27. Status of Muslim Minority

Loyalty to Union

(DO) NOT see evil everywhere. All Muslims are not bad just as all Hindus are not bad. It is generally the impure who see impurity in others. It is your duty to see the best and have no fear.

I appeal to the Sikhs; the Hindus and the Muslims to forget the past, not to dwell on their sufferings but to extend the right hand of fellowship to each other and determine to live at peace with each other. Muslims must be proud to belong to the Indian Union, they must salute the tri-colour.If they are loyal to their religion, no Hindu can be their enemy. Similarly, the Hindus and the Sikhs must welcome peace loving Muslims in their midst.

I am free to confess that I shall lose all interest in life if Muslims who have produced such men cannot live with perfect safety in the Union. It is suggested to me that the Muslims are all fifth columnists in the Union. I decline to believe in this sweeping condemnation. There are four and a four and a half crores of Muslims in the Union. If they are all so bad, they will dig the grave of Islam. Quaid-i-Azam has asked the Muslims of the Union to be loyal to it. Let people trust their Government to deal with traitors. They must not take the law into their own hands.

Some said to me that every Muslim in the Indian Union is loyal to Pakistan and not to India. I would deny the charge. Muslim after Muslim has come and said the country to me. In any event, the majority here need not be frightened of the minority.

As for traitors, if there are any, then can always be dealt, with by the law. Traitors are always shot, as happened in the case even of Mr. Amery's son, though I admit that that is not my law.

Surely, it is cowardly on the part of the majority to kill or banish the minority for fear that they will all be traitors.

If the Muslims prove traitors, their treachery will kill them. It is the biggest offence in any state. No state can harbor traitors, but it is unbecoming to turn out men on suspicion.

All Muslims cannot be traitors. Those who prove traitors will be dealt with severely by the Government.

There can be no two opinions that those who wish to live in the Union must be loyal to the Union whatever may be their faith and they should surrender unlicensed arms unsolicited. A third condition is to leave the execution of the conditions mentioned by me to the government.

A Friend has told me that he found a Muslim trader who had proper scales and a Hindu one who had improper scales and asked me whether it is not sure that the Muslim traders are honest and the Hindu traders dishonest. I am sure that the inference is wrong. In this imperfect world no community is wholly honest or dishonest. All I can say is that a man who sports false scales for deceiving his customers is a criminal. But I cannot take it upon myself to condemn the whole group or community.

No wholesale Condemnation

To liken a human being, however degraded he may be to a snake to justify in human treatment is surely a degrading performance. To damn crores in human beings for the faults of a few or many belonging to particular faiths seems to me to be the height of madness. The correspondent should also remember that I have known rabidly Muslims to use the very analogy in respect of Hindus. No Hindu would like to be regarded as a snake.

To treat a man as a brother is not to say that he should be trusted even when he is proved untrustworthy. And is it not a sign of cowardice to kill a man and his family for fear that he may prove untrustworthy? Picture a society in which every man is permitted to judge his fellow. Yet that is the state to which we are being reduced in some parts of India.

Lastly, let me, for the sake of the snake kind, correct the common error by saying that eighty snakes out of every hundred are perfectly harmless and they render useful service in nature.

(A telegram had) said that 98% of the Muslims are traitors and will betray India in favour of Pakistan at a given moment. I do not believe it. The Muslim masses I the villages cannot be treacherous. Supposing that they are, they will destroy Islam. If the charge can be proved, the Government will deal with them.

Is there any ground for the suspicion that the Muslims do not regard India as their country? They live in the midst of the Hindus because they cannot help it, but one day they have to Part Company. I hope that this suspicion is baseless. Similarly, if there is a Hindu who regards the Muslims as Yavanas or Asuras incapable of realizing god, he is guilty of the worst blasphemy which can possible have no room in the covenant which they have signed.

I do not regard all the Musalmans of India to be innocent. What is obvious is that after the birth of Pakistan, the Muslims in the Indian Union have been placed in a very difficult situation and it is up to the majority community to mete out exact justice to them. It would spell the ruin of both Hindu religion and the majority community, if the latter, in the intoxication of power entertains the belief that it can crush the minority community and establish a purely Hindu Raj. I consider the present occasion to be particularly auspicious for purging out of the dross from the hearts of both the communities by a strenuous effort at self-purification.

