Any discussion about Gandhi and Jinnah in South Asian circles always turns into
passionate polemics. Some of it is sometimes based on rational facts and some
purely on speculation. I will share some excerpts from Dr. Khalid Sohail's book
that tries to deal with some of the issues in the perpetual debate about merits
and flaws of these two great leaders of
I recently received a copy of Dr. Khalid Sohail's book, Prophets of Violence
- Prophets of Peace: Understanding the roots of contemporary political
Dr. Sohail is an avowed atheist, a respected humanist, a professional
psychiatrist, a writer, a poet, and author of numerous volumes of literature,
poetry, humanist, and professional literature. Some of his documentaries have
received acclaim at Canada's CBC and professional circles.
Prophets of Violence - Prophets of Peace includes analysis and discussion
on Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Tagore,
Iqbal, Jinnah, Ataturk, Martin Luther King Jr., Franz Fanon, and Tolstoy.
Dr. Sohail analyzes these personalities based on their biographies,
autobiographies and history, and tries to explore their inner visions, their
dilemmas, their charms, and their paradoxes.
He has two chapters on Gandhi and one on Jinnah, and asserts in his first
chapter the great respect that he has always carried in his heart for the
However he does not shy away from pointing out the dilemmas and paradoxes of
these great leaders, while quoting appropriate sources, in the chapter on the
story of Gandhi and Jinnah's relationship.
Here are some of the excerpts:
Jinnah loved Western
Civilization while Gandhi despised it.
Jinnah admired scientific
thinking while Gandhi resented the scientific approach to life.
Jinnah was associated with
the elites while Gandhi mingled with the masses.
Jinnah ignored religious
ideology while Gandhi was preoccupied with Hindu religion and Jain mythology.
Jinnah sought to gain
independence through political means while Gandhi hoped to achieve a spiritual
and cultural revolution.
Jinnah wanted India to
become a secular and modern states while Gandhi believed India's salvation
consists in unlearning hat she has learned during the past fifty years or so.
The railways, telegraphs, hospitals, lawyers, doctors, and such like have to
later shares some of his observations on Jinnah Gandhi relationship,
"On his arrival at
Gandhiji was accorded a right royal reception from all sides. Mr. Jinnah did not
lag behind in paying his respect to Gandhiji. In a Gujarati gathering, Jinnah,
immaculately dressed in English clothes, made a fine speech in English welcoming
him to motherland while Gnadhiji, wearing typical Gujarati dress made his reply
in Gujarati. He even ventured to mildly admonish the previous speakers for
speaking in English." (1)
Dr. Sohail finds that, 'The sparks between Gandhi and Jinnah would be felt from
their first meeting. Jinnah who considered himself a secular person and a
representative of all the ethnic and religious groups of India, did not
appreciate Gandhiji highlighting that he was from a Muslim family.' "Gandhi's
response to Jinnah's urbane welcome was that he was 'glad to find a Mohammedan (Jinnah)
not only belonging to his own region's sabha (council) but chairing it.' Had he
meant to be malicious rather than his ingenuous self, Gandhi could not have
contrived a more clearly patronizing barb, for he was not only actually
insulting Jinnah, after all, just informing one of his minority religious
Dr. Sohail further advises us that Jinnah's biographer Stanley Wolpert feels
that the meeting set the stage for their long rivalry and antagonism. " That
first statement of Gandhi set the tone for their relationship, always at odds
with deep tensions, and mistrust underlying its superficially politeness, never
friendly, never cordial." (2)
Dr. Sohail shares that, " I find it interesting that Gandhiji is presented in
history books as a secular leader even though he was deeply religious, and
believed in Hindu philosophy; and Jain mythology. He was a practicing Hindu who
abstained from meat, sex, cigarettes and alcohol in his day to day life, whereas
Jinnah with his secular philosophy and lifestyle has been presented as Muslim
Dr. Sohail mentions Collin and Lapierre's comments about the irony of Jinnah
being the Father of the Muslim nation, "A more improbable leader of India's
Moslem masses could hardly be imagined. The only thing Moslem about Mohammed Al
Jinnah was the fact that his parents happened to be Moslem. He drank, he ate
pork, religiously shaved his beard each morning, and just as religiously avoided
the mosque on each Friday. God and Koran had no place in Jinnah's vision of the
world. His political foe Gandhi knew more verses of the Moslem holy book than he
Dr. Sohail shares his pain in reviewing the Gandhi-Jinnah relationship and
details of Gandhi and Jinnah''s relationship was a painful and disturbing
experience. It is difficult to believe Mahatma Gandhi the prophet of peace and
non-violence could have said to Lord Mountbatten in 1947, "Don't partition
Don't divide India, even if refusing to do so means shedding rivers of blood.""
Dr. Sohail closes his chapter with the quote, " there are many who think that
Gandhian politics and Gandhian political techniques were as responsible for the
vivisection of India as Jinnah's two-nation theory." (1)
These are the references that Dr. Sohail has mentions in the chapter from which
I shared the excerpts:
1) Majumadar, S.K. Jinnah and Gandhi... Their Role in India's Quest for Freedom.
Calcutta, Minerva Associates, 2000
Jinnah of Pakistan. New York, Oxford University Press, 1997
3) Collins, Larry and Lapierres, Dominique. Freedom at Midnight. New York: Avon
I would urge all the readers of this note to read Khalid Sohail's:
Prophets of Violence - Prophets of Peace
Understanding roots of Contemporary political Violence
It provides a peek into the minds of some of the greatest leader of our times.
stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of
history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon
against bad ideas is better ideas.
Whitney Griswold, New York Times,
24 February 1959