Creating a Secular Jinnah

viewpoint online: The magazine Newsline’s February 2014 edition has an interesting – albeit unoriginal – cover photo depicting Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a bearded Islamist, with cover story titled: Islamisation of Jinnah.

While Ayesha Siddiqa’s cover story doesn’t delve much into the “secular Jinnah versus Islamist Jinnah” debate, the general idea among the liberal intelligentsia in Pakistan is that Jinnah was Islamised by the right-wing following his death to suit their own agenda – a claim that undoubtedly has its fair share of veracity.

Where Jinnah ranks on the Islamicometre historically moves in synchrony with whosoever has taken over the reins of government in Pakistan. From a moderate Muslim to an Islamist, anyone can create one’s own Islamic Jinnah. Since Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam– or Muslims’ religious identity, Jinnah’s actions and words provide the ingredients you need to cook your own Quaid-e-Azam, who is – surprise, surprise – as religious as you are.

What a coincidence.

Similarly, there exists a liberal class in Pakistan that ranks pretty low on the Islamicometre. They enjoy alcohol and an eventful night life, and aren’t accustomed to praying, fasting or adhering to any of the Islamic obligations – nothing wrong with any of this, except that these people still cling onto their Islamic identity and present themselves as the ‘right kind’ of Muslims. And to justify their reluctance in practicing mandatory Islamic rituals they’ve created an imaginary liberal brand of Islam where the traditional Islamic obligations have taken the backseat, or in most cases have been thrown out of the car altogether.

Spearheading this oxymoronic, liberal and secular Islamic movement, years after his death, is one Maulana Muhammad Ali Jinnah who is depicted as the father of secularism. Yes, the man who used religion to launch a separatist movement is dubbed the personification of secularism. We’ve always been told that secularism entailed separation of state and religion. However, Jinnah’s secularism entailed separation of state through religion.


Categories: Asia

1 reply

  1. The photoshopped cover of this article; Islamisation of Jinnah is in itself silly because Jinnah was a Muslim. So you can not use this terminology for a Muslim. I have seen that media and intellectuals in Pakistani and other Muslim countries now use such phrases and terminologies, like: Islamization of Pakistan, Islamist leaders of Turkey or Islamism in Egypt, which originally started in the western world as a demonetization campaign. The writer is also way out to question the founding principles of Pakistan movement. Pakistan was not created on the name of Islam but to free the Muslim minorities. Quaid said it many times and his mission was not to have a one religion state or be a part of the Muslim identity but improve the socioeconomic conditions of a down trodden minority, who happened to be Muslim. As far as commonality with Hindus is concerned, Quaid was very right to point out the huge difference in culture, traditions and even food, like Muslims eating cow, which for Hindus is a deity. The Islam Quaid was proud of or Hindustani Muslim practiced was not an Arab version or a Taliban version. In politics, all arguments are valid to achieve a mission, a goal and a policy and Quaid was master in strategy. To blame him for this is like saying to a hungry man to forfeit food.

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