Syed Ahmed Khan on Indian Agitation
At a meeting held on the 10th May 1866, at Aligarh, Syed Ahmed Khan, in a deliberate speech, said :
"It is with great regret that we view the indifference and want of knowledge evinced by the people of India with regard to the British Parliament. Can you expect that body, Gentlemen, to take a deep interest in your affairs if you do not lay your affairs before it? There are many men now composing it, liberal in their views, just and virtuous in their dealings, who take a deep interest in all that affects the welfare of the human race. To excite this interest, however, it is necessary that the requirements and wishes of that portion of mankind on whose bebalf they are to exert themselves be made clearly known to them.
"Their interest and philanthropy once excited, you may feel assured, Gentlemen, that the wants, be [they] the wants of the Jew, the Hindu, the Christian, or the Mohamedan, of the black man or of the white, will be attentively studied and duly cared for. India, with that slowness to avail herself of that which would benefit her . . . . so characteristic of Eastern races, has hitherto looked on Parliament with a dreamy, apathetic eye, content to have her affairs, in the shape of her Budget, brought before it in an annual and generally inaudible speech by Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India.
"Is this state of things to continue, or has the time now come when the interests of this great dependency are to be properly represented in the governing body of the British Nation? It has come, Gentlemen, and I entreat you to interest yourselves for your country. The European section of the community in India, now grown so large, have set on foot an association in London with branch associations in India, in order to have Indian affairs and the wants and desires of all classes of her inhabitants brought prominently to the notice of Parliament; but unless the entire native community out here cooperate with them, place funds at their disposal, and take such measures as may conduce to place the scheme on a permanent basis, the opportunity will be lost, the natives of India will be unrepresented, and you will only have yourselves to reproach when in after years you see the European section of the community enjoying their well-earned concessions, whilst your wants remain still unmet.
"I am afraid that a feeling of fear that the Government or the district authorities would esteem you factious and discontented, were you to inaugurate a measure like this, deters you from coming forward for your country's good. Are the Europeans thought factious and discontented? Believe me, that this moral cowardice is wrong, this apprehension unfounded; and that there is not an Englishman of a liberal turn of mind in India who would regard with feelings other than those of pleasure and hope such a healthy sign of increased civilisation on the part of its inhabitants. If you will only show yourselves possessed of zeal and self-reliance, you are far more likely to gain the esteem of an independent race like the English than if you remain, as you now are, apathetic and dependent.
"The actions and laws of every Govemment, even the wisest that ever existed, although done or enacted from the most upright and patriotic motives, have at times proved inconsistent with the requirements of the people, or opposed to real justice. The natives have at present little or no voice in the management of the affairs of their country, and should any measure of Government prove obnoxious to them, they brood over it, appearing outwardly satisfied and happy, whilst discontent is rankling in their minds.
"I hope you, my native hearers, will not be angry with me for speaking the truth. You know that you are in the habit of inveighing against various acts of Government in your own homes and amongst your own families, and that you, in the course of your visits to European gentlemen, represent yourselves as quite satisfied with the justice and wisdom of these very acts. Such a state of affairs is inimical to the well-being of the country. Far better would it be for India were her people to speak out openly and honestly their opinions as to the justice or otherwise of the acts of Government."
Syed Ahmed Khan then quotes from John Stuart Mill the following passage :
"The rights and interests of every or of any person are only secure from being disregarded when the person interested is himself able and habitually disposed to stand up for them. The second is that the general prosperity attains a greater height and is more widely diffused in proportion to the personal energies enlisted in promoting it."
