It can be said without a moment’s hesitation that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah possessed great vision and foresight in all matters. His thinking, his words and his actions are solid proof of this. If you have read or maybe listened to any of his speeches, you will agree that his words are like gems of wisdom, each one making perfect sense. He addressed many issues, one of which was Muslim Women. The accuracy with which he portrayed the plight of women in our society at that time is astonishing yet which is a stark reality even today. Quaid-e-Azam had great respect for women; this can be easily seen by the way he treated his sister, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, which was with reverence; and he always listened and valued her advice.
He very well knew that without women, Pakistan would not be possible, and he voiced his thoughts on various occasions, one of which was a speech at Jinnah Islamia College, Lahore in 1942 where he said:
“I am glad to see that not only Muslim men but Muslim women and children also have understood the Pakistan scheme. No Nation can make any progress without the cooperation of its women. If Muslim women support their men, as they did in the days of the Prophet of Islam, we should soon realize our goal.”
Yet in another speech at the conclusion of the Muslim Convention at Delhi in 1946 he said:
“No Nation achieves anything unless its women go side by side with men – even to the battlefield.”
Even today we are a nation which is still plunged in the darkness of illiteracy, and education for women is still not welcomed with an open mind especially by our lower and middle classes. Our male dominated society has not yet understood the importance of education, as most women are not allowed to venture outside and do something of their choice, because the man who is the head of the house does not wish so. But ironically 73 years ago Quaid-e-Azam stated the truth at the meeting of Muslim University Union Aligarh, a truth that our people have still not realized.
“No Nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are the victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. I do not mean that we should imitate the evils of the western life. But let us try to raise the status of our women according to our own Islamic ideas and standards. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable conditions in which our women have to live. You should take your women along with you as comrades in every sphere of life, avoiding the corrupt practices of the western society. You cannot expect a woman who herself is ignorant to bring up your children properly. The woman has the power to bring up children on right lines. Let us not throw away this asset.”
He also acknowledged what women did in the freedom struggle of Pakistan, and pointed out the biggest responsibility of women, something for which she receives little or no recognition i.e. the rearing of children. In the Broadcast speech from Radio Pakistan Dacca in 1948 he said:
“In the great task of building the nation and maintaining its solidarity, women have a most valuable role to play, as the prime architects of the character of the youth that constitutes its backbone, not merely in their own homes but by helping their less fortunate sisters outside in that great task. I know that in the long struggle for the achievement of Pakistan, Muslim women have stood solidly behind their men. In the bigger struggle for the building up of Pakistan that now lies ahead, let it not be said that the women of Pakistan had lagged behind or failed in their duty.”
Having read these excerpts one wishes that; if only our society could think like him then there would be no reason why the deplorable condition of women would not improve. Although Quaid-e-Azam was said to be a liberal man, everything he enunciated was in accordance with Islam therefore there can be no objection to what he said!