dennis rodman tattoos BBC – History – Historic Figures: Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948)

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

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Muhammad Ali Jinnah
December 25, 1876 – September 11, 1948
Place of birth: Karachi , Sindh
Place of death: Karachi , Pakistan
Movement: Pakistan movement
Major organizations: Muslim League

Muhammad Ali Jinnah ( Urdu: محمد على جناح) listen  ( December 25, 1876 – September 11, 1948) was a Muslim politician and leader of the All India Muslim League who founded Pakistan and served as its first Governor-General. He is commonly known in Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam (Urdu: قائد اعظم — "Great Leader") and Baba-e-Qaum (" Father of the Nation.") His birth and death anniversaries are national holidays in Pakistan.

Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress expounding Hindu – Muslim unity. Helping shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the Muslim League, he was a key leader in the All India Home Rule League. Differences with Mahatma Gandhi led Jinnah to quit the Congress. He then took charge of the Muslim League and proposed a fourteen-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslims in a self-governing India. Disillusioned by the failure of his efforts and the League’s disunity, Jinnah would live in London for many years.

Several Muslim leaders persuaded Jinnah to return to India in 1934 and re-organise the League. Disillusioned by the failure to build coalitions with the Congress, Jinnah embraced the goal of creating a separate state for Muslims as in the Lahore Resolution. The League won most Muslim seats in the elections of 1946, and Jinnah launched the Direct Action campaign of strikes and protests to achieve "Pakistan", which degenerated into communal violence across India. The failure of the Congress-League coalition to govern the country prompted both parties and the British to agree to partition. As Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah led efforts to rehabilitate millions of refugees, and to frame national policies on foreign affairs, security and economic development.

Early life

Jinnah in traditional dress.


Jinnah in traditional dress.

Jinnah was born as Mahomedali Jinnahbhai in Wazir Mansion, Karachi , Sindh (now in Pakistan ). The earliest records of his school register suggest he was born on October 20, 1875, but Sarojini Naidu, the author of Jinnah’s first biography gives the date December 25, 1876. Jinnah was the eldest of seven children born to Jinnahbhai Poonja (1857–1901), a prosperous Gujarati merchant who had emigrated to Sindh from Kathiawar, Gujarat. Jinnahbhai Poonja and Mithibai had six other children—Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, Rahmat Ali, Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. His family belonged to the Khoja branch of Shi’a Islam. Jinnah had a turbulent time at several different schools, but finally found stability at the Christian Missionary Society High School in Karachi. At home, the family’s mother tongue was Gujarati, but members of the household also became conversant in Kutchi, Sindhi and English .

In 1887, Jinnah went to London to work for Graham’s Shipping and Trading Company. He had been married to a distant relative named Emibai, who is believed to have been either 14 or 16 years old at the time of their marriage, but she died shortly after he moved to London. His mother died around this time as well. In 1894, Jinnah quit his job to study law at Lincoln’s Inn and graduated in 1896. At about this time, Jinnah began to participate in politics. An admirer of Indian political leaders Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Jinnah worked with other Indian students on Naoroji’s campaign to win a seat in the British Parliament. While developing largely constitutionalist views on Indian self-government, Jinnah despised the arrogance of British officials and the discrimination against Indians.

Jinnah came under considerable pressure when his father’s business was ruined. Settling in Bombay , he became a successful lawyer—gaining particular fame for his skilled handling of the " Caucus Case". Jinnah built a house in Malabar Hill, later known as Jinnah House. He was not an observant Muslim and dressed throughout his life in European-style clothes, and spoke in English more than his mother tongue, Gujarati. His reputation as a skilled lawyer prompted Indian leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak to hire him as defence counsel for his sedition trial in 1905. Jinnah ably argued that it was not sedition for an Indian to demand freedom and self-government in his own country, but Tilak received a rigorous term of imprisonment.

Early political career

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as a young lawyer.


Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as a young lawyer.

