A Secular, Liberal or a Leader of Islam?
There are many misconceptions that exist in today’s society regarding the founding father of Pakistan; some say that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted a state which was secular and had no influence of religion but only law and order; others say that he was in favour of liberalism. The points that are used to argue this views are generally taken from the famous address on 11th August 1947:
- You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state.
- Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that 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.
- In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims—Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.
Yet there is an entirely different viewpoint which brings to light a different side of the Baba-e-Qoum, May His soul rest in peace. To determine what Quaid-e-Azam’s beliefs were, and who he was influenced by, one must look closely at his speeches, his teachings and the reasons behind them.
To begin with, Quaid-e-Azam had one principle which he advocated – Muslim democracy; this became the foundation of all that Quaid-e-Azam desired to see in Pakistan: a Muslims state which was to be independent. Being a valuable member of the Law Community, it is not surprising that Quaid-e-Azam was influence by the Law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ which he states in his address to Sibi Darbar in 1948: “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.” It was thus the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the elements of Islamic democracy, which also influenced the Constitution of Pakistan, as “Islamic principles today are as much applicable to life as they were 1300 years ago.” (Karachi Bar Association in January 25, 1948) It may be surprising to know that many have said that the Constitution of Madinah is mirrored within the Constitution of Pakistan. This would explain why Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah propagates equal rights in the address of August 11, as the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stated in the Constitution of Madinah in Article 20, that Non-Muslim minorities, as in the Jews, have the same right of life protection, like Muslims:
“A Jew, who obeys us (the state) shall enjoys the same right of life protection (as the believers do), so long as they (the believers) are not wronged by him (the Jews), and he does not help (others) against them.”
Article 30 guarantees the freedom of religion of the Muslims and the non-Muslim minorities, mainly the Jews of Madinah:
The Jews of Banu Awf (non-Muslim minorities) shall be considered a community along with the believers. They shall be guaranteed the right of religious freedom along with the Muslims. The right shall be conferred on their associates as well as themselves except those who are guilty of oppression or the violators of treaties. They will bring evil only on themselves and their family.
Article 50 states that equal rights shall be given to all who abide by the Constitution, be it Muslim or Non-Muslim:
Equal right of life protection shall be granted to everyone, who has been given the constitutional shelter. A person given constitutional shelter shall be granted an equal right of life protection as long as he commits no harm and does not act treacherously.
The Jews and Christians, who were the minority of Madinah had equal rights, and were allowed to practice their religion as they wished. Furthermore, the Benevolent and Merciful nature of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was such that a delegation of 60 Christian scholars and their followers came from Najran to debate with the Holy Prophet ﷺ in which they would attempt to prove Islam as a false religion and to rebut the Prophet ﷺ. When the time of prayer came, they asked Prophet Muhammad ﷺ where they were to offer their prayers? Prophet Muhammad ﷺ opened Masjid Al Nabawi for them and stated that they were free to offer their prayers in His ﷺ Mosque according to their own religion, facing East:
Ibn Ishaq said, “Muhammad bin Ja`far bin Az-Zubayr said that, `The (Najran) delegation came to the Messenger of Allah in Al-Madinah, entered his Masjid wearing robes and garments, after the Prophet had prayed the `Asr prayer. They accompanied a caravan of camels led by Bani Al-Harith bin Ka`b. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah who saw them said that they never saw a delegation like them after that. When their worship time came, they stood up to perform their worship in the Prophet’s Masjid. Messenger of Allah said: “Let them (worship)” and they prayed towards east.
[Commentary: Ibn Hisham – I - 575-577]
Such were the Prophetic principles and therefore Quaid-e-Azam, following the teaching of our Master Muhammad ﷺ said “you are free to go to your temples… your mosques… or to any other place of worship.”
Moreover, Quaid-e-Azam stated in the 11th August address that personal faith should not be involved with the matters of the state or with politics. Again, this compliments the Islamic teachings; when a case was brought to Qazi Shurayh of a dispute between Ameer ul Mo’mineen Imam Ali (RadhiAllahu ‘Anhu) and a Jew, the verdict was given in favor of the Jew! Now one may wonder, should the judge not have favored the Sahabi, who was no ordinary Sahabi but the one of the Khulafa e Rashideen (Rightly Guided Caliphs)? The answer is simply that the teachings of Islam dictate that matters must be made fairly, and religion is not to be used as a deciding factor, otherwise the status of Imam Ali (RadhiaAllahu ‘Anhu) alone would have been enough for the verdict to fall in His favour.
The Great Qaid was a devout follower of the Holy Qur’an and advised the nation to purchase their own copy of the Qur’an and learn the rules and guidelines for humanity which Almighty Allah has outlined:
The Qur’an is the general code for the Muslims, a religious, social, civil, commercial, military, judicial, criminal and 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 Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace by upon Him) 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 ritual and ceremonies. It is a complete code regulating the whole Muslim society, every department of life, collective and individual.