Syed Ahmed Khan then proceeds:
"These principles, my friends, are as applicable to the people of India as they are to those of any other nation, and it is in your power, it now rests with you alone, to put them into practice. If you will not help yourselves, you may be quite certain no one else will. Why should you be afraid? Here am I, a servant of Government, speaking out plainly to you in this public meeting. My attachment to Government was proved, as many of you know, in the eventful year of the Mutiny. It is my firm conviction -- one which I have invariably expressed, both in public and in private -- that the greater the confidence of the people of India in the Government, the more solid the foundation upon which the present Government rests; and the more mutual friendship is cultivated between your rulers and yourselves, the greater will be the future benefit to your country. Be loyal in your hearts, place every reliance upon your rulers, speak out openly, honestly, and respectfully all your grievances, hopes, and fears, and you may be quite sure that such a course of conduct will place you in the enjoyment of all your legitimate rights; and that this is compatible -- nay, synonymous -- with true loyalty to the State, will be upheld by all whose opinion is worth hearing.
It is imagined by some persons that all, or almost all, the Musalmans of India, are against the Congress movement. That is not true. Indeed, by far the largest part do not know what the Congress Movement is. Education of any sort or kind is conspicuous by its absence amongst them, and their habitual apathy has kept them from understanding the movement at all. In fact, they are blissfully ignorant. What the causes of such ignorance and apathy are, will the presently inquired into. It will be sufficient here to state that one infinitely small class of persons who bave received liberal education through the medium of the English language, and another equally infinitely small class of persons who have received no education whatever through the medium of the English language, but who have acquired a smattering of what they are pleased to consider education through the Hindustani language, have considered it a fashionable thing to abuse the Congress and Congressmen as such.
There being thus two different classes of malcontents, if they may be so called, the grounds of their opposition are naturally different -- nay, even inconsistent with each other. There is a third class, also a small one at present, who have recently risen from their apathy and are honestly endeavouring to educate themselves in the right direction, and are destined soon to come to the front, and, it may safely be surmised, will become as enthusiastic supporters of the Congress movement as any; but with this last-mentioned class we have no immediate concern, and this address will confine itself to the two classes first mentioned. Before going, however, through the grounds of opposition on the part of these two classes, it is desirable to revert to the causes of ignorance and apathy aforesaid. An advocate of the views of the first two classes might well be supposed, if he ever cared to put his views systematically, to place the case for the Mohamedans in the following way:
Before the advent of the British in India, the Musalmans were the rulers of the country. The Musalmans had, therefore, all the advantages appertaining to the ruling class. The sovereign and the chiefs were their co-religionists, and so were the great landlords and the great officials. The court language was their own. Every place of trust and responsibility, or carrying influence and high emoluments, was by birthright theirs. The Hindus did occupy some position, but the Hindu holders of position were but the tenants-at-will of the Musalmans. The Musalmans had complete access to the sovereigns and to the chiefs. They could, and did, often eat at the same table with them. They could also, and often did, intermarry. The Hindus stood in awe of them. Enjoyment and influence and all the good things of the world were theirs.
Into the best-regulated kingdoms, however, as into the best-regulated societies and families, misfortunes would intrude; and misfortunes did intrude into this happy Musalman Rule. By a stroke of misfortune, the Musalmans had to abdicate their position and descend to the level of their Hindu fellow.countrymen. The Hindus who had before stood in awe of their Musalman masters were thus raised a step by the fall of their said masters, and with their former awe dropped their courtesy also. The Musalmans, who are a very sensitive race, naturally resented the treatment, and would have nothing to do either with their rulers or with their fellow-subjects.
Meanwhile, the noble policy of the new rulers of the country introduced English education into the country. The learning of an entirely unknown foreign language, of course, required hard application and industry. The Hindus were accustomed to this, as even under the Musalman Rule they had practically to master a foreign tongue, and so easily took to the new education. But the Musalmans had not yet become accustomed to this sort of thing, and were, moreover, not then in a mood to learn, much less to learn anything that required hard work and application, especially as they had to work harder than their former subjects, the Hindus. Moreover, they resented competing with the Hindus, whom they had till recently regarded as their inferiors.
The result was that so far as education was concerned, the Musalmans,
who were once superior to the Hindus, now actually became their inferiors.
Of course, they grumbled and groaned, but the irony of fate was inexorable.
