100 Years Ago… – How to unite Indian nations amidst their great diversity


Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra MA (1893-1963)

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Map of BEIC 1837-1857 | Wiki Commons

India is sometimes truly spoken of as a continent rather than a country. In terms of physical features, climate, produce, language, social customs and habits, and above all, religion, one province is in some cases as different from the other as two distinct and separate countries. This heterogeneous character of the land has proved a great hindrance to its advancement. The requirements and needs of one part of the country, its hopes and fears, and its aspirations are often opposed to those of the others, and this results in confusion of the worst sort. Many a time, India has striven hard to stand on her feet, shoulder to shoulder with the other countries of the world, but has always staggered to the ground, being weighed down with her own encumbrances. By far the most stubborn obstacle and one that has persistently baffled the attempts of all true lovers of India is the religious prejudice blindly displayed by the different communities towards one another. It is a well-known fact that India is preeminently a religious country, and its people, whether Hindu, Sikh, or Musalman [Muslims], have a marked tendency towards taking up a most unreasonable position when some communal question is involved. As a matter of fact, an average Indian will not hesitate to stoop to the use of any means in his power in order to harm the interests of a member of another community when they happen to clash with those of someone belonging to his own community. Such a state of affairs is highly detrimental to the healthy progress of the country. Indeed, no country can make any permanent progress unless there is mutual love, sympathy, goodwill and cooperation between the different communities that inhabit it.

Religious prejudice is particularly keen among Hindus throughout India, notably in the Punjab and the UP. As they are more advanced in education and are financially much better off than the Musalmans, they have succeeded in securing a majority of the government posts. Even in the Punjab, where the Hindus are not more than 35 per cent of the total population while the Musalmans are more than 55 per cent, almost all the civil departments under the government are crowded with the Hindus, while the Musalmans, in many cases, do not occupy more than 30 per cent of the government posts. In addition to this, there is the deplorable fact, which is a very frequent occurrence, that where a Hindu gains power in any of the government offices, that office becomes thenceforward almost closed to the followers of Islam. This state of affairs is weighing heavily on the Musalman community in India. Under these circumstances, it is vain to expect unity between the Hindus and the Musalmans. No sane person, however broadminded he may be, can spread his arms to embrace the man whom he knows to be concealing a dagger to kill him.

But that is not all. There is yet another cause of disunion, which, like a deadly poison, kills outright any seedlings of union that may happen to germinate. This is the unwarrantable belief of the Aryas that except for the primitive rishis to whom the Vedaswere revealed at the beginning of the universe, all the other pious men who have ever claimed to be the recipients of Divine favour were (God forbid) so many impostors who intentionally deceived the people to gain their own personal ends. Abraham, they say, was an impostor, Moses was an impostor, Christ was an impostor, Mohammad was an impostor, and Confucius, Zoroaster, Buddha and Baba Nanak, peace be with them all, were all impostors. Who can reconcile himself to this most unreasonable and most painful doctrine? For us, the Musalmans, it is possible to make peace with the snakes of the deserts and the wolves of the forests, but it is impossible to be at one with those who make vile attacks against our Holy Prophet[sa] whom we hold dearer than our fathers and mothers and our own selves. We do not pain anybody’s heart and we have a right to expect that no one should pain ours. We believe in the old rishis of the Hindus, and in Rama and Krishna and regard them as the favoured ones; we believe in Abraham, Moses and Christ; we believe in Confucius and Zoroaster; we believe in Buddha and Baba Nanak, and we believe in Muhammad, peace be with him and with them all. Under these circumstances, it is natural that we should expect that other communities should believe in our Prophet[sa] and look upon him as a true reformer from God. In short, the Musalmans can never [become reconciled] with the Hindus unless they cease from making attacks against the Holy Prophet[sa] of Islam and begin to regard him as a true prophet of God. [They could do so by remaining Hindus.] Peace based on any other ground can never succeed in a country like India, where religious enthusiasm runs high.

[Hazrat Mirza Ghulam] Ahmad[as], the Promised Messiah and Mahdi and Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, saw this state of affairs and was grieved to find India thus badly handicapped in the race of countries. Consequently, he wrote a special article in 1908, the year of his death, and called it “A Message of Peace”.