Befriend Muslims

We should forget the past and learn the duty of having friendly feelings towards all and being inimical to none. The crores of Muslims are not all angles nor are all the Hindus and the Sikhs. There are good and bad specimens among all communities. World we be less than friendly towards the so-called criminal tribes amongst us?

Muslims are a numerous community scattered all over the world. There is no reason why we, who stands for friendship with the whole world, should not be friends with the Muslims. I am not a fortune teller, but God has given me intellect and understanding enough to know that, if for some reason or other we cannot be friends with the Muslims of the Union, the Muslims of the whole world will be antagonized will lose India. Then, India, including both the dominions, will once again pass under foreign domination.

No Exodus

Even if I am the only one to say it, I will never advise the Muslims to leave their homes. If they live as abiding, honest and loyal citizens of India, no one can touch them. I am not in Government, but I have influence with those in the Government. I have had long talks with them. They do not believe that in India the Muslims have no place or that if the Muslims wished to stay there they have to do so as slaves of the Hindus. Some people have said that Sardar Patel encouraged in idea of Muslims going away to Pakistan. The Sardar is indignant at the suggestion. But he told me that he has reasons to suspect that the vast majority of the Muslims of India are not loyal to India. For such people it is better to go to Pakistan. But the Sardar does not let his suspicion colour his action. I am convinced that for the Muslims who wish to be citizens of the Indian Union, loyalty to the Union must come before everything else and that they should be prepared to fight against the whole world for their country. Those who wish to go to Pakistan are free to do so. Only I do not wish a single Muslim to leave the Union out of the fear of the Hindus or the Sikhs. Muslims in Delhi have assured me by their written declaration that they are loyal citizens of the Union. I shall believe their world as I wish others to believe me. As such, it is the duty of the Government to protect them. I for one shall not like to live if I cannot achieve this. The wrong has to be undone wherever it is. Abducted women have to be returned, forcible conversions considered null and void.

Let this auspicious day mark the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Let the disgrace of driving out the Muslims from Delhi cease from today. I found to my shame that as our motor car was passing through Chandni Chowk, which used to be filled with Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, there was not a single Muslims passed by. Surely we have not come to such a pass as to be afraid of the minority of the Muslims scattered throughout the Indian Union. If there are any traitors in their midst, our Government is strong enough to deal with them. We must be ashamed of hurting children, women or old men. Everyman must be considered innocent before he is found guilty by a properly constituted court of law. I fervently hope that such misdeeds will become now a thing of the past.

I have been told that the Meos are almost like criminal tribes. If the statement is correct, it calls for an all out effort on their part to reform themselves. It should not be left to others to do the work of reclamation. I hope that the Meos will not resent my advice, but take it in the spirit in which it is offered. To the Government I would say that, even if the allegation regarding the Meos is correct, this is no argument for sending them out into Pakistan. The Meos are subjects of the Indian Union and it is its duty to help them to reclaim themselves by providing them with facilities of education and establishing settlements for them to settle in.

Common Cause With Minorities

That the Muslim in India find themselves in a minority without protection from the majority in Pakistan is no disadvantage if they at all followed the technique of non-violence during the past thirty years. It was not necessary for them to have faith in non-violence to be able to appreciate the fact that a minority, however small it might be, never has any cause for fear as to the preservation of their honour and all that must be near and to dear to man. He is so made that it he understand his Maker and himself as made in His image, no power on earth could rob him of self-respect except he himself. A dear English friend in Johannesburg while I was fighting the mighty Government of the Transvaal, told me that he always made common cause with of minorities. For, he said they were hardly even in the wrong and if they were, they could be weaned from it without difficulty, where as majorities could not, owing to the intoxication that power gave them. The friend has uttered a great truth, if by majority we would also understand the power that exclusive possession of weapons of destruction gave an aggregate of men. We know to our cost that a handful of Englishmen were able to be the majority, keeping under their heels millions of Indians by possession of arms which India did not have and could not know how to wield even if she had. It is thousand pities that neither the Hindus nor the Muslims learnt the lesson whilst the English power was in operation in our country. The whilst they were falsely proud of the Muslim majority in the West and the East. If they could realize the virtue of being in a minority, know that they could now express in their own lives the best that is an Islam. Will they remember that Islam gave its best during the Prophet's ministry in Mecca? Christianity waned when Constantine came to it. But I must not here carry this argument further. My advice is based upon implicit belief in it. Therefore, if my Muslim friends do not share the belief, they will perhaps do well to reject the advice.

