Sunday, July 29, 2012

Unani medicine

Ahmed Husain from Madras, wrote to Jinnah on August 28, 1944 about his work "Principles of Unani Medicine".

Knowing as you do how Hakim Ajmal Khan Sahib in the prime of his effort of reviving unani medicine lost himself by turning a nationalist in good faith of the Gandhian type and shunned the progress of unani.

Ayurveda finds a place in the national life of Hindus whereas unani failed to progress due to neglect of Musalmans.

This is to request you to find time to go through this small book and if you are sufficiently convinced that unani, as science and art of healing, can still serve the people, you may include revival and encouragement of unani in the reconstruction programme of the League.
(from Jinnah papers, Volume XI).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jinnah's religion-3

There is a relatively contemporary twist to Jinnah's heirs defining his religion.  The news-item, from the Indian Express, October 13-14, 2008, is reproduced below.

In the dispute over the palatial Jinnah House in south Mumbai, Dina Wadia, the only daughter of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has stated before the Bombay High Court that her father is not governed by Islamic succession laws, but by Hindu customary law instead.

The building in question, blessed not only with history but also location — facing the sea from the posh Malabar Hill — is currently valued at Rs 300 crore.

In 1947, when Jinnah left India for Pakistan, the Government had taken it over as “evacuee property”. However, Dina had remained behind in Mumbai, having been disowned by Jinnah. Now 88 years old, she lives in the United States. After a series of legal moves, Dina Wadia filed a writ petition before the Mumbai High Court in 2007, claiming that Jinnah House could not be classified as “evacuee property”, as her father had died without leaving behind a will. So, she went on to claim, all his properties, including Jinnah House, devolved to his successors.

The trouble was that under Muslim succession law, Jinnah’s property would devolve to a long list of family claimants, only one of which was his daughter. This meant that even if Jinnah House was not “evacuee property”, Dina Wadia would have to share Jinnah House with other relatives of her father.

To overcome this, her lawyer Fali Nariman has stated in court that Jinnah, as a Khoja-Shia, was not governed by Muslim succession law, but by Hindu customary law — in which intestate succession is to the daughter alone. To establish this, Nariman has relied on a long line of cases where the Indian Supreme Court has held that Khoja-Shias are governed by Hindu customary law. Khoja-Shias, like many Muslim communities in India, have traditions that are a mix of Islamic and Hindu rituals.

However, given the complicated legal issues involved in the case, what has taken a backseat is this most interesting aspect of the case: the claim by Jinnah’s only daughter that the man who forged Pakistan claiming to be the representative of India’s Muslims be governed by Hindu, not Islamic, laws.

Jinnah's religion-2

#30 of the Jinnah Papers, Volume XI, edited by Z.R. Zaidi, has a letter from a Habib R. Parpia to Jinnah, dated August 10, 1944.   There is no reply from Jinnah in the Jinnah Papers.

 Parpia's letter is an appeal to preserve the unity of India.  Parpia introduces himself as having known Jinnah at the Bombay Bar.   He starts by pointing out some inconsistencies in Jinnah's actions.  His second major point is as follows, and may have some relevance to understanding Jinnah's religious beliefs.  I will reproduce the entire letter some day.

"Another inconsistency of yours, I wish respectfully to draw your attention to, is that when the British in Palestine wish to divide that country between the Arabs and the Jews, you and your League object vehemently.   But you have no scruples to demand the division of India.   Whether Jewish emigration is subsidised or not, the fact remains that there are two nations in Palestine.   On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the Muslims of India are converts from Hindus and still retain many Hindu customs and ideas.   You and I, with our respective surnames staring us in the face, cannot claim to be very much distinct from the Hindus."
 "I do not know if you remember the occasion about the year 1927 or 1928, when on behalf of a Khoja Jama'at, I, as their solicitor, approached you to introduce a bill in the Central Legislature providing for the application of Muslim law of intestate succession to the Khojas, when you had rightly said you would not do so, as in your opinion, the custom that governed the Khojas was best for them.  Apparently we were not, in your opinion, a separate nation then, and if we were not then a separate nation, we could not become one after a lapse of barely 17 years."