Message of Peace

In that treatise, which has since been translated into English and widely published, and has also appeared in the pages of The Review of Religions, Vol. VII, Ahmad[as] made a strong appeal to the leaders of the Hindu community in India to give up those beliefs that created discord and disunion and become united with the Musalmans. In his unusually lucid and forcible style, Ahmad[as] explained the great advantages of peace between the two communities inhabiting the same country and pointed out that Hindus and Musalmans being neighbours in India, must try to find out the root cause of their disunion and then search for its cure. The question, he said, was of immense importance and hence could not be disposed of indifferently. Superficial observations were dangerous inasmuch as they tended to make people neglect the real causes of disunion. Ahmad[as] wrote:

“[…] I now draw your attention to the following: notwithstanding the hundreds of differences between us, Muslims and Hindus alike share one thing in common, i.e., we all believe in God, the Creator and Master of the Universe. Also, we belong to the same denomination of God’s species and are referred to as humans. Furthermore, as inhabitants of the same country, we are mutual neighbours. This requires that we become friends to each other, with purity of heart and sincerity of intentions. We should dispose kindly to each other and be mutually helpful. In the difficulties pertaining to religious and worldly matters, we should exercise such sympathy towards each other as if we have become limbs of the same body.

“My countrymen, a religion which does not inculcate universal compassion is no religion at all. Similarly, a human being without the faculty of compassion is no human at all. Our God has never discriminated between one people and another. This is illustrated by the fact that all the potentials and capabilities which have been granted to the Aryans have also been granted to the races inhabiting Arabia, Persia, Syria, China, Japan, Europe and America. The earth created by God provides a common floor for all people alike, and His sun and moon and many stars are a source of radiance and provide many other benefits to all alike. Likewise, all peoples benefit from the elements created by Him, such as air, water, fire and earth, and similarly from other products created by Him like grain, fruit, and healing agents, etc. These attributes of God teach us the lesson that we, too, should behave magnanimously and kindly towards our fellow human beings and should not be petty of heart and illiberal. […]

“God commences the Holy Quran with the following verse, which is contained in Surah al-Fatihah:

اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ

“That is, all perfect and holy attributes belong exclusively to Allah, Who is the Lord of all the worlds.

“[…] The commencement of the Holy Quran with this verse was designed to counter the views of such people as attempted to monopolise God’s unlimited providence for their own nation and imagined that the other nations did not belong to God or that having created these other people, God discarded them as being of no consequence, or else perhaps they were shelved to oblivion by Him, or (God forbid) they were not even created by Him.

“To illustrate this further, we refer to the view of the Jews and the Christians, still commonly held by them, that all the Prophets and Messengers of God belonged only to the House of Israel, and that God completely ignored the religious and spiritual requirements of other people, as though He were displeased with them and that, despite finding them in manifest error and ignorance, He showed least concern for their spiritual welfare. As is also written in the Gospels that Jesus Christ, peace be on him, observed that he had been sent only for the lost sheep of Israel.

“Impossible as it is, yet by way of argument, let us assume that Jesusas did claim to be God. In that case, for him to confine his beneficence to such a small circle as the House of Israel does not behove the magnanimity of God. Had he been God, was he God only for the House of Israel to the exclusion of all other nations? […]

“Unfortunately, the Hindus of the Arya sect also entertain a similar belief. Like the Jews and Christians, who restrict the institution of Prophethood and Divine revelation exclusively to their people and deny the honour of Divine revelation to others, the Aryas also, unfortunately for the human race, have adopted the same doctrine. They too believe that the blessing of Divine communication was never bestowed to any people outside the domain of the Aryan race. Again, it is India alone which, according to them, is exclusively blessed by God for the selection of the four ‘Rishis’ from its soil; it is Sanskrit alone, the language of the Vedas, which has always been the medium of instruction chosen by God.

