76 years after the partition of India, this question is still prevalent in the intellectual society of the Sub-continent: was the creation of Pakistan necessary? Some consider the creation of a separate country for Muslims as evident, a necessity, and a miracle of God. In contrast, others have a differing idea of partition and consider it a British conspiracy of “breaking India” and implementing its divide-and-rule policy.
However, our preview in this article is not to debate the necessity of a Muslim state in India but to find answers to other questions that are being asked not only by public intellectuals but also by students who in contemporary Pakistan are in a state of identity crisis. The questions are: what was the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s utopia? And how he wanted to run his creation, Pakistan?
Seculars and Liberals proclaim that Jinnah wanted a Secular, Liberal, and Democratic state and in support of this hypothesis, they present Jinnah’s “missing” speech to the Constituent Assembly in Karachi on 11th August 1947, three days before the creation of Pakistan, as evidence. The speech follows,
“You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan,” Jinnah further declared. “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
This address is very crucial to people who want to see Pakistan as an Islamic State as it boldly expresses Jinnah’s secular views. Still, we can neither deny nor overlook Jinnah’s speeches, interviews, and letters in which his ideas are close to the religious classes. In an address to the Gaya Muslim League Conference in January 1938, Jinnah began mapping out his new worldview; with these sentences, he said,
“When we say this flag is the flag of Islam, they think we are introducing religion into politics – a fact of which we are proud. Islam gives us a complete code. It is not only religion, but it contains laws, philosophy, and politics. In fact, it contains everything that matters to a man from morning to night. When we talk of Islam, we take it as an all-embracing word. We do not mean any ill. The foundation of our Islamic code is that we stand for liberty, equality, and fraternity.”
And in another instance, in his letter to Gandhi on 17th September 1944, he wrote,
“We are a nation, with our distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral code, customs, and calendar, history and traditions, aptitude and ambitions; in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life.”
He told Edwards College students on 18th April 1948, “This mighty land has now been brought under a rule, which is Islamic, Muslim rule, as a sovereign independent State.
Considering these quotations, a person can say that Jinnah wanted an Islamic state with democratic and liberal values and did not want to create a theocracy, as it is claimed by religious parties. Jinnah’s views on theocracy or a theocratic state are very blunt, as is obvious through this quote from his address at the All India Muslim League Legislative Convention, inaugurated in Delhi on 7th-9th April 1946, he says,
“What are we fighting for? What are we aiming at? It is not a theocracy nor a theocratic state. Religion is there and religion is dear to us. All the worldly goods are nothing to us when we talk of religion, but there are other things which are very vital – our social life, our economic life. But without political power how can you defend your faith and your economic life?”
A second quote is from his speech broadcast to the Australian public on 19th February 1948, he clearly said,
“The great majority of us are Muslims. We follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. We are members of the Brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, dignity, and self-respect. Consequently, we have a special and a very deep sense of unity. But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it. Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds, and we welcome in closest association with us all those who, of whatever creed, are themselves willing and ready to play their part as true and loyal citizens of Pakistan. Not only are most of us Muslims but we have our own history, customs, and traditions and those ways of thought, outlook, and instinct which go to make up a sense of nationality.”
Although we have plenty of quotations from Jinnah in favor of an Islamic Pakistan with democratic and liberal values, all his views are generalized, unclear, ambiguous, and lack certainty. The major reason for that is his mentor, Iqbal, who is considered the idea-giver of Pakistan to Jinnah. Iqbal’s ideas for Islamic modernity and a state for Muslims in India were also equivocal, utopian, and ideologically correct but not practical.
Nonetheless, it is clear what Quaid’s utopia was, but how he wanted to achieve it is unclear, and he doesn’t seem to have an answer to how democratic, liberal, and modern values could interlink with Islam. And how would Islamic principles bridge with state machinery? These are some of the questions that are creating a severe governance crisis in Pakistan, where religious fanatics have been clashing with the state since the creation of Pakistan to make it a theocracy, where the state would be run by centuries-old fiqh and self-styled sharia.
Now, coming up on the second question: how Jinnah wanted to run his creation, Pakistan? It is clear that he wanted a parliamentary democracy with a capitalist, free-market economic system and was against the “evils” of Socialism and Communism but supported the idea of a welfare state and social justice. Yet, how would social justice be implemented? It is also indefinite, according to his speeches, interviews, and letters.
However, in the preview of his quotations, it is obvious that he doesn’t have a clear idea of what Pakistan shall be and how it shall run as a state. And in accordance with this, we can’t claim that he wanted a liberal or a conservative Pakistan.
- Quaid’s Utopia: Understanding Jinnah’s Version of Pakistan - 17/11/2023
- Disinformation Deceit - 21/10/2023
- The States in a State of Crisis - 13/10/2023