A. G. NOORANI*
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 makes an assertion of fundamental importance which is manifestly, demonstrably false; factually and historically. Its Third Schedule contains oaths of office for the President, Prime Minister, Federal Ministers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairman of the Senate, Members of the National Assembly and the Senate, Governors of Provinces, their Chief Ministers, Ministers, Speakers of Provincial Assemblies, their Deputies, Members of Provincial Assemblies. They uniformly contain this pledge: “That I will strive to preserve the Islamic ideology which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan”. Incidentally no such pledge is prescribed for the Auditor-General, Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, Judges of the Federal Shariat Court – a post 1977 institution – the Chief Election Commissioner and “members of the Armed Forces”. Incredibly the formulation on ideology was borrowed from Article 20 of Yahya Khan’s Legal Framework Order, 1970.
No such assertion was made in the oaths of office prescribed in the Second Schedule to the first democratic Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1956. It only declared in the preamble : “Whereas the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, declared that Pakistan would be a democratic State based on Islamic principles of justice”, a proposition historically and factually incontestable. It did not declare Islam as the State religion. Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan (1973) does just that ; “Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan”.
It is truly amazing that it took a quarter of a century for its authors to discover that Islam was “the ideology of Pakistan”. Since the discovery was a fake one, it had to be buttressed by a palpable falsehood; namely, that it was this ideology which was “the basis for the creation of Pakistan”. Tersely put, Pakistan was conceived by its founder and the political party he led, the All-India Muslem League, to be an Islamic State and the struggle for Pakistan was a struggle for the establishment of such a State.
Not once did Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, as the 1956 Constitution rightly called him; profess to pronounce or define, any “ideology” for Pakistan whatsoever. It is surely from his pronouncement and the resolutions of the Muslim League that the rationale and justification, the “basis for the creation of Pakistan”, must be found. What the record reveals, incontrovertibly, is that he was consistently against the establishment of an Islamic State in Pakistan before and after its creation. Indeed, he was fundamentally and consistently opposed to mixing religion with politics.
Two authentic disclosures reveal Jinnah’s outlook. To Amin Ahmed Khan, the Raja of Mahmudabad, Jinnah was a guardian appointed by his father, an uncle with whom he would stay in Bombay or Delhi “for about three months every year. All that I had was at the disposal of the League”. He was its treasurer and the youngest member of its Working Committee. What he wrote in a paper for a conference in London on the partition in 1967 bears quotation in extenso. “A major factor in this growth (of the League) was the new ideal which the League had put before the people in 1940. The idea of a separate Muslim state in India stirred the imagination of the Muslims as nothing else had done before. But the League had to pay a price for this swift success. In the new momentum which the League now gained, several elements aligned themselves with it. Their influence was not entirely wholesome. Some of these were conservative in opinion and hindered the activities of the progressive element, thus making the League out as less radical than it actually was. Several members of the landed and moneyed classes also came in and lent support to the conservative thinking in the party. There were those who seemed more anxious to gain power and influence than to put in a long constructive effort.
Conservative religious element for whom time had not moved since the Khilafat days. They had no conception of running a modern political movement on sophisticated lines. Their thinking was limited to the contemplation of an Islamic state, and they interpreted to the masses the League ideals in terms to which they were accustomed. There was yet another smaller group of some university teachers, which stood for greater emphasis on Islam in League politics. During 1941-5, I myself came under its influence and was one of the founder members of the Islamic Jamaat. We advocated that Pakistan should be an Islamic state. I must confess that I was very enthusiastic about it and in my speeches I constantly propagated my ideas.
“My advocacy of an Islamic state brought me into conflict with Jinnah. He thoroughly disapproved of my ideas and dissuaded me from expressing them publicly from the League platform lest the people might be led to believe that Jinnah shared my view and that he was asking me to convey such ideas to the public. As I was convinced that was right and did not want to compromise Jinnah’s position, I decided to cut myself away and for nearly two years kept my distance from him, apart from seeing him during the Working Committee meetings and on other formal occasions. It was not easy to take this decision as my association with Jinnah had been very close in the past. Now that I look back I realize how wrong I had been.” (C.H. Philips and Mary Doreen Wainwright; The Partition of India; George Allen and Unwin, London; 1970; pp. 388-9). As the editors write “Jinnah wanted a homeland for Muslims, not an Islamic state” (ibid, p. 30).
