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Gandhi was a major figure in the Independence movement in India in the first half of the 20th century. His belief in non-violent civil disobedience led to India gaining independence and inspired civil rights and freedom movements across the world. In the Introduction to this collection of writings and speeches Gandhi says: "It is said that we, too, are on the road to freedom, that it is better to be on the certain though slow course of gradual unfoldment of freedom than to take the troubled and dangerous path of revolution whether peaceful or violent, and that the new Reforms are a half-way house to freedom."
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Copyright © 2017 by Mahatma Gandhi
Published by Jovian Press
Interior design by Pronoun
Distribution by Pronoun
II. THE KHILAFAT
III. THE PUNJAB WRONGS
V. HINDU MOSLEM UNITY
VI. TREATMENT OF THE DEPRESSED CLASSES
VII. TREATMENT OF INDIANS ABROAD
IX. MAHATMA GANDHI’S STATEMENT
AFTER THE GREAT WAR IT is difficult, to point out a single nation that is happy; but this has come out of the war, that there is not a single nation outside India, that is not either free or striving to be free.
It is said that we, too, are on the road to freedom, that it is better to be on the certain though slow course of gradual unfoldment of freedom than to take the troubled and dangerous path of revolution whether peaceful or violent, and that the new Reforms are a half-way house to freedom.
The new constitution granted to India keeps all the military forces, both in the direction and in the financial control, entirely outside the scope of responsibility to the people of India. What does this mean? It means that the revenues of India are spent away on what the nation does not want. But after the mid-Eastern complications and the fresh Asiatic additions to British Imperial spheres of action. This Indian military servitude is a clear danger to national interests.
The new constitution gives no scope for retrenchment and therefore no scope for measures of social reform except by fresh taxation, the heavy burden of which on the poor will outweigh all the advantages of any reforms. It maintains all the existing foreign services, and the cost of the administrative machinery high as it already is, is further increased.
The reformed constitution keeps all the fundamental liberties of person, property, press, and association completely under bureaucratic control. All those laws which give to the irresponsible officers of the Executive Government of India absolute powers to override the popular will, are still unrepealed. In spite of the tragic price paid in the Punjab for demonstrating the danger of unrestrained power in the hands of a foreign bureaucracy and the inhumanity of spirit by which tyranny in a panic will seek to save itself, we stand just where we were before, at the mercy of the Executive in respect of all our fundamental liberties.
Not only is Despotism intact in the Law, but unparalleled crimes and cruelties against the people have been encouraged and even after boastful admissions and clearest proofs, left unpunished. The spirit of unrepentant cruelty has thus been allowed to permeate the whole administration.
THE MUSSALMAN AGONY
To understand our present condition it is not enough to realise the general political servitude. We should add to it the reality and the extent of the injury inflicted by Britain on Islam, and thereby on the Mussalmans of India. The articles of Islamic faith which it is necessary to understand in order to realise why Mussalman India, which was once so loyal is now so strongly moved to the contrary are easily set out and understood. Every religion should be interpreted by the professors of that religion. The sentiments and religious ideas of Muslims founded on the traditions of long generations cannot be altered now by logic or cosmopolitanism, as others understand it. Such an attempt is the more unreasonable when it is made not even as a bonafide and independent effort of proselytising logic or reason, but only to justify a treaty entered into for political and worldly purposes.
The Khalifa is the authority that is entrusted with the duty of defending Islam. He is the successor to Muhammad and the agent of God on earth. According to Islamic tradition he must possess sufficient temporal power effectively to protect Islam against non-Islamic powers and he should be one elected or accepted by the Mussalman world.
The Jazirat-ul-Arab is the area bounded by the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates. It is the sacred Home of Islam and the centre towards which Islam throughout the world turns in prayer. According to the religious injunctions of the Mussalmans, this entire area should always be under Muslim control, its scientific border being believed to be a protection for the integrity of Islamic life and faith. Every Mussalman throughout the world is enjoined to sacrifice his all, if necessary, for preserving the Jazirat-ul-Arab under complete Muslim control.
