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Mohammad Ali Jinnah (also known as Quad-e-Azam) was born Mahomedali Jinnahbhai in, some believe, Wazir Mansion, Karachi District, of lower Sindh. However, this is disputed as old textbooks mention Jhirk as his place of birth. Sindh had earlier been conquered by the British and was subsequently grouped with other conquered territories for administrative reasons to form the Bombay Presidency of British India. Although his earliest school records state that he was born on October 20, 1875, Sarojini Naidu, the author of Jinnah’s first biography, gives the date as ”December 25, 1876”. The latter date is now officially accepted as his birthday.
Jinnah was the eldest of seven children born to Mithibai and Jinnahbhai Poonja. His father, Jinnahbhai (1857–1901), was a prosperous Gujarati merchant who had moved to Sindh from Kathiawar, Gujarat before Jinnah’s birth. His grandfather was Poonja Gokuldas Meghji, a Hindu Bhatia Rajput from Paneli village in Gondal state in Kathiawar. Jinnah’s ancestors were Hindu Rajput that converted to Islam. Jinnah’s family belonged to the Ismaili Khoja branch of Shi’a Islam, though Jinnah later converted to Twelver Shi’a Islam.
The first born Jinnah was soon joined by six siblings, brothers Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, and Rahmat Ali, and sisters Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. Their mother tongue was Gujarati, however, in time they also came to speak Kutchi, Sindhi and English. The proper Muslim names of Mr. Jinnah and his siblings, unlike those of his father and grandfather, are the consequence of the family’s immigration to the Muslim state of Sindh.
Jinnah was a restless student, he studied at several schools: at the Sindh-Madrasa-tul-Islam in Karachi; briefly at the Gokal Das Tej Primary School in Bombay; and finally at the Christian Missionary Society High School in Karachi, where, at age sixteen, he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay.
In 1892, Jinnah was offered an apprenticeship at the London office of Graham’s Shipping and Trading Company, a business that had extensive dealings with Jinnahbhai Poonja’s firm in Karachi. However, before he left for England, at his mother’s urging he married his distant cousin, Emibai Jinnah, who was two years his junior. The marriage was not to last long as Emibai died a few months later. During his sojourn in England, his mother too would pass away. In London, Jinnah soon left the apprenticeship to study law instead, by joining Lincoln’s Inn. The welcome board of the Lincoln’s Inn had the names of the world’s all time top ten magistrates. This list was led by the name of Muhammad, which was the sole reason of Jinnah’s joining of Lincoln’s Inn. In three years, at age 19, he became the youngest Indian to be called to the bar in England.
During his student years in England, Jinnah came under the spell of nineteenth-century British liberalism, much like many other future Indian independence leaders. This education included exposure to the idea of the democratic nation and progressive politics. He admired William Gladstone and John Morley, British Liberal statesmen. An admirer of the Indian political leaders Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, he worked, with other Indian students, on the former’s successful campaign for to become the first Indian to hold a seat in the British Parliament. By now, Jinnah had developed largely constitutionalist views on Indian self-government, and he condemned both the arrogance of British officials in India and the discrimination practiced by them against Indians. This idea of a nation legitimized by democratic principles and cultural commonalities, however, was antithetical to the genuine diversity that had generally characterized the subcontinent. As an important Indian intellectual and political authority, Jinnah would find his commitment to the Western ideal of the nation-state, developed during his English education, and the obstacle that was the reality of heterogeneous Indian society to be difficult to reconcile during his later political career.
The Western world not only inspired Jinnah in his political life. England had greatly influenced his personal preferences, particularly when it came to dress. Jinnah donned Western style clothing and he pursued the fashion with fervor. It is said he owned over 200 hand-tailored suits which he wore with heavily starched shirts with detachable collars. It is also alleged that he never wore the same silk tie twice. M C Chagla, who was a close friend of Jinnah’s, has stated that Jinnah was fond of eating pork, an act which is forbidden is Islam. The historian Stanley Wolpert has also alleged this in a book about Jinnah. The Pakistan government has banned books (including Wolpert’s) which have mentioned this alleged dietary preference of Jinnah’s.
During the final period of his stay in England, Jinnah came under considerable pressure to return home when his father’s business was ruined. Settling in Bombay, he became a successful lawyer—gaining particular fame for his skilled handling of the “Caucus Case”. Jinnah built a house in Malabar Hill, later known as Jinnah House. His reputation as a skilled lawyer prompted Indian leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak to hire him as defence counsel for his sedition trial in 1905. Jinnah argued that it was not sedition for an Indian to demand freedom and self-government in his own country, but Tilak received a rigorous term of imprisonment test.
