Muhammad Ali Jinnah: Understanding the Quaid

By Muizz Drabu, GNLU

Editor’s Note: One of the most divisive figurse in the recent history of Indian politics was none other than Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He is still considered by many as the villain who was solely responsible for the creation of Pakistan. His story is a fascinating tale from being termed as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in the initial days of his political life and to be called the man who created Pakistan and the one who divided India. His transformation and resulting political scenarios have left behind a deep legacy in the Indian minds and the present research paper is a humble attempt to contextualize and analyse his political ideas.


Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”- Stanley Walport.

The term “Quaid” is an Arabic term meaning “Commander” or “Leader”, a person who is a servant of his people and dedicates his life to their service. Such dedication and genuine qualities are hard to attribute to any politician in today’s world but in the Indian subcontinent the title of “Quaid-e-Azam” (The Great Leader) is used with reference to the Father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.  Of all the great stalwarts of the struggle for independence, the most controversial, enigmatic and sophisticated politician was the Quaid himself, a tall, thin and elegant gentleman with a monocle on a grey silk cord. A giant who stood apart from the rest of his Muslim brethren became an indisputable leader and eventually he became the party he represented, The Muslim League.

 An unusual personality in more than one sense, the culmination of his efforts resulted in the division of a nation and creation of one. Even after 66 years of his death, the politics of this man who started off as being called a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity and ended up being termed as a “Traitor” and “Disruptor of India”[i] remain a mystery. His influence in the discourse of the political history of India continues to divide people and political parties in India even today[ii]. It is this dichotomy over the man and his politics which has captured the minds of many.

Through this paper, I wish to make a humble attempt to understand Jinnah, his politics and the debate over his legacy in Indian politics.


Born as Chandimal Parera Umethra Muhammad Ali Jinnahbhai to a family Hindu by race and Muslim by religion on the 25th of December, 1876 at Karachi[iii]. His family were recent reverts to Islam from Hinduism and followed the Ismaili Shia sect known as Khojas. His family background is obscure as little is known apart from the fact that he came from a merchant family of recent converts to Islam. There is even uncertainty and a continuous academic dispute over his date of birth.[iv]

He received primary education at Gokal Das Tejpal School and later at the Mission High School.[v] Jinnah left for England in the year 1892 at 16 years of age but was married before he undertook that journey to Emibai, who died soon after his departure for England. He studied law in London and joined the Lincoln’s Inn. During his stay at England he was deeply influenced by Dadabhai Naroji, the founder and President of the Indian Society in London, and under him developed a sense of political values, fairness, enthusiasm and patriotism. Jinnah even campaigned for him, when he stood up for elections to the House of Commons[vi]. In England, he even dropped the word “bhai” in his surname by a deed poll.[vii] Having completed his studying in England, he returned to India in 1896 and started to practice law in India, first as a temporary President Magistrate and later as an advocate in Bombay. Jinnah excelled in his profession and earned a lot of reputation, fame, money and respect for himself amongst the elite of the Indian intelligentsia.

He started his political career under the tutelage of Pherozeshah Mehta and Gokhale. In 1900 joined the Bombay Presidency Association, a party which cut across communal boundaries and had stalwarts such as Dadbhai Naroji and Pherozshah Mehta at its helm.

In 1906, Jinnah joined the All India National Congress. He was a proud Congressman and a radical patriot.  Being of a constitutional frame of mind, he abhorred violence and anti-constitutional measures as a means to achieve political objectives and he chose to tread path of statesmen like Dadabhai Naoroji, Gokhale and Banerjee.[viii]Even though Jinnah was amongst the “Moderates” bloc of the Congress after their split in 1906, he had great regards for Tilak, a member of the Extremist bloc of the Congress and even fought a case of sedition lodged against him in 1908. The cooperation between the two led to the re-unification of the Congress. In 1910, Jinnah was elected to the Imperial Legislative Council where he raised the demand for self-government and served on committees formulating schemes for constitutional reforms.[ix]Jinnah was a polished debater, effective leaders and was even referred to as one of the last ‘Victorians’ of his age.