The sacred places of Islam should be in the possession of the Khalifa. They should not merely be free for the entry of the Mussalmans of the world by the grace or the license of non-Muslim powers, but should be the possession and property of Islam in the fullest degree.
It is a religions obligation, on every Mussalman to go forth and help the Khalifa in every possible way where his unaided efforts in the defence of the Khilifat have failed.
The grievance of the Indian Mussalmans is that a government that pretends to protect and spread peace and happiness among them has no right to ignore or set aside these articles of their cherished faith.
According to the Peace Treaty imposed on the nominal Government at Constantinople, the Khalifa far from having the temporal authority or power needed to protect Islam, is a prisoner in his own city. He is to have no real fighting force, army or navy, and the financial control over his own territories is vested in other Governments. His capital is cut off from the rest of his possessions by an intervening permanent military occupation. It is needless to say that under these conditions he is absolutely incapable of protecting Islam as the Mussulmans of the world understand it.
The Jazirat-ul-Arab is split up; a great part of it given to powerful non-Muslim Powers, the remnant left with petty chiefs dominated all round by non-Muslim Governments.
The Holy places of Islam are all taken out of the Khalifa’s kingdom, some left in the possession of minor Muslim chiefs of Arabia entirely dependent on European control, and some relegated to newly-formed non-Muslim states.
In a word, the Mussalman’s free choice of a Khalifa such as Islamic tradition defines is made an unreality.
THE HINDU DHARMA
The age of misunderstanding and mutual warfare among religions is gone. If India has a mission of its own to the world, it is to establish the unity and the truth of all religions. This unity is established by mutual help and understanding between the various religions. It has come as a rare privilege to the Hindus in the fulfilment of this mission of India to stand up in defence of Islam against the onslaught of the earth-greed of the military powers of the west.
The Dharma of Hinduism in this respect is placed beyond all doubt by the Bhagavat Gita.
Those who are the votaries of other Gods and worship them with faith—even they, O Kaunteya, worship me alone, though not as the Shastra requires—IX, 23.
Whoever being devoted wishes in perfect faith to worship a particular form, of such a one I maintain the same faith unshaken,—VII 21.
Hinduism will realise its fullest beauty when in the fulfilment of this cardinal tenet, its followers offer themselves as sacrifice for the protection of the faith of their brothers, the Mussalmans.
If Hindus and Mussalmans attain the height of courage and sacrifice that is needed for this battle on behalf of Islam against the greed of the West, a victory will be won not alone for Islam, but for Christianity itself. Militarism has robbed the crucified God of his name and his very cross and the World has been mistaking it to be Christianity. After the battle of Islam is won, Islam and Hinduism together can emancipate Christianity itself from the lust for power and wealth which have strangled it now and the true Christianity of the Gospels will be established. This battle of non-cooperation with its suffering and peaceful withdrawal of service will once for all establish its superiority over the power of brute force and unlimited slaughter.
What a glorious privilege it is to play our part in this history of the world, when Hinduism and Christianity will unite on behalf of Islam, and in that strife of mutual love and support each religion will attain its own truest shape and beauty.
AN ENDURING TREATY
Swaraj for India has two great problems, one internal and the other external. How can Hindus and Mussalmans so different from each other form a strong and united nation governing themselves peacefully? This was the question for years, and no one could believe that the two communities could suffer for each other till the miracle was actually worked. The Khilafat has solved the problem. By the magic of suffering, each has truly touched and captured the other’s heart, and the Nation now is strong and united.
Not internal strength and unity alone has the Khilafat brought to India. The great block in the way of Indian aspiration for full freedom was the problem of external defence. How is India, left to herself defend her frontiers against her Mussalman neighbours? None but emasculated nations would accept such difficulties and responsibilities as an answer to the demand for freedom. It is only a people whose mentality has been perverted that can soothe itself with the domination by one race from a distant country, as a preventative against the aggression of another, a permanent and natural neighbour. Instead of developing strength to protect ourselves against those near whom we are permanently placed, a feeling of incurable impotence has been generated. Two strong and brave nations can live side by side, strengthening each other through enforcing constant vigilance, and maintain in full vigour each its own national strength, unity, patriotism and resources. If a nation wishes to be respected by its neighbours it has to develop and enter into honourable treaties. These are the only natural conditions of national liberty; but not a surrender to distant military powers to save oneself from one’s neighbours.
