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‘Coinciding with the years of WWII, Jinnah would embark on the arduous task of reorganizing the Muslim League which was by then gaining prominence in India due to its lobbying in the interests of the Muslims.

Jinnah’s greatest struggle would be to reconcile the divisions that existed within the Muslim communities of India. When the British crushed the 1857 uprising and spread their rule across India, many Muslims withdrew into obscurity because of the apparent disintegration of their ‘beloved’ Mughal Empire.

New, ‘westernized’ methods of governance were introduced which were readily embraced by many Muslims, Hindus and other communities. There was however an orthodox reformist group of Muslims that called for a return to the ‘puritanical’ roots of their faith, which they perceived to be in contradiction to western ideals of society and politics. Over the years, this group grew larger, attracting people due of its ‘anti-western’ rhetoric.

These people shut themselves away from ‘western’ education, decried interaction with the ‘firangis’ and subsequently the other communities of India, and also advocated non-indulgence in politics. When Jinnah emerged as a leading member of the Congress Party in the early 1900’s, they branded him as an impostor and a stooge of the British. This was the same group of people that was easily lured into the Khilafat Movement/Civil-disobedience by Gandhi due to his appeal to communalism.

Jinnah maintained a dignified stature in the face of their criticism, and continued his realistic political work. Their fundamentalism inspired a young man to talk his way into Jinnah’s home and attack him with a knife in July 1943. Jinnah would survive the attack thanks to his Pathan driver who subdued the attacker. Sharifuddin Pirzada reports that Jinnah immediately instructed him to issue a press statement clarifying that the attacker was indeed a Muslim, lest the aftermath of the incident be marred by communal violence and rioting.

The incident is also significant because it moved Jinnah’s daughter Dina to visit him at his home. They had not spoken or met in person since Dina married Neville Wadia, a Parsi businessman who resided in Bombay.

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed



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