Mr. Jinnah

“No nation can rise to glory unless your women are side by side with you.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah

I’m a deep admirer of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It’s a travesty that the world reveres Gandhi and ignores Jinnah. Jinnah was far more pragmatic, far more diplomatic, and a far better leader in general than Gandhi. But I digress.

I’ve been looking online at famous quotations said by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. There are some great ones, and I considered writing a post composed only of his quotes. But instead, I’ve chosen to pick one and analyze it.

This quote shows the modernity in Jinnah’s thinking. He recognized that women matter. And not just in the social roles of wife, mother, daughter, and sister, though I would never minimize the importance of those roles, but women matter politically too.

But how does this idea square with Islam? Some brothers might like to quote the Hadith about how the Prophet (S) cursed nations that were headed by women. I’m not going to question the authenticity of that tradition.

But I think Jinnah’s quote fits well into the Islamic framework. Many of the Sahabah were women. The Prophet (S) welcomed questions from women. He also took the oath of allegiance from them. Also, we cannot turn back the clock and we cannot relegate women to the backseat. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which Islam will triumph as a nation while a majority of Muslim women remain illiterate and oppressed.

It’s a well known rule of thumb in MSA’s (Muslim Student Associations) that one sister is worth two brothers. Don’t get me wrong – Islam does not condone sexism in either direction. But this rule comes from the observation that generally, in American colleges, the sisters are much more involved in MSA, in generating publicity, in raising money, and in working diligently than their male counterparts.

Finally, look closely at history and you will see that nations that achieved glory were nations that empowered women. You can look at the Muslim ummah, the French revolution, England’s Elizabethan age and many other examples of brave men supported by strong women.

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