“I am a nationalist first, a nationalist second, and a nationalist last”-Jinnah[x]

Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress as it became a symbol of Indian Nationalism and in his early years there were attributes of a leader present in him as his patriotic spirit, courage and independence were unmatched. Jinnah was a staunch supporter of liberalism and believed in achieving self-governance by peaceful, legitimate and constitutional means. He must have been amongst the few nationalist leaders never to have been arrested on any account. He abhorred violence and bloodshed and chose to be with the ‘Moderates’ of the Congress. He upheld the ideals of his leader, Gokhale, and is said to have desired to be a “Muslim Gokhale” of sorts.

It is believed that under the guidance of his mentor, Gokhale, he joined the Muslim League in 1913. In his statement to justify whether his loyalties had shifted, the Quaid has made his position clear by stating:

Loyalty to Muslim League and Muslim interest would in no way and at no time imply even the shadow of disloyalty to the larger national cause to which I was dedicated[xi]

He was strong supporter of the activities of the Congress those days and considered Congress to be the solution to the troubles of India. His aim was to change the pro-British stance of the League and to garner acceptance for Congress amongst the Muslims of India. His work at the All India Congress continued irrespective of his association with the League, and he presided over the Bombay Provincial Political Congress Conference at Ahmedabad which resulted in the re-unification of the Congress and an end to the extremist-moderate divide present in the party.

However, his legacy as a Congressman is more known because of the Lucknow Pact of 1916 between the All India Congress and Muslim League, Jinnah being the moving spirit and architect of the pact. The repudiation of the same Pact later on by the Congress on the basis of fear of a deadlock in legislature or latent Hindu communalism, as was perceived by the Muslims was a major reason for the split in the two parties, two communities, ideology of Jinnah and one of the basis for the creation of a new nation.[xii]

The pact provided for 1/3rd representation in central government and separate electorates for communities unless they demanded joint electorate.

The pact incorporated the demands of both the parties with regards to the colonial government as it called for elected members to be in majority (4/5th ) over nominated members (1/5th).[xiii] The pact was a significant move for both the parties and its perception as merely being a ‘concession’ to Muslim demands is a biased view of the same.   Jinnah played a dominating role in politics in this time period, as he prepared the draft constitution for India and ensure its adoption by both parties. He even joined the Home Rule League and became the President of the Bombay Branch of the same with an intention to mobilise the masses and not restrict the freedom movement to a few elites[xiv] He mobilized masses in order to  awaken and arouse them but his main aim being to ensure that the government conceded his demands. Jinnah, unlike Gandhi, did not whole-heartedly support the British during the war and criticised the heavy recruitment of Indian men in the army. Jinnah commented upon the British activities by stating that:

“We cannot ask our young men to fight for principles, the application of which is denied to their own country.[xv]

He along with Tilak even dared to raise awareness amongst British public and other Home Rulers in England to win over the approval of Indian demands. ‘India for Indians’ used to be Jinnah’s basic argument in every debate on any issue in the Legislative Council.[xvi] He protested vehemently against the Rowlatt Bills labelling  them ‘Black Bills’, calling British ‘uncivilized’ for enforcing such laws and resigned in protest from the Legislative Council against the same when they were enforced as he chose not to compromise his office for any post or office. The Jalliawala Bagh massacre had left a scar on Jinnah and he condemned the actions of the government. He considered that ‘peace celebrations’ organised by the British were a mockery of the lives lost in Punjab and refused the invitation of the All India Khilafat Conference to participate in peace celebrations at a time when the grievances of the people in Punjab were still unhealed. Jinnah disagreed with the non-cooperation movement launched by Gandhi as he chose not to depart from his principles of constitutionalism and liberalism. He was not the only Nationalist to raise his voice against the Non-cooperation movement as Tagore also saw the campaign as ‘the danger of mental despotism’.[xvii]

His aversion to Gandhian politics cannot be construed as a deviance from the national cause but rather a stand for freedom in a different manner. This resulted in him parting ways from the Congress in 1920 but parting from the Congress cannot be construed as his departure from the principles of secularism and nationalism which he chose to upheld as a party member. Even after his election victory in 1923 as an independent candidate for the Central Legislative Assembly, he closely worked with the Swarajist bloc, a party led by Motilal Nehru who were against boycott of legislature, and continued to pursue the constitutional way to bring reforms in India. His parting of the ways with Congress in no manner meant his departure from the duties he owed to the nation. As has been stated by Shiva Rao, ‘No Muslim leader was more genuine in endorsing the national demand than Jinnah was in the twenties.[xviii] He even advocated for the Indianization of the British Indian Army and his advocacy for the Steel Industry (Protection) Bill, which was to give bounty to Tata Iron and Steel Works in Jamshedpur, to ensure a well-established steel industry are clear examples of his patriotism.

