Jinnah’s personal life

Very few people know about Jinnah’s personal life, this is an old blog post from one of my blogs that I stopped updating. I hope you’ll find the facts about Jinnah interesting. Some of the books that helped me are:

  •     Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity By Professor Akbar S Ahmed
  •     Charisma and Commitment in South Asian History By Roger D. Long, Stanley A. Wolpert
  •     Jinnah, creator of Pakistan by Hector Bolitho (New Zealand)

Wolpert seems to have done a fair amount of research on this topic and has shared some interesting insights, lets go through them one by one:

Jinnah’s Date of Birth: His birth certificate and school records shows his name as Mahomed Ali Jinnah Bhai, and his date of birth was recorded as 20th October, 1875. He later on changed it to 25th December, 1876, not sure what was the reason behind it. According to his real date of birth it makes him a Libra.

Jinnah's Father

Jinnah’s Father

Jinnah’s family: He was eldest among seven siblings born to Mithibai and Jinnahbhai Poonja, he had six siblings brothers Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, and Rahmat Ali, and sisters Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. Jinnah’s family belonged to the Ismaili Khoja branch of Shia Islam, though Jinnah later converted to Twelver Shia Islam. Their mother tongue was Gujarati, however, at times they also spoke Kutchi, Sindhi and English.

Very few people know that Jinnah’s original date of birth was recorded as 20th October, 1875. He later on changed it to 25th December, 1876

Schooling: Jinnah, a restless student, studied at several schools: at the Sindh-Madrasa-tul-Islam in Karachi; briefly at the Gokal Das Tej Primary School in Bombay; and finally at the Christian Missionary Society High School in Karachi, where, at age sixteen, he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay. Our popular belief is that he did his matriculation from Sindh-Madrasa-tul-Islam but thats not true.

Higher Education and becoming a Lawyer: He went to England where he studied Law and worked for Douglas Graham and Company. He worked under Sir Frederick Leigh Croft, who left a lasting impression on Jinnah’s life. Jinnah followed his dressing and communication style and regarded him as one of most favorite personalities in his life. Jinnah then practiced as Lawyer in Bombay and soon became one of the most successful lawyers in Bombay.

Popular belief is that he did his matriculation from Sindh-Madrasa-tul-Islam but thats not true.

Jinnah’s first marriage: He got married to Emibai from Paneli village when he was 16 and Emibai was only 14. The marriage was forced on his by his mother as she was afraid that if he went to England, he might end-up marrying an English girl. They hardly lived together as Jinnah sailed from India soon after his marriage and Emibai died within few weeks after that. How Jinnah felt about that marriage and his new bride is unknown. The marriage took place in Feb-1892 and Jinnah left for England in Nov-1892.

Emibai, Jinnah's first wife

Emibai, Jinnah’s first wife

Practicing as Lawyer in Bombay: After coming back from England, he practiced as Lawyer in Bombay and became one of the most successful Lawyers in India.  He gained particular fame for his skilled handling of the “Caucus Case”. His reputation as a skilled lawyer prompted Indian leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak to hire him as defense counsel for his sedition trial in 1905. Jinnah argued that it was not sedition for an Indian to demand freedom and self-government in his own country, but Tilak received a rigorous term of imprisonment test.

Jinnah House in Malabar: It was built in 1936 at a then exorbitant price of 2 lakh (200,000) rupees when Jinnah returned to Mumbai from England to take charge of the Muslim League. Now worth around $400 Million the house is the subject of a dispute between India, the government of Pakistan and Jinnah’s daughter. The bungalow is located on Mount Pleasant Road (now Bhausaheb Hirey Marg) in the upmarket Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai. Its opposite neighbour is the residence of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The house was British High Commissioner Office in Bombay for many years until Dina Wadia and Pakistani Govt started conflicting over the ownership rights of property.

Jinnah worked under Sir Frederick Leigh Croft, who left a lasting impression on Jinnah’s life

Jinnah’s love for his Malabar House: After Indo-Pak partition, Nehru sent Jinnah a letter asking him what should be done to his Malabar House, Jinnah replied “Nehru, allot his house to any foreign consulate, preferably European, as he wished it to be given to a European family who would appreciate the architecture. Nehru acceded to Jinnah’s request and offered him a monthly rent of three thousand rupees. Unfortunately Jinnah died in September 1948 before the deal could be finalized.”

