PART 7 -- [From Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to Iqbal]
[A] Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was unquestionably a great man. He was highminded, unselfish, and devoted to the interests of his community. He lived and died for it. His political creed consisted of three articles:
(a) Non-interference in the affairs of outside Muslim states.In his eyes, these three articles were more or less interdependent.
(b) Concentration of all efforts on the betterment of the Muslims' condition at home, and
(c) Alliance with the British Government.
[B] As long as he lived, he commanded the almost undivided allegiance of his educated fellow-religionists, though even then a few of the latter interested themselves in the Indian National Congress. After his death,/15/ there was a change. A large number of his former followers and pupils abandoned all the three articles of his faith. But an equally large number continued to believe in and follow his policy. The masses went with the former. Thus a situation arose which may be summed up in two phrases: Pan-Islamism, and hostility to the British.
[C] Under the influence of the Non-co-operation movement, a sufficiently large number of Muslims joined the Indian National Congress; but in very many cases their nationalism seemed to be only secondary to their Pan-Islamism. Now it is obvious that the Indian Muslims must sympathise with their fellow-Muslims outside. The misfortunes of the latter must draw their sympathy; their glories must fill them with elation. This is only natural. Hindus cannot realize this fully, as there are virtually no Hindus outside India. While admitting this, I have no doubt in my own mind that Sir Syed's policy of concentration at home was the better of the two.
The advocates of Pan-Islamism have never realized that nationalism must precede internationlism, whether political or religious. People who are not free at home, cannot help others either to gain their freedom or to retain it. People who are poor, illiterate, destitute, and dependent at home, cannot very well give away what they have in order to help others. The sentiment has a veneer of nobility, but it is neither practical politics nor sound economics, and in my opinion it is not good religion either. There are some people [] who will laugh at these ideas, but that does not affect this truth. The events of the last three years have in my judgment conclusively shown that, at least in this respect, Sir Syed's policy was sounder than that of those who reversed it.
[D] Note:–Compare Muslim contributions to the Khilafat and Smyrna Funds with those to the Tilak Swarajya Fund, the Malabar Relief and the Muslim Education funds, etc.
[E] The first article of an Indian's faith must be to love India above every other country on the face of the globe. Only then can he be a patriot. Divided aIlegiance and divided love cannot produce either good nationalists and patriots, or even good religionists.
[F] There was a time when the ablest and perhaps the most popular of Muslim poets/16/ sang the two songs, one beginning with the line Sare jahan se accha Hindustan hamara (of all the countries of the world, our Hindustan is the best), and the other a Mussaddas ending with the refrain: "The same is my country, the same is my country." It will be interesting to insert here a few verses from these songs, showing the depth of patriotism and the height of nationalism which inspired their composer, and the broad spirit of tolerance that pervaded them. The first contained the following:
(Translation)–Religion does not teach mutual aniomsity.[G] This song is often sung as a substitute tune for "Bande Mataram," and has been raised to the dignity of a national anthem. Take the following from the other:
We are Indians; our country is Hindustan.
Greece, Egypt and Rome have all been effaced from the world,
but our name and distinction is still living.
There is some reason why our life will not be extinct,
although changing time has been our enemy for centuries.
(Translation)–"The land in which Chisti delivered his message of truth; the garden in which Nanak sang the song of theism; the land which Tartars adopted as their home; the land which made the people of Hedjaz leave the desert of Arabia; the same land is my native land, the same is my native land."In the foot-note it is said that the first line refers to the flute of Shri Krishna, and the second is a hadis to the effect that the Prophet said: "he was receiving cool breezes from the direction of India."
[] (2) (The land) which aroused the wonder of the Greeks. (The land) which taught Science and Art to the whole world, etc. etc.
(3) The place from where the world heard the song of theism; the place from where the Prophet of Arabia received cool breezes, etc. etc.
(4) (The land) in whose atmosphere life is life of Paradise.[H] There is another song composed by the same poet under tho name of the "New Shivala"–the temple dedicated to Shiva, which is full of the noblest possible sentiments of Hindu-Muhammadan unity. I used to often recite it in my exile in the United States of America, and translated it into English for an English magazine. My translation was versified by Dr. Ananda Coomarswami and published in one of the American magazines.
(5) (The land) which is Gautama's country, (and thus) is the holy land of the Japanese, (the land) which is a smaller Jerusalem for the lovers of Christ.
[I] Equally remarkable and pathetic is a poem called Sada-i-Dard (a wail of pain) lamenting Hindu-Muslim disunity. Following tho same line and even more pathetic and impressive is a poem called Taswir-i-Dard (a picture of pain). I cannot resist the temptation of giving a few verses here:
(Tr.) Oh, Hindustan, the spectacle makes me weep. Thy story is the most instructive of all stories.The next verses bewail the fact that the writer has been assigned by fate (the duty of) being a reader of mourning literature (Nauha khawan) on India.
[] (Tr.) Oh! plucker of flowers (evidently referring to the foreign rulers). You have not left a trace of the leaves even. By your good luck, the gardeners are engaged in warring with each other.(This evidently refers to Hindu Muslim quarrels). Then come the following verses:
(Tr.) Oh, fool, think of your country; misfortune is about to overtake it as there are consultations in heavens to ruin it. See what is happening and what is about to happen. What is the use of repeating old stories?[J] In a collection of Dr. Iqbal's Urdu poetry just published at Lahore, his poems are divided into three periods. The first ends with 1905. All the poems breathing the love of country and HinduMuhammadan unity belong to this period. The second ends with 1908. The third begins with 1908. It is remarkable that all the poems cited by me belong to the first period. The first and the second periods are comparatively free from sectarianism. [The] third period is full of sectarian religionism.
Oh! Indians, if you won't awaken in time, you will be effaced, and there will be no mention of you even in stories.
[K] Compare these gems of Urdu literature and Indian nationalism with later songs in the days of Pan-Islamism, which begin with the verse:
(Tr.) China and Arabia is ours (and so) is India ours. We are Muslims, the whole world is our native land.In a still later poem occurs the following:–
(Tr.) Your hem is free from the dust of native land: Thou art the Joseph [to?] whom every Egypt is Canaan.In a poem on patriotism or a love of country the poet sings of its evils and hints that the Prophet cut the roots of the tree of patriotism. This, he holds, is a new-fangled weapon of modern powers.
[L] What a change! But even more remarkable are some of the folk songs composed during the best days of the Khilafat movement, which have been sung and are still being sung by the masses of Muslims in the Punjab.
[] Let the reader imagine what an attitude of mind must have been produced in the minds of the younger genenration of Mussalmans by writings and songs like these.
[M] Dr. Muhammad Iqbal is no ordinary versifier. He is an accomplished
scholar and a poet of the highest order, who is master of several languages.
His writings and poems are to be found in every educated Muslim's home,
nay, even in most cultured Hindu homes too. He has by no means been the
solitary propounder of these views. I have selected him because, being
an admirer of his, I have been a constant reader of his compositions.
/15/ Sir Syed Ahmed Khan
died on 27 March 1898.
/16/ The reference is to Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal.