Muhammad Ali Jinnah

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Political People

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Muhammad Ali Jinnah

1st Governor-General of Pakistan
In office
August 15, 1947 –  September 11, 1948
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan
Preceded by None; Office created
Earl Mountbatten of Burma (as Viceroy of India
Succeeded by Khawaja Nazimuddin

Born December 25, 1876
Wazir Mansion, Karachi, British India
Died September 11, 1948 (aged 71)
Karachi, Dominion of Pakistan
Political party Indian National Congress
Muslim League
Profession Lawyer, Statesman
Religion Islam

Muhammad Ali Jinnah Urdu: محمد علی جناح  ( December 25, 1876 September 11, 1948) was a Muslim politician and leader of the All India Muslim League who founded Pakistan and served as its first Governor-General. He is officially known in Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam (Urdu: قائد اعظم — "Great Leader") and Baba-e-Qaum (" Father of the Nation"). His birthday is a national holiday in Pakistan.

Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress expounding ideas of Hindu-Muslim unity and helping shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact with the Muslim League; he also became a key leader in the All India Home Rule League. Then Jinnah joined the Muslim League and became a prominent leader. He proposed a fourteen-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslims in a self-governing India. His proposals failed amid the League's disunity, driving a disillusioned Jinnah to live in London for many years.

Several Muslim leaders persuaded Jinnah to return in 1934 and re-organise the Muslim League. Jinnah embraced the goal of creating a separate state for Muslims as per the Lahore Resolution. The League won most Muslim seats in the elections of 1946, and Jinnah launched the Direct Action campaign movement to achieve independence of Pakistan, the strong reaction of Congress supporters resulted in communal violence across South Asia. The failure of the Congress-League coalition to govern the country prompted both parties and the British to agree to independence of Pakistan and India. As the Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah led efforts to rehabilitate millions of refugees, and to frame national policies on foreign affairs, security and economic development.

Early life

Jinnah in his youth, in traditional dress.
Jinnah in his youth, in traditional dress.

Jinnah was born as Mahomedali Jinnahbhai in Wazir Mansion, Karachi, Sindh—then a province of the Bombay Presidency of British India. Although his earliest school records were to state that he was born on October 20, 1875, he himself later in life would give December 25, 1876 as his official date of birth. Jinnah was the eldest of seven children born to Mithibai and Jinnahbhai Poonja. His father, Jinnahbhai (1857–1901), was a prosperous Gujarati merchant who had moved to Sindh from Kathiawar, Gujarat shortly before Jinnah's birth. His grandfather was Poonja Meghji, a Bhatia from Paneli village in Gondal state in Kathiawar. The family had moved there from Sahiwal near Multan. Some sources suggest that Jinnah's ancestors were Hindu Rajputs from Sahiwal, Punjab.

The firstborn Jinnah was soon joined by six siblings, brothers Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, and Rahmat Ali, and sisters Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. Jinnah's family belonged to the Ismaili Khoja branch of Shia Islam, though Jinnah later converted to Twelver Shia Islam. Their mother tongue was Gujarati, however, in time they also came to speak Kutchi, Sindhi and English.

The young Jinnah, a restless student, studied at several schools: at the Sindh-Madrasa-tul-Islam in Karachi; briefly at the Gokal Das Tej Primary School in Bombay; and finally at the Christian Missionary Society High School in Karachi, where, at age sixteen, he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay.

The same year, 1892, Jinnah was offered an apprenticeship at the London office of Graham's Shipping and Trading Company, a business that had extensive dealings with Jinnahbhai Poonja's firm in Karachi. However, before he left for England, he married, at his mother's urging, a distant cousin, Emibai Jinnah|Emibai, who was two years his junior. The marriage was not to last long: a few months later, Emibai died. Later, during his sojourn in England, his mother too would pass away. In London, Jinnah soon left the apprenticeship to study law instead, by joining Lincoln's Inn. The welcome board of the Lincoln's Inn had the names of the world's all time top ten magistrates. This list was lead by the name of Muhammad, which was the sole reason of Jinnah's joining of Lincoln's Inn. He In three years, at age 19, he became the youngest Indian to be called to the bar in England. Around this time, Jinnah also became interested in politics. An admirer of the Indian political leaders Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, he worked, with other Indian students, on the former's successful campaign for a seat in the British Parliament. Although, by now, Jinnah had developed largely constitutionalist views on Indian self-government, he nevertheless condemned both the arrogance of British officials in India and the discrimination practised by them against Indians.

Jinnah House in Bombay, India.
Jinnah House in Bombay, India.

