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
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
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.