Tag Archive for jinnah

Happy Birthday Jinnah

Taken just ten minutes ago for this post. Sleeps like an angel - but only in the day.

Taken just ten minutes ago (3:30 p.m.) for this post. Sleeps like an angel – but only during the day.

 

Today (actually, as of 6 May) my family has welcomed my brother’s first born child into this world. And so now, as well as being a fan of the one and only M.A. Jinnah, I am also the aunt of his namesake: Jinnah Karim. :)

The Original Conspiracy and the Two Nation Theory

1) The Original Conspiracy

The legend goes that human history is the record of an eternal battle between the Order of the Selfish Ones, and the Order of the Truth Seekers. Through the ages many Truth Seekers have embarked on the quest to unlock humanity’s true potential. But the Selfish Ones have slandered them, murdered them, and rewritten history, all to make humanity forget and stop believing.

- Systems, p.337

2) The Two Nation Theory

The Quran does not recognise the concept of majorities and minorities. It teaches that all humans are born equal on the basis of their having a common origin (4:1). It teaches that a true democracy rests not on the principle of simple majority rule (6:116) but rather on the principle of consensus (aiming for unanimity) by ‘mutual consultation’ (42:38). It also teaches that humans only differ by the type of deen [total civilisation: religion, politics, culture] that they follow; and that strictly speaking there are only two types of human society: one that lives by the universal spiritual principles of liberty, justice and solidarity, and the other that does not (5:56-7). This is the Quranic basis of the Two-Nation Theory. It has nothing to do with communalism, and everything to do with the active behaviour of a society that claims to be ‘good’. (2:148)

- Secular Jinnah & Pakistan, p.203 (Yes, I did consciously sneak the Cohesive Ethics Theorem into that passage at the time of writing the book.)

A one-time event?

A one-time event?

What we forgot

The above passages from my two books are basically talking about the came thing. I was recently having a conversation with a friend by email and something that came up there compelled me to write this post. These remarks from my email get straight to the point of what I want to share here:

“As an aside, you know the term “Original Conspiracy” of Systems is a corruption of the Christian [term] “Original Sin”, and that in any case the former [term] clears up the truth about the implications of the Adam story, aka the Two Nation Theory? And it also helps explain what Satan is – namely, the so-called dark side of free will, the selfish gene, human pride and arrogance, or intellect minus “love”? He is the original “other”, the bringer of the second choice, separation, and disagreement. … [The consensus/nationality principles] are timeless and have been taken up before … The Quran tells us that we have adopted them and forgotten them many times. “Satan has overcome them and made them forget the remembrance of Allah” (58:19). My “Conspiracy” is inspired from this idea of rewritten and forgotten history.”

Hanif Omar

Hanif Omar. Practical idealist.

The broad “implications of Adam’s story” (the Fall) mentioned in that email is what Systems is all about; and an individual historical case study of the Two Nation Theory is what SJ2 is all about. We are taught to believe that human potential has never been unlocked, that there has never been an ideal society – and that in fact it’s impossible anyway. Is this all really true, or have there just been enough slanders, murders and rewrites of history to make us forget?

“Some would say that what I have suggested is utopian, and moreover impossible. This is not so. As I see it, humanity cannot realise its true potential until we accept that an ideal society is not only possible, but absolutely mandatory.”

So says Prof. Hanif Omar in Systems. But does anyone share his belief in real life?

.

MA Jinnah. Another practical idealist.

MA Jinnah. Another practical idealist.

Words from a Truth Seeker

These are the words of MA Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, in Chittagong in 1948.

“It is natural for some to think only in terms of Government, but the sooner we realise and adjust ourselves to new forces, the sooner our mind’s eye is capable of piercing through the horizons to see the limitless possibilities of our State and our Nation, the better for Pakistan. Then and then alone it would be possible for each one of us to realise the great ideals of human progress, of social justice, of equality and of fraternity, which, on the one hand, constitute the basic causes of the birth of Pakistan and also the limitless possibilities of evolving an ideal social structure of our State. I reiterate most emphatically that Pakistan was made possible because of the danger of complete annihilation of the human soul in a society based on caste. Now that the soul is free to exist and to aspire, it must assert itself, galvanizing not only the State but also the Nation.”

Although this Truth Seeker was not murdered (despite what conspiracy theorists of another kind might think), after his death he has been certainly been slandered, and the history of Pakistan has been rewritten. It sounds far-fetched to some, which is understandable. Admittedly, I too might not have believed it, if I hadn’t discovered it for myself.

Three Giants and Systems

My brother recently pointed out to me that with the publication of Khurram Ali Shafique’s Iqbal: His Life and Our Times, I can now claim to have covered three great Muslim personalities of the last century: Jinnah, Iqbal and Parwez. This was something that had never crossed my mind before.

Jinnah and Iqbal rank among the most important figures for Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, while Parwez has had an enormous impact that has yet to be appreciated whether among academia or in the public eye. For myself personally however, the fact that I have had the good fortune to cover these particular three is especially significant. Have a look at the three men in turn, and I hope you’ll see what I mean.

