*BACK TO THE PIONEER'S TRANSLATION WITHOUT FWP'S VERSION*

SPEECH OF SIR SAYYID AHMAD KHAN
AT LUCKNOW, 1887

The PIONEER's summary translation from the Urdu FWP's very literal translation from the Urdu, based on ;xu:tbaat-e sar sayyid, jild-e duvvum, ed. by Shaikh Muhammad Isma'il Panipati (Lahore: Majlis Taraqqi-e Adab, 1973), pp. 3-28. Transliteration is partial rather than complete, and is meant only to indicate the Urdu words in a general way.
Title of the essay: Political Affairs and the Musalmans [poliTikal amur aur musalman]
{1}  GENTLEMEN, [[3]] JANAB PRESIDENT SAHIB, AND OTHER GENTLEMEN AND LADIES!
I am not given to speaking on politics, and I do not recollect having ever previously given a political lecture.  I have never had the habit of giving lectures [lekchar] on political [poliTikal] affairs, nor do I recall that I would ever have given any lecture about political affairs.
My attention has always been directed towards the education of my brother Mahomedans, for from education I anticipate much benefit for my people, for Hindustan, and for the Government.  My attention has always remained drawn toward the education of my brother Musalmans, and I consider it very beneficial for Hindustan and for the community [qaum].
But at the present time circumstances have arisen which make it necessary for me, I think, to tell my brother Musalmans clearly what my opinions are. But at this time some circumstances have presented themselves that have made it necessary that I inform my brothers of my opinion, which I consider beneficial for them.
The object, gentlemen, of this lecture is to explain the attitude which the Mahomedan community ought to adopt with regard to the political movements of the time.  Oh gentlemen! The object of this lecture is only this: what attitude ought we Musalmans [[4]] to adopt toward political affairs of governance?
I am not going to give a philosophical discourse, nor to speak of those abstract questions on political economy which would require many lectures fully to deal with;  I don't want to offer any philosophical discourse on this topic, nor do I want to discuss those principles of this topic about which in books of political economy [ikanami] extensive lectures and essays have been written.
but I am simply going to express my opinions in a plain and straightforward manner, leaving it to everyone who hears me to agree with me or differ from me. At this time my meaning is only to tell my brothers, in a simple, straightforward way, my opinion. To like it or not like it is in the power of every individual.
The reason why I stand here to address you today is because there has grown up in India a political agitation, The reasons for which I stand here today to give a lecture on this topic, are that these days in Hindustan a kind of tumult is found among many people with regard to the Government's political affairs.
and it is necessary to determine what action should be taken by the Mahomedan community with regard to it. My goal will be to say what attitude my brothers ought to adopt in such affairs.
Although my own thoughts and desires are towards my own community, yet I shall discuss whether or not this agitation is useful for the country and for the other nations who live in it. Although this speech is directed toward the Musalmans, and my opinion and my intention too is to speak to the Musalmans, I will also tell whether for the country and for all the communities [qaum] who live in Hindustan, these affairs are beneficial or not beneficial.
If it be useful, we must follow it; but if dangerous for the country or our nation, we must hold aloof. If we consider them beneficial, then we ought to follow them all; and if they prove harmful to the country [mulk] or to the community [qaum], then we ought to remain apart from them.
{2}  Before I enter on this subject, let me briefly describe the methods of rule adopted by our Government, which has now been here for nearly a hundred years. Before this speech would begin, it is proper for me briefly to mention what is the method of ruling of our Government, which has now been in power in Hindustan for almost a hundred years.
Its method is this: to keep in its own hands all questions of foreign policy and all matters affecting its army.  Its method of ruling is that all external political affairs, that is with other regimes, whether on the frontier or with different countries, the Government has kept in its own hands. In the same way all affairs of war, or of equipping the army, or of making [[5]] peace or war, all those Government has kept in its own hands.
I hope that we, who are subjects of the Empire, will not seek to interfere in those matters which Government has set apart as its own. I hope that we who live as subjects [ri'aya] will have nothing much to do with those affairs that Government has kept separate or has kept in its own hands.
If the Government fight Afghanistan or conquer Burma, it is no business of ours to criticise its policy. If the Government would conquer some country, would take Burma, would fight with Afghanistan, would make peace with it-- with that we, who are residents of the land, have nothing to do.
Our interests will not suffer from these matters being left in the hands of Government. The affairs that Government has kept in its own hands-- from them the subjects get neither joy or anxiety.
