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Half-truths about Jinnah-Yasser Latif Hamdani

Posted by admin On December - 18 - 2017


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.
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.

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