No, this is not Jinnah's Pakistan

Arguing that the Quaid envisioned the Islamic state of today is oversimplifying his embrace of Islamic principles.

Kashif Ali March 22, 2013
I am writing this piece with reference to Mr Yaqoob Khan Bangash's article of March 18 titled “Jinnah’s Pakistan”. Notwithstanding the fact that the writer is a chairperson of the history department of Forman Christian College, I would, like to highlight few contentions that I have with his conclusion:
“Jinnah’s Pakistan is an Islamic state, which defines who a Muslim is, excludes those Muslims it does not like and is not very democratic.”

Anyone acquainted with history would not disagree with the fact that the struggle for Pakistan was certainly couched in religious terms. A lot of historians have also argued that Jinnah did appeal to the normative values of Islam. He incorporated religious differences in his rhetoric as a sufficient justification for demanding a separate state for Muslims, which eventually led to the creation of Pakistan in the name of religion.

However, based on Jinnah’s ‘politicking and attempt to construe religion as a source of binding Muslims together, what Mr Yaqoob has suggested is that Jinnah always conceived Pakistan to be an ideological/Islamic state guided by Islam.

My only contention is if Jinnah truly did want to create an Islamic state.

Did he want a state where religion would be the only source of identity, where no other orthodoxy would be tolerated except, of course, the dominant Sunni orthodoxy?

Would he have wanted a place where the state would be arrogated the right to define who a Muslim is and who is not - where the state would have the right to put a bar against non-Muslims to occupy positions of the head of a state, the head of a government and the head of Federal Shariah Court (FSC), president and prime minister and head of FSC respectively?

Did Jinnah dream of a state that would have a declared state religion, permeated through the religious realm?

If this was truly the case, I would like to know why almost all the ulemas (religious scholars)including Maududi’s vehicle Jamaat-e-Islami, vehemently opposed the partition and creation of Pakistan. After all, wasn't it always this that they wanted in the very first place?

If Jinnah’s Pakistan was always meant to be an Islamic state -- which defines who a Muslim is, excludes those Muslims it does not like -- then why did the Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam (MAI) - a band of Muslim leaders dedicated to an extreme, conservative viewpoint - not support Jinnah?

After all, was it not MAI who had engaged in vigorous anti-Ahmadi campaigns in Punjab? Leaders like Shabbir Ahmad Usmani and Ashraf Ali Thanavi are two exceptions.

It was also this exclusionary approach that attracted several members and sympathisers from among other Muslim political parties. These included the Unionist Party, a potential rival within the province. This was coupled with the fact that MAI also supported an Islamic system for the Muslims of India.

If Jinnah’s Pakistan was meant to be an ideological state guided by Islam, then why did Maulana Maududi, who wanted to transform Islam from merely a faith into an ideology (read Seyyed Wali Reza Nasr on Maududi and the making of Islamic revivalism) oppose Jinnah?

If Jinnah and the Muslim League (like Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami) looked to Islam as a legitimising force for Muslim politics, then why were they categorised as such by people like Maududi:
“No trace of Islam can be found in the ideas and politics of Muslim League… Jinnah reveals no knowledge of the views of the Holy Quran, nor does he care to research them…yet whatever he does is seen as the way of the Holy Quran. All his knowledge comes from Western laws and sources. His followers cannot be but jama’at-i-jahiliyah (party of pagans).”

If Jinnah did not want to create an Islamic state for Muslims then why was he, in fact, pursuing Pakistan?

Pakistan was certainly a decision aimed at emancipating the Muslim community; it was a struggle of one community versus another, not deen (religion) versus dharma.

Scholars like Ayesha Jalal have shown how the popular narrative of Pakistan being based on religious lines is flawed. Turning to religion as a deliberate imprecision was part of Jinnah’s bargaining strategy to seek that power for Muslims.

Remember, Jinnah himself initially was the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. Therefore, in hindsight, one can say perhaps Jinnah did not realise what would inevitably happen, but it is historically incorrect to say that his intention was to create the Islamic Pakistan of today. That would be equivalent to arguing that the loopholes in the legal system of today’s Pakistan show that Jinnah was not a constitutional lawyer.

While Mr Yaqoob has criticised the liberals for overstretching Mr Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech of promoting a secular state, he has done the same by oversimplifying Jinnah’s embrace of Islamic principles to show that Jinnah had promised an Islamic state.

If the dearth of Jinnah’s speeches endorsing secular credentials follow that Jinnah envisioned Pakistan to be an Islamic state then there are also many speeches which can be quoted, which clearly indicate that Jinnah never wanted an Islamic state based on one dogma and rigid system of law that is idealised today in Pakistan.

Therefore, yes, this, today, is not Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Read more by Kashif here
Kashif Ali The writer holds Masters in governance and public policy from Germany and works in the development sector. He tweets as @s_kashif8 (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Islam! | 10 years ago | Reply After I read this article, I can't believe that people are still debating whether this is Jinnah's Pakistan or not. I think that we should let Jinnah rest in peace. In his time he surely did provide people with leadership and provided the majority of Muslims with Pakistan. He gave the call for a separate state for Muslims so that they no longer had to live under Hindu ruling when the British left. Now that Qaid-e-Azam has left us, it's up to us to solve the problems. Also the problem is not only religion because the majority of Pakistan is Muslim. The main problem is greed. If we think about it for a second, if greed is eradicated, Pakistan will no longer be a failed state. If we take a small glance at the Nordic countries, the government provides for the old and the young. The education and medical facilities are available to all not just high class but everyone. This is all because the government collects taxes. If the high class give a hand in and there is not so much segregation between the classes then problems would be solved way easier. We should start to live our lives for today and the tomorrow to come, not for the past. The man has surely left Pakistan with a great legacy. We are the ones that will build not only a secure but also a safe future. Lastly, the monuments of Qaid-e-Azam were made to make us feel good and proud of Pakistan and for us to remember the man that had helped shaped Pakistan to how it is today. His face on the Pakistani rupee is used because he represents Pakistan and also for us to remember him not just use the rupee for its value.
1984 | 10 years ago | Reply @Anoop: Thanks for typing what I was about to comment. That link he gave didnt work. But I went to the website and used "Google translate" and searched for half an hr...I even search key words like "Arabia","Mann","Mensch","Herkunft"..but never found what Mr.Rex Minor suggested me.... I think now Rex Minor will ask me to study German to understand it as he once said muslims need to study Arabic to unlock the scientific secrets of Quran and German for Goethe etc....But I always have Uncle Google's Brother "Google Translate"
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