KARACHI: Yasser Latif Hamdani a well-known human right barrister, and the author of ‘Jinnah: A Life’ on Friday said that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s idea of secular state was in perfect consonance, and not in contradiction to Islam.
Addressing at a talk, titled: ‘Jinnah and the idea of a modern nation state’ organized by the Managing Committee constituted under authority of Board of Management (BoM) Quaid-e-Azam House Museum (Flagstaff House) Institute of nation Building, Hamdani said Jinnah’s idea of Islam was very plural, democratic, and modernist. He was totally opposed to theocracy, and a protector-general of minorities, especially the Hindus.
Hamdani differentiated between the words ‘secularity’ and ‘secularism’. Elaborating he said that Secularity is simply impartiality of state to various faiths etc. whereas secularism is the deliberate elimination of religion from the public sphere.
As per Jinnah’s vision, any person with merit should become the head of state regardless of his religion or belief. His 11 August 1947 speech was the perfect example in this connection, and quoted: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state….”
Also, Hamdani said that in his presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 Jinnah maintained: “Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”
The use of religion in politics is against Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision. But the country has been witnessing this phenomenon growing since 1980s. The non-Muslims are being considered as the second class citizens, and women are not being given their due socio-economic rights. This is a sheer deviation from Jinnah’s concept of a modern nation state.
He said that no one can actually talk about modern nation state without talking about the women. Jinnah’s vision was modernist, progressive, democratic, inclusive, and he was a staunch advocate of women and minority rights.
Sadly and unfortunately, “we are nowhere near it. However, I tried and attempted through this book to wake people up to that idea,” Hamdani said.
He quoted Jinnah’s famous 10 March 1944 speech at Muslim University Union Aligarh: “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. I do not mean that we should imitate the evils of the western life. But let us try to raise the status of our women according to our own Islamic ideas and standards. You should take your women along with you as comrades in every sphere of life, avoiding the corrupt practices of western society.”
“Jinnah was far greater leader than Gandhi,” Hamdani said and deplored that country has not been able to project the true vision and thoughts of Jinnah, globally. On the other hand, Indians do sell their image through Gandhi, he said.
In America, they compare Jinnah with Jefferson Davis who devised confederacy in 1860s. He was the first and only president of the Confederate States of America.
“We have to come up with the narrative based on facts about Jinnah,” he stressed.
In the preface of the book, the writer has expressed that understanding Jinnah’s story and his motivations may help Pakistan and India lay to rest the ghosts of Partition and the acrimonious communal dispute.
Obviously, it will not resolve all disputes between the two nuclear armed neighbours because much of what goes on between the two countries is marred by power plays and global politics, yet understanding Jinnah’s story may help both sides realize that nothing is final in politics.
Now more than ever, we need Jinnah’s pre-1937 politics in both India and Pakistan. Tragically, there is no Jinnah today in either country.
Ameena Saiyid Member, BoM, Quaid-e-Azam House Museum gave introductory remarks. Liaquat Merchant Senior Vice Chairman, BoM, Quaid-e-Azam House Museum, and Commodore Sadeed A. Malik (R) Secretary General, BoM, Quaid-e-Azam House Museum also spoke on this occasion.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022