The Khilafat has solved the problem of distrust of Asiatic neighbours out of our future. The Indian struggle for the freedom of Islam has brought about a more lasting entente and a more binding treaty between the people of India and the people of the Mussalman states around it than all the ententes and treaties among the Governments of Europe. No wars of aggression are possible where the common people on the two sides have become grateful friends. The faith of the Mussulman is a better sanction than the seal of the European Diplomats and plenipotentiaries. Not only has this great friendship between India and the Mussulman States around it removed for all time the fear of Mussulman aggression from outside, but it has erected round India, a solid wall of defence against all aggression from beyond against all greed from Europe, Russia or elsewhere. No secret diplomacy could establish a better entente or a stronger federation than what this open and non-governmental treaty between Islam and India has established. The Indian support of the Khilafat has, as if by a magic wand, converted what Was once the Pan-Islamic terror for Europe into a solid wall of friendship and defence for India.
THE BRITISH CONNECTION
Every nation like every individual is born free. Absolute freedom is the birthright of every people. The only limitations are those which a people may place over themselves. The British connection is invaluable as long as it is a defence against any worse connection sought to be imposed by violence. But it is only a means to an end, not a mandate of Providence of Nature. The alliance of neighbours, born of suffering for each other’s sake, for ends that purify those that suffer, is necessarily a more natural and more enduring bond than one that has resulted from pure greed on the one side and weakness on the other. Where such a natural and enduring alliance has been accomplished among Asiatic peoples and not only between the respective governments, it may truly be felt to be more valuable than the British connection itself, after that connection has denied freedom or equality, and even justice.
Is violence or total surrender the only choice open to any people to whom Freedom or Justice is denied? Violence at a time when the whole world has learnt from bitter experience the futility of violence is unworthy of a country whose ancient people’s privilege, it was, to see this truth long ago.
Violence may rid a nation of its foreign masters but will only enslave it from inside. No nation can really be free which is at the mercy of its army and its military heroes. If a people rely for freedom on its soldiers, the soldiers will rule the country, not the people. Till the recent awakening of the workers of Europe, this was the only freedom which the powers of Europe really enjoyed. True freedom can exist only when those who produce, not those who destroy or know only to live on other’s labour, are the masters.
Even were violence the true road to freedom, is violence possible to a nation which has been emasculated and deprived of all weapons, and the whole world is hopelessly in advance of all our possibilities in the manufacture and the wielding of weapons of destruction.
Submission or withdrawal of co-operation is the real and only alternative before India. Submission to injustice puts on the tempting garb of peace and, gradual progress, but there is no surer way to death than submission to wrong.
THE FIFTH UPAYA
Our ancients classified the arts of conquest into four well-known Upayas. Sama, Dana, Uheda, and Danda. A fifth Upuya was recognised sometimes by our ancients, which they called Upeshka. It is this Punchamopaya that is placed by Mahatma Gandhi before the people of India in the form of Non-cooperation as an alternative, besides violence, to surrender.
Where in any case negotiations have failed and the enemy is neither corruptible nor incapable of being divided, and a resort to violence has failed or would certainly be futile the method of Upeshka remains to be applied to the case. Indeed, when the very existence of the power we seek to defeat really depends on our continuous co-operation with it, and where our Upeskha its very life, our Upeskha or non-co-operation is the most natural and most effective expedient that we can employ to bend it to our will.
No Englishman believes that his nation can rule or keep India for a day unless the people of India actively co-operate to maintain that rule. Whether the co-operation be given willingly or through ignorance, cupidity, habit or fear, the withdrawal of that co-operation means impossibility of foreign rule in India. Some of us may not realise this, but those who govern us have long ago known and are now keenly alive to this truth. The active assistance of the people of this country in the supply of the money, men, and knowledge of the languages, customs and laws of the land, is the main-spring of the continuous life of the foreign administration. Indeed the circumstances of British rule in this country are such that but for a double supply of co-operation on the part of the governed, it must have broken down long ago. Any system of race domination is unnatural, and can be kept up only by active coercion through a foreign-recruited public, service invested with large powers, however much it may be helped by the perversion of mentality shaping the education of the youth of the country. The foreign recruited service must necessarily be very highly paid. This creates a wrong standard for the Indian recruited officials also. Military expenditure has to cover not only the needs of defence against foreign aggression, but also the possibilities of internal unrest and rebellion. Police charges have to go beyond the prevention and deletion of ordinary crime, for though this would be the only expenditure over the police of a self-governing people where any nation governs anther, a large chapter of artificial crime has to be added to the penal code, and the work of the police extended accordingly. The military and public organisations must also be such as not only to result in outside efficiency, but also at the same time guarantee internal impotency. This is to be achieved by the adjustment and careful admixture of officers and units from different races. All this can be and is maintained only by extra cost and extra-active co-operation on the part of the people. The slightest withdrawal of assistance must put such machinery out of gear. This is the basis of the programme of progressive non violent non-co-operation that has been adopted by the National Congress.
The powerful character of the measure, however, leads some to object to non-co-operation because of that very reason. Striking as it does at the very root of Government in India, they fear that non-co-operation must lead to anarchy, and that the remedy is worse than the disease. This is an objection arising out of insufficient allowance for human nature. It is assumed that the British people will allow their connection with India to cease rather than remedy the wrongs for which we seek justice. If this assumption be correct, no doubt it must lead to separation and possibly also anarchy for a time. If the operatives in a factory have grievances, negotiations having failed, a strike would on a similar argument be never admissible. Unyielding obstinacy being presumed, it must end in the closing down of the factory and break up of the men. But if in ninety-nine out of a hundred cases it is not the case that strikes end in this manner, it is more unlikely that, instead of righting the manifest wrongs that India complains about, the British people will value their Indian Dominion so low as to prefer to allow us to non-co-operate up to the point of separation. It would be a totally false reading of British character and British history. But if such wicked obstinacy be ultimately shown by a government, far be it from us to prefer peace at the price of abject surrender to wrong. There is no anarchy greater than the moral anarchy of surrender to unrepentant wrong. We may, however, be certain that if we show the strength and unity necessary for non-co-operation, long before we progress with it far, we shall have developed true order and true self-government wherein there is no place for anarchy.
Another fear sometimes expressed that, if non-co-operation were to succeed, the British would have to go, leaving us unable to defend ourselves against foreign aggression. If we have the self-respect, the patriotism, the tenacious purpose, and the power of organisation that are necessary to drive the British out from their entrenched position, no lesser foreign power will dare after that, undertake the futile task of conquering or enslaving us.
It is sometimes said that non-co-operation is negative and destructive of the advantages which a stable government has conferred on us. That non-co-operation is negative is merely a half-truth. Non-co-operation with the government means greater co-operation among ourselves, greater mutual dependence among the many different castes and classes of our country. Non-co-operation is not mere negation. It will lead to the recovery of the lost art of co-operation among ourselves. Long dependence on an outside government which by its interference suppressed or prevented the consequences of our differences has made us forget the duty of mutual trust and the art of friendly adjustment. Having allowed Government to do everything for us, we have gradually become incapable of doing anything for ourselves. Even if we had no grievance against this Government, non-co-operation with it for a time would be desirable so far as it would perforce lead us to trusting and working with one another and thereby strengthen the bonds of national unity.
The most tragic consequence of dependence on the complex machinery of a foreign government is the atrophy of the communal sense. The direct touch with administrative cause and effect is lost. An outside protector performs all the necessary functions of the community in a mysterious manner, and communal duties are not realised by the people. The one reason addressed by those who deny to us the capacity for self-rule is the insufficient appreciation by the people of communal duties and discipline. It is only by actually refraining for a time from dependence on Government that we can regain self-reliance, learn first-hand the value of communal duties and build up true national co-operation. Non-co-operation is a practical and positive training in Swadharma, and Swadharma alone can lead up to Swaraj.
