Did Jinnah want Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy?

  • Did Jinnah want Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy?

Here it is worth pointing out that the word secular was never used by Jinnah to describe his Pakistan. Even when he was asked directly if he wanted Pakistan to be a secular or a theocratic state while he was clear that it will not be a theocratic state he was evasive on it being a secular state. So as to the first question we can say that he wanted Pakistan to be a modern democracy yet would not call it a secular democracy. However here we must pause for a second and ask what exactly is a secular state? A secular state is neutral in matters of religion and neither supports not opposes any particular set of religious beliefs or practices. As Professor Hoodbhoy puts it so well it is about creating a level playing field for citizens of every religious belief and practice. So when Jinnah repeatedly insisted that all citizens of Pakistan regardless of their religion would be considered equal was it any different from this definition of a secular state? Even if he did not use the word secular what he was describing was a secular state and in my opinion he avoided the word secular due to the silly misconception prevalent among a large section of Muslims that a secular state is an anti-religion and anti-Islam state where their religion will be banned.

  • Did Jinnah want Pakistan to be an Islamic State?

Here the answer has to be yes for he repeatedly said so. However, we must ask what exactly did he understand is an Islamic state? Is it a state where all laws are framed as in Sharia and Quran as they were 1300 years ago? If that is what he wanted then why was he so vehemently opposed to Pakistan being a theocracy? For who would be ideal to lead a country to be run on 1300 years old religious laws but our Maulanas who are experts in this? Why would Maulana Maudodi, the most prominent scholar advocating a country run on the Islamic system oppose Jinnah calling him Kafir-a-Azam and his baby Na-Pakistan if what Jinnah was doing was creating such an Islamic state?

I am afraid the truth is that whatever some people would like to infer from Jinnah’s words he never wanted a country run on established Sharia as it was known then and is known now. I am sure my learned friend and outstanding scholar of Pakistan history Professor Istiaq will disagree with me for he refers to a letter by Jinnah to Pir of Manki Sharif promising Sharia law in Pakistan, well I have seen that letter myself and it did not say anything like that though Professor sahib tells me there was another letter which was clearly for Islami Nizam but I have not seen it so cannot accept it as evidence without thorough scrutiny.

Yes Jinnah did want Pakistan to be an Islamic state, for to expect a country where 80-90% population is Muslim to be anything else would have sounded a bit silly. However it is quite clear and demonstrated by him for example when child marriage bill was being debated that Jinnah did not believe any law, even if it was considered divine, to be unchangeable in line with human development after discussion. In other words, while Jinnah was quite clear that the Islamic principles will be used in how Pakistan develops he made no promises that every Sharia law will be enforced in Pakistan regardless of how primitive and barbaric it looks to be in the light of modern human thought process.


About ayyubkulla

Ex Army Officer, NWFP UET'88, Civil Engineer, 3D Modelling, BIM and IFC from FHNW . Liberal religious views. All out to serve motherland.
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