The stern realities of life were stranger than fiction. The Musalmans were
gradually ousted from their lands, their offices; in fact, everything was
lost save their honour. The Hindus, from a subservient state, came into
the lands, offices,
and other worldly advantages of their former masters. Their exultation knew no bounds, and they trod upon the heels of their former masters.
The Musalmans would have nothing to do with anything in which might have to come into contact with the Hindus. They were soon reduced to a state of utter poverty. Ignorance and apathy seized hold of them, while the fall of their former greatness rankled in their hearts. This represents the train of thought which preoccupies the mind of many who would other wise be well disposed towards this movement; all will admit that though they might object to particular statesments, on the whole there is an element of truth which explains the Mohamedan depression.
Sir W.W. Hunter on early Mohamedan Influence
Sir W.W. Hunter says:
"Almost everywhere it was found that the Hindu population seized with avidity on the opportunities afforded by State education for bettering themselves in life; while the Mohamedan community. excepting in certain localities, failed as a whole to do so. State education thus put the finishing stroke to the influence of the Mohamedans as the former ruling race in India. That position they had inherited from the time of the Mogul Empire, and during the first period of the Company's administration they still held an unique proportion of official posts.
"In the last century Musalman Collectors gathered the Company's land tax in Bengal, Musalman Foujdars and Ghatwals officered its police. A great Musalman Department, with its headquarters in the Nawab Nizam's palace at Murshidabad, and a network of Musalman officials over every district in Lower Bengal, administered the Criminal Law. Musalman Jailors kept ward over the prison population of Northern India; Kazis or Mohamedan Doctors of Law presided in the Civil and Domestic Courts. When the Company first attempted to administer justice by means of trained English officers in its Bengal possessions, the Mohamedan Law Doctors still sat with them as their authoritative advisers on points of law. The Code of Islam remained for many purposes the law of the land, and the ministerial and subordinate offices of Government continued to be the almost hereditary property of the Musalmans.
"But with the introduction of English education, the Hindus began to pour into every grade of official life; and the State system of education in 1854 completed the revolution. Teaching disappeared everywhere, even in the mosques. After the Mohamedan conquest of India, the mosques had become the centres of educational activity, and were supported by imperial or local grants of land. But the mosques now ceased teaching, even in Lower Bengal, the Province which a hundred years previously was officered by a few Englishmen, a sprinkling of Hindus, and a multitude of Mohamedans. The Musalmans lost all ground . . . . It became apparent that Western instruction was producing not only a redistribution of employments but also an upheaval of races."
The Government of India, that is, the English Gentlemen, both in England and in India, directly concerned in carrying on the administration of India, became alarmed at this state of things. The English people, generally, were grieved at the mistaken, yet noble, race of Indian Musalmans thus going fast to ruin. Despatch after despatch was sent to India to do something for the Musalmans. Special facilities were ordered. Some Musalmans were after all found willing to receive liberal education, and these in their turn organised themselves into a body to educate others, and thus arose the educated class of Musalmans.
The Musalmans are noted for their gratitude. Some persons seem to have
put it into their heads that Government as a body disapproved of their
subjects criticising the measures of the administration. Hence that educated
class honestly, though mistakenly, opposes the Congress movement. As to
the second class, their interest lies in keeping the Musalmans ignorant,
so as to turn such ignorance and the consequent credulity to their own
15) Alleged Mohamedan Objections to the Congress
The following appear to be the objections of the Musalmans to the Congress:
1.) That it is against their religion to join the Congress, as by joining the Congress they wilI be joining the Hindus, who are not Musalmans.
2.) That it is against their religion to join the Congress, as by joining the Congress they wilI be joining a movement opposed to Government, a thing which is opposed to their religion, which directs obedience and loyalty to Government, albeit Government may not be treating them properly.
3.) That it is against their religion to learn the English language.
4.) That the success of the Congress would weaken the British Rule, and might eventually end in the overthrow of British Power and the substitution of Hindu Rule.
5.) That Government is against the Congress movement; that in addition to the duty of loyalty, the Musalmans owe the duty of gratitude to Government for giving them a liberal education; therefore by joining the Congress, the Musalmans would be guilty of the sin of ingratitude towards Government.