Jinnah was a liberalist in every aspect and fought for the meagre rights provided in the colonial set up. He defended Indian revolutionaries with whom he disagreed on ideological grounds. It is evidenced by his statements in favour of B.G. Horniman, editor of the Bombay Chronicle, who was deported by stating that

“The liberty of man is the dearest thing in the law of any constitution and should not be taken away in any fashion”[xix]

Jinnah was not averse to the Congress even after his departure from the same and was part of an initiative in 1924 which called to unite all political parties. He even made efforts to unite parties and provide a new orientation in 1925 but the prejudice amongst the leaders could not ensure the success of such an initiative.[xx]Despite failures to unite political parties, he continued to be part of national politics as an uncompromised nationalist and was vociferous in his arguments against the Simon Commission. His stance against the Commission even led to the division in the Muslim League and thus to the formation of a bloc of Muslim leaders lead by Mohammed Shafi who chose to cooperate with the Commission. In an attempt to unite both Congress and Muslim League, Jinnah attended the All Parties Conference to do away with the perception present in Muslim mind with regard to the fear of Hindu dominance but his views were not shared by his contemporaries.

 Jinnah supported the participation in the Round Table Conference convened by the Imperial government and saw it as his duty and opportunity to advocate his viewpoint to the British, a dream to achieve self-rule by constitutional means, i.e., negotiated settlement. On the failure of the Round Table Conferences Jinnah decided to quit Indian politics and practice law at London. In in his return to politics three years later, there is a shift in his politics and he became a critic of the Congress, labelling them as communal Hindu organisation. There was still scope for reconciliation between the two parties as was clearly evidenced by his statements in early 1939 where he said:

Real victory for the Congress will be when you will stretch your hand across and remove the barrier between this party and that party[xxi]

The Congress questioned the representative character of Jinnah and instead of accepting the nationalist and his views for a united India, they pushed him into the lap of the separatist. His demand was to be recognised as the ‘sole spokesperson’ of the Muslims and he took offence to the election of Maulana Azad by the Congress as its President. His goals throughout his life were meant to liberate his nation and till the end days of his life, he considered himself to be a nationalist.[xxii]


He has the true stuff in him and that freedom from all sectarian prejudice which will make him the best ambassador of the Hindu-Muslim unity-Gokhale

The efforts of Jinnah to establish communal harmony and provide a common venture for the two major political parties resulted in the form of the Lucknow Pact of 1916. Jinnah followed the principles of his mentors, Gokhale and Dadabhai, and laid stress on Hindu-Muslim unity. His belief was that the foundation of the Congress party were on the basis of ‘equal treatment’ of all communities and ‘no reservation shall be made for any community’. He opposed the partition of Bengal and thought the division of the province would lead to further strife between the communities. He vehemently opposed communal electorate and was against its inclusion in Morley-Minto reforms. His strong ties within the Congress and his fight for Muslims Wakfs (Trust) Bill in 1913 through the Viceroy’s council won him widespread praise[xxiii].

The Quaid was staunchly against the British and their divisive politics and the happenings in other Muslim countries aroused the Indian Muslims and the attitude of both the communities with regards to the British were moving towards a common goal. The English were trying to take the League away from the Congress but the daunting leader sought to bring them closer. With regard to the fear of Hindu dominance, he stated that:

 “This is a bogey which is put before you by your enemies to frighten you, to scare you away from the cooperation with the Hindus which is essential for the establishment of self-government.”[xxiv]

He is said to have reiterated that the key to progress in India lay in ‘goodwill, concord, harmony and cooperation between the two sister-communities in order to produce a force which no power on earth can resist’.[xxv] The separate electorate was construed as being disrespectful to the Muslim community as well as demoralising for the State and emphasized upon them to rise above being at the mercy of the British and learn to have self-respect. The five years of association between Jinnah and the League, their proximity with the English was replaced with a new-found friendship with the Congress.

