Who was Jinnah, an Islamic cultural relativist or a brown sahib?

Published: June 8, 2016

Jinnah wanted Pakistan the right way. PHOTO: FILE

There are two bar rooms in the Lahore High Court. One is considered the bar room of left liberals and progressives. The other bar room, much bigger of the two, is the favourite haunt of those with a tinge of religious right wing. The left leaning bar room has a photograph of an emaciated Mr Jinnah in a suit. The other one has a sombre portrait of him in a black sherwani and karakul cap. Next to his portrait is an equally serious portrait of Allama Iqbal. 

In a poignant piece for Granta sometime ago New York Times journalist Jane Perlez pointed out that one’s choice of Jinnah portrait could tell a lot about one’s ideological affiliations in Pakistan. But what was Jinnah’s own ideology? Was he a liberal or a conservative? Which of the two bar rooms would he sit in if he were here today?

His background and training gives us a clue. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam and the founding father of Pakistan, was born into an Ismaili household as Muhammadali Jinnahbhai, though he became a Khoja Ithna Ashari Shia in 1901 after the Agha Khan refused to bless his sister’s marriage outside the Ismaili community.

Earlier he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali Jinnah while at Lincoln’s Inn in 1892 arguing that the suffix “bhai” was rudimentary because in his view “bhai” and “mister” were interchangeable. Like all barristers, however, he was most commonly referred by his peers as “Jinnah” or “Mr Jinnah” depending on who addressed him.

His time at the Bombay bar suggests that young Mr Jinnah identified himself first and foremost as a modern Indian. To him most religious practices were either meaningless rituals or useless superstitions. Dietary restrictions were summarily rejected by him. From all accounts he ate and drank at Bombay’s finest eateries like Cornaglia’s Restaurant. These eateries did not serve halal food and that did not seem to bother him in the least. Indeed he was the embodiment of Macaulay’s ideal Indian, an Indian by skin and name but an Englishman in tastes and habits. From his time in London, he also imbibed the best that British liberalism had to offer, rejecting racial distinctions and tribal associations as relics of the past.

His commitment to this British brand of liberalism was so strong, that he was amongst the earliest supporters of the Suffragette Movement in Britain.

The left leaning bar room has a photograph of an emaciated Mr Jinnah in a suit.
Photo: Jinnah Blog post

For a decade and a half, Jinnah was Bombay’s most eligible bachelor and its leading politician. In 1918 he, in the immortal words of Sarojini Naidu, plucked the blue flower of his desire. Ruttie Petit, the daughter of Parsi magnet Dinshaw Petit, had to convert to Islam. This had to do with the law which required, in the event of an inter-communal marriage, either renunciation of faith by both parties or conversion by one.

Jinnah, by now elected on a Muslim constituency, had to retain his religious identity. It was well known, however, in Bombay’s circles that Ruttie Jinnah’s conversion to Islam was merely in name. Instead of becoming a Muslim wife, Ruttie freely dabbled in theosophy and even delivered lectures on it in Duke University in the US.

Meanwhile her strapless dresses often created scandals. On two separate occasions, Jinnah walked out with his wife, after a host chided Ruttie for wearing strapless dresses. Once was at a dinner with Lord and Lady Wellingdon. The second was when the Begum of Bhopal told Ruttie that she was a Muslim now and that she should dress accordingly. Jinnah’s reaction on both occasions is instructive.

Politics often decides its own course. Jinnah’s politics continuously evolved from 1906 when he joined the Congress to the time he took office as Pakistan’s first Governor General. Much has been written about it. There is no dispute, even amongst his worst critics, that from 1906 right up to 1937, Jinnah’s politics were completely secular.

During this period he saw himself as an Indian first, second and last and was unwaveringly committed to the ideal of a united and independent India. It was only after 1937, after failing to secure an equitable power sharing arrangement with the Congress in UP, that Jinnah turned his attention to consolidating the Muslim community as a voting bloc. It is a fact that even when Jinnah took up the Muslim cause, his idea of Islam was informed not by the religious orthodoxy, but by a modernist interpretation of Islam.

This was a time, when the modernists in the Muslim intelligentsia far outnumbered the religiously orthodox. The binary of secular versus religious just did not exist for the modernist Muslims of the Muslim League. This is why for Jinnah there was no contradiction in speaking about Islamic principles of justice and fair play in one speech and speaking of religion as a personal matter in another.

Laws; whether religious or secular, in Jinnah’s estimation could only be drafted, discussed and enacted by modern men and women elected through the ballot. All citizens of Pakistan regardless of their religion or gender would be equal citizens of the new state.

Jinnah made it absolutely clear that Pakistan would not be a theocracy to be run by priests with a divine mission. There was no space for a Council of Islamic Ideology and the Federal Shariat Court in this vision. Nor could he have imagined that one day Pakistan’s National Assembly would decide whether a particular sect is Muslim or not.

Was he a liberal or a conservative?
Photo: Pakwheels

So which picture of the Quaid-e-Azam is based on fact? And which is fiction?

General Ziaul Haq’s Islamising government in the 80s actively censored his photographs in suits, his photographs with dogs, and him smoking cigars. Instead the Zia government tried to project him as an Islamic cultural relativist, which was the farthest from what he was.