6.) That the Congress does not adequately represent all the races of India.
7.) That the motives of the persons constituting the Congress are not honest.
8.) That the aims and objects of the Congress are not practical.
9.) That the Congress is not important enough to deal satisfactorily with the subjects it takes up.
10.) That the modes of Government prevailing in the West, namely, examination, representation, and election, are not adapted to India.
11.) That such modes are not adapted to Musalmans.
12.) That the result of the application of Western methods to India would be to place all offices under Government in the power of the Hindus, and the Musalmans would be completely ousted from Government employment.
13.) That Government employment should be conferred not on the test of examinations, but by selection on the ground of race, position of the family, and other social and local considerations.
14.) That public distinctions, such as seats on the Legislative Councils, Municipal Boards, and other public bodies should be conferred not by the test of election, but by nomination based on the ground of race, and social influence and importance.
15.) That inasmuch as the Congress is a representative body, and inasmucb as the Hindus formed the majority of the population, the Congress will necessarily be swamped by the Hindus, and the resolutions of the Congress will, to all intents and purposes, be the resolutions of the Hindus, and the Musalmans' voice will be drowned; and therefore if the Musalmans join the Congress, they wilt not only not be heard, but will be actually assisting in supporting Hindus to pass resolutions against the interest of the Musalmans, and to give colour to such resolutions as the resolutions of Hindus and Musalmans combined, and thus aiding in passing resolutions against themselves and misleading Government into believing that the Musalmans are in favour of such resolutions.
16.) That Musalman boys have to learn the languages appertaining to their religion before joining schools; they are, therefore, at a disadvantage in the start for English education as compared with the Hindus. That the result is, that the Hindus pass the examinations, and as Government employment is given upon the test of examinations, the Musalmans are necessarily ousted from Government employment, and it follows that the test of examination is not a fair test.
17.) That as employments are given on the test of examinations,
the result is that Hindus get such employment, and even in districts where
the majority of the population are Musalmans, the Hindus form the subordinate
officialdom. That the Hindus, being hostile to the Musalmans, lord it over
them; and the Musalmans are naturally grieved to be lorded over by the
Hindus; that in many cases these Hindus are from the lower strata of society,
and in that case they tyrannise the more, and thus aggravate the harsh
treatment of the Musalmans. That the result is that the Musalmans, and
amongst them Musalmans descended from royal and noble families, are mortified
at being not only ruled over, but even molested by and tyrannised over,
in all manner of ways by Hindus, and Hindus of the
16) Answers to Mohamedan Objections
I now proceed to answer these objections:
1.) Musalmans in the past -- Musalmans not in name only, but orthodox true Musalmans -- constantly travelled in foreign lands, and mixed with all the nations of the world. The Mussalmans in India are the descendants of the Musalmans who thus travelled to and settled in India, and of the Hindus whom such Musalmans converted to Islam. All the Musalmans in India have always lived side by side with the Hindus and mixed with them and even cooperated with them, both during the period of the Musalman Rule, as also since then.
In fact, both the Musalmans and the Hindus, as also older races residing in this country, are all equally the inhabitants of one and the same country, and are thus bound to each other by ties of a common nativity. They are all sharers in the benefits and advantages, as also in the ills, consequent on common residence; and so far as natural and climatic conditions are concerned, all the inhabitants, irrespective of all other considerations, are subject to common joys and common sorrows and must necessarily cooperate with eacb other, as humanity is imperfect and dependent on cooperation.
Again, both the Musalmans and the Hindus are subjects of the same sovereign and living under the protection of the same laws, and are equally affected by the same administration. The object of the Congress is to give expression to the political demands of the subjects, and to pray that their political grievances may be redressed and their political disabilities may be removed; that the political burdens of the country may be lightened and its political conditions may be ameliorated; that the political status of millions of human beings who are their fellow-countrymen may be improved. and their general condition may be rendered more tolerable.
