Towards Swaraj [Self-rule]
The Young Islam, 15th September 1934 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 8, pp. 3–4)
اِنَّ الۡاَرۡضَ لِلّٰہِ ۟ۙیُوۡرِثُہَا مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ مِنۡ عِبَادِہٖ ؕ وَ الۡعَاقِبَۃُ لِلۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۸﴾
“Surely the land is Allah’s—He causes such of His servants to inherit it as He pleases. And the end is for those who guard (against evil)” (The Holy Quran, 7:128).
While the battle is going on, the activity generated by an army through a spirit of opposition and hatred of the foe is no index of its real strength. The actual forces of a nation depend on the degree of unity, of love and of a spirit of sacrifice that pervades among its individuals. For these are the qualities on which depends the advance of a people. The proper time to judge the strength of a nation is not the moment of battle but of peace when passions are calm and the real character can be perceived. Again, defeat or victory at a particular occasion is also no criterion of its weakness or strength. The thing that matters is the behaviour of the members of a nation among themselves when the fight is over.
The world has been witnessing a tense struggle between forces trying to emancipate India and those responsible for the perpetuation of an alien rule. The question before us is this: Have the forces of freedom gathered in themselves sufficient strength for the advancement of this country? The answer must be based upon the manner in which the members of the national forces have acted on two occasions. Less than two years ago there was presented an opportunity which appeared to be a sign of victory. Indian leaders at the Round Table Conference were asked to put forth a united demand. At that time India failed in the test. Although there was no real victory yet only a shadow of it disunited and unbalanced the Indian leaders. Whatever the real causes, the hard fact remains established that India lacked unity of purpose and action. It was a great failure. The whole world was expectantly gazing towards India, but it was disappointed to find a house hopelessly confused and chaotic. Whether the Congress leaders did really try their utmost to arrive at a united formula or they did not think it worthwhile to do so is a matter for one to conjecture.
There came another occasion of test. This time it was the moment of utter defeat of the national forces. The non-cooperation movement failed and had to be abandoned. Had there been some vital force behind the movement beside the sheer spirit of hatred and enmity the defeat of a policy would invariably have infused a spirit of unity among its forces. What do we find instead? First of all we witness a split among the members on a matter of policy. Dissension on the top of defeat is deplorable indeed. But still worse is the spirit of selfishness for position displayed by Congress members at almost every important town where elections have been held recently. A nation which has no real strength to manifest neither at the moment of victory nor at point of defeat hardly merits anything worth the name. One really wonders to note the discord and selfish spirit while there are no spoils to be divided. Now these are the real forces with which India was led to fight a first-class nation of the world. The Congress leaders either were wholly ignorant of their real strength or if they realized it then they were utterly mistaken to believe that they could win with such feeble forces.
Unity is indispensable for emancipation. How to achieve unity in a land like India? One method is that of compromise between the various peoples inhabiting it. We have already seen that this method failed at India’s greatest hour of trial. There is another method. One nation should dominate overall. The voice of every other nation be so feeble as compared with that of the dominant race as to be negligible. Our brethren—the Hindus—have now adopted this latter method for unification of India. Whether they have tried their utmost with sincerity, devotion and magnanimity of heart to unite India by the method of compromise and have yet failed in their genuine efforts because the Muslims are utterly devoid of any sense of patriotism, sacrifice and unity, we shall not discuss but leave to the good sense of readers to judge.
What is the motive behind the otherwise humane movement of the abolition of untouchability? The idea and ideal behind is the domination of one race by its overwhelming majority. For it is quite incomprehensible that the spirit of humanity and uplift for the downtrodden depressed classes in the high caste Hindu lay latent so long as he saw that he could win glory and power for himself but manifested itself the moment he failed in his attempt. The Hindu at any rate is attempting to absorb millions of untouchables in his fold to augment his forces. Will he succeed in it? So long as the Hindu faith remains intact it is an impossibility to think untouchables being absorbed in the Hindu nation. The intelligent Hindu who does not want to shut his eyes to facts realizes that to increase the Hindu race by extension of his faith is a thing as it is to cry for the moon. It is on this account that another section sees the unification of India not in extending this faith or that but in altogether eliminating the discordant factor of religion. Thus, one angle views Indian unity in the spread of Irreligion and Free-thought.
The Muslim also inhabits Indian soil. What is his position? He can afford to abandon neither his faith nor his land. In a land where compromise has failed and the game of domination begun the Muslim must either come at the top or else go to the bottom. There is no middle course left for him. If he chooses to act on the principle of self-preservation he cannot ignore the commandments of his guidebook—the Quran—which clearly lays down the maxim for him:
“And surely the land is Allah’s—He causes such of His servants to inherit it as He pleases and the ultimate (triumph) is for those who guard (against evil)” [The Holy Quran, 7:128].
Whatever his object and whichever the method, a Muslim can on no account employ unfair means. With a Muslim, his faith is above everything else and it tells him to shun evil. If he is to dominate, and he is destined to do so provided he turns to the teachings of the Quran, it must be on principles of equity, justice, service and superiority in his moral and spiritual elevation over others. The victory a Muslim wants to gain is the victory of moral and spiritual forces. He is a believer in Divine Unity, which means nothing more or less than this: that the one ideal with him is surrender to His Will only.
Politics is not our concern. Not because patriotism and emancipation are no factors of religion but because the ills prevalent today in the world require some other remedy. Emancipation must be of the souls if it is to be of the right kind and nationalism today is an evil. The world needs a message of humanitarianism and of spiritualism. Islam at this juncture is pre-eminently fitted to supply what the world needs. Hence the spread of message of Islam is to us the greatest blessing. We have, however, discussed the problem of freedom of India because it appears to us certain that even here in the sphere of politics a Muslim is obliged to present the message of Islam to his own people. For the unification of India, for converging different viewpoints to a common centre, there is no choice but that Islam must dominate in this land. The more the people of this country appreciate the truth of the message of Islam the nearer we are moving towards Swaraj [self-rule]. This has been precisely the message given thirty years ago by the Divinely-inspired man of this age, which we reproduce on the first page.