For Jinnah, unity must exist amongst the two communities for the growth of the nation but disagreed with the Gandhian way of seeking unity and salvation and thus, opposed the Khilafat Movement. The involvement of religion into politics and the spiritualizaion of the freedom movement by Gandhi was feared by Jinnah. During the years of Gandhi’s retirement from national politics, after the failure of the Khilafat and the Non-cooperation movement, there was a rise in the number of religiously guided political parties and use of religious symbols in the movement. Movements such as the shuddhi and the tabligh created further rift between the two communities and the efforts of leaders such as Tilak, Dadabhai, Gokhale and Jinnah were all in vain. The support of Gandhi for the Khilafat movement was looked down upon by Jinnah as the issue of Khilafat had nothing to do with the struggle for Swaraj and in his view the mingling of religion and politics was a lethal combination.

The period after 1922 saw the rise of Hindu Mahasabha as a national party and further division between the two communities. During this period, rioting was on the rise and literature was published by communal forces on each side to further disrupt the harmony within the communities. Communal atmosphere gave rise to the politics of murder. In these troubling times, Jinnah declared a call for peace and abhorred those who in the name of Islam committed such heinous crimes. He even put forth the Delhi Proposal which called for a separation of Sindh province from Bombay in return for Muslims accepting joint electorate but maintaining their demand for 33 % representation at the Central Legislature.[xxvi] His proposals were viewed as an attempt to revive Pan-Islamism by many but he reiterated his stance as a nationalist and his loyalty to India as a foremost priority. He believed in the ideals of liberalism and maintained throughout his life that religious freedom should never be compromised at any cost. His demand for a Sindh’s separation was based on demographics. Muslims in India formed 23% of the population and 23% of the population of Sindh was Hindus.

His view of Sindh as a miniature India and the toleration present in the land on account of the proximity between Sufiism and Hindu Vendanta provided for an opportunity to set an example for Hindu-Muslim unity.[xxvii] He thought of mobilising the Muslims in Sindh to improve the Muslim League’s footing in India and by providing an example for unity between the two communities under his party rule. Jinnah’s policies and the Delhi proposals were heavily criticised by the Muslims as well as many of them feared that the joint electorates were the essence of their representation in a nation where they were in a minority and denounced him for coming to an understanding with the Congress. A Punjab daily, Muslim Outlook, carried many editorials which characterised the Delhi proposals as a ‘disastrous step’.

In August 1928, a committee appointed by the All Parties Conference put forward the Nehru Report, as it was headed by Motilal Nehru, to determine the principles of the Constitution of India. The committee report heavily criticised the Lucknow Pact and stated that separate electorates were bad for the national spirit:

A minority must remain a minority whether any seats are reserved for it or not”.

The report rejected fears of Muslims being dominated by a Hindu majority and considered it to be ‘illogical’. Jinnah suggested a few amendments to the committee report such as the demand for one-third representation at Central Legislature, residuary power of provinces over centre and Muslim representation in Bengal and Punjab should be on population basis. Jinnah hoped for the Congress to concede to his few demands for the greater good of the nationalist struggle but the rise of religion in politics had taken over even the best of men. His suggestions were rejected and his reaction to the same was stated in one sentence:

This is the parting of the ways.”[xxviii]

He drafted his own 14-point constitution which talked about India as a federation with provinces having residuary powers. In his 14 point constitution he made a case for federation in order to attract provincial support and at the same time mentioned adequate representation for the minorities be it Hindus or Muslims in the provinces. He wished to reduce the dominance of Muslim politics by Bengalis and Punjabis by arguing for 3 new Muslim provinces to reduce their power and vociferously supported religious liberty unconditionally. The 14-point constitution can be seen as an attempt by Jinnah to regain favour amongst his community members as he feared that there was no sense of security for the Muslims and was dejected by the apathy of the other national parties. This 14-point constitution was an answer by Jinnah to his critics in the Muslim community and was an attempt to unite Muslims of India under one umbrella and to free them from their differences on the basis of sect. The 14 points can be seen as a stick to encourage Congress to grant Jinnah’s more conservative political goals as the document contained many demands not especially important to Jinnah such as his demand for Muslim representation in cabinets all over India which he would concede easily without damaging his support base in the Muslim community[xxix].

