Skip to main content

Hindu antecedent of Muslim Jinnah: His grandfather was Lohana-Thakkar, said to be Raghuvanshi descent of Lord Ram

By RK Misra*
Nearly 70 years after his death, Muhammed Ali Jinnah’s portraits continue to adorn places like Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Bombay High Court and Sabarmati Ashram in India. On the other hand, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry building’s foundation stone states that it was laid by Mahatma Gandhi in 1934.
Recently, BJP MP Satish Gautam sought to remove a Jinnah portrait from AMU. It was ironic because, instead of vilifying Jinnah, the Modi Government should have actually decorated the Qaid-e-Azam, posthumously, with a Bharat Ratna because, it was Jinnah who created a Hindu-majority Bharat from the rarefied, nebulous India, while pushing the Islamists to a corner of the subcontinent and that was why the Deoband School opposed Jinnah!
Had India remained undivided, its Muslim population would now have been around 600 million, vis-à-vis the Hindus’ 1,000 million. Would the Hindus have lived peacefully with this large ‘minority’? Or, had India been balkanized, as Winston Churchill and others had predicted? Such an India would have been the largest Muslim nation in the world!
This is what journalist-author Virendra Pandit’s 2017 book, "Return of the Infidel", argues. He claims that, for Jinnah, a non-practicing Muslim, the Pakistan project was more of getting even with his caste rival Gandhi, rather than any fulfillment of the Muslims’ aspirations! An understanding of the dynamics of Indian caste system helps us unravel the mystique of Partition, he says.
Interestingly, both their families hailed from neighbouring districts in the Saurashtra region in Gujarat: Gandhi (Porbandar) and Jinnah (from Moti Paneli village in Upleta taluka, Rajkot district).
The book provides interesting insights into the key figures’ persona and politics of the time that reflects in the present and projects into the future. He surmises that Gandhi virtually “manipulated” Jinnah into demanding Pakistan, and take the failed Partition of Bengal (1905) to its logical conclusion of the Partition of India (1947) through well-calibrated and subtle stratagem. And an ‘innocent’ Jinnah followed this Gandhian script!
Gandhi hailed from the Modh Vania/Bania caste whereas Jinnah, despite his grandfather’s conversion to Islam, inherited his Lohana-Thakkar caste’s obstinate habits. Both these rival castes were seen as great achievers.
Jinnah was the eldest among seven siblings. None of them settled in Pakistan after 1947. Like his dream project of Pakistan, he was himself ‘half quail, half partridge’, a personality split to the core. So much so that the lawyers of his only daughter Dina Wadia, 88, laid claim to the Jinnah House property in Mumbai in 2008 on the basis of Hindu inheritance laws! The Father of Pakistan himself had, in his will, divided his assets in accordance with the Hindu laws!
“For three generations, the Jinnah family struggled to find its Islamic identity after being ex-communicated from their Hindu caste, Lohana-Thakkars, of the Saurashtra region. This caste was believed to have had a Raghuvanshi descent, from the family tree of Lord Rama, and some thought they were Bhatia Rajputs. Like some other drifted Hindus who had found themselves on an Islamic island, many of the Thakkars, too, continued to use both their Islamic and Hindu names and maintain traditions in alternate generations to retain their roots in both the old and the new worlds.”
Jinnah’s grandfather was a faithful Hindu, Premjibhai Meghji Thakkar. In the early 19th century, Premji, who joined a fishing business, was forced to convert to Islam after his ex-communication by the Hindu orthodoxy. His family members opposed this conversion and tried to get him re-converted. The priests, however, refused to re-induct them into the Hindu-fold, forcing Premjibhai to stay a nominal Muslim. His son Poonjabhai was nicknamed Jhiniabhai due to his wiry physique. They all remained nominal Muslims throughout life. Jinnah derived his surname and the wiry physical frame from his father, Jhinia. Thinly-built Gujaratis continue to be nicknamed Jhinia even now.
Interestingly, Premjibhai had not converted to the mainstream Sunni or Shia beliefs. He had embraced, instead, the heretic Khoja-Ismailia sub-sect for two reasons: one, this helped him expand business as the rich followers of the Aga Khan, the head of the sub-cult, assisted him financially; and two, this taught a lesson to his Hindu detractors who had him ex-communicated for ‘violating’ Vaishnavite pure vegetarianism. Even after conversion, Premjibhai continued to worship the family deity Shrinathji, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, and Thakorji, besides the Tulsi tree. Outside, he would, however, go to the mosque. Premjibhai had joined the Khoja sub-sect, thanks to Adamji Khoja, his friend, philosopher and guide who had brought him into the fish trade and then into the Aga Khan fold.
Premjibhai’s three sons -- Gangji, Nathhu and Poonja (Jhinia) -- found it difficult to marry in their caste because of this reason and had to marry in similarly converted families. They also moved out of their conservative village. Jhinia settled down in Karachi.
Jinnah’s father’s full name was Jhinia alias Poonjabhai Premjibhai Thakkar. True to the traditions in freshly converted families who wanted to hide their religion, Jhinia had named his eldest boy ‘Mamad’ instead of Muhammed. Jinnah’s full name was Mamadbhai Jhiniabhai Thakkar, or M. J. Thakkar. When Jinnah was studying at the Christian Missionary Society High School on Lawrence road, Karachi, his future rival M.K.Gandhi was also a student in a Christian school, Alfred High School, Rajkot.
When, in January 1893, Mamad went to England, he tried new names: he first sought to be known as “Mohammedali Jhiniabhai of Karachi”, then as “Muhammed Z. Thakkar”, by changing Jhinia into Zina, and, finally “Muhammed Ali Jinnah” or M.A. Jinnah.
---
*Senior Gujarat-based journalist. This article first appeared in https://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.