By Yasser Latif Hamdani
December 17, 2018
At the outset one must ask Prime Minister Imran Khan this: Sure you want to make a Riyasat-e-Medina or establish a rightly guided caliphate, by all means do it but what is the point in ascribing to Jinnah these ideas when he never used any such idea ever? The 1943 session of the Muslim League is instructive. Dr Abdul Hamid of Bombay moved a resolution at this session calling for the future government of Pakistan to be based on the principles of Khilafat-e-Rashida. It was withdrawn at Jinnah’s own insistence. Jinnah called such a resolution censure on every Leaguer in his speech. At no point did Jinnah refer to the holy and sacred concepts of Medina or Khilafat-e-Rashida during the Pakistan Movement. He understood that these principles were subject to misinterpretation and sectarian disputes and therefore kept them away from the Muslim League. Only recently an Indian professor – rabidly anti-Pakistan – called Venkat Dhulipala tried to argue that the Pakistan Movement sought to create a new Medina. However when asked by several historians and authors where Jinnah or his closest associates ever used this terminology, he failed to come up with a single instance and admitted that he had relied on some popular literature by a few right wing Maulanas only.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday tweeted an old video of late Dr Israr Ahmad to show that “Naya Pakistan” was actually Quaid-e-Azam’s own idea. In the video Israr Ahmad quotes Dr. Riaz Ali Shah’s account of Jinnah’s last days in Ziarat, apparently published in Jang newspaper on 11 September 1988. In it Dr Israr Ahmad claims that Jinnah wanted Khilafat-e-Rashida as the model for Pakistan. Dr Riaz Ali Shah’s little booklet however is available on record and contains no such reference. Jinnah at no point refers to Khilafat-e-Rashida or Medina according to late Dr Riaz Ali Shah. This is yet another example of the religious clergy and vile sectarian bigots like late Dr Israr Ahmad creating alternative facts. What is amazing is that Imran Khan the Prime Minister of the country decided to put up this fake news as fact on his twitter account. Is there no shame? Is there no end to this lying and distortions of history? In Imran Khan we have a supposedly democratic version of General Zia trying to finish off whatever was left and in the process creating new myths and lies for public consumption.
Jinnah was born a Khoja Ismaili and later due to differences with Aga Khan over his sister Maryam’s marriage outside the Ismaili Aga Khani community, converted to Ithna Ashari Khoja of the Bombay Jamaat. He continued to pay his dues to the Jamaat till his dying day despite being notoriously irreligious. The person that Imran Khan sought to quote on Jinnah, Dr Israr Ahmad was known for his vile bigotry against Shias and his abusive language against Jinnah himself. At one point Israr had criticized Jinnah for having a Hindu as the law minister and an Ahmadi as the foreign minister. On his visits to India, Dr Israr Ahmad was prone to telling Indian Muslims of his sectarian persuasion that Jinnah was a Shia Kafir and would use the same language for Pakistan that his spiritual ancestors had used against the country in the 1940s. To Imran Khan though Dr Israr Ahmad seems to be a historian of some kind. Have some shame Mr. Prime Minister at long last.
At no point did Jinnah refer to the holy and sacred concepts of Medina or Khilafat-e-Rashida during the Pakistan Movement. He understood that these principles were subject to misinterpretation and sectarian disputes and therefore kept them away from the Muslim League
History in Pakistan was murdered brutally during the 1980s. Jinnah’s secular quotes were hidden away. His speeches were burnt. Instead Zia tried – much in the same fashion as Imran Khan tries today – to reinvent Jinnah as an Islamic figure. At Zia’s time though there were still people alive who had seen Jinnah and met him and they pooh poohed the General’s shameless effort with the contempt it deserved. However Imran Khan is operating in an era where most of Pakistan is under 35 years of age and has been educated under a biased and bigoted curriculum of lies that General Zia put in place. Therefore it is even easier for the current Prime Minister to fool the people.
On a longer timeline you will do Pakistan untold damage and harm and do not for a minute assume that you are doing Islam any favours. Islam does not need your lies and distortions. You are damaging Islam Mr. Imran Khan not serving it. Islam’s message is contained in eternal movement and without the principle of eternal movement that Iqbal prescribed in his lectures on reconstruction of religious thought, you will only transform Islam into an ossified shell. Ultimately you will drive people out of its fold. Or perhaps that is your objective after all. Either way you will end up destroying Pakistan’s democracy and bringing disrepute to the faith of Islam.
In any event it is a humble appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan. Spare Mr. Jinnah. Let him rest in peace. Whatever you need to do, do it on its own merit. Stop distorting history for god’s sake.
Yasser Latif Hamdani is practicing lawyer and was a visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School in Cambridge MA, USA