COMMENT: The partition of Punjab — II — Yasser Latif Hamdani
Is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan today not a theocratic state? Does it not discriminate against Christians, Hindus and other non-Muslims?
Continuing from last week, we come to Jinnah’s so-called Islamic pronouncements, which matter, at best, is an incidental tangent from the main issue but since it was raised by Mr Shakil Chaudhry in his article (Daily Times, July 26, 2012) , it needs to be addressed.
The claim that Jinnah was secular needs to be understood before it can be argued for or against. The claim that Jinnah was secular does not necessarily pre-suppose that all utterances of Jinnah the politician were consistently secular, especially when put against secularism as we understand it today. That Jinnah used the Islamic idiom on occasion is a fact and not necessarily an inconvenient fact for those who argue for Jinnah’s secular vision. Substance not form trumps rhetoric.
If Jinnah’s pronouncements are taken in entirety, it becomes obvious that while he might have referred to Islamic principles and even Muslim ideology on occasion, his vision for a state — whether united India or Pakistan — was always essentially secular. That is, Jinnah emphasised a pluralistic polity where religion would be the personal faith of an individual, not the matter of the state and where permanent cultural majorities — be they Hindu or Muslim — would not dominate permanent cultural minorities. Those Islamists hiding behind Jinnah’s ambiguous references to Islam or Islamic socialism should answer this simple question: what would Jinnah have thought of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 2012, which persecutes people on the basis of faith, determines who is Muslim and who is not, imposes restrictions of food, dress, etc ? The answer — if anyone from any side of the ideological divide is honest enough — is that Jinnah would have cringed at the idea of being hailed as the founder of a theocratic Islamic Republic of the kind we are today. Not just his political idealism, which spanned four decades — as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity — but his own social and material conditions dictate that Jinnah would have never wanted such a state in the first place.
Jinnah was a ‘Shia-Khoja Mohammedan’, as per the affidavit filed by his sister, Fatima Jinnah and his trusted colleague, Liaquat Ali Khan, who had heterodox beliefs, including a law of inheritance based on the Hindu law. The most ‘westernised’ Muslim leader in the history of South Asia, who flouted all dietary laws of Islam and had no truck with religious observances known as pillars of Islam, would have been out of place in the kind of society we have created in the name of Islam in this hapless country of ours.