By Yasser Latif Hamdani
December 15, 2014
Speaking to the Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI’s) three-day convention in Lahore, the Ameer (chief) of the party, Siraj ul Haq, told his followers that UK agents in Pakistan were trying to spread the propaganda that Jinnah had envisaged Pakistan to be a secular state. He went on to claim Jinnah had written a letter to Maulana Maududi promising an Islamic state. This is absolutely and completely untrue. There is no letter whatsoever that Jinnah ever wrote to Maulana Maududi. It is highly unlikely that Jinnah even knew of Maududi’s existence, who was at best a marginal character in the 1940s. Maududi had been highly critical, in language bordering on abusive, of Jinnah and the Muslim League but he was never considered enough of a nuisance for Jinnah to respond to Maududi’s scurrilous abuse.
This is not the first time the JI or others have ascribed pure hogwash to Mr Jinnah. In the 1980s they popularised a quote from Jinnah that Pakistan was going to be a laboratory of Islam, something he supposedly uttered during a visit to Peshawar’s Islamia College in January 1948. The only problem? Jinnah did not go to Peshawar in January 1948. This quote, however, has made it to our national consciousness through Zia’s Pakistan Studies curriculum. Others like Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani had taken to this posthumous Islamisation much earlier, referring to a letter Jinnah supposedly wrote to the Pir of Manki Sharif promising Sharia.
Others jumped onto that bandwagon yet, to this day, not even a single authentic copy of the letter has been produced by proponents of this claim. This is not to say that the famed letter to Manki did not exist but the fact that the original letter said something quite different, i.e. Pakistan’s creation would not impact the application of Muslim personal law, aka Sharia, on Muslim citizens (as it does not in India either).
The real question that must be asked is why such a surety was needed when the popular claim — forwarded by the JI and others — is that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. The answer to that is that Pakistan was not created in the name of Islam and this is precisely why the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, JI and Majlis-e-Ahrar opposed its creation. They could, under no circumstances, envisage an Islamic state being founded by a Shia Khoja — Jinnah — aided by an Ahmedi, i.e. Zaffarullah Khan.
Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam’s Agha Shorish Kashmiri, bitter opponent of the Muslim League and Mr Jinnah, wrote a book on the life of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in the 1970s in which he produced an interview he claimed to have taken over a period of one week in April 1946, published supposedly in Chattan the next week or month. In this extraordinarily prescient letter, Maulana Azad, like a modern day Nostradamus, is said to have predicted Pakistan’s various dilemmas over the next quarter of a century with great accuracy. There are two parts to this interview. One contains Azad’s general views about Jinnah, the Muslim League and demand for Pakistan, which are actually derived from Azad’s letters and thoughts. In this part, Azad pays great tribute to Jinnah before criticising him for the Two Nation Theory. The second part of the interview contains predictions, which is the false part. Kashmiri, not the most thoughtful of commentators, then has Azad making a muck of Islamic history by confusing Jang-e-Jumal (battle of the camel) with Jang-e-Siffin (battle of Siffin).
One can disagree with Azad’s politics but no one can deny he was one of the greatest scholars of Islam. To suggest that he could confuse these landmark events in Islam’s history is an insult to the intelligence. Yet this interview captured the imagination of gullible Pakistanis and Indians including the former Indian external affairs minister, Salman Khurshid. In Pakistan, the interview was serialised by none other than that self-proclaimed ‘Baba-e-bum’, Dr A Q Khan, that prodigal son of Bhopal, in another newspaper. Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has attempted to look for an original hardcopy of Chattan but without much success so far.
On the topic of made up ‘facts’ of history, there is also the issue of Ilm Din. Ilm Din, the ‘matchless warrior’ who slew Raj Pal for publishing a blasphemous pamphlet, is said to have refused to proclaim innocence. Those who have read the transcript of the case know that not only did Ilm Din repeatedly deny having killed Raj Pal but, in fact, lodged an unsuccessful mercy petition with the King Emperor for his action. Islamists make a big deal of the fact that Jinnah was Ilm Din’s lawyer in appeal, forgetting that he acted as a lawyer making no public statement about the case and that he charged a hefty amount paid by contributions put together by Allama Iqbal and Dr M D Taseer. Islamists also forget to mention that when the original 295-A was being passed in the Indian legislature, Jinnah had warned against misuse of the law when it came to those engaged in “bona fide criticisms” of religion.
Last month, a letter purportedly from the JI surfaced asking the Ahmedi residents of a certain area to abandon their “place of worship” or else face the wrath of the organisation. The JI was quick to distance itself from the letter after being criticised on social media. Yet who is going to believe those who have consistently lied about history and the facts? The credibility of Islamists like the JI is less than zero. It was a JI-inspired doctor, Ali Abdullah of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, who led the militant attack on the Ahmedis wounded at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital in 2010. The JI stands for a takeover of the state by hook or by crook and there is no place for non-Muslims or even Muslims who disagree with its ideology.
For all the debate about whether or not Daish or the Islamic State (IS) is in Pakistan, it is clear as day that the mentality that fuels groups like IS is abundantly available in Mansoora and elsewhere. The difference between Siraj ul Haq and the former Ameer, Munawar Hassan, is simply that Munawar Hassan unabashedly says that Qital (fighting) is the only way Islam can be served in Pakistan. All else is simply lies and fabrication, the art of which Islamists like JI and others have mastered better than anyone else in this country. If saying this makes me a UK agent or a US agent, then so be it.
Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality.