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.

1 comment:

  1. Some have claimed that Jinnah belonged to the Ahmadiyya faith. The founder of this sect had claimed to be the tenth avatar of Vishnu, as well as the Mahdi.