Even at the Round Table Conference the dominant issue was the Hindu-Muslim divide rather than the fundamental issue of self-rule. Jinnah time and again made a plea for not including the British over the issue of Hindu-Muslim divide and a united front should be put before the British for the demand of self-rule. The issue of communal strife shall be dealt with by Indians and not foreigners. The Communal Award was an attempt by the British to portray themselves as the ‘protectors of minorities’ and dealt as a heavy blow to the Hindu leaders. Jinnah wanted Hindus to accept the Communal Award till there was a better substitute as the basis of their common opposition to White paper.[xxx]Jinnah stood between the Muslim and Hindu conservatives, praying to them to stop fighting amongst themselves for narrow advantages and to unite for the larger interest. He compared Muslim demands for representation to the demands raised by Dr. Ambedkar for the ‘Untouchables’. He pushed away demands for ‘acquisition first and distribution later’ and stated that the Poona Pact served as a precedent for the rights of minorities which need be allocated. According to him, hope for the Indian nation only lay in the unity of the two communities.


Jinnah was an apostle of secularism, being modern and progressive in his thinking, appearances and activities. It is because of his non-sectarian approach that he became a favourite amongst the nationalist leaders. He was a termed as the last ‘Victorian’ and his habits and lifestyle were quite ahead of the people of his time. He abhorred the Mullahs and hated the clergymen. Even after raising a demand for Pakistan, he never quoted the Quran or even mentioned that Pakistan must be an Islamic state. The need for the creation of such a nation was based on his fear of persecution of the minorities.

God and Quran had no place in Jinnah’s political vision and he never became part of religious congregations. He failed to follow abide to any of the restrictions in Islam and frequently consumed pork, drank and had cigars.[xxxi] He was considered to be an infidel by many and sometimes termed as ‘Kafr-i-Azam’ (Great Infidel) for the blatant non-compliance of Islamic rules. His life is a testimony of his commitment to liberalism and secular ideals. His wife, Ruttie Jinnah, was a young parsi girl who converted to Islam. He belonged to the Khoja sect but never feared to criticise the spiritual head of the order, Aga Khan, for his sectarian views. There is still ambiguity about Jinnah religious views, as many consider him to be a Sunni while others claim he remained a Shia his entire life. Jinnah, in reality, called himself a Muslim because of his belief in the principle of existence of God and the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) as His Messenger. He like many other Shias such as Aga Khan and Syed Ameer Ali advocated for the union of Muslims all over India and advocated for the case of Islamic ecumenism.[xxxii]  He was English in many ways and dropping the name ‘bhai’ from his family name is a clear example. He abhorred the inclusion of religion in politics and considered it to be a bane in India’s fight for freedom.

Being a non-practising Muslim, he never dominated his views and opinions on his wife. He allowed his wife to be present without purdah not only in public meetings but also in Muslim League meetings[xxxiii]. Most of his friends were Non-Muslims and his secular outlook to society made him join the Indian National Congress over the Muslim League in 1906. He always advocated for equal treatment between Hindus and Muslims and was against any form of special treatment to any community. Jinnah’s non-partisan attitude, patriotism, fearlessness, non-conformism and dominant personality made him highly popular among the Indian youth in the early 1910’s. His aim to join the league was to create a new sect of ‘young muslims’ who would give precedence to country over religion with Jinnah as their leader. He always asked his co-religionist to be proud of their nationality, Indian, over anything else. He was above the ‘Hindu interest’ and ‘Muslim Interest’ and fought for the ‘Indian interest’. Another instance of his support for the individual choices of a man are evident in his courageous speech in favour of the Special Marriage Act bill to be applicable to Muslims:

