Muhammad Ali Jinnah, (Urdu: محمد علی جناح ALA-LC: Muḥammad ʿAlī Jināḥ, born Mahomedali Jinnahbhai; 25 December 1876 – 11 September 1948) was a lawyer, politician, and the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah served as leader of the All-India Muslim League from 1913 until Pakistan’s independence on 14 August 1947, and then as Pakistan’s first Governor-General from independence until his death. He is revered in Pakistan as Quaid-i-Azam (Urdu: قائد اعظم Great Leader) and Baba-i-Qaum (Urdu: بابائے قوم Father of the Nation). His birthday is observed as a national holiday.
Born in Karachi and trained as a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn in London, Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress in the first two decades of the 20th century. In these early years of his political career, Jinnah advocated Hindu–Muslim unity, helping to shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the All-India Muslim League, in which Jinnah had also become prominent. Jinnah became a key leader in the All India Home Rule League, and proposed a fourteen-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslims. In 1920, however, Jinnah resigned from the Congress when it agreed to follow a campaign of satyagraha, or non-violent resistance, advocated by Mohandas Gandhi.
By 1940, Jinnah had come to believe that Indian Muslims should have their own state. In that year, the Muslim League, led by Jinnah, passed the Lahore Resolution, demanding a separate nation. During the Second World War, the League gained strength while leaders of the Congress were imprisoned, and in the elections held shortly after the war, it won most of the seats reserved for Muslims. Ultimately, the Congress and the Muslim League could not reach a power-sharing formula for a united India, leading all parties to agree to separate independence of a predominantly Hindu India, and for a Muslim-majority state, to be called Pakistan.
As the first Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah worked to establish the new nation’s government and policies, and to aid the millions of Muslim migrants who had emigrated from the new nation of India to Pakistan after independence, personally supervising the establishment of refugee camps. Jinnah died at age 71 in September 1948, just over a year after Pakistan gained independence from the British Raj. He left a deep and respected legacy in Pakistan. According to his biographer, Stanley Wolpert, he remains Pakistan’s greatest leader.
Jinnah’s given name at birth was Mahomedali Jinnahbhai,and was born most likely in 1876, to Jinnahbhai Poonja and his wife Mithibai, in a rented apartment on the second floor of Wazir Mansion, Karachi. Jinnah’s birthplace is in Sindh, a region today part of Pakistan, but then within the Bombay Presidency of British India. Jinnah’s family was from a Gujarati, Khoja (shia) background, though Jinnah later followed the Twelver Shi’a teachings. Jinnah was from a middle-income background, his father was a merchant and was born to a family of weavers in the village of Paneli in the princely state of Gondal (Kathiawar, Gujarat); his mother was also of that village. They had moved to Karachi in 1875, having married before their departure. Karachi was then enjoying an economic boom: the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 meant it was 200 nautical miles closer to Europe for shipping than Bombay. Jinnah was the second child; he had three brothers and three sisters, including his younger sister Fatima Jinnah. The parents were native Gujarati speakers, and the children also came to speak Kutchi and English. Except for Fatima, little is known of his siblings, where they settled or if they met with their brother as he advanced in his legal and political careers.
As a boy, Jinnah lived for a time in Bombay with an aunt and may have attended the Gokal Das Tej Primary School there, later on studying at the Cathedral and John Connon School. In Karachi, he attended the Sindh-Madrasa-tul-Islam and the Christian Missionary Society High School. He gained his matriculation from Bombay University at the high school. In his later years and especially after his death, a large number of stories about the boyhood of Pakistan’s founder were circulated: that he spent all his spare time at the police court, listening to the proceedings, and that he studied his books by the glow of street lights for lack of other illumination. His official biographer, Hector Bolitho, writing in 1954, interviewed surviving boyhood associates, and obtained a tale that the young Jinnah discouraged other children from playing marbles in the dust, urging them to rise up, keep their hands and clothes clean, and play cricket instead.
In 1892, Sir Frederick Leigh Croft, a business associate of Jinnahbhai Poonja, offered young Jinnah a London apprenticeship with his firm, Graham’s Shipping and Trading Company.He accepted the position despite the opposition of his mother, who before he left, had him enter an arranged marriage with a girl two years his junior from the ancestral village of Paneli, Emibai Jinnah. Jinnah’s mother and first wife both died during his absence in England. Although the apprenticeship in London was considered a great opportunity for Jinnah, one reason for sending him overseas was a legal proceeding against his father, which placed the family’s property at risk of being sequestered by the court. In 1893, the Jinnahbhai family moved to Bombay.
Soon after his arrival in London, Jinnah gave up the apprenticeship in order to study law, enraging his father, who had, before his departure, given him enough money to live for three years. The aspiring barrister joined Lincoln’s Inn, later stating that the reason he chose Lincoln’s over the other Inns of Court was that over the main entrance to Lincoln’s Inn were the names of the world’s great lawgivers, including Muhammad. Jinnah’s biographer Stanley Wolpert notes that there is no such inscription, but instead inside is a mural showing Muhammad and other lawgivers, and speculates that Jinnah may have edited the story in his own mind to avoid mentioning a pictorial depiction which would be offensive to many Muslims. Jinnah’s legal education followed the pupillage (legal apprenticeship) system, which had been in force there for centuries. To gain knowledge of the law, he followed an established barrister and learned from what he did, as well as from studying lawbooks. During this period, he shortened his name to Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
During his student years in England, Jinnah was influenced by 19th-century British liberalism, like many other future Indian independence leaders. This political education included exposure to the idea of the democratic nation, and progressive politics. He became an admirer of the Parsi Indian political leaders Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Pherozeshah Mehta. Naoroji had become the first Member of Parliament of Indian extraction shortly before Jinnah’s arrival, triumphing with a majority of three votes in Finsbury Central. Jinnah listened to Naoroji’s maiden speech in the House of Commons from the visitor’s gallery.
The Western world not only inspired Jinnah in his political life, but also greatly influenced his personal preferences, particularly when it came to dress. Jinnah abandoned Indian garb for Western-style clothing, and throughout his life he was always impeccably dressed in public. He came to own over 200 suits, which he wore with heavily starched shirts with detachable collars, and as a barrister took pride in never wearing the same silk tie twice. Even when he was dying, he insisted on being formally dressed, “I will not travel in my pyjamas.”In his later years he was usually seen wearing a Karakul hat which subsequently came to be known as the “Jinnah cap”.
Dissatisfied with the law, Jinnah briefly embarked on a stage career with a Shakespearean company, but resigned after receiving a stern letter from his father.In 1895, at age 19, he became the youngest Indian to be called to the bar in England.Although he returned to Karachi, he remained there only a short time before moving to Bombay.
Jinnah as a barrister
Aged twenty, Jinnah began his practice in Bombay, the only Muslim barrister in the city.English had become his principal language and would remain so throughout his life. His first three years in the law, from 1897 to 1900, brought him few briefs. His first step towards a brighter career occurred when the acting Advocate General of Bombay, John Molesworth MacPherson, invited Jinnah to work from his chambers. In 1900, P. H. Dastoor, a Bombay presidency magistrate, left the post temporarily and Jinnah succeeded in getting the interim position. After his six-month appointment period, Jinnah was offered a permanent position on a 1,500 rupee per month salary. Jinnah politely declined the offer, stating that he planned to earn 1,500 rupees a day—a huge sum at that time—which he eventually did. Nevertheless, as Governor-General of Pakistan, he would refuse to accept a large salary, fixing it at 1 rupee per month.
As a lawyer, Jinnah gained fame for his skilled handling of 1907 “Caucus Case”. This controversy arose out of Bombay municipal elections, which Indians alleged were rigged by a “caucus” of Europeans to keep Sir Pherozeshah Mehta out of the council. Jinnah gained great esteem from leading the case for Sir Pherozeshah, himself a noted barrister. Although Jinnah did not win the Caucus Case, he posted a successful record, becoming well known for his advocacy and legal logic.In 1908, his factional foe in the Indian National Congress, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, was arrested for sedition. Before Tilak unsuccessfully represented himself at trial, he engaged Jinnah in an attempt to secure his release on bail. Jinnah did not succeed, but obtained an acquittal for Tilak when he was charged with sedition again in 1916.
One of Jinnah’s fellow barristers from the Bombay High Court remembered that “Jinnah’s faith in himself was incredible”; he recalled that on being admonished by a judge with “Mr. Jinnah, remember that you are not addressing a third-class magistrate” Jinnah shot back “My Lord, allow me to warn you that you are not addressing a third-class pleader.” Another of his fellow barristers described him saying:
He was what God made him, a great pleader. He had a sixth sense: he could see around corners. That is where his talents lay … he was a very clear thinker … But he drove his points home—points chosen with exquisite selection—slow delivery, word by word.