But we are concerned with matters affecting internal policy; and we have to observe what method Government has adopted for dealing with them. It is the rest of the affairs, that relate to the internal arrangements of the country, with which we are concerned. We ought to see what method the Government has adopted with regard to them.
Government has made a Council for making laws affecting the lives, property, and comfort of the people. The Government has made a Council that makes laws, and that affects the country and the subjects' lives, property, and wellbeing.
For this Council she selects from all Provinces those officials who are best acquainted with the administration and the condition of the people, In this Council some members are salaried officials. In addition to them, from every province [subah] those who are, in the Government's judgment, extremely intelligent and capable Government administrators-- for example, the Commissioner or some other person acquainted with the situation of the province, who has lived there for a long period, who is acquainted with the justice system, military affairs, general governance [kalakTari], and with that area and the affairs of that area, it calls on from every province: from Punjab, from Oudh, from north and south, from Madras and Bombay, and makes them partners in the giving of counsel.
and also some Raïses/1/ who, on account of their high social position, are worthy of a seat in that assembly. From among the Hindustani Ra'ises, the Government also calls on those whom it considers to be worthy of sitting in this seat and of suitably honorable position ['izzat].
{3}  Some people may ask Why should they be chosen on account of social position instead of ability? On this, gentlemen, I will say a few words. Perhaps on this matter some people may have had doubts: why does it call on them with regard to honorable position? Why does it not call on them with regard to worthiness [liyaqat]? About this, oh gentlemen, I will say something.
It is a great misfortune and I ask your pardon for saying it that the landed gentry of India have not the trained ability which makes them worthy of occupying those seats. But it's the greatest pity that we would say this, [[6]] and if I would say this then my friends would pardon me, that our Ra'ises are not worthy of sitting in this seat. The pity is that I too accept the fact that they are not worthy.
But you must not neglect those circumstances which compel Government to adopt this policy.  But the thing that places the Government under extreme duress, and because of which it has become helpless-- we ought not to ignore it.
It is very necessary that for the Viceroy's Council the members should be of high social position. Please reflect that to sit with the Viceroy in Council, there must be an honored [mu'azziz] person among the honored persons of the land.
I ask you Would our aristocracy like that a man of low caste or insignificant origin, though he be a B.A. or M.A., and have the requisite ability, should be in a position of authority above them and have power in making laws that affect their lives and property? Never! Nobody would like it. (Cheers.) Will the Ra'ises of our land like it if a man of low [adna] community [qaum] or low rank [darjah], even if he has taken a B.A. degree or an M.A., and even if he is also worthy, would sit and rule over them, would be master of their wealth, property, and honor? Never-- nobody at all will like it. (Cheers [chi'arz].)
A seat in the Council of the Viceroy is a position of great honour and prestige.  A seat in the Government's Council is extremely honored. The Government is compelled to ensure that it seats no one except an honored person.
None but a man of good breeding can the Viceroy take as his colleague, treat as his brother, And neither can the Viceroy [va'isra'e] say "My colleague" [ma'i kalig] or "My honorable colleague" [ma'i anarebal kalig]-- that is, "brother" or "honored gentleman."
and invite to entertainments at which he may have to dine with Dukes and Earls. Nor can he be invited to royal dinners [Dinar], nor to imperial gatherings, where dukes [Dyuk] and earls [arl] and greatly honored ones meet.
Hence no blame can be attached to Government for making those great Raïses members of the Council. In short, blame can in no way be laid on the Government: 'why does it select Ra'ises?'
It is our great misfortune that our Raïses are such that they are unable to devise laws useful for the country. It is our ill-fortune that our Ra'ises are such that in Council they can make no proposal [kar-rava'i]  for the benefit of Hindustan.
{4}  The method of procedure in the Council is this. If any member introduce a subject of importance and difficulty, a commission is appointed which collects evidence and digests it. The matter is discussed in every newspaper, and memorials are invited from Associations. After this, in the Government a law is presented in the form of a draft. The rulers of various districts [zil'a] present reports [riporT] and explain the necessity: that such-and-such a thing is necessary for the country. The Government appoints a commission with regard to the proposed matter, that would go from place to place and inquire [[7]] about the state of affairs and note down the situation: in reality, is it necessary for administration or not?