The negative is the best and most impressive method of enforcing the value of the positive. Few outside government circles realise in the present police anything but tyranny and corruption. But if the units of the present police were withdrawn we would soon perforce set about organising a substitute, and most people would realise the true social value of a police force. Few realise in the present taxes anything but coercion and waste, but most people would soon see that a share of every man’s income is due for common purposes and that there are many limitations to the economical management of public institutions; we would begin once again to contribute directly, build up and maintain national institutions in the place of those that now mysteriously spring up and live under Government orders.
Freedom is a priceless thing. But it is a stable possession only when it is acquired by a nation’s strenuous effort. What is not by chance or outward circumstance, or given by the generous impulse of a tyrant prince or people is not a reality. A nation will truly enjoy freedom only when in the process of winning or defending its freedom, it has been purified and consolidated through and through, until liberty has become a part of its very soul. Otherwise it would be but a change of the form of government, which might please the fancy of politicians, or satisfy the classes in power, but could never emancipate a people. An Act of Parliament can never create citizens in Hindustan. The strength, spirit, and happiness of a people who have fought and won their liberty cannot be got by Reform Acts. Effort and sacrifice are the necessary conditions of real stable emancipation. Liberty unacquired, merely found, will on the test fail like the Dead-Sea-apple or the magician’s plenty.
The war that the people of India have declared and which will purify and consolidate India, and forge for her a true and stable liberty is a war with the latest and most effective weapon. In this war, what has hitherto been in the world an undesirable but necessary incident in freedom’s battles, the killing of innocent men, has been eliminated; and that which is the true essential for forging liberty, the self-purification and self-strengthening of men and women has been kept pure and unalloyed. It is for men, women and youth, every one of them that lives in and loves India, to do his bit in this battle, not waiting for others, not calculating the chances of his surviving the battle to enjoy the fruits of his sacrifice. Soldiers in the old-world wars did not insure their lives before going to the front. The privilege of youth in special is for country’s sake to exercise their comparative freedom and give up the yearning for lives and careers built on the slavery of the people.
That on which a foreign government truly rests whatever may be the illusions on their or our part is not the strength of its armed forces, but our own co-operation. Actual service on the part of one generation, and educational preparation for future service on the part of the next generation are the two main branches of this co-operation of slaves in the perpetuation of slavery. The boycott of government service and the law-courts is aimed at the first, the boycott of government controlled schools is to stop the second. If either the one or the other of these two branches of co-operation is withdrawn in sufficient measure, there will be an automatic and perfectly peaceful change from slavery to liberty.
The beat preparation for any one who desires to take part in the great battle now going on is a silent study of the writings and speeches collected herein, and proposed to be completed in a supplementary volume to be soon issued.
WHY I HAVE JOINED THE KHILAFAT MOVEMENT
An esteemed South African friend who is at present living in England has written to me a letter from which I make the following excerpts:—
“You will doubtless remember having met me in South Africa at the time when the Rev. J.J. Doke was assisting you in your campaign there and I subsequently returned to England deeply impressed with the rightness of your attitude in that country. During the months before war I wrote and lectured and spoke on your behalf in several places which I do not regret. Since returning from military service, however, I have noticed from the papers that you appear to be adopting a more militant attitude... I notice a report in “The Times” that you are assisting and countenancing a union between the Hindus and Moslems with a view of embarrassing England and the Allied Powers in the matter of the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire or the ejection of the Turkish Government from Constantinople. Knowing as I do your sense of justice and your humane instincts I feel that I am entitled, in view of the humble part that I have taken to promote your interests on this side, to ask you whether this latter report is correct. I cannot believe that you have wrongly countenanced a movement to place the cruel and unjust despotism of the Stamboul Government above the interests of humanity, for if any country has crippled these interests in the East it has surely been Turkey. I am personally familiar with the conditions in Syria and Armenia and I can only suppose that if the report, which “The Times” has published is correct, you have thrown to one side, your moral responsibilities and allied yourself with one of the prevailing anarchies. However, until I hear that this is not your attitude I cannot prejudice my mind. Perhaps you will do me the favour of sending me a reply.”