The reader will not fail to note the fault line in the campaign. It widened and a dangerous gap developed. The distinction between a MuslimState and an Islamic State was overlooked. Sri Prakasa, India’s first High Commissioner to Pakistan, knew Jinnah well. Both were members of the Central Legislative Assembly. He received preferential treatment from the Governor-General. One day Jinnah lost patience with him. “I asked him if he would permit me to say one thing; and would not take it at all amiss. I should, I added, like to apologise to him beforehand, and would say what I desired to do only if he permitted me to do so. ‘Out with it’, he said; ‘I have plenty of flatterers. I want a friend who would speak to me quite frankly. Do say what you want to say.’ I was encouraged by what he said, but was still nervous, particularly because of my position as a diplomat accredited to his State. I therefore added that I regarded myself as a friend, and that I might be assured that he would not mind. On his repeated assurance, I said – and I remember my words clearly even at this distance of time : ‘I know that the partition had been effected on the basis of differing religions. Now that this has taken place, I see no reason why stress should be laid on Pakistan being an Islamic State.’ I ventured to go on to tell him that if there should be no talk of Pakistan being an Islamic State, non-Muslims would be assured and not be flying away as they were doing. I told him of how I had seen deserted places in the interior, and had been dealing with thousands of persons anxious to leave their homes and all they held dear.
“At this he said that he had never used the word ‘Islamic’. He added: ‘You are a responsible man, and you should tell me where I have done so.’ I ventured to add that only the day before, NawabzadaLiaquat Ali Khan (the then Prime Minister of Pakistan) had said that Pakistan was an Islamic State. To this he replied : ‘Have it out then with Liaquat : why quarrel with me?’ I would not give in, I said ; ‘In your broadcast from Lahore on August 31, you had yourself spoken of Pakistan as an Islamic State.’ He was quite sure that he had not done so, and asked me to let him have the original version, if I could. At this he suddenly got up. I could see he was visibly livid with rage. I was summarily dismissed.
“Unfortunately for me, I was very sure that he had used the word ‘Islamic’ in his broadcast. Next morning I walked up to the office of the Hindu Editor of a leading daily paper of Karachi, whom I knew well, and asked for the issue of early September that contained the full text of the broadcast. The Editor’s curiosity was naturally aroused, and in confidence, I told him of my interview with Mr. Jinnah on the previous evening. As is unfortunately the way of some journalists, he could not keep the matter to himself, but publicized this talk in his own way in his paper. Thereupon I had a letter from Mr. Jinnah in which he rightly complained about my giving a public report of an after was helpless. I sent my apologies to Mr. Jinnah, and I also enclosed a newspaper cutting giving the broadcast.
“I had studied the same very carefully. As a fact, the word ‘Islamic’ had not occurred anywhere there. The words ‘MuslimState’, however, were found at more than half a dozen places. I told Mr. Jinnah in my letter that I was sorry, I had mistaken the word ‘Muslim’ for ‘Islamic’; and that, generally speaking, the lay public will not see much difference in the two, particularly when the Prime Minister and others were constantly using the word ‘Islamic’ and not confining themselves to the word ‘Muslim’ in their public speeches and writings. Evidently the Qaid-e-Azam did not intervene. I never had a reply from Mr. Jinnah. But naturally I thought within myself as to what could be the difference between a ‘MuslimState’ and an ‘Islamic State’.” (Sri Prakasa; Pakistan: Birth and Early Days, MeenakshiPrakashan; Delhi; 1965; pp. 56 -58).
The Foundation Document, the Muslim ’s Lahore Resolution of 23 March 1940 and Jinnah’s Presidential Address on that occasion are surely decisive. The Resolution demanded that “the areas in which Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute Independent States”. They were not characterized as Muslim, let alone Islamic States. (Syed SharifuddinPirzada (Ed.); Foundations of Pakistan : All-India Muslim League Documents : 1906 – 1947; National Publishing House, Karachi; 1970; Vol. II; p. 341).
