ONE COUNTRY, MORE NATIONS (MEERUT, MARCH 1888) SYED AHMED KHAN (1817-1898), (EXCERPTS)
My friends the Bengalis have made a most unfair and unwarrantable interference with my nation, and therefore it is my duty to show clearly what this unwarrantable interference has been, and to protect my nation from the evils that may arise from it. It is quite wrong to suppose that I have girded up my loins for the purpose of fighting my friends the Bengalis: my object is only to make my nation understand what I consider conducive to its prosperity. It is incumbent on me to show what evils would befall my nation from joining in the opinions of the Bengalis: I have no other purpose in view.
The unfair interference of these people is this-that they have tried to produce a false impression that the Mohammedans of these Provinces agree with their opinions. But we also are inhabitants of this country, and we cannot be ignorant of the real nature of the events that are taking place in our own North-West Provinces and Oudh, however, their colour may be painted in newspapers, and whatever aspect they may be made to assume. It is possible that the people of England, who are ignorant of the real facts, may be deceived on seeing their false representations, but we and the people of our country, who know 'all the circumstances', can never be thus imposed on. Our Mohammedan nation has hitherto sat silent. It was quite indiferent as to what the Babus of Bengal, the Hindus of these Provinces, and the English and Eurasian inhabitants of India might be doing. But they have now been wrongly tampering with our nation. In some districts they have brought pressure to bear on Mohammedans to make them join the Congress. I am sorry to say that they never said anything to people who are powerful and are actually Raises and are counted the leaders of the nation; but they brought unfair pressure to bear on such people as could be subjected to their influence. In some districts they pressed men by the weight of authority, in others they forced them in this way, saying, the business they had at heart could not prosper unless they took part- or they led them to suppose that they could not get bread if they held aloof. They even did not hold back from offering the temptation of money. Where is the man that does not know this? Who does not know who were the three or four Mohammedans of the North-West Provinces who took part with them, and why they took part? The simple truth is they were nothing more than hired men. (Cheers)…
This was the cause of my giving a speech at Lucknow, contrary to my wont, on the evils of the National Congress; and this is the cause also of today's speech. And I want to show this that except Badruddin Tyabji who is a gentleman of very high position and for whom I have great respect, no leading Mohammedan took part in it. He did take part, but I think he made a mistake. He has written me two letters, one of which was after the publication of my Lucknow speech. I think that he wants me to point out those things in the Congress which are opposed to the interests of Mohammedans in order that he may exclude them from the discussion. But in reality the whole affair is bad for Mohammedans. However, let us grant that Badruddin Tyabji's opinion is different from ours; yet it cannot be said that his opinion is the opinion of the whole nation, or that his sympathy with the Congress implies the sympathy of the whole community. My friend there, Mirza Ismail Khan, who has just come from Madras, told me that no Mohammedan Rais took part in the Congress. It is said that Prince Humayun Jah joined it. Let us suppose that Humayun Jah, whom I do not know, took part in it, yet our position as a nation will not suffer simply because two men stand aside. No one can say that because these two Rais took part in it therefore the whole nation has joined it. To say that the Mohammedans have joined it is quite wrong and is a false accusation against our nation.
If my Bengali friends had not adopted this wrong course of action, I should have had nothing to do with the National Congress, nor with its members, nor with the wrong aspirations for which they have raised such an uproar. Let the delegates of National Congress become the stars of heaven, or the sun itself-I am delighted. But it was necessary and incumbent on me to show the falsity of impression which, by taking a few Mohammedans with them by pressure or ‘by temptation, they wished to spread that the whole Mohammedan nation had joined them. (Cheers)
After this long preface I wish to explain what method my nation, nay, rather the whole people of this country, ought to pursue in political matters. I will treat in regular sequence of the political questions of India, in order that you may have full opportunity of giving your attention to them. The first of all is this-in whose hands shall the Administration and the Empire of India rest? Now, suppose that all the English and the whole English army were to leave lndia, taking with them all their cannons and their splendid weapons and everything, then who would be rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations-the Mohammedans and the Hindus-could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable. At the same time you must remember that although the number of Mohammedans is less than that of the Hindus, and although they contain far fewer people who have received a high English education, yet they must not be considered insignificant or weak. Probably they would be by themselves enough to maintain their own position. But suppose they were not. Then our Musalman brothers, the Pathans, would come out as a swarm of locusts from their mountain valleys, and make rivers of blood to flow from their frontier on the north to the extreme end of Bengal.