I have sent a reply to the writer. But as the views expressed in the quotation are likely to be shared by many of my English friends and as I do not wish, if I can possibly help it, to forfeit their friendship or their esteem I shall endeavour to state my position as clearly as I can on the Khilafat question. The letter shows what risk public men run through irresponsible journalism. I have not seen The Times report, referred to by my friend. But it is evident that the report has made the writer to suspect my alliance with “the prevailing anarchies” and to think that I have “thrown to one side” my “moral responsibilities.”
It is just my sense of moral responsibilities which has made me take up the Khilafat question and to identify myself entirely with the Mahomedans. It is perfectly true that I am assisting and countenancing the union between Hindus and Muslims, but certainly not with “a view of embarrassing England and the Allied Powers in the matter of the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire,” it is contrary to my creed to embarrass governments or anybody else. This does not how ever mean that certain acts of mine may not result in embarrassment. But I should not hold myself responsible for having caused embarrassment when I resist the wrong of a wrong-doer by refusing assistance in his wrong-doing. On the Khilafat question I refuse to be party to a broken pledge. Mr. Lloyd George’s solemn declaration is practically the whole of the case for Indian Mahomedans and when that case is fortified by scriptural authority it becomes unanswerable. Moreover, it is incorrect to say that I have “allied myself to one of the prevailing anarchies” or that I have wrongly countenanced the movement to place the cruel and unjust despotism of the Stamboul Government above the interests of humanity. In the whole of the Mahomedan demand there is no insistance on the retention of the so-called unjust despotism of the Stamboul Government; on the contrary the Mahomedans have accepted the principle of taking full guarantees from that Government for the protection of non-Muslim minorities. I do not know how far the condition of Armenia and Syria may be considered an ‘anarchy’ and how far the Turkish Government may be held responsible for it. I much suspect that the reports from these quarters are much exaggerated and that the European powers are themselves in a measure responsible for what misrule there may be in Armenia and Syria. But I am in no way interested in supporting Turkish or any other anarchy. The Allied Powers can easily prevent it by means other than that of ending Turkish rule or dismembering and weakening the Ottoman Empire. The Allied Powers are not dealing with a new situation. If Turkey was to be partitioned, the position should have been made clear at the commencement of the war. There would then have been no question of a broken pledge. As it is, no Indian Mahomedan has any regard for the promises of British Ministers. In his opinion, the cry against Turkey is that of Christianity vs. Islam with England as the louder in the cry. The latest cablegram from Mr. Mahomed Ali strengthens the impression, for he says that unlike as in England his deputation is receiving much support from the French Government and the people.
Thus, if it is true, as I hold it is true that the Indian Mussalmans have a cause that is just and is supported by scriptural authority, then for the Hindus not to support them to the utmost would be a cowardly breach of brotherhood and they would forfeit all claim to consideration from their Mahomedan countrymen. As a public-server therefore, I would be unworthy of the position I claim, if I did not support Indian Mussalmans in their struggle to maintain the Khilafat in accordance with their religious belief. I believe that in supporting them I am rendering a service to the Empire, because by assisting my Mahomedan countrymen to give a disciplined expression to their sentiment it becomes possible to make the agitation thoroughly, orderly and even successful.
THE TURKISH TREATY
The Turkish treaty will be out on the 10th of May. It is stated to provide for the internationalisation of the Straits, the occupation of Gallipoli by the Allies, the maintenance of Allied contingents in Constantinople and the appointment of a Commission of Control over Turkish finances. The San Remo Conference has entrusted Britain with Mandates for Mesopotamia and Palestine and France with the Mandate for Syria. As regards Smyrna the accounts so far received inform that Turkish suzerainty over Smyrna will be indicated by the fact that the population will not be entitled to send delegates to the Greek Parliament but at the end of five years local Smyrna Parliament will have the right of voting in favour of union with Greece and in such an event Turkish suzerainty will cease. Turkish suzerainty will be confined to the area within the Chatalja lines. With regard to Emir Foisul’s position there is no news except that the Mandates of Britain and France transform his military title into a civil title.