Take it or leave it but Jinnah was the embodiment of the term “brown sahib”. He smoked, drank and ate as he pleased, all the while dressed in immaculate three piece suits and two tone shoes. As a politician trying to mobilise the masses, he did don the sherwani and karakul for select public occasions but that was an exception, not the rule. When the Islamists and conservatives try to find a puritan and a fundamentalist in Jinnah they are sorely disappointed. This is why they insist on elevating Allama Iqbal, the true cultural relativist as his equal as a founding father.

Nor should left liberals and secularists expect to find a consistent and an ideologically pure secular position in Jinnah’s politics post 1937. He was a great advocate and a master politician but never an ideologue. Jinnah was essentially a liberal and modern man who nevertheless was a pragmatist catering to the idiom of his people.

We must therefore study Jinnah holistically as a great practitioner of the art of politics. We should refrain from retrofitting our own ideologies on him.

Who do you think Jinnah was?

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Yasser Latif Hamdani

Yasser Latif Hamdani

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He tweets as @theRealYLH (twitter.com/therealylh)

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

  • Vish

    Jinnah was a clean shaven mullah in suit. Nothing less nothing more. Just like mullahs he had no in-depth knowledge of the faith he claimed to profess. Just like mullahs blare over loudspeakers, at every Friday sermon, to gather and galvanise their followers Jinnah did the same. Just like mullahs try to convert unbelievers to the true faith, Jinnah did the same. Just as mullahs disapprove of Muslims marrying into other faiths Jinnah did the same. Recommend

  • Mayuresh

    So was Nehru, the sad story of this subcontinent where brown sahibs with no clue and foresight fought for petty political gains of their ownRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    After retrofitting ideology through out the article in the end author gave free advice not to retrofit. ThanksRecommend

  • gp65

    “It was well known, however, in Bombay’s circles that Ruttie Jinnah’s conversion to Islam was merely in name.”
    You are implying that if it were not for the fact that he had to keep his religion for his constituency, he would have been okay with the alternative i.e. both he and Ruttie giving up their religion or that if the law did not require either both to give up religion or one to convert, he would have been okay with Ruttie keeping her religion.
    Why then did he have a problem with his daughter marrying a non-Muslim?Recommend

  • Rohan

    Yea this article is more factual than most others on tribune.But it’s not clear whether jinnah wanted a modern Muslim country or an Islamic theocracyRecommend

  • vinsin

    How does it matter who Jinnah was or wasnt? There was no such laws that legalized love Jihad even during British Raj. Jinnah always believed in Political Islam or Islam as a political movement. Fourteen Points of Jinnah proposed in 1929 are against secularism. Those points, point towards support for religious orthodoxy. If Islam stands for justice then what Indian Muslims doing in India after partition? Why Jinnah sent militants in J&K? What were Muslim National Guard and Noakhali riots? Then why Jinnah called himself proudly Qatil-e-Azam? Why Jinnah asked Sindhi Hindus to leave Pakistan? Why Jinnah asked Bhutto in Junagard to starve Hindus to death? Why Jinnah supplied arms to Hyderabad to do genocide on Hindus? Why Jinnah didnt stop genocide of Punjabi Hindus and violence on Sikhs? What about justice for people who were killed by Direct Action Day? None of the Jinnah demands were secular since 1929.

    Author forgot so easily that Jinnah disowned his only child because she decided to marry a non-Muslims and she opposed love Jihad.

    Fact is Jinnah opposed everything that was secular at that time and called “Islam is in Danger” regarding women right, animal rights and religious building laws. Jinnah maybe more liberal but certainly not secular.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    “though he became a Khoja Ithna Ashari Shia in 1901 after the Agha Khan refused to bless his sister’s marriage outside the Ismaili community”. Actually, Jinnah himself was expelled from the Aga Khan community because of his marriage to a non-Aga Khani woman (Ruttie Jinnah, the daughter of a Parsi man and a Roman Catholic woman). This happened in 1919.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    He was similar to his grandpa who converted for getting tannery contract. Same is true about iqbal whose grandpa was originally Hindu Pandit Sapru. He was not much different and ran away to London. Jinah ran away to London in 1930, as Gandhi made sure that Congress cease to be a evening debating club for rich and Anglicized elite who line marowed air headed girls Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    Everything you have written here is based on a profound ignorance of history. There is nothing in the 14 points that “points to orthodoxy”. Goes to show you haven’t read the 14 points. Nor did Jinnah refer to himself proudly as Qatil e Azam… he referred to the fact that the events that unfolded at partition had made him qatil-e-azam and he said this as a matter of great regret. Bihar riots had been provoked by the Congress… the direct action day in Calcutta got violent but there it was the Muslims who were butchered by Hindu gangs and Sikhs bussed in from other parts of India. Three times as many Muslims died in Calcutta riots than Hindus. Jinnah at no point disowned his daughter- this is a myth and a lie – Jinnah’s own will and testament proves otherwise and also the fact that Jinnah kept in constant contact with Dina afterwards…. also Jinnah never used the slogan Islam in danger. I am shocked that people can distort historical facts like you have here.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    His problem with his daughter’s marriage had to do with the same law. The law required her to either renounce or convert and that would pose a problem for the leader of the Muslims. Secondly Jinnah disapproved of Neville Wadia. However Jinnah did not disown his daughter and that is more myth than fact.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    Everything I have written here is based on verifiable facts. How have I retrofitted my ideology? Please do point out instances.Recommend