In his presidential address Jinnah reiterated the two-nation theory and advocated Pakistan as “the best solution of this problem between the Hindus and the Musalmans”. He, however, ended with this exhortation : “Come forward as servants of Islam, organize the people economically, socially, educationally and politically, and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody” (ibid., p. 339). Remarks such as these are not definitive of his outlook; but the followers interpreted them differently. The fault lines were inherent. They could have been repaired after independence. They were widened instead; some hold that the breach was inevitable given the history.
At the Madras session of the League in April 1941, which was attended by a large number of Hindus, its Constitution was amended to make the substance of the Lahore resolution one of the “aims and objects” of the Muslim League; but with one difference. It described the “Independent States” as “Muslim Free National Homelands”. (ibid. p. 372). Jinnah was explicit. “What is the goal of the Musim League? What is the ideology of the All-India Muslim League? Let me tell you as clearly as possible. The goal of the Muslim is as follows : We want the establishment of completely Independent States in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India”(ibid., p. 361; emphasis mine throughout).
The Muslim League Legislators’ Convention in Delhi in April 1946 made an important change. It spoke not in the plural, as the Lahore Resolution did, but demanded instead “ a sovereign independent State” comprising, both, the eastern and the western zones. Unlike the Madras resolution, however, it was not characterized as a “Muslim” homeland. In his concluding address Jinnah said in the most explicit words ; “What are we fighting for? What are we aiming at? It is not theocracy – not 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?” (ibid.; p. 523).
Speaking in the Central Legislative Assembly on 7 February 1935 Jinnah had said “religion should not be allowed to come into politics … religion is merely a matter between man and God” (Jamiluddin Ahmad; (ed.); Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah; Sheikh Muhammad Ashraf; 1960; p. 5).
At the Ismaili College in Bombay on 1 February 1943, he repeated that religion is strictly a matter between God and man” (ibid. p. 468). The report of this speech records “Earlier in his speech Mr. Jinnah denied that the Muslim League was fighting for religious rights or that it was a communal organization in the same sense in which the Hindus understood it” (ibid; pp. 458-9).
During a visit to Kashmir, he addressed the journalists on 24 May 1944 and referred to the Ahmadiya issue in terms diametrically opposed to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s decision. On 10 September 1974 Bhutto got the National Assembly to adopt the Second Amendment which declared the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority, stripping them of the rights they had enjoyed since 1947.
Thirty years earlier Jinnah had said in Kashmir “A vexed question was put to me : ‘Among Muslims who can become a member of Muslim Conference?’ and this question was particularly in reference to Qadianis. My answer was that so far as the constitution of the All- India Muslim League was concerned, it is laid down there that any Muslim, irrespective of his creed or sect, if he wishes to join the All- India Muslim League, he can do so, provided he accepts the creed, policy and programme of the All-India Muslim League and signs the form of membership and pays his subscription of two annas. I would appeal to Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir not to raise any sectarian issues, but to organize the Musalmans and bring them on one platform and under one flag.” (Jamiluddin Ahmad (ed.); Vol. I; p. 148). Jinnah clearly regarded the Qadianis as Muslims.
Bhutto was not a religious person. He sold the pass well before Zia-ul-Haq usurped power from him on 5 July 1977 and went on to perpetrate excesses in the name of Islam from whose consequences Pakistan suffers still. This article is not a survey of that baleful process. It is a study of how a secular leader attempted to mould a people’s outlook and almost succeeded. But the compromises he made to secure political mobilization were exploited by ones who did not share his outlook; ones like AbulAlaMaududi who were opposed to the establishment of Pakistan.
