“Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah is a constant source of help and encouragement to me. In the days I was expecting to be taken as a prisoner by the British Government, it was my sister who encouraged me, and said hopeful things when revolution was staring me in the face. Her constant care was about my health.” (speech by Quaid-e-Azam at the Karachi Club, on August 9, 1947).
Such were the words which reflected the deep admiration and appreciation he had for his sister. The woman who is known to us as Madr-i-Millat and Khatoon-i-Pakistan; Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah.
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah: Early Life
Born on July 31, 1891 she was the youngest amongst her brothers and sisters. Two years after her birth her mother passed away, worst yet when she was ten, so did her father. It was after this, that Quaid-e-Azam took charge of his youngest sister, and looked after her with great love and care trying his utmost to compensate for the loss of both parents at such a tender age. Although the Quaid was a very busy man yet he made a lot of effort to fulfil all her needs. Quaid-e-Azam gave her the best of education although opposed by other family members’ as well the general thinking with regard to educating females. During her student life she proved to be a capable, conscientious and intelligent student. She was well liked by everyone. She did her matriculation from a well known school in 1910, and later in 1913 also passed her Senior Cambridge. It was due to her brother’s influence that she developed an interest in English language and literature. She also had a vast general knowledge as she had access to a big library within the house on every subject. She also developed an interest in politics while remaining in the company of the Quaid. It was under his guidance that her character and personality blossomed immensely. In 1919 she enrolled in a dental college at Calcutta, and returned to Bombay in 1922 as a dental surgeon. In 1923 Quaid-e-Azam established a dental clinic where she practised for six years. She also visited other clinics and treated patients for free.
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah: Steadfast Companion of the Quaid
In 1929 the sad and untimely death of Ruttie Jinnah left the Quaid devastated. So she made the ultimate sacrifice by closing down her clinic and came to live with him. She at once took charge over the household and not only became a source of comfort but also gave him great emotional and mental support. She devised a daily schedule that she made sure her brother followed strictly. This was to ensure that he accomplished all the required tasks on time. Under her direct supervision special dishes were made for him. In fact, she looked after him perhaps more than a mother would. Quaid-e-Azam once said, “During all those years of worry and hard work, my sister was like a bright ray of light and hope, whenever I came back home and met her. Anxieties would have been much greater and my health much worse, but for the restraint imposed by her. She never grudged – she never grumbled.” And it is indeed true that Quaid-e-Azam only lived as long as he did all because of her. The period of 1940-47 was the most crucial of all. Quaid-e-Azam was getting on in age and also suffering from illness, but her constant care and assistance made it possible for him to carry on and accomplish the mammoth task ahead. Indeed if she had not been there, Pakistan my never have come into existence. Quaid-e-Azam also sought her advice and discussed all matters freely with her. He said, “Before issuing my statement, I used to show it to the General Council, i.e. my sister. Fatima is my good advisor and even a friend of mine.” She often accompanied him to different meetings as well, therefore had great knowledge regarding politics.
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah: Role in Freedom Struggle
Fatima Jinnah was an epitome of class; elegance and refinement in her thoughts and actions. She was a fierce advocate for an independent state for the Muslims of India and played a great role in the freedom struggle for Pakistan. She was a role model for women and thus motivated them to take part, as it was the Quaid’s belief that no nation could achieve anything without the support of its women. Therefore to spread the message of her brother, she went to every corner of the country, even the remotest areas to persuade the women to earnestly participate in the Pakistan Movement. It was the result of her inspiring speeches that the Muslim women came forward and shared the burden of responsibilities equally with men to achieve the final target Sabiha Mehdi said, “Miss Fatima Jinnah always took trouble to cross the darkest streets on her foot and to preside the meeting held in the narrow lanes. She used to report about such strenuous works of the women workers directly to the Quaid. This was a matter of great prestige for us.” She focused primarily on girls because she believed that they could play a crucial role in educational and social development that was direly needed. It was due to her untiring efforts that centres of women education and adult education were set-up in India. She believed that only with the cooperation of Muslim women, that the society could attain educational, economical and social stability. She was head of the Women Muslim League Sub-Committee. She also formed the Muslim Women Students Federation at various places.
Mohtrama Fatima Jinnah: After Quaid’s Death
After the Founder of the Nation left for his heavenly abode, it was Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah who stepped forward to guide the nation. She endowed them with her views, principles and theories. Often she addressed the nation with her thought provoking words. The political leaders also visited her frequently to ask advice on national issues. She kept a watchful eye on the day to day affairs of the country, and never held back criticism if she observed something that was against national interest. On June 12, 1949 she said, “Rise up Encourage those who have become disappointed. Remember Pakistan is a legacy of martyred people. Do not let the enemy disregard your image and destiny. Pick up the sincere, honest and faithful persons and make your society pure Pakistani and pure Islamic.” While on the first death anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam she said, “My appeal to the Musalmans and specially to the youth i.e. both men and women, is: study his life, follow the high principles and teachings of Quaid-e-Azam, work hard, and with singleness of purpose, organise a band of selfless workers, so that they may be able to contribute their share towards building up the country.” She strongly believed in the Muslim League, and considered it the sole reason of achieving independence. But after the birth of Pakistan it could be sustained for long, therefore despite all her efforts and much to her dismay it stopped functioning in 1954. She did a lot for the destitute refugees that came by the millions. She always attached great importance to the Kashmir dispute and extended her full support to the Kashmiri mujahids and urged the entire nation to do so as well. She addressed all key issues that faced the newly born state and stressed upon child welfare, health matters, illiteracy, poverty and religion. While her contesting against Ayub Khan in the presidential elections was not for any personal gains rather she agreed only because national interests were at stake. Thus every waking moment her thoughts were only for the country and its people. Till her last breath she continued to inculcate the message of the Quaid among the masses with zeal and conviction. She stood strongly for the ideals, beliefs and the vision that our founder had to Pakistan and never wavered from her responsibilities. On July 9, 1967 she departed from this world leaving behind a legacy which one can, not only be proud of but also if one were to follow, could help us become a progressive Muslim country which was her cherished goal.