During the final period of his stay in England, Jinnah came under considerable pressure when his father's business was ruined. Settling in Bombay, he became a successful lawyer—gaining particular fame for his skilled handling of the " Caucus Case". Jinnah built a house in Malabar Hill, later known as Jinnah House. His reputation as a skilled lawyer prompted Indian leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak to hire him as defence counsel for his sedition trial in 1905. Jinnah argued that it was not sedition for an Indian to demand freedom and self-government in his own country, but Tilak received a rigorous term of imprisonment test.

Early political career

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as a young lawyer.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as a young lawyer.

In 1896, Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress, which was the largest Indian political organisation. Like most of the Congress at the time, Jinnah did not favour outright independence, considering British influences on education, law, culture and industry as beneficial to India. Jinnah became a member on the sixty-member Imperial Legislative Council. The council had no real power or authority, and included a large number of un-elected pro-Raj loyalists and Europeans. Nevertheless, Jinnah was instrumental in the passing of the Child Marriages Restraint Act, the legitimization of the Muslim waqf (religious endowments) and was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, which helped establish the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. During World War I, Jinnah joined other Indian moderates in supporting the British war effort, hoping that Indians would be rewarded with political freedoms.

Jinnah had initially avoided joining the All India Muslim League, founded in 1906, regarding it as too Muslim oriented. Eventually, he joined the league in 1913 and became the president at the 1916 session in Lucknow. Jinnah was the architect of the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the League, bringing them together on most issues regarding self-government and presenting a united front to the British. Jinnah also played an important role in the founding of the All India Home Rule League in 1916. Along with political leaders Annie Besant and Tilak, Jinnah demanded " home rule" for India—the status of a self-governing dominion in the Empire similar to Canada, New Zealand and Australia. He headed the League's Bombay Presidency chapter. In 1918, Jinnah married his second wife Rattanbai Petit ("Ruttie"), twenty-four years his junior. She was the fashionable young daughter of his personal friend Sir Dinshaw Petit, of an elite Parsi family of Bombay. Unexpectedly there was great opposition to the marriage from Rattanbai's family and Parsi society, as well as orthodox Muslim leaders. Rattanbai defied her family and nominally converted to Islam, adopting (though never using) the name Maryam Jinnah -resulting in a permanent estrangement from her family and Parsi society. The couple resided in Bombay, and frequently travelled across India and Europe. In 1919 she bore Jinnah his only child, daughter Dina Jinnah.

Fourteen points

A young Jinnah.
A young Jinnah.

Jinnah's problems with the Congress began with the ascent of Mohandas Gandhi in 1918, who espoused non-violent civil disobedience and Hindu values as the best means to obtain Swaraj (independence, or self-rule) for all South Asians. Jinnah differed, saying that only constitutional struggle could lead to independence. Unlike most Congress leaders, Gandhi did not wear western-style clothes, did his best to use an Indian language instead of English, and was deeply (Hindu) religious. Gandhi's Hindu style of leadership gained great popularity with the Indian people. Jinnah criticised Gandhi's support of the Khilafat Movement, which he saw as an endorsement of religious zealotry. By 1920, Jinnah resigned from the Congress, with prophetic warning that Gandhi's method of mass struggle would lead to divisions between Hindus and Muslims and within the two communities. Becoming president of the Muslim League, Jinnah was drawn into a conflict between a pro-Congress faction and a pro-British faction. In 1927, Jinnah entered negotiations with Muslim and Hindu leaders on the issue of a future constitution, during the struggle against the all-British Simon Commission. The League wanted separate electorates while the Nehru Report favoured joint electorates. Jinnah personally opposed separate electorates, but then drafted compromises and put forth demands that he thought would satisfy both. These became known as the 14 points of Mr. Jinnah. However, they were rejected by the Congress and other political parties.

Jinnah's personal life and especially his marriage suffered during this period due to his political work. Although they worked to save their marriage by travelling together to Europe when he was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, the couple separated in 1927. Jinnah was deeply saddened when Rattanbai died in 1929, after a serious illness.

At the Round Table Conferences in London, Jinnah criticised Gandhi, but was disillusioned by the breakdown of talks. Frustrated with the disunity of the Muslim League, he decided to quit politics and practice law in England.

Jinnah would receive personal care and support through his later life from his sister Fatima Jinnah, who lived and travelled with him and also became a close advisor. She helped raise his daughter, who was educated in England and India. Jinnah later became estranged from his daughter, Dina Jinnah, after she decided to marry Parsi-born Christian businessman, Neville Wadia (even though he had faced the same issues when he married Rattanbai in 1918). Jinnah continued to correspond cordially with his daughter, but their personal relationship was strained. Dina continued to live in India with her family.