Gandhi on religion and politics

From the Transfer of Power papers, Volume VI, #272

Richard Gardiner Casey, an Australian,  was the Governor of Bengal at the time of this entry.  A number of entries in the Transfer of Power of papers are about Casey-Gandhi talks.

Entry in Mr Casey's Diary (Extract)

6 December 1945

The papers today had a paragraph—"Mr Gandhi did not see Mr Casey yesterday".

Some small matters that came out of my talks with M.K.G.

He reminds one a little of a meek edition of W.M.Hughes. {7th Prime Minister of Australia?}

He told me that he claimed to be better acquainted with Christianity than most Christians, better acquainted with Zoroastrianism than most Parsees, and with Islam than most Muslims.

He said that he endeavoured to introduce elements of all the principal religions into his public evening prayers—he had passages in Arabic (drawn from the Koran), passages from Zoroastra in (I think he said) Persian—and "Lead Kindly Light'.

He told me that Jinnah had told him that he (Gandhi) had ruined politics in India, by dragging up a lot of unwholesome elements in Indian life and giving them political prominence—that it was a crime to mix up politics and religion in the way he had done.

He said that the habit in India of wanting to touch his feet ("a very nice habit in itself") was most embarrassing when done by great crowds.

He is very keen about the "Nature Cure", which he is undergoing.

He said that he greatly appreciated my informality and the fact that I had accepted no title.

He says that he is not a learned man and that he has no great gifts.

He clearly has a certain rather feminine streak in him.

He is not very businesslike.

Each night that he came to see me, his departure was remarkable in that probably 150 of our servants (Muslim and Hindu) lined the passage and the entrance to the house, to see him—all salaaming profoundly.

Jinnah's religion-1

Aamir Mughal has some interesting posts about Jinnah's religion on his blog (follow the link and scroll down).  I'm reproducing some of the text below the fold, because of the uncomfortable habit blogs have of disappearing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sita Ram Goel on Gandhi

Via Srinivas Sudhindra:

Sita Ram Goel gives a balanced opinion on Gandhi in "Perversion of India's Political Parlance ".

"The anti-Gandhi nationalists have never tried honestly to face the fact that it was he and not they who had stirred the minds and hearts of Hindu masses. It was he and not they who had mobilized Hindu society to make sacrifices in the service of the motherland. Nor have the denunciations of anti-Gandhi nationalists succeeded in doing the slightest damage to his stature. In fact, his stature has risen higher with the passing of time. He continues to be cherished by Hindu masses as one of the greatest in their history. Reverence for him in the world at large has also continued to grow. He is now regarded as a profound thinker on problems created by an industrial civilisation and a hedonistic culture. Hinduism has gained abroad because Gandhi is known as a great Hindu.

On the other hand it must be admitted that the failure which the Mahatma met vis-a-vis the Muslims was truly of startling proportions. Hindu-Muslim unity was a goal which he had pursued with great dedication throughout his life.

Secondly, there must be something very hard in the heart of Islam so that even a man of an oceanic goodwill like Mahatma Gandhi failed to move it. He succeeded with the British by making them feel morally in the wrong. He succeeded with such sections of Hindu society as had nourished some grievances of their own and had tried to turn away from the freedom movement. It was only the Muslims with whom he failed miserably.

There is no doubt that Mahatma Gandhi's failure vis-a-vis Muslims was great and has had grievous consequences. But the failure can be attributed to him only in so for as he was at the helm of affairs during that particular period of Indian history. It is highly doubtful if Hindu society would have been able to prevent partition even if there had been no Mahatma Gandhi. On the other hand there is ample evidence that Hindu society would have failed in any case.
His mistake about Islam does not diminish the lustre of that language which he spoke with full faith and confidence. On the contrary, his mistake carries a message of its own."