Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jinnah's religion - 5

The quoted piece by Khaled Ahmed, from The Friday Times, Dec. 24, 2010, says that Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada testified to court that Jinnah broke from the sect he was born into in 1901 and converted to Twelver Shiism.   I.H. Ispahani said that "Jinnah had himself told him in 1936 that he and his family had converted to Shiism after his return from England in 1894".

Jinnah's narration of the beliefs of his original sect (Jinnah's religion - 4) must be read in that context.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jinnah's bitterness : Kanji Dwarkadas

In "Ten Years to Freedom" (p 34-35),  Kanji Dwarkadas narrates this story, from 1938 or 1939:

"In order to find out exactly what was passing in Jinnah's mind I went to meet him and asked him what he thought of the political situation.

His answer was amazing.   He said, "What do you mean?  How can you ask me such a question? Do you mean to say that when the British Prime Minister is sitting in his room a French man or a German or a Russian could just walk in and ask him, "What do you think of the political situation?", and do you mean to say the British Prime Minister would reply to that question?"

I told Jinnah that I had not come as a leader or representative of the Hindus or even as a Hindu.  I was just talking to him informally as an old friend and saw no harm in both of us thinking aloud.

To this Jinnah said that he refused to discuss the political situation with any Hindu.

I suggested his talking to Sir Purushottamdas.  He said he would not, because Sir Purushottamdas had no influence on the Hindu opinion.  He said that neither Jawaharlal nor Subhas Bose had any influence but that Gandhiji and Vallabhbhai had a negative influence in the sense that they could do harm and could not and would not do any good.

Evidently all was not well with Jinnah and I told him that bitterness would not help anybody or any cause.  The Congress had rubbed him the wrong way and he would never forgive them for this.   I felt very sorry for Jinnah.  He was a sick and unhappy man, completely isolated and friendless.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Jinnah's religion - 4

In "India's Freedom Movement: Some Notable Figures" (1972), B. Shiva Rao writes of a meeting with Jinnah, that is worth noting.

To set the context:

(p. 56, M.K. Gandhi):  "He was a critic of the home rule movement when it was first inaugurated.  Nevertheless in the following year (1917) when Mrs. Besant was interned for her home rule activities, he seriously suggested a mass march to her place of detention at to her place of detention at Ootacamund to enforce her liberation.   Dr. Subramania Aiyar, to whom the suggestion was first made, was, with his long training as a judge, startled by the novel suggestion; and Lokamanya Tilak and Mr Jinnah, whose advice was sought, regarded it with such sharp disapproval that it was quietly abandoned.
(p. 81, Dr. S. Subramania Aiyar): "Gandhiji called on Subramania Aiyar shortly after Mrs. Besant's internment and made a proposal which struck him as startlingly novel.  He would walk to Ootacamund, he told the retired judge, with a crowd of volunteers which would swell en route to enormous proportions and quietly ask her to break the internment order.  Subramania Aiyar suggested to some of us who met him almost daily that consultations with Lokamanya Tilak and Jinnah, the latter at that time the president of the Home Rule League in Bombay, would be desirable, since his own reactions were not in favour of Gandhiji's proposal.  
Two of us went to Bombay to discuss the proposal with Jinnah and for the first time I had a glimpse of Lokamanya Tilak at close quarters.   There were present in Jinnah's house (apart from Tilak) Horniman, Syud Hosain, Jamnadas Dwarkadas, Kanji Dwarkadas, Omer Sobhani and Shankarlal Banker.  Tilak considered Gandhiji's suggestion impracticable, and Jinnah agreed with the general view of the others present that a mass movement of the kind Gandhiji had in mind could not possibly succeed.
 Note: Mrs. Annie Besant was interned June 15 - September 16, 1917. This sets the bounds on the time period.

Now the substance:
(p. 125, M. A. Jinnah) With Jinnah in his first phase I had intimate contacts going back to 1917, when I went to see him for the first time in his Bombay home to seek his advice: he was then the President of the Home Rule League in Bombay.  Mrs. Besant was in internment at Ootacamund for her home rule activities and Gandhiji was contemplating a march of volunteers from Madras—a distance of 350 miles—to enforce her release.

Jinnah called a few friend to his house for a discussion: Tilak, Horniman, Syed Hussain, Jamnadas Dwarkadas, Omar Sobhani and Shankerlal Banker (apart from myself).  Tilak was a little late in coming, and Jinnah utilised the time to explain to Horniman that the sect among the Muslims to which he belonged believed in the ten Avataaras and had much in common with Hindus in their inheritance laws and social customs.   The main point of discussion—Gandhiji's proposal—took little time.  Tilak promptly rejected it as impracticable and Jinnah and Horniman agreed with that view.
Jinnah, originally a Khoja, is supposed to have converted to Twelver Shi'ism at some point in his life.

As far as I know, there is no study of Jinnah's changing religious beliefs and its possible influence on his political views.   It is buried both by lack of documents and also the dogma that Jinnah was a secularist.  It is hard to reconcile a belief in the ten Avataaras and his utterances on the two nation theory.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jinnah's secular past?

From bharat-rakshak forum,  sadhana writes:

Re change in Jinnah after 1920

One cause of change in Jinnah was probably British government's allocation of Central Legislative Assembly seats in the 1919 Montford reforms for India.

In 1909 Muslims were allotted 5 of 27 elected seats, according to Ambedkar's book. (Wolpert says 8 of 28 nonofficial seats).

In 1919 Muslims were alloted 52 of 104 elected seats, ie 50%.

So Muslim politicians went from being a minority of the elected Indians in the Central Assembly to equal in number to the other Indians elected.

From Ambedkar's Pakistan or the Partition of India:

Central Assembly seats

Nominated + ex officio = 41
Elected General = 22
Elected Muslims = 5 (Wolpert quotes this number as being 8 of 28 non-official)
Total = 68

Elected General = 52
Elected Muslims = 52
Nominated members = 41
Total 145

Percentage of Muslims to total population was approx 24%
The proportion of seats to total granted to elected Muslims in 1919 was 36% with elected non-Muslims also at 36%.

In short, between 1909 to 1919, Muslims moved to centre-stage as bulwarks of the official/nominated bloc in the Central  Assembly. A Muslim politician would get the signal that would be more worthwhile to advocate to the British than to other nationalists.

Incidentally, in the 1935 Government of India Act, the proportions granted in the Central Assembly were not very different:

General+SC 105 (SC=19, General=86)
Muslim 82
Others 63 (Sikhs 6, Christians 8, AngloIndian 4, Europeans 8, Landlords 7,labour 10, industry 11,women 9)
Total 250 ... /411a.html ... /411b.html ... 15app.html

Those provincial assemblies elected in 1937 which had elected Hindu majorities, Jinnah and Muslim League rejected within 3 months.

IOW, unless I am mistaken, Jinnah the great nationalist never in his lifetime had to accept the legitimacy of an elected Hindu majority government(ie government responsible to an elected Hindu majority legislature) whether in the provinces or at the centre.