First, each respectively represents one of the three Cohesive Ethics principles. Visiting them in chronological order of my publications:

Parwez: Justice

G.A. Parwez

G.A. Parwez (1903-85)

My earliest writing work was the translation of my father’s Quran aur Pakistan, which was a book containing his poetry and a compilation of various writings from G.A. Parwez’s work. One of the chapters from this book was a reproduction of a pamphlet of Parwez on Jinnah that I eventually published many years later. And of course, my work on this pamphlet also led directly to my work on Jinnah.

Parwez was a prolific writer, but arguably his most important contribution as a scholar was his 1955 book Nizam-i-Rabbubiyyat (System of Divine Sustenance), an economic treatise that took a holistic and groundbreaking view of Quranic terms normally identified with capital interest and religious charity. My father and I have translated this book under the title The Qur’anic System of Sustenance. Parwez’s strong emphasis on social justice and criticism of capitalism in that book has led even some of his supporters to wrongly think he was a closet communist – despite the fact that he described communism as “a grave danger to humanity” and went to great lengths to reveal the stark differences between materialist communism and his Quran-inspired work. In any case, Parwez’s work in this field makes him an unequivocal representative of the justice principle.

Jinnah: Unity

M.A. Jinnah

M.A. Jinnah (1876-1948)

My first full book was on M.A. Jinnah, and so was its better known sequel, Secular Jinnah & Pakistan.

Jinnah represents the unity principle. No, he practically personifies it. He was dubbed the “ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity” in his early political career; and later, both as the leader of the Pakistan independence movement and as the founding father of the country, “unity” remained his watchword both for “Muslim unity” and for a Pakistani nationality that encompassed its multicultural population. The Pakistani national motto “Faith, Unity, Discipline” was coined by Jinnah during the Pakistan movement. The word “unity” turns up countless times in his speeches and statements and is probably the word that he used more than any other.

Iqbal: Liberty

M. Iqbal (1877-1938)

M. Iqbal (1877-1938)

I wrote a full chapter on M. Iqbal in Secular Jinnah & Pakistan on the crux of his philosophy. My imprint Libredux Publishing has also published two books on his philosophy: 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen and Iqbal: His Life and Our Times. Iqbal’s references to the three principles of “equality, solidarity and freedom” are of course the “muse” of the Cohesive Ethics Theorem in Systems.

Iqbal undoubtedly represents the liberty principle owing to his emphasis on human will and action, and his calls for a “reconstruction of religious thought in Islam” in the famous lectures of the same name. He wanted Muslims to revive the long-abandoned practice of ijtihad (lit. “strive”), which amounts to freeing the Muslim community from the shackles of tradition so it can learn to actively adapt with the needs of its time. He dedicated his fifth lecture solely to this topic, describing ijtihad as the “principle of movement”.

Second, these men have some striking similarities with the characters from Systems who also represent the same respective principles.

Parwez and the Peace Man

Peter Manner

Peter Manner

Though they are worlds apart, Parwez and Peter Manner (the Peace Man) have some uncanny parallels. Both are lone warriors. Both possess keen insight into the failings of humanity, and its potential. In his writings Parwez calls for a revolution against the three forms of tyranny mentioned in the Quran, while Peter is on a crusade against an unnamed “them” – that is, E3, who represent the same three evils.

Both are totally committed to the idea of total justice, though Peter takes it to the extreme: He kills one “worthless” criminal for every friend he has lost in his previous life, and returns every single penny he has taken from the innocent people he robs. Parwez’s work on economics, despite not being nearly as dramatic in practice, is nevertheless driven by a similar level of conviction in the possibility of absolute justice. (And incidentally, Peter’s past life incarnation was also an economist). Both Parwez and Peter are absolutely determined to see their causes through, irrespective of how others may respond to them. Parwez’s sheer tenacity and courage easily match Peter’s, as he was more forthright in his calls for religious reformation than even Iqbal, literally risking his life in upholding his views in a hostile religious environment.

Iqbal and the Shaman

Hitoshi Katayama

Hitoshi Katayama

The strange similarities between Iqbal and Hitoshi Katayama are too numerous to list in full. Iqbal’s poetical inspirations from Revelation include David (The Persian Psalms) and Adam (in various works including Javid Nama), the namesakes of the twins who are tied to Hitoshi (also known as the Shaman in Systems). Both Iqbal and Hitoshi are poets, and both possess musical talent. Both have complex, larger-than-life personalities. Some of the things they say are incorrectly interpreted as being esoteric. Both are frequently accused of ambivalence and contradiction – though this accusation is more justified in Hitoshi’s case – and both are aware of, and comfortable with, being a mystery to others.

Each of the two also fulfils his “destiny” in an apparently ironic way – Iqbal through his choice of the seemingly “secular” Jinnah to lead the Muslims of India, and Hitoshi through his decision to destroy the only proof that the Systems Experiment was a success. This reveals how they each symbolise the conflicting nature of the liberty principle. Both also acknowledge their dark sides, though in different ways: “I have a certain amount of admiration for the Devil,” says Iqbal, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, in his first English-language lecture in 1908. Hitoshi would definitely return that remark with his characteristically devilish smile. Indeed, an early edit of Hitoshi’s song This is my Fate in the novel contained the lyrics “blessed in the Devil’s light”.