In 1896, Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress, which was the largest Indian political organization. Like most of the Congress at the time, Jinnah did not favour outright independence, considering British influences on education, law, culture and industry as beneficial to India. Moderate leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale became Jinnah’s role model, with Jinnah proclaiming his ambition to become the "Muslim Gokhale". On January 25, 1910, Jinnah became a member on the sixty-member Imperial Legislative Council. The council had no real power or authority, and included a large number of un-elected pro-Raj loyalists and Europeans. Nevertheless, Jinnah was instrumental in the passing of the Child Marriages Restraint Act, the legitimization of the Muslim wakf—religious endowments—and was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, which helped establish the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. During World War I , Jinnah joined other Indian moderates in supporting the British war effort, hoping that Indians would be rewarded with political freedoms.

Jinnah had initially avoided joining the All India Muslim League, founded in 1906, regarding it as too communal. Eventually, he joined the league in 1913 and became the president at the 1916 session in Lucknow. Jinnah was the architect of the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the League, bringing them together on most issues regarding self-government and presenting a united front to the British. Jinnah also played an important role in the founding of the All India Home Rule League in 1916. Along with political leaders Annie Besant and Tilak, Jinnah demanded " home rule" for India—the status of a self-governing dominion in the Empire similar to Canada , New Zealand and Australia . He headed the League’s Bombay Presidency chapter. In 1918, Jinnah married his second wife Rattanbai Petit ("Ruttie"), twenty-four years his junior, and the fashionable young daughter of his personal friend Sir Dinshaw Petit of an elite Parsi family of Mumbai. Unexpectedly there was great opposition to the marriage from Rattanbai’s family and Parsi society, as well as orthodox Muslim leaders. Rattanbai defied her family and nominally converted to Islam , adopting (though never using) the name "Maryam"—resulting in a permanent estrangement from her family and Parsi society. The couple resided in Bombay, and frequently travelled across India and Europe. She bore Jinnah his only child, daughter Dina, in year 1919.

Fourteen points and "exile"

A young Jinnah.


A young Jinnah.

Jinnah’s problems with the Congress began with the ascent of Mohandas Gandhi in 1918, who espoused non-violent civil disobedience as the best means to obtain Swaraj (independence, or self-rule) for all Indians. Jinnah differed, saying that only constitutional struggle could lead to independence. Unlike most Congress leaders, Gandhi did not wear western-style clothes, did his best to use an Indian language instead of English , and was deeply spiritual and religious. Gandhi’s Indianised style of leadership gained great popularity with the Indian people. Jinnah criticised Gandhi’s support of the Khilafat struggle, which he saw as an endorsement of religious zealotry. By 1920, Jinnah resigned from the Congress, warning that Gandhi’s method of mass struggle would lead to divisions between Hindus and Muslims and within the two communities. Becoming president of the Muslim League, Jinnah was drawn into a conflict between a pro-Congress faction and a pro-British faction. In 1927, Jinnah entered negotiations with Muslim and Hindu leaders on the issue of a future constitution, during the struggle against the all-British Simon Commission. The League wanted separate electorates while the Nehru Report favoured joint electorates. Jinnah personally opposed separate electorates, but then drafted compromises and put forth demands that he thought would satisfy both. These became known as the 14 points of Mr. Jinnah. However, they were rejected by the Congress and other political parties.

Jinnah’s personal life and especially his marriage suffered during this period due to his political work. Although they worked to save their marriage by travelling together to Europe when he was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, the couple separated in 1927. Jinnah was deeply saddened when Rattanbai died in 1929, after a serious illness.

At the Round Table Conferences in London, Jinnah criticised Gandhi, but was disillusioned by the breakdown of talks. Frustrated with the disunity of the Muslim League, he decided to quit politics and practise law in England. Jinnah would receive personal care and support through his later life from his sister Fatima, who lived and travelled with him and also became a close advisor. She helped raise his daughter, who was educated in England and India. Jinnah later became estranged from his daughter after she decided to marry Parsi-born Christian businessman, Neville Wadia—even though he had faced the same issues when he desired to marry Rattanbai in 1918. Jinnah continued to correspond cordially with his daughter, but their personal relationship was strained. Dina continued to live in India with her family.

