Will The Real Mr. Jinnah Please Identify Himself

Posted on December 25, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, History, People
46 Comments
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Adil Najam

I happen to be in Pakistan on this December 25 and have spent the last many days and specially today devouring the great out-pouring of ‘Jinnah-spection‘ that is on display all over the country, on television, in the press. As a Jinnah fan myself and having devoted so many posts on ATP on exactly the same question, part of me is delighted by the intensity and level of the discourse. More so, because I sense this is not just khanna purri, it is in fact real introspection. However, what struck me is that nearly the entire discussion is about figuring out the “real vision” of the Quaid-i-Azam, Mr. M.A. Jinnah. That after so many years we are still searching for that “vision’ is a statement not about Mr. Jinnah, but about our own national confusion.

Part of me feels that it is time that we acknowledge and confront our own national confusions without using (and misusing) Mr. Jinnah for our ideological skirmishes. Let the man be please. He did what he needed to do. And a did a remarkable job of it. What we did beyond that, was our doing and only we need to accept responsibility for it. Honor him for what he achieved, but please lets spare him the dissection; specially since the purpose seems to have little to do with understanding the essence of his achievements and much more with scoring points about what we are inclined to believe already and anyhow.

I should confess that this thought has been haunting me some weeks now, ever since I joined Dr. Akbar Ahmed at a recent panel at Harvard University marking Mr. Jinnah’s anniversary. Akbar Sahib is one of our leading authorities on the subject (including his movie and books on Mr. Jinnah) and in our conversation with the audience after his lecture the question of the “real Mr. Jinnah” came up again and again. As he pointed out, this question is not about Mr. Jinnah at all. It is about us ourselves. On this 25th of December as we celebrate Mr. Jinnah, it is time to recognize this fact. Let us please honor Mr. Jinnah for what he was, and not torture his memories with that which we ourselves have failed to become.

His achievements were a great blessing for all of us, but our failures are all our own. Let us accept that. To do so will itself be a first step in truly honoring him.

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46 responses to “Will The Real Mr. Jinnah Please Identify Himself”

  1. Faried Nawaz says:

    “Why would it be irrelevant if it failed or succeeded?”

    You can’t just say “democracy failed for the Greeks, therefore it’s not worth considering” and leave it at that. In the real world, the Khilafat system failed, too (the Turkish Caliphate that ended in 1924 was in name only). If you want to bring it back, you have to start by addressing the failures.

    “I cannot produce every single benefit of the Khilafa, how it is formed and its functionality on this forum.”

    I’m just asking for one practical example. Consider it a thought experiment, if nothing else. There is an organization in charge of cleaning the streets, keeping the street lights in working condition, etc. How do I ensure that the people running that organization are competent and worthy of the maintenance fees I pay every year, if I can’t vote for the “right” people?

    “I agree that we may not have a solution to go to the system of khilafah at the moment but can’t we make one?”

    Clearly we can’t. There is no consensus on what such a system is, or how we should switch to it. Hand-waving won’t get us a government with a Khalifa on top.

    “Instead of just rejecting and settling for democracy, shouldn’t our efforts be more geared towards implementing the very core of a khilafah in our daily lives?(Five pillars of Islam). That is the very minimum.”

    How interesting that you bring up the five pillars. The five pillars of Islam are how you worship *on a personal level*. None of them apply to methods of governance. Do you believe Muslims cannot pray while living in a democracy, or monarchy, or dictatorship? If they can, then they haven’t rejected anything.

  2. Uthman says:

    Why would it be irrelevant if it failed or succeeded?

    I cannot produce every single benefit of the Khilafa, how it is formed and its functionality on this forum.

    Which brings me to the most important point, we as muslims believe that Islam has given us the best system of our life. Allah says this in the Quran,: Verily the only way of life(or religion) acceptable to Allah is Islam……” and the He says, “And whoever desires a way of life(religion) other then Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be amongst the losers.”

    So, these ayat are enough proof that Islam is the best way of life. And as such Allah given us a system of laws. We must follow them, not as Pakistanis but as Muslims and submit to them. That is what a muslim literally means. One who submits. Submits to who? To the Will of Allah. I agree that we may not have a solution to go to the system of khilafah at the moment but can’t we make one? Shouldn’t that be our struggle? Instead of just rejecting and settling for democracy, shouldn’t our efforts be more geared towards implementing the very core of a khilafah in our daily lives?(Five pillars of Islam). That is the very minimum.

  3. Adnan says:

    @Uthman,

    Offcourse Jinnah did not believe in democracy preached by modern world today or in Pakistan. Farid already mentioned Shura. If Islam had not true democracy concept then today Shias were not arguing about the appointment of Abu Bakr(RA) as a 1st caliph rather Ali(RA) would have been as 1st caliph of Islam.

  4. Faried Nawaz says:

    Democracy, as the term’s currently used to describe nations, does not refer to the Athenian system. Whether it worked or failed for them is irrelevant.

    “So why would Islam which is the best deen for mankind push that?”

    Can you tell me the Islamic system for dealing with local government issues? For example, what alternative to democracy do I have for selecting (if not “electing”) the people who are responsible for the wellbeing of the township I live in?

    The other problem I have with most Khalifa proponents is that they have no viable plan to go from the current system to a complete Islamic system based on sharia law. Many of them can’t even agree on the fine points of sharia law.

  5. Uthman says:

    @Faried Nawaz, no use going around in circles. Democracy is a failed Greek system to which Greeks themselves admitted to. So why would Islam which is the best deen for mankind push that? You are misusing the term shura and incorrectly equating it with parliament.

    When socialism was the big thing, everyone hopped on that bandwagon and then Islam was the greatest socialist system. Now capitalism and democracy are the greatest thing and Islam is the best democratic system. These are all false things. So lets not force and try to make meanings that simply dont exist.

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