Jinnah in 1910
In 1857, many Indians had risen in revolt against British rule. In the aftermath of the conflict, some Anglo-Indians, as well as Indians in Britain, called for greater self-government for the subcontinent, resulting in the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885. Most founding members had been educated in Britain, and were content with the minimal reform efforts being made by the government. Muslims were not enthusiastic about calls for democratic institutions in British India, as they constituted a quarter to a third of the population, outnumbered by the Hindus. Early meetings of the Congress contained a minority of Muslims, mostly from the elite.
Jinnah devoted much of his time to his law practice in the early 1920s, but remained politically involved. Jinnah began political life by attending the Congress’s twentieth annual meeting, in Bombay in December 1904. He was a member of the moderate group in the Congress, favouring Hindu–Muslim unity in achieving self-government, and following such leaders as Mehta, Naoroji, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. They were opposed by leaders such as Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai, who sought quick action towards freedom. In 1906, a delegation of Muslim leaders headed by the Aga Khan called on the new Viceroy of India, Lord Minto, to assure him of their loyalty and to ask for assurances that in any political reforms they would be protected from the “unsympathetic [Hindu] majority”. Dissatisfied with this, Jinnah wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper Gujarati, asking what right the members of the delegation had to speak for Indian Muslims, as they were unelected and self-appointed. When many of the same leaders met in Dacca in December of that year to form the All-India Muslim League to advocate for their community’s interests, Jinnah was again opposed. The Aga Khan later wrote that it was “freakishly ironic” that Jinnah, who would lead the League to independence, “came out in bitter hostility toward all that I and my friends had done … He said that our principle of separate electorates was dividing the nation against itself.”In its earliest years, however, the League was not influential; Minto refused to consider it as the Muslim community’s representative, and it was ineffective in preventing the 1911 repeal of the partition of Bengal, an action seen as a blow to Muslim interests.
Although Jinnah initially opposed separate electorates for Muslims, he used this means to gain his first elective office in 1909, as Bombay’s Muslim representative on the Imperial Legislative Council. He was a compromise candidate when two older, better-known Muslims who were seeking the post deadlocked. The council, which had been expanded to 60 members as part of reforms enacted by Minto, recommended legislation to the Viceroy. Only officials could vote in the council; non-official members, such as Jinnah, had no vote. Throughout his legal career, Jinnah practised probate law (with many clients from India’s nobility), and in 1911 introduced the Wakf Validation Act to place Muslim religious trusts on a sound legal footing under British Indian law. Two years later, the measure passed, the first act sponsored by non-officials to pass the council and be enacted by the Viceroy. Jinnah was also appointed to a committee which helped to establish the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun.
In December 1912, Jinnah addressed the annual meeting of the Muslim League, although he was not yet a member. He joined the following year, although he remained a member of the Congress as well and stressed that League membership took second priority to the “greater national cause” of a free India. In April 1913, he again went to Britain, with Gokhale, to meet with officials on behalf of the Congress. Gokhale, a Hindu, later stated that Jinnah “has true stuff in him, and that freedom from all sectarian prejudice which will make him the best ambassador of Hindu–Muslim Unity”.Jinnah led another delegation of the Congress to London in 1914, but due to the start of the First World War found officials little interested in Indian reforms. By coincidence, he was in Britain at the same time as a man who would become a great political rival of his, Mohandas Gandhi, a Hindu lawyer who had become well known for advocating satyagraha, non-violent non-cooperation, while in South Africa. Jinnah attended a reception for Gandhi, and returned home to India in January 1915.
Break from the Congress
Jinnah’s moderate faction in the Congress was undermined by the deaths of Mehta and Gokhale in 1915; he was further isolated by the fact that Naoroji was in London, where he remained until his death in 1917. Nevertheless, Jinnah worked to bring the Congress and League together. In 1916, with Jinnah now president of the Muslim League, the two organisations signed the Lucknow Pact, setting quotas for Muslim and Hindu representation in the various provinces. Although the pact was never fully implemented, its signing ushered in a period of cooperation between the Congress and the League.
During the war, Jinnah joined other Indian moderates in supporting the British war effort, hoping that Indians would be rewarded with political freedoms. Jinnah 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, although, with the war, Britain’s politicians were not interested in considering Indian constitutional reform. British Cabinet minister Edwin Montagu recalled Jinnah in his memoirs, “young, perfectly mannered, impressive-looking, armed to the teeth with dialectics, and insistent on the whole of his scheme”.
