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Archive for December, 2017

Jinnah and Pir of Manki Sharif-Yasser Latif Hamdani

Posted by admin On December - 21 - 2017 Comments Off on Jinnah and Pir of Manki Sharif-Yasser Latif Hamdani

yasser-latif-hamdani

In my opinion, the debate around Jinnah and secularism should have rested with my last piece but Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed continued it in his article on Sunday. I am personally not in favour of an endless back and forth through the pages of this newspaper and as far as I am concerned, this is my last rebuttal in this current controversy. He can have the last word as after this, I would have said what I needed to say.

The only reason for writing this piece is that Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed has invoked yet another popular myth about Jinnah, which was manufactured by the Islamist ideologues in Pakistan i.e. Jinnah’s so called letter to Pir of Manki Sharif. Why does a self-professed secular minded professor repeat these myths conjured by the Islamist ideologues of the Pakistani state is something I cannot conjecture about. It is for Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed to answer. The established position in academia belongs to Cambridge school which has long overturned these myths about partition of India that Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed seeks to perpetuate. Ever since the time of Anil Seal and Ayesha Jalal, there have been many perceptive historians like Joya Chatterjee and Neeti Nair who have added new incontrovertible dimensions to the partition question. Similarly works by people like Venkat Dhulipala, a person on whose work Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed relies, have been thoroughly discredited as being written in bad faith. Those interested in critiques of Dhulipala’s mediocre attempt at besmirching the Pakistan Movement as some sort of a theocratic movement should read Dr Faisal Devji’s review of the book called “Young Fogeys: Anachronism of New Scholarship on Pakistan.”

The so called letter to Pir of Manki Sharif by Jinnah which Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed has quoted throughout his academic career is based entirely on Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani’s speech delivered on March 9th 1949, long after Jinnah was dead and unable to contradict the Maulana’s point of view. It is an alleged excerpt which seems to promise Shariat from an undated letter, which does not occur in any primary source document. The same four lines of the letter were reproduced as part of the “Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah’s Correspondence” compiled by Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, whose very association with Jinnah has been suspect and whose role as the establishment’s go to guy is well known. My conclusion, having seen how Jinnah’s statements have been manufactured over the last 70 years by unscrupulous individuals on the right wing in our state is that we cannot admit this as evidence so long as we have the original in a verified primary source. In the same speech, Maulana Usmani claims that Gandhi advised Congress ministers to follow the example of Hazrat Umar (RA) and Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) in 1937 and 1938. No such reference exists in the 90 volumes of Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi either.

No resolution was ever passed committing the Muslim League to an Islamic polity.

Meanwhile, the other source that Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed quotes ie an essay by Israj Ahmad and Toheeda Begum taken from Google has a radically different letter from the one quoted by Maulana Usmani. Again, entirely un-sourced this letter speaks of Islamic ideals and principles instead of Shariat. It says in essence that a Constituent Assembly with 75 percent Muslims would obviously act in accordance with Islamic ideals and principles. This is the view generally taken by academics about the so called letter. “Actually Jinnah was ambiguous in his assurance to the Pir of Manki Sharif: he simply assured him that an overwhelmingly Muslim country could not formulate a constitution other than one which was based on ‘Islamic ideals’.” Jinnah to Pir Manki Sharif, November 18th. 1945, in Sayed Wiqar Ali Shah Kaka Khel, ‘Muslim League in the NWFP, 1936-1947’ (Peshawar Univ. M Phil thesis 1986), appendix 7. In my piece, I quoted Barbara Metcalf’s view on what Jinnah’s invocation of Islamic ideals and principles amounted to.

