Why Did the Quaid Say This
I am not a historian of the Quaid, but the Quaid is the founding father of my country and I have, since I can remember, taken pride in having this slim, elegant, meticulous man, personifying determination, strength of character and visionary out-look as the man who gave lead to a depressed people out of the chaos of indecisiveness and from the enstranglement of covet and uncompromising enemies.
Was my idea of this man based on delusion, was he an ‘anybody’ who fitted in our mental father-figure space, by some rule of psychological casualty; as a national, I have the right to know!
The assertion that Jinnah was secular is enough to jeopardize the whole thought of an ‘Islamic welfare state’, that most of us aspire for. This novel idea has the ability to gather loads of other suspicious ideas around it, so that eventually the whole facade of nationhood would come tottering down under its own weight of shame and disgust.
One thing is clear to me that Jinnah never used the word secular in any of his speeches, then where is his secularism hinted from; his dress code, his felt-hat, his English speaking, his many other friend who wore three-piece suits; I think that all these things help to paint a picture of a westernized man not very close to religion. But was he really a secular minded person, which would imply that he had no consideration of religion for himself or did he want a secular Pakistan, which would imply a system of government that does not take into account any consideration of religion in its functioning and its legislature, therefore the body itself becomes the supreme sovereign over its matters.
No, Jinnah never said that, rather, if one goes through his speeches, one might come to realizes that he used many western terms in his own corrected version, an Indian version or a Musalman version, so when Jinnah talks about matters, he uses words in the preferential context of the matter. For example, see how he uses the word democracy to his own definition:
‘When you talk of democracy, you are thoroughly dishonest. When you talk of democracy you mean Hindu raj, to dominate over the Muslims, a totally different nation, different in culture, different in everything. You yourself are working for Hindu nationalism and Hindu Raj.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we learned democracy 1,300 years ago. It is in our blood and it is as far away from the Hindu society as are the Arctic regions. You tell us that we are not democratic. It is we, who have learned the lesson of equality and brotherhood of man.’ ( All-India Muslim League, Delhi, April 24, 1943)
First Jinnah took the word for its vice, that if democracy would be applied in united India, it would be genocidal, the very next he used it as cherishable entity, derived from the very heart of Islam, but only applicable in the Musalman setting i.e. an Islamic setting, rather, he seems to be saying that democracy would shoot out naturally from the Islamic system.
Why did this change of meaning happen, it was natural, Jinnah was standing at the juncture of three civilizations (Hindu, Muslim and the western), at a time when orthodoxy was being overturned by modern science-based thinking, so words could not have had the same essence or implications for all the different people. This might be precisely the reason why different thinkers can extract different assertions from his same words.
It seems that while he was not sure what the constitution of the country would finally be, he was sure of one thing that it would be according to the aspirations of the people. He knew that the Muslims and the Hindus were two different people and that Pakistan was to be made:
‘We are told by one party or another that we must have a democratic or socialistic or a “nationalistic” form of government in Pakistan. These questions are raised to hoodwink you. At present you should just stand by Pakistan. It means first of all you have to take possession of a territory.’ (League Planning Committee, New Delhi, November 5, 1944)
The Quaid’s open position as to what the constitution may be, might have been on account of preference of matters and time constraints, as he was a meticulous man not ready to pass his verdict until he has weighed it from every possible aspect. Therefore it can be expected from him that he would not pass decisive remarks on a matter that needed a full body of inquiry. Nevertheless there are statements of the Quaid which give lead to the fact that the Quaid had not a speck of doubt that Pakistan and Islam are replaceable terms but there are also statements that create an amount of ambiguity. Firstly I will talk of his pro-Islamic stance, while there are loads of such statements that show the Quaid’s resolute commitment to Islam, I have pasted so many of them just to prove his firmness on the issue:
‘We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.’ (Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force, October 11, 1947.)
