Jinnah and Iqbal’s Support For The Palestinians

Little light is thrown upon or reflected on the views of the towering personalities who helped to shape the reality that came to be known as Pakistan, over the problem of Palestine. With the recent attack on the Freedom Flotilla by Israel which was bound to take aid for the people of Gaza and also had 3 Pakistanis amongst its passengers of 600, many people have wondered what relation does Pakistan share with Palestine?

In this regard, I decided to search and gather through sources the thoughts of Jinnah and Iqbal over this conflict in the Middle East.

The content below is from my collection of different articles on this topic:


From Roedad Khan’s  ‘So many questions: so few answers’ :

“On May 25, 1945, Mr. Jinnah declared:

“If Britain goes back even on the plighted word of hers, which is the barest justice done to the Arabs, it will be against the deepest sentiments and views of the Muslims of the world and it will constitute a breach of the solemn assurances given to the Musalmans of India whose sympathy and support were secured for the prosecution of the war on the basis of this promise… It is too dangerous a game to play and a bait to get the support… of the Jews for electioneering purposes, for it will certainly alienate and exasperate the Muslim world and lead to most disastrous consequences”.

Addressing a mass meeting in Bombay on November 8, 1945, Mr Jinnah said:

“We Musalmans of India, are one with the Arab world on this issue. It is not a question of a National Home for Jews in Palestine. It is a question of Jews reconquering Palestine, which they had lost 2000 years ago, with the help of British bayonets and American money. I have no enmity against Jews. I know they were treated very badly in some parts of civilized Europe. But why should Palestine be dumped with such a large number of Jews? If Jews want to reconquer Palestine, let them face Arabs without British or American help.”

Referring to the efforts made by President Truman to put pressure on British government to allow 100,000 Jews into Palestine, Mr. Jinnah said,here comes the President of a great country thinking entirely of Jewry and the interests of Jews. President Truman had the effrontery to put pressure on the British government to allow a million Jews into Palestine, while he has agreed, after a long period of vacillation, to allow only a 100 Indians to migrate to the United States of America”.
When a section of the audience shouted, ‘shame’, ‘shame’, Mr Jinnah turned around and exclaimed:

“It is not shame. It is monstrous and criminal. Why doesn’t President Truman take one million Jews into USA? The reason is that the Jews do not want a National Home in Palestine. What they want is to reconquer Palestine, which they lost 2000 years ago, with the help of British bayonets and American money”.

Mr Jinnah then declared that if the British government tried to violate the solemn pledge given to the Arabs in Palestine and allow the Jews into Palestine, as suggested by President Truman, there would be no peace in the Middle East and the whole Islamic world would revolt. The consequences would be disastrous.

“The Muslims of India would not remain as mere spectators. They would help the Arabs in Palestine by all possible means”.

The Palestinian cause continued to be championed by Pakistan after the emergence of the new state. In an interview with Duncan Hooper, Reuters’ correspondent, Mr. Jinnah warned that, if Palestine was partitioned:

“There was bound to be the gravest disaster and unprecedented conflict, not only between the Arabs and the Authority that would undertake to enforce the Partition plan, but the entire Muslim world will revolt… Pakistan will have no other course left but to give its fullest support to the Arabs”.


The following is from ‘Iqbal and Jinnah on Palestine’ by Dr. Ghulam Ali Chaudhry:

Muhammad Iqbal asked them a question, through the answer to it he well knew:

“If the Jew had a right to the soil of Palestine, Why can’t the Arab lay claim to Spain? No, British Imperialism has other aims. It’s no tale of citron, honey or dates.”

In poem after poem, Iqbal attacked the two Mandatories, Britain and France, for their ghastly deeds in Palestine and Syria.

In the 1930’s the situation in Palestine became increasingly alarming. The British adopted ruthlessly repressive measures to quell Arab opposition, and the result was a general revolt. When in July 1937 the Royal Commission under Lord Peel recommended partition and further Jewish immigration, the whole world of Islam was left aghast.