Jinnah and Agent Numbskull

Aaron Lloyd

Aaron Lloyd

Jinnah and Aaron Lloyd (named after the Prophet who also represents unity) both uphold the unity principle in precisely the same way, through a shared sense of inclusiveness. Aaron asks Hitoshi to join forces with him to try and defeat their common enemy, even after learning the truth about Hitoshi’s background. Similarly Jinnah asked Muslim religious and political leaders alike to set aside their differences in order to rally around a common goal, though he was well aware of their shortcomings.

Jinnah also shares what Hitoshi rudely calls the “numbskull” trait with Aaron – that is, both Aaron and Jinnah come across as cold and unreadable, one by virtue of a cranial chip, the other by his behaviour. Yet in fact both are deeply compassionate underneath the surface, and are really using the system to fight the system. Jinnah uses his British training in constitutional law to fight against the British Raj, while Aaron is an agent working for, and secretly fighting against, the very organisation responsible for killing his father and destroying his legacy. And on that note, both Jinnah and Aaron stand against benevolent dictatorships.

Hanif Omar

Hanif Omar

Finally, a disclaimer.

The connections between these three makers of history and the three leading men from Systems are remarkable, but by no means were any of the fictional characters consciously (or unconsciously) inspired by the historical figures. However, one of the three men did directly inspire another character in Systems, namely the eccentric professor Dr. Hanif Omar, the man behind the Cohesive Ethics Theorem and the Systems Experiment.

I’ll leave it to you to decide which one it was.

If you can think of any other links between the three men and the characters that I have failed to mention, please let me know here in the comments.

Choose Your Destiny

Below is a reproduction – with permission – of the first lesson of the present course (Creating with the Soul) at the Marghdeen Learning Centre. It’s such a brilliant and interesting take on Jinnah’s legacy that I positively had to share it here. [Images are taken from the original article as it appeared.]

On a separate note, both my books Systems and Secular Jinnah & Pakistan are part of the recommended reading for this particular course, which is about the destinies of nations starting with the Pakistan idea.

Enjoy! – SK


1.1 How to choose your destiny

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the new online course, and please allow me to start it without any further preludes :). So, there are three variables involved in each one of us choosing our destiny. They are: (a) the current of history; (b) the destiny of society; and (c) the will of the individual himself or herself.

This is because the current of history, which is always evolutionary, moderates the destiny of each society. The destiny of each society generates a menu of choices from which every individual can pick. Please allow me to explain this with an example.

Case Study

Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah had become one of the least influential political figures by 1932. He was a particularly unlucky man. Each time he achieved something big, it would be taken away from him. In 1916, he was hailed as “the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity”, but three years later he was being hooted down by Hindus and Muslims alike. He married for love in 1918, but it turned sour and ended in the separation and death of his wife in less than ten years.

 

By 1932, his public career seemed to have ended. He had left his homeland, and had taken abode in England. He was not even invited to the Third Round Table Conference of the Indian leaders held in London that year.

Fifty-six years old and not growing any younger, Barrister Jinnah was suffering at the hands of destiny. So, he decided to ask God for a new one. But how?

First, he looked up the destiny of his nation. Their “final destiny”, as recently revealed by Iqbal, was a consolidated Muslim state.

With this understanding, Jinnah picked up a new role for himself. It was to be the founder of that state. He got it. 

Hence, understanding the destiny of his nation empowered him to choose his own destiny. From being one of the least significant leaders in 1932, he became “the Great Leader” by 1938 and the founder of the largest Islamic state and the fifth largest of the world in 1947, so that posterity was eventually going to say:

Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.

The Catch

Jinnah was not the only one in the 1930s to be attempting stuff like altering the course of history, etc. Just as he became the “Quaid-i-Azam” of his people, Mussolini was “Il Duce” in Italy and Hitler was the “Fuehrer” in Germany (all titles approximately meaning the same thing). Yet, Jinnah alone made it to the finish. We need to understand this a bit more.

The hazards of ignoring the
“trends of modern times”:
Mussolini and his beloved
after their execution

By the time Jinnah achieved his goal, Italians had executed Mussolini and hung his corpse upside down. Hitler had shot himself and to follow his ideology is now a  criminal offence in his country. The legacy of Jinnah, on the other hand, is not only cherished by his own people but his name and his worldview is something which they show off to other nations in a bid for gaining more respect.

Apparently, this is because while other “great leaders” focused only on the interests of their own nations, Jinnah aligned his patriotic ambition with the principles commonly respected by humanity in those days. In addition to the spirit and destiny of his own nation, he also kept in mind the trends of modern times.

This is the third variable, i.e. the current of world history, but that is a theme for the next lesson. Before proceeding, let’s conclude what we observed today.

 

Conclusion

We fail to be in control of our destinies because we are taught that societies do not have destinies as such. Due to this presumption, we obviously do not attempt to gain any insight into the destiny of our society, and hence fail to meet the prerequisite for taking control of our own futures as individuals.