Leader of the Muslim League

Jinnah with his sister (left) and daughter Dina (right) in Bombay


Jinnah with his sister (left) and daughter Dina (right) in Bombay

Jinnah with Subhash Chandra Bose.


Jinnah with Subhash Chandra Bose.

Prominent Muslim leaders like the Aga Khan, Choudhary Rahmat Ali and Sir Muhammad Iqbal made efforts to convince Jinnah to return to India and take charge of a now-reunited Muslim League. In 1934 Jinnah returned and began to re-organise the party, being closely assisted by Liaquat Ali Khan, who would act as his right-hand man. In the 1937 elections, the League emerged as a competent party, capturing a significant number of seats under the Muslim electorate, but lost in the Muslim-majority Punjab, Sindh and the Northwest Frontier Province. Jinnah offered an alliance with the Congress – both bodies would face the British together, but the Congress had to share power, accept separate electorates and the League as the representative of India’s Muslims. The latter two terms were unacceptable to the Congress, which had its own national Muslim leaders and membership and adhered to secularism. Even as Jinnah held talks with Congress president Rajendra Prasad, Congress leaders suspected that Jinnah would use his position as a lever for exaggerated demands and obstruct government, and demanded that the League merge with the Congress. The talks failed, and while Jinnah declared the resignation of all Congressmen from provincial and central offices in 1938 as a "Day of Deliverance" from Hindu domination, some historians assert that he remained hopeful for an agreement.

In a speech to the League in 1930, Sir Muhammad Iqbal mooted an independent state for Muslims in "northwest India." Choudhary Rahmat Ali published a pamphlet in 1933 advocating a state called "Pakistan". Following the failure to work with the Congress, Jinnah, who had embraced separate electorates and the exclusive right of the League to represent Muslims, was converted to the idea that Muslims needed a separate state to protect their rights. Jinnah came to believe that Muslims and Hindus were distinct nations, with unbridgeable differences—a view later known as the Two Nation Theory. Jinnah declared that a united India would lead to the marginalization of Muslims, and eventually civil war between Hindus and Muslims. This change of view may have occurred through his correspondence with Iqbal, who was close to Jinnah. In the session in Lahore in 1940, the Pakistan resolution was adopted as the main goal of the party. The resolution was rejected outright by the Congress, and criticised by many Muslim leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Syed Ab’ul Ala Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami. On July 26, 1943, Jinnah was stabbed and wounded by a member of the extremist Khaksars in an attempted assassination.

Jinnah founded Dawn in 1941—a major newspaper that helped him propagate the League’s point of views. During the mission of British minister Stafford Cripps, Jinnah demanded parity between the number of Congress and League ministers, the League’s exclusive right to appoint Muslims and a right for Muslim-majority provinces to secede, leading to the breakdown of talks. Jinnah supported the British effort in World War II , and opposed the Quit India movement. During this period, the League formed provincial governments and entered the central government. The League’s influence increased in the Punjab after the death of Unionist leader Sikander Hyat Khan in 1942. Gandhi held talks fourteen times with Jinnah in Mumbai in 1944, about a united front—while talks failed, Gandhi’s overtures to Jinnah increased the latter’s standing with Muslims.

Founding Pakistan

Jinnah delivering a political speech.


Jinnah delivering a political speech.

In the 1946 elections for the Constituent Assembly of India, the Congress won most of the elected seats and Hindu electorate seats, while the League won control of a large majority of Muslim electorate seats. The 1946 British Cabinet Mission to India released a plan on 16th May, calling for a united India comprised of considerably autonomous provinces, and called for "groups" of provinces formed on the basis of religion. A second plan released on June 16th, called for the partition of India along religious lines, with princely states to choose between accession to the dominion of their choice or independence. The Congress, fearing India’s fragmentation, criticised the 16th May proposal and rejected the 16th June plan. Jinnah gave the League’s assent to both plans, knowing that power would go only to the party that had supported a plan. After much debate and against Gandhi’s advice that both plans were divisive, the Congress accepted the 16th May plan while condemning the grouping principle. Jinnah decried this acceptance as "dishonesty", accused the British negotiators of "treachery", and withdrew the League’s approval of both plans. The League boycotted the assembly, leaving the Congress in charge of the government but denying it legitimacy in the eyes of many Muslims.

