Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jinnah's religion - 6

This May 9, 1998 report at is at variance with the Khaled Ahmed piece quoted before.

Was Jinnah a Shia or Sunni?

Which sect of Islam did Mohammad Ali Jinnah belong to, Shia or Sunni?

Though it is commonly believed he was a Shia, Khaled Akhtar, a Communist, has evidence that the Quaid-e-Azam converted and became a Sunni later.

After Jinnah's death in September 1948, his sister Fatima and then prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan had jointly filed a petition in the Karachi high court describing Jinnah as a ''Shia Khoja Mohammedan'' and sought that his will may be executed under the Shia inheritance law. Again, when Fatima died in 1967, another sister Shirin Bai claimed her property under the Shia law.

But this claim was contested in 1970 by Hussain Ali Ganji Walji in the high court. He maintained that both Jinnah and his sister were Sunnis and hence the property be disposed of in accordance with the Sunni inheritance law.

Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, who appeared as a witness in the case, said that in 1901 Jinnah broke from the Ismaili Shia faith and became a Sunni when his sisters married Sunnis. This may have been a result of the disapprobation expressed by the Ismaili community.

In February 1970, the court rejected the joint affidavit of Fatima Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan which claimed Jinnah was a Shia. By then Fatima Jinnah had already died.

But in December 1976, the court rejected Ganji Walji's plea against Shirin Bai's claim on Fatima's property under the Shia law. Which effectively meant the court had accepted the Jinnah family as Shia.

A high court bench reversed this verdict in December 1984. Now the court maintained that ''while the Quaid (Jinnah) was definitely not a Shia, the issue whether Fatima Jinnah was a Shia or not was also now open to for further inquiry''. Which suggested that Jinnah was a Sunni.

In the 1965 presidential election, Fatima Jinnah, who was pitted against President Ayub Khan, used the Shia card in Shia majority areas.


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