Question

  • What is one thing which you would like to gain from this course? Since this is the first lesson, please formulate a personal objective. It is recommended that you keep it to 100 words, but please use your discretion. Keep it specific and to the point. Please do not mind if I remove your comment from the blog this time, in case I feel that you can do better (and in that case I shall personally email you about to re-write it).
  • Please reply to some of the comments posted by others. It is important to interact. Every learner gains more if everybody in the course is engaged. It’s a virtual classroom, so let it be a “commonly adopted goal” that everybody is involved, probed for their input and learning together in a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

This time, I am more excited than usual to see what replies come forth. Please begin!


SK: The Marghdeen Learning Centre is an educational subsidiary body of Iqbal Academy that offers online courses on Iqbal’s philosophy. To learn more, and to sign up, visit www.marghdeen.com

The book that launched my writing career – Foreword

In my last post I announced the release of the book Did Quaid-e-Azam Want to Make Pakistan a Secular State?. I’m reproducing the foreword below, in which I explain how the book prompted me to write Secular Jinnah.

But first, a note for those who are unfamiliar with the debate over Pakistan and are wondering about the title.

On the word ‘secular’

Simply put, the word ‘secular’ in the above title is really a synonym for ‘materialist’. Many Pakistanis don’t differentiate between the two concepts, because they see materialism as the final outcome of separating religion (and its moral values) from state affairs. This is why many Pakistanis will say they have no problem with the concept of equality before the law (usually identified with a secular state) and yet won’t identify themselves as secularists.

So, onto the Pakistan question. Pakistanis have never agreed over whether Pakistan was meant to be a ‘secular’ (materialist) state or an ‘Islamic’ one (that is, a religious state). In my books, I have tried to show that Pakistan (in the eyes of its founders) was not meant to be either a secular or a religious state, nor was it supposed to be a paradoxical mix of religion and secularism. So if it was none of the above, what was it? The answer can be found only when we understand what secularism and religion respectively mean. In short they are  practically two sides of the same coin, in that one focuses on materialism, and the other on spiritualism. That makes both of them not so much wrong as incomplete. And yet we can’t complete them by combining them, because the two are also totally incompatible for reasons I need not go into here. At any rate, a combination or synthesis of religion and secularism is also impossible. In my books I have described a fourth possibility in line with the Quranic view of reality, which encompasses both the material and the spiritual simultaneously – not as two separate things combined, but, to borrow from Iqbal’s description of Islam, “a single unanalysable reality which is one or the other as your point of view varies” - a bit like the uncertainty principle in quantum physics. Parwez operated on the same matter-spirit oneness principle in his book The Qur’anic System of Sustenance.

Purchase details (including discounted rates for both this title and The Qur’anic System of Sustenance) can be found if you scroll to the end of this post.

Without further ado, here is the Foreword.

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FOREWORD

This booklet is of special significance to me. It is directly responsible for the publication of my first book, and indirectly for my second as well. Indeed, this short publication can be credited for practically launching my writing career.

Avid readers of Pakistani history will know that Chief Justice Muhammad Munir’s From Jinnah to Zia (1979) is said to be one of Pakistan’s all-time best sellers. This is because Munir was the first to openly declare that M.A. Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, was a ‘secularist’ (i.e. he advocated the separation of religion and state as in modern democratic states). Coming as it did from a former Chief Justice, this declaration carried much weight for Pakistani readership, and indeed, as Munir testified in his book, across the world the as well.

G.A. Parwez, who had known Jinnah personally and had been his counsel on matters relating to Islam, wrote a rebuttal in Urdu in 1980 soon after the second edition of Munir’s book was released. The English translation of that text can be found in the following pages. However, the original rebuttal missed one vital piece of information; and since this missing information was the catalyst for some completely new and important research I conducted some twenty-five years later, I would like to share the details for the benefit of the reader.

I originally came to translate this booklet not for Tolu-e-Islam, but for my father. In 2003 he had published a book titled Quran aur Pakistan (Sheffield: Bazm-e-Ilmofunn), containing his own Urdu poetry alongside a collection of G.A. Parwez’s writings, and the text of this booklet appeared as one of its chapters. My father and I worked together on the English translation, and in the course of crosschecking the references, I obtained a copy of From Jinnah to Zia. This was when I first noticed a quote not accounted for in Parwez’s rebuttal.

Parwez has written that in From Jinnah to Zia Munir relied on two pieces of evidence to support his claim that Jinnah was a secularist. They are:

1)     Jinnah’s statements against theocracy

2)     Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, on11 August 1947

However I found that Munir had actually relied on not two, but three pieces of evidence. The third and most important piece of evidence that Munir produced (and which he cited several times for emphasis) was Jinnah’s interview to Reuters, dated 21 May 1947 (dated incorrectly in Munir’s book as 1946). In this interview, Jinnah supposedly said that he envisioned Pakistan as a ‘modern democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people’ (Munir 1980, p.29). He stressed that the words were at odds with the Objectives Resolution, which states that ‘sovereignty rests with Allah’. At this point, since Parwez had not addressed the quote, I decided to try and find the original source to look at the context in which it might have been used. When I did obtain it around a month later, it emerged that not only was the date wrong, but the quote was actually a fake. Since that time, I have referred to it as the ‘Munir quote’.

