May 6, 2014 By A.K ABDUL MAJEED


jinnahQaed-e-A’zam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who learned the alphabet of politics at the feet of Dadabhai Naroji and was gently initiated to the altar of Indian politics by a giant political seer Gopala Krishna Gokhale was admirably sung as the “Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity” by Sarojini Naidu, the nightingale of India.But, later he was treated as the fallen angel.

People now speak all harrowing things about Jinnah. He has been portrayed as a hardcore communalist who uncompromisingly bargained for his pound of flesh never minding the cost of human lives during the course of operation.

In the post independent India the name of Jinnah was a taboo. Muslims were branded as the descendants of that “crooked, stubborn, obstinate” advocate of the devils. The praises conferred on him by Ghokhale and Sarojinin Naidu were things of the past which have no relevance in the present context at all. The very mention of his name attracted contempt and disdain.


For me, as for many in my generation, this was a brainteaser. That motivated me to study his life from as many sources as possible and piece together various shards, which, went into the biography of Qaed-e-A’zam in Malayalam.

Since I was commissioned to write the political biography by Other Books I started to read whatever comes my way on this much hated historic persona. My table was burdened with a heap of books published in India, Pakistan and Europe about ‘the sole spokesman of Pakistan’. By the time I started my work L.K. Advani, the supremo of the BJP had caused a stir in our political atmosphere by praising Jinnah while he was paying a visit to Jinnah Mausoleum at Karachi in his erstwhile hometown. Another BJP veteran Mr. Jaswant Singh, later, brought out a huge volume on Jinnah in which he acquitted him of the sole responsibility of dividing the nation. While I was busy with writing my book a friend of mine who landed from Saudi Arabia a few days back called on me. He was amazed to see the books of Jinnah on my table.

Why are there all these books about Jinnah?” He wondered.

I revealed my intention to write a book on Jinnah in Malayalam.

Why do you write the story of that bloody fellow? Isn’t it he who brought all these calamities to our country?” He asked.

“I am not a man to judge any one. Firstly I wanted to know who he really was. And secondly I wanted to tell my readers what I learned.” I explained my stand.

But why Jinnah? Why don’t you write about Gandhi or Nehru?”

See”, I tried to pull myself together, “There are enough books in Malayalam about Gandhiji and Nehru. Can you point out a single book about Jinnah in our language?”

I am not worried about it”, my expatriate friend continued, “As far as I understand, Jinnah was a power monger. He wisely used religion as political weapon to gain what he wanted.”

I was also under the same impression till I read Wolpert, Aysha Jalal, Jaswant Singh etc.” I said.

May be…. But I can’t see any logic in writing books on Jinnah. At least you have to think of your safety…..By the way……..”

My friend didn’t want to continue the conversation. He turned to other subjects. This friend of mine represents the educated middle class of our society. Nothing can shatter the pre-conceived image they carry about historic figures.

Historians, as recorders of events, are not impartial when they draw the pen-pictures of political figures of their time. At times they take part in political campaigning for reasons only known to them. Factors beyond history play crucial role in depicting historic figures. They find it hard to divorce their prejudice in narrating and valuing incidents. Some even tried to black out the early years of Jinnah’s political career as they feared it would contradict the statements they made about him. It seemed that the developments of 1940 to 1947 and the subsequent Partition of India had a backwash on the pre forties – or rather spectacularly secular- portrayal of Jinnah’s character. The strong emotions prevailed in that tense period are still at work. So deep are the wounds of Partition.

In a sober analysis we find Mountbatten, the British viceroy and the three powerful Indian politicians namely Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Muhammed Ali Jinnah can be seen as equally responsible for the creation of Pakistan. Jaswant Singh says in his book that Nehru’s centralized policy was responsible for partition, and that Jinnah was portrayed as a demon by India for the partition. Singh continues:”…Jinnah did not win Pakistan, as the Congress leaders – Nehru and Patel finally conceded Pakistan to Jinnah, with the British acting as an ever helpful midwife,” (Page 669). Nehru and Patel wanted to get rid of Jinnah from the political arena at any cost. The political ambitions of this trio were instrumental in dividing a nation into two. Each leader had their fish to fry. Jinnah had genuine concerns about the political future of Muslims in a Hindu Majority India. The bitter experiences he had from the hard and soft communal leaders of the Congress forced him to take up the demand for a separate nation for Muslims though he had overruled it once.

Was Jinnah religious?

M.C. Chagla who worked with Jinnah at the bar of Bombay High Court gives us a negative shade.

But there are people who fight all such accusations tooth and nail.

The real Jinnah remains elusive in the maze of conflicting views put forward by Jinnah Pundits.

Personally, I love to see Jinnah as a Shakespearian tragic hero. Jinnah had so much adored the Shakespearean plays. Had he not been initiated into politics he would have become a gifted actor who gives flesh and blood to King Lear, Hamlet and Othello on stage. But the inexorable fate assigned him the role to play in real life.

(AK Abdul Majeed is a writer and translator in Kerala. He has written the first Malayalam biography of Qaed-e-Azam)

Write to him at

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