| Welcome to Global Village Space

Thursday, February 15, 2024

M. A. Jinnah: The savior of Indian Muslims

M Zafar Khan Safdar |

“Mohammad Ali Jinnah was the recipient of devotion and loyalty seldom accorded to a man”. This was the glowing tribute that President Truman of the United States paid to the Quaid-i-Azam. According to Allama Iqbal, Jinnah was the “only Muslim in India to whom a community had a right to look up for safe guidance”. In the history of Indian Muslim life and thought, he is one of the most striking and distinctive figures. At one time or other, he was the greatest legal luminaries India had ever produced during the first half of the 20th century.

An ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, a great constitutionalist, a distinguished parliamentarian, a brilliant and strategist politician, a tireless freedom fighter, a gifted debater and orator, consummate master of logic, a profound lawyer, a sound statesman, a dynamic mass leader and above all, one of the great nation builders in modern times. He stood for justice, for freedom, for equal rights, for the rule of people, for an open society and for a noble Pakistan. Through ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ he converted the Muslim nation into a dynamic force which swept the sub-continent and altered the destinies of a human race by lying the foundation of the second biggest Muslim State, an achievement without parallel in the annals of civilization.

Read more: Jinnah’s Pakistan: An inclusive one

Mohammad Ali Jinnah lived through remarkable times — a tremendous period of upheaval and struggle in modern history. He saw two world wars and freedom’s triumph over the forces of fascism. He was part of the epic battle to end colonial domination and liberate Asia and Africa from the stifling hold of imperialism. He watched the rise of socialism with its promise of peace, justice, and equality.

It was inevitable that his political beliefs should have been shaped by these momentous events and to have led him unerringly to his commitment to democracy and liberal humanism. The Quaid tried, in the short time, he was given to run the affairs of Pakistan, to pass on this commitment as his legacy to the leadership and citizens of the new nation.

Unfortunately, we have betrayed that legacy time and again. Mr. Jinnah was something more than Quaid-i-Azam, supreme head of the state, to the people who followed him; he was more than even the architect of the Islamic nation he personally called into being. He commanded their imagination as well as their confidence.

In the face of difficulties which might have overwhelmed him, it was given to him to fulfill the hope foreshadowed in the inspired vision of the great Iqbal by creating for the Muslims of India a homeland where the old glory of Islam could grow afresh into a modern state, worthy of its place in the community of nations. Few statesmen have shaped events to their policy more surely than Mr. Jinnah. He was a legend even in his lifetime.

Read more: Jinnah’s dream of South Asia is only possible when India joins…

With his unusual powers of persuasion, luminous exposition, searching arguments, and sound judgment, the Quaid was able to win the battle for Pakistan. His ability for counter-argument was on display even at the formal ceremony on August 14, 1947. When Lord Mountbatten made a speech to the Constituent Assembly in which he offered the example of Akbar the Great as the model of a tolerant Muslim ruler to Pakistan.

The Quaid, however, was equal to the task. In his reply to the speech, he immediately presented an alternative model; that of the Holy Prophet (SAW). “The tolerance and goodwill that the great Emperor Akbar showed to all the non-Muslims are not of recent origin. It dates back thirteen centuries ago…” Quaid thundered back.

Since 1937, Quaid-i-Azam steered the ship of the Muslim League through stormy and rough seas. He had to create and unite a nation and remove the wave of pessimism that was overwhelming the Muslim minds. He had to remake men and furnish them with fresh emotional equipment. Renan – the French philosopher rightly says “Man is enslaved neither by his race nor by his religion, nor by the course of rivers, nor by the directions of mountain ranges.

Read more: Will Pakistan ever see another leader like Jinnah?

An aggregation of man, sane of mind, and warm of heart, creates a moral consciousness and infuses in the masses the idea of reasserting their hegemony, and prepares them for achieving their lost empire”. How beautifully our poet of East, Iqbal, defines the concept of a true leader; “By leader, I mean men who by divine gift or experience possess a keen, a perception of the spirit and destiny of Islam along with an equally keen perception of the trend of modern history. Such men are really the divine forces of people, but they are God’s gifts and cannot be forced to order”.