Can you deny that there is a certain class of educated and enlightened people who rightly think that the gravest injustice done to them so long as liberty of conscience is withheld from them? Can that be denied? I say sir that it cannot be denied.”[xxxiv]

He considered it to be foolish that a man’s religion should dominate his individual choices and the law must be in accord with modern civilization and more in tune with modern sentiment. His support for the Hindu Marriage Validity Bill is also an instance of his support for a change in society as it was the first cautious step to destroying caste system in India. He was a reformer first and foremost and advocated for the abolition of child marriage amongst Muslims under the Sharda Bill and Hindu Child Marriage Bill for which he was heavily criticised by the clerics. He repudiated the clerics’ to be lawmakers for Muslims and could never let religion cloud his judgment for the betterment of society. He considered the Khilafat movement to be a false ‘religious frenzy’ with would be of no avail to India and its struggle. He believed that unity amongst Hindus and Muslims should not be on the basis of religion but a strong sentiment for the nationalist cause. Jinnah opposed Gandhi’s politics as in his view the politics of Gandhi lacked the principle of secularism.[xxxv]. Jinnah was said to have been the leader of the Independents, not of Muslims, and his allegiance lay towards the nationalist side over religion. He saw the Hindu-Muslim divide as a national issue:

I fear that the Hindu-Muslim question, as it is greatly called, is not likely to be settled unless we all who are working for the freedom of India come to recognise it as a national problem and not a communal dispute.[xxxvi]

The concept and ideals of secularism were deep-rooted in Jinnah and in Pakistan he never wanted to implement Sharia. The problem that Muslims faced in India were political and there was no need to bring in religion, culture or customs. Jinnah treated everyone equally and did not care much for anyone’s religious affiliations. A clear example can be seen in the first cabinet appointed for Pakistan in which the law minister was a Hindu , J.N. Mandal, the first foreign minister an Ahmadi ,Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, and Chief of Army Staff General  a Christian, Frank Messervy. Even after Pakistan came into existence the Quaid has said:

It would be my intention in Pakistan to observe no communal differences. All those who lived here, regardless of creed, would be fully-fledged citizens[xxxvii]


Is it true that you (Jinnah) hate the Hindus?-Ranjee Shahani

How can I? I have sprung from the same stock. But how would you like to live in your elder brother’s house on mere sufferance. If there is any manhood in you, you would quit and live, if necessary, in a slum-Jinnah”[xxxviii]

The parting of ways in late 1920’s, rise of communal parties and a failure to establish a link between the two major parties resulted in a sea-change in Jinnah’s ideas and ideals. His fear of the rise of Hindu dominance over Muslims after the withdrawal of the British led him to divide the people of the country and the nation. The demand for Pakistan could not be attributed to a single isolated incident but to a long chain of events which led to nothing but disappointment in the eyes of every nationalist.

The Lahore resolution passed in 1940 in the Muslim League, often termed as the Pakistan resolution did not even mention the word Pakistan. The resolution called for an amalgamation of Muslim lands in the North-West of India and in the Far-East to set up autonomous and sovereign provinces which would be part of a greater Indian federation. However, no formal demand for a separate nation or Pakistan was ever raised. The demand initially may have been a bargaining counter, where Jinnah sought to empower his party and his position in politics in a federation of independent Indian states.[xxxix] Jinnah despised the Congress more than any other political party because of its partisan opinions, politics and always worked under the garb of secularism.  He never criticised the Hindu community but the politics of the party which claimed to be the representative of India. Jinnah’s demands were merely sought recognition to the rights of minorities and his form of politics was employed by the Dalits in their struggle. After his adoption of a stiff Muslim stance against the Congress, he completely changed his attire and lifestyle.  The biggest shift in Jinnah’s mind-set was with the concept of nationalism and his acceptance of religion as the soul of the Indian subcontinent:

Religion is considered not merely a religion, in the strict sense as understood in the West by a Hindu or a Muslim but a complete social order which affects all the activities of life.  Religion is the cohesive force for the idea of nationality[xl]

Jinnah put forth a two-nation theory to provide clarity to the idea of Pakistan. In his address to the Lahore session he said:

Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literatures. They neither intermarry not interdine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.[xli]

