply refuse to back it up, don’t be surprised when called on it. In all academic fairness, I’d look and could be convinced if you had something credible. But let’s face it, you don’t and you know it. Again, name the liberties you refer to, specifically to Jinnah. I ask again, what of Wolpert and Ahmed? You still haven’t answered this and probably won’t.

    I’m sorry, but your sentiments come through in the comments, we can formulate a basic idea. Your view of Iran as an enemy where you would like to see Israel bomb them, I believe isn’t just based on your anti-India sentiments, also noted from your posts. You’ve never explicitly said it, but may have implied it in regards to views of Shias being non-Muslims, though you did outright condemn violence and how being non-Muslim doesn’t justify it or the author’s premise of pandering to only Muslim sentiments. But seemed like it wavered (I can provide the comment’s link if asked). There’s a trend and tone in your posts elsewhere, such as downplaying minority treatment and liberal dislike, etc.

    If I’m wrong in my strong assumptions, I apologize. But the unfounded claim and subsequent denials lends evidence to the author’s article on Pak’s religious nationalist sectarian polarization.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    @Mustafa Moiz:

    Her Father’s wish was that she not marry a non-Muslim. Jinnah is a public figure. I am not saying something which is not repeated thousand times before.Recommend