In 1918, Jinnah married his second wife Rattanbai Petit (“Ruttie”), 24 years his junior. She was the fashionable young daughter of his friend Sir Dinshaw Petit, of an elite Parsi family of Bombay. There was great opposition to the marriage from Rattanbai’s family and the Parsi community, as well as from some Muslim religious 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. The couple’s only child, daughter Dina Jinnah, was born on 15 August 1919.The couple separated prior to Ruttie’s death in 1929, and subsequently Jinnah’s sister Fatima looked after him and his child.
Relations between Indians and British were strained in 1919 when the Imperial Legislative Council extended emergency wartime restrictions on civil liberties; Jinnah resigned from it when it did. There was unrest across India, which worsened after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, in which British troops fired upon a protest meeting, killing hundreds. In the wake of Amritsar, Gandhi, who had returned to India and become a widely respected leader and highly influential in the Congress, called for satyagraha against the British. Gandhi’s proposal gained broad Hindu support, and was also attractive to many Muslims of the Khilafat faction. These Muslims, supported by Gandhi, sought retention of the Ottoman caliphate, which supplied spiritual leadership to many Muslims. The caliph was the Ottoman Emperor, who would be deprived of both offices following his nation’s defeat in the First World War. Gandhi had achieved considerable popularity among Muslims because of his work during the war on behalf of killed or imprisoned Muslims. Unlike Jinnah and other leaders of the Congress, Gandhi did not wear western-style clothing, did his best to use an Indian language instead of English, and was deeply rooted in Indian culture. Gandhi’s local style of leadership gained great popularity with the Indian people. Jinnah criticised Gandhi’s Khilafat advocacy, which he saw as an endorsement of religious zealotry.Jinnah regarded Gandhi’s proposed satyagraha campaign as political anarchy, and believed that self-government should be secured through constitutional means. He opposed Gandhi, but the tide of Indian opinion was against him. At the 1920 session of the Congress in Nagpur, Jinnah was shouted down by the delegates, who passed Gandhi’s proposal, pledging satyagraha until India was free. Jinnah did not attend the subsequent League meeting, held in the same city, which passed a similar resolution. Because of the action of the Congress in endorsing Gandhi’s campaign, Jinnah resigned from it, leaving all positions except in the Muslim League.
Wilderness years; interlude in England
The alliance between Gandhi and the Khilafat faction did not last long, and the campaign of resistance proved less effective than hoped, as India’s institutions continued to function. Jinnah sought alternative political ideas, and contemplated organising a new political party as a rival to the Congress. In September 1923, Jinnah was elected as Muslim member for Bombay in the new Central Legislative Assembly. He showed much skill as a parliamentarian, organising many Indian members to work with the Swaraj Party, and continued to press demands for full responsible government. In 1925, as recognition for his legislative activities, he was offered a knighthood by Lord Reading, who was retiring from the Viceroyalty. He replied: “I prefer to be plain Mr. Jinnah.
In 1927, the British Government, under Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, undertook a decennial review of Indian policy mandated by the Government of India Act 1919. The review began two years early as Baldwin feared he would lose the next election (which he did, in 1929). The Cabinet was influenced by minister Winston Churchill, who strongly opposed self-government for India, and members hoped that by having the commission appointed early, the policies for India which they favoured would survive their government. The resulting commission, led by Liberal MP John Simon, though with a majority of Conservatives, arrived in India in March 1928. They were met with a boycott by India’s leaders, Muslim and Hindu alike, angered at the British refusal to include their representatives on the commission. A minority of Muslims, though, withdrew from the League, choosing to welcome the Simon Commission and repudiating Jinnah. Most members of the League’s executive council remained loyal to Jinnah, attending the League meeting in December 1927 and January 1928 which confirmed him as the League’s permanent president. At that session, Jinnah told the delegates that “A constitutional war has been declared on Great Britain. Negotiations for a settlement are not to come from our side … By appointing an exclusively white Commission, [Secretary of State for India] Lord Birkenhead has declared our unfitness for self-government.
