Monday, April 16, 2007

Jinnah on the issue of Muslim minority

“It has always been taken for granted mistakenly that the Musalmans are a minority, and of course we have got used to it for such a long time that these settled nations sometimes are very difficult to remove. The Musalmans are not a minority. The Musalmans are a nation by any definition.”

Muhammad Ali Jinnah
27th Session of the All-India Muslim League, Lahore
22nd March 1940


I think there needs to be a re-analysis (or even an analysis) of what Jinnah thought constituted a nation. The religious men who fought for "Pakistan" wrote vicariously on what sort of Muslim nation they wanted or rather what was a Muslim nation, qawm. The qawm can be debated end on end, interpret as you like, is it the Muslim nationhood? A Muslim nation within another nation? the ummah itself? This was a serious political debate pre-Indian partition that the ulema of India were having but not Jinnah.

Jinnah was not a "religious" man but he fought to preserve the rights of the Muslim minorities within India. He was not a sectarianist as British history tells you. Prior to the Muslim League Jinnah used to work for the Congress, in charge of Muslim-Hindu unity. Series of events triggered by both the Congress and the British led Jinnah to work for the Muslim League and eventually demand for a separate state of Pakistan.

It's hard work defining Jinnah; what we have of him are his speeches and things catalogued by the Muslim League party. Jinnah did not keep a journal, he did not write or at least I have not come across any of Jinnah's work unlike Nehru's and Gandhi's which are widely available. If anyone comes across any of Jinnah's writing please let me know. He did often write in papers and journals mainly to defend his position in the Muslim League - not so much the Pakistan Movement because I don't think that movement registered with him till the very end of British rule, when he was forced to make a decision. Many factors for it - I suggest reading Ayesha Jalal's Jinnah: The Sole Spokesman.

Anyway I'll let you ponder on the above quote.

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