Thursday, July 22, 2010


It is claimed (where else, on Pakteahouse) that Gandhi supported the Majlis-i-Ahrar. On Wiki (in a disputed article) it is claimed that the Congress "freely funded" the Majlis-i-Ahrar.   This needs to be checked.  What are the mentions of the Ahrar in Gandhi's collected works?

 Volume 66

January 29, 1935


I was pleased to listen to you yesterday during my silence. So far as the Congress constitution is concerned, I can do very little in the matter. But I am of opinion that the Working Committee of the Congress will not favour any scheme of relaxing the constitution. The requirements are surely minimum.

As for the reflection cast upon the Ahmadiya community by Ahrars, I have absolutely no knowledge about it. If they have indulged in the language you brought to my notice, it is most unfortunate. I exercise no influence over them. Would it not be better for you to mention this matter to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad or to Dr. Ansari?

Yours sincerely

From a copy: Pyarelal Papers. Courtesy: Pyarelal

Volume 92

Sheikh Saheb Hisam-ud-Din, former President of the All-India Majlis-e-Ahrar, has issued the following to the Press : {Footnote: Hisam-ud-Din and Abul Kalam Azad, in separate statements, not reproduced here, had condemned the arson, murder and forcible conversions in East Bengal as un- Islamic and called upon the Muslim majority there to protect the Hindu minority.}

Maulana Saheb himself issued the following four days ago : {Footnote: ibid}

The value of these statements lies not so much in the numbers of Muslims supporting it, but in the fact that these Muslims of undoubted repute in Islam have no hesitation in condemning in unmeasured terms the nefarious deeds of the Muslims in East Bengal. It would be wrong to stigmatize the doers as goondas. These perpetrators of wrong are undoubtedly misled by men who should know better. There is little wonder that the atrocities have taken place when one bears in mind the poison that is instilled into the credulous minds of simple minded Muslims.

In order to meet the evil, the sane element in Islam must not only speak out its mind, but act accordingly and promptly. It would be interesting to know whether the former President of the all India Majlis-e-Ahrar has been able to send the contemplated body of volunteers to undo the mischief.

October 23, 1946
Harijan, 3-11-1946


 {Footnote: Extracted from Pyarelal’s “Weekly Letter”.}
October 24, 1946
Gandhiji told them {footnote: A crowd of excited young men carrying placards and shouting slogans had come to demand redress for East Bengal and invaded the prayer ground saying they wanted their voice to reach the members of the Working Committee which was meeting in Gandhiji’s room.} that it had already reached them. His own place, he knew, was in Bengal. He assured them that the heart of every man and woman who believed in God was bleeding for Bengal. He admonished them for creating a disturbance at prayer-time and asked them to be calm and join in the prayers. . . .

The regular prayer was not recited. Gandhiji said their minds were not calm enough for it. Ramdhun was sung and as usual had a calming effect on the gathering. Although the regular prayer had to be given up, it was in his heart, said Gandhiji, and he was sure it would reach God.
{Footnote: The following paragraph is reproduced from The Hindustan Times. }
He assured the audience that if members of the Interim Government were convinced that even by offering their lives as a sacrifice they could put a stop to the disturbances in East Bengal, not one of them would hesitate to make that sacrifice.

Referring to the remark of the young man who had used the metaphor of a house on fire, {footnote: Somebody had shouted that they could not pray when their house was burning.}  Gandhiji said that the duty of the owner of the house or his servant was that when the house was burning he should concentrate on putting out the fire and not lose his head. He alluded to the legend about King Janaka who remained calm and unperturbed when the report was brought to him that his capital was burning, because he had done all he possibly could before and after the accident and therefore could rest secure in his faith in God. If he had lost his head and run to the place of accident,he would only have assisted the flames by distracting attention.

They were pained at the news of women’s suffering in East Bengal, said Gandhiji. But they had so lost their heads that they had themselves failed to be considerate towards the women in the audience. They had scared them away from the prayer ground. They had occupied the place where women sat every day. It was a strange way of demonstrating their sympathy with the outraged womanhood of East Bengal. He hoped that they would see the irony and inconsistency of it. Our women were easily scared away. It was so more or less all the world over. He wanted our women to learn to be brave. His advice to them to commit suicide rather than allow themselves to be dishonoured had been much misunderstood. They could keep a dagger for self-defence if they wished to. But a dagger was no use against overwhelming odds. He had advised them to take poison and end their lives rather than submit to dishonour. Their very preparedness should make them brave. No one could dishonour a woman who was fearless of death. They had two ways of self- defence—to kill and be killed or to die without killing. He could teach them the latter, not the former. Above all he wanted them to be fearless. There was no sin like cowardice.

But there was a moral code even for those who believed in violence. He did not wish them to copy the methods said to have been adopted in East Bengal. They must have read Maulana Saheb’s statement and the statement issued by the ex-President of the All India Majlis-e-Ahrar. They had said that Islam did not permit forcible conversion or abduction and molestation of women.

Harijan, 3-11-1946; also The Hindustan Times, 26-10-1946

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