Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are meeting today in our session after fifteen months. The last session of the All-India Muslim League took place at Patna in December 1938. Since then many developments have taken place. I shall first shortly tell you what the All-India Muslim League had to face after the Patna session of 1938. You remember that one of the tasks, which was imposed on us and which is far from completed yet, was to organise Muslim Leagues all over India. We have made enormous progress during the last fifteen months in this direction. I am glad to inform you that we have established provincial leagues in every province. The next point is that in every bye-election to the Legislative Assemblies we had to fight with powerful opponents. I congratulate the Mussalmans for having shown enormous grit and spirit throughout our trials. There was not a single bye-election in which our opponents won against Muslim League candidates. In the last election to the U.P. Council, that is the Upper Chamber, the Muslim League’s success was cent per cent. I do not want to weary you with details of what we have been able to do in the way of forging ahead in the direction of organising the Muslim League. But I may tell you that it is going up by leaps and bounds.
Next, you may remember that we appointed a committee of ladies at the Patna session. It is of very great importance to us, because I believe that it is absolutely essential for us to give every opportunity to our women to participate in our struggle of life and death. Women can do a great deal within their homes even under purdah. We appointed this committee with a view to enable them to participate in the work of the League. The objects of this central committee were ( 1 ) to organise provincial and district women’s sub-committees under the provincial and district Muslim League; ( 2 ) to enlist a larger number of women to the membership of the Muslim League; ( 3 ) to carry on an intensive propaganda amongst Muslim women throughout India in order to create in the a sense of a greater political consciousness - because if political consciousness is awakened amongst our women, remember your children will not have much to worry about; ( 4 ) to advise and guide them in all such matters as mainly rest on them for the uplift of Muslim society. This central committee, I am glad to say, started its work seriously and earnestly. It has done a great deal of useful work. I have no doubt that when we come to deal with their report of work done we shall really feel grateful to them for all the services that they have rendered to the Muslim League.
We had many difficulties to face from January 1939 right up to the declaration of war. We had to face the Vidya Mandir in Nagpur. We had to face the Wardha Scheme all over India We had to face ill-treatment and oppression to Muslims in the Congress-governed provinces. We had to face the treatment meted out to Muslims in some of the Indian States such as Jaipur and Bhavngar. We had to face a vital issue that arose in that little state of Rajkot. Rajkot was the acid test made by the Congress which would have affected one-third of India. Thus the Muslim League had all along to face various issues from January 1939 up to the time of the declaration of war. Before the war was declared the greatest danger to the Muslims of India was the possible inauguration of the federal scheme in the central Government. We know what machinations were going on. But the Muslim League was stoutly resisting them in every direction. We felt that we could never accept the dangerous scheme of the central federal Government embodied in the Government of India Act, 1935. I am sure that we have made no small contribution towards persuading the British Government to abandon the scheme of central federal government. In creating that mind in the British Government, the Muslim League, I have no doubt, played no small part. You know that the British people are very obdurate people. They are also very conservative; and although they are very clever, they are slow in understanding. After the war was declared, the Viceroy naturally wanted help from the Muslim League. It was only then that he realised that the Muslim League was a power. For it will be remembered that up to the time of the declaration of war, the Viceroy never thought of me but of Gandhi and Gandhi alone. I have been the leader of an important party in the Legislature for a considerable time, larger than the one I have the honour to lead at present, the present Muslim League Party in the Central Legislature. Yet, the Viceroy never thought of me. Therefore, when I got this invitation from the viceroy along with Mr. Gandhi, I wondered within myself why I was so suddenly promoted and then I concluded that the answer was the `All-India Muslim League` whose President I happen to be. I believe that was the worst shock that the Congress High Command received because it challenged their sole authority to speak on behalf of India. And it is quite clear from the attitude of Mr. Gandhi and the High Command that they have not yet recovered from that shock. My point is that I want you to realise the value, the importance, the significance of organising ourselves. I will not say anything more on the subject.
But a great deal yet remains to be done. I am sure from what I can see and hear that the Muslim India is now conscious, is now awake, and the Muslim League has by now grown into such a strong institution that it cannot be destroyed by anybody whoever he may happen to be. Men may come and men may go, but the League will live for ever.
Now, coming to the period after the declaration of war, our position was that we were between the devil and the deep sea. But I do not think that the devil or the deep sea is going to get away with it. Anyhow our position is this. We stand unequivocally for the freedom of India. But it must be freedom of all India and not freedom of one section or, worse still, of the Congress caucus and slavery of Mussalmans and other minorities.
