Quaid-e-Azam views on Islamic state and ideology of Pakistan?


One controversy over the problem of State and religion in Islam is related to correct views held on this the subject by Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Did he and his colleagues during the movement of Pakistan in 1940s, want to make the promised separate state for Indian Muslims and Islamic state? The controversy was acute in the early 1950s when the first constituent assembly was engaged in framing Pakistan’s first constitution 1956. The controversy over Jinnah’s views on Islamic state is still alive, and we, therefore, would like to examine it in its true perspective and historical background.

Nature and Extent of Islamic State undefined and not clear:

While it is true that leaders of Pakistan movement appealed primarily to the inherent sentiments of people, they did not defined the nature of Islamic state in Pakistan. The reasons are obvious. It might have created dissension and division when unity was needed to achieve Pakistan. This, however, only postponed the controversy. The opponents of an Islamic state maintained that while the leaders relied on Islamic ideals in the struggle to achieve Pakistan, they gave no definite picture of Islamic constitution of Pakistan. Their contention is that the leaders needed religious sentiments to win over the support of the illiterate Muslim masses, but they had no desire to frame an Islamic constitution for Pakistan when it would actually be established. Particularly, the attitude of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself, who was the leader of the movement for Pakistan and is universally recognised as its founder, has been subject of controversy. The opponents of the Islamic state that the Quaid-e-Azam’s ideal was modern national secular state. This claim has received added of importance in view of its acceptance in the report of the court of equity for the Punjab disturbances of 1953. This enquiry was presided over by a former Chief Justice of federal court, Mr M Muneer. Quoting from some speeches of Jinnah, the report makes the conclusion the Quaid-e-Azam said that the new state would be a modern democratic state with sovereignty resting in people, and the members of the new nation would have equal rights of citizenship regardless of all their religion, caste or Creed. The Quaid e Azam’s speech of 11 August 1947 to the constituent assembly of Pakistan has led some people to argue that he was not favourable to the idea of an Islamic state. But a careful analysis of same speech and his other utterances before and after partition convinces one that he had no objection to a state based on the broad principles of Islam. Let us examine his views more closely, as his opinion are still held in that respect and exercise a powerful influence on any issue facing Pakistan. Jinnah, in a speech of 11th August, said

“If you work in corporation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, is first… second and last citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations there will be no end to the progress you will make… we are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state …. I think we should keep that in front as our ideal and 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 personal faith of each individual but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”

What is the spirit of this speech? It was made at time when the whole Indian subcontinent was swayed with communal frenzy; millions of people, both Muslims and Hindus, victims of communal riots. Quaid-e-Azam was stressing communal harmony and peace for the progress of the new nation. He again and again stressed in his memorable speech that there would be no distinction made between Hindus and Muslims on the grounds of religion, caste or creed, but he never said that Islamic principles should not be the guiding factors in the constitution of Pakistan. In fact, he made no reference to the future constitution; he was speaking only against recent communal bitterness between Hindus and Muslims, and said that Hindus would have equality as citizens. Even here he appeal to Islamic ideology. He said that the tolerance and Goodwill that emperor Akbar showed to the non Muslims was not of recent origin; radiated back 13 centuries when the Prophet laid down these principles.

Affirmation of Islamic Nature of Future Constitution

The Quaid e Azam expressed his views on the character of future constitution in another important speech. In a broadcast talk to people of United States in February 1948, he declared:

“The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed by Pakistan’s 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 a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam; Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy; it has taught equality of men, justice and fair play to everybody. We are inheritors of these glorious traditions, and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of future constitution of Pakistan.” But he also emphatically denied that Pakistan would be run by ulema. In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims—Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.

Jinnah’s views on Islamic state are further corroborated by several historical events and documents, and statements. Addressing the Karachi Bar Association on 25th January 1948, on the occasion of 12th Rabbi Ul Awwal, Quaid E Azam said:

“I fail to understand why some people indulge in the mischievous propaganda whether or not the constitution will be in accordance with the Islamic Shariah. Islam today is as much practicable religion as it was 1300 years ago, it is a standard bearer of democracy. It is Islam which guarantees justice, fair play and equal rights to everyone. And the whole world will see that we will frame a constitution in accordance with it.


What do these various utterances of the founder of Pakistan indicate? It seems to us that he was anxious to give Islamic ideology a dynamic interpretation, and to him, making Pakistan and Islamic statement basing it up on Islamic principles, particularly the principles of equality, brotherhood and social Justice. He found these principles of Islam not incompatible with the democratic ideals. What he tried to imply is that Pakistan should not be Islamic and democratic possessing these qualities as two distinct and separate attributes. But that it should be through the democratic process. Islamic democracy becomes an aspect of its Islamicness a part of definition of Islamic state.

The demand for an Islamic state, therefore, has its roots in the Pakistan movement itself and if Pakistani Muslims are asked what kind of country they wish Pakistan to be, the majority of them are likely to answer ‘Islamic’. There is fairly general accord on this.