Pir of Manki Sharif was a young man of 35 years. His family had been connected with the Frontier Congress and his personal relationship with Bacha Khan and his family were well known. Congress had used religious Muslim parties such as Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind and Majlis-e-Ahrar with great effect in Punjab and NWFP. Whatever Congress might have promised, these Congress backed parties openly promised ‘Hukumat-e-Illahaya’ and attacked the Muslim League for being a party of Kemalists and Ahmadis etc. They also called Jinnah Kafir-e-Azam. It was not that the Congress was oblivious to the religious promises made by its Muslim supporters in Punjab and NWFP. Record shows that Maulana Abu al Kalam Azad advised both Majlis-e-Ahrar and Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind. Also closely allied with these parties were the Khudai Khidmatgars and Khaksars who endorsed this propaganda. Against this background, Muslim League was forced to court Barelvis as counterblast. As a good lawyer, though, Jinnah made no binding promise to any of these groups. As mentioned earlier, no resolution was passed committing the Muslim League to an Islamic polity. All this time, the Congress leaders attempted to court the very same group of religious leaders. Bacha Khan himself pleaded with Pir of Manki Sharif against joining the Pakistan Movement during the referendum, warning him that he was being deceived by the Muslim League leadership which had no intention of living up to its promises.

This was entirely true because despite many appeals from the Pir after partition, Jinnah made no attempt to change the constitution or to Islamise the laws. Anyone familiar with Jinnah’s political style knows that he was not the one to bow down to political pressure exerted by the Ulema, Mashaikhs and Pirs etc based on undocumented un-sourced and ambiguous promises he might have made. It must be remembered that his opposition to the colonial state had not been epistemological in the sense Gandhi’s was. This is why political scientists like KB Sayeed and others have accused Jinnah of following the vice regal system but it was a matter of necessity for Jinnah. As the founder of the nation, he understood, as the late Cowasjee used to say, when to put the foot down.

Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed seems to understate the wide-ranging political authority and legitimacy Jinnah had obtained as the Quaid-e-Azam. His word was the final word. In this sense, he was not merely just another politician. He was the final arbiter of what ought to be Pakistan and its future. Like Kemal Ataturk (in Jinnah’s words the ‘greatest Musalman of the age’) in Turkey, who too had invoked Islam and Caliphate during the Turkish war of liberation against Greece and the allies, before finally abandoning all such promises in his famous six day speech in 1928, Jinnah had risen above mere politics. His word was the law. The Constituent Assembly underscored this special status when it made the same comparison before conferring the title Quaid-e-Azam on him by law. Ataturk had obtained such unquestionable status through his military acumen. Jinnah had obtained it through his legal and political skill.

In this sense, Jinnah’s 11 August speech remains his clearest pronouncement of policy along with the several promises he made to the minorities in Pakistan which I quoted in detail in my article ‘Jinnah and the minorities’. If there is any social contract, it has to be between the Muslim majority in this country and the religious minorities to the effect that all citizens of Pakistan are equal regardless of their religion, caste or creed. This means a secular state, which is what Pakistan would have remained if Jinnah had lived longer.

The writer is a practising lawyer. He blogs at http://globallegalforum.blogspot.com and his twitter handle is @therealylh

Published in Daily Times, December 21st 2017.
https://dailytimes.com.pk/163468/jinnah-pir-manki-sharif/

Note: This article is for educational purposes. Its reproduction, in any form, can be had with the permission of the author/publisher whose original link ,from where it is reprodced, is given above.
–editor

Half-truths about Jinnah-Yasser Latif Hamdani

Posted by admin On December - 18 - 2017 Comments Off on Half-truths about Jinnah-Yasser Latif Hamdani

yasser-latif-hamdani

I apologise to the readers for bombarding them with articles on Jinnah in recent weeks but this is because there is another effort underway to distort whatever remains of the memory of our founding father. As long as one can write, one will attempt to counter the lies and myths being created about Jinnah. It is the clearest duty on my part as a citizen of this country and I have no intention to forfeit that.

It all started last week with a popular anchor, Hamid Mir, claiming in his column in an Urdu newspaper that Jinnah did not consider Ahmadis as Muslims. It was soon followed by another so called historian Dr Safdar Mahmood claiming that Ahmadis were not allowed to join the Muslim League being non-Muslims and that Sir Zafrullah Khan was inducted in the Cabinet as a minority. These are both patently false claims. It is extraordinary that these two men have contributed to construct a faux narrative, which flies in the face of facts. Dr Safdar Mahmood is known for taking liberties with facts. He once tried to prove that Jinnah, a Khoja Shia, became a Deobandi later in his life. Ironically there are many in this country who take these lies as the gospel truth.