Miss Farquharson of the National League of England requested Muhammad Iqbal to express his views on these shocking recommendations. Writing to her on 20 July 1937, he said:

We must not forget that Palestine does not belong to England. She is holding it under a mandate from the League of Nations, which Muslim Asia is now learning to regard as an Anglo-French institution invented for the purpose of dividing the territories of weaker Muslim peoples. Nor does Palestine belong to the Jews who abandoned it of their own free will long before its possession by the Arabs. Nor is Zionism a religious movement…. Indeed the impression given to the unprejudiced reader is that Zionism as a movement was deliberately created, not for the purpose of giving a National Home to the Jews but for the purpose of giving a home to British Imperialism on the Mediterranean littoral.

“The Report amounts, on the whole, to a sale under duress to the British of the Holy Places in the shape of the permanent mandate which the Commission has invented in order to cover their imperialist designs. The price of this sale is an amount of money to the Arabs plus an appeal to their generosity and a piece of land to the Jews. I do hope that British statesmen will abandon this policy of actual hostility to the Arabs and restore their country to them.”

Allama Muhammad Iqbal had insistently struck in his work this same note of mistrust of the presiding powers of the present-day world and prescribed this same remedy of self-reliance for the Muslim individual and the Muslim community. He hadn’t lived to see his dream of Pakistan come true or to watch the vile producing the last bloody act of the tragedy in Kashmir and Palestine. 

Allama Muhammad Iqbal passed away on 21 April 1938 but his call rang on through the Muslim soul.

[Continued passages from Dr. Ghulam Ali Chaudhry’s work]
On 15 October 1937, in the course of his presidential address to the All-India Muslim League Session at Lucknow, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said:

“May I now turn and refer to the question of Palestine? It has moved the Mussalmans all over India most deeply. The whole policy of the British Government has been a betrayal of the Arabs, from its very inception. Fullest advantage has been taken of their trusting nature. Great Britain has dishonoured her proclamation to the Arabs, which had guaran-teed them complete independence for the Arab homelands and the formation of an Arab Confederation under the stress of the Great War.
After having utilized them, by giving them false promises, they installed themselves as the Mandatory Power with that infamous Balfour Declaration, which was obviously irreconcilable and incapable of simultaneous execution.
Then, having pursued the policy to find a national home for the Jews, Great Britain now proposes to partition Palestine, and the Royal Commission’s recommendation completes the tragedy. If given effect to, it must necessarily lead to the complete ruination and destruction of every legitimate aspiration of the Arabs in their homeland — and now we are asked to-look at the realities! But who created this situation? It has been the handiwork of and brought about sedulously by the British statesmen … I am sure I am speaking not only of the Mussalmans of India but of the world; and all sections of thinking and fair-minded people will agree, when I say that Great Britain will be digging its grave if she fails to honour her original proclamation, promises and intentions — pre war and even post-war — which were so unequivocally expressed to the Arabs and the world at large.
I find that a very tense feeling of excitement has been created and the British Government, out of sheer desperation, are resorting to repressive measures, and ruthlessly dealing with the public opinion of the Arabs in Palestine. The Muslims of India will stand solid and will help the Arabs in every way they can in the brave and just struggle that they are carrying on against all odds.”


On 26 December 1938, in his presidential address to the All-India Muslim League at Patna, Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared:

“I know how deeply Muslim feelings have been stirred over the issue of Palestine. I know Muslims will not shirk from any sacrifice if required to help the Arabs who are engaged in the fight for their national freedom. You know the Arabs have been treated shamelessly — men who fighting for the freedom of their country, have been described as gangsters, and subjected to all forms of repression. For defending their homelands, they are being put down at the point of the bayonet, and with the help of martial laws. But no nation, no people who are worth living as a nation, can achieve anything great without making great sacrifices, such as the Arabs of Palestine are making. All our sympathies are with those valiant martyrs who are fighting the battle of freedom against usurpers. They are being subjected to monstrous injustices which are being propped up by British Imperialism with the ulterior motire of placating the international Jewry which commands the money-bags…”

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah died with a thorn in his heart.

For barely two weeks before he passed away on 11 September 1948, he said in his Eid-ul-Fitr message on 27th August 1948:

“My Eid message to our brother Muslim States is one of friendship and goodwill. We are all passing through perilous times. The drama of power politics that is being staged in Palestine, Indonesia and Kashmir should serve an eye opener to us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the counsels of the world.