When he returned to India his faith in liberalism and evolutionary politics was confirmed through his close association with three Indian National Congress stalwarts Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Pherozeshah Mehta and Surendranath Banerjee. These people had an important influence in his early life in England and they would influence his later involvement in Indian politics.
In the 1946 elections for the Constituent Assembly of India, the Congress won most of the elected seats, while the League won a large majority of Muslim electorate seats. The 1946 British Cabinet Mission to India released a plan on May 16, calling for a united Indian state comprising considerably autonomous provinces, and called for “groups” of provinces formed on the basis of religion. A second plan released on June 16, called for the separation of India along religious lines, with princely states to choose between accession to the dominion of their choice or independence. The Congress, fearing India’s fragmentation, criticised the May 16 proposal and rejected the June 16 plan. Jinnah gave the League’s assent to both plans, knowing that power would go only to the party that had supported a plan. After much debate and against Gandhi’s advice that both plans were divisive, the Congress accepted the May 16 plan while condemning the grouping principle. Jinnah decried this acceptance as “dishonesty”, accused the British negotiators of “treachery”, and withdrew the League’s approval of both plans. The League boycotted the assembly, leaving the Congress in charge of the government but denying it legitimacy in the eyes of many Muslims.
Jinnah gave a precise definition of the term ‘Pakistan’ in 1941 at Lahore in which he stated:
Some confusion prevails in the minds of some individuals in regard to the use of the work ‘Pakistan’. This word has become synonymous with the Lahore resolution owing to the fact that it is a convenient and compendious method of describing it …. For this reason the British and Indian newspapers generally have adopted the word ‘Pakistan’ to describe the Moslem demand as embodied in the Lahore resolution.
Jinnah issued a call for all Muslims to launch “Direct Action” on August 16 to “achieve Pakistan”. Strikes and protests were planned, but violence broke out all over India, especially in Calcutta and the district of Noakhali in Bengal, and more than 7,000 people were killed in Bihar. Although viceroy Lord Wavell asserted that there was “no satisfactory evidence to that effect”, League politicians were blamed by the Congress and the media for orchestrating the violence. Interim Government portfolios were announced on October 25, 1946. Muslim Leaguers were sworn in on October 26, 1946. The League entered the interim government, but Jinnah refrained from accepting office for himself. This was credited as a major victory for Jinnah, as the League entered government having rejected both plans, and was allowed to appoint an equal number of ministers despite being the minority party. The coalition was unable to work, resulting in a rising feeling within the Congress that independence of Pakistan was the only way of avoiding political chaos and possible civil war. The Congress agreed to the division of Punjab and Bengal along religious lines in late 1946. The new viceroy Lord Mountbatten of Burma and Indian civil servant V. P. Menon proposed a plan that would create a Muslim dominion in West Punjab, East Bengal, Baluchistan and Sindh. After heated and emotional debate, the Congress approved the plan. The North-West Frontier Province voted to join Pakistan in a referendum in July 1947. Jinnah asserted in a speech in Lahore on October 30, 1947 that the League had accepted independence of Pakistan because “the consequences of any other alternative would have been too disastrous to imagine.”
The independent state of Pakistan, created on August 14, 1947, represented the outcome of a campaign on the part of the Indian Muslim community for a Muslim homeland which had been triggered by the British decision to consider transferring power to the people of India.
Along with Liaquat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar, Muhammad Ali Jinnah represented the League in the Division Council to appropriately divide public assets between India and Pakistan. The assembly members from the provinces that would comprise Pakistan formed the new state’s constituent assembly, and the Military of British India was divided between Muslim and non-Muslim units and officers. Indian leaders were angered at Jinnah’s courting the princes of Jodhpur, Bhopal and Indore to accede to Pakistan – these princely states were not geographically aligned with Pakistan, and each had a Hindu-majority population.
Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan and president of its constituent assembly. Inaugurating the assembly on August 11, 1947, Jinnah spoke of an inclusive and pluralist democracy promising equal rights for all citizens regardless of religion, caste or creed. This address is a cause of much debate in Pakistan as, on its basis, many claim that Jinnah wanted a secular state while supporters of Islamic Pakistan assert that this speech is being taken out of context when compared to other speeches by him.
On October 11, 1947, in an address to Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force Officers of Pakistan Government, Karachi, he said:
We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.