* * * * *
We have given above the terms of the Turkish treaty as indicated in Router’s messages. These reports are incomplete and all of them are not equally authenticated. But if these terms are true, they are a challenge to the Muslim demands. Turkish Sovereignty is confined to the Chatalja lines. This means that the Big Three of the Supreme Council have cut off Thrace from Turkish dominions. This is a distinct breach of the pledge given by one of these Three, viz., the Premier of the British Empire. To remain within the Chatalja lines and, we are afraid, as a dependent of the Allies, is for the Sultan a humiliating position inconsistent with the Koranic injunctions. Such a restricted position of the Turks is virtually a success of the bag and baggage school.
It is not yet known how the Supreme Council disposed of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor. If Mr. Lloyd George’s views recently expressed in this respect have received the Allies’ sanction—it is probable—nothing less than a common control is expected. The decision in the case of Smyrna will be satisfying to none, though the Allies seem to have made by their arrangement a skillful attempt to please all the parties concerned. Mr. Lloyd George, in his reply to the Khilafat Deputation, had talked about the careful investigations by an impartial committee and had added; “The great majority of the population undoubtedly prefer Greek rule to Turkish rule, so I understand” But the decision postpones to carry out his understanding till a period of five years.
* * * * *
When we come to the question of mandates, the Allied Powers’ motives come out more distinctly. The Arabs’ claim of independence was used as a difficulty against keeping Turkish Sovereignty. This was defended in the of self-determination and by pointing out parallels of Transylvania and other provinces. When the final moment came, the Allies have ventured to divide the spoils amongst themselves. Britain is given the mandate over Mesopotamia and Palestine and France has the mandate over Syria. The Arab delegation complains in their note lately issued expressing their disappointment at the Supreme Council’s decision with regard to the Arab liberated countries, which, it declares, is contrary to the principle of self-determination.
So what little news has arrived about the Turkish treaty, is uniformly disquieting. The Moslems have found sufficient ground to honour Russia, more than the Allies. Russia has recognised the freedom of Khiva and Bokhara. The Moslem world, as H. M. the Amir of Afghanistan said in his speech, will feel grateful towards Russia in spite of all the rumours abroad about its anarchy and disorder, whereas the whole Moslem world will resent the action of the other European nations who have allied with each other to carry out a joint coercion and extinction of Turkey in the name of self-determination and partly in the guise of the interest of civilization.
The terms of the Turkish treaty are not only a breach of the Premier’s pledge, not only a sin against the principle of self-determination, but they also show a reckless indifference of the Allied Powers towards the Koranic injunctions. The terms point out that Mr. Lloyd George’s misinformed ideas of Khilafat have prevailed in the Council. Like Mr. Lloyd George other statesmen also at San Remo have compared Caliphate with Popedom and ignored the Koronic idea of associating spiritual power with temporal power. These misguided statesmen were too much possessed by haughtiness and so they refused to receive any enlightenment on the question of Khilafat from the Deputation. They could have corrected themselves had they heard Mr. Mahomed Ali on this point. Speaking at the Essex Hall meeting Mr. Mahomed Ali distinguished between Popedom and Caliphate and clearly explained what Caliphate means. He said:
“Islam is supernational and not national, the basis of Islamic sympathy is a common outlook on life and common culture.... And it has two centres. The personal centre is the island of Arabia. The Khalifa is the Commander of the Faithful and his orders must be obeyed by all Muslims so long and so long only, as they are not at variance with the Commandments of God and the Traditions of the Prophet. But since there is no lacerating distinction between things temporal and things spiritual, the Khalifa is something more than a Pope and cannot be “Vaticanised.” But he is also less than a Pope for he is not infallible. If he persists in un-Islamic conduct we can depose him. And we have deposed him more than once. But so long as he orders only that which Islam demands we must support him. He and no other ruler is the Defender of our faith.”