  • Babu Rao

    It was Gandhi’s strategy to elevate hindu values by introducing bhajans in political gatherings and by selecting an attire that was more religious than national. In addition, the nonviolence and hindi language movements were infact the basis of religious division in united India. Jinnah being a secular leader, merely responded to these discriminatory policies of religious leaders of Indian Congress and aimed at protecting the identity of biggest minority (muslims) in sub-continent. He wished, that identity be defined through an inclusive and democratic process and which would be able to create an environment of equality and respect for all sects and faiths.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    One wonders where this prejudice and ignorance of the facts come from. Where did Jinnah try to convert anyone? If Jinnah disapproved of Muslims marrying other faiths, why did he campaign for thirty years for civil marriage laws. Please do criticize Jinnah on all counts and by all means but at least ensure that your claims against him are based on fact and not your own ignorance.

    This is Jinnah in 1912 on the Special Marriage Bill : May I ask the honourable member, is this the first time in the history of the legislation of this country that this council has been called upon to override the Musalman Law or modify it to suit the times? This council has overridden and modified the Musalman Law in many respects.” He went on to state the various occasions in which the council had abrogated Islamic law before declaring, “This is an entirely optional character of legislation and it is not at all compulsory that every Muhammadan shall marry a non-Muhammadan or that every Hindu shall marry a non-Hindu. Therefore, if there is fairly a large class of enlightened, educated, advanced Indians, be they Hindus, Muhammadans or Parsis, and if they wish to adopt a system of marriage, which is more in accord with the modern civilisation and ideas of modern times, more in accord with modern sentiments, why should that class be denied justice?”
    Does this sound like a man who opposed marriage of Muslims to Non-Muslims ? His opposition to his daughter’s marriage was not in religious but legal grounds. And also because he thought Neville Wadia was philanderer … I think you have him mixed up with Gandhi who threw a fit when his son converted to Islam.Recommend

  • Lets look at logic

    Yes. I have cross-referenced what you wrote here and it is all true.

    What Pakistanis see as their founding father was no different from a typical jihadi militant commander.Recommend

  • W R

    Absolute rubbish. Without going into answering each of your nonsensical allegations suffice it to say that in 1929 when chudhary Rehmat Ali suggested Pakistan Jinnah angrily called the suggestion ridiculous! Stop stretching the fiction to suit your nefarious designs!Recommend

  • Babu Rao

    Thanks for sharing the propaganda against Jinnah in your textbooks. But as they say appearance speaks for you, Gandhi’s attire, his vegetarian lifestyle and gomutra snaan spoke loudest about the intensity of his religious beliefs! Jinnah had to respond to protect the biggest minority (muslims) of the sub-continent and he did that without exhibiting a religious appearance. In fact, only Jinnah succeeded in creating a new state, whereas after second world war, Britain had already decided to leave its colonies including India.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    Anyone who has read the 14 points knows that there is nothing religious about them. The rest of the claims are blatant untruths I am afraid. I suggest you read a good book on Jinnah’s life instead of trolling this article.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    I think it is very clear that he wanted a modern Muslim country and not a theocracy – which he had opposed consistently. The debate really is on the secularity of that modern Muslim country.Recommend

  • Lets look at logic

    Only Pakistanis believe in Jinnah non-sense, The rest of the civilized world looks at facts, the biggest of which being the promotion of a false two nation theory propaganda, that only breeds hatred towards anyone who does not believe in Arabic Islam.

    You are making yourself look like a fool, projecting a suit-wearing-jihadist as some kind of savior of mankind.


  • Fahimuddin

    1) You mentioned “There was no space for a Council of Islamic Ideology and the Federal Shariat Court in this vision.” Can you give some verifiable facts ?
    2) Hiding information is biggest form of retrofitting. Jinnah relation with Ghazi Ilmuddin and 14 points in early political career.
    3) Highlighting such information that was in early part of life but not in end. What matters is the end only, that determines what he was!Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    1. Jinnah said: “In any event Pakistan shall not be a theocratic state to be run by priests with a divine mission” Feb 1948… Also Jinnah appointed a Hindu law minister as Pakistan’s first. Why didn’t he appoint a Maulana as a law minister instead?
    2. Jinnah represented Ilam Din as a lawyer. Nothing to do with his politics. He got paid for it. There was nothing more to it. Have you read the 14 points (which came in 1929 not early part of his career as you say)? Which of the 14 points do you find as being contradictory to the secular ideal of India. My feeling is that you are commenting here without even looking at the facts.
    3. What was he in the end? His personal dietary habits by all accounts remained unchanged till the very end. And on 11 August 1947 he made plain what his political vision was. So what is your point.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    My understanding is that Jinnah converted in 1901. Also as a Congressman from 1904 to 1920 he was very antagonistic towards Aga Khan because of Aga Khan’s pro-British inclinations. Please produce some evidence for 1919 expulsion. Thanks.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    Instead of same old abuses, why don’t you answer the question: Which part of the 14 points was religious?
    Historians world over have studied Jinnah and concluded similarly to what I have here. Surely Patrick French Nisid Hajari Wolpert and H M Seervai are not Pakistanis.
    Calling Jinnah a jihadist shows your own bigotry. Does not change the facts about Jinnah.Recommend