Rati Bai, Jinnah’s Love: Ruttenbai “Ruttie” Petit (“The Flower of Bombay”) after marriage Maryam Jinnah, “Ruttie” as she was affectionately called was Jinnah second wife. She was born to a Rich Parsi family on 20th Feb, 1900. Ratti, the only daughter of Sir Dinsha Petit, a close friend of client of Jinnah was considered as the Flower of Bombay, Jinnah was invited to Darjeeling in 1916 by Ratti’s father to spend some Summer days on hill-station. Jinnah and Ratti fell in love with each other just after few meetings and decided to marry as soon as possible, however Jinnah knew that it wasn’t possible until she becomes 18 as per the legal requirements.

Rati Bai - the flower of Bombay

Rati Bai – the flower of Bombay

Jinnah’s marriage proposal and meeting with Sir Petit: Jinnah approached Sir Dinshaw with a seemingly abstract question about his views on inter-communal marriages. Sir Dinshaw emphatically expressed his opinion that it would be an ideal solution to inter-communal antagonism. Jinnah could not have hoped for a more favorable response, and immediately asked his friend for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

M. C. Chagla, who was assisting Jinnah at his chambers in those days, recalled later, “Sir Dinshaw was taken aback. He had not realized that his remarks might have serious personal repercussions. He was most indignant, and refused to countenance any such idea which appeared to him absurd and fantastic.”
Jinnah pleaded his case, but to no avail. Not only was this the end of the friendship between the two men, but Sir Dinshaw forbade Ruttie to meet Jinnah as long as she lived under his roof. As she was still a minor, the law was on his side but Ruttie and Jinnah met in secret anyway, and decided to wait out the two years until she attained the age of maturity.

Rati-Jinnah Wedding: Shortly after her eighteenth birthday, Rattanbai converted to Islam and adopted the name Mariam. Two months later, on April 19, 1918, they were married at his house South Court in Bombay. The wedding ring which Jinnah gave Ruttie was a present from the Raja of Mahmudabad. The Raja and a few close friends of Jinnah were the only guests at the wedding, and later the couple spent part of their honeymoon at the Mahmudabad palace in Nainital. The rest of their honeymoon was spent at the Maidens Hotel, a magnificent property just beyond the Red Fort.

Ratti Jinnah

Ratti Jinnah

Early days of Rati-Jinnah Marriage: Ruttie and Jinnah made a head-turning couple. Her long hair would be decked in fresh flowers, and she wore vibrant silk and headbands lavish with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. And Jinnah in those days was the epitome of elegance in suits custom-made for him in London. According to most sources, the couple could not have been happier in those early years of their marriage. The only blot on their joy was Ruttie’s ostracism from her family. Sir Dinshaw mourned Ruttie socially even after his granddaughter Dina was born.

Jinnah's Marriage Certificate

Jinnah’s Marriage Certificate

Marriage Failure: Ratti and Jinnah loved each other till the end of their lives but unfortunately their Marriage failed just after few years. Ratti wasn’t happy with the fact that Jinnah was working over-time and wasnt able to give time to his family.  By mid 1922, Jinnah was becoming involved in Indian Politics, only to make him even busier and the relationship going to the lowest level possible.

Ratti Shifted to Taj: Ratti, a Cancer Patient shifted to Bombay’s Taj Hotel where she was taken care of by the hotel staff. Kanji, here close friend, continued to be her constant companion. By February 18, 1929 she had become so weak that all she could manage to say to him was a request to look after her cats. Two days later, Ruttie Petit Jinnah died. It was her 29th birthday.

Ratti’s Death: She was buried on February 22 in Khoja Isnaashari Cemetery, Mazgaon, Bombay according to Muslim rites. Jinnah sat like a statue throughout the funeral but when asked to throw earth on the grave, he broke down and wept. Later, Chagla said, That was the only time when I found Jinnah betraying some shadow of human weakness. It’s not a well publicized fact that as a young student in England it had been one of Jinnah’s dreams to play Romeo at The Globe. It is an unfortunate reality that a love story that started like a fairy tale ended as a haunting tragedy to rival any of Shakespeare’s dramas.

Rati Bai's Grave

Rati Bai’s Grave

Ratti’s Letter to Jinnah: Ratti, though seperated, was in constant touch with Jinnah not only when she was in Taj but also when she went to France for advanced treatment of her illness. Here is the copy of one letter that she wrote to Jinnah:

Ratti Jinnah Letter

Ratti Jinnah Letter

Dina’s Birth: Dina, the only daughter of Jinnah and Ratti was born on the night between 14th and 15th August, 1919. Jinnah had no idea that Dina’s birth date would become a significant couple of dates for the people of India and Pakistan in 1947 as the history shows. Dina was born as a Premature child and her arrival was unexpected when the couple of was enjoying a movie at a local Theater in London.