“One can safely conclude from this, that both these nations do not consider God to be the Lord [Provident] of all the worlds. Notwithstanding this, He is still proclaimed to be Lord of the Universe and not that of the Israelites or the Aryans alone. Moreover, this strange behaviour of God, as presented by them, draws an image of God which is so partial that He appears unmindful of the rest of His creation. Thus, it is for the refutation of such erroneous views, that God commences the Holy Quran with the verse:

 اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ

[‘All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.’ (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch.1: V.2)]

“[…] Allah says in the Holy Quran:

وَاِنۡ مّنۡ اُمَّةٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِيۡہَا نَذِيۡرٌ

“Meaning that there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent. [Surah al-Fatir, Ch.35: V.25]

“Therefore there is no question that the True and Perfect God, to believe in Whom is essential for every person, is the Lord of all the worlds. Furthermore, His providence is not confined to any particular people, age or country. In fact, He is the Lord of all peoples, the Lord of time and space, and He is the Sovereign of all the countries. He alone is the Fountainhead of all beneficence and the Source of every physical and spiritual strength. All that exists is sustained by Him. He is the Support for every creature.

“So, when such are the attributes of our Lord, it is but befitting for us to acquire them ourselves. So, O compatriots! This short epistle entitled ‘A Message of Peace’ is being presented to you with all due respects and with a sincere heartfelt prayer that Almighty God may Himself inspire you and fill your hearts with trust in my sincerity, lest you misread this friendly gesture and consider it to be an attempt to gain some ulterior motive. […]

“It is a common experience that calamities which cannot be averted by ordinary measures, and the difficulties which seem insurmountable, very often respond to the power of unanimity. Hence it would be against the dictates of wisdom for one to not benefit from the blessings of unanimity. The Hindus and the Muslims are two great nations inhabiting this country. It is hard to believe that either of the two, for instance, the Hindus, would one day gain total domination over the Muslims, and turn them out of this country altogether. Likewise, it is not possible for Muslims to expel the Hindus from their homeland.

“It should always be borne in mind that Hindus and Muslims are indispensable to each other in this country. If one is beset with a calamity, the other will inescapably share it. If either one intends to humiliate the other, out of egoistic pride or vanity, then it will not escape the consequent disgrace itself. And if anyone among them falls short of showing concern for his neighbour, then he too will suffer the ill effect of his callousness. Anyone who contemplates the annihilation of the other is like one who saws off the branch on which he is sitting.

“With the Grace of Allah, you have also got a measure of education; it behoves you now to eschew grudge and promote mutual love. […]

“So take heed my countrymen, before such evil days confront you. It is highly essential that Hindus and the Muslims should come to terms with each other and if either of the two parties is guilty of such excesses as obstruct the path of peace, they are better advised to desist from pursuing that course. Otherwise, the entire blame for the sin of mutual enmity will be borne by the faulting party.

“If someone questions the possibility of reaching reconciliation while religious differences are playing such a negative role, throwing hearts further apart, then my answer would be to say that difference in matters of religion can only play a negative role when it disregards the dictates of justice, wisdom and the well-tested human values. It is to avoid this danger that Man has been fully fortified with a clear sense of judgement and common sense. He should thus always carve a path for himself which never deviates from the path of justice and good sense. Again it should not violate the commonly experienced human sensibilities. Also, it should be remembered that day-to-day petty differences cannot obstruct the course of reconciliation. Only those differences can destroy the process of reconciliation which result in insulting and blasphemous attitudes by one towards the revered Messengers and revealed holy books of the other. […]

“As for us [Muslims], we never use indecent language with regard to the Prophets of other peoples. In fact, we believe that for all the Prophets who have come to different peoples of the world and have been accepted by millions of people in all parts of the world, and love for them and their greatness has been firmly established in any one part of the world, and further that this state of devotion and love for them has endured the test of time, is evidence enough of their truthfulness. Had they not been from God, they could not have been accepted on such a wide scale by millions upon millions of hearts. God does not bestow such honour upon those whom He favours not. If an imposter aspires to occupy their position, he is soon brought to ruin.

“By virtue of the same logic, we believe the Vedas to be divine in origin and we consider their saints to be venerable and holy.

“We do so despite our observation that Vedic teaching has not succeeded, nor could it ever succeed, in turning any section of its followers into true worshippers of God. […] However, in accordance with what we are taught by God, we believe that the original Vedas were not man’s fabrication. A human fabrication lacks the power to establish a lasting order.