Birkenhead in 1928 challenged Indians to come up with their own proposal for constitutional change for India; in response, the Congress convened a committee under the leadership of Motilal Nehru. The Nehru Report favoured constituencies based on geography on the ground that being dependent on each other for election would bind the communities closer together. Jinnah, though he believed separate electorates, based on religion, necessary to ensure Muslims had a voice in the government, was willing to compromise on this point, but talks between the two parties failed. He put forth proposals that he hoped might satisfy a broad range of Muslims and reunite the League, calling for mandatory representation for Muslims in legislatures and cabinets. These became known as his Fourteen Points. He could not secure adoption of the Fourteen Points, as the League meeting in Delhi at which he hoped to gain a vote instead dissolved into chaotic argument.
After Baldwin was defeated at the 1929 British parliamentary election, Ramsay MacDonald of the Labour Party became prime minister. MacDonald desired a conference of Indian and British leaders in London to discuss India’s future, a course of action supported by Jinnah. Three Round Table Conferences followed over as many years, none of which resulted in a settlement. Jinnah was a delegate to the first two conferences, but was not invited to the last.He remained in Britain for most of the period 1930 through 1934, practising as a barrister before the Privy Council, where he dealt with a number of Indian-related cases. His biographers disagree over why he remained so long in Britain—Wolpert asserts that had Jinnah been made a Law Lord, he would have stayed for life, and that Jinnah alternatively sought a parliamentary seat. Early biographer Hector Bolitho denied that Jinnah sought to enter the British Parliament, while Jaswant Singh deems Jinnah’s time in Britain as a break or sabbatical from the Indian struggle. Bolitho called this period “Jinnah’s years of order and contemplation, wedged in between the time of early struggle, and the final storm of conquest”.
In 1931, Fatima Jinnah joined her brother in England. From then on, Muhammad Jinnah would receive personal care and support from her as he aged and began to suffer from the lung ailments which would kill him. She lived and travelled with him, and became a close advisor. Muhammad Jinnah’s daughter, Dina, was educated in England and India. Jinnah later became estranged from Dina after she decided to marry a Christian, Neville Wadia from a prominent Parsi business family. When Jinnah urged Dina to marry a Muslim, she reminded him that he had married a woman not raised in his faith. Jinnah continued to correspond cordially with his daughter, but their personal relationship was strained, and she did not come to Pakistan in his lifetime, but only for his funeral.
Jinnah’s conversion by Iqbal
The well documented influence of Muhammad Iqbal on Jinnah, with regards to taking the lead in creating Pakistan, has been described as “significant”, “powerful” and even “unquestionable” by scholars.He’s also cited as an influential force in convincing Jinnah to end his self-imposed exile in London and re-enter the politics of India.Initially however, Iqbal and Jinnah were opponents, as Iqbal believed Jinnah was aloof from the crises facing the Muslim community in India. According to Akbar S. Ahmed, this began to change in Iqbal’s last days, before his death in 1938. Iqbal gradually succeeded in converting Jinnah over to his view, who eventually accepted Iqbal as his “mentor”. Ahmed comments that in his notes to Iqbal’s letters, Jinnah expressed unanimity with Iqbal’s views: That Muslims required a separate homeland.
Iqbal’s influence also brought about a deeper appreciation for Muslim identity within Jinnah. Ahmed states that this unanimity Jinnah expressed with Iqbal did not only extend to his politics but his general convictions. The evidence of this influence began to be revealed from 1937 onwards. Jinnah began to echo Iqbal in his speeches, he started using Islamic symbolism and speaking to the underprivileged. According to Ahmed, “something had clearly changed” in Jinnah’s words and deeds. While Jinnah still advocated freedom of religion and protection of the minorities, the model he was now aspiring to was that of the prophet Muhammad. Ahmed further claims that those scholars who have painted a secular picture of Jinnah have misread his speeches which, he argues, must be read in the context of Islamic History and culture. As such, the homeland Jinnah asked for following his “conversion” was of an “unequivocal Islamic nature.” This change has been seen to last for the rest of Jinnah’s life, who continued to frequently borrow ideas “directly from Iqbal- including his thoughts on Muslim unity, on Islamic ideals of liberty, justice and equality, on economics, and even on practices such as prayers.”
In a public speech in 1940 following the death of Iqbal, Jinnah expressed his preference for implementing Iqbal’s vision even at the expense of becoming a ruler. He stated: “If I live to see the ideal of a Muslim state being achieved in India, and I was then offered to make a choice between the works of Iqbal and the rulership of the Muslim state, I would prefer the former.