‘We must work our destiny in our own way and present to the world an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice. We will thereby be fulfilling our mission as Muslims and giving to humanity the message of peace which alone can save it and secure the welfare, happiness and prosperity of mankind.’ ( State Bank of Pakistan, Karachi July 1, 1948.)
‘You have asked me to give you a message. What message can I give you? We have got the great message in the Quran for our guidance and enlightenment.’ ( NWFP Muslim Students Federation, April 1943)
‘No doubt, there are many people who do not quite appreciate when we talk of Islam. Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrines. Islam is also a code for every Muslim, which regulates his life and his conduct in even politics and economics and the like. It is based upon highest principles of honour, integrity, fair play and justice for all'. (March 5,1948)
‘The establishment of Pakistan for which we have been striving for the last ten years is, by grace of God, an established fact today, but the creation of a State of our own was a means to an end and not the end in itself. The idea was that we should have a state in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find fairplay.' (Broadcast Message 15th August, 1947)
‘Now you have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and equality of manhood in your own native soil'.( February 21, 1948, Ack Ack Regiments at Malir )
‘What relationships knits the Muslims into one whole, which is the formidable rock on which the Muslim edifice has been erected, which is the sheet anchor providing base to the Muslim Millat, the relationship, the sheet anchor and the rock is Holy Quran. (Address At Islamia College Peshawar)
‘We do not demand Pakistan simply to have a piece of land but we want a laboratory where we could experiment on Islamic principles.’ (In 1946, at Islamia College)
‘The Muslims demand Pakistan where they could rule according to their own code of life and according to their own cultural growth, traditions, and Islamic Laws.’ (Muslim League Conference on November 21, 1945 )
‘I have one underlying principle in mind: the principle of Muslim democracy. It is my belief that our salvation lies in following the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great lawgiver, the Prophet of Islam.’ (1948)
‘Everyone, except those who are ignorant, knows that the Quran is the general code of the Muslims. A religious, social, civil, commercial, military, judicial, criminal, penal code, it regulates everything from the ceremonies of religion to those of daily life; from the salvation of the soul to the health of the body; from the rights of all to those of each individual; from morality to crime, from punishment here to that in the life to come, and our Prophet has enjoined on us that every Musalman should possess a copy of the Quran and be his own priest. Therefore Islam is not merely confined to the spiritual tenets and doctrines or rituals and ceremonies. It is a complete code regulating the whole Muslim society, every department of life, collectively and individually.’ (Eid message in September 1945)
‘We must get Pakistan at any cost. For it we live and for it we will die. The Mussalmans have to struggle and struggle hard for their honourable existence….you must work and work hard. By doing so you will contribute substantially not only to the honour of ten crores of Muslims but to the crystallization of a free Muslim state of Pakistan where Muslims will be able to offer the ideology of Islamic rule.’ (Address, Public Meeting, Mardan, 24 November 1945)
If the Quaid was so adamant for the pursuit of Islam, then what of those who assert that the Quaid never even once used the term ‘Islamic state’ and that the sole purpose of the struggle was to secure the economic and social wellbeing of this minority nation. That the two nation theory was based on the unfair attitudes of the Hindus; that if they were just a little compromising we would have happily lived together; that those who migrated would not have done so if the Hindu army had not forced them out; that the whole company with Jinnah was clear that religion would have nothing to do with the affairs of the state. Statements that hint such possibilities have been placed below with a critical commentary.
‘The vital contest in which we are engaged is not only for the material gain but also the very existence of the soul of Muslim nation…’ (Punjab Muslim Students Federation – March 2, 1941)
This answers the allegation that Pakistan was made solely for securing Muslims economically and socially. Here are excerpts regarding Jinnah’s idea of the to-be-made constitution.
