Understanding Jinnah

Published: December 25, 2010
The writer is a Srinagar-based journalist and editor of Peace Watch

The writer is a Srinagar-based journalist and editor of Peace Watch

Some two decades back, I read a book by Raj Mohan Gandhi, titled Understanding the Muslim Mind. The book is about eight great Indian Muslims, including Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, who shaped the destiny of the Muslims of the subcontinent. I thought of doing a similar book that would provide insight into the Kashmir mind. But then I asked myself, could any of them really be called great men?

The eight people Raj Mohan Gandhi has written about are truly great minds and out of them I see Muhammad Ali Jinnah as the greatest, for his “indomitable will”. Also, as put by his biographer Stanly Wolpert, “his place of primacy in Pakistan’s history looms like a minaret over the achievements of all his contemporaries.”

In my search for finding what was missing in our contemporary leaders, I found that instead of redeeming people they have pushed them into a morass of uncertainty. I had an opportunity of finding a Jinnah outside his famous biographies. In two articles about him, I found a Jinnah that has hitherto remained eclipsed from people — one by his sister Fatima Jinnah titled “A businessman Becomes A Barrister” and another by Sadat Husain Manto called “Jinnah Sahib”.

His sister says his eager mind was keen to benefit from his visit to England at a time when the spirit of British liberalism was making profound impact on the minds of people. He adopted the typically English habit of reading carefully his morning newspapers. About his joining the Lincoln’s Inn, Fatima Jinnah quotes his brother as saying, “My inquiries and discussions made me decide for another inn than Lincoln’s. But then I saw the name of the great Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) engraved on the main entrance of Lincoln’s Inn among the great lawgivers of the world. So I made a sort of vow that I would join Lincoln’s Inn.”

Saadat Hasan Manto’s writings on Jinnah makes for an interesting reading in that he talks about the lifestyle of this great leader, his relations with his sisters other than Fatima Jinnah and with his servants and drivers. “The Quaid had three sisters, one of them lived at Chowpati and her husband did not earn much. Jinnah Sahib would send her some money every month.” Jinnah played billiards and would hit with precision. Manto also wrote that in politics “the Quaid never made hasty decision. As in billiards, he would examine the situation from every angle and only move when he was sure he would get it right the first time”.

This article not only belies Jinnah’s detractors but also provides insight into his personal life even though the general belief has been that his domestic life would always remain a mystery.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Ali
    Dec 25, 2010 - 8:13AM

    A very nice article on Jinnah Sahib. The author has brought out such dimension of personality that had hitherto remained hidden from general public. There are hardly any biographies of Quaid even those by Akbar S Ahmed and Stanley Wolpert that write about his personal life. He was far above Gandhi and Nehru. Gandhi had more of pretensions and less of truthfulness. The author being a Kashmir should have highlighted Jinnah Sahib’s concern about Kashmir. He should have written how much personal interest he took in Kashmir not only during his three visits to Kashmir but even when he was sickness. It has been for death that Kashmir continues to hang fire. It was unfortunate of Kashmiris in particular and Pakistan in general that he died only one year after birth of Pakistan. He would have outsmarted Indian Machiavelli Nehru and outwitted him on Kashmir.

  • Makdoom Hamza
    Dec 25, 2010 - 10:13AM

    This is wonderful article on Jinnah Sahib. The other has not written routine stuff but portrayed the other-side of life of most charismatic leader. The sub-continent needs a leader like him at this juncture also to take it out of morass and politics of surrenders before the mighty powers. Recommend

  • liyaqat
    Dec 25, 2010 - 12:54PM

    It is a well written article which shows the another angle of Qaids personality .Recommend

  • Dec 25, 2010 - 1:30PM

    The only new fact I learnt in this article was that Jinnah stayed on in Lincoln’s inn because the prophet’s name was mentioned as one of the law-givers. Then I must say that current day Pakistanis are following in his footsteps when everything is judged through the prism of religion.

    I am sure the writer Zahid Muhammed will not consider the current chief minister of J&k as a great Muslim primarily because he works with a Kuffar government in Delhi.

