Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born on 25th December 1876 at Vazeer Mansion Karachi, was the first of seven children of Jinnah bhai, a prosperous merchant. After being taught at home, Jinnah was sent to the Sindh Madrasah High School in 1887. Later he attended the Mission High School, where, at the age of 16, he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay. On the advice of an English friend, his father decided to send him to England to acquire business experience. Jinnah, however, had made up his mind to become a barrister. In keeping with the custom of the time, his parents arranged for an early marriage for him before he left for England.

Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born on 25th December 1876 at Vazeer Mansion Karachi, was the first of seven children of Jinnah bhai, a prosperous merchant. After being taught at home, Jinnah was sent to the Sindh Madrasah High School in 1887. Later he attended the Mission High School, where, at the age of 16, he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay. On the advice of an English friend, his father decided to send him to England to acquire business experience. Jinnah, however, had made up his mind to become a barrister. In keeping with the custom of the time, his parents arranged for an early marriage for him before he left for England.

In London he joined Lincoln’s Inn, one of the legal societies that prepared students for the bar. In 1895, at the age of 19, he was called to the bar. While in London Jinnah suffered two severe bereavements–the deaths of his wife and his mother. Nevertheless, he completed his formal studies and also made a study of the British political system, frequently visiting the House of Commons. He was greatly influenced by the liberalism of William E. Gladstone, who had become prime minister for the fourth time in 1892, the year of Jinnah’s arrival in London. Jinnah also took a keen interest in the affairs of India and in Indian students. When the Parsi leader Dada bhai Naoroji, a leading Indian nationalist, ran for the English Parliament, Jinnah and other Indian students worked day and night for him. Their efforts were crowned with success, and Naoroji became the first Indian to sit in the House of Commons.

When Jinnah returned to Karachi in 1896, he found that his father’s business had suffered losses and that he now had to depend on himself. He decided to start his legal practice in Bombay, but it took him years of work to establish himself as a lawyer.

It was nearly 10 years later that he turned toward active politics. A man without hobbies, his interest became divided between law and politics. Nor was he a religious zealot: he was a Muslim in a broad sense and had little to do with sects. His interest in women was also limited to Ruttenbai, the daughter of Sir Dinshaw Petit, a Bombay Parsi millionaire–whom he married over tremendous opposition from her parents and others. The marriage proved an unhappy one. It was his sister Fatima who gave him solace and company.

Historians of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah have focused, for the most part, on his monumental achievement Pakistan and the historic struggle under his dynamic leadership in the forties that led to it. However, the earlier part of his life is important none the less; it prepared him sedulously for the stupendous final act carving out an independent State and turning the course of history of the South Asian subcontinent.

From his debut in Indian politics in 1904, membership of the Indian National Congress in 1906, and election to the Imperial Legislative Council in 1910, he espoused nationalist causes, with a passion and conviction all his own, such as compulsory primary education, freedom of association, of expression, and of the press, curtailment of executive power, “from Bureaucracy to Democracy”, recruitment of Indians in the civil services as well as in the army, etc. However, his brilliant advocacy of such all-India causes, which made him equally acceptable to all sections of the people, never made him oblivious of his duty to his own community. He spared no effort to advance the interests of the Indian Muslims from the platforms of the Indian National Congress and other representative bodies. It was because of him that:

The heart of Muslim India, always passionately faithful to its own spiritual traditions, became suddenly and vividly aware also of its own political inheritance and its own responsibility in shaping the national future.

The Quaid joined the All India Muslim League (founded in 1906) in October 1913 and had the League’s constitution amended to incorporate the “attainment of a system of self-government” which was in conformity with the Congress goal. He was the architect of the Lucknow Pact (1916) which provided a common formula for the Congress and the Muslim League to work together for the attainment of their shared ideal. This stand for a common cause earned the Quaid the admiration of Sir C. R. Reddy, a South Indian Hindu leader, who wrote: “He is the pride of India and not the private possession of the Muslims”. Quaid-i-Azam also stoutly championed the objectives of the Home Rule League Movement started by Mrs. Annie Besant in 1916. For his passionate espousal of the objectives of India’s constitutional advancement, his role won national acclaim and he came to be called as an “apostle of Indian self-government”.

