MY DEAR HAKIMJI,
Since my arrest, this is the first letter I have commenced to write
after having ascertained that under the jail rules I am entitled to
write as many letters as I like as an under-trial prisoner. Of course,
you know that Mr Shankerlal Banker is with me. I am happy that he
is with me. Everyone knows how near he has come to me—naturally,
therefore, both of us are glad that we have been arrested together.
I write this to you in your capacity as Chairman of the Working Committee
and, therefore, leader of both Hindus and Mussalmans or, better still,
of all India.
I write to you also as one of the foremost leaders of Mussalmans,
but, above all, I write this to you as an esteemed friend. I have
had the privilege of knowing you since 1915. Our daily growing association
has enabled me to prize your friendship as a treasure. A staunch Mussalman,
you have shown in your own life what Hindu-Muslim unity means.
We all now realize as we have never before realized that without that
unity, we cannot attain our freedom and I make bold to say that, without
that unity, the Mussalmans of India cannot render the Khilafat all
the aid they wish. Divided, we must ever remain slaves. This unity,
therefore, cannot be a mere policy to be discarded when it does not
suit us. We can discard it only when we are tired of Swaraj. Hindu-Muslim
unity must be our creed to last for all time and under all circumstances.
Nor must that unity be a menace to the minorities, the Parsis, the
Christians, the Jews or the powerful Sikhs. If we seek to crush any
of them, we shall someday want to fight each other.
I have been drawn so close to you chiefly because I know that you
believe in Hindu-Muslim unity in the full sense of the term.
This unity, in my opinion, is unattainable without our adopting non-violence
as a firm policy. I call it a policy because it is limited to the
preservation of that unity. But it follows that thirty crores of Hindus
and Mussalmans united not for a time but for all time can defy all
the powers of the world and should consider it a cowardly act to resort
to violence in their dealings with the English administrators. We
have hitherto feared them and their guns in our simplicity. The moment
we realize our combined strength, we shall consider it unmanly to
fear them and, therefore, ever to think of striking them. Hence, am
I anxious and impatient to persuade my countrymen to feel non-violent
not out of our weakness but out of our strength. But you and I know
that we have not yet evolved the nonviolence of the strong and
we have not done so because the Hindu-Muslim union has not gone much
beyond the stage of policy. There is still too much mutual distrust
and consequent fear. I am not disappointed. The progress we have made
in that direction is indeed phenomenal. We seem to have covered in
eighteen months time the work of a generation. But infinitely more
is necessary. Neither the classes nor the masses feel instinctively
that our union is necessary as the breath of our nostrils.
For this consummation, we must, it seems to me, rely more upon quality
than quantity. Given a sufficient number of Hindus and Mussalmans
with almost a fanatical faith in everlasting friendship between the
Hindus and the Mussalmans of India, we shall not be long before the
unity permeates the masses. A few of us must first clearly understand
that we can make no headway without accepting non-violence in thought,
word and deed for the full realization of our political ambition.
I would, therefore, beseech you and the members of the Working Committee
and the A.I.C.C. to see that our ranks contain no workers who do not
fully realize the essential truth I have endeavoured to place before
you. A living faith cannot be manufactured by the rule of majority.
To me the visible symbol of all-India unity and, therefore, of the
acceptance of non-violence as an indispensable means for the
realization of our political ambition is undoubtedly the Charkha,
i.e., khaddar. Only those who believe in cultivating a non-violent
spirit and eternal friendship between Hindus and Mussalmans will daily
and religiously spin. Universal hand-spinning and the universal manufacture
and use of hand-spun and hand-woven khaddar will be a substantial,
if not absolute, proof of the real unity and non-violence, and
it will be a recognition of a living kinship with the dumb masses.
Nothing can possibly unify and revivify India as the acceptance by
all India of the spinning-wheel as a daily sacrament and the khaddar
wear as a privilege and a duty.
Whilst, therefore, I am anxious that more title- holders should give
up their titles; lawyers, law courts; scholars, the Government schools
or colleges; the Councilors, the Councils and the soldiers and the
civilians, their posts, I would urge the nation to restrict its activity
in this direction only to the consolidation of the results already
achieved and to trust its strength to command further abstentions
from association with a system we are seeking to mend or end.
Moreover, the workers are too few. I would not waste a single worker
today on destructive work when we have such an enormous amount of
constructive work. But perhaps the most conclusive argument against
devoting further time to destructive propaganda is the fact that
the spirit of intolerance, which is a form of violence, has never
been so rampant as now. Co-operators are estranged from us. They
fear us. They say that we are establishing a worse bureaucracy than
the existing one. We must remove every cause for such anxiety.
We must go out of our way to win them to our side. We must make Englishmen
safe from all harm from our side. I should not have to labour the
point if it was clear to everyone, as it is to you and to me, that
our pledge of non-violence implies utter humility and towards our
bitterest opponent. This necessary spirit will be automatically realized
if only India will devote her sole attention to the work of construction
suggested by me.
I flatter myself with the belief that my imprisonment is quite enough
for a long time to come. I believe in all humility that I have no
ill will against anyone. Some of my friends would not have to be as
non-violent as I am. But we contemplated the imprisonment of the most
innocent. If I may be allowed that claim, it is clear that I should
not be followed to prison by anybody at all. We do want to paralyse
the Government considered as a system—not however by intimidation,
but by the irresistible pressure of our innocence. In my opinion,
it would be intimidation to fill the goals anyhow, and why should
more innocent men seek imprisonment till one considered to be the
most innocent has been found inadequate for the purpose?
My caution against further courting of imprisonment does not
mean that we are now to shirk imprisonment. If the Government will
take away every non-violent non-co-operator, I should welcome it.
Only, it should not be because of our civil disobedience, defensive
or aggressive. Nor, I hope, will the country fret over those who are
in jail. It will do them and the country good to serve the full term
of their imprisonment. They can be fitly discharged before their time
only by an act of the Swaraj Parliament. And I entertain an absolute
conviction that universal adoption of khaddar is Swaraj.
I have refrained from mentioning untouchability. I am sure every good
Hindu believes that it has got to go. Its removal is as necessary
as the realization of Hindu- Muslim unity.
I have placed before you a programme which is, in my opinion, the
quickest and the best. No impatient Khilafatist can devise a better.
May God give you health and wisdom to guide the country to her destined