It is a most meritorious work, a work of the highest charity. No nobler or more charitable work could possibly be conceived. The only question is whether there should be two separate organisations, Musalman and non-Musalman, both simultaneously doing the same work, separate in name but identical in nature and interest; or whether there should be a joint organisation. Obviously, the latter is preferable, especially as the Congress has no concern whatever with the religion or the religious convictions of any of its members.
2.) It is not true that the Congress movement is a movement in opposition to Government. It is a movement for the purpose of expressing the grievances of the subjects to Government in a legal and constitutional manner, and for the purpose of asking Government to fulfil promises made by Government, of its own free will and pleasure; in fact, it is the duty of all truly loyal subjects -- subjects desirous of seeing the Government maintained in its power -- to inform Government of their own wants and wishes, as it is also the duty of Government to ascertain the wants and wishes of subjects; and indeed, those subjects who will not keep the Government well informed of their own wants and wishes cannot be called true friends of Government.
We are all aware that the English nation, our common fellowsubjects, always makes it a point to inform Government of its own wants and wishes, so that Government may be able to fulfil such wants and wishes. In the case of India, moreover, promises have been made from time to time by Government to concede certain privileges; indeed, we have the plighted word of our Most Gracious Sovereign herself confirming those promises. It is our duty, therefore, to remind Government of such promises, and to ask it to fulful them.
3.) Language is but the medium of expression. Orthodox and true Musalmans have in their time learned the Greek, the Latin, and other languages. There is, therefore. nothing against learning any language. In fact many Musalmans of India, indeed most of them, learn and speak languages other than the language of their religion. The objection, therefore, against learning the English language, which is moreover the lauguage of our rulers, is so absurd on the face of it, that it need not be further adverted to.
4.) The object of the Congress has already been stated. The success of the Congress, as has also been stated, instead of weakening Government, will only contribute towards the greater permanence of British rule in India. The Musalmans, therefore, need not be frightened by phantoms created by their own imagination.
5.) It is the duty of all good boys, who have by the liberal policy of their fathers been enabled to receive a liberal education, to repay the kindness of their fathers by assisting their fathers in the management of their affairs with the aid of such education, and by contributing to the maintenance and welfare of the family by all honest means in their power. Similarly, it is the duty of those subjects who have received a liberal education with the aid of Government, to repay the kindness of Government by assisting Government in the proper discharge of its high functions by informing Government of the shoals and rocks lying ahead in its path, and thus enabling Government to steer clear of such shoals and rocks, and not to lie by quietly with a false sense of gratitude, leaving Government to run against such shoals and rocks and thus -- unintentionally of course, but nevertheless -- contribute to its grounding ashore. True gratitude lies in true good wishes and true good assistance, and not in false modesty and indolence.
6.) If the Congress does not, as is alleged, adequately represent all the races, surely the fault lies not on the shoulders of the Congress leaders who invite all the races, but on the shoulders of those races themselves who turn a deaf ear to such invitation, and prefer not to respond to it. It is the duty of such races, in response to such invitation, to attend the Congress and not blame the Congress when, in fact, they ought to blame themselves.
7.) All public bodies, assembled in public meetings, desirous of giving every publicity to their proceedings and even keeping a public record of its transactions, ought to be judged by their sayings and doings. It is not right or proper to attribute to such bodies improper motives, unless such motive can be fairly and reasonably inferred from their sayings or doings or both. In fact, no person having any sense of self-respect ought to attribute improper motives, unless he is prepared to prove the same; and it is to be hoped, for the honour of the Musalmans, [that they would] cease from making reckless charges which they are not prepared to substantiate.
8.) As to the aims and objects of the Congress not being practical, it is a well-known fact that public attention has been drawn to the demands of the Congress, and not only the classes but even the masses have already been awakened to a sense of their political grievances and disabilities. Government has also been pleased to take into its favourable consideration the demands of the Congress, and has partially conceded the expansion of Legislative Councils and introduced the element of election therein. Indeed, if the Congress movement is continued with the same ability, prudence, and sagacity that have characterised it in the past, and especially if those who have hitherto contented themselves with simply throwing out objections begin in right earnest to take part in the movement, the movement is certain to bear fruit in the very near future and to end in practical results.
