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Was Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan meant to be a secular state?

According to Qamar Islam, a small group of liberals has consistently repeated the mantra that Pakistan should be a secular state since Quaid-e-Azam wanted it so. However, they have ignored Quaid's other speeches promoting an Islamic state for the Muslims.

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|Qamar Islam

The argument for Pakistan’s creation was the two-nation theory i.e., that Muslims and Hindus were two separate nations on the basis of their religion and their way of life. Since Islam defined all aspects of a Muslim’s life, be it individual or collective, it was impossible for Muslims in combined India to adhere to Islam fully. Muslims, therefore, needed a separate country of their own where they could live their life in complete accordance with Islamic teachings.

Notwithstanding that their view contradicts the very basis of Pakistan’s creation, a small group of liberals has consistently repeated the mantra that Pakistan should be a secular state since Quaid-e-Azam wanted it so.

They quote a few sentences from some of his speeches, the most quoted one being that of 11 August 1947, imputing their own meanings while ignoring scores of other speeches he made during the decades’ long struggle for Pakistan in which he unequivocally declared his vision for Pakistan as a country where Muslims could live their life according to the dictates of Islam.

Read more: Politicization of Islam during Partition

History scholars have shown the fallacy of the liberal argument and shown that the Quaid, in contrast to his western appearance had a religious upbringing, was religious in his outlook, and wanted the affairs of the state to be conducted in accordance with the teachings of Islam. (Jinnah’s Vision of Pakistan by Dr. Safdar Mahmood in Pakistan Journal of History & Culture, Vol. XXIII/1, 2002.)

In his speech to the Karachi Bar Association on Eid Miladun-Nabi, the Quaid revealed that he decided to seek admission in Lincoln’s Inn for his Bar-at-Law because it included the name of the Holy Prophet of Islam in the list of great lawgivers of the world!

Inaugurating the State Bank of Pakistan on 1st July 1948, he 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. ….”

“We must …. present to the world an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice.”

Can we still say that Quaid was secular and wanted state affairs to remain independent of Islam?

Read more: How was the demand for Pakistan justified on secular grounds?

Rampant differences

Some have argued that by enforcing Islam, we would be coercing the non-Muslim Pakistanis to live under a system they may dislike. One can ask a counter-question i.e. Is it correct and fair to force over 90% of Pakistanis who are Muslims, to live under a Secular system against their wishes because of their 10% non-Muslim brethren?

Historically, non-Muslims have flourished under Islamic governments for centuries and felt more secure than in non-Muslim countries.

Differences among Ulama are also advanced as a reason for the impracticability of the Islamic System. Any such suggestion is deceitful since, in 1951, 31 eminent Ulama belonging to all sects in Islam and all regions agreed on 22 guiding principles for framing the constitution. On the issue of Riba (usury), all sections of the Ulama have declared it as haram. These are just two examples.

Read more: Did mullahs oppose Jinnah’s Pakistan?

The liberals may be asked, do they believe that Islam lacks guidance for governance and collective life of a Muslim society? Or is it that they consider Islam’s teachings inferior and impracticable, something that will question one’s belief in Islam and its truthfulness.

While Quaid wanted an Islamic form of government, 73 years after his death, it is more relevant to ask what Islam dictates and what the people of Pakistan want.

Being the true democrat that he was, Quaid would be asking the same questions today.

Read more: Op-ed: Should Quaid-e-Azam be really frustrated, or delighted, at his 144th birth anniversary?

Devotion to Islam

Islam is a complete code of life revealed by Almighty Allah Himself that covers all aspects of individual and collective life and which was expounded in theory and practiced by his last Messenger PBUH. It is not a system devised by scholars as some would like us to believe. Scholars merely explain what is contained in the Quran and Sunnah.

Complete implementation of Islam in society is a collective responsibility. The task for the liberals is clear-cut i.e. they need to demonstrate that Islam provides no guidance for government affairs.

The following two instances from the Holy Quran provide instructions for those in power.

“Those who, were we to bestow authority on them in the land, will establish prayers, render Zakah, enjoin good and forbid evil……”(Surah Al-Hajj, Ayah 41)

“… Those who do not judge according to what Allah has sent down are the disbelievers.” “… they are the unjust.” “… they are the sinners.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, Ayah 44,45,47).

Read more: Remembering Muhammad Pickthall: Quran’s first credible English Translator

The Holy Quran provides broad principles in some areas and detailed instructions in others. There is clear guidance for matters of inheritance, hudood, treatment of the minorities, foreign relations, setting up of department for enjoining good and forbidding evil, etc. All these are the realm of a country’s government.

As for what the people of Pakistan want, they love Islam and their Prophet PBUH and have demonstrated this time and time again. They have overwhelmingly supported all Islamic movements that took place at various times. The establishment of the Islamic form of government is then an unfulfilled aspiration of the people and unfinished agenda of the creation of Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistani ulema demand diagrams and sketches in biology textbooks be dressed up

The author is a retired IT Professional with degrees in Engineering (UET, Lahore), Masters in Computer Engineering (RPI, USA), and business i.e. MBA (Birmingham, UK) with 34 years of professional experience working in the USA, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia in some well-known companies. He is also a member of Tanzeem-e-Islami founded by Late Dr. Israr Ahmed. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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