  • Kushal

    “the direct action day in Calcutta got violent but there it was the Muslims who were butchered by Hindu gangs and Sikhs bussed in from other parts of India. ”
    Dear Yasser, please spare Kolkata out of your propaganda. Please answer who started the rioting first? Who paralysed the provincial police forces so that they remain in their respective “thana”s while the city burned?
    “Jinnah at no point disowned his daughter- this is a myth and a lie – Jinnah’s own will and testament proves otherwise and also the fact that Jinnah kept in constant contact with Dina afterwards”
    Well well…
    “”Jinnah, in his usual imperious manner, told her that there were millions of Muslim boys in India, and she could have anyone she chose. Reminding her father that his wife (Wadia’s mother Rattanbai), had also been a non-Muslim, a Parsi also coincidently, the young lady replied: ‘Father, there were millions of Muslim girls in India. Why did you not marry one of them?’ And he replied that, ‘She became a Muslim'”.
    Says enough for your hero.
    Also .. It is said (by Jinnah’s associate M C Chagla in “Roses in December”) that when Dina married Neville, Jinnah said to her that she was not his daughter any more.
    Why should I believe you instead of his associate?Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    Kushal sb,
    No one is trying to make you believe anything you dont want to… I am only giving you my view.
    Jinnah’s last will and testament (prepared a few months after his daughter married Neville Wadia) clearly mentions his daughter. http://www.jinnah.pk/2010/12/25/quaid-e-azams-will/ And it is also a fact that Jinnah remained in constant touch with his daughter long after the marriage. So it does not matter what M C Chagla says.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    PS. Enough information about Calcutta rioting has come out to blow to bits the standard Indian mythology about the direct action day…Recommend

  • Sophie

    A very accurate portrayal of Mr Jinnah. A lot of people have no idea that he used to drink and eta ham and pork. However I don’t understand why such a non religious person fought for a separate country based on religion? Is it possible that he was manipulated by British to create a permanent chaos and keep the region unstable just like they have done from Fiji to Zimbabwe?

  • Lalit

    ”Jinnah being a secular leader, merely responded to these discriminatory policies of religious leaders of Indian Congress and aimed at protecting the identity of biggest minority (muslims) in sub-continent. He wished, that identity be defined through an inclusive and democratic process and which would be able to create an environment of equality and respect for all sects and faiths.”

    And his ”Two Nation theory” and ”direct action day” were the embodiment of his inclusive and secular mindset.Isn’t it ? How was Gandhi’s support to truth and non violence, communal ? you are talking about his emphasis on Bhajans.Do you know he used to sing ”ishwar allah tero naam” ? Whole world still vouches for the universality of Gandhi’s philosophy and message. .The real truth is MAJ sensed a clear electoral defeat and no worthwhile position in Independent India as was proved in elections of 1937’s elections.He insisted upon being the only leader of Indian Muslims.He hijacked a movement,milked the emotions of Muslims, took undue advantage of the insecurity of Muslim landed gentry on the name of proposed land reforms by Congress and took poor gullible Muslims for a ride on the name of an ideology called Pakistan,the consequences of which they continue to tolerate.Recommend

  • Lalit

    An another Muslim Icon Mohammad Iqbal(curiously a third generation converted Muslim like Jinnah) wrote ‘Tarana-e-Hind’ in 1904 which had emotions like” Mazhab nahi sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna,Hindi hain hum watan hai Hindostan hamara,saare jahan se acha ,hindostan hamara”…..this gives an impression that the author was a secular and liberal thinker,while some six year down the line the same Iqbal wrote an another song ‘Tarana e Milli’ emphasing the Muslim’s ownership over China,Arab and India…In which reference should a neutral viewer look at Iqbal and how does he reconcile both his viewpoints .Ditto with MAJ….he was a big champion of liberal thoughts until he discovered the assorted benefits of bigotry.As expected you are trying to give a good spin to the tale..Recommend

  • Fahim

    1) Jinnah was not in favor of any moulvi dictation what Islam.
    2) What is your proof that Jinnah got paid for Ilmdin shaheed case ? Kindly present your proof, what & how much. Note : He has given blank check only one time in his life for the cause of Ilmdin as far as I know. 14 points was about Muslims right and autonomy, getting Muslim majority provinces and leadership and these 14th points have nothing to do with secularism as far as I know.
    3) Quaid-e-Azam’s 11 august speech was related to religion that religion has nothing to do with country’s law. Only reference of following quote is from Jinnah, he said “Islam is not religion but Islam is Deen. Hindusim, Christianity, judaism are religion only but not deen”.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Jinah was opportunist like his grandpa who converted for getting tannery contract. He ran away to London. Jinah ran away to London in 1930 and came back in 1936 when Anglos primised khilafahood of India. Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Yes Gandhi should have drank Brishit Thurra and chain smoked Brishit beedi to prove his secular credentials.Recommend

  • abhi

    In the list of options I think one more option was needed. I am missing it while voting.Recommend