9.) As to the Congress not being important enough to deal with the subjects it takes up, it will not be denied that the Congress contains in its ranks some of the most educated, most wealthy, and most influential men of the day, some of whom have occupied -- and occupied honourably -- public offices of trust and importance, and most of whom are leaders of their respective centres. In fact, in the Congress camp one comes across legislators, municipal councillors, rich zamindars, extensive merchants, renowned lawyers, eminent doctors, experienced publicists; indeed, representatives of every industry and every profession in the land. In fact, it will be hard -- nay impossible -- to name any other non-official public body equally important with the Congress.
10.) As to the modes of government prevailing in the West not being adapted to India, the position stands as follows: In a primary state of society, whilst a particular small nation, confined to a narrow strip of territory, is governed by a single ruler, who generally belongs to that nation and is residing in that territory, as the nation is not a numerous one and the territory not a large one, the ruler is necessarily in daily and constant touch with his subjects. The affairs of the State are of a very limited nature and do not occupy much time of the ruler. Moreover, there are not special or local circumstances of sufficient importance to be taken into consideration. The affairs of the State are of a simple nature. The offices are not many and do not require special merits for their proper performance. Whenever, therefore, the ruler has to appoint to a post, the ruler himself is qualified to do so. He does not find it necessary to resort to any complicated method for the performance of this part of his duty. Hence the posts are filled without compelling the candidates to undergo the trouble of going through any definite or complicated course of instruction or examination.
As the nation, however, increases in numbers, as the territory is enlarged and the needs of society become more numerous and more complicated, the number of the posts to be filled becomes greater, and the qualifications required for the proper performance of the posts grow higher and are of diverse character. The touch of the ruler with each one of the ruled gets less and less, and the ruler cannot possibly keep himself personally abreast of a knowledge of the increased and complicated needs of the people. He becomes, in fact, less qualified to properly fill up all the posts, and he is compelled to delegate this part of his duty to others.
In course of time, he discovers that it is not a very satisfactory thing to nominate to posts by means of deputies, and that some definite method of selection must be substituted. The considerations which formerly guided him, when he alone had personally to nominate, are of such a vague character when placed in the hands of his deputies, that he finds that it is not only not useful but even mischievous to resort to them; as, instead of such considerations being in fact given weight to, they simply open a wide door to undue influence and even bribery, and he finds it necessary to discard them and is compelled to limit himself to selection by a public examination of candidates, after they have gone through a course of instruction laid down for the purpose.
Thus it happens that all other qualifications such as [those] of family,
standing and position, and others, come to be
dispensed with, and the test of public examinations -- that is, of personal merit alone, as tested by such examinations -- is substituted. It may be conceded at once that it is not a perfect or infallible test. It is a choice of evils.
In order, however, to guard so far as possible against the evil of dispensing with the other considerations, a certain proportion of the posts is reserved to be filled up by the original method of nomination, and the examination test is resorted to for filling up initial posts alone, and promotion is guided by seniority and merit combined.
The circumstances above set forth are not peculiar to any particular country or climate, but are equally applicable to all, and it is not correct to say that the above method is a peculiarly Western method and not applicable or adapted to India. In fact, in China, which is peculiarly an Eastern country, the same method has been of universal application for many centuries past. Moreover, the present rulers of India happen to be foreigners; and in their case, therefore, the considerations which have led to the method of examination being adopted, apply with even greater force. The above considerations also apply to the method of election and representation, though not with the same force or to the same extent. Hence election and also nomination in the case of Local Boards, Municipal Corporations, Legislative Councils, and the like.
It has been suggested by the Honourable Haji Mohamed Ismail Khan, of the North-West Provinces, that the Congress should pass a resolution "recognising the absolute necessity of equality of number of Hindu and Mohamedan elected members in Legislative Councils, District Boards and Municipalities . . . and wishing all Hindus and Mohamedans to elect accordingly." It is a good suggestion, but so long as Musalmans do not join the Congress movement in the same numbers and with the same enthusiasm as the Hindus do, the Congress cannot in fairness be asked to carry out such a suggestion in the manner and to the extent indicated in the suggestion.
