Muhammad Ali Jinnah – for those who don’t know him – was an Indian lawyer and statesman, who is credited for creating the nation of Pakistan. He is called the Father of the Nation in Pakistan and is more commonly referred to as Quaid-e-Azam (The Great Leader).
Interestingly, Quaid-e-Azam was born on December 25, which coincides with the supposed birth of Jesus Christ. In Pakistan, December 25 is a national holiday. Yesterday night as the world celebrated Christmas, I, as a Pakistani former Muslim, ended up reflecting on the significance of Jinnah and Jesus.
I wonder what our relationship is with Jinnah and Jesus and what significance do they hold in modern times for an average Pakistani Muslim? Are there any ideals that one can learn from these two individuals and incorporate in one’s daily, post-modern life? Perhaps. But an even more fundamental question is: do I really know Jinnah and Jesus well enough?
For all I know, Jinnah was a liberal. That is, he was not a very religious, practicing Muslim. He smoke, drank, loved dogs and was very Western in his ways.
He was a far cry from the kind of Shariah imposing clerics that dot the Pakistani political landscape these days. Some would argue that Jinnah foresaw a liberal and tolerant Pakistan while others like to portray Pakistan as a Shariah governed state inspired by the 1400 years old ideals dictated by Prophet Muhammad. The ground truth is closer to the latter claim. Whatever might have been Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan, it is surely hijacked by puritanical mullahs who are hellbent in making Pakistan the most intolerant and backward country on the face of this earth.
While Jinnah spoke of liberty, Jesus spoke of love. Jesus, in principle, should be revered and celebrated by Muslims since the Qur’an explicitly declares him to be a prophet of Allah.
In Islam, Jesus is portrayed as carrying over the same message of Allah as prophets before him and guide people to the straight path. The Qur’an is, however, replete with verses speaking about the various miracles Jesus was able to perform such as bringing food from heaven, creating birds from clay, healing the blind and the lepers and brining dead people from life. All these miracles were performed by the permission and will of Allah and Jesus is not portrayed to be divine in Islam.
Even though Islam extols the status of Jesus, it is really unfortunate that Christians in Pakistan are a persecuted minority. Somebody made a tongue-in-cheek tweet of Jinnah:
One of the most well known parts of Jinnah’s first Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 is as follows:
Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal, and you will find that in course of time 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.
Pakistani Muslims have gone off on a tangent from this ideal of religious freedom and tolerance. This year alone, as I had blogged about previously, more than 70 people were killed and hundreds were injured during Easter celebration in Pakistan. Pakistani Muslims are not concerned about teachings of Jesus or the vision of Jinnah. I hope people learn from the lives of Jinnah and Jesus and help in creating an inclusive and tolerant society. Until then, there seems no end to this madness.