  • Babu Rao

    Two Nation Theory surfaced as a result of Gandhi’s Hinduism! If he was aimed at consolidating the whole sub-continent, he should have come up with a leadership plan to federate all residents irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Instead, he appeared as an orthodox hindu because he knew the statistical majority of hindus and on that basis tried to bend the British colonial influence. As Justice Markandey Katju writes: “By constantly injecting religion into politics continuously for several decades, Gandhi furthered the British policy of divide and rule,”He goes on to say that Gandhi “diverted the freedom struggle from this revolutionary direction to a harmless nonsensical channel called Satyagrah. Gandhi just announced non-violence because he knew British raj would favor this majority and in return India got Lord Mountbatten, a Britisher, their first Governor General. The whole world might’ve learned some yoga techniques from Gandhi but we are talking about winning politics and leadership here. Jinnah was visionary enough in hijacking a movement from the hands of Gandhi, and successful enough to create a new country for the minority of sub-continent.Recommend

  • gp65

    1. Call for Direct Action is not untrue.

    2. Pushing Hindus out was Liaqat Ali’s decision but supported by Jinnah. It has been documented even in this same newspaper. http://tribune.com.pk/story/388663/who-orchestrated-the-exodus-of-sindhi-hindus-after-partition/

    3. The fact that Jinnah disowned his daughter for marrying a on-Muslim is also well documented.

    4. There was a stand still agreement between Pakistan and Kashmir. No country signs agreement with itself. The very fact of agreement shows Kashmir was not part of Pakistan. . http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1762146.stm Yet Jinnah sent soldiers dressed as tribals (similar to what Musharraf did 50 years later) and when the marauding soldiers reached Srinagar Maharajah ran to India and signed the accession treaty. Again if you say that Jinnah did not order Pak army to attack Kashmir, how is it that Pakistan is sitting in the area you call Azaad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan?
    5. Is genocide of Sikhs in Pakistan not a reality?
    Forget all that – is the Two nation theory secular or do you even deny that Jinnah supported TNT? What about Muslim League’s contention that it represented all Muslims in India. Regardless of that being true or not – is it inherently a secular claim? Did Jinnah even want to represent the interests of non-Muslims?

    What has he said that you actually dispute?Recommend

  • np

    Do you consider Jinnha’s speech in Lahore in March 1940 where he proposed the TNT and stated that Hindus and Muslims are two nations which cannot be yoked together as a secular statement? Why is only his August 11 statement relevant?Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    It was common practice for Aga Khani Ismailis to join another community after marrying outside their parent community. Jinnah was invited by both Khoja Sunnat & Khoja Shia Jamaats to join them. For some reason, he chose to join the latter, perhaps because it was formed by men who rebelled against the Aga Khan (as narrated by him in his book). It is also not true that Jinnah was antagonistic towards the Aga Khan (in fact both were good friends, the Aga Khan being the first president of the All India Muslim League). Jinnah was 43 and Ruttie was 18 when they married, which was in 1919 (10 years before her death). All this I have read and also heard from my father and uncles, and others who knew the Quaid personally. By the way, Jinnah was born a Muslim, it was his grandfather who converted.Recommend

  • ram

    he is just a lawyer hired by nawabs to safeguard there landsRecommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    1. Direct Action Day was a call for civil disobedience not violence. In Calcutta three times as many Muslims as Hindus died. These facts are well documented.
    2. This is absolutely untrue and even the article you quote doesn’t support it. It is easily disproved by the fact that Jinnah’s first law minister was a Hindu.
    3. What Pakistan did in Kashmir was no different than what India did in several places all over India. Jinnah in any event was not associated with the raiders in Kashmir and this is proved by Alastair Lamb. However it was Kashmir that had broken the standstill agreement. And Poonch rebellion was already happening. Pakistan could not stand aside when people were being butchered by the Maharaja. It is ironic that Indians speak of Kashmir in such manner. What of India’s massacre of 150,000 Muslims in Hyderabad? What was that all about?
    4. The term genocide cannot be applied for mutual bloodletting. 70-80 percent of all victims of violence at partition were Muslims. Who organized the Sikh Jathas ? If you insist on calling it a “genocide” then you should also answer for the complete ethnic cleansing of Muslims from East Punjab which was much more deliberate and supported by Congress leadership.
    5. You obviously do not understand what Two Nation Theory meant. It was not an inherently unsecular claim to say that Muslims constituted a nation and not a minority. Secondly Jinnah’s claim to represent all Muslims was based on the election results. Jinnah claimed to represent the Muslims because by the 1940s he had most of the Muslims behind him and because in 1946 elections they gave Muslim League most of the Muslim seats… more than 90 percent of the seats and 70 percent of the electorate. So it was a perfectly justified claim and in the end even Gandhi conceded it.
    I recommend you read H M Seervai’s Partition of India Legend and Reality to clear the prejudice which you have internalized through right wing Indian nationalist propaganda.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    He said that Muslims were a nation. It did not mean Muslims could not co-exist with another nation. What he was getting at was consociationalism and settlement between two nations for the governance of their common motherland … his words not mine. However I have already written in the article above that you should not expect to find a consistently secular ideological position in Jinnah after 1937 as he was a politician and not an ideologue. What part of that is unclear?Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    1. So you agree that Jinnah did not want a council of Islamic ideology.
    2. Jinnah was paid by donations of Punjab Muslims. Read any book on the issue. Jinnah was not emotionally involved in any way with Ilam Din’s cause. Even his defence shows that he was arguing that ultimately Ilam Din should be spared because he was young and misguided. Read the record of the case in AIR 1930 Lah 157. On 14 points – you have obviously not read the 14 points. Read “Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity” by Ian Bryant Wells which analyze the 14 points. There is nothing about Muslim autonomy in the 14 points. It spoke of the rights of all minorities and not just Muslims. It was a secular document. Read it some time.
    3. Please produce a reference for this statement by Jinnah. In the 11 August speech Jinnah also said “In due course of time, Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in a religious sense that is the personal faith of an individual but in a political sense as citizens of one state”. This is as clear a secular statement as any. No distinctions of deen and mazhab here.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    Pray tell what happened to the universal message of Gandhiji in South Africa viz the Africans who he called savages and subhuman? And what about B R Ambedkar’s critique of Gandhi? Is that wrong too.
    Gandhi has gotten great PR but those who read his collected works get a whole different picture.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    No. He was forced out of the Congress by Gandhi’s increasingly cultural relativist politics especially after the Khilafat movement. Still Jinnah tried to keep India united even in 1946 by accepting the Cabinet Mission Plan. It was Congress that vetoed it.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    PS: Jinnah did not at any point disown his daughter. That is a myth. She was part of his last will and testament and was constantly in touch with him through out the 1940s. There is correspondence between the two and Jinnah often met and played with his grandchildren including Nusli Wadia.Recommend