11.) As to the modes of government prevailing in the West not being adapted to Musalmans, the observations in answer to objection No.10 also apply to this objection. The Musalmans may be reminded that our Holy Prophet did not name a successor. He left it to the believers to elect one for themselves. The Caliph or the successor was originally freely chosen by the free suffrages of the believers, and was responsible to them for his acts. In later times this practice was altered, and the Caliphs were made hereditary; but this was done by the confidence and the consent of the believers. But even to this day, the sanction of the believers in the shape of Blat, is deemed necessary.
"The Government of India," says Mr. Ahmed Riza, "is therefore in the hands of an elective monarch, limited in the exercise of his powers by prescriptive religious traditions. According to Musalman Law, if the Caliph departs from these traditions, the body of the learned (Ulema) is armed with the right of remonstrating, and is even able to depose him. Amongst these traditions, there is one which makes it obligatory on the Caliph not to do, or even to resolve on, any act without first seeking the advice of the chiefs of the tribes and the doctors of the law -- a principle very characteristic of Representative Government. According to Muslim Law, the Caliph is bound to be just, to respect the liberties of the people, to love his subjects, to consider their needs and listen to their grievances . . . . It is clear that Islam knew how to determine and regulate the rights and duties of the sovereign, even before England essayed the task."
Islamism has no caste. "Let all your subjects," said Frederick the Great, "have the right to address you directly both in speech and writing." "The Musalmans." says Mr. Ahmed Riza, "are free from clerical domination, and know nothing of rank or social grade." Said Ali, the fourth Caliph, "superiority in knowledge is the highest title of honour." "The spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion" of the Musalmans was remarkable. Musalman cities were "full of savants and men of letters." "Roman Law and Greek Science continued their evolution among the Arabs." "The best of Holy Wars," said our Holy Prophet, "is the righteous word spoken to a monarch who is acting tyrannically." "Islam knows no master; the Commander of the Faithful is only the chosen servant of the people." "Obedience to a Chief is limited; it is founded on the presumption that the Chief commands in the name of the law and in the interests of him who obeys." "Obey me, said Abu Bakr (the first Caliph), "so long as I go on in good practices. If I deceive myself, warn me. If you do not, you will be responsible." "The Government of Islam is a collective authority in which every free citizen in possession of his mental faculties is bound by a common destiny, and shares its responsibilities." "Islamism is not occupied with supra-mundane interests alone. It does not say: 'Leave to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.' It teaches its adepts that they have a civil duty to fulfil here below, and especially the duty of controlling the conduct of Caesar."
Election and Representation, as also Universal Brotherhood, are the characteristics of Islam, and ought not to be objected to by Musalmans. All Musalmans are equal, and if they want any employment, they must, like the rest, pass public examinations. If they want any position of rank, they must endeavour to be fit for such position, and resort to election like the rest. Of course, if they can gain such position by nomination, they must thank their good fortune; but if they cannot, they have no right to grumble. They may contend, however, that so far as examinations are concerned, they are at a disadvantage, as compared with the Hindus. If that is so, it is no doubt a misfortune. But surely they must rely on merciful Providence and put their own shoulders to the wheel, and by the grace of God they are bound to succeed in their efforts; nay even more, if they have more difficulties to overcome than the Hindus, so much the more creditable will be their success to them, and so much the more will they be qualified, not only for the initial posts, but for higher promotion.
In fact, even in India we find that when Musalmans do really take to liberal education, they generally equal, if not even surpass, the other races, and that Musalmans are good not only in matters requiring muscle and valour, but also mental powers and intellectual vigour, and the Musalman community of India can produce distinguished and deeply learned scholars, such as Mr. Justice Budruddin, Mr. Justice Ameer Ali, and Mr. Justice Mahmood; and here it may be remarked in passing that if Musalmans in India have a few more leaders of educational advancement of the calibre and energy, and persistence and devotion, of the type of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who has by his lifelong services done a great deal for Musalmans in this matter, and whose name will be remembered with gratitude and admiration for a long time to come, Musalman education is bound to prosper.