Jinnah’s famous and historic address to the Inaugural Sessions of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly, on 11 August 1947 was of a piece with an outlook he had always espoused, ever since he entered politics, and never abandoned till his dying day. But, as pointed out earlier, he had to mollify public opinion with assurances which to scholars like Farzana Sheikh seemed to be a retreat from that speech. (Making Sense of Pakistan; Hurst& Co., London; 2009; p. 60). She cites his speech on 25 January 1948 in which he assured the people that Pakistan’s Constitution would be based on the sharia “to make Pakistan a truly great Islamic State” (For a fuller analysis of such statements vide the writer’s article Jinnah’s 11 August, 1947 Speech; Criterion, April/June 2010, pp.33-41). At p. 39 the writer differs with Farzana Sheikh’s interpretation. Jinnah did not espouse an Islamic State as the report of his speech in Dawn of 26 January 1948 makes clear (ibid. p. 39).
But Jinnah cannot be absolved of blame for shutting his eyes to the creeping Islamic undercurrent among his followers and for the encouraging sops he threw at them. The Muslim League, as such, was concerned with British India, not with the princely States though Jinnah took a lively and fateful interest in the affairs of Hyderabad. His favourite was not the Nizam but Mohammad BahadurYar Jung for whom he had much affection. He was President of the All India States Muslim League and his declared aim was the establishment of an Islamic State in Hyderabad, to the Nizam’s acute embarrassment.
He was invited to address the Thirty-first annual session of the Muslim League at Karachi on 26 December 1943. The speech, replete with Urdu couplets, declared “There is no denying the fact that we want Pakistan for the establishment of the Quranic system of Government”. Towards the end he said “I am sure that when our Planning Committee chalks out the economic system, it will be based on the Quran. Quaid-i- Azam !We have understood Pakistan in this light. If your Pakistan is not such, we do not want it (‘Is this a challenge to me?’ asked the Quaid-i- Azam smiling). No, Sir, I am not challenging you. I wanted to explain to the audience through this ‘challenge’ the nature of the Pakistan we visualize” (Pirzada; Vol. II; pp. 485-486).
BahadurYar Jung was by far the best orator in Urdu of his time which boasted of orators like Maulana Azad and Ataullah Shah Bukhari. His speech could not have failed to appeal to the Muslim Leaguers. It was a big mistake to have let loose this accomplished rabble rouser before a highly impressionable audience.
Jinnah, to be sure, did not share his guest’s views on planning one bit. Professor Ian Talbot has laid students of this neglected subject in debt by a definitive essay based on painstaking research (Planning for Pakistan : The Planning Committee of the All-India Muslim League; 1943-1946; Modern Asian Studies; Vol. 28, 4; (1994) pp. 875 – 889).
The draft Plan that was eventually evolved was not Islamic but had a “socialist slant”. The services of pro-Congress Muslims like Dr. ZakirHussain, Vice Chancellor of the JamiaMillia in Delhiwere obtained. In his speech to the second meeting of the Planning Committee in New Delhi on 5 November 1944, Jinnah said : “In whatever problems you tackle there is one point which I must request you to keep in mind and it is this. It is not our purpose to make the rich richer and to accelerate the process of the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few individuals. We should aim at leveling up the general standard of living amongst the masses and I hope your committee will pay due attention to this very important question. Our ideal should not be capitalistic, but Islamic and the interests of the welfare of the people as a whole should be kept constantly in mind.” The Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore declared that Jinnah’s plea for a non-capitalist society was against the “spirit of Islam” (ibid.; pp. 880-881). The Report of the draft economic Plan was in two volumes. (The full text of the Report is contained in File 115 of the All India Muslim League Economic Planning Committee, SHC, Talbot helpfully informs; p. 883, f.n. 40).
Talbot writes : “The draft plan unreservedly blames the capitalists and landowners for the ‘present and unjustifiable’ gross inequalities in income. It calls for agrarian reform and progressive taxation policies to provide ‘social services, amenities etc.’ There are savage denunciations of the profit motive which fly in the face of conventional wisdom concerning the Muslim League’s economic outlook. It is variously dubbed as being ‘anti-social’ and of coming in the way of ‘the fullest possible use being made of the resources of production’. Nearly the whole of paragraph twenty-eight forms a philippic against it : … The Zamindari system is equally damned. The Plan pulls no punches when ‘the interests of the millions to the interests of the few’. The Permanent Settlement in Bengal is contemptuously dismissed as a ‘blank charter to exploit it and oppress’. Salvation lies in the ‘elimination of the Zamindari System’, in the encouragement of cooperatives and in the ‘development of State collective farms’.” (ibid., p. 886).