Leader of the Muslim League

Jinnah with his sister (left) and daughter Dina (right) in Bombay
Jinnah with his sister (left) and daughter Dina (right) in Bombay

Prominent Muslim leaders like the Aga Khan, Choudhary Rahmat Ali and Sir Muhammad Iqbal made efforts to convince Jinnah to return to India and take charge of a now-reunited Muslim League. In 1934 Jinnah returned and began to re-organise the party, being closely assisted by Liaquat Ali Khan, who would act as his right-hand man. In the 1937 elections, the League emerged as a competent party, capturing a significant number of seats under the Muslim electorate, but lost in the Muslim-majority Punjab, Sindh and the Northwest Frontier Province. Jinnah offered an alliance with the Congress - both bodies would face the British together, but the Congress had to share power, accept separate electorates and the League as the representative of India's Muslims. The latter two terms were unacceptable to the Congress, which had its own national Muslim leaders and membership and adhered to secularism. Even as Jinnah held talks with Congress president Rajendra Prasad, Congress leaders suspected that Jinnah would use his position as a lever for exaggerated demands and obstruct government, and demanded that the League merge with the Congress. The talks failed, and while Jinnah declared the resignation of all Congressmen from provincial and central offices in 1938 as a " Day of Deliverance" from Hindu domination, some historians assert that he remained hopeful for an agreement.

Jinnah delivering a political speech.
Jinnah delivering a political speech.

In a speech to the League in 1930, Sir Muhammad Iqbal mooted an independent state for Muslims in "northwest India." Choudhary Rahmat Ali published a pamphlet in 1933 advocating a state called "Pakistan". Following the failure to work with the Congress, Jinnah, who had embraced separate electorates and the exclusive right of the League to represent Muslims, was converted to the idea that Muslims needed a separate state to protect their rights. Jinnah came to believe that Muslims and Hindus were distinct nations, with unbridgeable differences—a view later known as the Two Nation Theory. Jinnah declared that a united India would lead to the marginalization of Muslims, and eventually civil war between Hindus and Muslims. This change of view may have occurred through his correspondence with Iqbal, who was close to Jinnah. In the session in Lahore in 1940, the Pakistan resolution was adopted as the main goal of the party. The resolution was rejected outright by the Congress, and criticised by many Muslim leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Syed Ab'ul Ala Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami. On July 26, 1943, Jinnah was stabbed and wounded by a member of the extremist Khaksars in an attempted assassination.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah founded Dawn in 1941, a major newspaper that helped him propagate the League's point of views. During the mission of British minister Stafford Cripps, Jinnah demanded parity between the number of Congress and League ministers, the League's exclusive right to appoint Muslims and a right for Muslim-majority provinces to secede, leading to the breakdown of talks. Jinnah supported the British effort in World War II, and opposed the Quit India movement. During this period, the League formed provincial governments and entered the central government. The League's influence increased in the Punjab after the death of Unionist leader Sikander Hyat Khan in 1942. Gandhi held talks fourteen times with Jinnah in Mumbai in 1944, about a united front—while talks failed, Gandhi's overtures to Jinnah increased the latter's standing with Muslims.

Founding Pakistan

A letter by Jinnah to Winston Churchill
A letter by Jinnah to Winston Churchill

In the 1946 elections for the Constituent Assembly of India, the Congress won most of the elected seats and Hindu electorate seats, while the League won a large majority of Muslim electorate seats. The 1946 British Cabinet Mission to India released a plan on May 16, calling for a united Indian state comprising considerably autonomous provinces, and called for "groups" of provinces formed on the basis of religion. A second plan released on June 16, called for the separation of South Asia along religious lines, with princely states to choose between accession to the dominion of their choice or independence. The Congress, fearing India's fragmentation, criticised the May 16 proposal and rejected the June 16 plan. Jinnah gave the League's assent to both plans, knowing that power would go only to the party that had supported a plan. After much debate and against Gandhi's advice that both plans were divisive, the Congress accepted the May 16 plan while condemning the grouping principle. Jinnah decried this acceptance as "dishonesty", accused the British negotiators of "treachery", and withdrew the League's approval of both plans. The League boycotted the assembly, leaving the Congress in charge of the government but denying it legitimacy in the eyes of many Muslims.

