The founder of our nation, Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was endowed with unrivaled visionary insight and had a clear concept of what kind of homeland he desired for the Muslims of Indian subcontinent upon partition of colonial India in August 1947. He fully delineated his model nationalism as evident in his address on the occasion of the passing of Pakistan resolution on 23 March 1940. He unequivocally affirmed that, ‘We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendars, history and tradition, aptitudes and ambitions; in short, we have our own distinctive outlook of life and on life. By all canons of international law, we are a nation’.

However, despite the clear message of Quaid on Nationalism, an unending debate has ensued since the very inception of Pakistan as to what actually constitutes Muslim nationalism. Although no one argues with the merits of the fact that if it had not been for the idea of Muslim nationalism and two-nation theory, the creation of the separate Muslim nation would have been a distant dream. 

There two brands of thought on true Muslim nationalism. One contends that the essence of idea behind the creation of Pakistan was to transform the newfound country into a modern nation state that breaks away from radical religious dogmatism, obscurantism, and extreme fanaticism. While the other camp avers that idea of Pakistan cannot be separated from making it into a haven of an Islamic state in keeping with Islamic Sharia; a model for a strong Muslim theocracy.

In fact, it was not one but a set of ideas that coalesced over a period of time that constitute Muslim nationalism. Concept of a Muslim nationhood spawned from the early progressive notions of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Syed Ameer Ali that centered around calls for Indian Muslims to acquire modern knowledge and struggle for their rights, all the way to Allama Mohammad Iqbal’s vision for separate Muslim state. This idea, eventually, culminated in the shape of the condensed historic declaration of Pakistan resolution that read, ‘No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign’. 

In the very first constituent Assembly Quaid e Azam distilled his version of nationalism when he said : “ … you will find that in course of time [in Pakistan]Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims; not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.” Following the creation of Pakistan Jinnah said,  ‘You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of 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’.

As it is borne out by the above statement, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s idea of nationalism eschews insular parochialism and envisions a nation state that treats all its citizens equally, irrespective caste, creed, and religion. His decision to appoint a Hindu as the first law minister speaks volumes of his vision for the country where a person’s creed would not interfere with his service towards the homeland. Quaid e Azam championed unity in diversity and celebrated cultural plurality where provinces of the country are immense sources of strength. His Pakistan is a modern democracy where all citizens would be guaranteed fundamental rights and access to justice hitherto denied in colonial India. 


About Author

Leena Shah Mir is a freelance analyst from Gwadar, Balochistan.

1 Comment

Leave A Reply