A para on Bengal read : “The Province of Bengal affords a very striking illustration of the evil effects of want of control by the State. Bengal is a highly industrialized area, and yet the capital invested has no social value for her people. Her poverty is appalling and the shock of the War, combined with the inflationary policy of the Government, has brought about the collapse of her people by giving the business communities still greater opportunities for exploitation. In agriclture she is being exploited from within by the landlord. In Industry she is bled white by foreigners – whether coming from outside India or from other parts of India. The money of Bengal does not stick to the palms that sweat it out. Salvation lies in the elimination of the Zamindari system and in State ownership of the more vital industrial production.” (ibid., p. 886). The Plan advocated grants-in-aid for “housing and planning societies” (ibid., p. 887). it was secular, through and through.
Prof. Dr. Amarjit Singh, Reader, Department of History, Kurukshetra University; Kurukshetra, India, contributed an able essay on Jinnah and Punjab : A Study of the ShamsulHasan Collection to the volumeHistory, Politics and Society(MusavatAbidand Qalb-i-Abid, (Eds.); Punjab Study Centre, University of the Punjab, Lahore; 2009). He writes : “The ShamsulHasan Collection informs us that it was not only after the foundation of the Pakistan that Jinnah began to talk about the model and modern State but it was even before the foundation of the Pakistan that Jinnah declared that all the minorities along with the Muslim majority will be treated equal in the new found State of Pakistan. He was, to my opinion, building a Muslim majority state but not the Islamic state. Islamic symbols and religious appeals were advocated by the Punjab Muslim League during the campaign for Pakistan. However, all these were only the tactical move suggested by Jinnah and these Islamic Symbols were not the bases of the movement. M. A. Jinnah giving directive to the Punjab Provincial Muslim League after the resignation of Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana in March 1947 said that, ‘It is the sacred duty of the Musalmans of Punjab to protect the minorities that live amongst them.’ ” (ibid.; p. 144).
Jinnah proudly claimed at the Aligarh University Union on 5 February 1938, “what the League has done is to set you free from the reactionary elements of Muslims. … It has certainly freed you from that undesirable element of Maulvis and Maulanas” (Jamiluddin Ahmad; Vol. 1; p. 43). Seven years late, with the general elections due in 1945-46, he was obliged to secure the support of these very elements. Mohammad Nawab bin Mohammed Osman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore has written a most informative essay on The Ulema in Pakistani Politics (South Asia : Journal of South Asian Studies, Australia; Volk. XXXII; No. 2, August 2009; pp. 230-247).
Many ulama were opposed to the demand for Pakistan; notably AbulAlaMaududi, founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Maulana Husain Ahmad Madni; leader of the pro-Congress Jamiat-e-Ulama- e-Hind. However, a small but significant number of Deobandiulama supported the Muslim League scheme. Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (1863-1943) of the JUH was one. Disappointed with the attitude of the Madni-led faction, Thanwi argued that supporting the League was the only lawful course for Muslims in India. His intervention led to a four-day conference in Calcutta in August 1945 where the Al-India Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (AIJUI, later the JUI) was formed sunder the leadership of MawlanaShabbir Ahmad Uthmani (1887-1949). The JUI favoured the establishment of a state approximating that presided over by the four Righteously Guided Caliphs of the seventh century. And the ulama of the Barelvi orientation also lent their support to the Pakistan Movement, in 1945 forming the Jamhuriyah-i-Islamiyah to urge Indian Muslims to get behind it. The ulama’s politics during this period were thus essentially defined by their position on Pakistan. Although attitudes were mixed, enough ulama backed the Pakistan Movement to give it religious legitimacy. Interestingly, both sides claimed the positions they took up were intended to defend the health of Islam in the Indian sub- continent.” (ibid.; p. 234). It demanded an Islamic Constitution. Before long Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani also lent his support to the clamour.
