Recently, I’ve started getting more interested in South Asian history and culture. I think it’s because I feel they were more secular, but Muslim leaders in the past that governed or ruled the sub-continent than they are now.
The historical figure that I relate to the most is the founder of Pakistan, the country I’m originally from, who felt conflicted, like me, about his secular and Islamic beliefs. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, or Quaid-e-Azaam, as he is respectfully called, was worried that religion had too much of an influence on politics in the Indian sub-continent, which he originally believed shouldn’t (it is unclear whether he stuck with those beliefs after Pakistan was formed). At first he believed that India could work as a secular nation, where everyone would be treated equally, and was extremely passionate about achieving this goal. But after facing facts and reality, he realized that majority of the people in India from all religious groups were way too conservative for that to ever work.
However, if you see India today, it’s working great with a secular government, as they are less reports of clashes between ethnic and religious groups than they are in Pakistan. On the other hand, one could argue that that’s the case because the Indian founders had more time to set up their country than Jinnah did, as he died within a year Pakistan was formed. Moreover, because unlike Pakistan, India’s government wasn’t in the midst of getting sabotage by the British (Lord Mountbatten).
Some historians say that Muhammad Ali Jinnah would want Pakistan to later turn into a more secular state, although, it is impossible to say that’s a hundred percent true. I feel that most Pakistani’s would want a more secular state, especially, because majority of the people in the country are more liberal than they are conservative (which I’m not saying is a good or bad thing) and because of the decline in religion (again not saying that’s good or bad). Either way I see no politician in Pakistan really trying to make that happen except former president Pervez Musharaf, who is certainly not the right man for the job because of the reasons he had for trying to make Pakistan a secular state, which in turn later cost him his presidency.
Imran Khan isn’t going for that notion either (which I think most of his young supporters aren’t aware of), which is one of the key reasons why Fatima Bhutto isn’t supporting him. Nonetheless he’d probably be the one I would vote for if I lived in Pakistan, as he’s the only candidate, who doesn’t have any corruption charges against him, which is quite seldom in Pakistani politics.
I am Muhammad Mustafa, and you just saw my perspective of the world :)
P.S. if you’re really interested in Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the partition between India and Pakistan, I suggest watching the film, Jinnah. It’s a really amazing film about him and isn’t biased at all and shows both the Indian and Pakistani perspective (although focuses more on the Pakistani side since its primarily about its founder), and justifies why the Pakistani founder did what he did, and why the Indian founders did what they did.