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Fact file: Jinnah`s family

December 26, 2009

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On December 25, 1876, a child was born to a mercantile family of Karachi. Little did his father know that his son was destined to change the course of history in South Asia and give Muslims of India a new home.

The habit of uncompromising independence and self-reliance that young Mohammad Ali developed from childhood altered the fate of the Muslims of the subcontinent forever and gave us Pakistan — a dream that Jinnah turned into reality.

We have known the man as Quaid-i-Azam ever since we were able to pronounce his name. But a very few of us know about our Quaid's extended family, the people he grew up with, people who meant the world to him in his early and later years, people who contributed a great to deal to making Jinnah the man that he was.

As we celebrate his 133rd birthday this month, let us revisit his childhood, his youth and the rest of his life through the people who loved him. Jinnah was the 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. Fatima Jinnah was the sister who was the closest to Quaid-i-Azam and was by his side till the very end. In his youth, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was married to a distant cousin named Emibai from Paneli village in Gujarat at his mother's urging. At the time of their marriage, Jinnah was only 16 and Emibai was 14. The marriage was arranged by his mother because she feared that when Jinnah went to England, he might end up marrying an English girl. The couple hardly lived together as Jinnah sailed from India soon after his marriage and Emibai died few weeks later.

Rattanbai Petit was the second wife of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Rattanbai was a Parsi who converted to Islam and adopted the name Mariam. The marriage took place on April 19, 1918. In a year's time, Dina, the only daughter of Quaid-i-Azam and Ratti was born in London on the night between 14th and 15th of August, 1919.

However, Jinnah and Ratti separated within a few years, and Ratti passed away soon thereafter. Jinnah raised his daughter and loved her to bits. As Dina grew into a charming young lady, she fell in love with an Indian Parsi named Neville Wadia and married him. After her marriage, the father-daughter relationship became extremely formal. Dina and Neville lived in Mumbai and had two children, a boy and a girl, before the couple divorced.

The only living child of Jinnah and now in her 90s, Dina lives in New York and has two grandsons Ness and Jehangir Wadia from her son, Nusli Wadia and his wife Maureen. She visited Pakistan last in 2004 and after visiting the mausoleum of her father wrote in the visitors' book, “This has been very sad and wonderful for me. May his dream for Pakistan come true.”