Jinnah’s maiden speech at the 22nd Indian National Congress, 1906


The 22nd annual session of the Indian National Congress was held at Calcutta from 26 to 29 December 1906. The first known speech of Jinnah at any session of the Congress appears in the proceedings of 27 December in the official report of this session (along with another speech which he made on 28 December).

Background


On 27 December, Khan Bahadur Maulvi Muhammad Yusuf (spelled in the report as Khan Bahadur Moulvie Mahomed Yusuf) presented the fifth resolution of the session, “Validity of wakf-i-ala-aulad”. It demanded that (a) the Government should appoint a commission to enquire whether the recent decisions of the Privy Council (the highest court of appeal in the British Empire at that time, situated in London) against the validity of the Muslim law of wakf-i-aula-aulad had been in accordance with “the law, usage and sentiments” of the Muslim people; and (b) if it be found that those decisions were to be not so, “steps should be taken to give effect to the right view.”

The Honourable Babu Baikuntha Nath Sen (Bengal), M. A. Jinnah (Bombay), Maulvi Abul Kasim (Bengal) and S. B. Patel (Bombay) spoke in favour of this resolution. Some of the names in the report are apparently misspelled (Jinnah appears as “A. M. Jeena”, which is certainly an error because he had been signing himself as M. A. Jinnah and that is how his name had been appearing in the press for several years by then).

The following is the complete text of Jinnah’s speech as quoted in the report. In the report the entire of the following text appears as a single paragraph but we have broken it down for convenient reading. No other change has been intended.

Text of the Speech


Mr. President, brother delegates and ladies and gentlemen, it is a matter of great satisfaction to me and it must be a matter of great gratification to the whole of the Mahomedan community that we have got on the programme of the Indian National Congress, a question which purely affects the Mahomedan community.

That shows one thing, gentlemen, that we Mahomedans can equally stand on this common platform and pray for our grievances being remedied through the programme of the National Congress. (Cheers).

Gentleman, it is, as I said, to me, an exceptional pleasure that I happen to be a supporter of this resolution. The question that has arisen, the question which has caused a great disturbance among the Mahomedan community, is a question of vital importance. Wakf, gentlemen, until the decision of the Privy Council, was differently understood by the community.

The Privy Council’s decision has started an absolutely new line. I, standing here, do not wish to be understood that I can treat the decision of so high a judicial tribunal lightly, but we feel that a very large number of learned Mahomedans, such as Mr. Justice Ameer Ali, Mr. Justice Mahmud and many other learned Mahomedans feel that, their law is not rightly interpreted by the Privy Council.

That judicial tribunal being the highest tribunal, the only remedy, that is open to us, is to appeal to a higher authority and that higher authority is the Legislature and the resolution says that before the Legislature is actually moved to set right the decision of the Privy Council, which has caused the disturbance, an enquiry should be constituted.

Gentlemen, all the we ask for, is an enquiry, for, by an impartial enquiry, we can prove that our law is what we say and if that is so, we say that you should set it right. That is the simple object of this resolution at the present moment. I ask you, therefore, to pass this resolution with acclamation.

Source


Report of the Twenty-Second Indian National Congress held at Calcutta on the 26th, 27th, 28th & 29th of December 1906. , pp.69-70


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