GANDHI AND COMMUNAL PROBLEMS > Approach to Communal Unity
MANY BELIEVE That an ingrained and ineradicable animosity exists between Hindus and Mohammedans.
“For over five hundred years the relation between Hindus and Musalmans was that of foes. After the advent of British rule, both the Musalmans and the Hindus were compelled out of policy to forget that racial hatred, and the acrimony of that bitter enmity is now no more. But the permanent difference in the constitution of these two races does even now exist. I believe the present cordial relation is due to British rule and not to the catholicity of modern Hinduism.”
I regard this statement as pure superstition. The two races lives at peace among themselves during the Muslim rule. Let it be remembered that many Hindus embraced Islam before the advent of Muslim rule in India. It is my belief that had there been no Muslim rule, there would still have been Musalmans in India, even as there would have been Christians had there been no British rule. There is nothing to prove that the Hindus and the Musalmans lived at war with one another in the British rule.
Were the Hindus and Musalmans and Sikhs always at war with one another when there was no British rule, there was no English face seen in India? We have chapter and verse given to us by Hindu historians and by Musalman historians to say that we were living in comparative peace even then. And the Hindus and Musalmans in the villages are not even today quarreling. In those days, they were not known to quarrel at all. The late Maulana Mahomed Ali often used to tell me, and he was himself a bit of a historian, “If God” Allah, as he called God- “gives me life, I propose to write the history of Musalman rule in India; and then I will show, through documents that British people have preserved, that Aurangzeb was not so vile as has been painted by the British historian that Moghul rule was not so bad as it has been shown to us in British history” and so on. And so have Hindu historians written. This quarrel is not old; this quarrel is coeval with the British advent.
Voice of Unity
That was the time when Hindus and Muslims for the time forgot all their differences. The Ali Brothers and I used to go all over the country together like blood brothers. We spoke with one voice and delivered the message of Hindu-Muslim unity and Swaraj to the masses. We resolved that thereafter we should address our prayers to God alone instead of the British Government, and so Satyagraha was born in India. The Ali brothers readily fell in with the programme of a national day of fasting and prayer people fasted on the 6th and 13th of April. They realized that they were all children of the God, destined to live together and die together in thousands and offered prayers in temples, churches and mosques. The climax was reached when in Delhi a monster gathering consisting of both Hindus and Musalmans was held in the Jumma mosque and was addressed by the late Swami Shraddhanand. It was a glorious day in India’s history, the memory of which we shall always treasure.
My experience of all India tells me that the Hindus and Muslim know how to live at peace among themselves. I decline to believe that people have said goodbye to their senses so as to make it impossible to live at peace with each other, as they had done for generations.
The enmity cannot last for ever. They are brothers and must remain so in spite of temporary insanity. But perpetual feud is not and impossibility between communities as it is not between two individuals. I hope that this would not happen, for I prophesy that in this case they will bury the two religions in India and will sell their freedom for a mess of pottage.