Situated in India as we are, we naturally have our past experiences and particularly the experiences of the past 2 ½ years of provincial constitution in the Congress-governed provinces. We have learnt many lessons. We are now, therefore, very apprehensive and can trust nobody. I think it is a wise rule for every one not to trust anybody too much. Sometimes we are led to trust people but when we find in actual experience that our trust has been betrayed surely that ought to be sufficient lesson for any man not to continue his trust in those who have betrayed him. Ladies and gentlemen, we never thought that the Congress High Command would have acted in the manner in which they actually did in the Congress-governed provinces. I never dreamt that they would ever come down so low as that. I never could believe that there would be a gentleman’s agreement between the Congress and the Government to such an extent that, although we cried hoarse, week in and week out, the Governors were supine and the Governor-General was helpless. We reminded them of their special responsibilities to us and to other minorities and the solemn pledges they had given to us. But all that had become a dead letter. Fortunately, Providence came to our help, and that gentleman’s agreement was broken to pieces, and the Congress, thank Heaven, went out of office. I think they are regretting their resignations very much. Their bluff was called off. So far so good. I therefore appeal to you, in all seriousness that I can command, to organise yourselves in such a way that you may depend upon none except your own inherent strength. That is your only safeguard and the best safeguard. Depend upon yourselves. That does not mean that we should have ill-will or malice towards others. I order to safeguard your rights and interests you must create that strength in yourselves that you may be able to defend yourselves. That is all that I want to urge.
Now, what is our position with regard to future constitution? It is that as soon as circumstances permit or immediately after the war at the latest the whole problem of India’s future constitution must be examined de movo and the Act of 1935 must go once for all. We do not believe in asking the British Government to make declaration. These declaration are really of no use. You cannot possibly succeed in getting the British Government out of this country by asking them to make declaration. However, the Congress asked the Viceroy to make a declaration. The Viceroy said, `I have made the declaration`. The Congress said, `NO, no, the want another kind of declaration. You must declare now and at once that India is free and independent with the right to frame its own constitution by a Constitution by a Constituent Assembly to be elected on the basis of adult franchise or as low as franchise as possible. This Assembly will of course satisfy the minorities’ legitimate interest. Mr. Gandhi says that if the minorities are not satisfied then he is willing that some tribunal of the highest character and most impartial should decide the dispute. Now, apart from the impracticable character of this proposal and quite apart from the fact that it is historically and constitutionally absurd to ask ruling power to abdicate in favour of a Constituent Assembly. Apart from all that, suppose we do not agree as to the franchise according to which the Central Assembly is to be elected, or suppose we the solid body of Muslim representatives do not agree with the non-Muslim majority in the constituent assembly, what will happen? It is said that we have no right to disagree with regard to anything that this Assembly may do in framing a national constitution of this huge sub-continent except those matters which may be germane to the safeguards for the minorities. So we are given the privilege to disagree only with regard to what may be called strictly safe-guards of the rights and interests of minorities. We are also given the privilege to send our own representatives by separate electorates. Now, this proposal is based on the assumption that as soon as this constitution comes into operation the British hand will disappear. Otherwise there will be no meaning in it. Of course, Mr.Ghandi says that the constitution will decide whether the British will disappear and if so to what extent. In other words his proposal comes to this: First, give me the declaration that we are a free and independent nation then I will decide what I should give you back. Does Mr.Gandhi really want the complete independence of India when he talks like this? But whether the British disappear or not, it follows that extensive powers must be transferred to the people. In the event of there being a disagreement between the majority of the Constituent Assembly and the Mussalmans, in the first instance, who will appoint the tribunal? And suppose an agreed tribunal is possible and the award is made and the decision given, who will, may I know, be there to see that this award is implemented or carried out in accordance with the terms of that award? And who will see that it is honoured in practice, because, we are told, the British will have parted with their power mainly or completely? Then what will be the sanction behind the award which will enforce it? We come back to the same answer, the Hindu majority would do it and will it be with the help of the British bayonet or the Gandhi’s “Ahinsa”. Can we trust them any more. Besides, ladies and gentlemen, can you imagine that a question of this character, of social contract upon which the future constitution of India would be based affecting 90 million of Mussalmans, can be decided by means of a judicial tribunal? Still, that is the proposal of the Congress.