“[…] The teaching of nyog, which is attributed to the Vedas, is abhorrent to human dignity and the human sense of honour. As I have already stated, we cannot accept that it is a genuine Vedic teaching. In fact, our well-meaning intentions make us strongly inclined to believe that such teachings must have been introduced later out of sensual motives. […]

“So when we, despite all these obstacles, purely out of fear of God, accept the Vedas to be divine revelation in its origin and assume all the false teachings to be the work of scribes, what justification can there be for the Holy Quran to be made the target of such brutal attacks? It is full of injunctions from cover to cover, speaking only of the worship of one God. Nowhere does it require Man to worship the sun, the moon etc. In fact, there are clear statements to the contrary:

لَا تَسۡجُدُوۡا لِلشَّمۡسِ وَلَا لِلۡقَمَرِ وَاسۡجُدُوۡا لِلّٰہِ الَّذِيۡ خَلَقَہُنَّ

“In other words, do not worship the sun, the moon, or any work of creation, but worship only Him, Who has created you [(Ha Mim al-Sajdah, Ch.41: V.38]. Apart from this, the Holy Quran is itself a testimony to God through its old and new signs. It is a mirror which shows God’s existence. Why should it be made the target of such ferocious attacks? Why are we not treated in the same spirit as we treat the Aryas? And why is the seed of enmity and hatred sown in the soil of this country? Do they really expect that the outcome of such behaviour will be good? Is it decent to hurl stones at one who offers flowers or to splash urine on one who offers milk?

“If Hindus and those belonging to the Arya faith were prepared to make a complete truce whereby they accept our Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, to be a true Prophet of God and in future agree to refrain from contempt and slander, then I am ready to be the first to sign the following treaty:

“We, the members of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, will testify to the truth of the origin of the Vedas, and will speak of the Vedas and their Rishis with respect and love, and if we do not honour our part of the contract, we will be liable to pay a fine of not less than three hundred thousand rupees to the Hindu community.

“If the Hindus genuinely desire to effect a compromise with us, then they should also write it as a declaration and sign it […].

“[…] The majority of people who are outside the fold of our Jamaat are disunited in their views and are diverse in their nature. They do not follow a leader, obedience to whom they would consider incumbent. This is why I cannot undertake anything on their behalf […]. But I trust that when the Hindus enter into an agreement with me, they [the other Muslims] will also not be so daring as to abuse the Book and the Rishis of such a civilised people and thereby invite the abuse of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in retaliation. […]

“My dear ones, there is nothing like peace and compromise. Let us unite with the blessing of this treaty and be one nation. You know full well that denial [of each other’s holy personages] on both sides has thrown us apart and that our country is suffering greatly. Visualise how blessed it could prove to testify to each other’s truth. Come, give this a try now. This is the best course for achieving peace.

“Pursuing any other course would be like ignoring a dangerous abscess merely because it looks clear and shiny, while, in reality, it contains rotten and putrid matter.

“I need not elaborate on the ever-increasing, mutually hypocritical, attitude and discord between the Hindus and Muslims. This is rooted not in religious differences alone, but has also secondary causes which pertain to worldly ambitions. […]

“I admit that such factors contributed to furthering the enmity which had already existed. But I cannot accept them to be the real reason. I beg to differ with those who believe that religious disputes are not at the root of Hindu-Muslim enmity and discord, and that the disputes are in fact political in nature. […]

“Dear Friends! I reassert that the underlying factor responsible for this behaviour is religion, and nothing else. If today the same Hindus embrace the Muslims while pronouncing the Kalimah Tayyibah:

لَآاِلٰہَ اِلَّا اللّٰہُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوْلُ اللّٰہ

“‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,’ then Muslims would cease to oppose them forthwith. Conversely, if Muslims renounce Islam and embrace Hinduism and start worshipping fire, air, etc., in accordance with the Vedic injunctions [i.e., its current distorted injunctions], then those differences which are labelled as political will suddenly vanish as if they had never existed.

“It is thus evident that the underlying factors in all enmities and grudges are the religious differences. It is such religious differences which, since times immemorial, reach a climax and then invariably give way to extensive bloodshed.