Nationalist Muslims

The Nationalists are not worth the proud name they bear if they fear the Muslim league. Can the Nationalists exclude the followers of the League from the sphere of the Muslims as Indians, the same as others needing their care and attention.

The Nationalist Muslims, who are good enough to see me, twit me for giving importance and life to the Muslim League and neglecting the Nationalist Muslims. I cannot plead guilty to either charge. The league has gained importance without my or the congress aid. It became great because, rightly or wrongly it caught Muslim fancy. The congress and I have to deal with and recognize the fact that faces us. I am not sorry for having visited Quad-i-Azam Jinnah eighteen times in Bombay. My friends should also know that I alone can have done nothing without Shaheed Saheb and Osman Saheb and the other League members. There is no question of neglect of the Nationalist Muslims. Nationalism of a man is its own merit. It demands no recognition. I would advise my friends to remain what they are and exhibit in their every act courage, self-sacrifice and true knowledge born of study, and I am certain that whether they are few or many, they will make their mark on India's future. I would even advise them to join the League and oppose it from within, whenever they find it to be reactionary. Whilst I say all this, I would advise my League friends to approach the Nationalist Muslims in a friendly spirit, whether they remain out or come in. True friendship does not admit of exclusion without the soundest reason.

I am not guilty of asking you to discard nationalism or expecting the Congress to be another Hindu Sabha. I hope that the Congress will never commit suicide by being a communal organization. When the congress ceases to represent all who are proud to call themselves Indians, whether prince or pauper, Hindus, Muslims or any other, it will have destroyed itself. Therefore, I cannot advise a Muslim congressman to join the League if the conditions of joining the League are to discard or suppress his Congress membership. He will vote for those resolutions of the League which are in the nation's interest and against those which are contrary to neither in the Congress nor in the League. I advise the Nationalist Muslim friends to join the League, if they want to affect the Muslim masses. Real nationalists need no encouragement from me or anything else. Nationalism, like virtue, is its own reward. My one warning is that they should never think of power or bettering their worldly prospects by joining the one or the other organization. A nationalist will ever think of service, never of power or riches. It is, I hope, clear to the Nationalist Muslims under what conditions I advise them to join the League.

Under a responsible Government, which ours is, services and favours I can expect only from the Ministers who are the representatives of the people. The Governor has undoubtedly powers with reference to the minorities but these too he can exercise only with great restraint.

Communalism in the Services

Are the services disloyal? I hope not. Yet the complaint is universal. Various reasons are given for the alleged disloyalty. The most plausible one is that the military and the policy are largely divided on a communal basis and their members are carried away by the prevalent prejudice. I have given my opinion that if these members on whom depends the preservation of law and order, are affected by the communal taint, orderly government must give place to disorder and if the latter persists, to disruption of society. It is up to the upper ranks of these services to rise superior to communalism and then to infect the lower ranks with the same healthy spirit.

Many Muslims, principally from the postal and railway departments, say that they had opted for the sake of propaganda. Therefore, they would now like to reconsider their view. There are Muslims who have been discharged from their posts I presume, on the ground of suspected anti-Hindu bias. My sympathy goes out to all such men. But I feel that the right course is not to resent pardonable suspicion, although it may be unjustified in individual cases. I can only prescribe my old, well tried remedy.

Only very few can be accommodated in the various Government departments. to get a Government job should never be the aim of life. Honest living is the only worthy aim. This is always assured when and if one is ready to do any labour that comes to hand. Until the dominating and corroding communal poison is eliminated. I think it is necessary and dignified for Muslims not to aim at the loaves and fishes in Government employ. Power comes from sincere service. Actual attainment often debases the holder. To fight for it is unseemly. At the same time, it is surely the duty of a government to ensure bread labour for all unemployed men and women, no matter how a many they are. To do so intelligently pays the State instead of costing it, assuming, of course, that the unemployed are physically fit and are not shirkers but willing workers.