About this political controversy, in which my Hindu brothers of this province, to whom I have given some advice, and who have, I think, joined from some wrong notions, have taken part, I wish to give some advice to my Mohammedan brothers. I do not think the Bengali politics useful for my brother Musalmans. Our Hindu brothers of these provinces are, leaving us and are joining the Bengalis. Then we ought to unite with that nation with whom we can unite. No Mohammedan can say that the English are not ‘people of the Book.’ No Mohammedan can deny this. That God has said that no people of other religions can be friends of Mohammedans except the Christians. He who had read the Koran and believes it can know that our nation cannot expect friendship and affection from my other people. (‘Thou shalt surely find the most violent of all men in enmity against the true believers to be the Jews and the idolators: and thou shalt surely find those among them to be the most inclinable to entertain friendship for the true believers, who say we are Christians.’ Koran, Chap. V). At this time our nation is in a bad state as regards education and wealth, but God has given us the light of religion, and the Koran is present for our guidance, which has ordained them and us to be friends. Now God has made them rules over us. Therefore, we should cultivate friendship with them item, and should adopt that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may not pass into the hands of the Bengalis. This is our true friendship with our Christian rulers, and we should not join those people who wish to see us thrown into a ditch. If we join the political movement of the Bengalis our nation will reap loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the 'people of the Book.' And as far as we can we should remain faithful to the English Government. By saying this I don't mean that I am inclined towards their religion. Perhaps no one has written such severe books as I have against their religion, of which I am an enemy. But whatever their religion, God has called men of that religion our friends. We ought not on account of their religion but because of the order of God to be friendly and faithful to them. If our Hindu brothers of these provinces, and the Bengalis of Bengal, and the Brahmans of Bombay, and the Hindu Madrasis of Madras wish to separate themselves from us, let them go, and trouble yourself about it not one Whit. We can mix with the English in a social way. We can eat with them, they can eat with us. Whatever hope we have of progress is from them. The Bengalis can in no way assist our progress. And when the Koran itself directs us to be friends with them, then there is no reason why we should not be their friends. But it is necessary for us to act as God has said. Besides this, God has made them rulers over us. Our Prophet has said that if God places over you a black negro slave as ruler you must obey him. See, there is here in the meeting a European Mr Beck. He is not black. He is very white. (Laughter) Then why should we not be obedient and faithful to those white-faced men whom God has put over us, and why should we disobey the order of God? On the inauguration of the Muslim League (Dacca, December 1906)
Mushtaq Hussain (1841-1917)
Gentlemen, that which has drawn us here today is not a need which has only now been felt by us. When the National Congress was founded in India, the need had even then been felt, and the late Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, to whose foresight and statesmanship Musalmans should always be grateful, had made great endeavours to impress upon ‘Musalmans the belief that their safety and prosperity lay in their keeping aloof from the Congress.’ This view has been proved to be so far right that though Sir Syed Ahmed Khan is no more among us, the Mohammedans are still firm in that belief, and as time passes they will feel more and more that, in order to protect and advance their political rights and interests, it will be necessary for them to form their own separate organization. Five years ago, in October 1901, some Musalmans from various provinces had assembled at Lucknow, and, after careful consideration of the matter, they had come to the conclusion that the time for the formation of such an organization had come, and consequently the work of organizing such a body in the United Provinces was going on when new events followed close upon each other in Bengal; and impressed by the commotion caused by the direct and indirect influence of the National Congress, and finding that the Government intended to increase the representative element in its Legislative Councils, Musalmans, as a community, sent a Deputation to the Viceroy to Simla last October, and represented their needs, and the disadvantages under which their community had been labouring, before His Excellency. All these proceedings, together with the Viceroy's reply to the Deputation, have already been fully reported in the press and made familiar to the country. I need not allude to them in detail now. On that occasion, those representatives of the community who had assembled as members of the Deputation had, after a careful consideration of the ways and means by which the political rights and interests of their co-religionists could be permanently safeguarded, decided that in December next, delegates from different provinces should be asked to assemble at Dacca and discuss this momentous questions. In the meantime, the Nawab Bahadur of Dacca had framed a scheme for the same purpose and circulated it for our consideration. Today we have assembled here to settle finally the lines of action in a question, the settlement of which has so long been postponed.
Before I proceed with the work we have in hand today, I feel it necessary to say that, no matter what the general principles of British administration may be, and no matter what rights may be vouchsafed by the generosity and love of justice of the British nation to its Indian subjects, we who have not yet forgotten the tradition of our own recent rule in India and elsewhere, and are more intimately acquainted than other communities of India with the proper relations which should subsist between the Government and its subjects, should accept it as a rule of our conduct that the plant of the political rights of a subject race thrives best in the soil of loyalty, and consequently the Musalmans should prove themselves loyal to their government before they can ask for a recognition of any of their rights. The Musalmans are only a fifth in number as compared with the total population of the country, and it is manifest that if at any remote period the British Government ceases to exist in India, then the rule of India would pass into the hands of that community which is nearly four times as large as ourselves.
