Jinnah

On 20 October 1875 a son was born to Mithibai and Jenabhai in Karachi, who was named Mahomedalli Jinnahbhai. His birth certificate and school records show his name as Mahomedalli Jinnahbhai, and his date of birth was recorded as 20th October, 1875. He later on changed it to 25th December, 1876, not sure what was the reason behind it. Jinnah’s family belonged to the Ismaili Khoja branch of Shia Islam, though Jinnah later converted to Twelver Shia Islam. The Khoja, as it is recognised are converts from the Hindu caste Lohana. 

The image of Mohammed Ali Jinnah was painted of a prophet in my younger days, extreme Islamic forces portrayed him as a Muslim who wanted a pure Islamic State, and the opposite don’t even consider him even a Muslim, because of his western lifestyle, who remained committed to his three-piece suits, his King’s English, and no political language that invoked religion. I personally disagree with both.  As I grew older perception kept on evolving about him, but my interest in Jinnah sahab begun after reading Stanley Wolpert’s book Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was always a follower of Jinnah and would often discuss his ideology with his roommates, during his days at Berkley University. He termed Mohammed Ali Jinnah as his ideal.  

Jinnah studied at several schools: he spent three and half years 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. In 1892, upon the advice of Fredrick Leigh Croft, Jinnah was sent to London to learn intricacies of shipping; Croft had assured him apprenticeship in London. Before leaving for London he was married to Emibai who died after a year when he was in London. 

While doing his apprenticeship he developed an interest in Law. He sat for admission tests for the Bar and in June 1893 he was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn. According to one of the account, Jinnah chose Lincoln’s because one of the wall at one end of New Hall, also called the Great Hall, which is where students, Bar, and Bench lunch and dine is a mural depicting the image of PROPHET MOHAMMED and other lawgivers of the world.

It was at Lincoln’s where he changed the spellings of his name, removed bhai from his name and adopted Jinnah, and then on to Mahomed Alli Jinnah, and through this transitional period he dropped second “l” from Alli, and later adopting additional “m” to Mahomed, leading finally to Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which remained for the rest of the life.

I have always been a hero worshipper, he said once referring to Dadabhai Naoroji who was elected to the House of Commons in July 1892. Jinnah became a regular visitor of House of Commons where he used to follow the proceedings of the House. Once Jinnah spoke to his sister, when I learnt that Lord Sainsbury had ridiculed Dadabhai in one of his speech as a black man, I was furious. If Dadabhai was black, I was blacker, and if this was the mentality of our political masters, then we could never get a fair deal at their hands. From that day I have been an uncompromising enemy of all forms of colour bar. I worked for Dadabhai for vengeance.

Jinnah’s professional career begun at the Bombay Bar, he enrolled as an Advocate of the Bombay High Court at the age of 24. Soon he was admitted to the chambers of John Molesworth Macpherson, then the acting advocate-general of Bombay, this was the first of its kind ever extended to an Indian. In 1900 Jinnah got the prestigious opportunity to join as presidency magistrate. Jinnah’s political journey began when he joined Anjuman- e-Islami on his return from Britain. Badruddin Tyabji, a judge of the Bombay High Court headed the Anjuman, who became Jinnah’s Muslim mentor.

Jinnah had commenced legal practice when racial prejudice and discrimination against Indians in the bar was widely evident, but only on the strength of his capabilities, he won a handsome practice. He was a self-educated, a self-made man. He had not the assets of birth, linage or social status that most other barristers had. 

When he appeared before the Public Service Commission in March 1913, he was asked by Lord Islington, It has been represented to me that difficulties might arise if you put a Hindu in charge of Muslim population. Do you think that a Hindu who got a few more marks than an educated and Influential Muslim would make a better administrator when he was in charge of a population which was largely Muslims?Jinnah replied that in that case you will be doing the greatest injustice to the Hindu. I don’t see why a Hindu should not be in charge of a district where the majority happens to be Muslim.

Percival Spear writes in, Jinnah the creator of Pakistan: To personal integrity, devotion to principles must be added courage, an absence of petty thought or motives.

Hector Bolitho in Quest if Jinnah writes; Jinnah was a source of power, a cold rationalist in politics, he had one track mind, with great force behind it; Jinnah was potentially kind, but in behaviour extremely cold and distant. For Jinnah, a secondary status was galling, what he has always sought and mostly attained was the centre stage.

Jinnah’s contribution towards united stand for Congress-Muslim League was significant. He endeavoured and succeeded in creating an ideological unity between the Muslim League and Congress. Amongst the other contributory causes, it was also the unstated pressure exerted by the united Congress-League stand.

Why Jinnah is my hero? There are hundreds of reasons, but his 14 points, and his principled stand like one at the first Round Table conference at House of Lords, Deepak Natarajan quoted The Manchester Guardian in his book, Jinnah’s fatal handicap; Mr Jinnah’s position at the Round Table Conference was unique.

The Hindus thought he was a Muslim communalist, the Muslims took him to be a pro-Hindu, the Prince deemed him to be too DEMOCRATIC. The British considered him a rabid extremist with the result that he was everywhere but nowhere.None wanted him.

Jinnah reflected himself on his role at the conference in a later public speech at Lahore on 2 March, 1936:

I displeased the Muslims. I displeased my Hindu friends because of the famous 14 points. I displeased the Prince because I was deadly against their underhand activities, and I displeased the British Parliament because I felt RIGHT from the beginning and I rebelled against it, and said it was all a fraud. Within a few weeks I did not have a friend left there.

And the concluding quote from Mr Mohammed Ali Jinnah confirmed the above statement and my faith in his unbiased principle throughout his struggle of independence, whether it was for United India or Independent Pakistan:

You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.

Because of his Khoja background, Sarojni Naidu said in 1917, that Jinnah was a Hindu by race and Muslim by religion.

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