“Muslims, I say: If Hindus treat you as a different nation merely because of religious differences and you respond to them in the same manner, the matter will not end here. How can you achieve a sound, healthy relationship unless you take appropriate remedial measures against this root cause? It is possible that you may temporarily enjoy a friendship, but only superficially. The ultimate sincerity of heart, worthy of being called sincerity, can only be achieved if you genuinely change your attitude towards the Vedas and the Vedic Rishis by accepting them to be from God. Likewise, the Hindus should also change their niggardly attitude by testifying to the truth of our beloved Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Remember, and remember it well, that this is the only principle which can establish a genuine truce between you and the Hindus and this is the only water which can wash away all malice embittering your relationship. […]

“It is essential however that you treat Hindus with sincerity and kindness and let decent behaviour be your second nature. Refrain from all such measures as would cause them pain, except those that are essential or obligatory according to our faith. Consequently if the Hindus sincerely accept the proposition of testifying to the truth of our Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and of having faith in his truth, then what remains regarding the split on the issue of cows can be done away with. Remember if we are permitted to eat something, it does not follow that we have to eat it. Everything permissible is not obligatory. There are many things which we know to be lawful yet we do not necessarily practice them. To treat Hindus with decency and kindness is one of the important Islamic injunctions. If for the sake of achieving a higher goal one forgoes a right, it will not be against the spirit of the Divine law. To consider something to be lawful is one thing, to utilise it is another. The spirit of piety requires that you abstain from whatever God has forbidden. To actually pursue the path of gaining His favour and to have the welfare of His creation at heart and to treat others with goodness and sympathy and to respect all the holy Prophets and Messengers from God, and to accept them as reformers and to not discriminate between them and to serve all mankind irrespective of denominations. This is the essential requirement of our faith. How can we ever be at peace with such people who – without justification and without regard for the fear of Allah – speak of our Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, with disrespect, and abuse him and refrain not from the use of foul language? In truth, I declare that it is possible for us to make peace with the serpents fed on brackish soil and the wolves of the wilderness, but not with those who make wanton attacks on our Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who is dearer to us than our lives, our mothers and our fathers. May Allah cause us to die as Muslims. We are not willing to do anything at the cost of our faith.” (A Message of Peace, pp. 5-31)

These, in brief, were the ideas expressed by Ahmad[as] in 1908 and these were his last words to his countrymen. “A Message of Peace,” from which the above is only an extract, was read out, after the demise of its holy author, to a large gathering of educated Hindus and Musalmans in the Town Hall of Lahore. The paper was very much appreciated by some of the more enlightened members of both the communities, but unfortunately, no practical step was taken by the Hindus and the matter was allowed to drop due to a lack of proper care and attention. Hindu-Muslim relations practically continued as before. Meanwhile, however, the political situation in India was becoming graver day by day and the people were awakening to a growing sense of responsibility to their motherland. Then came the Great War of Nations, which let loose elements that gave new life to the political problem in India and ushered in an era of great political agitation. Hindus, Musalmans and Sikhs all rose to drive out the British from India, or at least to get complete autonomy under British suzerainty. For the time being, all differences were forgotten and everyone talked of union and brotherhood. The people of India, they said, were Indians first and Hindu, Musalman or Sikh afterwards. In the heat of the moment, however, no one stopped to think that peace based on the passing and transitory whims of the masses could not last long unless the parties decided after due deliberation to establish it on some permanent basis. It was at this stage of events that Hazrat Mirza Mahmud Ahmad[ra], the second successor of Ahmad[as], the Promised Messiah, wrote a special article entitled “Non-Cooperation” and therein warned the Musalmans not to be satisfied with the then existing state of affairs. His Holiness told the Musalmans that if they really wanted peace with their Hindu neighbours – and that was indeed a noble object – they should look for some firmer ground and not suffer themselves to be swept away by the temporary current of events. This advice was unfortunately disregarded and the result was sadly disastrous.

As soon as the first ebullition of the new political movement subsided, Hindus and Musalmans actually flew at one another’s throats like two wild bulls who keep their horns united when facing a tiger, but plunge them into each other’s bellies as soon as the tiger turns its back upon them. The later history of Hindu-Muslim unity in India draws tears of blood from the eyes of every true well-wisher of the country. The stories of Kartarpur, Multan, Amritsar and Lahore, etc., are too sad and too well-known to be repeated here. Not only has the great and pleasant dream of peace and union vanished, but Hindu-Musalman relations have grown even worse than before. Nay, it is hard to find in the earlier history of India a period of greater tension than the present between the two communities. Recently, at Lahore, all the Hindu members of the Municipal Committee have resigned in protest against the decision of the government to the effect that the Musalman members should have seats on the committee in proportion to their numerical strength. One cannot conceive of a more unreasonable attitude. It is certainly about such people that the Holy Quran says:

قَدۡ بَدَتِ الۡبَغۡضَآءُ مِنۡ اَفۡوَاہِہِمۡ ۚۖ وَمَا تُخۡفِيۡ صُدُوۡرُہُمۡ اَکۡبَرُ

I.e., “Verily, great enmity has found vent from their lips, but what their bosoms conceal is even greater.” [Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.119]

The recent Shuddhi movement, so vigorously started by the Hindus in the UP and the other parts of the country, is yet another indication of what turn the affairs are taking in India. The Shuddhi movement, though ostensibly a purely religious affair, and as such not in the least objectionable, is really nothing but a political movement that has been started by the Hindus to wipe out Islam from the Indian soil so that they may independently play the political game in India.

Such is the story of the Hindu-Muslim Unity in India – a very sad record indeed. It is high time that all well-wishers of India should deeply ponder over the situation, which is certainly becoming more serious day by day and is threatening to permanently retard the progress of the country. It is vain to expect that one community will, or can at any time, turn out the other from its home by the use of force. India is as much the home of the Indian Musalmans as it is of the Hindus, and it is most unreasonable to say that the Musalmans are a foreign people in India. If the Musalmans are to be called a foreign people on account of the fact that their ancestors came here from outside, so are the Hindus also. There is not the least difference between the two except that the Hindus came over to India some centuries earlier than the Musalmans. If the rights of citizenship are to be based on such grounds, both the communities should make ready to leave India and search for another home, for in that case, India would belong to the aborigines, such as Bhils, Gonds, Santals, Chamars and Chuhras to the entire exclusion of either the Hindus or the Musalmans. The Musalmans will be ready to leave India to the Hindus when the Hindus would be prepared to leave it to the Chuhras and Chamars, etc. Till then, all must remain co-sharers in the interests of the country. In short, it is wrong to say that India belongs to a particular community, to the exclusion of others.

When such is the case, it is time to think about how these different communities can be united, and after being united, how they can remain united. It is evident that the present state of affairs must not continue, or we must say farewell to all thoughts of progress in India. If we want to see India progress and successfully compete in the race of countries, we must unite. But we cannot unite unless we are prepared to make sacrifices for it. Indeed, the grander the object to be gained, the greater must be the sacrifices to be made. It is idle to talk of a grand object without being prepared to make proportionate sacrifices for it. On the other hand, it is most essential to search for a way in which we can gain our object with the least possible sacrifices, for if it is unwise to shrink from sacrifices, it is the more so to make more sacrifices than is absolutely necessary. He would be a madman indeed who would slaughter a goat to entertain a single guest when he can easily buy a fowl for the purpose. So we must decide, firstlyto be prepared to make sacrifices, and secondlyto make only such sacrifices as are absolutely necessary, neither more nor less.

Having decided on this course of action, we must now look at the practical side of the question. All of us, whether Hindu, Musalman, or Sikh, are sincerely desirous of seeing India progress, and of being reckoned among the first-class countries of the world. This position, it can attain only when there is a complete union among the different peoples inhabiting it. So we all agree that there must be a union. Now the best way to bring about the union is that all the different communities in India should decide to become one nation with one object in view. If this could be accomplished, India would soon be on the shortest and the surest way to advancement. What seems now impossible would then become possible, and nothing would stand in the way of India’s speedy progress. But how to become one nation? The question deserves the most careful thinking on the part of every son of the Indian soil. For ourselves, we have given our best hours to the solution of this problem and have come to the conclusion that as long as there are different religions in India, it is vain to talk of having one nation in the country. The past history of India as well as the present state of affairs in the country are ample proofs of the truth of our statement. If we want to have one nation in India we must have one religion. There is no other alternative.