This idea can be put forth as ‘Jinnah’s social contract’. The theory of his social contract concentrates upon the fact that the two communities in India are entirely different from each other. The traditions, customs and cultures of the two communities disparate drastically and a call for a union shall be futile. He based his arguments on the history of India in which many a times the ‘hero’ or ‘conqueror’ of one is the enemy of the other. The ‘overlapping’ history of the two communities was at the crux of their difference and they were the enemies of one another in each other’s historical imagination.  Thus, for the progress of both the communities it was ideal for them to be uncoupled that had become intertwined in history.[xlii] He called for a desertion to the conflict-ridden history of India in order to start over and the British Raj need be seen as a state of nature through which the two nations shall rise in a negotiated settlement under which they must respect the identities and sovereignty of each other. He called for both these nations to be termed as ‘Hindustan’ and ‘Pakistan’, neither of whom would claim any link to the history of India. Jinnah argued that this form of a ‘negotiated’ settlement had to be reached and a detachment from baggage of history was needed for the development of these nations. Even in his Constituent Assembly Speech on 11th August 1947, he recognised the creation of both the nations and made little to no reference to that past of India. Nehru on the other hand hardly mentioned Pakistan and continued to use historical references in his famous speech, “Tryst with Destiny”

There were many critics of Jinnah who stated that great Muslim rulers of India such as Aurangzeb, Akbar or Tipu Sultan never called for a division of India to which he simply replied by stating that he doubted if Hindus would call such rulers ‘great men’ whose rule they willingly accepted.[xliii]

His idea of Pakistan was a contemporary nation-state with a Muslim majority who would accept people with different religious and regional backgrounds. Pakistan’s was never meant to be an ‘Islamic state’ but rather a state to safeguard Muslim interest as a ‘Muslim Zion’. Pakistan was in no manner said to be a theocratic state and Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan had no scope for the clergy or their rigid interpretation of Islam. He reviled the history of Muslim rulers in India and considered them to be imperialists just like the British. He emphasised on the need for development of modern political thought rather than indulge in the supposed glory Muslim rulers. In effect, Jinnah, as a spokesman for Muslim League practised a strict separation between religious experience and political development and the League along with the civil-military bureaucracy generally concurred with his views[xliv]. He never called for a transfer of population between the two nations and had insisted upon the Hindus in Pakistan to stay put rather than cross borders.


In his cry for Pakistan, he gave up his old ideals of constitutionalism by calling for ‘Direct Action Day’ in 1946. His conversion from being a nationalist to the Father of Pakistan has resulted in him being called a ‘traitor’ or ‘communalist’ but it is fairly evident that his aim for the creation of Pakistan were by no means self-centred or communal rather were for the greater good of both the communities. His legacy has played a divisive role in Indian politics and his heritage of minority politics was inherited by the Dalits in India. The minority pact signed between the minority communities at the Second Round Table conference reduced the elite Hindus to a mere plurality rather than a majority. Low caste politics interacted with the League, taking up both its early defence of minority rights and representation, and its later demand for separate zones and even an independent state.[xlv]Hindu Mahasabha also copied many of his arguments and criticism of Congress. Jinnah, thus, could be said to be the founder of Anti-Congressism politics in India.

The claims by Advani to call Jinnah a ‘secularist’ are a new form of Sarvarkarite discourse in India in which the guilt and blame of the partition is shared by Nehru and Gandhi as well, still being represented as ambassadors of the Indian National Congress. The new discourse is put forth to emphasize on the fact that Jinnah’s portrayal of Pakistani nationalism should be something similar to what should be practised in India in modern times where like in Pakistan a strong Muslim culture needs to be established but the rights of minorities will be protected at the same time.[xlvi]

Another aspect of the legacy of Jinnah is the Demigod status acquired by him during the partition days, something which he resented Gandhi for. He became a Messiah of sorts for Muslims but never had that intention at the back of his mind. His demands for Pakistan must be viewed as a failure to infuse a sense of nationalism in the soul of India and its people. His entire life he fought for those ideals but to no avail.  The idea of him being a ‘Hater of Hindus’ in India or being an Ideal Muslim in Pakistan is entirely false. Even after his appointment as the Governor-General of Pakistan, he has stated that:

