By SAFDAR MAHMOOD

In Pakistan a debate  has been going on for many years as to determine if the Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali  Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, visualised Pakistan to be a secular state. A small number of writers, who contribute to the English press, emphasise that Jinnah envisaged Pakistan's political structure independent of Islamic principles and desired to establish a secular democratic state. On the contrary, a large number of Pakistani scholars firmly believe that Pakistan was envisioned as a modem and Islamic democratic state and that the state was achieved in the name of Islam. They maintain that religion in addition to political, historical, cultural and economic factors was the catalytic element for the creation of Pakistan.

The best way to understand Jinnah's vision of Pakistan is to examine his approach towards life and to study the consistent themes of his speeches and statements extending over four decades. For example, we come across in almost every biographical account of Jinnah that he had decided to seek admission in Lincoln's Inn in London to become a Barrister-at-Law, because it displayed the name of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in the category of great lawgivers of the world. Jinnah mentioned this himself, while addressing the Karachi Bar Association on Eid Miladun Nabi.

Clearly upbringing and early education in the formative period of Jinnah's life created enduring impressions and orientations, which determined his attitudes. This point is highlighted by Rizwan Ahmad in his book in which the author revealed some hitherto unknown aspects of Jinnah's early life. For example, Jinnah's father, Jinnah Bhai Poonja worked as a teacher at Mission School of Karachi, in addition to his involvement in his own business. Yet he had his son enrolled in Sindh Madaressa-tul-Islam. He knew that the Mission School students received lessons on Christianity, while Sindh Madressa had Islamic milieu.

According to the madressa's record the word "Muhammadan" was inscribed in front of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's name instead of "Khoja" a designation indicative of his Hindu ancestry. When his family migrated to Bombay from Karachi, the Anjuman-i-Islamia school was selected for Jinnah for much the same reasons. However, for a brief period, Jinnah also attended the Mission School at Karachi before leaving for London. Rizwan has revealed the fact that Jinnah's father was religiously inclined and he taught the Holy Quran to the children of his neighbourhood in the evening. In his childhood, especially at bedtime, his mother narrated to her curious son Islamic historical tales. In this manner Jinnah was brought up in a religiously devoted family and received his early education in an Islamic environment.

After becoming a barrister at Lincoln's Inn at age twenty, Jinnah reached Bombay in 1896. His religious inclination and interest in the welfare of the Muslims found expression in his active involvement in the activities of Anjuman-i-Islamia, an organisation of the Bombay Muslims. He attended its first meeting on 8th July 1897 and a month later on 12th August he attended Eid-e-Miladun Nabi function of the Anjuman, which was presided over by Nawab Mohsinul Mulk.

Jinnah was elected as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council in 1910. As a legislator he introduced on 17 March 1911 his first bill on waqf (tax exemption for Muslim endowments). As a consequence of the decision of the Privy Council of London in 1894, Islamic law of Waqf-ul-Aulad (a centuries old system) had become ineffective because the Privy Council had invalidated testamentary gifts of Muslim property left in tax free trust (waqf) for ultimate reversion to religious charity. The Muslims were dissatisfied over the Privy Council's decision but were helpless before the British power. As a representative of the Muslim community in the Council Jinnah moved the Waqf (tax-exempted Muslim endowments) Validating Bill, which sought through enactment the legislative reversal of the Privy Council's decision. Jinnah argued that the decision was opposed to the fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence. After lengthy debates extending over a period of two years, Jinnah succeeded in getting the bill passed on March 5, 1913.

When Jinnah decided to marry Ruttie, daughter of Bombay's famous Parsee leader Sir Dinshaw Petit, he asked her to embrace Islam, which she accepted as her new religion. This fact has been verified by Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, a well-known Pakistani religious leader that Jinnah had taken Ruttie Dinshaw to Noorani's uncle, Maulana Nazir Siddiqui, Imam of Jamia Masjid Bombay, for conversion to Islam. Noorani claims that Jinnah used to consult and seek guidance in religious matters from Maulana Nazir Siddiqui who was a Sunni religious scholar.

Jinnah's prudence and circumspection are well known. It is generally believed that he belonged to the Ithna Ashri shia sect. Undoubtedly his family had this religious background; then why did he not select a Shia scholar to perform the ceremony of Ruttie's conversion to Islam. There was no dearth of Shia Ulema in Bombay. However, Jinnah and Ruttie's nikah was performed by the Ithna Ashri Qazi according to shia rites. It may be easily surmised that Jinnah was above sectarianism and that is why he called it a curse. As a mischief and with a view to dividing the Muslims someone asked Jinnah to declare his sectarian preference-Sunni or Shia? Jinnah responded in a way that may be taken as "What was the religion of the Holy Prophet?"

Jinnah immensely loved his only daughter, yet when Dina decided to marry a Christian Parsee youth, Neville Wadia, Jinnah severed his relations with her forever.

Some observers may describe Jinnah's reaction to his daughter's marriage as illogical and even egotistical. An objective view of this episode would assert that it was not the issue of Jinnah's ego but was a matter of his religious sensibility. A detailed account of this episode has been given by Stanley Wolpert who writes that when Dina had expressed her decision to marry Wadia, "Jinnah tried his best to dissuade her. Jinnah in his usual imperious manner told her that there were millions of Muslim boys in India and she could have anyone she chose." Dina's insistence disappointed Jinnah who never spoke to her after she married. It is obvious that Jinnah by laying down the condition of "any Muslim" made it clear that it was the question of religion and not any other consideration, including his own ego.

