[Reader-list] When he was called Pandit Jinnah

mihir25 mihir25 at indiatimes.com
Tue Jun 7 13:59:19 IST 2005

When he was called Pandit Jinnah

Hindustan Times
Lucknow, June 5


When the former Deputy PM L K Advani described Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a secular man during his early days, he wasn't quite off the mark as it is now a part of recorded history. Though his comments have raised a furore back home, few would know that this man was even referred to as Pandit Jinnah once. 
And if indifference to religion is any indicator of secularism, the Qaid-e-Azam was probably the biggest of all secular fundamentalists. 
There are two incidents hitherto not found in any history book which highlight this aspect of his character in a rather comical way which were narrated by none other than the eminent jurist and statesman, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru. It was told by Sir Tej to his granddaughter's husband Dr IM Chak, Retired Dy Director of CDRI during a meeting with his grandfather Pt. Prithvi Nath Chak, another legal giant of that time under whom Motilal Nehru learnt to practise law.
A contemporary of Sir Sapru, Jinnah along with him once visited Egypt during the month of Ramzaan. The Muslim porters there refused to carry their luggage saying they would only carry the luggage of a fellow Muslim. When Jinnah told them to go ahead, the porters decided to test them. They were asked to recite the kalma. While Sir Tej happily recited it with ´┐Żlan, he had Jinnah looking sheepishly at him for the wine loving brown sahib didn't know a word of it! Sir Tej had a hard time convincing the porters that Jinnah, who was to later create a separate Islamic State, was indeed a Muslim!
The other incident saw these two friends sparring in the court of law in a case that involved elements of religion. The case saw Sir Tej quoting innumerable ayats from Quran in support of his arguments. Jinnah, though a formidable lawyer himself, drew a blank once again on this account. The next day local newspaper headlines screamed Pandit Jinnah vs Maulana Sapru!

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