Jinnah issued a call for all Muslims to launch " Direct Action" on August 16 to "achieve Pakistan". Strikes and protests were planned, but violence broke out all over South Asia, especially in Calcutta and the district of Noakhali in Bengal, and more than 7,000 people were killed in Bihar. Although viceroy Lord Wavell asserted that there was "no satisfactory evidence to that effect", League politicians were blamed by the Congress and the media for orchestrating the violence. Interim Government portfolios were announced on October 25, 1946. Muslim Leaguers were sworn in on October 26, 1946. The League entered the interim government, but Jinnah refrained from accepting office for himself. This was credited as a major victory for Jinnah, as the League entered government having rejected both plans, and was allowed to appoint an equal number of ministers despite being the minority party. The coalition was unable to work, resulting in a rising feeling within the Congress that independence of Pakistan was the only way of avoiding political chaos and possible civil war. The Congress agreed to the division of Punjab and Bengal along religious lines in late 1946. The new viceroy Lord Mountbatten and Indian civil servant V. P. Menon proposed a plan that would create a Muslim dominion in West Punjab, East Bengal, Baluchistan and Sindh. After heated and emotional debate, the Congress approved the plan. The North-West Frontier Province voted to join Pakistan in a referendum in July 1947. Jinnah asserted in a speech in Lahore on October 30, 1947 that the League had accepted independence of Pakistan because "the consequences of any other alternative would have been too disastrous to imagine."


Jinnah envisioned a secular state for Pakistan, a theme he repeatedly touched upon in his speeches. Nevertheless, this aspect of his ideology never fully materialised, possibly due to his death during the months immediately following Pakistan's acheievement of independence.

Speaking to Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, he said

If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor... you are free- you are free to go to your temples mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state... in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to Muslims- not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual- but in a political sense as citizens of one state
— Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Karachi August 11, 1947

Islamic parties at that time like the newly formed Jamat-e-Islami first opposed the creation of Pakistan. After the creation of Pakistan these parties joined in the political process and their agenda has been to make Pakistan an Islamic state.

Secularism has been a taboo topic in Pakistan and lot of Pakistanis do not understand its meaning. Because of illiteracy and due to the misrepresentation of secularism by islamic parties an average Pakistani thinks of it as being a threat to Islam or being a "Religion Less" society.


Jinnah with Gandhi, 1944.
Jinnah with Gandhi, 1944.

Along with Liaquat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar, Muhammad Ali Jinnah represented the League in the Division Council to appropriately divide public assets between India and Pakistan. The assembly members from the provinces that would comprise Pakistan formed the new state's constituent assembly, and the Military of British India was divided between Muslim and non-Muslim units and officers. Indian leaders were angered at Jinnah's courting the princes of Jodhpur, Bhopal and Indore to accede to Pakistan - these princely states were not geographically aligned with Pakistan, and each had a Hindu-majority population.

Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan and president of its constituent assembly. Inaugurating the assembly on August 11, 1947, Jinnah spoke of an inclusive and pluralist democracy promising equal rights for all citizens regardless of religion, caste or creed. This address is a cause of much debate in Pakistan as, on its basis, many claim that Jinnah wanted a secular state while supporters of Islamic Pakistan assert that this speech is being taken out of context when compared to other speeches by him.

On October 11, 1947, in an address to Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force Officers of Pakistan Government, Karachi, he said:

We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.

On February 21, 1948, in an address to the officers and men of the 5th Heavy Ack Ack and 6th Light Ack Ack Regiments in Malir, Karachi, he said:

You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood in your own native soil. With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.
Jinnah in his final days.
Jinnah in his final days.

The office of Governor-General was ceremonial, but Jinnah also assumed the lead of government. The first months of Pakistan's independence were absorbed in ending the intense violence that had arisen in the wake of acrimony between Hindus and Muslims. Jinnah agreed with Indian leaders to organise a swift and secure exchange of populations in the Punjab and Bengal. He visited the border regions with Indian leaders to calm people and encourage peace, and organised large-scale refugee camps. Despite these efforts, estimates on the death toll vary from around two hundred thousand, to over a million people. The estimated number of refugees in both countries exceeds 15 million. The capital city of Karachi saw an explosive increase in its population owing to the large encampments of refugees. Jinnah was personally affected and depressed by the intense violence of the period.

Jinnah authorised force to achieve the annexation of the princely state of Kalat and suppress the insurgency in Baluchistan. He controversially accepted the accession of Junagadh—a Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler located in the Saurashtra peninsula, some 400 kilometres (250 mi) southeast of Pakistan—but this was annulled by Indian intervention. It is unclear if Jinnah planned or knew of the tribal invasion from Pakistan into the kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947, but he did send his private secretary Khurshid Ahmed to observe developments in Kashmir. When informed of Kashmir's accession to India, Jinnah deemed the accession illegitimate and ordered the Pakistani army to enter Kashmir. However, Gen. Auchinleck, the supreme commander of all British officers informed Jinnah that while India had the right to send troops to Kashmir, which had acceded to it, Pakistan did not. If Jinnah persisted, Auchinleck would remove all British officers from both sides. As Pakistan had a greater proportion of Britons holding senior command, Jinnah cancelled his order, but protested to the United Nations to intercede.