The question now arises how is it possible to have only one religion in India? Will the Hindus be willing to become Musalmans, or will the Musalmans be prepared to turn Hindu? Again will the Sikhs agree to be converted to Hinduism or Islam, or will the Hindus and the Musalmans embrace Sikhism? It is evident that a Musalman professes Islam because he believes Islam to be the true religion. Similarly, Hindus and Sikhs believe only Hinduism and Sikhism respectively to contain the truth. Now, if it could be conclusively proved that Islam is the only true religion, and that Hinduism and Sikhism, though originally true, have left the path of truth, would not the Hindus and the Sikhs willingly embrace Islam? Surely they will. Similarly, we, the Muslims, are ever ready to turn Hindu or Sikh if Hinduism or Sikhism could be proven to be a truer religion than Islam. Is it not then within the limit of practical politics to hold a grand religious conference at some central place in India and there to make a comparative study of religions and decide what religion contains the greatest element of truth? If the leaders of the different communities could make it a point and sincerely work for a solution there is certainly good hope of an amicable settlement.

If this, however, be regarded beyond the limit of practical politics, we suggest a simpler method of solving the problem. We have agreed that we must be prepared to make sacrifices. We have also agreed that we should not make more sacrifices than it is absolutely necessary to make. Our common object is “union and one religion.” Now let us see which religion opens the way for the fewest possible sacrifices. There are three great religions in India, viz., Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam. Suppose all decide to become Hindus. Now what are the sacrifices that the Sikhs and the Muslims shall have to make? The Sikhs, who take their religion from Baba Nanak and cherish his memory with the fondest of love and affection, shall have not only to sever their connection with the Baba Sahib but shall have to regard him, God forbid, as a false and worldly-minded man (vide Satyarath Parkash). Again, the Musalmans who love their Prophet[sa] more than their fathers and mothers, their sons and brothers, nay, more than themselves and look upon him as a paragon of perfection, shall have not only to cut them asunder from him but shall, God forbid, also be required to call and look upon him as an impostor. Then suppose all decide to become Sikhs. In this case, the Hindus, who so fondly cherish the memory of their old rishis and of Rama and Krishna, shall have to consign these holy personages to total oblivion and begin their story of love and affection from the much more recent days of Baba Nanak. The Musalmans shall have to forget all about the Holy Prophet[sa] of Arabia and centre their affection around the personages of Baba Sahib and the subsequent Sikh Gurus. Now suppose the Hindus and the Sikhs decided to embrace Islam, will they be required to make any such sacrifice? The answer is in the negative. A Hindu will become a Muslim and still revere and love his old rishis and Rama and Krishna. A Sikh will turn Muslim and still cherish the memory of the Baba Sahib with love and affection. Islam regards the spiritual founders of all the established religions of the world as true reformers from God and spurns the idea of calling any of them as an impostor. So if Islam becomes the religion of the whole of India, there will be the least, if any, disturbance in the cherished traditions of the different communities, and with the least possible sacrifices, Hindus, Sikhs and Musalmans will become one nation, and India will set her foot on the shortest and the surest way to the realisation of her long and cherished hopes of centuries.

Failing this also, we suggest as a substitute the scheme contained in “A Message of Peace”, an extract from which has been given above. The sum and substance of this scheme is that the Hindus and the Musalmans should bind themselves by means of a formal agreement to the effect that the members of both the communities should abstain from speaking disrespectfully about the spiritual founders of each other, and every community should look upon the prophets of the other as true reformers from God. This means that the Hindus should believe in Muhammad, peace be with him, as a true prophet of God, just as the Musalmans believe in Krishna as a prophet. The Musalmans do not, of course, become Hindus when they profess belief in the truth of Krishna and the rishis. Similarly, the Hindus can believe in the truth of the Prophet of Islam by remaining Hindus. The scheme further mentioned that both the communities should abstain from doing anything that is painful to any of them, provided of course it is not enjoined by any of the two religions. Thus, the gulf between the two communities due to the slaughtering of cows by the Musalmans was also proposed to be spanned over.

This is the least possible scheme that can be practicable in bringing about the desired union in India. If this also be not acceptable to our Hindu brethren, let the world bear witness that we have done our duty, and that the entire responsibility of all this disunion and discord lies on the shoulders of the Hindus and not the Musalmans.

India is bleeding from the wounds received through the rash fighting of her sons among themselves, and he is not a true son of the soil who does not give up fighting now and come to the help of the motherland.


(Transcribed and edited by Al Hakam from the original, published in The Review of Religions [English], May & June 1923, pp. 177-192)

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