    Beverley Nichols wrote the book, Verdict on India in 1944 having lived and researched the political situation in the country for over a year. In his view Jinnah was ‘the most important man in Asia’. ‘He can sway the battle this way
    or that as he chooses. His 100 million Muslims will march to the left, to the
    right, to the front, to the rear at his bidding, and nobody else’s —- that is
    the point’ (Verdict on India, p. 188). This was when Jinnah held no
    power as such. How many leaders in history can claim such distinction?

    Sir Patrick Spens, the last Chief Justice of undivided India paid this tribute to Jinnah: ‘The tallness of the man, the immaculate manner in which he turned out, the beauty of his features and the extreme courtesy with which he treated all; no one could have made a more favourable impression than he did. There is no man or woman living that imputes anything against his honour or his honesty. He was the most outright person that I know’.

    When he passed away, throughout the length and breadth of the country, in cities,
    towns and villages, in streets, offices and homes, among both the young and the
    old, men and women, there was not a dry eye to be seen. All of them cried
    unabashedly, wailing, ‘Haaey, Baba mar gaya’. I know for I was there. They were inconsolable, people who had never even seen Jinnah. That was the true measure of the man. How many in history can claim such devotion and distinction?
    Hussan Zia.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    What can one say to people who instead of understanding a counterpoint of view start with accusations like “you are trying to give a good spin to the tale”. It never ceases to amaze me the vitriol and hatred that comes pouring forth by Indians on this website. It serves as an eye opener for many.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Jinah was the first Human that Anglos sent in 1936 from London. It caused lot of destruction and is still causing it. Bedouin Hashmites sent Bin Kasim against natives.Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    1) I agree only not to take dictation from any Scholar. That is against Islam and also Jinnah’s vision. But any institution working and recommending Islamic law is OK.
    2) If Jinnah was not emotionally involved, why would he taken an already lost case and a client who is not cooperative at all? It was only emotional linkage with Islam nothing else. Also read 14 points yourself “In the Central Legislature, Muslim representation shall not be less than one third;” In what definition this point is secular ? (There are other points too)
    3) Islam and muslims are different things. Don’t confuse yourself, I agree that in Islamic state of affairs non-muslims should have equal medical, educational, judicial rights. But regarding constitution is concern Quaid-e-Azam never said it won’t be Islamic. “What more can one really expect than to see that this mighty land has now been brought under a rule, which is Islamic, Muslim rule, as a sovereign independent State.” ( Speech in reply to the Welcome Address by the Principal, Staff and Students of Edwards College, Peshawar, 18 April 1948).Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    You may hold that prejudiced a-historical and bigoted point of view. Jinnah went to England in 1931 to plead India’s case at the Roundtable conferences. And he returned in 1934 and allied the Muslim League to the Congress.

    No one who has read history can accuse Jinnah of being anyone’s tool or an opportunist. Dr. B R Ambedkar wrote this about him: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ambedkar_partition/412d.html#part_5

    “Secondly, it forgets that Mr. Jinnah, who represents this ideological transformation, can never be suspected of being a tool in the hands of the British even by the worst of his enemies….It may be that his fame is built up more upon art and less on substance. At the same time, it is doubtful if there is a politician in India to whom the adjective incorruptible can be more fittingly applied. Anyone who knows what his relations with the British Government have been, will admit that he has always been their critic, if indeed he has not been their adversary. No one can buy him. For it must be said to his credit that he has never been a soldier of fortune. The customary Hindu explanation fails to account for the ideological transformation of Mr. Jinnah.”Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani


    Secondly, it forgets that Mr. Jinnah, who represents this ideological transformation, can never be suspected of being a tool in the hands of the British even by the worst of his enemies…. At the same time, it is doubtful if there is a politician in India to whom the adjective incorruptible can be more fittingly applied. Anyone who knows what his relations with the British Government have been, will admit that he has always been their critic, if indeed he has not been their adversary. No one can buy him. For it must be said to his credit that he has never been a soldier of fortune. The customary Hindu explanation fails to account for the ideological transformation of Mr. Jinnah.- B R AmbedkarRecommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    1. Not according to Jinnah. Jinnah opposed any role for religious clergy dictating what the law should be. No way Jinnah would have endorsed CII. He said very clearly that Pakistan would not be a theocracy to be run by priests with a divine mission.
    2. You can believe whatever you want to. Jinnah was a specialist at getting death sentences changed into life sentences. His arguments before the court were very clear. At no point did he say that Ilam Din did the right thing. He in fact argued that Ilam Din didn’t do it. Like I said read AIR 1930 Lah 157 Ilam Din v. Emperor. It is there in the record. There is no public statement by Jinnah on this issue. It was neither political nor emotional for him. He was paid for the case and he did his job and then he left without even making it a public cause.
    On 14 points asking for reservation for Muslims as a community is a political demand not a religious one. Muslims were a minority and required safeguards. It is certainly not a religious positions. Dalits have the same reservation in secular India today. How is that not secular. I am sorry but you do not understand constitutional documents.
    3. You produced a statement which you’ve failed to substantiate. Now you are producing a completely different statement. I have already said that Jinnah was a politician who used the terms interchangeably.. however what kind of Islamic state as a Hindu law minister ? Pakistan’s first law minister was a Hindu – Jogindranath Mandal- who knew nothing about Islamic law whatsoever. That itself proves what Jinnah’s view was. He certainly did not appoint an Islamic scholar as the law minister.Recommend

  • Kushal

    Like? example? Source of information? Kolkata is my city so think twice before spreading propaganda like ” More muslims killed” and other rubbish.Recommend

  • Kushal

    “Direct Action Day was a call for civil disobedience not violence. In Calcutta three times as many Muslims as Hindus died. These facts are well documented. ”
    Dont try to hide behind the corpses Yasser, this is last thing Qaed would have wanted. What actually you are trying to imply when you say three times as many muslims as Hindus died. That Muslims were victims ? That they didn’t start the rioting ?
    Tell me it was civil disobedience against whom?
    Federal govt held by the British? How many British was killed/injured during the “struggle”?
    Provincial govt of Bengal held by Muslim league and led by Surawardy?
    So it was the Hindus who were target of the terror tactics.
    And by the way, Congress launched a civil disobedience earlier in 1930. How many were killed then?Recommend

  • gp65

    1. I maybe misinformed about his will to his daughter, so I have noted the information you provided.
    2. Jinnah said, I will have India divided or India destroyed while calling for Direct action day. It is completely disingenuous to pretend that call for Direct Action was a call for civil disobedience. The fact that more Muslims may have been killed proves nothing. The fact is they started the looting and killing on Jinnah’s instruction. Jinnah had no control over the reaction which of course was proportionate.
    3. If a man only wants to represent people of one faith then he cannot be considered secular.that is my point regarding whom Muslim League and Jinnah as their leader wanted to represent.
    4. Hindus and Muslims willing each other in t aftermath of partition but Sikhs were neither Hindu nor Muslim, so how is it that India ended up with all the Sikhs and Pakistan with none?
    5. Sind was not partitioned in he 1941 census, Karachi had 51%. Hindus and 8% Sikhs. Where are they now? The article I attached says exactly what I implied. liaqat Ali pushed out Hindus from Sind to make way for muhajirs. Jinnah supported that.
    6. TNT is not just about calling Muslims as a separate nation instead of minorities.It is about saying they cannot livtogether. Recommend

  • gp65

    Cabinet Mission Plan did not give one person one vote and that is why it was rejected. The fact that as minority, Jinnah wanted extra privileges for Muslims within united India but refused to give the same to Hindus within Pak tells you all you need to know about his duplicity.Recommend

  • Fahim

    1) I think you are completely unaware that CII doesn’t dictate, it just give recommendations. First distinguish between dictation and recommendation.
    2) Jinnah was top lawyer of India, he had no issue of money problem. He would never take a lost case just for money. You never mentioned how much and who exactly paid him,
    3) Check Ministry of Law responsibilities. It is to ‘renders advice to the Federal and Provincial Governments on legal and Constitutional questions’, drafting bills etc. If you don’t understand difference between advice & dictation. How you can understand that why hindu was first law minister. He was Law minister even when 1949 objective resolution was passed, that was heavily Islamic. Now you can understand the difference between dictation and recommendations.

    Note : While Jinnah’s statements and speeches are hard to find. It will take time to produce reference but it doesn’t mean that he hasn’t said to differentiate between Islam and other religionsRecommend

  • siesmann

    It is the Mullahs who make anybody and everybody who he is ,rather than who was.Their created mythology is what goes for history in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Why do u edit my comments? Jinah was Anglo’s drone of last century. For good working of these drones they used to guzzle lot of British alcohol & chain smoked British beedi. If it drinks like a drone and smokes like a drone then it must be a drone.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    His relationship with British was same as that of a drone which attacks Paki people and the drone handlers.Recommend

  • Yasser Latif Hamdani

    Lord Wavell wrote on August 21 that “the estimate of casualties is 3,000 dead and 17,000 injured. The Bengal Congress is convinced that all the trouble was deliberately engineered by the Muslim League ministry but no satisfactory evidence to that effect has reached me yet. It is said that the decision to have a public holiday on August 16 was the cause of trouble, but I think this is very farfetched. There was a public holiday in Sindh and there was no trouble there. At any rate, whatever the causes of the outbreak, when it started, the Hindus and Sikhs were every bit as fierce as the Muslims. The present estimate is that appreciably more Muslims were killed than the Hindus” (page 274, Volume VIII, Transfer of Power Papers).

