25th December is revered and remembered with a public holiday to pay tribute to the father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on his birth anniversary. For Christian Pakistanis, it is also revered as the birth anniversary of Jesus (Prophet Isa, PBUH). While most people will not consider these two leaders to have much in common, actually, there is some commonality to be found.
Jinnah was first and foremost a political leader, but the nation that he led was founded primarily in a religious context. Prophet Isa (PBUH) was a religious leader, but the religion that he founded (Christianity) had a political context also. What ties these two together is that their movements were based in principles of treating minorities with dignity and respect. For Jinnah, the need for Pakistan was based in the need to protect the rights of Muslims who would find themselves a minority under Hindu rule. For Prophet Isa (PBUH), the need was to protect the rights of Christians who were suffering under the rule of the Pagan Roman Empire.
Could it be that the two men sharing a birthday is not a coincidence, but a reminder? Today, it is too common that those who once suffered discrimination have gained a majority status and now discriminate themselves against some other minority. Too many of us have forgotten the lessons of Jinnah and Prophet Isa (PBUH) that it is our responsibility as human beings to treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of their status.
In closing, I will leave you with two quotes, one from Quaid-e-Azam:
If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste, or creed, is first, second, and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.
And one from the Christian Bible:
43 You have heard that it has been said, ‘You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy’.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the publicans so?
When we pay tribute today, we should avoid empty slogans and take the opportunity to share this common message that was given by both Quaid-e-Azam and Allah’s Prophet Isa (PBUH). By overcoming our differences and loving each other, there will be, in the words of the Quaid, ‘no end to the progress you will make’. It is a message we need now more than ever.