Our founding father was no bigot. He believed in religious freedom and the right to self identify. Today’s Pakistan does not bear any resemblance to the state he envisioned. My advice to those with a penchant to distort history is to give it up and let Jinnah rest in peace

Admittedly Pakistan’s National Assembly declared Ahmadis Non-Muslim in 1974 but to impute this decision to Quaid-e-Azam who died in 1948 is a travesty especially given that all primary source evidence to the contrary. On 23 May 1944 Jinnah declared in Srinagar:

“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 organise the Musalmans and bring them on one platform and under one flag.” (Speeches and Writings of Mr Jinnah, Jamiluddin Ahmad (ed.); Vol. I; p. 148).

Answering a follow up question in the same press conference asked by one Muhammad Sabir, Jinnah said “who am I declare someone a Non-Muslim, if he professes to be a Muslim?”

Similarly Dawn reported on Pir Akbar Ali MLA’s interview with Jinnah in 1944:

“Mr M A Jinnah was pleased to assure him that according to the latest constitution, there was no bar to members of the Ahmadia Community joining the Muslim League and that as members of the League they would be entitled to such privileges as enjoyed by members of other various sects of Muslims.” This news report is there in the 1944 archives of Dawn and was reproduced by Dawn as part of its 70 years ago section. Dawn was Jinnah’s own paper and was the mouthpiece of the Muslim League.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam asked Jinnah to turn out Ahmadis from the League but Jinnah refused to. Dr Ayesha Jalal, the world renowned authority on Jinnah, writes: “But the more controversial demand, and one Jinnah wisely resisted, was that provincial assembly candidates taking the League oath should vow to expel the Ahmadis from the Muslim community. A courageous stand to have taken, it reflects Jinnah’s understanding of constitutional law and the imperatives of citizenship in a modern state… He saw no reason to strip the Ahmadis of their Muslim identity simply on account of a doctrinal dispute.” (Self and Sovereignty, Ayesha Jalal, Page 375). Jinnah had long-standing ties with the Ahmadi community and had visited their center in London during his self-imposed exile. Moreover, himself hailing from a minority sect within Islam, Jinnah understood that this kind of exclusion would open the door for chaos.

As for Dr Safdar Mahmood’s preposterous claim that Sir Zafrullah Khan was inducted in the Cabinet as a Non-Muslim minority. This is again patently false. Perhaps Dr Mahmood does not know who represented the Muslim League before the boundary commission hearings. Jinnah had as early 1939 declared in a speech in the Indian legislature on 22nd March 1939, “Before proceeding further, I wish to record my sense of appreciation and if I say so, coming from my party the Honourable Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, who is a Muslim and it may be said that I am flattering my own son, But I must endorse there is not the slightest doubt that he has done his very best.” (Official Reports Volume #3 Page No. 3892). It is clear that Jinnah considered Zafrullah Khan as an able Muslim to represent the Muslim interests best.

Constitutionally Ahmadis were declared Non-Muslim in 1974. I am not an Ahmadi but this encroachment on to the right to self identify by our parliament has always bothered me as a citizen. Nevertheless, we are told that the matter is a past and closed transaction. Why then are these gentlemen in the Urdu press now to distort history by lying about Jinnah in this manner? I understand that you want to justify your constitutionally enabled bigotry but must you sully the founding father in the process. Our founding father was no bigot. He believed in religious freedom and the right to self identify. Pakistan of today does not bear any resemblance to the state he envisioned. My advice to those with a penchant to distort history is to give it up and let Jinnah rest in peace.

 

The writer is a practising lawyer. He blogs at http://globallegalforum.blogspot.com and his twitter handle is @therealylh

Published in Daily Times, December 18th 2017.
https://dailytimes.com.pk/161833/half-truths-jinnah/
Note: This article is for educational purposes. Its reproduction, in any form, can be had with the permission of the author/publisher whose original link ,from where it is reprodced, is given above.
–editor

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