I still consider myself to be an Indian

Edited by Hariharan Kumar

[i] Suleri, Ziauddin. My leader: Being an estimate of Mr. Jinnah’s work for Indian Mussalmans, ( Karachi: Lion’s Publications, 1946 ), 1

[ii] Ramaseshan, Radhika. ‘Advani salutes ‘secular’ Jinnah, ‘The Telegraph-Calcutta’, accessed March 2 2014,

[iii] Naidu, Sarojini. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, an Ambassador of Unity: His Speeches and Writing, 1912-1917, (Madras: Ganesh Publications, 1918 ), 3

[iv] Talbot, Ian. ‘ Jinnah and the making of Pakistan’, History Today,  accessed March 2, 2014:

[v]Supra n.3, 3

[vi] Jawad, Ajeet. Secular and Nationalist Jinnah, ( Karachi: Oxford university press, 2009) 1

[vii] Ahmed, Akbar. ‘Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity’, New York Times Review, accessed March 2, 2014:

[viii] Allana, G., Quaid-e-AzamJinnah-The Story of a Nation, (Karachi: Ferozsons Publications,1996)  61

[ix]Supra n. 6, 11

[x] Noorani, A.G, Jinnah’s Secularism, ‘Frontline’, accessed March 5, 2014:

[xi]Supra n.3, 11

[xii] Datar, Abhay. “The Lucknow pact of 1916”, Economic and Political Weekly,(March 2010), 68

[xiii] Alavi, Hamza, “Social forces and ideology in the Making of Pakistan”, Economic and Political Weekly, December 2002, 5122

[xiv]Supra n. 3, 148-149

[xv]Supra n. 8, 108

[xvi]Supra n. 6, 37

[xvii] Tendulkar, D.G. Mahatma. Vol. II, (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1961), 15

[xviii] Rao, Shiva, India’s Freedom Movement, (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1972) , 126

[xix]Supra n. 8,242

[xx]Supra n. 6,  51

[xxi]Supra n. 6, p. 63

[xxii] Saiyid, The sound of fury-A political study of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, ( New Delhi: Akbar Publishing House, 1983), 233

[xxiii]Supra n.7

[xxiv] Singh, Khuswant. “The Genie in Youth”, Outlook India, accessed March 5, 2014 :

[xxv]Supra n. 3, 97

[xxvi]Supra n.8, 127

[xxvii] M.S.M. Sharma, Peeps into Pakistan, (Patna: Pustak Bhandar, 1954)7-8.

[xxviii] Bolitho, Hector. Jinnah, Creator of Pakistan, (Lahore: Publishers United Ltd., 1954), 95

[xxix] Sharma, J.N. The Political Thought of M.A. Jinnah, Volume XIII,  (New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 2008), 60

[xxx]Supra n. 3, 99

[xxxi]Chagla, M.C. ‘Roses in December’ , (Bombay: Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, 1975), 102

[xxxii] Devji Faisal, Muslim Zion, (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2013),  215

[xxxiii]Supra n. 3, 110

[xxxiv] Champa Limaye (ed.), Madhu Limaye on Famous Personalities,(New Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation, 2001) , 59-60

[xxxv]Supra n. 3, 125

[xxxvi]Supra n. 31, p. 97

[xxxvii] Noorani, A.G. , “Gandhi, Jinnah and Mounbatten”,  Economic and Political Weekly, April, 1983, p. 536

[xxxviii] Ranjanee Shahini, Mr Gandhi,(New York: Nabu Press, 1961), 186

[xxxix] Moore, R.J., “Jinnah and The Pakistan Demand”, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4, 1983, 531

[xl] Chaudhari, B. M.,  Muslim Politics in India,(Calcutta: Orient Book Corporation, 1946), 67

[xli] Ahmad, Jamil-ud-din.  Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah,(Lahore:  S. M. Ashraf Press, 1952) ,153

[xlii]Supra n. 32,96-97


[xliv] Ziring, Lawrence, “From Islamic Republic to Islamic State”, Asian Survey, Vol. 24, No. 9, Sep. 1984, 933-34

[xlv]Supra n. 32, p. 169

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