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The Charismatic Leader: Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the

Creation of Pakistan by Sikandar Hayat. Karachi: Oxford University Press,

2008. pp.386.

Book Review by Ghulam Ghous

The study and analysis of the emergence of charisma and leadership has been a
preeminent question of research for the scholars and historians alike. It attracts added
significance when it is done in historical context and woven into theoretical mould. Dr.
Sikandar Hayat’s book is a worthwhile contribution which accomplishes a long standing
need of studying Jinnah in theoretical perspective.
This book is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter sets the tone and tenor of the
book whereby the writer succinctly examines the various hypotheses and interpretive
analyses of the phenomenon of emergence of Jinnah’s leadership by the different
scholars. He surveys and sifts the works of various biographers of Jinnah and finds their
explications and interpretations untenable and incompatible with each other. His survey,
although by no means exhaustive, encompasses all the major works on Jinnah. In the
same chapter he also scrutinizes different concepts and theoretical paradigms of
charisma. Besides discussing Max Weber’s seminal concept of charisma the writer also
reviews theories of charisma and charismatic leadership of Edward Shils, David Ernest
Apter, Ann Ruth & Dorothy Willners and Dankwart Alexander Rustow. He sets forth, as
a corollary, the vital ingredients of both ‘personality related factors’ and ‘situational
factors’ and ‘combination of these’ according to him ‘constitutes a systematic framework
on charisma and charismatic leadership’.
In the second chapter the writer briefly but subtly surveys the early life and subsequent
political career of Mohammad Ali Jinnah till 1937. This chapter is significant in the sense
that it not only outlines Jinnah’s contribution for the nationalist cause but it also
delineates the reasons of his subsequent disillusionment with the cause. In the third
chapter the writer examines various but volatile phases of Hindu-Muslim communalism,
constitutional complexities and the desire among the Muslims of the subcontinent to free
themselves from the domination of both the British as well as the Hindus. The fourth
chapter highlights the leadership crisis among the Indian Muslims. The traditional
political leadership, according to the author, was ‘composed of social elites such as the
nobility, titled gentry and big land owners and provincial leaders of the Muslim majority
provinces and the Ulema’. The writer then discusses the strengths and weaknesses of
each cadre of leadership. His analysis of the grounds of their inadequacy and failure to
rise up to the expectations of the Muslims of the subcontinent is instructive and
insightful. In his analysis of the role of the Ulema, the writer is of the view that the
Ulema ‘were not trained for public roles’ and ‘could not really understand the
potentialities of the modern state’. They were committed to ‘composite nationalism
without really understanding the long term implications of such a concept for the Muslim
community’. It was the failure of the traditional leadership which created a leadership
vacuum and it in turn placed Mr. Jinnah on the central stage of Muslim politics. In the
fifth chapter the writer mainly focuses on the famous Lahore Resolution. He tries to
clarify some of its ambiguities which induced its critics to level certain charges as to its
timing, motivation and contents. In the sixth chapter Dr. Sikandar skillfully examines
Jinnah’s strategy for political mobilization and his tactics to organize and cement various
strata of Muslim society into a single coherent body i.e. All India Muslim League.
Jinnah’s success, in this arduous venture, lay in the fact that he rejuvenated the moribund
Muslim League not only through its structural organization but also opened new avenues
of participation for a host of Muslim groups and conflicting interests. He adroitly
masterminded the fastening of traditional social groups, students, ulema, pirs and the
women in the bond of Muslim League by effectively applying the ‘magical wand’ of his
charismatic leadership and made it a formidable Muslim representative political force of
India. In the seventh and final chapter the writer examines the culminating events of the
struggle for independent homeland of Pakistan. In this context his interpretive expertise
not only put the major events of Pakistan movement from 1940-47 into sharp focus by
placing them in proper perspective but also adds new dimensions in the understanding of
the complex events. For instance he considers Jinnah’s acceptance of the Cabinet Mission
Plan as a tactical move rather than ‘a compromise on the fundamental principles of
Pakistan’ since he as a constitutionalist was convinced that the plan interalia ‘was cryptic
with several lacunas, out of touch with the realities of Hindu-Muslim politics and thus
unworkable’. Similarly Dr.Sikandar is also not wide of the mark when he asserts that
Mountbatten-Nehru relationship made the task of Jinnah ‘exceedingly difficult’ since
both ‘Mountbatten-Nehru operated on the same wavelength’.
In the concluding remarks the writer evaluates the charismatic appeal of Jinnah. He
argues that Jinnah made his mark as a charismatic leader because a traditional pattern of
Muslim leadership became anachronistic and these leaders were not able to respond to
the Muslims’ hopes and aspirations. His ‘very name worked miracles’ among the Muslim
masses because of his extraordinary personal qualities and these qualities not only
outsmarted his political opponents but exercised a kind of domination over his followers
and became a bulwark against the inimical maneuvering of both the British and the
Hindus against the Muslim interests. In this context the writer’s comparison of Jinnah’s
attributes of charismatic leadership with those of Kemal Ataturk, Kwame Nkrumah and
Vladimir Lenin, makes his thesis more forceful.
Product of years of meticulous research and diligence the book is an excellent piece of
scholarship and a valuable source which will remain a standard reference on the
personality and politics of Jinnah for years to come.

Ghulam Ghous is Assistant Professor, Department of History/Pakistan Studies

GC University, Faisalabad.
Published in Journal of Social Sciences. Vol. 3, No. 2 (August 2009)