This was just the beginning of my journey in learning about the Pakistan story. At first I intended only to write an article on this quote, but I had underestimated the significance of what I had uncovered. Munir’s quote, along with the two pieces of evidence that Parwez had highlighted, had long become a formulaic argument copied virtually verbatim time and again by every kind of writer, from the journalist to the historian, and accepted blindly as fact, without question. No one had thought to check on the original source and in fact no one even seemed to know or care as to where it originated. My first book, Secular Jinnah: Munir’s Big Hoax Exposed (2005) was the unexpected outcome of my first round of research, and here I wrote that the original source was probably Munir’s From Jinnah to Zia. But I was later to discover that this was not the original source of the quote. At any rate, my book was short and it hardly touched on Pakistan’s founding history. Over the next five years, my research continued and intensified, and I resolved to release a revised edition containing, among other things, updated information on the misconceptions about Jinnah and the Pakistan story. Instead I ended up writing an entirely new book. This was a complete political biography on Jinnah which also covered my updated research on the Munir quote. By the time I released Secular Jinnah & Pakistan: What the Nation Doesn’t Know in 2010, I had learned that the Munir quote had its origins not in Munir’s 1979 book, but in another famous publication authored by Munir: The Report of the Court of Inquiry Constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954. It is better known as the Munir Report, since it made Munir a celebrity and he became Chief Justice of the Federal Court soon after the inquiry ended. Following the Munir Report, the first time that the fake quote was used as supporting evidence for a secular Pakistan was in Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly in August 1954. This quote had never been cited before, simply because it didn’t exist; and so this was the first time that the secularist politicians of Pakistan succeeded in silencing their opponents outright. Thereafter Munir’s quote was accepted as a legitimate piece of evidence for fifty years.

As for Quran aur Pakistan, although we began its translation in 2004, we were unable to publish it due to technical issues, and subsequently this also delayed the publication of this booklet for a long time. I am happy to know that the booklet at least is finally going into print. It may be one of Parwez’s lesser known works, but without it, the Munir quote may not have come to light for another fifty years. For that reason, it certainly has great historical value; but to me personally, for my own reasons, its worth is immeasurable.

Saleena Karim,Nottingham

23 August 2012

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Did Quaid-e-Azam Want to Make Pakistan a Secular State?

Available now at CreateSpace

(Also available now at Amazon)

5.99 USD (CreateSpace & Amazon.com)
4.99 GBP (Amazon UK)

Paperback, 64 pages
Published by Islamic Dawn Society and Tolu-e-Islam Trust in association with Libredux Publishing. Translated and edited by Saleena Karim & Fazal Karim.

Get 25% off this book if you purchase from CreateSpace, using the following discount code at checkout (limited offer):

Go to this page
Discount code: GWRCFWQK

—————————————————————————–

The Qur'anic System of SustenanceGet this book 25% off too

You can also get The Qur’anic System of Sustenance at the same 25% discount if you apply this code at CreateSpace:

Go to this page
Discount code: AN3UM9VX

Did Quaid-e-Azam Want to Make Pakistan a Secular State? – out now

From the blurb

This booklet is Ghulam Ahmad Parwez’s rebuttal to Chief Justice Muhammad Munir’s bestseller, From Jinnah to Zia (1979), containing ample evidence from Jinnah’s written statements and speeches to counter Munir’s claims that Jinnah was a secularist. As one-time counsel to Quaid-i-Azam M.A. Jinnah on matters pertaining to Islam, and as one of the few who could visit him without an appointment, Parwez was in a position to speak with authority on the founder of Pakistan’s political convictions.

Here it is. At last, the book that started my writing career has gone into print. (You have no idea how long I have been waiting to publish this book.) It’s the translation of Kya Quaid-e-Azam Pakistan ko secular state banana chahte tai? (lit. Did the Great Leader want to make Pakistan a secular state? For those of you who don’t know, Quaid-e-Azam was an honorific title used by the Muslims of colonial India to refer to M.A. Jinnah, the constitutional lawyer who eventually became the founder of Pakistan).

I was originally going to explain the full background of how this book links to my work in this post, until I realised that the foreword of the book does exactly that. It’ll be reproduced in my next post.

But in brief: Parwez wrote this booklet in 1980, as a rebuttal to Chief Justice Munir’s From Jinnah to Zia (1979). Munir had argued that Jinnah was a ‘secularist’. Parwez aptly countered the claim, but he overlooked a certain statement attributed to Jinnah – one that would finally be exposed as a fake 25 years later by yours truly.

For a short time, you can get this book – and also the The Qur’anic System of Sustenance – at 25% discount. Details follow.

—————————————————————————–

Did Quaid-e-Azam Want to Make Pakistan a Secular State?

Available now at CreateSpace

(Also available now at Amazon)

5.99 USD (CreateSpace & Amazon.com)
4.99 GBP (Amazon UK)

Paperback, 64 pages
Published by Islamic Dawn Society and Tolu-e-Islam Trust in association with Libredux Publishing. Translated and edited by Saleena Karim & Fazal Karim.