    This was confirmed by Sardar Patel’s letter, where he gloated about more, many times more, Muslim casualties than Hindus. This letter is quoted by renowned Indian historian Sumit Sarkar on page 432 of his book Modern India: 1885-1947. One of the big gaping holes in the Indian nationalist version of history is that while all accounts seem to indicate that Muslims were armed with sticks, according to Sir Francis Tuker, “buses and taxis were charging about loaded with Sikhs and Hindus armed with swords, iron bars and firearms”Recommend

  • Lalit

    aapki criticism ”criticism”,hamari criticism vitriol….nice Pakistani logic…my amazement on this issue has ceased ages ago.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Conversions r supposed to be for spiritual reasons. Recommend

  • hoshiar singh gill

    Babu Rao ji would it not have been better and moral to speak up for all minorities instead of just one !Recommend

  • hoshiar singh gill

    I am not a Gandhi fan nor a jinnah critique but most people outside Pakistan do not know who Mr. Jinnah was whearas Gandhi is recognised as an International icon of peace!Recommend

  • Sarah Uzair

    That was quite an insightful article – I did not know Jinnah had no issue with haram or halal meat, that however does not decrease any ounce of respect I have for him. Every muslim has a certain degree of acceptance of ‘immorality’ – a woman who chooses to not do hijab could be very devout otherwise or might not be.
    Problem with Pakistani mentality is that we tend to judge others based on what our own level of tolerance of ‘immorality’ is…. So if we do not eat haram meat and we see a muslim who does, we presume that person to be ‘immoral’. Its psychological I suppose, a natural tendency of humans to do that. But a lil bit of self-reflection goes a longggg way.
    Hypocritical society we are.
    The article is beautiful, it highlights a more human side of Jinnah, where he won’t seem perfect to us in our orthodox Muslim eyes, but in the sight of God, he made an entire nation free, something no local mullah has done.
    Or anyone for that matter.Recommend

  • ammar

    “refused to give the same to Hindus”…
    You are absolutely wrong. In his own words:

    “….in the name of Humanity, I care more for them [the Untouchables] than for Mussalmans. ” Speech at All India Muslim League session at Delhi, 1934

    “….I am NOT fighting for Muslims, believe me, when I demand Pakistan.” Jinnah, Press Conference, 14 November 1946

    Do you know that he specially asked a Hindu poet to write a Pakistan first national anthem? ….. Why ??? because he wanted to sow the seed of secularismRecommend

  • ammar

    Just keep writing the sane words and fact. Most readers are after truth.Recommend

  • Gingerman78

    You can split the Jinnah’s hair seven ways to Sunday but, in the end, it is the consequence of Jinnah’s actions that count. In that regard, you have a dysfunctional, self destructing, disrespected pariah society that is going from nadir to new nadir each passing day, That is the proof of the pudding. Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Jinnah was an opportunist lawyer and like most lawyers he was a man without principle. His sole aim was to win the case, by hook or by crook. Pakistan was a case for him which he won for a short term but lost for a long term.Recommend

  • david charle

    Hi! Thanks for the great information you have provided!
    You have touched on crucial points!

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    Decades passed by still trying to understand who he was. A man who loved red wine and never prayed in his whole life caused indian sub contenent to fell apart and suffer.. that was under the name of religion! Recommend

  • Emmon Raza

    Thank you Yasser for all your research for this piece. I hope it reaches more people so that they know Jinnah for what he was instead of the Maulana Zia’s regime made him appear as.Recommend

  • Studebaker

    Same old blatant distortions of history, half-truths, obfuscated facts and deliberate mis-definitions – all to manufacture a blind hagiography of a man who was himself both confused about facts and ignorant about religion – that characterizes the gentleman’s childish lifelong obsession. Many Pakistanis desperately want to believe this fairy tale ‘for the good of Pakistan’, so there is a certain market to exploit, and exploit the gentleman does to the hilt. Pakistanis don’t seem to read history, and this is the kind of rhetorical concoction that passes for history in addition to Pakistan Studies.Recommend

  • brar

    And the same Trana is still the National song of Pakistan and one Hindu was made law Minister and he died where I don,t know , you may enlighten ?Recommend

  • Fahim

    After years found the statement. The Quaid understood the importance of this matter and in his famous speech at Patna on January 10, 1939, he said: “Many people misunderstand us when we talk of Islam, particularly our Hindu friends. When we say this flag is the flag of Islam they think we are introducing religion into politics. Islam gives us a complete code of life. It is not only religion but it contains laws, philosophy and politics. It contains everything that matters to a man from morning to night”Recommend

  • Sharad Shah

    Mr. Nehru was a secular socialist and Mr. Jinnah was secular liberal. When Nehru came on the political stage of India, he had a choice to Join Gandhijee, a secular Hindu or Jinnah, a secular liberal. Had he joined the secular liberal and not the secular Hindu, either he would have been pushed into the background with Jinnah or the two together would have ushered India into a secular state – socialist or liberal and not two theocratic states.Recommend