by Prof A Maatif

Jinnah was no doubt a great visionary who carved a separate state out of united and geographically contiguous India. He was not in the habit of enforcing his ideas on his colleagues but rather he wished them to peep deep into public affairs, analyze, compare and finally make a conclusion out of diversity of opinions. And he used to inculcate his ideas in an indirect way so that the audience may comprehend the solution fully and not merely jump to the conclusion. Quaid’s vision for newly established Pakistan does not offer any paradox, as it is believed by some pseudo scholars. After his demise a heated debate regarding politico-constitutional structure of the country was sparked. Unfortunately, the intelligentsia and literati left no stone unturned to make his vision incoherent, ambiguous or paradoxical. Such acrimonious drives were engineered by some vested interests who did not wish the Quaid’s vision to be implemented in its truest spirit. The foremost question, which was raised time and again by different sections of literati, was associated with polity of the new-born state. There was heated debate on whether country’s character would be theocratic or secular. The Quaid’s speeches show that his vision was neither theocratic in the traditional sense of the word, nor secular in the modern sense of the word. Traditionally, theocracy has never been present in the history of Islam but in the Christian Europe. The Theocratic government considers its laws as laws of God and the priests at the helm of power managed to persecute their opponents in the name of religion. The history of Islam is devoid of such kind of persecutions. The Quaid believed in Islamic democracy but not in any kind of theocracy. Unfortunately many thinkers either confused or misunderstood the vary meaning of theocracy. They perceived as if early Islamic Caliphate were theocracy because a religious caliph at the helm of affairs ran it.

A religious person at the helm of political power does not turn the government into a theocratic one. The spirit of Islamic polity in the reign of the Prophet of Arabia and that of the rightly guided caliphs was not theocratic in the Christian sense of the term. During the reign of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the rightly guided caliphs the Muslims and non-Muslims living in the Islamic state had the rights to life, property, privacy, protest against injustice, equality, justice and rights of freedom of beliefs and religion. When Jerusalem was ceded to the Muslims, a treaty was signed.

It reads: “This is the treaty of the people of Aelia. This is the charter which the servant of God, the commander of the faithful, grants to the people of Aelia. He gives them the assurance of the preservation of their lives and properties, their churches and crosses of those who set up, who display and who honor those crosses. Your churches will not be transformed into dwellings or destroyed nor will anyone confiscate anything belonging to them nor the crosses or belonging of the inhabitants. There will be no constraint in the matter of religion.

This treaty is enough to understand the non-theocratic character of early Islam. It also testifies that politically the citizens of Islamic caliphate had equal rights, equal honor and dignity. The state never stepped into the personal beliefs of the non-Muslims since Islam was not a matter of compulsion but of choice. The treaty also signifies that at least politically a wall between the Muslims and non-Muslims ceased to exist. Islamic polity is destined to create congenial environment for healthy and progressive promotion of religion. From this point of view Islam is the greatest Secular religion, which, demolishes political barriers among human beings so that they may comprehend in its truest sense the real applicability of Divine religion.

Islam is not a secular religion in the traditional or modem sense of the term. When lqbal talked about unity of religion and politics, he never meant for political discrimination of the non-Muslims. But unity of the two means religious character of the politics and not vice versa.

When Quaid delivered his presidential address to the constituent assembly on August 11, 1947 he more or less defined the same doctrine. According to him: “In course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual but in the political sense as citizens of the state”. He further said in an interview with Reuter’s correspondent on October 25, 1947: “The arm of law should be strong enough to deal with person or section or body of people that is disloyal to the state. We do not prescribe any schoolboy tests of their disloyalty. We shall not say to any Hindu citizens of Pakistan: “If there is war would you shoot a Hindu?” Quaid-i-Azam was a staunch supporter of Islamic democracy in the newly born country.

In September 1945, while giving Eid message to the Muslims, he said: “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 and penal code. It regulates everything from ceremonies of religion to those of daily life. It is a complete code regulating the whole Muslim society, every development of life, collectively and Individually”.

While delivering a speech on the occasion of the Holy Prophet’s birthday at the Karachi BAR Association, on January 25, 1948, he stated: “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 even in politics and economics and like. It is based on the highest principles of honor, integrity, fair play and justice for all”.

He gave message to Frontier Muslims Students Federation on 18 June 1945 and said. “Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim Ideology which has to be preserved”. In a speech at Sibi Durbar on 14 February 1948 he declared: “It is my belief that our solution lies in following the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great law giver, the Prophet of Islam. Let us lay the foundation of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic Ideas and principles. The founder of the state was well aware of the villains of piece who wanted to derail the process leading to establishment of Pakistan in order to fulfill their vicious designs. In a presidential address at the session of the All India Muslim League in Delhi on April 24,1943 he said: “I am sure that democracy is in our blood; it is in our marrow. Only centuries of adverse circumstances have made the circulation of that blood cold. It has got frozen and your arteries have not been functioning. But thank God the blood is circulating again. It will be peoples’ government. Here I should like to give warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at our expense by a system which is so vicious, which is so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They have forgotten the lessons of Islam. I have visited villages. There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? Is it the aim of Pakistan? Do you visualize that millions are exploited and cannot get one meal a day? If that is the idea of Pakistan I would not have it”.

The Quaid in his interview to representative of Associated Press of America on November 8, 1945 said: “I believe that in these modern days essential key industries ought to be controlled and managed by the state”. He delivered a speech at a public meeting in Chittagong on March 26, 1948 and said: “You are only voicing my sentiments and the sentiments of millions of Musalmans when you say that Pakistan should be based on sure foundations of social justice and Islamic Socialism”.

The Quaid believed in Islamic system of economy as well. He delivered speech at the opening ceremony of State Bank of Pakistan, Karachi on July 1, 1948 and said: “I shall watch with keenness the work of your research organization in evolving banking practices compatible with Islamic ideas of social and economic life. The economic system of the West has created almost insoluble problems for humanity and to many of us it appears that only a miracle can save it from disaster that is now facing the world. It has failed to do justice between man and man and to eradicate friction from international field. We must work for 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.

The speeches and addresses of Jinnah offer a strong testimony that he never visualized a state being run in vacuum. But rather envisioned a state being governed on the principles of Islamic democracy, social justice and Islamic socialism. The vested interests in the country deceitfully initiated an endless debate on implementation of orthodox vision of Islam. They sparked such acrimonious drives only to eclipse the true vision of Islam. When Islam is so liberal in the case of non-Muslims, how can it be so rigid in the case of Muslims? In Pakistan the so-called literati raised the issue of veil, Hudood laws, blasphemy laws, inheritance laws and personal beliefs. And turned the debate so heated that common people imagined implementation of Islam as denial of their personal freedoms. And the religious circles considered it the biggest treachery on the part of the establishment that it failed to implement Islam in the country. In fact, certain vested interests stand diametrically opposite to what Islam offers as a system to the society. The Quaid’s vision that he could not think of a Pakistan where plight of the poor would remain unchanged seems still valid today.