Get 25% off this book if you purchase from CreateSpace, using the following discount code at checkout (limited offer):

Go to this page
Discount code: GWRCFWQK

—————————————————————————–

The Qur'anic System of SustenanceGet this book 25% off too

You can also get The Qur’anic System of Sustenance at the same 25% discount if you apply this code at CreateSpace:

Go to this page
Discount code: AN3UM9VX

Booklet on Jinnah – release in next 24 hours

This is a quick note to let you know that another translated title is going into print from tomorrow. It’s the English translation of a short Urdu book on MA Jinnah, written by GA Parwez in 1980. It also has special significance to me. I’ll explain tomorrow.

Watch this space.

A new book with ‘system’ in the title – out now

The Qur'anic System of Sustenance coverRecently I announced that Libredux Publishing was about to release a book in collaboration with another organisation (Tolu-e-Islam, Lahore). The book is out now in paperback, and its title is The Qur’anic System of Sustenance, the long-awaited English translation of G.A. Parwez’s Nizam-e-Rabbubiyat (1955). That makes it the second Libredux book with the word ‘system’ in the title. :)

The book has just become available at CreateSpace, as well as at Amazon US and Amazon UK. I will reproduce the editor’s foreword in my next post. In the meantime, allow me to introduce its author.

Ghulam Ahmad Parwez – not to be mixed up with the founder of Ahmadism, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – was a non-sectarian Muslim thinker with a rationalist approach to Islam. He was born in British India in 1903 and was an activist of the Pakistan movement. He was an associate of Dr. Iqbal; and it was at Iqbal’s suggestion that he set up his monthly journal Tolu-e-Islam in 1938, which is still in print today. He was also an adviser to M.A. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Parwez received a posthumous Tehrik-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Movement) Gold Medal for his services in 1989. But he is best known for his outspoken views on religion, which he considered to be the antithesis of true Islam – and an obstacle in the way of unlocking humanity’s full potential.

Controversy with a capital ‘S’

G.A. Parwez

G.A. Parwez (1903-85)

Parwez wrote numerous books and articles, including the aptly-titled Islam: A Challenge to Religion (his only title originally written in English), a 4-volume lexicon of the Quran (Lughat ul Quran), and a 3-volume expositional and scientific translation of the Quran (Mufhoom al Quran). But perhaps his most important work was Nizam-e-Rabbubiyat (1955), which translates literally to ‘system of (universal) sustenance’. When my father and I translated this book, we changed the title to include the word ‘Quranic’ because the word Rabbubiyat is derived from one of the names of God (Rabb) in the Quran. At the time of its release, the book generated a lot of controversy. Some suggested that his book was a thinly-disguised communist manifesto, due to his anti-capitalist views and the fact that his proposed ‘system’ had a somewhat socialist bent. But in fact Parwez was opposed to both capitalism and communism on the grounds that they are purely materialistic and reject the spiritual (just as he was opposed to religion on the grounds that it is purely spiritualistic and rejects the material).

A misnomer

Parwez said he was actually offering a Quran-inspired economic system as a third alternative to both. But was he really talking about an economic system? Not at all. It would take me far too long to explain why in this post – and anyway, it’s covered in the foreword that will appear here soon. But suffice it to say that what makes Parwez’s proposed ‘system’ different from capitalism and communism is that it is not confined to the material. In other words, it covers more than just economy. The ‘system of sustenance’ presented by Parwez should be understood in much the same way as I have described ‘Libredux’ in Systems – as an open-ended structure distinguished only by the universal ideals at its core. To borrow Parwez’s words, this type of ‘system’ is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

And what is that end?

The answer is in this very post. Tell me if you spotted it.

Postscript: To celebrate the launch of this title, it will be made available at a reduced price for a limited time. Details to follow in my next post.

Can sci-fi redefine our political system?

Ballots for the world - DemocracyCompletely by accident this morning I have seen a post at the Science Fiction & Political Thought blog that briefly reviews my novel. The blog’s name is pretty self-explanatory. Its author, Dadrocant, is interested in exploring the links between sci-fi and political thought. In his latest post, ‘Can Science Fiction help us redefine our political system?‘, he mentions Systems as an example of sci-fi that questions whether or not democracy really is the best possible political system. This passage from that post caught my attention:

The center dilemma of this story lies in a social experiment simulation conducted 20 years before the events of the book, where several political systems are put to the test in a comparison, and even though there is no explanation as to what exactly the ideal system that is the center of the test [Libredux] is exactly like, it does hint at some interesting points, which can be seen today in some of the discourses from those who are discontented about the current state of affairs in western democracies …

That, of course, is the point Systems attempts to make. There is no such thing as a fixed ideal system. The distinguishing characteristic of an ideal system is that it is never fixed. That’s why you won’t find a blueprint for the Libredux model in Systems. And for any Pakistanis reading this post, this should be big clue as to why Iqbal also never offered any sort of blueprint for an ideal political system, and why even that epitome of pragmatism, Mr Jinnah, was supposedly ‘vague’ about what Pakistan’s system would be like. ;)

So, does Systems question democracy? Yes, it questions the modern democratic state – just as it questions all fixed ideologies – but not democracy in principle, which is based on both the ideals of liberty and justice. In fact, I always assumed that the Libredux model would likely be set up as some sort of democracy and evolve from there, in line with what I have said in SJ2 about ideal systems being able to develop by using any contemporary polity as a starting point. To reiterate: A ‘Libredux’ system would be one that theoretically takes the shape of almost any system, as long as it was fit to survive in the conditions of its time, and it retained its ideals (as per the theorem). Like a living organism, its body or structure can take any shape but its ethical DNA remains ultimately the same. I wrote this in an earlier draft of the manuscript for Systems – in its long-winded synopsis, actually – but it never made it into the final version of the novel. I didn’t want too much technical stuff to get in the way of the story.