Jinnah issued a call for all Muslims to launch " Direct Action" on August 16 to "achieve Pakistan". Strikes and protests were planned, but violence broke out all over India, especially in Calcutta and the district of Noakhali in Bengal, and more than 7,000 people were killed in Bihar. Although viceroy Lord Wavell asserted that there was "no satisfactory evidence to that effect", League politicians were blamed by the Congress and the media for orchestrating the violence. After a conference in December 1946 in London, the League entered the interim government, but Jinnah refrained from accepting office for himself. This was credited as a major victory for Jinnah, as the League entered government having rejected both plans, and was allowed to appoint an equal number of ministers despite being the minority party. The coalition was unable to work, resulting in a rising feeling within the Congress that partition was the only way of avoiding political chaos and possible civil war. The Congress agreed to the partition of Punjab and Bengal along religious lines in late 1946. The new viceroy Lord Mountbatten and Indian civil servant V. P. Menon proposed a plan that would create a Muslim dominion in West Punjab, East Bengal, Baluchistan and Sindh. After heated and emotional debate, the Congress approved the plan. The North-West Frontier Province voted to join Pakistan in a referendum in July 1947. Jinnah asserted in a speech in Lahore on October 30, 1947 that the League had accepted partition because "the consequences of any other alternative would have been too disastrous to imagine."


Jinnah with the Mahatma, 1944.


Jinnah with the Mahatma, 1944.

Along with Liaquat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar, Muhammad Ali Jinnah represented the League in the Partition Council to appropriately divide public assets between India and Pakistan. The assembly members from the provinces that would comprise Pakistan formed the new state’s constituent assembly, and the Military of British India was divided between Muslim and non-Muslim units and officers. Indian leaders were angered at Jinnah’s courting the princes of Jodhpur, Bhopal and Indore to accede to Pakistan – these princely states were not geographically aligned with Pakistan, and each had a Hindu-majority population.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan and president of its constituent assembly. Inaugurating the assembly on August 11, 1947, Jinnah put forward a vision for a secular state:

You may belong to any religion caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state. In due course of time, Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will 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 the state.

The office of Governor-General was ceremonial, but Jinnah also assumed the lead of government. The first months of Pakistan’s existence were absorbed in ending the intense violence that had arisen. In wake of acrimony between Hindus and Muslims, Jinnah agreed with Indian leaders to organise a swift and secure exchange of populations in the Punjab and Bengal. He visited the border regions with Indian leaders to calm people and encourage peace, and organised large-scale refugee camps. Despite these efforts, estimates on the death toll vary from around two hundred thousand, to over a million people. The estimated number of refugees in both countries exceeds 15 million. The capital city of Karachi saw an explosive increase in its population owing to the large encampments of refugees. Jinnah was personally affected and depressed by the intense violence of the period.

An ailing Jinnah.


An ailing Jinnah.

Jinnah authorised force to achieve the annexation of the princely state of Kalat and suppress the insurgency in Baluchistan. He controversially accepted the accession of Junagadh—a Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler located in the Saurashtra peninsula, some 400 kilometres (250 mi) southeast of Pakistan—but this was annulled by Indian intervention. It is unclear if Jinnah planned or knew of the tribal invasion from Pakistan into the kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947, but he did send his private secretary Khurshid Ahmed to observe developments in Kashmir. When informed of Kashmir’s accession to India, Jinnah deemed the accession illegitimate and ordered the Pakistani army to enter Kashmir. However, Gen. Auchinleck, the supreme commander of all British officers informed Jinnah that while India had the right to send troops to Kashmir, which had acceded to it, Pakistan did not. If Jinnah persisted, Auchinleck would remove all British officers from both sides. As Pakistan had a greater proportion of Britons holding senior command, Jinnah cancelled his order, but protested to the United Nations to intercede.