H.V. Hudson in his ‘The Great Divide’ eulogizes Quaid’s character in these words, “Not even his political enemies ever accused Jinnah of corruption or self-seeking. He could be bought by no one, and for no price. Nor was he in the least degree weathercock, swinging in the wind of popularity or changing the times. He was a steadfast idealist as well as a man of scrupulous honor”.

Even Lord Mountbatten for all his hostility towards Pakistan and Quaid-i-Azam made the admission that “If it could be said that any single man held the future of India in his palm, that man is Mohammad Ali Jinnah. To all interests and purposes, Jinnah was the Muslim League and if the dream of Pakistan ever did come true, it could be Jinnah who brought it to life and fashioned it”.

Once, Sir Stafford Cripps described Quaid-i-Azam as “A man of the highest probability and honor, difficult to negotiate with; for the very reason that he was so determined in his purpose”. He further added, “It was the honesty of his conviction and the clarity of his purpose that marked him as a great leader of his people”.

Read more: Poet of East: through the lens of Iqbal Museum?

As a true Muslim and sincere individual, Quaid-i-Azam paid great stress on dignity and strength of character. It was the aspect of his personality that marked him out as the leader of undisputed influence and power. To him character was not a thing to talk about; it was the basis of all human conduct. Addressing the Muslim Youth’s League at Aligarh in 1942, he said “Build your character that is more important of all degrees and no character is a mere waste of time. You should also develop a keen sense of honor, integrity, and duty”.

Quaid-i-Azam fought his entire battles single handed with courage, fortitude, and determination. Often his firm adherence to what he considered to be right and tenacity of purpose was misunderstood by lesser people as obstinacy. He never wanted to share his sorrow with others.

The great leader did not live long to witness the progress of the state that he founded. His excessive work soon confined him to bed. Disregarding medical advice, he devoted much of his time to official work that impaired his health and died. According to Richard Symonds (The making of Pakistan), “Mr. Jinnah had worked himself to death, but contributed more than any other person for the survival of Pakistan”.

To quote Lord Pethick Lawrence “Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin, Mr. Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan”.  Miss Fatima Jinnah has recalled, “For several years before his death, there was a constant tug-of-war between his physicians and the Quaid-i-Azam. They warned him to take long intervals of rest and short hours of hard work, but he did exactly the opposite, knowing full well the risk he was running. Often his doctors complained to me that he ignored their advice”. Whenever Fatima Jinnah said to her brother “You must see a doctor” he would answer “No. I’ve got too much to do. I can’t waste my time”.

Throughout his career as a politician and as a legislator, Quaid’s dedication to the rule of law and constitutionalism was unswerving. During the past seven decades, we have made a mockery of these values. It is not as if there has been no progress and development. No country ever wholly stagnates; we have progressed in many fields. We have become a nuclear power. Our economy has expanded. The cities of the Quaid’s days have grown beyond belief, and glittering new palaces have come up everywhere.

It would have been impossible to stand still for seven decades but the benefits of development have been unevenly spread, and mostly have accrued to the privileged classes. Most of all, there is a sense of general disorientation: we do not know where we are heading and what we want to make of our country. For years together we have functioned without the benefit of constitutional governance, and our destiny has been decided by a string of military rulers. Periods of the representative rule have been perverted by the venality of a few politicians.

In this protracted struggle between politicians and the military, both have suffered a loss of popular trust. The people have seen the two wrangled as economic and social problems have piled up. There has to be a future for Pakistan beyond all the skullduggery of the past and the present. Indeed, we have so emasculated the Quaid’s ideals that some people question whether they are any longer relevant as a frame of reference. But it would be a grievous mistake if we compromise further on his faith in democracy and moderate Pakistan as the only course to follow.

M Zafar Khan Safdar is Ph.D. in Political Science. His area of specialization is political development and social change. He can be reached at zafarkhansafdar@yahoo.com and tweet@zafarkhansafdar.The Views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.