Maulana Muhammad Ali’s Impressions on the Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

by Mirza Masum Beg

The Light (Pakistan), 16th February 1948 Issue (Vol. 27, No. 7, p. 1)

The first thought which struck me on hearing the sad news of Mahatma Gandhi’s murder was that it was not Mahatma Gandhi’s bosom but the bosom of the Hindu Nation which has been riddled by the assassin’s bullets. Mahatma Gandhi was, as a matter of fact, a great unifying force which held together the vast Hindu nation and got for them complete political emancipation. The foul murder of their benign benefactor, I am afraid, may not smite the Hindu nation with disruption and disgrace; and the worst of it is that the reactionary element which committed this dark deed, instead of showing regret and repentance, is making merry over it and distributed sweets, as the Premier of Bombay has told us. These cruel cutthroats, burning with the grim resolve to wipe the Muslims off the surface of India massacred them most mercilessly in the East Punjab and Delhi in the first instance and were proceeding further when it came into the head of Mahatma Gandhi that the Hindu nation, should it continue in its savage cruelty would incur the odium of the world and fall short of being ranked among the civilized nations: it may even be manacled in a worst kind of slavery. So, he stood between his people and the brutality which they were perpetrating; but all in vain. Mahatma Gandhi then imposed upon himself a fast unto death.

But the reactionaries — the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] — were determined and would not budge an inch from their murderous intentions so that when the Mahatma broke his fast, they refused to sign the pledge which had been prepared to assuage the dreadful deluge against the Muslims. It is a great pity that the Government of India took no notice of it and acted as indifferently as it had done when the Muslims were being slaughtered in their Dominion. The first warning, however, came in the form of a bomb which was hurled at Mahatma Gandhi. But the Government remained criminally indifferent until on January 30, 1948, occurred the sad and shocking event which shook the whole world with woeful surprise and aversion.

The reputation and respect which the Hindu nation commanded in the world even during its period of slavery, had already been dashed to the ground on account of their killing the Muslims. But the dastardly crime of assassinating their greatest benefactor who having pulled them out of the depths of slavery, has installed them upon the pedestal of Kingship and glory, has heaped more dust and disgrace upon their heads. It is not the life of Mahatma Gandhi but the life of the Hindu nation, the respect and regard which it enjoyed in the comity of nations which these worst enemies of the country have put an end to.

There is, however, a bright ray of hope in this dismal darkness. The Indian Government and a large portion of the Hindu nation have decided to carry on to completion the peace and communal harmony mission which Mahatma Gandhi had started. This will keep his name alive for ever. It is not this earthly body but the principles which a man lives for and teaches, that make his name immortal. Gandhiji will live for ever if his teaching should abide and endure after him. And for this purpose, the determination which steeled the heart of Mahatma Gandhi is imperatively necessary.

Mahatma Gandhi had studied the Holy Quran, the life-stories of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] and his Companions, as well as the history of Islam with care and devotion. This sacred study, I know it personally, had enlightened the Mahatma’s mind in respect of Islam so that he advised the Congress Ministers on one occasion to follow the excellent example of Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar if they wished to rule ideally. Mahatma Gandhi cherished a love for the Holy Quran in his bosom and made its recitation along with the Gita a regular feature of his daily prayers. Narrow-visioned people no doubt opposed him, but the strong-minded Mahatma cared not. The Holy Quran and the Gita were also recited when his dead body was placed on the funeral pyre and later on when the ashes were collected. Small wonder if this practice of reciting the Holy Quran along with the Bhagwat Gita should, in the blessed memory of Mahatma Gandhi, get into vogue amongst his followers.

If we should exert and endeavour on this line, we can change the foul feelings of communal hatred and animosity burning in the hearts of those people who have not only slaughtered millions of innocent Muslims but also their own benign benefactor, into fair feelings of friendship and mutual goodwill. It is true that their hearts are fierce with antipathy for Islam. But the Holy Prophet himself has explained the reason for this aversion. On the field of Uhud when the Prophet lay wounded amongst his dead companions, somebody suggested to him to utter imprecations on the enemy. The Prophet lifted his hands and prayed

“Forgive them O God, وانھم لا یعلمون they know not what lofty position I wish to raise them up to.”

It is deplorable indeed that during the 1200 years of our rule over this nation we displayed not to their view the true picture of Islam and the Holy Prophet nor placed before them the Holy Quran that they might study it themselves. Goethe, the famous German philosopher has said

“We begin the study of the Quran with feelings of prejudice and hatred; but it creates a love for it before we have finished it.”

Let us try this experiment upon our Hindu brothers.

We should, in the first place, render theHoly Quran and the Holy Prophet’s biography in all the Indian languages and disseminate them together with other Islamic literature extensively among the Hindus. By this means, it is quite possible we may be able to transmute the worst enemies of Islam into its best friends. The anti-Islamic virus, which is vitiating the minds of these people, can only be washed off by persuading them to read Islamic literature. But no teaching, no philosophy of life can attract people towards it until they see it with their own eyes practically demonstrated in the life of its followers. It is, therefore, imperatively necessary that we should ourselves study very carefully the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet’s life and live up to the principles and precepts contained therein. It was this practical illustration of Islam on the part of early Muslims which drew a whole world of people into its fold within a few years. It was, as a matter of fact, due to this noble example of Muslim saints that Islam spread in this idolatrous country reclaiming millions of people to the worship of one true God. Even today people will bow their heads before Islam if they could behold some glimmer of the Quranic light in the lives of Muslims. The future of Islam in India, it should be realized very clearly, depends on how far we shall succeed in changing the Hindu mentality in relation to Islam and dispelling the doubts which prejudice their minds against Islam.