Owing to his role in the state’s creation, Jinnah was the most popular and influential politician. He played a pivotal role in protecting the rights of minorities, establishing colleges, military institutions and Pakistan’s financial policy. In his first visit to East Pakistan, Jinnah stressed that Urdu alone should be the national language which was strongly opposed by the Bengali people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh ), for the reason that they traditionally spoke Bangla (Bengali). He also worked for an agreement with India settling disputes regarding the division of assets.


The funeral of Jinnah in 1948.


The funeral of Jinnah in 1948.

Through the 1940s, Jinnah suffered from tuberculosis —only his sister and a few others close to Jinnah were aware of his condition. In 1948, Jinnah’s health began to falter, hindered further by the heavy workload that had fallen upon him following Pakistan’s creation. Attempting to recuperate, he spent many months at his official retreat in Ziarat, but died on September 11, 1948 from a combination of tuberculosis and lung cancer . His funeral was followed by the construction of a massive mausoleum— Mazar-e-Quaid—in Karachi to honour him; official and military ceremonies are hosted there on special occasions.

Dina Wadia remained in India after partition, before ultimately settling in New York City . Jinnah’s grandson, Nusli Wadia, is a prominent industrialist residing in Mumbai. In the 1963–1964 elections, Jinnah’s sister Fatima Jinnah, known as Madar-e-Millat ("Mother of the Nation"), became the presidential candidate of a coalition of political parties that opposed the rule of President Ayub Khan, but lost the election. The Jinnah House in Malabar Hill, Mumbai is in the possession of the Government of India—its future is officially disputed. Jinnah had personally requested Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to preserve the house—he hoped for good relations between India and Pakistan, and that one day he could return to Mumbai. There are proposals for the house be offered to the Government of Pakistan to establish a consulate in the city, as a goodwill gesture, but Dina Wadia’s family have laid claim to the property.

Criticism and legacy

Muhammad Ali Jinnah.


Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Some critics allege that Jinnah’s courting the princes of Hindu states and his gambit with Junagadh is proof of ill intentions towards India, as he was the proponent of the theory that Hindus and Muslims could not live together, yet being interested in Hindu-majority states. In his book Patel: A Life, Rajmohan Gandhi asserts that Jinnah sought to engage the question of Junagadh with an eye on Kashmir—he wanted India to ask for a plebiscite in Junagadh, knowing thus that the principle then would have to be applied to Kashmir, where the Muslim-majority would, he believed, vote for Pakistan.

Some historians like H M Seervai and Ayesha Jalal assert that Jinnah never wanted partition—it was the outcome of the Congress leaders being unwilling to share power with the Muslim League. It is asserted that Jinnah only used the Pakistan demand as a method to mobilise support to obtain significant political rights for Muslims. Jinnah has gained the admiration of major Indian nationalist politicians like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani—the latter’s comments praising Jinnah caused an uproar in his own Bharatiya Janata Party.

In Pakistan, Jinnah is honoured with the official title Quaid-e-Azam, and he is depicted on all Pakistani rupee notes of denominations ten and higher, and is the namesake of many Pakistani public institutions. The former Quaid-e-Azam International Airport, now called the Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi is Pakistan’s busiest. One of the largest streets in the Turkish capital Ankara — Cinnah Caddesi —is named after him. In Iran , one of the capital Tehran ‘s most important new highways is also named after him, while the government released a stamp commemorating the centennial of Jinnah’s birthday. The Mazar-e-Quaid, Jinnah’s mausoleum, is among Karachi’s most imposing buildings. In media, Jinnah was portrayed by British actors Richard Lintern (as the young Jinnah) and Christopher Lee (as the elder Jinnah) in the 1998 film " Jinnah". In Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi, Jinnah was portrayed by theatre-personality Alyque Padamsee. In the 1986 televised mini-series Lord Mountbatten: the Last Viceroy, Jinnah was played by Polish actor Vladek Sheybal.

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Jinnah wasn’t born in Wazir Mansion, so where was his actual birthplace?

Updated April 05, 2017
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Wazir Mansion, the site which many have claimed to be the birthplace of Quaid-e-Azam. Photo: Farooq Soomro
Wazir Mansion, the site which many have claimed to be the birthplace of Quaid-e-Azam. Photo: Farooq Soomro

Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, like all major personalities in history, is a contradictory figure. Many, with different ideological backgrounds and motivations, claim him.

