Leaders of the Pakistan movement: Five brief profiles
By YesPakistan.com Staff Writer
Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948)
Born in Karachi to a Gujurati family, Pakistan’s founder was among the
first students of a Muslim school in Bombay which was also attended by the renown
Quran translator Abudllah Yusuf Ali. Jinnah also attended the school Sind Madrassat-ul-Islam
in his native Karachi.
From a young age, his aspirations were clearly Islamic. When he was sent to
study law in England, he chose the law school the Lincoln Inn in London because
it considered Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, as one of the
greatest law givers of the world.
He became the youngest graduate at his school, completing his law degree at
18. Later, after returning to India and establishing a successful law practice,
he joined the Indian National Congress and its movement to free India from British
colonial rule. However, he became disenchanted with the party when Mohandas
Gandhi, its leader, began brining Hindu religious language and symbolism into
the movement. Jinnah felt this disempowered Muslims and slowed down the cause
In response, he quit the Congress and returned to England. The Muslim poet-philosopher
Allama Muhammad Iqbal coaxed him back to India, inspiring him with the idea
of Pakistan and the need to fight for the rights of Indian Muslims, who were
not fairly represented in the Hindu-majority country, particularly in the areas
of politics and employment.
Jinnah rose to become president of the Muslim League and leader of the movement
for Pakistan. His entry into Muslim politics also led him to become a much more
conscientious Muslim as he adopted Muslim dress, learned Urdu, and studied the
Quran with Islamic scholar Shabbir Usmani. These changes eventually led to him
abandoning a number of unIslamic practices he had been engaged in.
Although suffering from severe tuberculosis, he kept his illness a secret not
only from those who opposed his mission, but for the millions who supported
him as well. He felt that disclosing his sickness would lower the morale of
those working for the cause of Pakistan.
What makes Jinnah even more unique as a leader is the fact that he successfully
carved out and established a nation through legal, constitutional means, without
the bloodshed that usually accompanies such an endeavor. Although horrific massacres
did occur after the establishment of Pakistan as Muslims and Hindus migrated
across the new borders, the process of obtaining Pakistan was done peacefully.
He died in 1948, one year after achieving his goal of Pakistan.
For more information about Jinnah, please see our page on him at http://YesPakistan.com/jinnah
Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1873-1938)
Iqbal is credited with developing the idea of Pakistan from the start, although
he died nine years before he could see his dream come to fruition.
Although Iqbal was politically active, he was best known for his inspiring
Urdu and Persian poetry, which many credit for waking up the Muslims of India
to push for their rights. He was also a philosopher, whose seminal work The
Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, was a collection of lectures on
philosophy he had presented in Hyderabad, Aligarh, and Madras.
Born in Sialkot, Punjab, he was a descendent of Kashmiri Brahmins who had converted
to Islam centuries earlier. His love for poetry was evident from a very young
age, and he became a frequent participant in Lahore’s annual poetry gatherings
Like Jinnah, he became a lawyer. With degrees from Cambridge University in
England and a doctorate from the University of Munich in Germany, he returned
to Lahore to teach at the local Government College, while maintaining a private
law practice there.
Iqbal took his first important step in the realm of politics during his stay
in England while studying at Cambridge University. There, he became an active
member of the British Committee of the All-Indian Muslim League. When in 1906,
this Committee was active in making British public opinion and political leaders
accept the principle of separate electorates for the Muslims of India, Iqbal
was one of the staunch supporters of the Committee. Upon returning to Lahore,
he joined the existing Muslim League and served as secretary and advisor to
Iqbal was convinced that the only solution for the Muslims was a two-state
one, thus conceiving the idea for Pakistan, a federation composed of the Muslim-majority
states of India at the time. He died in 1938, not being able to see that dream
come true. However, his close partnership with Jinnah in his later years allowed
him to pass the torch of the Pakistan idea to the man who would later be known
He is also credited with encouraging a young Islamic scholar and journalist
from Hyderabad, India, to settle in Punjab and to establish and Islamic research
institute for the revival of Islam. This man, Syed Abul Ala Mawdoodi, took up
Iqbal’s offer, going on to become one of Pakistan’s leading supporters
Iqbal’s poetry in Persian left a legacy to the revolutionaries of Iran,
particularly leaders like Ali Shariati, who were inspired by his ideas of self-reliance
and pan-Islamism that transcended the narrow focus on Iran alone, which marked
the 1979 revolution.
For more information about Iqbal, please see our page dedicated to him at http://YesPakistan.com/iqbal
Muhammad Ali Johar (1878-1931)
Do not send me back to a colonized state, for I want to go back and live in
an independent country.
Maulana Mohammad Ali Johar. [ 1930 ].
Islamic scholar Muhammad Ali Johar was a dynamic leader second only to Muhammad
Ali Jinnah himself. He is best known for his leadership of the Khilafah movement,
in whose capacity he was influential even among non-Muslims like Mohandas Gandhi.
The poet and journalist was educated at Aligarh and Oxford Universities and
served in the Education Department of Rampur state, which was also his birthplace.
He remained faithful to the All-India Muslim League, which he helped found,
and was particularly active between 1906 and 1928. He became president of the
party in 1918.
As a journalist, he established the English weekly newspaper “Comrade”
from Calcutta in 1911, and the Urdu weekly “Hamdard” in 1913 from
Delhi. He had also been published in English newspapers like the Manchester
Guardian and The Observer.
Like other stalwarts of the Pakistan movement, his concern for Muslim issues
was prominent in his activism. What sets him apart from the other leaders of
the movement though, is his active support for causes outside the subcontinent.