    If you read Jaswant Singh’s book, you realise that all that Jinnah did throughout the freedom struggle was to stay aloof from the civil disobedience movement, say no to any congress attempt at a compromise solution and support the British because he believed that worked in the favour of Muslims.

    The only person who saw the need to tolerate Jinnah and not give in to Pakistan was Maulana Azad. I am sure Rajmohan gandhi included him in the great Muslims but the author of this article would not consider him great because he worked with Kuffars.

    Sir – the policy of compromise and give and take is needed for every age when you want peace and justice for all (not just muslims).

    However Muslims loved Nasser because he stood up to the west (and foolishly lost a lot of Palestinian land) and Muslims now love Ahmedinijad even if his people dont enjoy justice. There is another Muslim who stands up to the west – Osama bin laden.Recommend

  • kk tiger
    Dec 25, 2010 - 1:58PM

    That’s our Quaid, upright, liberal and secular to the core!Recommend

  • Rifat Iqbal
    Dec 25, 2010 - 3:05PM

    I loved reading this article. It is not a rut of mill but something different that highlights the human aspect of the greatest South Asian leader who is credited with have created a nation state without taking to streets. He is the world most towering non-violent leader- he should be an example those dreaming a change – for bringing out change he need no guns but an indomitable will. He was believer in non-violence not street politics like Gandhi. Gandhi is wrongly called apostle non violence- all his movements ended in violence and mayhem- Quaid has been Quaid, present leaders need to learn a lesson from his life.
    I was surprised to see post of some Prasad about the article. He has dragged in a non-entity Omar Abdullah husband of Payal Nath and Brother in Law of Rajeh pilot and grand son of Mukund Koul a purohit of Kashmir in discussion. Recommend

  • Dec 25, 2010 - 3:06PM

    While, supporting fully, Jinnah’s personal traits like wisdom, integrity, indomitable will etc I would like to underline his idealogy of Pakistan- its based on religious lines and this very philosophy is enough for Mullahs and clerics to misguide the people of Pakistan. Jinnah was really a secular and liberal person, when it comes to his personal life, but the idealogy he represents, divided the sub-continent on religious lines. On the other hand Maulana Azad looks like religious in his personal life but his political idealogy was liberal and forward looking. In the hind sight, I can honestly admit, Maulana Azad’s idealogy of indepnedance was better than that of Jinnah’s. Today almost 540 million Muslims of the sub-continent are the biggest losers- divided into three countries, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Recommend

  • Mohsin mughal
    Dec 25, 2010 - 6:33PM

    He was wonderful but one sad thing i want 2 share is this that there is no dougha about that he was great leader and true muslim bt still there are many people in Pakistan who always try to disgrace him and i know about a colege teacher in taxila degree colege who teach these kind of things to students authorites should take notice of himRecommend

  • Dec 25, 2010 - 7:42PM

    Rifat – so a leader is judged by who he marries not by his conduct, his choices under pressure and his statesmanship – in that case Omar Abdullah is probably more muslim than Jinnah was. Jinnah was a hindu one or two generations ago, he married a parsee woman, his daughter married a parsee and his grandchildren are practicing parsees.

    As for non-violence, we can all claim to be inheritors of ahimsa or non-violence. It is no accident that this region gave birth to Asoka and Buddha (I will not include Gandhi here because you seem to be seriously offended by his name). Recommend

  • karim
    Dec 25, 2010 - 8:11PM

    Pakistan is still far behind including herself in the modern definition of welfare state which our founder had dreamed,,,,a true national integrity is present in the teaching and practices of quaide ……..Recommend

  • Robin
    Jan 9, 2011 - 6:38PM

    I am an Indian Hindu and I respect Jinnah more than Gandhi. And I consider Jinnah to be the father of the Nation (of India). Without Jinnah there would have been no Pakistan and the whole of present day India would have had terrorists running around bombing and killing. Jinnah truly was a great man. Thank you Jinnah. Recommend

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