Before I deal with what Mr.Gahndi
said a few days ago I shall deal with the pronouncements of some of the
other Congress leaders – each one speaking with a different voice. Mr.Rajagopalacharya,
the ex-Prime Minister of Madras, says that the only panacea for Hindu-Muslim
unity is the joint
"There is one point more which has been troubling me very much of late and one which I want you to think carefully and that is the question of Hindu-Muhammadan unity. I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to the study of Muslim history and Muslim law and I am inclined to think it is neither possible nor practicable. Assuming and admitting the sincerity of Mohammadan leaders in the non-cooperation movement I think their religion provides an effective bar to anything of the kind".
" You remember the conversation I reported to you in Calcutta which I had with Hakim Ajmal Khan and Dr. Kitchlew. There is no finer Muhammadan in Hindustan than Hakim Ajmal Khan, but can any Muslim leader over-ride the Quran? I can only hope That my reading of Islamic law is incorrect.
I think his reading is quite incorrect.
" And nothing would relieve me more than to be convinced that it is so. But if it is right then it comes to this, that although we can unite against the British we cannot do so to rule Hindustan on British lines. We cannot do so to rule Hindustan on democratic lines."
Ladies and Gentlemen, when Lala Lajpat Rai said that we cannot rule this country on democratic lines it was all right but when I had the temerity to speak the same truth about 18 months ago there was a shower of attacks and criticism. But Lala Lajpat Rai said 15 years ago that we cannot do so viz., rule Hindustan on democratic lines. What is the remedy? The remedy, according to Congress, is to keep us in the minority and under the majority rule. Lala Lajpat Rai proceeds further:
"What is then the remedy? I am not afraid of the seven crores of Mussalmans. But I think the seven crores in Hindustan plus the armed hordes of Afghanistan, Central Asia, Arabia, Mesopotamia an Turkey, will be irresistible".
"I do honestly and sincerly believe in the necessity or desirability of Hindu-Muslim unity. I am also fully prepared to trust the Muslim leaders. But what about the injunctions of the koran and Hadis? The leaders cannot over-ride them. Are we then doomed? I hope not. I hope your learned mind and wise head will find some way out of this difficulty".
Now, ladies and gentlemen, that is merely a letter written by one great Hindu leader to another great Hindu leader 15 years ago. Now, I should like to put before you my views on the subject as it strikes me taking everything into consideration at the present moment. The British Government and Parliament, and more so the British nation, have been for many decades past brought up and nurtured with settled notions about India's future, based on developments in their own country which has built up the British constitution, functioning now through the Houses of Parliament and the system of cabinet. Their concept of party government functioning on political planes has become the ideal with them as the best form of government for every country, and the one-sided and powerful propaganda, which naturally appeals to the British, has led them into a serious blunder, in producing a constitution envisaged in the Government of India Act of 1935. We find that the most leading statesmen of Great Britain, saturated with these notions have in their pronouncements seriously asserted and expressed a hope that, the passage of time will harmonise the inconsistent elements in India.
A leading journal like the London Times, commenting on the Government of India Act of 1935, wrote that "undoubtedly the difference between the Hindus and Muslims is not of religion in the strict sense of the word but also of law and culture, that they may be said indeed to represent two entirely distinct and separate civilisations. However, in the course of time the superstitions will die out and India will be moulded into a single nation'. (So according to the London Times the only difficulties are superstitions). These fundamental and deeprooted differences, spiritual, economic, cultural, social and political have been cuphemised as mere 'superstitions'. But surely, it is a flagrant disregard of the past history of the sub-continent of India as well as the fundamental Islamic conception of society vis-a-vis that of Hinduism to characterise them as mere 'superstition'. Notwithstanding thousand years of close contact, nationalities which are as divergent today as ever, cannot at any time be expected to transform themselves into one nation merely by means of subjecting them to a democratic constitution and holding them forcibly together by unnatural and artificial methods of British Parliamentary statutes. What the unitary government of India for 150 years had failed to achieve cannot be realised by the imposition of a central federal government. It is inconceivable that the fiat or the writ of a government so constituted can ever command a willing and loyal obedience throughout the sub-continent by various nationalities except by means of armed force behind it.