On February 21, 1948, in an address to the officers and men of the 5th Heavy Ack Ack and 6th Light Ack Ack Regiments in Malir, Karachi, he said:
You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood in your own native soil. With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.
The office of Governor-General was ceremonial, but Jinnah also assumed the lead of government. The first months of Pakistan’s independence were absorbed in ending the intense violence that had arisen in the wake of acrimony between Hindus and Muslims. Jinnah agreed with Indian leaders to organise a swift and secure exchange of populations in the Punjab and Bengal. He visited the border regions with Indian leaders to calm people and encourage peace, and organised large-scale refugee camps. Despite these efforts, estimates on the death toll vary from around two hundred thousand, to over a million people. The estimated number of refugees in both countries exceeds 15 million. The then capital city of Karachi saw an explosive increase in its population owing to the large encampments of refugees, which personally affected and depressed Jinnah.
In his first visit to East Pakistan, under the advice of local party leaders, Jinnah stressed that Urdu alone should be the national language; a policy that was strongly opposed by the Bengali people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). This opposition grew after he controversially described Bengali as the language of Hindus.
Jinnah authorised force to achieve the annexation of the princely state of Kalat and suppress the insurgency in Baluchistan. He controversially accepted the accession of Junagadh—a Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler located in the Saurashtra peninsula, some 400 kilometres (250 mi) southeast of Pakistan—but this was annulled by Indian intervention. It is unclear if Jinnah planned or knew of the tribal invasion from Pakistan into the kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947, but he did send his private secretary Khurshid Ahmed to observe developments in Kashmir. When informed of Kashmir’s accession to India, Jinnah deemed the accession illegitimate and ordered the Pakistani army to enter Kashmir. However, Gen. Auchinleck, the supreme commander of all British officers informed Jinnah that while India had the right to send troops to Kashmir, which had acceded to it, Pakistan did not. If Jinnah persisted, Auchinleck would remove all British officers from both sides. As Pakistan had a greater proportion of Britons holding senior command, Jinnah cancelled his order, but protested to the United Nations to intercede.
Through the 1940s, Jinnah suffered from tuberculosis; only his sister and a few others close to him were aware of his condition. In 1948, Jinnah’s health began to falter, hindered further by the heavy workload that had fallen upon him following Pakistan’s independence from British Rule. Attempting to recuperate, he spent many months at his official retreat in Ziarat. According to his sister, he suffered a hemorrhage on September 1, 1948; doctors said the altitude was not good for him and that he should be taken to Karachi. Jinnah agreed, but he died in Quetta on September 11, 1948 (just over a year after independence) from a combination of tuberculosis and lung cancer. It is said that when the then Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten, learned of Jinnah’s ailment he said ‘had they known that Jinnah was about to die, they’d have postponed India’s independence by a few months as he was being inflexible on Pakistan’.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah was flown back to Karachi from Quetta. He was buried in Karachi. His funeral was followed by the construction of a massive mausoleum—Mazar-e-Quaid—in Karachi to honour him; official and military ceremonies are hosted there on special occasions.
He had two separate Funeral prayers one was held privately at Mohatta Palace in a room of the Governor-General’s House at which Yusuf Haroon, Hashim Raza and Aftab Hatim Alvi were present at the Namaz-e-Janaza held according to Shia rituals and was led by Allama Anees ul Hassnain, while Liaquat Ali Khan waited outside. After the Shia ritual, the major public Funeral prayers were led by Allamah Shabbir Ahmad Usmani a renowned mainstream Muslim (Sunni) scholar and attended by masses from all over Pakistan. This funeral was well on record and supported by pictures as well.
Dina Wadia remained in India after independence, before ultimately settling in New York City. Jinnah’s grandson, Nusli Wadia, is a prominent industrialist residing in Mumbai. In the 1963–1964 elections, Jinnah’s sister Fatima Jinnah, known as Madar-e-Millat (“Mother of the Nation”), became the presidential candidate of a coalition of political parties that opposed the rule of President Ayub Khan, but lost the election.
The Jinnah House in Malabar Hill, Bombay, is in the possession of the Government of India but the issue of its ownership has been disputed by the Government of Pakistan. Jinnah had personally requested Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to preserve the house and that one day he could return to Mumbai. There are proposals for the house be offered to the Government of Pakistan to establish a consulate in the city, as a goodwill gesture, but Dina Wadia has also laid claim to the property. Recently she has been involved in litigation regarding Jinnah House claiming that Hindu Law is applicable to Jinnah as he was a Khoja Shia.