While these claims are an outcome of political and social vicissitudes, one would expect that at least there would be consensus over Jinnah’s year, date and city of birth. But it’s not so simple.

Several contradictory claims, almost each one with documentary evidence, have been made about Jinnah’s date and place of birth. Ghulam Ali Allana, a friend and biographer of Jinnah’s, mentions several different dates in Jinnah’s biography Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah: The Story of a Nation. Written originally in English, the book was translated into Urdu by renowned poet Rais Amrohvi. Both versions have been published by Ferozsons.

Records show different dates

On the page 19 of the Urdu version, Allana cites an enrollment register at Sindh Madressatul Islam in Karachi which states that Jinnah was enrolled into the school on 4th July, 1887. The records state his name as Mohammad Ali Jinnah Bhoy and city of birth as Karachi. His date of birth is not mentioned. Other entries are as follows: Age: 14 years; Sect: Khoja; Previous qualification: 4th standard Gujrati; Fee waived or to be paid: will be paid.

A second entry with the serial number 178 indicates that Jinnah was re-enrolled into Sindh Madressatul Islam on 23rd September, 1887. This time his date of birth is 20th October, 1875, and his previous qualifications are: First standard Anjuman-e-Islam Bombay.

A third entry made on 9th February, 1891 carries these details: Name: Mohammad Ali Jinnah Bhoy; Birthplace: Karachi; Date of Birth: 20th October, 1875; Sect: Khoja; Previous qualification: 4th standard; Fee waived or to be paid: Paid.

The last two entries in the school records raise questions about 25th December, 1876 being Jinnah’s official birthday. But, there is a lot more tenable evidence to support the official claim than the ones made by Allana’s in his biography of Jinnah.

For example, Sarojini Naidu, who was the first author to publish a Jinnah biography, Mohammad Ali Jinnah an Ambassador of Unity: His Speeches & Writings 1912-1917, has provided proof that 25th December is indeed Jinnah’s birthday. She cited Jinnah’s passport. At the same time, however, the document contradicts 1876 being his actual year of birth; according to Jinnah’s passport, his year of birth was 1875.

Controversies around his city of birth

Now to his city of birth, which also has twists and turns. Researcher and journalist Mazhar Laghari told me that most people in Sindh believe that Jinnah, as well as his grandfather Jinnah Bhoy Poonja, was actually born in Jhirk, Thatta, which at that time was an administrative part of Karachi.

Textbooks published by the Sindhi Adabi Board in 1950s and 60s mentioned Jhirk as Jinnah’s place of birth. Written by Dr. Omar Bin Abdul Aziz, these books were taught at primary schools in Sindh.

Here is an excerpt from a textbook for 7th standard students:

“Sindh’s proud son was born around three-quarters of a century ago in a village near Jhirk. His father was a poor trader. No one could have imagined that one day he would be ranked among the greatest people of the world. After completing his preliminary education, he passed his matriculation exams from Sindh Madressatul Islam.

Later, he got a loan of Rs 3,000 from Seth Noor Mohammad Laalan and went to England to become a barrister. English civilisation and education deeply influenced his life. After returning from England, he landed in Bombay, where he started to practice as a lawyer and earned great fame.

Here, under the influence of veteran Dadabhai Naoroji, he actively participated in political affairs. First, he joined Congress, but when he realised that the Hindu-dominated Congress would never promote Muslim interests, he parted ways with the Congress and founded the Muslim League. Valiant men like Maulana Mohammad Ali Jouhar also joined it, but Jinnah outgrew everyone, owing much to his great moral character and resilience.”

The issue of Jinnah’s birthplace surfaced during the time of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who formed a fact-finding committee which visited Jhirk to collect evidence such as school registry lists.

However, some of the Jhirk elders believe that the records had been taken away in 1967 by the Commissioner Hyderabad Masroor Ahsan, who was President Ayub’s and Nawab of Kalabagh’s blue-eyed boy. As divisional commissioner, he wielded more power than today’s provincial governor. Ahsan belonged to the Urdu-speaking community and some of the events during his tenure betrayed his alleged prejudice towards Sindhis, their culture, language, and history.