Let me, therefore, appeal to you–in whatever language you may put, when the essence of my advice is boiled down, it comes to this–that every Mussalman should serve Pakistan honestly, sincerely and selflessly.”


In solidarity and support with the Palestinian people, Pakistan stands with you.

– Hafsa Khawaja

Vani And Sawara : A Curse

Despite having seen the elevation of women at the helm of important affairs, from judges to the Prime Minister House, Pakistan has yet not been able to cease the brutal traditions of the past that define women as nothing more than articles of trade and possession. These traditions range from Karokari [The killing of women in the name of ‘honour’, existing in the remote villages of Pakistan. Once labeled as a Kari, male family members get the self-authorized justification to kill her and the co-accused Karo to restore family honor] to “Nikah with the Quran” and the customs of child marriages known as Vani and Sawara. This custom is tied to blood feuds among the different tribes and clans where the young girls are forcibly married to the members of different clans in order to resolve the feuds.

In countless rural villages, centuries old customs like Sawara and Vani are the forced marriage of girls to resolve conflicts and feuds generated through murders. These decisions are often made by a jirga or panchayat who are a council of elders from the community who convene an informal court to decide methods for resolving disputes.

Vani’ is a Pashto word derived from ‘Vanay’ which stands for blood. This custom was common in Pashtoon families and was considered an act of goodwill to end often prolonged quarrel or state of enmities.

It is reputed that the custom of Vani, began almost 400 years ago when two ‘Pathan’ tribes of Mianwali fought a bloody war against each other. During this, around 800 people were murdered and to resolve the rising tension and taut relations between the two tribes, the Nawab of that time called the ‘Jirga’ who decreed that females from both sides should be given as ‘Qisas’. Since then, Vani has become as a social routine in Mianwali and neighboring areas.

In Mianwali, not only adult women but even infant girls are not spared by being frequently handed over to men or slaughtered for the compensation of crimes done by their fathers or brothers. According to this custom female members from the offending male’s family are married or handed over to the victim’s family as an act of rectification or indemnification.

Giving women as Vani for marriage purposes to the enemy to mollify them is not only against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but in clear conflict with the teachings of Islam. Islam categorically forbids all marriages made under any kind of compulsion. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has at many instances dissolved such marriages. These marriages were known as ‘Sabaya’ in the days of Jahiliya (ignorance).

Pakistan is a signatory to the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as a later UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) signed in 1996:

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):

Article.16: State parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against woman in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equally of men and women:

 1- The same right to enter into marriage;

2- The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;

3- The same right and responsibilities during marriage and its dissolution;

In a country like ours where the levels of poverty and inflation reach a new high everyday, economic hardship has forced people to revert to such nefarious custom for support and help: selling their young daughters into marriage as a means of earning money or settle debts. Bride prices range from Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 200,000 .These sales are not legal and are not done with the consent of the girl. In some cases the decision is made by one member of the family without consulting any other members.

In March 2004, the Law and Justice Commission came out with a draft amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code seeking to penalize the act of offering or accepting a woman against her free will, or any child in marriage by way of compensation. It estimated that 30 percent of all marriages fall into the category of child marriage.

UNFPA states the rights that are guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, denied to girls due to early marriages:

• The right to education (Article 28).

• The right to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, including sexual abuse.

• The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health

• The right to educational and vocational information and guidance.

• The right to rest and leisure, and to participate freely in cultural life.

• The right to not be separated from their parents against their will.

In 2009 alone, 895 cases of child marriages were reported from different parts of Pakistan. Statistics also reveal that child marriages are more prevalent in interior Sindh than in other parts of Pakistan.

The Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 and Pakistan Penal Code (articles 310 & 338-E) debar the sale and marriage of underage girls, it is without any speck of doubt, that these traditions will only be curtailed and bridled when they are unequivocal and unambiguously outlawed and made enjoined by implementing stringent measures and meting out rigorous punishment to those who support, practice, endorse or defend it. The judiciary and police can play a pivotal role in this matter with the Judiciary making laws against such customs and ensuring the implementation of those by the police, only then will we be able to dispel this curse of Vani and Sawara and uphold the rights and protection of women who deserve the right to live.

– Hafsa Khawaja


* Picture courtesy Flickr.