In 1896, Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress, which was the largest Indian political organisation. Like most of the Congress at the time, Jinnah did not favour outright independence, considering British influences on education, law, culture and industry as beneficial to India. Jinnah became a member on the sixty-member Imperial Legislative Council. The council had no real power or authority, and included a large number of un-elected pro-Raj loyalists and Europeans. Nevertheless, Jinnah was instrumental in the passing of the Child Marriages Restraint Act, the legitimization of the Muslim waqf (religious endowments) and was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, which helped establish the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. During World War I, Jinnah joined other Indian moderates in supporting the British war effort, hoping that Indians would be rewarded with political freedoms.
Jinnah had initially avoided joining the All India Muslim League, founded in 1906, regarding it as too Muslim oriented. However he decided to provide leadership to the Muslim minority. Eventually, he joined the league in 1913 and became the president at the 1916 session in Lucknow. Jinnah was the architect of the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the League, bringing them together on most issues regarding self-government and presenting a united front to the British. Jinnah also played an important role in the founding of the All India Home Rule League in 1916. Along with political leaders Annie Besant and Tilak, Jinnah demanded “home rule” for India—the status of a self-governing dominion in the Empire similar to Canada, New Zealand and Australia. He headed the League’s Bombay Presidency chapter.
In 1918, Jinnah married his second wife Rattanbai Petit (“Ruttie”), twenty-four years his junior. She was the fashionable young daughter of his personal friend Sir Dinshaw Petit, of an elite Parsi family of Mumbai. Unexpectedly there was great opposition to the marriage from Rattanbai’s family and Parsi society, as well as orthodox Muslim leaders. Rattanbai defied her family and nominally converted to Islam, adopting (though never using) the name Maryam Jinnah, resulting in a permanent estrangement from her family and Parsi society. The couple resided in Mumbai, and frequently travelled across India and Europe. In 1919 she bore Jinnah his only child, daughter Dina Jinnah.
In 1924 Jinnah reorganized the Muslim League, of which he had been president since 1919, and devoted the next seven years attempting to bring about unity among the disparate ranks of Muslims and to develop a rational formula to effect a Hindu Muslim settlement, which he considered the pre condition for Indian freedom. He attended several unity conferences, wrote the Delhi Muslim Proposals in 1927, pleaded for the incorporation of the basic Muslim demands in the Nehru report, and formulated the “Fourteen Points”.
Jinnah broke with the Congress in 1920 when the Congress leader, Mohandas Gandhi, launched a law violating Non-Cooperation Movement against the British, which a temperamentally law abiding barrister Jinnah disapproved of. Unlike most Congress leaders, Gandhi did not wear western-style clothes, did his best to use an Indian language instead of English, and was deeply rooted to Indian culture. Gandhi’s local style of leadership gained great popularity with the Indian people. Jinnah criticised Gandhi’s support of the Khilafat Movement, which he saw as an endorsement of religious zealotry. By 1920, Jinnah resigned from the Congress, with a prophetic warning that Gandhi’s method of mass struggle would lead to divisions between Hindus and Muslims and within the two communities. Becoming president of the Muslim League, Jinnah was drawn into a conflict between a pro-Congress faction and a pro-British faction.
In September 1923, Jinnah was elected as Muslim member for Bombay in the new Central Legislative Assembly. He showed great gifts as a parliamentarian, organized many Indian members to work with the Swaraj Party, and continued to press demands for full responsible government. He was so active on a wide range of subjects that in 1925 he was offered a knighthood by Lord Reading when he retired as Viceroy and Governor General. Jinnah replied: “I prefer to be plain Mr. Jinnah”.
In 1927, Jinnah entered negotiations with Muslim and Hindu leaders on the issue of a future constitution, during the struggle against the all-British Simon Commission. The League wanted separate electorates while the Nehru Report favoured joint electorates. Jinnah personally opposed separate electorates, but then drafted compromises and put forth demands that he thought would satisfy both. These became known as the 14 points of Mr. Jinnah. However, they were rejected by the Congress and other political parties.
Jinnah’s personal life and especially his marriage suffered during this period due to his political work. Although they worked to save their marriage by travelling together to Europe when he was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, the couple separated in 1927. Jinnah was deeply saddened when Rattanbai died in 1929, after a serious illness.