“The Pakistan government was in a fix : to object to the demand made by the ulama might be seen as an objection to Islam itself. While it procrastinated, the JI went from strength to strength in the forum of public opinion. Emboldened, the JI joined with MawlanaZafar Ahmad Thanwi, the eminent scholar SayyidSulaimanNadwi, members of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam, and 31 other prominent ulama to demand an Islamic state. Specifically, they furnished the government with a list of 22 principles for the state to follow. This campaign bore fruit when the final draft of the constitution, published in 1956, named the state the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and declared that no law repugnant to the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith could be passed. The ulama’s strategy of collaboration and dissent had prevented the government from manipulating Islam for its own ends. Instead, it had allowed the ulama to set the terms of the public debate and define the role of Islam within the new state.” (ibid.; p. 236). The Bhutto Constitution (1973) proclaimed Islam as a State religion. Zia-ul-Haq deformed the entire polity in the name of Islam. The campaign against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan brought the ulama to the fore. So did the rise of the Taliban and 9/11. In the result “both within and outside the electoral system, the ulama will remain an important element in Pakistani politics”. This marks not the rise of Islam, but of a priestly class whose legitimacy and locus standi the great faith of Islam does not recognize; the only religion, perhaps, which does not sanction a priestly class.
David Gilmartin traced the growing influence of the pirs (so-called saints) and the ulama in Punjab (Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan; Oxford University press; 1988).He wrote : “The subsequent history of Pakistan thus reflected contradictions that had been inherent in the Pakistan movement. After independence, contradictory pressures erupted in the protracted debates over Pakistan’s constitution. Some debates focused on the role of the shari’at. For most of Pakistan’s ‘ulama, many of whom had opposed the creation of Pakistan, the shari’at was the touchstone of Muslim ‘community,’ and thus central to the new state’s legitimacy.Leading Pakistan ‘ulama argued strongly for a state that was defined by its public commitment to Islamic law. But leading politicians fought equally hard for a constitution that would preserve the foundations of their local authority. Through long debates in the late 1940s and early 1950s, politicians, ‘ulama, and others struggled to define a constitution for Pakistan that would preserve the structure of authority on which the Muslim League’s authority rested, and yet define the state effectively as a cultural embodiment of the Muslim ‘community’. At times they made significant progress. But the tension inherent in combining an Islamic cultural definition of the state with a mediatory, ‘democratic’ structure of authority simmered through the early 1950s and boiled into popular disturbances in Punjab in the anti- Ahmadi riots of 1953.” (p. 228).
That was the subject of the famous Munir Report (Report of the Court of Inquiry to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953; Government Printing press, Lahore, 1954). The Report was a masterly exposure of the intellectual bankruptcy of the ulama. They had not the foggiest notion of concepts like jihad and the vaguest ideas of an “Islamic state” (Vide pp. 210-236).
As Prime Minister of Pakistan KhwajaNazimuddin, a devout Muslim, emphatically asserted “The principles enunciated by Islam had to be interpreted in terms of the democratic constitutionalpractice of the 20th century … a synthesis not only of the fundamental teachings of our faith and the requirements of progressive democracy but also of the requirements of the 20th century and the best elements in our own tradition and history” (Quoted in : God’s Kingdom on Earth : Politics of Islam in Pakistan 1947 – 1969 by Ali UsmanQasmi of the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany; Modern Asian Studies; Vol. 44 no. 6 (2020); pp. 1197 – 1253; at p. 1217). The author shows that Ayub Khan held similar views (ibid.; p. 1249). Hence his reforms; notably the Family Laws Ordinance, 1961. In Zia-ul-Haq’s regime none other than the Ministry of Law said that the Ordinance “is utterly un- Islamic” (ibid; p. 235).
Ayub Khan could not go as far as he wished. He was weighed did not conflict much with the modernist view. It did not call for the establishment of an Islamic State but for a State in which “the Muslims will be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.” The reference to the “collective” sphere proved to be theocracy’s Trojan house.
Jinnah consistently treated the concept of theocracy with scorn. In his last press conference in New Delhi on 13 July 1947, shortly before he left for Karachi, Jinnah was asked “Will Pakistan be a secular or theocratic State?” He retorted “You are asking me a question that is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic State means”. A correspondent explained that it “meant a State where only people of a particular religion, for example Muslims, could be full citizens and non-Muslims would not be full citizens”. Thereupon Jinnah remarked “Then it seems to me that what I have already stated is like throwing water on a duck’s back. For goodness’ sake, get out of your head the nonsense that is being talked about”.
