By Rafig Zakaria
Mumbai, Popular Prakashan, 2001.
276 pages. Hardback.
This book is written for popular audiences in India, the West, and in the United States. It became a bestseller in India probably because of its secular overtones and nationalist bias. This critical biography analyzes the condition of Muslims in Pakistan after Jinnah’s death (1948), while giving a historical background to the formation of the state. According to Zakaria, Jinnah began his political career as a messenger of Hindu-Muslim unity, but ended as ‘communalist’ whose ultimate aim became to divide the Indian subcontinent on the basis of religion. This, contends Zakaria, Jinnah achieved by injecting fear of ‘Islam in danger’ among the Muslims.
Jinnah was an English-educated lawyer who stubbornly believed in a strict constitutional path to politics. He utterly loathed and despised Gandhi’s leadership and the agitational approach of his Indian National Congress (hereafter the Congress). He singlehandedly rebuilt the Muslim League in the 1930s and 40s and made it his objective to achieve parity with the Congress. This he did by siding with the British in their opposition to the anti-imperialist Gandhian nationalist movement. He constantly hammered into the minds of Muslims that Gandhi and the Congress party represented the interest of Hindus and that a Hindu Raj (rule) would replace the British Raj and Muslims would be reduced to slavery. This was the plank on which he raised the bogy of ‘Islam in danger’ if the Muslims did not act to demand a separate state of Pakistan. This was also the basis for his Two-Nation Theory, which stated that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations and that they could never live together as one (totally negating the fact that they had lived together for over a thousand years before the advent of British rule). So apparently Jinnah was playing a political game by using religion as a tool to claim for himself the leadership of the entire Muslim community of South Asia. In his personal life Jinnah never really cared much about religion or God. He had no interest in Islamic principles, the Quran, or even Muslim culture. He lived the life of a wealthy English gentleman, openly ate pork, consumed whiskey, wore expensive European clothing, and married a non-Muslim. In fact he was even ignorant of Urdu, the language of the majority Muslims. Why then did the Muslims overwhelmingly support him?