With the advent of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi into the Indian politics, and the introduction by him of non-constitutional methods such as satyagraha and non-cooperation movement, the political scene in India changed dramatically and the Hindu-Muslim entente so assiduously built up by dedicated efforts of men like Quaid-i-Azam was badly dented. The Gulf between the Congress and the Muslim League began to widen as the avowed non-communal character of the Congress wore thin. The pursuit of the Hindu ideal of “The Vedic and Epic Periods, and dream of a Rama Raj,” criticised even by Jawaharlal Nehru, severely strained the Hindu-Muslim amity. All this was anathema to Quaid-i-Azam who, disenchanted with the new turn in Congress politics, began to veer away from the policies of that body. The ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity became the apostle of Muslim separatism, the sea change resulting from the degeneration of a truly nationalist body like the Congress into a Hindu-dominated party.

Once Gandhi went native with a vengeance, taking on the trappings of a Mahatma, Nehru became a camp-follower. But Quaid-i-Azam stuck to his liberal, moderate, constitutional ways. What distinguishes him from his great contemporaries is that he was essentially a modern man one who above all valued reason, discipline, organization, and economy. He was committed to substance rather than symbol, reason rather than emotion, modernity rather than tradition. Albeit a modern man, he could with full credit pass the test of Muslimness unflinching commitment to his community’s quest for a just, respectable, and sovereign existence in the modern world in consonance with Islamic values.

The Quaid got down to organizing the Muslim League. Under his dynamic leadership, it was metamorphosed in telescoped time into a mass movement, and in the space of just about a decade it founded a State. He was the inspiration, strategist, negotiator, and organizer of the League a sort of one-man political bureau as it were. Or, by analogy with the Congress, he was a Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, and V.P. Menon rolled into one in his career at the Bar, in his personal and political life, are to be found just those qualities of courage, of hard work applied to the mastery of detail, of impeccable integrity, of dedication to duty, of solicitude for human concerns, which were essential to a public career. As vital as any weapon in a leader’s armoury was Quaid’s ability to establish a personal rapport with his votaries and to enthuse and galvanize his followers. How could the “autocratic”, cold, calculating figure of common perception of his distracters has spontaneously attracted the unswerving loyalty of so many veteran politicians, and of countless party workers? It was not as a “dictator” that he exercised power, but as a man with the finesse, persuasive skill and uncanny ability to elicit consent or compromise from friends and foes alike. Quaid-i-Azam was an astute and perspicacious lawyer, an atypical politician, a consummate parliamentarian, a man of wisdom and high purpose, with an impeccable honesty and indomitable courage. He fought heroically for a Muslim renaissance in the subcontinent and decisively swayed the battle against the British imperial power as well as the Congress. No other Muslim leader before him, during his lifetime, or after his death was able to command the respect, the admiration, the complete confidence, and the unswerving loyalty of his people as he did.

Pakistan was Quaid-i-Azam’s personal statement in history. It was the fruit of his relentless and unwavering pursuit of a cherished goal. The Times acknowledging his role as the architect of Pakistan commented: “Few statesmen have shaped events to their policy more surely than Mr. Jinnah”. He was a strategist and a tactician; he planned and made his political moves with care, deliberation and astuteness. But his moves were always tempered with a sense of dignity, fair play, justice and high ideals. A democrat by conviction, he believed that the people are sovereign; he was imbued with a spirit of service to them. This remained his leitmotif. Quaid’s lofty and unparalleled achievement drew President Truman’s befitting tribute:

He was the originator of the dream that became Pakistan, architect of the State and father of the world’s largest Muslim nation. Mr. Jinnah was the recipient of a devotion and loyalty seldom accorded to any man.

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