The whole post on sci-fi as a medium for exploring future political systems can be found here.

An ideal advert … or maybe not

Earlier this week an article of mine appeared in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn’s Special Report on the Lahore Resolution. For those of you who don’t know, the Lahore Resolution might be described as (sort of) the Pakistani equivalent of the American Declaration of Independence, and Pakistanis celebrate this document (and argue about its significance) every year on 23rd March.

While I was browsing the e-paper at Dawn‘s website, this advert caught my eye:

An ideal advert? (Image: dawn.com)

It was a reproduction of the major signatories of the Lahore Resolution, accompanied with the header: ‘Equality, Freedom, Unity’. Of course this was immediately interesting to me because of the three words that also happen to be central to the Cohesive Ethics Theorem in Systems. And, if you can read it from the above scan, there was an inspiring passage about how the Lahore Resolution was passed in the name of said principles, and how they must be protected today.

I saw the url: efulife.com, and went over. I expected to find a human rights organisation or activist group. Instead, I found … a life insurance company! But here’s the real punchline: The company was originally founded in the 1930s under the name ‘Eastern Federal Union’, by none other than Ghulam Mohammad, who would later become the Governor-General of Pakistan. Anyone who has read SJ2 will know exactly why this is all more than a little ironic. For anyone who hasn’t, I have three more words for you:

Pakistan’s first dictator.

How Secular Jinnah inspired Systems Part 4: Reversal

Chief Justice AR Cornelius

Chief Justice Cornelius. Public domain image.

[I] am slowly beginning to understand what is built into the Constitution of Pakistan, in the way of political obligation … I have learnt that a non-Muslim can only be a full citizen of Pakistan if, on the secular side, he conforms to the requirements of the Objectives Resolution, read with the first 8 Articles, that is Parts I (the Republic of Pakistan) and II (Fundamental Rights and Principles of Policy). So far as I can see, at present, this is entirely possible, and would be easy, if there were some formulation of the basic principles contained in the Scriptures of Islam, in regard to equality, tolerance, social justice etc.

These are the words of Alvin Robert Cornelius (1903-1991), one-time Chief Justice of Pakistan, in a personal letter dated July 1965. A practising Christian, he was one of the many people who supported the Pakistan idea. He was also amongst the few who understood the content of the Objectives Resolution as a statement of universal human ideals and one that made great promises to all its citizens regardless of caste and creed. But, he said, these ideals hadn’t been spelled out.

AN OVERLOOKED ISSUE

And Cornelius wasn’t the only person to say this. Two other Pakistanis (Mian Iftikharuddin and PD Bhandara, father of MP Bhandara) also made similar remarks in criticism of Pakistan’s constitution-making body during Pakistan’s fledgling years. All three of these individuals stated in no uncertain terms that some fundamental principles had not been accounted for. Iftikharuddin complained in 1949 that the Objectives Resolution didn’t …

incorporate those principles which will make real democracy possible …

– and PD Bhandara said in 1954:

The very essence of an Islamic Constitution which is brevity and simplicity is conspicuous by its absence. … In the process of evolution gained by experience, I trust our Constitution will be remodelled to conform more to the tenets of Islam

But their words went unheeded, and with time the Objectives Resolution became an issue of enormous contention.

MA Jinnah on 14 August 1947

MA Jinnah on 14 August 1947, and not 11 August as shown on Wikipedia. Image from my personal collection.

Critics of the Objectives Resolution see it as some sort of backdoor to theocracy, even though a religious state was the last thing on the minds of those who penned it. MP Bhandara’s 11 August 1947 bill (introduced in 2006) was an attempt to insert one of Jinnah’s most famous speeches on civil equality alongside the Objectives Resolution in the constitution. Bhandara said the speech would act as an ‘ideological balance’. Ironically, unlike his father, MP Bhandara had actually misinterpreted the Objectives Resolution and his bill (his version of it, anyway) was only going to make things worse by causing a conflict. I tried to tell him this, but I don’t think he heard me.

THREE WORDS

All this made me think of the theorem. By now I saw the connection to the three words in Iqbal’s Reconstruction – the three basic ideals of equality (justice), solidarity (unity), and freedom (liberty). That passage of Iqbal became my muse. Even Jinnah had been subconsciously drawn to these three ideals, which was why he quoted the French equivalent liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) several times during those last few months of his life as Pakistan’s first Governor General.

By 2009, a publisher in the UK and another in Pakistan had both already offered me a contract for SJ1’s revised edition. They expected me to get it to them in a few weeks. It took me 14 months, and thankfully both publishers were very patient with me. By the time it was finished, SJ2 was a brand new book containing new and original research, and only parts of it coincided with SJ1.