The problem in India is not of an intercommunal character, but manifestly of an international one, and it must be treated as such. So long as this basic and fundamental truth is not realised, any constitution that may be built will result in disaster and will prove destructive and harmful not only to the Mussalmans, but to the British and Hindus also. If the British government are really in earnest and sincere to secure peace and happiness of the people of this sub-continent, the only course open to us all is to allow the major nations separate homelands by dividing India into 'autonomous national state'. There is no reason why these states should be antagonistic to each other. On the other hand, the rivalry and the natural desire and efforts on the part of one to dominate the social order and establish political supremacy over the other in the government of the country will disappear. It will lead more towards natural goodwill by international pacts between them, and they can live in complete harmony with their neighbours. This will lead further to a friendly settlement all the more easily with regard to minority by reciprocal arrangements and adjustments between Muslim India and Hindu India, which will far more adequately and effectively safeguard the rights and interests of Muslim and various other minorities.
It is extremely difficult to appreciate why over Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, infact, different and distinct social orders and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits and the cause of more of our troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our nations intime. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry, nor interdine together and, indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different, and different episode. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other, and, likewise their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.
History has presented to us many examples such as the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, Czechoslovakia and Poland. History has also shown to us many geographical tracts, much smaller that the sub-continent of India, which otherwise might have been called on country but which have been divided into as many states as there are nations inhabiting them. Balkan Peninsula comprises as many seven or eight sovereign states. Likewise, the portuguese and the Spanish stand divided in the Ibberian Peninsula. Whereas under the plea of unity of India and one nation which does not exist, it is sought to pursue here the line of one central government when we know that the history of the last 12 hundred years has failed to achieve unity and has witnessed, during these ages, India always divided into Hindu India and Muslim India. The present artificial unity of India dates back only to the British conquest and is maintained by the British bayonet, but the termination of the British regime, which is implicit in the recent declaration of His Majesty's Government, will be the heral of the entire break-up with worse disaster than has ever taken place during the last one thousand years under the Muslims. Surely that is not the legacy within Britain would bequeath to India after 150 years of her rule, nor would Hindu and Muslim India risk such a sure catastrophe.
Muslim India cannot accept any constitution which must necessarily result in a Hindu majority government. Hindu and Muslims brought together under a democratic system forced upon the minorities can only mean Hindu Raj. Democracy of the kind with which the Congress Hall Command is enamoured would mean the complete destruction of what is most precious in Islam. We have had ample experience of the working of the provincial constitutions during the last two-and-a-half years and any repetition of such a government must lead to civil war and raising of private armies as recommended by Mr. Gandhi to Hindus of Sukkur when he said that they must defend themselves violently or non-violently, blow for blow, and if they could not, they must emigrate. Mussalmans are not a minority as it is commonly known and understood. One has only got to look around. Even today, according to the British map of India, out of 11 provinces, four provinces, where the Muslims dominate more or less, are functioning notwithstanding the decision of the Hindu Congress High Command to non-cooperate and prepare for civil disobedience. Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their homelands, their territory and their state. We wish to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours as a free and independent people. We wish our people to develop to the fullest our spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political life in a way that we think best and in consonance with our own ideals and according to the genius of our people. Honesty demands and vital interest of millions of our people impose a sacred duty upon us to find an honourable and peaceful solution, which would be just and fair to all. But at the same time we cannot be moved or diverted from our purpose and objective by threats or intimidations. We must be prepared to face all difficulties and consequences, make all the sacrifices that may be required of us to achieve the goal we have set in front of us.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is the task before us. I fear
I have gone beyond my time limit. There are many things that I should like
to tell you, but I have already published a little pamphlet containing
most of the things that I have said and I have been saying and I think
you can easily get that publication both in English and Urdu from the League
Office. It might give you a clearer idea of our aims. It contains very
important resolutions of the Muslim League and various other statements.
Anyhow, I have placed before you the task that lies ahead of us. Do you
realise how big and stupendous it is? Do you realise that you cannot get
freedom or independence by mere arguments? I should appeal to the intelligentia.
The intelligentia in all countries in the world have been the pioneers
of any movements for freedom. What does the Muslim intelligentia propose
to do? I may tell you that unless you get this into your blood, unless
you are prepared to take off your coats and are willing to sacrifice all
that you can and work selflessly, earnestly and sincerely for your people,
strengthen your organisation and consolidate the Mussalmans all over India.
I think that the masses are wide awake. They only want your guidance and
your lead. Come forward as servants of Islam, organise the people economically,
socially, educationally and politically and I am sure that you will be
a power that will be accepted by everybody.