The Musalmans may furlher contend that in elections they will be swamped. All that may be said here is that they are mistaken in thinking so. They have simply to try, and they will find that they will have no reasan to complain. Assuming, however, that they are unsuccessful. notwithstanding their honest endeavours and notwithstanding their fitness, why then Government will, for its own safety, be compelled to come to their help.
Objections 12.), 13.), 14.), and 16.) have already been answered.
15.) It does not follow that, because the Hindus form the majority of the Congress, that the Resolutions of the Congress will be the Resolutions of the Hindus. It is a standing rule of the Congress, solemnly passed and recorded, that if any proposal is disapproved of by the bulk of either the Hindus or the Mussalmans, the same shall not be carried. Again, the Congress is not a meeting of shareholders in a Joint-Stock Company, or any other body formed for the gain of profit or for private interests, and a numerical majority does not and cannot influence its decisions -- decisions, by the by, which cannot affect anybody, as they are simply expressions of opinion, and as such must necessarily depend on their intrinsic sense and reasonableness to carry any weight with Government for whose benefit they are passed.
Again, so long as the Congress leaders happen to be men of education
and enlightenment, men of approved conduct and wide experience, men in
fact who have a reputation to lose, the Congress will never be allowed
to run its course for the benefit of sectional, private, or party purposes.
Again, if the Mussalmans attend Congress meetings, surely the Congress
shall be bound to hear and to give careful consideration to Mussalman views,
and arguments founded on facts and reason
are bound to prevail. Assuming, however, that the Congress is reduced to a rabble meeting, which is not probable, why, then it will lose its position, and nobody will pay any attention to its resolutions.
The Mussalmans, however, instead of raising puerile and imaginary objections from a distance, should attend Congress meetings and see for themselves what is going on in such meetings; indeed, they will find that even when one member puts forward cogent reasons in opposition to the proposal, such proposal is eventually dropped.
17.) If the complaint in regard to the conduct referred to in the objection be correct, it may be mentioned that such conduct is not popular to any particular race.
It is in the nature of things that persons of low origin, born and brought up in the atmosphere of low morals, should, on finding themselves suddenly clothed with the authority of the Sircar, get their heads turned and be led into playing the tyrant. The less the education they have received, and the smaller the emoluments their posts carry, the greater their superciliousness, the more marked their contempt for others. Cringing to superior authority, and lording it over the people who have anything to do officially with them, are the distinguished traits of these posts of society.
Persons of high birth and culture, who have seen better days and better society, may sometimes be naturally inclined to give to these supercilious tyrants a sound thrashing so as to make them remember it to the end of their days and prevent them from reverting to their evil ways. But persons of high birth and culture naturally recoil from doing anything which may savour of vulgarism, and hence their silent sufferings.
Government has been ever ready and willing to check highhandedness and insulting conduct on the part of their native subordinate officials. Europeans both official and non-official, lovers of manliness and justice as they are, strongly disapprove of the hauteur. But no Government, however watchful and however anxious it may be, can possibly completely eradicate the evil, the true remedies for the removal of which are as follows: The standard of education required of candidates for subordinate official posts should be gradually raised higher and higher so as to compel the candidates to have better education, better culture, in order to make them forget the evil surroundings of their previous life and to take to a better appreciation of the moral law of nature. At the same time education should be disseminated all over the land, and the standard of education of the masses should be gradually and steadily raised, so that the masses, armed with the weapon of education, may not have meekly to submit to petty tyrannies, but may know how to protect themselves against them and to bring the offenders to a proper sense of their puniness and the impropriety of their conduct, by means of union and the agitation of their grievances, and in legally provocable [=pursuable] cases by bringing the culprits to their well-deserved punishment.
[on to *17) Fundamental Principles of Islam*]