‘The constitution of Pakistan can only be framed by the Millat and the people. Prepare yourself and see that you frame a constitution which is to your heart’s desire. There is a lot of misunderstanding. A lot of mischief is created. Is it going to be an Islamic government? Is it not begging the question? Is it not a question of passing a vote of censure on yourself? The constitution and the government will be what the people will decide. The only question is that of minorities. (All-India Muslim League, Delhi, April 24, 1943)
‘Begging the question’ is a fallacy, which means presenting a postulate, the answer of which is already in the premises. Which would mean that Jinnah had no doubt about the fact that Pakistan would be an Islamic state and considered this question to be a fallacy, made to create mischief. Whereas in the modern usage of the term, it may refer to as ‘to raise the question’, which would give the opposite assertion to Jinnah’s point of view. Another controversial statement that needs our serious attention is:
‘The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principle of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1,300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair-play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission…’ (Broadcast recorded on February, 1948.)
So if the constitution was to be framed in the frame of Islam then why was it not to be theocratic? Because theocracy is a very specific term, it does not mean ‘religious’ like it sounds to be; it means the specific mode of governance in which a single religious personality, who is supposed as ‘divinely guided’, is to form the official policy. Any religious scholar should be clear upon this that nor the Quran, the Hadith or the Caliphate represent a theocratic model, rather they present a model of consultation, reasoning and Ijtehad, none of the four caliphs considered themselves above the intelligence or rational thinking of the others neither considered themselves beyond public scrutiny. Therefore when the Quaid is showing his fear against theocracy he must have its practical models in mind, like the papal system of the west, or Iyat-ullahs of Iran or maybe even the tendency in the Paskistani Musalmans to throw their blind trust onto any single revered personality or any particular school of thought. In fact the constitution should lock itself into the bondage of gathering the best minds of all schools of thought (modern, orthodox and reconstructive) and to undertake the constant process of integrating the present with the true soul of the ‘Deen’. The Quaid said:
‘What is Religion? Which government, claiming to be a civilised government can demolish our mosque, or which government is going to interfere with religion which is strictly a matter between God and man? The question is that the Mussalmans are a nation, distinct from the Hindus. (Ismail College, Bombay, February 1, 1943)
Does this statement assert that religion is every person’s personal matter and has nothing to do with the government? Or should we look at the statement in context of the situation it is addressing. A situation in which if Jinnah would present a fight for the religious rights of his community, these could be catered for in a united secular India, which was a collection of many communities. Therefore it was essential for the Quaid to assert the Muslims as something distinct from a ritualistic community, but to present it as a community that essentially needs territorial authority to fulfill its way of life; why so? Because their very identity is not just ritualistic, it is economic, it is social, it is political and it has a foreign policy.
Lastly let me present the notorious 11 August speech, upon which the facade of a secular Pakistan is usually made to stand.
‘You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any region or caste or creed –that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.’ (Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August, 1947.)
Anyone who is unbiased can easily affirm from the above that the Quaid despises the involvement or intrusion of the state in the personal decisions of people about their faith and their ritual choices and that the economic and social opportunities should not be distributed or disrupted on account of one’s caste or creed. But does he also want to say that the constitution of the state will not be made according to the dictates of Islam, or did he say that equal rights of Hindus or Christians in the country means that they could have their religious dogma inculcated in the legislature or the policy of the state. Is that a workable possibility; to combine opposing dogma! Then what does equal right means, does it mean a secular form of government, in which law and policy is absolutely free of religious ideals and dictates, where the body of the state becomes its own law-giver and sovereign above itself and its people, does that not give the theocratic powers to the rationale of the commoners; what goodness would that yield; and is that not what we are already experiencing in Pakistan due to an incomplete conversion of the constitution into its aspired form.
Have I now earned my right to be proud of the father of my nation! If I need to have a superman to fill that place, perhaps Jinnah wouldn’t fit in that place; he was a human, with his limitations, trying to sum up his physical and intellectual energies for a cause that he considered noble, and he did that above the average human ability. He raised himself above his ‘self’ and became the spirit and symbol of the Millat of the Indian Muslims; he may not be exactly what everyone wanted or aspired him to be, but he was certainly the one closest to their aspirations.
“Now you must not fail your nation and we shall have Pakistan, Inshaallah.” Jinnah.