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Jinnah & Jamia: An Unpleasant Bond

The Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah shared a special relationship in the history of Jamia Millia Islamia. This, unlike the belief of several present-day right-wing organizations, wasn’t based on love and cooperation, but on coldness which was a result of the ideals over which both stood.

Jamia Millia Islamia which was originally formed to serve the Khilafat and the Non-Cooperation Movement took to following the policy of religious universalism and nationalism, following the fall of the two national movements in the early 1920s.

However, the ideology never halted Jamia to maintain healthy relations with several leaders of the opposing approach. For instance, Urdu poet Muhammad Iqbal who pleaded for a Muslim state in northwestern India, way before Jinnah expounded his Two-Nation Theory in 1940, had been a close associate of the institution. Still, Jamia never wavered to be open about their stance.

Mohammad Mujeeb, Jamia’s influential professor who later took over as the university’s Vice-Chancellor identified himself as a ‘nationalist Muslim’ believing that Hindus and Muslims could live with cooperation in one country, an idea in the opposition to the Muslim League. In early 1935, he had a long and interesting discussion, with Iqbal. Mujeeb later recorded that the Urdu giant couldn’t find any reasonable ground for rejecting principles followed by Jamia Millia Islamia; he just maintained his point of view.

Caption: Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his sister Fatima Jinnah arriving at Jamia.
Credits: Jamia’s Premchand Archives and Literary Centre.

Their discussion was entirely free from any bitterness, which later marred every exchange of views between the nationalist and pro-League Muslims in the future. By the 1940s, the communalized rhetoric created ripples in Jamia, and Muslim League and Jinnah as its leader turned openly against it.

Jinnah who had already declared Mahatma Gandhi’s led Warda Scheme was designed to “revive the Hindu religion and establish Hindu Raj in the country”, now along with his colleagues began to identify Jamia with the Gandhian project. Several students and professors of Jamia Biradari, who wore Gandhi caps, became the targets of abuse and ridicule, and it impacted the funds which the institute received from several Muslim organizations. This forced the then Vice-Chancellor of Jamia, Dr. Zakir Husain to change the cap, but the campaign against the institution continued.

In 1946, Jinnah, after hearing from an unreliable source, stated in a gathering, “A large factory for the mass Hinduization of Muslims has been established in Delhi under the very name of the All-India Muslim leaders… I am referring to the so-called Jamia Millia. Dr. Zakir Husain was selected by Gandhi and Co. for carrying out their plan for Hinduizing Muslims, under the supervision of Gandhi, the most astute and cunning hypocrite of all time. The objective of the Jamia Millia is to make Muslims as much Hindu in outlook and in every respect as possible…For example, [young children] are taught the slogan ‘The Muslim League is dead, the Congress is good’. With grown-up Muslim boys, more subtle methods are used. They aim to make their inside Hindu and let their outside remain Muslim…”. He continued, “…But the slow and secret poison of the Jamia Millia Islamia will soon kill Islam and will make every Muslim a mere ‘show boy of the Hindus’. This is the cleverest plot for the destruction of Islam in India”. It can be seen that Jamia was a victim of the propaganda campaign of the League against the nationalist Muslims which had been running by then during that time.

Caption: Muslim League leaders including Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan seated in ‘Dal Badal’ tent at Jamia’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
Credits: Jamia’s Premchand Archives and Literary Centre.

However, despite Jinnah’s open hatred, Dr. Zakir Husain, to mitigate the differences among the opposing groups, along with Congress leaders, invited Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders like Liaquat Ali Khan on the occasion of the institution’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in November 1946, which they accepted. Mohammad Mujeeb conceded that the presence of Jinnah was “due more to the tact and persuasive powers of Dr. Zakir Husain than to any change in the attitude of the League”.

But the things didn’t change much, and on the midnight of 14-15 August 1947, Pakistan was carved out of India on the religious lines. Jinnah, served as the first Governor-General of the country, till his death a year later in 1948, with which the chapter of his ‘relations’ with the Jamia Millia Islamia was officially closed.

Aashish Kochhar is a student pursuing History from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Reda Aamna

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Written by Aashish Kochhar

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