The Woman Jinnah Loved

The personal life of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) arouses great compassion simply because he was an astutely rational man.

Article written by Khaled Ahmed / The Express Tribune

He was married off in 1892 when he was 16 and still in school in Karachi. He travelled to Kutch to marry a bride called Emibai. Fatima Jinnah said the wedding took place in Paneli Gondal in Gujarat. Then Jinnah took off for England for his studies.

Evidence on Emibai is so hazy that you have to look up the book Ruttie Jinnah by Khwaja Razi Haider (Oxford University Press, 2010) to know that she may have died in Bombay when Jinnah was studying to become a lawyer: “His father, sister and his wife were living in Khoja Muhalla of Bombay; and it was during these days that Emibai fell victim to an outbreak of cholera” (p.4).

When Jinnah’s father wanted him to remarry he refused “and stood by this decision for about 22 years” (p.5). The granite in the man showed early. With his hard work, good looks and eloquence, he mingled with Bombay’s Gujarati-dominated elite with ease.

At the Parsi Club he socialised with his clients, the family of Sir Dinshaw Manockjee Petit. Sir Dinshaw’s daughter Rutten Bai, born in 1900, was the arguably the most beautiful girl in Bombay with a readiness to shock with unorthodox views. Ruttie was drawn to him perhaps because he was so “understated”. The Petits took Jinnah along on a vacation in Darjeeling. That is when Jinnah had his defences down and Ruttie got close to him.

The romance was no flash in the pan. Ruttie wanted to get married at the age of 16. Sir Dinshaw went to the court and got a restraining order (p.24). The couple then waited for two years till Ruttie reached legal age and married him after leaving her parental home.

They wanted a civil marriage and the law then stated that you had to forswear religion to get married in court. That meant Jinnah had to resign his Muslim seat in the Imperial Legislative Council (p.29). She embraced Islam and married him. It was now much more than innocent love sealed during horse-riding in Darjeeling.

The Parsi community was outraged as were the Muslim religious leaders. They kept referring to the civil marriage, which never took place, and called Jinnah an apostate for having contracted it.

But Jinnah did not care. He even insulted the viceroy Willingdon to defend her against criticism. She was by his side in the 1921 Nagpur joint session of League and Congress and defended his not addressing Gandhi as Mahatma—only because he didn’t want religion dragged into politics. When the pro-Gandhi namesake of Jinnah, Jauhar, began attacking Jinnah she successfully persuaded him to call off the war of words. Ruttie and Jinnah separated a few months before her death at the age of 29 in 1929. Jinnah’s daughter Dina was 10 years old at the time. Later, Jinnah could not bear to see the pattern repeated: Dina married a much older man of a different faith and became a relapsed Parsi after divorcing him.

In 1946, Jinnah met Dina Wadia and his two grandchildren in Bombay. Boy Nusli Wadia liked his Jinnah cap and wanted it, which he got: “Nusli prizes the cap to this day”. Jinnah cried when Ruttie died. Later in life, he used to take out her belongings and look at them, not letting go of her memory. It remains a mystery why Ruttie and Jinnah never got together again.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23, 2010.

Copyrights: Express Tribune, Pakistan

  • ahsanrafiquebutt

    who are and where are the children of Rutten?

  • Jeannie Antia

    That’s a tragic story, indeed !

  • Zerxes Dordi

    At the relevant time when Jinnah got married, it seems there existed no Parsee ‘organisation’ to ‘preserve and protect’ by indulging in coercion, threats,ultimatums and vandalism.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    Makes my hear sob. So different from things nowadays, where being married for more than 6 years seems like a miracle. Nowadays, at least in America, if you squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom and your husband/wife squeezes it from the top, that is perfect grounds for divorce. To be so committed to one person is beyond the scope of most people today. What a pity. They don’t know what they are missing.

  • Farzana

    First Jinnah gets drawn to unorthodox views of a parsi girl who was less than half his age and marries her after converting her to islam!! Now what was the need to convert her to islam, unless he was a typical fundu miya!!

    Jinnah could not spare time from his busy schedule for his young wife…and they separated soon after the birth of their daughter, Dina. Rati stayed in london with her daughter for nearly eight-nine years without much contact with Jinnah, nor did Jinnah thought it was necessary for him to visit his wife and daughter even after he came to know Rati was seriously ill …
    Than what memories was Jinnah so struck by, after his wife passed away?

    When Dina told Jinnah of her plans to marry Neville Wadia, Jinnah was sadden by the fact that she did not chose another Miya like him to marry!! What cheek!!

    Anyway, i don’t think Jinnah was a rational man, as the piece calls him nor was he romantic in the true sense. He was a lecherous old man and a closet fundamentalist muslim; and Rati was a typical bawa bairu with a bad taste in men. Sad! But kudos to Dina for kicking that man in the right place !!

  • Ahsan Rafique Butt

    Farzana says right, Islam is very positive religion as it advises its followers to love and respects their wives, and the children. Our Holy Prophet Myhammad (Peace be upon him) says that the man who is not good with his family cannot do good with anybody and will have to face God’s anger. But at the sametime I don’t understand what made Rati to marry a man who was almost double of her age. In Islam matrimonial activities of the wife and husband are taken as Ibadat, if carried out after Nikah, the reason being to make the pair attracted towards each other for raising offsprings. What were the differences between the pair? Any way it was not good.

  • Amjedalvi

    May I know where Ratti Jinnah was burried??

  • Amjedalvi

    May I know where Ratti Jinnah was burried??

  • Barak Aga

    Rattanbai “Ruttie” Petit, (after marriage Maryam Jinnah) was buried on February 22 in Khoja Shia Isna’Ashari Cemetery, Mazgaon, Bombay according to Muslim rites

  • Barak Aga

    Rattanbai “Ruttie” Petit, (after marriage Maryam Jinnah) was buried on February 22 in Khoja Shia Isna’Ashari Cemetery, Mazgaon, Bombay according to Muslim rites

  • Vikram singh chauhan

    ahsan who is rutten ,don’t u think  the whole muslim society has fear to allah if u will not do this allah will punish dude where was allah when muslim’s were killed in bagdad,afganistan,where was allah before pointing ur finger at anyone look at ur self fucking ulema decide that u will do this thing or not bro their is no more god no more allah so wipe up ur fear no one gonna punish u.why world hate muslim i thin’k u bettar know the reason behind so don’t use slang or abusive word to any one. 
    AND At the last the rutten are the owner of bombay dyeing and majority share holder in various company so if allah can’t punish them so he will not punish u.
    human’s are equal no one is rutten and no one is slave .

    Aur akhiri me kashmir to pakistaan ka nahi hoga lekin pakistaan ko hindustaan me ek din jaroor mila denge .
    JAI HIND

  • Vikram singh chauhan

    ahsan who is rutten ,don’t u think  the whole muslim society has fear to allah if u will not do this allah will punish dude where was allah when muslim’s were killed in bagdad,afganistan,where was allah before pointing ur finger at anyone look at ur self fucking ulema decide that u will do this thing or not bro their is no more god no more allah so wipe up ur fear no one gonna punish u.why world hate muslim i thin’k u bettar know the reason behind so don’t use slang or abusive word to any one. 
    AND At the last the rutten are the owner of bombay dyeing and majority share holder in various company so if allah can’t punish them so he will not punish u.
    human’s are equal no one is rutten and no one is slave .

    Aur akhiri me kashmir to pakistaan ka nahi hoga lekin pakistaan ko hindustaan me ek din jaroor mila denge .
    JAI HIND