What he had “already stated” earlier in this press conference was that the minorities “will be in all respects treated as citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste, colour, religion or creed.”; that is, “full” citizenship without any religious bar on holding the top offices in the State. For good measure Jinnah repeated “What this theocratic state means I do not understand”. Another correspondent suggested that “the questioner meant a State run by Maulanas”. Jinnah retorted “What about the government run by pandits in Hindustan?” (Mehrunnisa Ali (ed.); Jinnah on World Affairs : Secret Documents 1908-1948, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi; 2007; pp. 449-450. This is an outstandingly able compilation; perhaps the only one to include Jinnah’s interview to Doon Campbell, Reuter’s correspondent in New Delhi. Its publication on 21 May 1947 created a sensation because Jinnah endorsed the demand for “a corridor through Hindustan connecting the Eastern and WesternPakistanStates”. Jinnah told Campbell “The theory of Pan- Islamism has long ago exploded” (ibid.; p. 378).
The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics defines theocracy as “priestly rule” and explains “regimes that have religiously revealed laws or policies unchallengeable even by a popular majority” (Jain McLean and Alistair McMillan (Eds.; OxfordUniversity press, 2003; p. 536.).
That is the heart of the matter. Religion is not to be legislated out, of course. But, like Jinnah, Nazimuddin left it open to the legislative majority to interpret and adapt the principles of Islam to the conditions of today. The ulama claim a monopoly on understanding and interpretation of Islam. They shut the door to ijtihad.
Jinnah had almost succeeded in moulding the outlook of his followers. Both the major communities of the sub-continent, Hindus and Muslims, were deeply religious and a good many of their leaders used religious symbols in the struggle for freedom from British rule. Professor M. NaeemQureshi’s masterly work Pan-Islamism in British India : The Politics of the Khilafat Movement 1918-1924 (Oxford University press, Karachi, 2009) demonstrates that many Muslim leaders were Pan- Islamists then; particularly MaulanaAbulKalam Azad (p. 44). Jinnah supported the Khilafat Movement from two perspectives; one was anti- imperialist the humiliation of Turkey culminating in the Treaty of Sevres (1920). The other was as a Muslim. Unlike others, he eschewed religious extremism and unconstitutional methods of agitation. He broke with the Khilafatists eventually. They helped Gandhi to capture the Congress over Jinnah’s protests (ibid; p. 181).
Jinnah swam against a powerful tide and made it to the shore. Some who followed him had other ideas and these, encouraged by the compromises he himself had made, came to the fore. Those ideas were picked up by political opportunists and usurpers of power. They laid impious hands on the polity crafted by Jinnah and deformed it. The battle is not lost, however.
Consider the Indian experience. After partition, Nehru’s biographer recorded, he “could not rely on the unqualified support of his Cabinet. The old stalwarts of the Congress such as Vallabhbhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad, with the backing of the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, believed not so much in a theocratic State as in a State which symbolized the interests of the Hindu majority” (S. Gopal; Jawaharlal Nehru ; A Biography; Volume Two, 1947 – 1956; Oxford University Press; 979; p. 15).
More than a few Prime Ministers who succeeded Nehru supported the Patel outlook; not Nehru’s secular ideal. Yet, the secular ideal which Nehru espoused, till he died in 1964, acquired acceptance and struck deep roots. India’s secularism is flawed; but it remains fundamentally a secular State.
Jinnah died much earlier, in 1948. Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951. Much smaller men came after them. But, Jinnah’s speech of 11 August 1947 has acquired increasing support in recent years. It and the modernist outlook which Jinnah espoused are recalled enthusiastically in Pakistan by large, influential, articulate and assertive members of the intelligentsia – in the media, in the professions; among the youth and in many other spheres of life. They are fighting valiantly against the forces which distorted Jinnah’s vision. The future belongs to them; for, they are battling to recapture the soul of Pakistan.