GANDHI AND COMMUNAL PROBLEMS > Approach to Communal Unity
IF THE Hindu and the Muslim communities could be united in one bond of mutual friendship, and if could act towards the other ever as children of the same mother it would be a consummation devoutly to be wished.
The union that we want is not a patched up thing but a union of hearts based upon a definite recognition of the indubitable proposition that Swaraj for India must be an impossible dream without an indissoluble union between the Hindus and Muslims of India. It must not be a mere truce. It cannot be based upon mutual fear. It must be a partnership between equals, each respecting the religion of the other.
And Hindu-Muslim unity is nothing if it is not a partnership between brave men and women.
Hindu Muslim unity means not unity only between Hindus and Musalmans and between all those who believe India to be their home, no matter what faith they belong.
I am fully aware that we have not yet attained that unity to such an extent as to bear any strain. It is a daily growing plant, as yet in delicate infancy, requiring special care and attention.
Both the Hindus and the Musalmans must learn to stand alone and against the whole world, before they become really united. This unity is not to be between weak parties, but between men who are conscious of their strength.
With me the conviction is as strong as ever that, willy-nilly, the Hindus and the Musalmans must be friends one day. No one can say how and when that will happen. The future is entirely in the hands of God. But He has vouchsafed to us the ship of Faith which alone can enable us to cross the ocean of Doubt.
For, I believe with the late Poet Iqbal that the Hindus and the Muslims, who have lived together, long under the shadow of the mighty Himalayas and have drunk the waters of the Ganges and Yamuna, have a unique message fro the world.
Disunity a Phase
As members of a family, we shall sometimes flight, but we shall always have leaders who will compose our differences and keep us under check.
Taking even the Hindu-Muslim disturbances in that light, I do not despair of the future. Order must come out of the present chaos. We would expedite the advent of order by watching, waiting and praying. If we do so, the evil that has come to the surface will disappear much quicker than, if, in our haste and impatience, we would disturb the surface and thus send the dirt to the bottom again instead of allowing it to throw itself out.
This, however, is no cause for the slightest despair. I know that the demon of disunion is at his last gasp. A lie has no bottom. Disunion is a lie. Even if it is sheer self-interest, it will bring about unity. I had hoped for disinterested unity. But I will welcome a unity based even on mutual interest. It will come when it does come, in away perhaps least expected by us. God is the Master Trickster. He knows how to confound us frustrate our ‘Knavish tricks’. He sends death when one least expects it. He sends life when we see no sign of it. Let us admit our object helplessness, let us own that we are utterly defeated. Out of the dust of our humility will, I feel sure, be built up an impregnable citadel of unity.
Hindus and Muslims are going more and more away from each other. But this does not disturb me. Somehow or other, I feel that the separation is growing only to bring them all closer later on.
The Hindu-Muslim quarrels are, in a way, unknown to us, as a fight for Swaraj. Each party is conscious of its impending coming. Each wants to be found ready and fit for Swaraj when it comes. The latter consider themselves to be weak in educational and earthly equipment. They are now doing what all weak bodies have done hitherto. This fighting therefore, however unfortunate it may be, is a sign of growth. It is like the Wars of the Roses. Out of it will rise a mighty nation. A better than the bloody way was opened out to us in 1920, but we could not assimilate it. But even a bloody way is better than utter helplessness and unmanliness.
We may think are living, but disunited we are worse than dead. The Hindu thinks that in quarreling with the Musalman he is benefiting Hinduism; and the Musalman thinks that in fighting a Hindu he is benefiting Islam. But each is ruining his faith. And the poison has spread among the members of the communities themselves. And no wonder. For one man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.
It is a matter of shame to me to confess that we are a house divide against itself. We fly at each other’s throats in cowardice and fear. The Hindu distrusts the Musalman through cowardice and fear, and the Musalman distrusts the Hindu through equal cowardice and imaginary fears. Islam throughout history has stood for matchless bravery and peace it can, therefore, be no matter for pride to the Musalmans that they should fear the Hindus. Similarly, it can be no matter for pride to the Hindus that they should fear the Musalmans, even if they are aided by the Musalman of the world. Are we so fallen that we should be afraid of our own shadows.