Now, gentlemen, let each of you consider what will be your condition if such a situation is created in India. Then, our life, our property, our honour, and our faith will all be in great danger. When even now that a powerful British administration is protecting its subjects, we the Musalmans have to face most serious difficulties in safeguarding our interests from the grasping hands of our neighbours, instances of which are not rare in any province or district, then woe betide the time when we become the subjects of our neighbours, and answer to them for the sins, real and imaginary, of Aurangzeb, who lived and died two centuries ago, and other Musalman conquerors and rulers who went before him. And to prevent the realization of such aspirations on the part of our neighbours, the Musalmans cannot find better and surer means than to congregate under the banner of Great Britain, and to devote their lives and property in its protection. I must confess, gentlemen, that we shall not be loyal to this government for any unselfish reasons; but that it is through regard for our own lives and property, our own honour and religion, that we are impelled to be faithful to the government; and consequently the best security for our good faith is the undoubted fact that our own prosperity is bound up with, and depends upon our loyalty to British rule in India. I shall be the last person, gentlemen, to suspect our neighbours of civil intentions, but I do not hesitate in declaring that unless the leaders of the Congress make sincere efforts as speedily as possible, to quell the hostility against the government and the British race, which is fast increasing in a large body of their followers, the necessary consequence of all that is being openly done and said today be that sedition would be rampant, and the Musalmans of India would be called upon to perform the necessary duty of combating this rebellious spirit, side by side with the British Government, more effectively than by the mere use of words.
It is however our duty towards our neighbours that as far as our influence may each and our persuasion may work, we must prevent our friends and neighbours from going on the wrong path, and as their neighbours it is always one of our first duties, to deal with them with fairness and courtesy and, without prejudice to our legitimate rights and interests, to carry on with them an intimate social intercourse, maintain our sympathy, and strictly avoid all forms of hostility towards them. I would go even a step further, and impress upon you, gentlemen, that there is no quarrel between us and the National Congress and Congress people, nor do we oppose or disagree with every one of their acts and views. Indeed we are thankful to them for the efforts which they have made in causes common to us both, and procured certain advantages in which they and we have equally shared, and it is quite possible that we may regard in the future a part of their programme is perfectly justified. All the differences that now exist between us and them, or shall exist at a future date, must fall under one or other of three heads. Either they will relate to those demands of theirs which, if granted, would endanger the continuance of British rule in India; or they will relate to those efforts of theirs which are directed against our own legitimate interests; or they will fall under the head of that want of moderation and respect which are due from the subjects to their sovereign. And this leads me to say that we must bear in mind that moderation and respectfulness shall have to be the essential characteristics of any political organization which the Musalmans assembled here today would form.
I cannot help recalling the pleasure which I experienced when, in replay to the Address of the Musalmans deputation to the Viceroy, of which I had the honour to be a member, His Excellency said that Musalmans of Eastern Bengal had behaved with remarkable moderation and courtesy under the most trying circumstance, and I have to congratulate the Hon’ble Nawab Salim-ul-lah Bahadur of Dacca and the Hon’ble Khan Bahadur Syed Nawab Ali Chowdhury on a result so eminently successful, which was brought about by their own efforts and the great influence they wield in Eastern Bengal: and we can all rely that this influence will be used in the future, as it has been in the past, on the side moderation, law, justice and courtesy.
The Muslims of India (Allahabad, December 1930) MUHAMMAD IQBAL (1877-1938)(Excerpts)
Gentlemen, I am deeply grateful to you for the honour you have conferred upon me in inviting me to preside over the deliberations of the All-India Muslim League at one of the most critical moments in the history of Muslim political thought and activity in India. I have no doubt that in this great assembly there are men whose political experience is far more extensive than mine and for whose knowledge of affairs I have the highest respect. I have no doubt that this House will emphatically endorse the Muslim demand embodied in this resolution. Personally, I would go further than the demands embodied in it. I would like to see the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation a consolidated North- West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India. The proposal was put forward before the Nehru Committee. They rejected it on the ground that, if carried into effect, it would give a very unwieldy State. This is true in so far as the area is concerned; in point of population the State contemplated by the proposal would be much smaller than some of the present Indian provinces. The exclusion of Armbala Division, and perhaps of some districts where non-Muslims predominate, will make it less extensive and more Muslim in population... so that the exclusion suggested enable this consolidated State to give a more effective protection: to non-Muslim minorities within its area. The idea need not alarm the Hindus or the British. India is the greatest Muslin country in the world. The life of Islam as a cultural force in this living country very largely depends on its centralization in a speci?ed territory. This centralization of the most living portion of the Muslims of India, whose military and police service has, notwithstanding unfair treatment from the British, made the British rule possible in this country, will eventually solve the problem of India as well as of Asia. It will intensify their sense of responsibility and deepen their patriotic feeling. Thus, possessing full opportunity of development within the body-politic of India, the North-West Indian Muslims will prove the best defenders of India against a foreign invasion be that invasion one of ideas or of bayonets. The Punjab with a 56 percent Muslim population supplies 54 percent of total combatant troops in the Indian army; and if the 19,000 Gurkhas recruited from the independent State of Nepal are exclude. The Punjab contingent amounts to 62 percent of the whole Indian army … I therefore demand the formation of a Muslim State in the best interest of India and Islam.