Owing to his role in the state's creation, Jinnah was the most popular and influential politician. He played a pivotal role in protecting the rights of minorities, establishing colleges, military institutions and Pakistan's financial policy. In his first visit to East Pakistan, under the advice of local party leaders, Jinnah stressed that Urdu alone should be the national language; a policy that was strongly opposed by the Bengali people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). This opposition grew after he controversially described Bengali as the language of Hindus. He also worked for an agreement with India settling disputes regarding the division of assets.


The funeral of Jinnah in 1948
The funeral of Jinnah in 1948

Through the 1940s, Jinnah suffered from tuberculosis; only his sister and a few others close to him were aware of his condition. In 1948, Jinnah's health began to falter, hindered further by the heavy workload that had fallen upon him following Pakistan's independence from British Rule. Attempting to recuperate, he spent many months at his official retreat in Ziarat, but died on September 11, 1948 (just over a year after independence) from a combination of tuberculosis and lung cancer. His funeral was followed by the construction of a massive mausoleum— Mazar-e-Quaid—in Karachi to honour him; official and military ceremonies are hosted there on special occasions.

Dina Wadia remained in India after independence, before ultimately settling in New York City. Jinnah's grandson, Nusli Wadia, is a prominent industrialist residing in Mumbai. In the 1963–1964 elections, Jinnah's sister Fatima Jinnah, known as Madar-e-Millat ("Mother of the Nation"), became the presidential candidate of a coalition of political parties that opposed the rule of President Ayub Khan, but lost the election.

The Jinnah House in Malabar Hill, Mumbai is in the possession of the Government of India—its future is officially disputed. Jinnah had personally requested Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to preserve the house and that one day he could return to Mumbai. There are proposals for the house be offered to the Government of Pakistan to establish a consulate in the city, as a goodwill gesture, but Dina Wadia's family have laid claim to the property.

The funeral prayers were led by Allamah Shabbeer Ahmad Usmani, at Jinnah's request.

Legacy and criticism

In Pakistan, Jinnah is honoured with the official title Quaid-e-Azam, and he is depicted on all Pakistani rupee notes of denominations five and higher, and is the namesake of many Pakistani public institutions. The former Quaid-e-Azam International Airport, now called the Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi is Pakistan's busiest. One of the largest streets in the Turkish capital Ankara — Cinnah Caddesi —is named after him. In Iran, one of the capital Tehran's most important new highways is also named after him, while the government released a stamp commemorating the centennial of Jinnah's birthday. The Mazar-e-Quaid, Jinnah's mausoleum, is among Karachi's most imposing buildings. In media, Jinnah was portrayed by British actors Richard Lintern (as the young Jinnah) and Christopher Lee (as the elder Jinnah) in the 1998 film Jinnah. In Richard Attenborough's Academy Award winning film Gandhi, Jinnah was portrayed adversely by Alyque Padamsee. In the 1986 televised mini-series Lord Mountbatten: the Last Viceroy, Jinnah was played by Polish actor Vladek Sheybal.

Some historians like H M Seervai and Ayesha Jalal assert that Jinnah never wanted partition of India and independence of Pakistan —it was the outcome of the Congress leaders being unwilling to share power with the Muslim League. It is asserted that Jinnah only used the Pakistan demand as a method to mobilise support to obtain significant political rights for Muslims. Jinnah has gained the admiration of major Indian nationalist politicians like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani—the latter's comments praising Jinnah caused an uproar in his own Bharatiya Janata Party.

Some critics allege that Jinnah's courting the princes of Hindu states and his gambit with Junagadh is proof of ill intentions towards India, as he was the proponent of the theory that Hindus and Muslims could not live together, yet being interested in Hindu-majority states. In his book Patel: A Life, Rajmohan Gandhi asserts that Jinnah sought to engage the question of Junagadh with an eye on Kashmir—he wanted India to ask for a plebiscite in Junagadh, knowing thus that the principle then would have to be applied to Kashmir, where the Muslim-majority would, he believed, vote for Pakistan.

According to Akbar S. Ahmed, many writers outside Pakistan believed that Jinnah drank alcohol, whereas several sources indicate he gave up alcohol near the end of his life.

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