Tag Archives: Jinnah

In quest of jinnah

I would like to share something about his life which is not known to many, perhaps known to many.

Sir Dinshaw Petit father of Ruttie Petit belonged to a family of Parsi merchants well known for their business discernmentand philanthropy. His grandfather was a self-made millionaire, pioneer of Bombay’s cotton industry. Sir Dinshawentertained lavishly, keeping one of the best tables in Bombay. His annual Polo Ball was the highlight of the Bombay season. His grandfather famously hosted a fancy dress ball for theDuke of Edinburgh. 

Jinnah had come to Bombay penniless from Karachi, but became one of Bombay’s best known and wealthiest lawyers within the span of two decades. A star politician, known for his luxury cars and fashionable clothes. Sir Dinshaw admired Jinnah, who was very popular among his compeers because of his personality and nationalism. The friendship between Sir Dinshaw and Jinnah was unequal from the start. But the famous 1916 session when the League and Congress held a joint session in Lucknow where he emerged as the unchallenged leader of Muslims. His name was in the newspapers almost every day, either on behalf of the Congress or League, having overcome conservative forces within both parties. 

It was during one of the holidays that Ruttie and Jinnah fell in love. She was only sixteen at that time. A fashionable Parsi girl, known for her wide reading, her poetic temperament and passionate interest in politics. Jinnah approached Sir Dinshaw, and began straightforwardly, with his marriage proposals. To break the news to the unsuspecting father was not easy. The baronet did not see it coming. It was not an enviable situation for any suitor to be in. Jinnah was not twenty four years older than Ruttie but had known her since she was born. Sir Dinshaw had a reputation of a staunch supporter of intercommunity marriages, but no one, in Bombay’s mixed society, had dared to cross the matrimonial divide among the Hindus, Parsis and Muslims. It was not Ruttie’s youth only but marrying out of community. It was the unspoken rule in the older generation. 

Sir Dinshaw not only refused but took out a restraining order against Jinnah. According to Kanji Dwarkadas, Sir Dinshaw claimed in his plea for the court injunction, that Jinnah was planning to marry his daughter against her father’s wishes with an eye on her fortune, he should be kept away from meeting with her.

Some friends and relatives did advise her to forget a man who was unsuitable because of his age and religion, but also because of mismatched temperaments, politics was his only passion. But she would not hear a word against him. In 1918 Ruttie turned eighteen when they decided to get married. Jinnah chose renowned Sunni Imam of Bombay’s Jamia Masjid and a member of Muslim League Maulana Nazir Ahmed to convert Ruttie to Islam on Thursday, April 18.After keeping the world guessing Jinnah married with Ruttie on Friday 19 April. The marriage was performed according to Shia rites, well known Shia cleric Maulana Muhammad Hassan Najafi was deputed as Ruttie Dinshaw’s representative and Shariat Madar Aqai Abdul Hashim Najafi signed on behalf of Jinnah. Shareef Dewji Kanji, Umar Sobhani and Raja Sahib Mehmoodabad were the witnesses of Nikah. The only women he had invited were his two sisters, Shirin Peerbhoy and Fatima Jinnah. Jinnah forgot to buy a ring for the ceremony, but Raja Sahib came to rescue him here too, when he offered a diamond ring from his finger. The wedding document serial number was 118.37. According to Nikahnama the Mehar was Rs 1001, but Jinnah presented Rs 125,000 to Ruttie as a gift.

The news of wedding broke out to Sir Dinshaw through a newspaper. Ruttie Dinshaw the only daughter of the distinguished Parsi baronet, Sir Dinshaw Petit, yesterday underwent conversion to Islam and it today being married to the Hon. Mr. M.A. Jinnah.

The Jinnah resided mainly at South Court Mansion in Malabar Hill, very close to Sir Dinshaw’s Petit Hall. However, there was no contact between them and the Petit family, and the estrangement continued even after the birth of Ruttie’s only child, Dina Wadia, the following year. Ruttie was also ex-communicated from the Parsi Community with extraordinary measures.

By mid-1922, Jinnah was facing political isolation, as he devoted every spare moment to be the voice of separatist incitement in a nation torn by Hindu-Muslim antipathy. His increasingly late hours and the increasing distance between them left Ruttie feeling neglected. The marriage deteriorated rapidly after the birth of their child.

Ruttie Jinnah developed intestinal ailments with cancer speculated to be the cause. In early 1928, she moved into a suite at Bombay’s Taj Mahal Hotel, leaving Jinnah home with eight-year-old Dina. On 19 February 1929, Ruttie fell unconscious in her room at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai. Jinnah was in Delhi, when he received the call from Bombay, it was his father in law, telling him that Ruttie is not well, that was the first time Jinnah spoke to his father in-law. Jinnah reached Bombay next evening, but Ruttie was already dead. Her body was taken to Arambagh, Khoja cemetery belonging to the Khoja Shia Isna Ashri Muslims. When Ruttie’s body was lowered into the grave and Jinnah was called to throw the soil on her grave, he broke down suddenly and wept like a child.She died on her 29th birthday. 

Couple of lines from her last letter to Jinnah: 

Try and remember me, beloved, as the flower you plucked and not the flower you tread upon…

Darling I love you – I love you – and had I loved you just a little less I might have remained with you..

I have loved you my darling as it is given to few men to be loved. I only beseech you that the tragedy which commenced in love should also end with it.

Darling I love you – I love you….

(Credit to Dr Ghulam Nabi Kazi and Sheela Ready’s Mr and Mrs Jinnah)

After Jinnah died, his sister Fatima asked the court to execute Jinnah’s will under Shia Islamic law. This subsequently became part of the argument in Pakistan about Jinnah’s religious affiliation. In a 1970 legal challenge, Hussain Ali Walji claimed Jinnah had converted to Sunni Islam. Witness Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada stated in court that Jinnah converted to Sunni Islam in 1901.Liaquat Ali Khan and Fatima Jinnah’s joint affidavit that Jinnah was Shia was rejected. But in 1976 the court rejected Walji’s claim that Jinnah was Sunni; effectively accepting him as a Shia. In 1984 a high court bench reversed the 1976 verdict and maintained that “the Jinnah was definitely not a Shia”, which suggested that Jinnah was Sunni.

I have been wondering for year, that how honest was Sharifuddin Pirzada? He was born in 1923, and Jinnah’s wedding took place in 1918, Sharif had stated in court that Jinnah converted to Sunni Islam in 1901. If we go through theNikah ceremony of Jinnah, then where does Shariffudin Pirzada stands?

My gratitude and respect to a non-practising Muslim who was a Muslim by faith and Shia by choice, and an ambassador of all faiths.


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.