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Wednesday July 06, 2022

From Mohammad Ali Jinnah to Quaid-i-Azam

December 25, 2021

Mohammad Ali Jinnah is considered to be one of the most important figures in world history. His personal life, leadership, ideology and struggle to achieve such a major achievement is unmatchable. The Muslims of the subcontinent saw Mr Jinnah as a symbol of hope, resilience, and strength in those times of crisis. The Muslim identity was losing its charm, Mr Jinnah brought it back with his charisma.

The British and the Hindus were troubling the Muslims to an extent that a revolution was inevitable, it was very tough for the Muslims to stay firm on their ground.

The driving force was the Two-Nation Theory presented by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan on which Mr Jinnah worked hard.

Born on December 25, 1876, in Karachi to a middle-class family who had just shifted to Karachi from Paneli, Gondal a year before he was born. He was the second child of the 7 siblings, He got enrolled at Sindh Madressatul Islam at the young age of six. Afterwards, he moved with his aunt to Bombay and joined a Christian missionary school. Some months later, he moved back with his parents to Karachi and continued his education at another Christian missionary school. He decided to move to London at the age of 16 when he was given an opportunity to work as an apprentice in an English company. He got married to a young lady before leaving because of his mother’s constant insistence. Unfortunately, he suffered the loss of both his mother and his wife while he himself was starting his new life in England.

The new life was treating Jinnah well, he adjusted to the new environment and changed his clothing from the Indian turban and Kathiawari coat to an elegant Western-style suit. The young and energetic Mr Jinnah decided to change his passion from business as a career and started pursuing law as a career. He wanted to become a barrister, joined Lincoln’s Inn and in 1895 was the youngest Indian at the very age of 19 to be called to the bar in England. At the age of 20, he returned to Bombay to practice law. There he was the only Muslim barrister in the city. Mr Jinnah was fluent in English, the life in England groomed him. He had a mastery over the language and his personality was razor-sharp. One of Jinnah’s fellow barristers from the Bombay High Court recalled: “Jinnah’s faith in himself was incredible”; he recalled that on being admonished by a judge with “Mr Jinnah, remember that you are not addressing a third-class magistrate”, Jinnah shot back, “My Lord, allow me to warn you that you are not addressing a third-class pleader.” Another of his fellow barristers described him in the following words:

“He was what God made him, a great pleader. He had a sixth sense: he could see around corners. That is where his talents lay ... he was a very clear thinker... But he drove his points home-points chosen with exquisite selection-slow delivery, word by word”. Mr Jinnah was growing famous as a lawyer day by day.”

He served the position of the Bombay Presidency Magistrate, which he was offered in 1900. During his tenure in Britain, he learned the basic ideologies of the imperial characteristics of their leadership, he had a thing or two in his mind about partition. After some time, there was some interest growing for politics in Mr Jinnah’s heart after he attended the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress in 1904. In 1906, he joined Congress and started taking part in their political activism. Mr Jinnah wanted to build the bridge between the Muslim League and the Congress as his view was that there could be a united front against the British and it would be an effective resistance against the colonizers. The people of the subcontinent considered Mr Jinnah to be a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity and were intrigued by his liberal ideologies. It was due to the efforts of Jinnah only that Congress and Muslim League started conducting their sessions together. In 1916, they held their meeting together in Lucknow where the famous Poona Pact was concluded. Under the terms of the Pact, both the parties agreed on constitutional reforms and it became their joint demand from the British government. He was proving to be an excellent parliamentarian.

However, in the following years, things didn’t go well between Mr Jinnah and Congress. He had the belief that the Muslims’ traditions, customs and rights would be respected in United India. But the political milieu of India was not supporting these views. So these views changed in the 1930s when the Muslims started to demand for a separate homeland as they felt alienated and frustrated by the British and the Hindus. The Indian National Congress was working on cunning politics, there wasn’t much Muslim representation and the members of the Muslim League were leaving their own party. This was a tough time for Mr Jinnah as he had to perform this duty single-handedly to unite the Muslims who were forming other parties in different provinces.

He secluded himself from politics between 1930 to 1935. He remained in London during this period. He finally decided to return to India in the year 1934. He officially left the Indian National Congress and decided to solve the disputes of the Muslim League, making it more rigorous and active platform. Finally, through consistent efforts, he succeeded in bringing back all the Muslims in the All India Muslim League. By 1935, many Muslims even from the Indian National Congress joined the Muslim League. Jinnah was again connecting to his roots, everyone could see the Muslim heritage in his dressing and style and he himself felt proud in doing so. The year 1937 was a very crucial one, it clearly evident that neither Muslim League nor Indian National Congress was ready to work together. Jinnah came up with the idea of partition of India at the ‘Muslim League Conference’ in 1940 at Lahore.

In the conference, he proposed that the regions having Muslim majority must be united in such a manner to make a separate homeland. The Indian National Congress had the idea of a secular India under a Hindu majority so their dominance couldn’t be challenged. The British had just come out victorious from the World War II but a civil war was knocking on their door. Their empire was falling due to the economic impact caused by the war and they needed serious damage control. A proposal was made by the British Cabinet Mission on May 16, 1946, to avoid the partition. Instead, an interim government should be formed which had representatives from both the parties.

Jinnah said, “We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men ...and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.”

Finally, on August 14, 1947, we saw Jinnah’s dream turning into a reality. Mr Jinnah addressed the public in Karachi. The rest is a history. The history is still making, though many of the ideals which the Quaid gave to this nation in the brief period of his life after the creation of Pakistan, have been forgotten by the people of this country. On this birth anniversary of the father of the nation, we can only hope against hope that if the leaders and people of this country still follow what the Quaid had dreamt about Pakistan, the country can again emerge as a proud nation among the comity of nations.

--Farzeen Bano is a graduate of COMSATS, Islamabad. She can be accessed at: farzeenbano02@gmail.com

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