Quaid-i-Azam and Islam

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In the recent past, once again, a small group of Secularists has become vocal and pleads that Pakistan salvation lies in Secularism. In order to get legitimacy they try to prove that Quaid-i-Azam was secular and wanted Pakistan to be a secular state. Their main argument is based on a part of the speech delivered by the Quaid on August 11, 1947, in which he said; Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and that you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in political sense as citizen of the state. Almost all of them omit the first part of the statement in which he talked about ideal and start with in course of time without mentioning that the quotation does not start from here. This is not fair.

The question arises what was the ideal which Quaid-i-Azam wanted to keep in front. In the same speech he said; We are starting with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state. The principle is quite in accord with the Islamic teachings and traditions. In the Charter of Madina the Prophet (S.A.W) gave equal rights to the Jews. Does it means that the State of Madina was a Secular state? Similarly the Prophet (S.A.W) in the Charter given to the Christians of Najran explicitly assured them that there shall be no interference with their faith or their observances, nor change in the rights and privileges.

It should be noted that the Quaid made these remarks to assure the non-Muslims living in Pakistan that they will have equal rights and privileges. Moreover, it was not for the first time that he gave this assurance to the non-Muslims. Addressing the Punjab Muslim League Conference on November 18, 1942 he assured the religious minorities that their rights would be fully safeguarded according to the injunctions from highest authority, namely Quran, that a minority must be treated justly and fairly. How could a secular person consider Quran as highest authority?

It is pertinent to note that Quaid-i-Azam made distinction between the Islamic and western concepts of democracy, justice, liberty, fraternity and equality. He either prefixed Islam with the term or qualified by saying as enjoined by Islam. i.e. Addressing the officers and men of the 5th Heavy Ack Ack and 6th Light Ack Ack Regiments in Malir on February 21, 1948, He said; You have fought many a battle on the far-flung battle fields of the globe to rid the world of the Fascist menace and make it safe for democracy. Now you have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and equality of manhood in your own native soil.

Justice demands that evaluation of a person should be made in totality. Emphasis on a single mutilated statement without taking into consideration what he said before and after, to say the least, is not honesty and more so is not expected of the so called intellectuals.

Quaid-i-Azam concept of Islam can be best understood from the letter he wrote to Gandhi in 1944. The letter reads; The Quran is a complete code of life. It provides for all matters, religious or social, civil or criminal, military or penal, economic or commercial. It regulates every act, speech and movement from the ceremonies of religion to those of daily life, from the salvation of the soul to the health of the body; from the rights of all to those of each individual, from punishment here to that in the life to come.

Quaid-i-Azam perception of the purpose of the establishment of Pakistan is clearly explained in his address to the Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force officers on October 11, 1947 at Karachi. He Said; The establishment of Pakistan for which we have been striving for the last ten years is, by the grace of God, an established fact today, but the creation of a State of our own was means to an end and not the end in itself. The idea was that we should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find freeplay.

In his broadcast talk to the people of the United States of America in February 1948 he said; The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fairplay to everybody.

In his speech at Sibbi Darbar on February 14, 1948 he said; It is my belief that our salvation lies in following the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great law giver, the Prophet of Islam. Let us lay the foundation of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideals and principles. Our Almighty has taught us that our decisions in the affairs of the State shall be guided by discussions and consultations.

In his last public address on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the State Bank of Pakistan on July 1, 1948 he said; “I shall watch with keenness the work of your Research Organization in evolving banking practices compatible with Islamic ideals of social and economic life. The economic system of the West has created almost insoluble problems for humanity and to many of us it appears that only a miracle can save it from disaster that is now facing the world. It has failed to do justice between man and man and to eradicate friction from the international field. On the contrary, it was largely responsible for the two world wars in the last half century. The Western world, in spite of its advantages of mechanization and industrial efficiency is today in a worse mess than ever before in history. The adoption of Western economic theory and practice will not help us in achieving our goal of creating a happy and contented people. We must work our destiny in our own way and present to the world an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice. We will thereby be fulfilling our mission as Muslims and giving to humanity the message of happiness and prosperity of mankind.

Quaid-i-Azam took note of the people who had doubts about the practicality of the Islamic Principles in a modern state. Addressing the lawyers of Karachi on January 25, 1948, he said; He could not understand a section of the people who deliberately wanted to create mischief and made propaganda that the Constitution of Pakistan would not be made on the basis of Shariat … Islamic principles today are as applicable to life as they were 1,300 years ago … Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrines. Islam is also a code for every Muslim which regulates his life and his conduct even in politics and economics and the like.