Jinnah often said that he was not a Maulana (religious scholar) but an ordinary Muslim with all the human frailties. He always spoke with sincerity in public meetings and never played to the gallery. In his numerous public speeches, he repeatedly stated that Muslims need not to borrow the concept or practice of democracy from others because Muslims in the first instance learned the principles of democracy 1300 years ago. Jinnah's address to the All India Muslim League session of 1939 revealed his inner self. Dressed in a double-breast elegant suit of Sevil Rowe vintage, and speaking in English he addressed Muslims, and poured out his heart:

"I have seen enough of the world and possess a lot of wealth. I have enjoyed all comforts of life. Now my only desire is to see the Muslims flourish and prosper as an independent community. I want to leave this world with a clean conscience and content with the feeling that Jinnah had not betrayed the cause of Islam and the Muslims. I do not want your praise nor any certificate. I only want that my heart, my conscience and my faith should prove at the time of my death that Jinnah died defending Islam and the cause of the Muslims. May my God testify that Jinnah lived and died as a Muslim fighting against the forces of 'kufar' and holding the flag of Islam high".

When Jinnah delivered this speech, he was only 53 years old and was at the pinnacle of his popularity. Gradually, Jinnah shifted his position from the leader of Muslim minority in India to that of the spokesman of a Muslim nation. Before the establishment of Pakistan the minorities status was an important issue for Jinnah because the new country had some minorities, while in India the Muslims were the largest minority whose protection was a matter of great concern for him. Replying to a question whether Pakistan would be a secular or theocratic state, he stated, "You are asking me a question that is absurd. What I have already said is like throwing water on a duck's back. When you talk of democracy, I am afraid you have not studied Islam."

What kind of democracy did the Muslims learn 1300 years ago? Was it secular, ideological or Islamic? Jinnah's speech delivered on 11th August 1947, as the first President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan should be re-examined in this light. It is not fair to read it in isolation. In this speech Jinnah had identified some basic problems facing the new-born country and then gave advice to the people of Pakistan as the Father of the Nation. It should be read against the background of the then prevailing events:

"The Government's foremost duty is to maintain law and order... One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering is corruption and bribery. That really is poison. Another curse is black marketing. You have to tackle this monster. The next thing that strikes me is the evil of nepotism and jobbery... Now what shall we do? If you work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community, colour, creed or caste he belongs, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal tights, there will be no end to your progress. In course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, Muslims and Hindus, will vanish because as far as the Muslims are concerned there are Pathans, Punjabis, Shias and Sunnis. Similarly, among Hindus there are Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khattis, Bengalees and Madrasis and so on. This division had been the biggest hindrance in achieving independence. You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of your worship. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of state. You will find in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in religious sense because that is the personal faith of each citizen, but in political sense as citizens of the state."

Jinnah opposed theocracy because the concept does not exist in Islam. Iqbal finds democracy closer to the Islamic framework and assigns the power of Ijtihad (interpretation) to the elected representatives. Iqbal states: "The first question that arises in this connection is this: Should the caliphate be vested in a single person? Turkey's Ijtihad is that according to the spirit of Islam the caliphate or Imamate can be vested in a body of persons, or an elected Assembly. Personally, I believe the Turkish view is perfectly sound. It is hardly necessary to argue this point. The republican form of government is not only thoroughly consistent with the spirit of Islam, but has also become a necessity in view of the new forces 'that are set free in the world of Islam.' In this perspective, Jinnah envisioned Pakistan as a progressive, modern and Islamic democracy, because he did not perceive any conflict within these concepts. In Jinnah's speeches and statements the word 'secularism' does not occur even once while Islam had been the constant and consistent theme of his discourse.

Jinnah's 11th August 1947 speech was delivered to provide a sense of security and to reiterate his commitment of complete religious freedom and equal rights to the minorities. Also Jinnah had highlighted tolerance as the basic principle of Islam. In his inaugural address to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on, 14th August 1947, he while commenting on Lord Mountbatten's address reiterated his commitment to the principle of tolerance in Islam.

Lord Mountbatten had referred to Moghul Emperor Akbar's generous behaviour towards the Hindus. Jinnah said: "The tolerance and goodwill that Emperor Akbar showed to all the non-Muslims is not of recent origin. It dates back thirteen centuries ago when our Prophet not only by words but by deeds treated the Jews and Christians, after he had conquered them, with the utmost tolerance and regard and respect for their faith and beliefs." Here again Jinnah referred to the Mithaq-e-Madina and the Holy Prophet (SAW) as his role model.

Jinnah repeated the central theme of his 11 August address in an interview which he gave to the Reuters correspondent on 25 October 1947. He said, "I have repeatedly made it clear, especially in my opening speech to the Constituent Assembly, that the minorities in Pakistan would be treated as our citizens and will enjoy all the rights."

Jinnah's vision of Pakistan, including its social, constitutional, political and administrative system can be gleaned from what he said, 26 November, 1945, at Peshawar: "You have asked me in your welcome address what would be the law (constitution) in Pakistan. Muslims have faith in one God, one Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and one Book. This is the only law for the Muslims. Islam will be the basic law of Pakistan and no law repugnant to Islam will be enforced in Pakistan."

Addressing the Shah Darbar at Sibi in Balochistan on 14 February 1948 he said: "It is my belief that our salvation 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 ideals and principles."

Addressing a public meeting at Lahore on 30 October 1947 Jinnah said "If we take our inspiration and guidance from Holy Quran the final victory will be ours. All I require of you now is that everyone of us to whom this message reaches must vow to himself and be prepared to sacrifice his all, if necessary, in building up Pakistan as a bulwark of Islam."

It is important to note that the Jinnah made these statements as the Governor General of Pakistan and is obviously policy announcements. Then came the last word on the subject in the form of Jinnah's broadcast to the people of the United States in which he dealt with the future shape of Pakistan's constitution:

"The constitution of Pakistan is yet to be framed. 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 principles of Islam. Today they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of men, 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. We have non-Muslims — they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy same rights and privileges as any other citizen."