It was during Ayub’s era that Sindhi language was banned as medium of instruction in schools and universities. In this backdrop, it is easy to understand why Ahsan was accused of destroying the records about Jinnah’s ‘real’ birthplace: he wanted to deprive Sindhis of the honour that Jinnah was born in one of their towns.

No evidence of birthplace in Sindh

Myths aside, there is no proof that Jinnah was born in Jhirk. The town was well organised and all of the shops were registered and paid annual taxes. Its administrative records do not mention the names of Jinnah’s father and/or grandfather.

There is no documentary evidence to suggest that the Jinnah family lived in Jhirk when Mohammad Ali Jinnah was born. When Karachi was hit by the plague in around 1890, the family moved to a property owned by the Agha Khan in the modern-day Defence area of Karachi.

During these years they might have gone to Jhirk for a brief period, but it is too remote a possibility. And anyway, Jinnah would have been 16 by then.

Official documents show that Jinnah’s father lived in a rented house in Karachi from 1872 to 1880. It is difficult to believe that a man who lived in a metropolis would move to Jhirk, a town with few health facilities, at a time when his wife was about to give birth. There is no rationale for such relocation.

Yet, this does not prevent some from believing that Jinnah was born in a small Sindhi town. Former Minister of Culture in Sindh Sassui Palijo maintains that research conducted in 1990 proves that Jinnah was in fact born in Jhirk.

Wazir Mansion didn’t exist at time of birth

But if you’re thinking that the mystery has been resolved, you’re wrong. After hearing all these stories, I wanted to figure out the case once and for all. I contacted renowned historian and archaeologist Kaleem Lashari, who came up with a new revelation.

It is widely believed that Jinnah was born at the Wazir Mansion in Karachi, but the truth is that the mansion was not even built at the time of his birth.

Jinnah’s exact birthplace is a house located close to the plot where the Wazir Mansion stands today.

According to Lashari, Fatima Jinnah told the commissioner of Karachi that the Wazir Mansion was their family house and that she was born and spent her childhood there. The government appropriated the house and compensated the owner Wazir Ali Alauddin by giving him another property.

At the same time, people took Wazir Mansion to be Jinnah’s birthplace as well, without ever inquiring if he was actually born there. They thought that if Fatima Jinnah was born at the mansion, Jinnah, too, must have been born in the same house.

Two houses and a double-storey building stood on the plot where the mansion would later be built in 1880, at least four to five years after Jinnah’s birth. Another small double-storey building and two houses stood on the adjoining plot. Both plots were bought by a man named Omar from the municipality in an auction.

The houses that stood on the land which would later be taken up by the Wazir Mansion was occupied by the owner of these houses. The double-storey house on the adjacent plot was being rented by Jinnah’s father and grandfather. Today, an apartment building named Ali Manzal stands there.

By the time the Wazir Mansion was built, both the plots belonged to Jinnah’s father.

Jinnah’s father and uncles began construction on this land and the Wazir Mansion was built by their company Jeevna Bhai Natha Bhai & Co. But the building had to be auctioned off since the company incurred huge losses in the process. In 1890, the mansion was sold for Rs 18,500.

The documents available with the sub-registrar show that the six-storey Ali Manzal, adjacent to the Wazir Mansion, stands at the exact same place where Jinnah’s father and grandfather lived in a small rented house around the same period of time when Jinnah was born.

This lends credibility to Lashari’s account that Jinnah was not born in Wazir Mansion but where Ali Manzal stands today.

I have visited the Wazir Mansion, which has been declared a national heritage and is dubbed Quaid-e-Azam’s birthplace. A memorial tablet in one of the rooms reads: “Mohammad Ali Jinnah was born in this room.”

No doubt, the property was constructed and owned by the Jinnah family, but to say that it is also the place of birth of the country’s founder might not be the most accurate statement.

This article was translated by Arif Anjum from the original published in Urdu.