The Council then discusses the matter, every member speaking his views with great vigour and earnestness, more even than was displayed in the discussion on the third resolution in the Mahomedan Educational Congress,/2/ All that material is presented in Council, and intense discussion takes place, and it's like what took place today in our Educational Congress [ijyukeshanal kangres] about the third resolution [rizoliyushan]-- or rather, more even than this. (Cheers.)
advocating what he thinks necessary for the welfare of the country; and as regardless of the Viceroy's presence as if he were a figure of white stone. I hope that in this gathering there will also be some people who have seen the spectacle [tamashah] of the Council meetings. I assure you that all the members [mambar] speak out and give their opinion as to the best course for the country, with extreme force and energy, without regard for who the Viceroy is, or whether in his chair is the Viceroy or a white stone statue, and without regard for the other members' opposition or agreement, with extreme excellence and purity of heart and good intentions.
I have had the honour of being in this Council. The Government has exercised no control over this either. And before any law would be passed [pas], it publishes it in the newspapers. However many committees [kameTi] are present, and claim to be representatives [vakil] of the country, they have the freedom to write what they wish. Committees and societies [sosa'iTi] have the freedom to send to the Government memorials [memoriyal] on whatever subject they wish. I too have had the honor of being in the Council. (Cheers.)
I do not recollect any matter of importance concerning which ten or twenty memorials were not sent in. I assure you that I don't recall any law that was presented in Council, concerning which ten or twenty or twenty-five memorials did not come in.
A Select Committee was then appointed, which read through these memorials and discussed them at length, many of which on consideration turned out to be thorough nonsense. After this, the Government appoints a select [sekelT] committee and it considers these memorials and discusses them with great excellence. And all the memorials are read-- every single word. And a great deal of the committee's time is wasted in reading and hearing them. And finally when they are considered, they prove to be trifling [hech].
Extracts from Urdu papers were also considered.  Whatever is published in Urdu newspapers [[8]] too is read and a digest is made of it, and the members of the select committee consider it.
Although not in my presence, yet often amendments suggested by these memorials have been adopted. This is the method of our Government. Although not in my presence, on a number of occasions by means of these memorials there is alteration or rejection. This is the procedure of the Government.
After this the law is passed and sent to the Secretary of State, who is assisted by the Council of State, which consists of men of the highest ability, who have lived for a long time in India and have often held all offices, from that of Assistant Collector to Lieutenant-Governor.  After that, the law is passed, and is sent to the Secretary of State [sakreTari af isTeT]. Then in the Council there it is passed. And the worthiest people, a number of whom have lived in Hindustan for long periods and have held offices from Assistant Collector-ship [asisTanTi] to Lieutenant Governor-ship [lafTananT gavarnari], consider it.
If they think it expedient it is passed, otherwise a short note of four lines cancels it.  If in their view it is proper, then it remains; otherwise with a note of a few lines, which the Secretary of State writes and sends, it is cancelled.
Often people make objections to the laws so passed, and in some cases they are perhaps right; but in the majority of cases, as far as my experience goes, those very people who sit in their houses and make objections would, if they had been on the Viceroy's Council, have supported them.  Undoubtedly people may have objections with regard to the law, and in a number of laws there may also be error. But a great proportion of these objections, in my experience, are such that the objectors who sat in their houses and made those objections, or the person himself who opposed the law-- if they were seated in the Viceroy's chair, then they too would do what the Government did.
Many details appear wrong on superficial consideration, but when all the circumstances and difficulties are taken into account, they are seen to be right. Many matters are such that if they are looked at in isolated detail [juzi'yat par] then they seem evil; but when all the difficulties are looked at, then the opinion that people sitting in their houses had formed, does not remain.
In conclusion, whether the laws be good or bad, no one can say that Government acts independently of the wishes and opinions of its subjects.  In any case, whether or not there may be some defect in a law, the method of making them is such that it cannot be said that through self-will the Government does whatever it wants, that it does not receive the opinion of us subjects, or listen to it, or consider the objections of those who want to make objections.
Often it adopts some of the views expressed in newspapers and memorials. Rather, after this account I can say that the Government does not promulgate any law until [[9]] it hears the opinion of the subjects and the newspapers.
Can we say that Government, in the method it has adopted for legislation, acts without regard to the opinions of the people? Can we say that we have no share in the making of the laws? Most certainly not. (Cheers.) We cannot say that we have no influence over the laws. This is unquestionable, and beyond doubt. (Cheers.)
{5}  There is now another great duty of Government. That is, that in whatever country Government establishes its dominion, that dominion should be made strong, firm, and secure. . Now, there is one more duty of Government. What is that duty? It is this: that it would keep its power and its dominion over that portion of the land which it rules, firm and strong.
