Quaid-E-Azam, The great leader

By: | Muhammad Ali Azlan |



Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was one of the greatest Muslim personalities of the sub-continent. He was a recognized leader of one hundred million Muslims of the subcontinent.

His political life spread over many decades which had assured the Muslim of India of his astuteness, sincerity, courage audacity, perseverance and his proficiency in the political arena.

For about ten years till his death, the Muslims of India used to think through his mind, look through his eyes, feel through his heart and act accordingly of course, Jinnah was not only the creator of Pakistan, he was Pakistan embodied.


There is no doubt that he altered the direction of the stream of history. The freedom of the subcontinent initiated the fall of the great British Empire. The doors of freedom which were closed for the Third World for many centuries started opening on the emergence of Pakistan. Imperialism had to pack up and depart from  most of the countries, spreading from Indonesia to Algeria.

The Afghan war, the independence of the Russian Muslim states as a consequence of the defeat and disintegration of Russia, the establishment of the Independent state of Bosnia in Europe, the struggle of Palestine and Chechnya and the steadfastness of the Mujahdeen in Kashmir, all had received light from the same sun.

The subcontinent had to be divided into two independent states, India and Pakistan, on 15th August 1947. The Quaid-e-Azam, under whose leadership the Muslims had succeeded in achieving Pakistan and thus establishing a new independent Islamic State, left Delhi by air and reached Karachi on August 7. Thousands of his admirers greeted him with great enthusiasm at the airport.

From the airport to the Government House, hundreds of thousands of people were standing on the roads and sidewalks, there was an outpouring of love and emotion, the people were raising slogans of love and admiration for their beloved Quaid and there Independent state, Pakistan.

People were keen to catch a glimpse of the man whose determination had rivaled the heights of galaxies, who had won the political war against the British and the Hindus, who had cut off two hundred year old chains of slavery and had led the Muslims to a domain of freedom and independence. Now, the entire nation was all anxiously awaiting his arrival, the ‘great leader’ Quaid e Azam.


After reaching the Government House, walking up the steps of the building, Jinnah turned to naval Lieutenant Ahsan of his staff and said: “I never expected to see Pakistan in my lifetime. We have to be very grateful to God for what we have achieved.”

On 25th December 1876, the first child of Jinnah Poonja was born in Karachi and was named Mohammad Ali . As his father’s name was Jinnah, he was, later on, called Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Who could imagine that this child when grown up would establish a new country and be remembered as one of the greatest leaders who ever lived.

Emibai Jinnah was born in 1878 in Karachi.

When she was 14 years of age, Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mother Mithibai Jinnah urged her son Muhammad Ali to marry his cousin Emibai.

Jinnah gave in to his mother’s wishes and married Emibai at Paneli Village, both tying the knot at a very early age.

Shortly after the wedding, Muhammad Ali Jinnah left for England to engage in higher academic studies, and a few months later Emibai died.

Jinnah sailed for England in January 1893. In 1896, after becoming a barrister at the young age of 20 he returned to Delhi.

Affected by this tragedy, it was 25 years before Jinnah chose to marry again.

He came back to India, his wife and mother had died and the family business had been ruined. His father was of the opinion that his son should work as a Junior in the office of a flourishing advocate of Karachi but the young barrister had made up his mind to try his luck in Bombay. Consequently, he sailed for Bombay. He took a room on long term basis at the Apollo Hotel in Bombay and got his name enrolled in the Bombay High Court.

His sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, writes: He was an extremely attractive young man, tall, of commanding personality, a pair of small but penetrating eyes that bespoke of a shrewd intellect, a face with a sharp Grecian profile, long limbs, impeccably dressed, with the bearing and poise of a born leader of men. Nature had endowed him with charm and personality. But he was only twenty. How many clients will come to such a young barrister? However, when the irksome months lengthened into three agonizing years, he felt really miserable: still never expressing his grief. At last, he was appointed as a temporary Presidency Magistrate for six months. During this period, he established a very good reputation. He was then offered a better judicial service. But he declined on the plea that very soon he would be earning in a day more than his monthly salary. And he did it!


Jinnah’s first wife had died while he was still in England. Sir Dinshaw Petit, a proud, self-confident Parsi, was one of Jinnah’s friends. He had a daughter named Ruttenbai, usually addressed as Rutti. She was an enchanting girl, lively, witty and full of ideas and jokes. Forty one year old Jinnah who had never had a chance for a romantic love became enchanted by her and she was equally captivated. Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Ruttie Jinnah wed at the Jamia Mosque in Bombay in 1918, she had defied her wealthy Parsi family and he had taken on the onerous mantle of having to defend tying the knot to a woman who had not been born a Muslim. Like all couples that defy their families to make a life of their own, they thought they would make it. She became Muslim and took the name Maryam. He gave her free reign to his money and his means; both undoubtedly believed they were meeting each other half way. Reserved and resolute, he tried to open up a bit more, precocious and outspoken she tried to reign herself in just a bit. Compromise after all was the key to put longevity into love.


When Sir Dinshaw knew of it, he was furious. He advised his daughter to give up the idea of marrying Jinnah but she was determined. Disappointed by her attitude, he went to a court. Legally, she could not marry of her own accord till she was eighteen. Her father therefore took out an injunction forbidding Jinnah to see her. They had no alternative but to wait. When she was eighteen, she embraced Islam. She was renamed as Maryam but remained known as Rutti. On 19 April 1918, an announcement appeared in the daily The Statesman that “Miss Ruttenbai, only daughter of Sir Dinshaw Petit, yesterday underwent conversion to Islam and is to-day to be married to the Hon. Mr. M. A. Jinnah”.

After marriage, Rutti moved into her husband’s house with her books, her ornaments, and her multitude of pretty dresses.

Bolitho writes: “The first exciting weeks passed in pleasure and harmony: she changed the complexion of his house and office. When he came home, she waited, eager for him to see the jade figure she had bought during her idle day, and placed on a window-sill so that it caught and multiplied the sunlight coming in from the garden. But the old friends called and interrupted them with talk of politics that did not amuse her: she had to listen to their long stories when she wished to be out.”

On the other hand, Kanji Dwarkadas writes that, after marriage Jinnah had no separate existence away from his wife. He had even resigned from the Orient Club where he used to play chess and billiards.


His only daughter Dina Jinnah was born on 15 August 1919. She was only nine and a half year old when her mother died. Except during his stay in England where Jinnah had got her admitted to a school, she was brought up by her maternal grandfather’s family. Thus she was living in an entirely non-Islamic environment.

Against the will of Jinnah, she married a rich Parsi, Neville Wadia. Thereupon, Jinnah almost disassociated himself from her daughter and later on seldom met her throughout his life. However, sometimes she would write him a letter and occasionally receive a reply. On the death of her father, she came to Pakistan and attended his funeral.

In 1921, at a lunch party, Mrs. Jinnah was talking to Lord Reading, the Indian Viceroy. He said: Mrs. Jinnah, I cannot tell you how much I wish to go to Germany! But, alas, I cannot go there. Mrs. Jinnah asked: Your Excellency, How is it so? Reading said: This is because the Germans do not like us. Mrs. Jinnah would never miss an opportunity. She said: Oh, but then how did you come to India? Lord Reading could only toss about in anguish.

Jinnah was a man of taste, in his dresses, his style of living as well as in the selection of the sites and architectural designs of his bungalows, and their decor. He fancied light colours and mostly wore cream, beige or light grey suits or sherwanis. After independence, on official functions he was invariably attired in a white or a cream coloured sherwani and a Jinnah cap but wore suits for his day to day office work and on informal occasions. He used a ‘monocle’ on his eye for reading.

On 23 March 1940, the Muslim League in its meeting held in Lahore and presided over by the Quaid Azam, formally demanded the division of India. Lahore Resolution, later on called Pakistan Resolution, was the basis for the establishment of an independent state for the Muslims.

On 26 July 1943, there was an attack on Quaid-e-Azam’s life. He exhibited great determination and presence of mind at that time.

A stranger came to his residence and talked to his Secretary and expressed his desire to see the Quaid, The Secretary told him that the Quaid was a very busy person and it was not possible to see him without getting an appointment. If he gives in writing the purpose of his interview, he would try to obtain a date and time from the Quaid and communicate his decision to him.

Just then, by chance, Jinnah entered the office of his Secretary, as he wanted to obtain a particular file from him, upon seeing the Quaid, the visitor started demanding in a loud voice that he must have a talk with him for a few minutes. The Quaid politely told him that he was too busy that day and he may get an appointment from his Secretary. Thereupon, the visitor drew out a knife concealed in his pocket, and rushed to stab the Quaid.

Jinnah raised his hand to avert the blow. Nonetheless, before the visitor could be overpowered by the Secretary and the watchman, he succeeded in inflicting injuries on the Quaid’s face and neck. Police was summoned on the telephone and the criminal was handed over to them. The investigations revealed that his name was Mohammad Rafiq Sabir and he was a Khaksar.

The case was proceeded against him for the murderous attack on the Quaid and the Court sentenced him to five years’ rigorous imprisonment. The Muslims of India were extremely shocked on the murderous attack on their greatest leader and thanked God that his life had been saved. In 1946, when the Quaid-e-Azam was on his tour of Assam, the President of the Assam Muslim League, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, called on him at Sylhet. Isphahani was also present.

He writes: “Bhashani started weeping bitterly as he narrated the sufferings of Assam Muslims at the hands of Hindus. I also could hardly suppress my tears. The same evening when the Quaid-e-Azam was alone in his room, I went in to speak to him. I told him how deeply I was impressed by the sincerity of the provincial President, adding that if we had more enthusiastic Presidents like him in all the provinces of India, the Muslim League would, indeed, be a stronger and much more active political organisation. Jinnah told Ispahani that he did not agree with his opinion. He thought that men like Bhashani were not fit to be leaders. “Sentimental nonsense and emotion have no place in politics”, he said. “Politics, my boy, is a game of chess and evils cannot be cured by tears but only by hard work, courage and determination. This man may be a good preacher and may draw tears from his audience but he is not a good leader, particularly in times of crisis when the head has to be kept cool and the eyes dry to see clearly and to arrive at decisions”. He ended by saying that he did not consider the Maulana fit to be the president of a political organisation like the Muslim League and sooner the League freed itself of his leadership and of men of his temperament, the better it would be.”

Jinnah’s temperament was such that no one could come very close to him. He was never free with anyone. Sometimes there was a feeling that he had no desire to make friends or influence people.

He always advocated greater freedom to women and encouraged them to do social work  when they were able to find time, without neglecting their domestic duties and responsibilities for their children. His sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, accompanied him to most of the public meetings and was seated near him on the dais. His honesty was proverbial. In the last days of 1936, Allama Iqbal said in one of his majalis that, “God had granted him a quality which I had not seen in any Indian Muslim: He is incorruptible and un-purchaseable.”


He was one of the best lawyers of the country. He was extraordinarily brilliant and used to explain his point of view in the court by oratory based on law as well as facts. His way of presentation was unique and he had no parallel even in this respect. His approach towards the legal problems was scientific and straightforward. His forensic abilities have been praised by eminent lawyers and judges.

Patrick Spens, the last Chief Justice of undivided India, paid the following tribute to Jinnah: “The tallness of the man, the immaculate manner in which he turned out, the beauty of his features and the extreme courtesy with which he treated all; no one could have made a more favourable impression than he did. There is no man or woman living who imputes anything against his honour or his honesty. He was the most outright person that I know.”

In 1927, Carim Chagla said: “Jinnah was a pure artist in the manner and method of presentation. Even the most complex facts became simple and obvious when he waived his wand over them. — He had common sense, that most uncommon of qualities, in an uncommon degree. He also expressed the following view: Jinnah was a superb advocate — What impressed me most was the lucidity of his thought and expression — Jinnah was absolutely impeccable in his professional etiquette.”