Prominent among these was his championing of the cause of the Islamic Khilafah,
which collapsed in 1924. He was jailed between 1911 and 1915 for his support
of this cause. In 1915, he became the main leader of the Khilafah movement and
led a delegation of Indian Muslims to London for this cause in 1920.
It is important to note that the Khilafah movement was not just focused on
the Islamic world and the preservation of the Ottoman Caliphate. Another aspect
of it promoted the freedom of all colonized people and nations. This aspect
of the movement gained support from non-Muslim leaders as well, including India’s
A former member of the Indian National Congress, he left the party in 1928
and expressed his support for Quaid-e-Azam’s fourteen points.
Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar died in London and was buried in Jerusalem. He had
asked in his will that he be buried there because he did not want to return
to a “slave country”.
Chaudhry Fazlul Haque (1873-1962)
Chaudhry Fazlul Haque was an advocate par excellence for Muslims in India,
especially those in Bengal, as well as for the Pakistan movement. He is credited
with including Bengal in the vision for Pakistan.
The Saturia, Bengal-born Islamic scholar and political activist pushed for
the cause of education and political empowerment of Muslims, as well as the
rights of Muslim peasants in Bengal.
He was a unique blend of Islamic scholarship and Western education at a time
when the two worlds were poles apart. He obtained his Islamic education at home
through private tutors and studied law at the University Law College in Calcutta.
In 1900, he was enrolled as an advocate in the Calcutta High Court.
A firm believer that education was the passport to a better future for Muslims
in Bengal, he started the Central National Mohammedan Educational Association
in 1912 to help poor and deserving Muslim students obtain the resources to further
their education. He also contributed to the establishment of the Muslim University
at Aligharh in 1920.
Haque established Krishak Proja Samities, a movement for the rights of the
Muslim peasants of Bengal who were often at the mercy of usurious Hindu middlemen.
In 1936, he successfully pushed for the enactment of the Bengal Agricultural
Debtors’ Act, through which millions of Muslim peasants were relieved
from millions of rupees of debt incurred by doing businesses with the Hindu
A strong advocate for Muslim rights in India, he served as a joint secretary
on the four-man drafting committee for the constitution of the All-India Muslim
League, as well as the general secretary of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League
in 1913. A year later, became the organization’s president.
Haque was a major participant in the historic session of the Muslim League
at Lahore between March 22 and March 24, 1940, when the Pakistan Resolution
was passed. He, like others at the session, was clearly wary of how India would
be ruled, and more importantly, how Muslims would be treated in a post-British
India. Haque, like Jinnah, did not trust the Indian National Congress, the party
that was likely to lead the country after independence. Haque believed that
the establishment of Pakistan was the only way to truly guarantee the political
empowerment and rights of Muslims on the subcontinent.
It is critical to note that during the March 1940 session, Haque pushed for
the inclusion of Bengal to be part of Pakistan. Allama Iqbal’s vision
for Pakistan, which he had developed well before his death in 1938, included
only northern and western sections of India. Haque’s suggestion was accepted
and seven years after that critical March day, Pakistan, the East and West wings,
came into being.
He migrated to Pakistan at the age of 74 in 1947 and continued to play an active
role in the country’s political affairs. In 1951, he accepted the Advocate-Generalship
of East Pakistan and was later elected its Chief Minister. He also served as
Liaqat Ali Khan (1895-1951)
“Gandhi has men who can advise him and whom he can depend on. And he
leans on them quite often…I have only Liaqat.”
-Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Born into an aristocratic family in Karnal, Punjab, Liaqat Ali Khan could have
relied on his hefty family inheritance to maintain a life of luxury and comfort.
But he did nothing of the sort.
The life of Liaqat Ali Khan, who earned the titles Qaid-e-Millat and Shahid-e-Millat,
was one of complete service to the Muslims of India and the cause of Pakistan.
He was so devoted that Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself referred to Khan as his “right
He received degrees from Aligarh and Oxford Universities. It was in England
that he became interested in politics, as he observed and participated in debates
organized by Oxford’s Indian Majlis.
Khan obtained a law degree, however, he never really practiced as a lawyer
after returning to India in 1923. The fire of politics burned in him, and that
was where he really wanted to apply himself.
The opportunity arrived with the All-India Muslim League. Khan became one of
its members in 1923 and when in 1926, the elections were being held for the
Legislative Assembly, he contested for a seat in the Assembly as an independent
Khan was elected Honorary Secretary of the Muslim League, then General Secretary
for the party, a post he retained from 1936 until the establishment of Pakistan
in 1947. In this capacity, he developed into a reliable and trustworthy right-hand
man for Jinnah as he developed and worked on the establishment of Pakistan.
Khan was a very hard worker, and interestingly, he had an amazing capacity
to juggle several important posts. Besides being the Deputy Leader of the Muslim
League Assembly Party, he was also Honorary Secretary General of the Muslim
League, Convenor of the Action Committee of the Muslim League, Chairman of the
Central Parliamentary Board, and the Managing Director of the party’s
This ability to juggle many assignments perhaps served as good training for
the critical roles he would play once Pakistan was established in 1947: as the
country’s first Prime Minister, who was also in charge of Foreign Affairs
and Commonwealth Relations and Defense. This task was made even more arduous
by the fact that everything in Pakistan needed to be built anew in this nascent
He was able to manage his many tasks even as the country lost Jinnah in 1948.
Khan’s life ended tragically in October 1951, after he was shot to death
while giving a speech in Rawalpindi. His dying words, after reciting the Islamic
declaration of faith were, “May God protect Pakistan.”
Date/Time Last Modified: 8/5/2003 1:14:20 PM
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