I believe that if any of my friends were made Viceroy; he would be as loyal to Her Majesty the Queen-Empress of India as is our present Viceroy, Lord Dufferin. I am confident that among my friends who are present now, if one of them would be made Viceroy, then he would be a well-wisher of the Empress of India [qaisar-e hind] just as the Viceroy is.
And his first duty would be to see that the Empire of Her Majesty were made so firm that no enemy, external, or internal, could shake it. (Cheers.) Then his first duty too will be this: that before everything else he would keep the rule of the British [briTish] and the dominion of the great Queen, the Empress of India, strong and firm in such a way that no internal or external attack would be able to shake it. (Cheers.)
If it were my fortune to be Viceroy; I speak from my heart when I say I would not be equally, but more, anxious to see the rule of the Queen placed on a firm basis. (Cheers.) If I would have such a destiny that I would become Viceroy (cheers), then I assure you that in the same way as the Viceroy-- or rather, even more strongly-- I would keep the great Queen's dominion in Hindustan firm.
It is a first principle of Empire that it is the supreme duty of everyone, whether Hindustani or Englishman, in whose power it rests, to do what he can to strengthen the Government of Her Majesty the Queen. This principle of governance is such that in whichever person's hands the dominion would be, whether he would be Hindustani or English, and the duty of keeping the great Queen's dominion and power strong would be upon him, then he will do just that.
The second duty of Government is to preserve peace, to give personal freedom, to protect life and property; to punish criminals, and to decide civil disputes. After keeping the dominion established and strong, what is the Government's duty? Its duty is to keep peace and security established in the country-- of life, or property; and to protect rights; and give freedom in everything. Its duty is to establish courts, separately for criminal matters and for civil ones; that it would maintain mutual equity among the subjects, and would make decisions with justice and fairness.
Now, everyone will admit that Government completely fulfils its duty in this respect All you gentlemen will concede that the Government has, to the best of its ability, done all these tasks, and no person can deny it.
{6}  Many people think that the laws have become too numerous; and consequently that lawsuits have become more complicated, and thus lead to disputes between the zamindar/3/ and the kashtkar./4/ A number of people are of the opinion that the Government has promulgated too many laws, [[10]] and from this complexities have come about in lawsuits; and from the Government's laws disputes between landlord and cultivator have come into being.
But this is the opinion of the critics who sit in their houses, who if they sat on the Viceroy's Council would change their views. But this opinion is that of those who are seated in their houses. If they would sit  in a seat in Council, then this opinion would not remain established.
The multiplicity of laws depends upon the condition of the country and of its people. New companies and new industries are springing into existence.  The promulgation of numerous laws is is dependent upon the situation of the subjects and the country. In the country every kind of merchandising and companies [kampani] are active, and day by day keep being active; different types of rights that no one even knew about before, have come into existence and keep on coming into existence.
New and unforeseen legal rights have arisen which are not provided for in the Mahomedan law. And if we would base them on religious law [fiqh], then no trace of laws about them will be found anywhere; rather, there will be a need for extrapolation [qiyas].
Hence, when the country is changing at such a rate, it is absolutely necessary that new laws should be brought forward to deal with the new circumstances.  Enough-- when the country keeps changing in this way, then it's a matter of extreme compulsion that whatever thing would develop, a law must be made for it.
Government does not want to increase the number of laws, but when the conditions of the country change, it becomes unavoidable. It is not the Government's desire to promulgate numerous laws. But when in the affairs of the country complexities develop, and its condition has changed, then that changed condition in itself requires the promulgation of numerous laws.
Taking all these things into account, I cannot but think that there is no requirement of the country that cannot be brought to the notice of Government. Having reflected on all these affairs, I consider that at this time there is no requirement of the country that would not find accesss to Government.
And nothing can prevent our expressing our views on the subject and being heard by Government. Nothing forbids us to express our ideas, or to obtain a fair hearing for our claims.
So that whatever comfort we can experience under any Government, we have under the British Government. (Cheers.) Thus whatever convenience ought to be there for us in a Government, it is obtained in the British Government. (Cheers.)
*ON TO SECTIONS {7} to {12}*

NOTES

/1/ Men of position and influence.
/2/ A Congress recently held in Lucknow for the discussion of Mahomedan education.
/3/ Landlord.
/4/ Tenant.


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