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Secularism and the Quaid
Political Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


The debate that whether Pakistan had been created in the name of Islam or its founders had intended to establish in it a secular democracy has been going on here ever since its creation. In this regard, the Quaid's speech in the Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947 is often presented as evidence on the fact that his intentions were to establish a secular Pakistan. Since this speech of the Quaid has unfortunately been misinterpreted by friends and foes alike, we present here our analysis of it.

However, before analyzing the speech, two basic premises must clearly be understood.

Firstly, as far as non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic State are concerned, they are not of just one category as is generally thought. According to the Qur’ān and Sunnah, they are of two categories: (i) Mu`aahids ie, those have come under an Islamic State on account of a treaty with it, and (ii) Zimmees ie, those who have come under an Islamic State on account of being subdued in a battle.

Secondly, keeping in view these two categories, there is one major distinction which must be kept in consideration while dealing with them. As far as the Zimmees are concerned, the Sharī’ah requires that they must live as subordinates in an Islamic State and pay Jizya to it. However, in case of the Mu`aahids, the Sharī’ah permits an Islamic state to conclude a treaty with them on whatever terms it deems proper and can even treat them equally with the Muslims politically by accepting for them all the rights which Muslims citizens are given by the Sharī’ah on the condition that the Mu`aahids, as faithful citizens, accept the superiority of the Sharī’ah at the state level. Consequently, the Prophet (sws), in his own times, concluded a similar treaty with the Jews of Medinah. In this document, which came to be known as "The Meesaaq-i-Medina" the Jews acknowledge the superiority of the Sharī’ah by caccepting Allah and His Prophet (sws) as the final authority in all differences of opinion. By virtue of this treaty, the Jews, as Mu`aahids, were granted equal rights of citizenship  in the state of Medinah:

"The Jews of Bani Auf are politically accepted as a single nation with the Muslims. As far as religion is concerned, the Jews shall remain on their religion and the Muslims and their allies on their own." ("Asserat-un-Nabaviyyah", Ibni Hashshaam, Vol 2, Pg 322)

Now, in the light of these two premises, consider the status of the non-Muslims who became citizens of Pakistan at its birth. It is clear that they were not subdued in a battle; therefore, they cannot be regarded as Zimmees. On the other hand, they agreed to live in this country of their own free will knowing full well its ideological status. They were well aware that at if they were to live as its citizens, they would have to accept the superiority of the Sharī’ah because the Quaid had unequivocally declared: `The Qur’ān shall be the constitution of this state', and `we have not demanded Pakistan merely as a piece of land for the Muslims; we intend to make it a testing? place for the implementation of Islam'.

It was this status of the non-Muslims which the Quaid as the founder of Pakistan and the leader of the Muslims of the sub-continent announced on 11th August 1947 in the Constituent Assembly. It was neither a statement concerning the secular nature of a state nor a statement annulled by subsequent statements. It was something which was in direct accordance with the Sharī’ah as regards the position of the non-Muslims of the newly founded state. It said:

" ... Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in the course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of an Islamic Sate."

It is evident that this part of the Quaid's speech actually means that there shall be no discrimination between the citizens of Pakistan on the basis of religion. The words `because that is the personal faith of each individual' have not be said in the context of deciding the religion of a state; the context, is clear, concerns the rights of Muslim minorities as such these words mean that an individual's personal faith must not become the basis some special treatment by the state. Consequently, in the light of these terms of the treaty, the non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan are liable to accept the supremacy of the Sharī’ah at the State level and not to challenge this status and in return the state of Pakistan is committed to accept them as politically equal to the Muslims as long as they remain faithful to this country and abide by the terms of the treaty concluded with them.

This, according to our view, is the correct meaning of the Quaid's speech. The remarkable similarity between its words and the relevant portion of the "Mesaaq-i-Medina" shows that the Quaid was well versed with the political injunctions of the Islamic Sharī’ah.



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