Life Sketch of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah
Younger sister of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who resembled him the most. Fatima, acted as a loving, loyal, and life long companion to her great brother during the most stormy period of his life. The only sibling with whom the Quaid established a close, continuing relationship was Fatima. During the mass transfer of population in 1947, she gave an inspiring lead to Muslim women and lost no time in forming the Women’s Relief Committee. Throughout her life, she remained selfless and sincere worker for the cause of Pakistan and the good of its people. Due to her selfless work for Pakistan, the nation conferred upon her the title of Madar-i-Millat (Mother of the Nation)
Fatima Jinnah was born in Karachi Pakistan on July 31, 1893. Her parents, Poonja Jinnah and Mithibai had seven children, namely Muhammad Ali, Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, Rahmat Ali, Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. After the death of Poonja Jinnah in 1910, Muhammad Ali Jinnah became Fatima’s guardian who took keen interest in her education. It was his steadfast support that saw her join the Bandra Convent in 1902 and later in 1919, she got admitted to the highly competitive University of Calcutta where she attended the Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College, despite the strident family opposition to the very idea of a Khoja girl joining the Convent as a boarder or launching upon a professional course. After completion of her course, Muhammad Ali Jinnah went along with her idea of opening a dental clinic in Bombay and helped set it up in 1923. Miss Fatima Jinnah had first lived with her brother for about eight years till 1918, when he got married to Rutten bai. Upon Rutten bai Jinnah's death in February 1929, she wound up the clinic and took over charge of the Quaid-i-Azam’s house. Thereafter, throughout the critical years of stress and strain, she looked after her brother. Paying glowing tribute to his sister, the Quaid once said, "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." Miss Jinnah lived with her brother for about twenty-eight years. During these years, the Quaid emerged slowly but dramatically, from almost political isolation (especially during his self exile in England during 1931-34) to an almost universal acceptance of his leadership of the newly proclaimed Muslim nation of hundred million, when he struggled long and hard to wrest for Muslim’s nationhood and statehood by finding a more rational and more equitable framework for power-distribution between India’s two major nations, culminating in a startlingly new ordering of the subcontinental cosmos.
During all this period, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah played a pivotal role not only nursing the Quaid but side by side, she infused new spirit among the Muslim women to share in various developments taking place in Muslim India. She encouraged ladies to come out and serve the people and to organise their sisters to enable them to play their role in the national life outside the confines of their own home. She believed that for progress it was necessary for both men and women to contribute their full share for society’s weal. Miss Fatima Jinnah continued to help numerous Social and Educational Associations.
In 1938, at Patna, the Muslim League resolved to create a Muslim Women’s Sub-committee, headed by Miss Fatima Jinnah, which included the leading women from every province as well as from Delhi. On this occasion, some conservative delegates at Patna protested against the resolution to organize Muslim women, fearing it would put an end to "Purdah, which they said, was sacred to Islam". At this, the Quaid intervened in support of the new Sub-Committee, diplomatically arguing as a strict - constitutionalist barrister that he was, that "the resolution only stated that women should be given an opportunity to organize themselves under the League in order to support it". The Women Sub-committee remained active under the leadership of Mohatarma Fatima Jinnah till the creation of Pakistan. Side by side, she looked after his brother with utmost care of which Quaid himself once remarked: "Miss Fatima Jinnah is a constant source of help and encouragement to me. In those days when 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 is about my health".
During the mass transfer of population in 1947, she gave an inspiring lead to Muslim women and lost no time in forming the Women’s Relief Committee which later formed the nucleus for the All Pakistan Women’s Association. Referring to the relief work done by the Muslim women at Karachi under the personal supervision of Miss Fatima Jinnah, G. Allana writes, "when news of Muslims’ sufferings reached Karachi, the women of Karachi rose to the occasion, and under the leadership of Miss Fatima Jinnah, they collected woolen blankets and warm clothes in thousands to be rushed by plane to the camps in Delhi." About the supply of food amongst the refugees, he adds, "the women of Karachi undertook to supply this want, and tons of cooked food was on its way to Delhi by plane everyday." She also played a significant role in the settlement of Muhajirs in the new state of Pakistan.
She was held in high esteem by the people of Pakistan and by her brother, the Quaid-i-Azam, who while speaking to his Military Secretary, Col. Birnie "spoke of his debt to his sister for her long years devotion to him and for the way in which she had helped to lead the women of Pakistan towards emancipation.
Despite her old age, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah continued to help the social and educational associations. Throughout her life, she remained a selfless and sincere worker for the cause of Pakistan and the good of its people. During the illness of the Quaid, she remained passionately attached to her brother, spending most of her time in nursing and feeding him. After the death of the Quaid-i-Azam, she often issued different statements on different occasions as reminders to the nation of the ideals on which Pakistan had been established.
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah who stood high in national esteem not only because she was the sister of the Founder of Pakistan but also because she was a great lady in her own right for having rendered invaluable services during the freedom movement.
In the 1960s, Fatima Jinnah returned to the forefront of political life when she ran for the presidency of Pakistan. She described her opponent, President General Muhammad Ayub Khan, as a dictator. She questioned the validity of the Presidential system which she stressed to be substituted by the old Parliamentary System. During her rally, nearly 250,000 people turned out to see her in Dhaka, and a million lined the 293 mile route from there to Chittagong. Her train, called the Freedom Special, was 22 hours late because men at each station pulled the emergency cord, and begged her to speak. The crowds hailed her as the mother of the nation.
In her rallies, Fatima Jinnah argued that, by coming to terms with India on the Indus Water dispute, Ayub had surrendered control of the rivers to India. She lost the election, but only narrowly, winning a majority in some provinces. The election did not conform to international standards and journalists, as well as subsequent historians, have often suggested it was rigged in favour of Ayub Khan.
Biography of Jinnah
Fatima Jinnah's unfinished biography of the Quaid, "My Brother", was published by the Quaid-i-Azam Academy in 1987.
Fatima Jinnah died in Karachi on July 9, 1967. The official cause of death was heart failure, but rumours persist that she was murdered by the same group who killed Liaquat Ali Khan. In 2003, the nephew of the Quaid-i-Azam, Akbar Pirbhai, reignited the controversy by suggesting that she was assassinated
- Fatima Jinnah,
- My Brother,
- Edited by: Sharif-Al-Majahid (Edition 1987)
- Quaid-i-Azam Academy, Karachi,
- pp: vii, viii
- Sarfaraz Hussain Mirza,
- Muslim Women’s Role in the Pakistan Movement,
- Lahore, 1969, pp: 121 - 123
- Stanley Wolpert,
- Jinnah of Pakistan,
- Oxford University Press, Karachi. (1989, Edition sixth 2000)
- pp: 18, 167, 170, 322,3