At the Round Table Conferences in London, Jinnah was disillusioned by the breakdown of talks. After the failure of the Round Table Conferences, Jinnah returned to London for a few years. In 1936, he returned to India to re-organize Muslim League and contest the elections held under the provisions of the Act of 1935.
Jinnah would receive personal care and support as he became more ill during this time from his sister Fatima Jinnah. She lived and travelled with him, as well as becoming a close advisor. She helped raise his daughter, who was educated in England and India. Jinnah later became estranged from his daughter, Dina Jinnah, after she decided to marry Parsi-born Christian businessman, Neville Wadia (even though he had faced the same issues when he married Rattanbai in 1918). Jinnah continued to correspond cordially with his daughter, but their personal relationship was strained. Dina continued to live in India with her family.
Quaid-e-Azam Fourteen Points:
1. The form of the future constitution should be federal with the residuary powers vested in the provinces.
2. A uniform measure of autonomy shall be granted to all provinces.
3. All legislatures in the country and other elected bodies shall be constituted on the definite principle of adequate and effective representation of minorities in every province without reducing the majority in any province to a minority or even equality.
4. In the Central Legislature, Muslim representation shall not be less than one third.
5. Representation of communal groups shall continue to be by means of separate electorate as at present, provided it shall be open to any community at any time to abandon its separate electorate in favor of a joint electorate.
6. Any territorial distribution that might at any time be necessary shall not in any way affect the Muslim majority in the Punjab, Bengal and the North West Frontier Province.
7. Full religious liberty, i.e. liberty of belief, worship and observance, propaganda, association and education, shall be guaranteed to all communities.
8. No bill or any resolution or any part thereof shall be passed in any legislature or any other elected body if three-fourth of the members of any community in that particular body oppose such a bill resolution or part thereof on the ground that it would be injurious to the interests of that community or in the alternative, such other method is devised as may be found feasible and practicable to deal with such cases.
9. Sindh should be separated from the Bombay Presidency.
10. Reforms should be introduced in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan on the same footing as in the other provinces.
11. Provision should be made in the constitution giving Muslims an adequate share, along with the other Indians, in all the services of the state and in local self-governing bodies having due regard to the requirements of efficiency.
12. The constitution should embody adequate safeguards for the protection of Muslim culture and for the protection and promotion of Muslim education, language, religion, personal laws and Muslim charitable institution and for their due share in the grants-in-aid given by the state and by local self-governing bodies.
13. No cabinet, either central or provincial, should be formed without there being a proportion of at least one-third Muslim ministers.
14. No change shall be made in the constitution by the Central Legislature except with the concurrence of the State’s contribution of the Indian Federation.
‘Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.’ – Stanley Wolpert
An Iranian stamp commemorating the centenary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, printed in 1976.
In Pakistan, Jinnah is honoured with the official title Quaid-i-Azam, and he is depicted on all Pakistani rupee notes of denominations five and higher, and is the namesake of many Pakistani public institutions. The former Quaid-i-Azam International Airport, now called the Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi is Pakistan’s busiest. One of the largest streets in the Turkish capital Ankara — Cinnah Caddesi —is named after him. In Iran, one of the capital Tehran’s most important new highways is also named after him, while the government released a stamp commemorating the centennial of Jinnah’s birthday. In Chicago, a portion of Devon Avenue was named as “Mohammed Ali Jinnah Way”. The Mazar-e-Quaid, Jinnah’s mausoleum, is among Karachi’s most imposing buildings. In media, Jinnah was portrayed by British actors Richard Lintern (as the young Jinnah) and Christopher Lee (as the elder Jinnah) in the 1998 film Jinnah. In Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi, Jinnah was portrayed by Alyque Padamsee. In the 1986 televised mini-series Lord Mountbatten: the Last Viceroy, Jinnah was played by Polish actor Vladek Sheybal.
Some historians like H M Seervai and Ayesha Jalal assert that Jinnah never wanted partition of India —it was the outcome of the Congress leaders being unwilling to share power with the Muslim League. It is asserted that Jinnah only used the Pakistan demand as a method to mobilise support to obtain significant political rights for Muslims. Jinnah has gained the admiration of major Indian nationalist politicians like Lal Krishna Advani—whose comments praising Jinnah caused an uproar in his own Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Jaswant Singh likewise praised Jinnah for standing up to the Indian National Congress and the British. In August 2009, Singh was expelled from the BJP for writing a controversial book praising Jinnah, and shortly after, the state of Gujarat banned Singh’s book because of its negative statements about Vallabhbhai Patel, the first home minister of India.