Dina’s Childhood: Dina spent most of her childhood between London and Bombay and got little opportunity to interact with her father, schooling was done in London most of the times. Wolpert writes that Jinnah defined Dina as her sole comfort during his London’s stay during 1930-33 (an year after Ratti’s death).

Dina’s Muslim Connection: Jinnah tried raising Dina as a Muslim child and gave her responsibility solely to Fatima Jinnah who tried teaching her Salaat (Muslim Prayers) and Quran. How much Dina practiced these things is an unknown fact.

Dina-Fatima relations: It was later revealed during an Interview by Dina Wadia that she never enjoyed a good relationship with her aunt Fatima and she saw her as a wall between herself and Jinnah.

Neville and Dina Wadia: It was 1936-7 when Dina was introduced to Neville (some sources claim it was through a common friend). Neville was born to a Parsi father and Christian mother, his father Sir Ness Wadia (1873-1952) was a well known Textile Industrialist in India. Neville was born in Liverpool, England on 22nd August, 1911. Neville always felt as a Parsi at heart and wanted to join the Parsi community but that only became possible on 5th March, 1983 when the chief Parsi Priest Noshir Hormuzdar and his associates agreed in front of Parsi Panchayat that Neville should be given right of Novjot (a ceremony to become a formal Parsi). Neville and his father’s claims to be a true Parsi were disputed by the Parsi Panchyat for many years as Neville’s father had married to a Christian woman. Neville Wadia died on 31st July, 1996.

Sir Wadia

Sir Wadia

Neville’s Career: Neville Wadia was educated at Malvern College and Trinity College, Cambridge. Soon after graduating he married Dina and joined his father’s textile business in 1933, supervising the loading of cotton bales on to trucks. He became company chairman in 1952, retiring 25 years later. During this period cotton exports from India were growing and to help them expand he founded the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council, which he headed for 12 years. Wadia also contributed to building new wings and upgrading several hospitals in Bombay founded by his family, and established a commerce college in Pune, 120 miles south of Bombay, along with a host of charitable trusts for Parsees.

Jinnah’s reaction for Neville Wadia: The relationship between Jinnah and Dina degraded to its lowest level when Dina asked for his permission to marry Neville Wadia, a non-muslim as seen by Jinnah. Wolpert writes that Jinnah asked Dina “there are millions of Muslim boys in India, is he the only one you were waiting for”. Dina replied “there were millions of Muslim girls in India, why did you marry my mother then”. Jinnah replied “but she became a Muslim before marriage”.

Dina – Neville marriage: Dina went ahead and got married to Neville Wadia against the will of her Father and Jinnah reportedly told all his social circle that he is going to cut all his relations with Dina from that date. This never happened though, as we’ve discovered that Dina was always in touch with Jinnah who had visited her and also they exchanged sever letters with each other.

Dina Wadia Marriage

Dina Wadia Marriage

Dina – Neville separation: Dina and Neville Wadia’s marriage lasted for 5 years only and they got separated in 1943, though the divorce never took place. As we mentioned earlier Dina was in constant tough with her father and specially after her separation with Neville.

Nusli Wadia’s Birth: We’ve not been able to find the right date of Birth for Nusli Wadia and the year of Birth is believed to be either 1944 or 1945 almost an year after the separation of Mr. and Mrs. Wadia. Nusli is the only son of his parents and has an elder sister as well. In 1971, Neville Wadia made huge breaking news Bombay’s business community when he announced of his intentions to sell up all his Textile related business and settle somewhere abroad (believed to be New York). This shook the Mumbai’s Stock Market with some immediate concerns about the huge investments in Wadia Group. However, Nusli Wadia, then 26, had some ambitious ideas to run his family business and with the support of his mother and sister, he took over the Chairmanship of Wadia Group. Jinnah’s relation with his grandson Nusli is unknown.

14-15th August, 1947: It is reported that Jinnah asked his daughter on the eve of 14th August, 1947 if she wished to join him in Pakistan, however she did not have any immediate reply as her whole family was in Bombay. The claims are not verified though.

Jinnah’s Death: Jinnah died on 9th September, 1948 and Dina Wadia visited Karachi for funeral. She was personally invited by Liaquat Ali Khan who sent a chartered plane to Bombay for Dina Wadia. There is a picture available of Dina Wadia mourning on Jinnah’s funeral. This was Dina’s first ever visit to Pakistan, she returned immediately back to Bombay.

2 thoughts on “Jinnah’s personal life

  1. Jinnah was a versatile genius but he had deprived the people of this sub-continent from his illuminating progressive thought by taking away Pakistan and making the whole region demoralized and a center of hatred in between Hindus and Muslims.

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