Selected Writings of Gandhi

Journalist Gandhi

(Selected Writings of Gandhi)

Table of Contents

About This Book

Compiled by : T. K. Somaiya
Gandhi Book Center,
Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal,
299, Tardeo Road,
Nana Chowk, Mumbai 400 007
First Edition : August 1994
Published by : Jitendra T. Desai,
Navajivan Publishing House,
Ahemadabad - 380 014,
Printed by : Yash Printers
140/L, Kalbadevi Road,
Mumbai 400 002



Chapter 4: Hindu Muslim

Thus writes a Khan Bahadur from Delhi
"This is a letter for the Question Box in Harijan.
In your article in Harijan of April 6, you observe as follows:
"I should be failing in my duly if I did not warn the Mussalmans against the untruth that is being propagated amongst them. This warning is a duty because I have faithfully served them in their hour of need and because Hindu-Muslim unity has been and is my life's mission."
I will request you to consider the Hindu-Muslim problem from our point of view. The stumbling block to any negotiations for a settlement of the communal question has been the refusal of the Congress to recognise the All India Muslim League as the authoritative and sole representative body of the Indian Mussalmans. The Congress claims that it speaks for whole India and that it has on its rolls a considerable number of Mussalmans. The very fact that the Congress has made several attempts to come to terms with Mr. Jinnah shows that it is not fully confident of its representative character as far as the Mussalmans are concerned, But do you not honestly feel that the Congress Mussalmans are the real stumbling block in the way of Hindu-Muslim unity, and that it is for their sake that the Congress is not making a serious effort to solve the problem? Believe me, they are a lazy lot who are enjoying their present position because they are in the Congress.
You know what the Muslim masses did to your President in Calcutta where for years he had been leading Id prayer. You also know that they have no courage to address a Muslim meeting to convert the Mussalmans to their point of view. You blame the British for creating Princes, Moderates and Khan Bahadurs like me. You blame the British for trying to create another Ulster in India. Has not the Congress created equivalent Moderates and Khan Bahadurs in Azads, Asaf Alis and Kidwais. Is not the action of the Congress tantamount to creation of a Muslim Ulster?
You may cite the case of Mr. Asaf Ali succeeding in the municipal elections of Delhi. I may inform you that but for a division in the Provincial league and bad handling of the situation Mr. Asaf Ali would have never won the election. I may inform you that even as it is, when Delhi Congress wanted to contest the municipal elections as a party, Mr. Asaf Ali, who is now a member of the Congress Working Committee, had declined to take a Congress ticket. Therefore, Mr. Asaf Ali's election was not a test case; and if, you pardon my saying so, even now let Mr. Asaf Ali re-seek election on a Congress ticket, and I am confident that any league candidate would defeat him. You will thus realise, that your being baffled by the Lahore resolution of the League is not. Justified when Mussalmans have ceased to trust in your file's mission regarding Hindu-Muslim unity. On the other hand they are convinced that the sole aim of the Congress, for the last ten years at least, has been to divide and rule the Mussalmans. I will beg of you to reconsider your attitude towards the League. Please don't trust the Congressite Mussalmans, for they are not only the 'Mir Jafars amongst us, but the enemies of Hindu-Muslim accord and India's freedom.
Just now I am inundated with letters of protest from Muslim friends. Most writers do not argue. They give themselves satisfaction by abusing Pyarelal, who opens and deals with the daily post, gives me only those letters which he thinks I should see. Of these I take notice of those I think I must. In some cases I answer them privately. Therefore correspondents who never receive acknowledgement either through Harijan or the post should know the reason.
There are some Muslim letters of sympathy too. One of them says that in his house he has to listen to wildest criticism of me. No adjective is too bad to use. Much criticism he knows to be false. What is he to do, he asks. Is he to leave the house, or is he to engage in endless disputation and convert his house into a bear garden? I have advised my correspondent neither to leave the house nor to engage in a discussion. If he can, he may put in a mild word when he knows that a manifest falsehood is being uttered and believed.
The correspondence in my possession and the Urdu press cuttings and even some English cuttings from journals owned by Muslims go to show that I am believed to be the arch enemy of Islam and Indian Muslims. If I was at one time acclaimed as their greatest friend and suffered the praise, I must suffer too to be described as an enemy. Truth is known only to God. I am confident that in nothing that I am doing, saying or thinking I am their enemy. They are blood brothers and will remain so, though they may disown me ever so much.
Now for the Khan Bahadur's letter.
I have never understood the reason behind the demand for the recognition by the Congress of the All India Muslim League as the sole and authoritative Muslim body. Why should such an admission be demanded or expected? How is it compatible with a genuine desire for a settlement?
The Congress attempts to represent all. But it has never demanded recognition as such from anybody. The all India status has to be deserved. But whether it be deserved or not, admission there of is a superfluity. The Congress has never claimed that it represents the whole of Indian Muslims. It has not claimed to represent any single community wholly. But it does claim to represent every single national interest irrespective of class, caste, colour or creed, Even that claim need not be admitted by those who deal with it. It should be sufficient consolation to each party that it is considered by the other important enough to seek friendship with.
The Congress has always frankly admitted that it has not on its register as many Muslims as it would like. But it has been proud to have had the support of many eminent Muslims. Hakim Shaheb Ajmal Khan was the tallest among them. Qaid-e-Azam himself was a great Congressman. It was only after non-cooperation that he, like many other Congressmen belonging to several communities, left it, Their defection was purely political. They disliked direct action.
It is wrong to swear at the nationalist Muslims simply because they are attached to the Congress. If they become members of the League, they will become worthy Muslims!!! My correspondent simply does not know how much Congress Muslims are trying to bring about unity. When unity is re-established, as it must be, I have no doubt that nationalist Muslims will get their due both from Hindus and Muslims.
It is torture of truth to suggest that they are so many Mir Jafars. They are betraying neither Islam nor India. They are as true Muslims according to their lights as members of the League claim to be, It is equal torture of truth to suggest that the Congress is following the British method of divide and rule. The Congress is a political party with one single aim. It would be a bad day for India if the Congress could be proved to have mean motives. Is it mean to woo Muslim opinion by the fairest means imaginable? Rightly or wrongly the Congress does not believe in watertight compartments on a communal basis. If religion is allowed to be as it is, a personal concern and a matter between God and man, there are many dominating common factors between the two which will compel common life and common action. Religions are not for separating men from one another, they are meant to bind them. It is a misfortune that today they are so distorted that they have become a potent cause of strife and mutual slaughter.
It will perhaps now be clear why I can have no concern with Asaf Ali Saheb's case. I would grant that he would be beaten in a contest between him and a Leaguer. let it be further granted that such will be the case in the majority of such contests. It will in no way weaken my position. It will prove the superior organizing ability of the League and its popularity among the Muslims. I have not doubted either. My case is incredibly simple. I must not be called upon to make any admissions about the status of the League before thinking of unity through the League. I must not be disloyal to the Muslim nationalists however insignificant they may be considered to be. I ask the Khan Bahadur, the writer of the letter under discussion, to exert his influence to bring the two communities together."