Sir Stafford Cripps spoke of him as a most accomplished lawyer. “In the court, Jinnah was very polite and courteous. But on an aggressive attitude by a judge or an opposite counsel, he would become devastating. His satire was as penetrating as a sword. The wound was always very deep and ordinarily would never heal.”

On 12 April 1942, the Muslim University, Aligarh decided to confer an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on the Quaid-e-Azam. Dr. Ziauddin Ahmad, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, informed the Quaid about it. While appreciating the spirit which had actuated the University to take this decision, he regretted his inability to accept it as “I have lived as plain Mr. Jinnah and I hope to die as plain Mr. Jinnah.” The University requested him to reconsider his decision as his non-acceptance will be a great disappointment. Further, “the inclusion of your name among the recipients of honorary degree will be a great honour to the University.” However, the Quaid did not concede to the request.

The Quaid-e-Azam visited Aligarh on 2 November 1942. It appeared as if the entire city had thronged the railway station. A horse-carriage was arranged to bring him from the station to the place where he had to stay. The students untied the horses of the carriage and, as a token of great love and respect for him, pulling the carriage themselves brought it to his temporary residence. A meeting was arranged in the Stretchy Hall under the auspices of the Students Union. According to the Constitution of the Union, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor is the President of the Union. Professor Halim, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, therefore, presided over the function. In his welcome speech, addressing the Quaid-e-Azam, he said: “Sir, I have a relation with you. I am teaching history these days while you are creating history.”

On 8th March 1944, the Quaid-e-Azam visited Aligarh University and made the historical statement that, “Pakistan had come into existence the very day the first Hindu in India had embraced Islam.” The basis of Muslim nationality is neither country nor race but faith in the unity of God. When the first person in India became Muslim, he did not remain a member of the previous nation. He became a member of a separate nation and a new nation came into existence in India.


Mian Ata Rabbani who, on behalf of the Air Force, was the first Aide-de-Camp of the Governor-General of Pakistan, writes: “He was a small eater. — Breakfast was his favourite meal when he would take one scrambled or three quarter boiled egg and one, or sometimes, one and a half toast with a little butter. He would eat half a slice with egg and the other half with honey or marmalade. He liked siri-paya and enjoyed having these at breakfast once or twice a month. The Quaid-e-Azam was also fond of mangoes and particularly relished Alphansos. He was not fond of curries and preferred dry continental type food with bread. He would also have a piece of naan at lunch.”

On 13 April 1948, when the Quaid-e-Azam visited the Air Force Flying School, then on the advice of Ata Rabbani, who by that time had gone back to Air Force, siri-paya were served to him. The Quaid was pleased. Miss Jinnah smilingly remarked: Rabbani, so you have been disclosing home secrets.

He was not keeping good health during the last ten years of his life. However, he continued to work hard. Once, when Fatima Jinnah emphasised that he should take some rest, he said: “Have you ever heard of a General taking a holiday when his army is fighting for its very survival on a battlefield?”

Fatima Jinnah always took care of his great brother. On 9 August 1947, on the occasion of a dinner given in his honour by Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah at the Karachi Club, the Quaid, at the end of his speech, paid a well-deserved tribute to her sister.

He said : “Miss Fatima Jinnah is a constant source of help and encouragement to me. In the days when I was expecting to be taken as a prisoner by the British Government, it was my sister who encouraged me, and said hopeful things when revolution was staring me in the face. Her constant care is about my health.”

His political life, extended over a period of 42 years, It is a unique depiction of continuous struggle, unshaken determination, splendid discipline, unparalleled honesty, extraordinary intelligence and natural quality of leadership.

It has been rightly said that he was so astute that he could not be deceived, he was so brave that he could neither be frightened nor threatened, and he was so honest that he could not be purchased.

He died on 11th September 1948. The next day, after leading the Janaza prayers of the founder of Pakistan, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, paying tributes to the Quaid-e-Azam, said: “After the death of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir, the subcontinent has not produced such a great Muslim whose untottering faith and firm will had transformed the desperation of hundred million Muslims into a great success, May his soul rest in peace.”


The writer tweets @MuhammadAliAzlan



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