[Eid-ul-Fitr message, September 1945]
Furthermore, what many will not know is that, when Quaid-e-Azam was gifted a prayer mat, a tasbeeh, Zam Zam water and several other Islamic items from Pir Jamat Ali Shah (RadhiaAllahu Anhu), Quaid-e-Azam wrote in a reply thanking him:
“You have gifted me with the Holy Qur’an because I am a leader of the Muslims. Unless and until, I may not have proper knowledge and understanding of this Holy Book, how can I be able to lead the Muslim nation? I promise you that I will study the Holt Qur’an. I have got the English translation with me, I am in search of a good scholar who can guide me well in this regard. You have gifted me a Prayer mat because when I will not listen to my Creator The Almighty, why would my people listen to me? I promise you, I will offer my prayers regularly. You have presented me a Tasbeeh so that I would recite Durood Sharif on it. A person who doesn’t seek Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him)’s blessing, how would Allah Almighty’s blessings be showered upon him? I would also obey this inshaAllah.
Reading this letter, Amir e Millat Peer Jamat Ali Shah stated, “Indeed Jinnah is a “Wali Allah” – a pious Saint and a friend of the Almighty. Quaid-e-Azam, true to his word, would forever read the Holy Qur’an and seek guidance. Butler Abdul Rasheed states that at 2am one night, Quaid-e-Azam had come to the Government Office, and the security men had heard some footsteps that would then stop, and resume again. The odd pattern baffled the men and they were in wont to know what was causing such noise but dared not enter the room and disturb the Qaid. Abdul Rasheed resulted to seeing from outside the house, peering into the window where he saw that: “The footstep sound was created as Qaid walked on the wooden floor. As he stopped, he would keep his elbows on the wood stove, read something from the above kept book, and start to walk again. He cried as he walked.” Confused as to what the book was, the security men told him that “Baba Qaide possesses an English translation of the Holy Qur’an.” So the reason for this pattern was that Quaid-e-Azam would read a few verses of the Holy Qur’an, then would read the translation, and as he walked in the room comprehending the message of the verses, he would cry. Praise be to Allah – this was the status of our Great Qaid! Only he who possesses a strong love and attachment with Almighty Allah would cry in such a manner:
“When the Verses of the Most Kind (Lord) are recited to them, they fall down prostrating themselves in (profuse) tears.”
[Irfan ul Qur’an:19:58]
Moreover, in the message to NWFP Muslim Students Federation in April 1943, Quaid-e-Azam said, “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.” Indeed Quaid-e-Azam was a Wali Allah; this should be enough to satisfy the one who claims that Quaid-e-Azam, Ma’azAllah, did not follow the Islamic teachings. How could such a great blessing like Pakistan be given to an ordinary man? Quaid-e-Azam had said, “Remember we are building up a State which is going to play its full part in the destinies of the whole Islamic World.” Undoubtedly, the man chosen for such a great task had to be specially selected. Pakistan came into being on Friday 14th August 1947 which, in the Islamic Calendar, corresponds to the 27th Ramadan 1366 AH. This night is recognised in Islam’s history for when the revelation of the Holy Qur’an was completed. Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani said, “This is not just a coincidence but a spiritual inclination with which this country has been blessed.”
As this article comes to end, let us reflect on the day that Pakistan began; on the 14th August 1947, looking into the face of thousands, if not millions, of survivors and freedom fighters who had followed the Great Qaide to Pakistan in hopes of freedom, Quaid-e-Azam began his address by invoking the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ remembering the teachings of “tolerance and goodwill” that were to be shown to non-Muslims, which would also be shown in Pakistan. He stated that, “Prophet Muhammad ﷺ by words and by deeds treated the Jews and the Christians handsomely after he conquered them. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ showed Christians and Jews utmost tolerance, regard and respect for their faith and beliefs.” When a child is born, the very first words a child hears are the words of God that are recited in the right ear to make the child a Muslim. In a similar fashion, the very first words that the newly born Islamic Republic of Pakistan heard, was the name of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and His ﷺ teachings to ensure that the state was to begin with the teachings of the Benevolent Prophet ﷺ.
With the undisputable evidence, it is impossible to call Quaid-e-Azam any such title of “liberal” or “secular” – doing so would surely be a grave injustice to the remarkable leader. On the death anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the words of Quaid-e-Azam echo in our hearts:
“I was born Muslim; I am a Muslim and shall die as a Muslim.” – August 6 1939
The Constitution of Madinah: http://www.academia.edu/2018309/The_Constitution_of_Medina_in_63_constitutional_articles
by Mariya Qadri
Team Operation Pakistan