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Was Jinnah secular?

By Yasser Latif Hamdani 

(In wake of the national debate on ideology and textbooks, Mr. Raza Rumi, the founder and editor of Pakteahouse, recently asked me to revisit the issue of Jinnah’s secularism through a comprehensive blog-post. This blog post is written for PTH exclusively and may be reproduced by giving PTH credit.)

Many people (though not all) on all sides of the ideology divide in Pakistan take umbrage with the description of Mahomed Ali Jinnah – the anglicized founder of Pakistan- as a secular leader or a secularist. Islamists in Pakistan say that he wanted an Islamic state. Islamic modernists say he wanted a modern Islamic democratic state (whatever that means), some people from the left say he was a communalist who was not secular because he championed Muslim separatism (albeit only in the last 11 years of his life). All of these groups agree that if Jinnah had been secular, it would not have been necessary to make a separate state. All of them – unconvincingly and inaccurately- claim that those who lay claim to a secular Jinnah are basing it on a solitary speech of Jinnah made on 11 August 1947. A slightly different claim is made by the Wali Khan group- which is ideologically consistent if historically errant- which claims that Jinnah wanted a secular state and that his push for Pakistan was the result of British manipulation and divide and rule which made him utilize Islamist rhetoric for the creation of Pakistan. While respecting all these points of view, I disagree with all of them and through this article I will explain why. Continue reading

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