LEFT UNSAID

Snapshot from trailerIn SJ2, I briefly mentioned this ‘missing’ element of Pakistan’s constitution, and even said that my old appendix (imported from SJ1 and improved in SJ2) contained the very same ‘core principles’ of the Quran that could help complete the constitutional work begun back in 1949. What I didn’t mention – though I discussed it with one or two people including a prominent Pakistani retired senior judge – was that I also had an idea for a bill that could introduce the same ideals as those listed in my old appendix, the source of the theorem. To my mind the introduction of binding, interconnected values would not only strengthen and clarify the promises made in the Objectives Resolution, but would also put an end to the misinterpretation of what it contains.

And what happened after that? Well, the idea remains an idea. In the end, I made it – the theorem, that is – ‘real’ only in my fictional universe. But there it makes for useful commentary on the human condition … and it’s my way of paying homage to the Pakistan idea.

This is the final part. Earlier posts in this mini-series:

Introduction … Pt 1: The first book 

Pt 2: Libredux … Pt 3: The missing principle

(Some images in this post are copyrighted)

How Secular Jinnah inspired Systems Part 3: The missing principle

As SJ1’s readership grew, so did the requests for a sequel. At first I only intended to release a revised edition and call it SJ2. And yet, all sorts of new information kept cropping up on the Pakistan story. My minor list of revisions soon became a monster file of notes which couldn’t be organised except in the form of a new book.

EVOLUTION

Then between late 2006 and mid-2007, two things happened to affect both the as-yet unwritten SJ2 and Systems. First, I came up with the ‘theorem’ for the novel in a kind of eureka moment, though this had been building up for some time. As I mentioned in Part 2, before this point my ‘ideal’ system model for the fictional Systems Experiment had been nothing more than a name. This was because I’d been semi-consciously aware that a fixed system was problematic. If I described the features of this system in the fiction in detail, it might be set in stone and treated as some fixed ideology. Fictional or not, I’d instinctively known I wanted to avoid that.

Single Source PrincipleThe fact that an ideal system is never fixed (because evolution itself is a Natural Law) now registered in my conscious knowledge for the first time. This was thanks largely to my in-depth study of the Pakistan story and in particular the thoughts of Jinnah and Iqbal (in that order. Jinnah’s  intelligence and acute ethical awareness remains greatly under-appreciated even among the experts). And so all the pieces came together. The idea (it had no name at first) was very simple and based on common sense. If you assume that everything in the universe has a common starting point of some sort, and you assume that the laws of nature also have the same starting point, then all ideals have the same starting point too … in principle. And just as the universe – with its zillions of atoms and subatomic particles and other seemingly separated bits and pieces called gravity and black holes and dark matter and space and time – actually remains one in principle, then all universal ideals must really be aspects or derivatives of a single common ideal.

I also remembered my old issue with that SJ1 appendix – the two irreducible ideals of justice and freedom. As it turns out, the two really are irreducible for reasons I won’t explain here, but whilst we often treat them as separate and ultimately incompatible, they really are not. In combination they represent one ultimate principle. I would later call this the Single Source Principle (though this part of the theorem was never explained in detail in the novel). Of course to many people it’s better known as Oneness, or Unity.

DNA cross section

Computer-generated cross section of DNA, from a top-down view.

THE THEOREM

At any rate, I finally had the essence of a testable ‘theorem’ (for the fiction, at least). As I put it in Systems:

… justice and liberty are the only universal ideals; all other ethical principles are either derivatives or aspects of these ideals. But justice and liberty are themselves interconnected because they come, just like the physical universe and every law of nature, from a single source.

It seemed natural to call this relationship cohesive ethics; like a kind of ‘theory of everything’ for universal ideals. (I later tacked on the word ‘theorem’ in the novel for effect). To my mind, any social system built around the ideals of both justice and liberty together would be acting in harmony with the Natural Order and so was bound to succeed. Its exact structure – the minor details – wouldn’t matter. What would matter was its type … what it aimed for … its spirit … its ethical DNA. And by virtue of a beautiful accident, I already had the perfect name for this type of system: Libredux.

a social system with no fixed rules, except for one binding principle which could not be broken under any circumstances.

Now I had almost everything I needed for the novel. But it still wouldn’t be finished for another five years.

CONSTITUTION

Second, in around May 2007 I had some interesting correspondence with the late Pakistani parliamentarian MP Bhandara, which led to my inadvertently becoming involved with his constitutional bill to make the 11 August 1947 speech of MA Jinnah a ‘substantive’ part of Pakistan’s constitution. Again, details aren’t important (though we’ll touch on it in the next part; the whole story is in SJ2’s appendix in any case). But that experience showed me just how important a strong constitution is. It also alerted me to the fact that something extremely important might be missing in Pakistan’s constitution – something that was leaving its fundamental sections open to misinterpretation.

Next: Pt 4 (final): Reversal

Earlier posts in this mini-series:

Introduction … Pt 1: The first book 

Pt 2: Libredux … Pt 3: The missing principle 

 

(Some images in this post are copyrighted)