These few words could have removed the mis-undertakings rooted in the minds of those that at San Remo, if they were in earnest for a just solution. But Mr. Mahomed Ali’s deputation was not given any hearing by the Peace Conference. They were told that the Peace Conference had already heard the official delegation of India on this question. But the wrong notions the Allies still entertain about Caliphate are a sufficient indication of the effects of the work of this official delegation. The result of these wrong notions is the present settlement and this unjust settlement will unsettle the world. They know not what they do.
TURKISH PEACE TERMS
The question of question to-day is the Khilafat question, otherwise known as that of the Turkish peace terms. His Excellency the Viceroy deserves our thanks for receiving the joint deputation even at this late hour, especially when he was busy preparing to receive the head of the different provinces. His Excellency must be thanked for the unfailing courtesy with which he received the deputation and the courteous language in which his reply was couched. But mere courtesy, valuable as it is at all times, never so valuable as at this, is not enough at this critical moment. ‘Sweet words butter no parsnips’ is a proverb more applicable to-day than ever before. Behind the courtesy there was the determination to punish Turkey. Punishment of Turkey is a thing which Muslim sentiment cannot tolerate for a moment. Muslim soldiers are as responsible for the result of the war as any others. It was to appease them that Mr. Asquith said when Turkey decided to join the Central Powers that the British Government had no designs on Turkey and that His Majesty’s Government would never think of punishing the Sultan for the misdeeds of the Turkish Committee. Examined by that standard the Viceregal reply is not only disappointing but it is a fall from truth and justice.
What is this British Empire? It is as much Mahomedan and Hindu as it is Christian. Its religious neutrality is not a virtue, or if it is, it is a virtue of necessity. Such a mighty Empire could not be held together on any other terms. British ministers are therefore bound to protect Mahomedan interests as any other. Indeed as the Muslim rejoinder says, they are bound to make the cause their own. What is the use of His Excellency having presented the Muslim claim before the Conference? If the cause is lost the Mahomedans will be entitled to think that Britain did not do her duty by them. And the Viceregal reply confirms the view. When His Excellency says that Turkey must suffer for her having joined the Central Powers he but expresses the opinion of British ministers. We hope, therefore, with the framers of the Muslim rejoinder that His Majesty’s ministers will mend the mistakes if any have been committed and secure a settlement that would satisfy Mahomedan sentiment.
What does the sentiment demand? The preservation of the Khilafat with such guarantee as may be necessary for the protection of the interests of the non-Muslim races living under Turkish rule and the Khalif’s control over Arabia and the Holy Places with such arrangement as may be required for guaranteeing Arab self-rule, should the Arabs desire it. It is hardly possible to state the claim more fairly than has been done. It is a claim backed by justice, by the declarations of British ministers and by the unanimous Hindu and Muslim opinion. It would be midsummer madness to reject or whittle down a claim so backed.
THE SUZERAINTY OVER ARABIA
“As I told you in my last letter I think Mr. Gandhi has made a serious mistake in the Kailafat business. The Indian Mahomedans base their demand on the assertion that their religion requires the Turkish rule over Arabia: but when they have against them in this matter, the Arabs themselves, it is impossible to regard the theory of the Indian Mahomedans as essential to Islam. After all if the Arabs do not represent Islam, who does? It is as if the German Roman Catholics made a demand in the name of Roman Catholicism with Rome and the Italians making a contrary demand. But even if the religion of the Indian Mahomedans did require that Turkish rule should be imposed upon the Arabs against their will, one could not, now-a-days, recognise as a really religious demand, one which required the continued oppression of one people by another. When an assurance was given at the beginning of the war to the Indian Mahomedans that the Mahomedan religion would be respected, that could never have meant that a temporal sovereignty which violated the principles of self-determination would be upheld. We could not now stand by and see the Turks re-conquer the Arabs (for the Arabs would certainly fight against them) without grossly betraying the Arabs to whom we have given pledges. It is not true that the Arab hostility to the Turks was due simply to European suggestion. No doubt, during the war we availed ourselves of the Arab hostility to the Turks to get another ally, but the hostility had existed long before the war. The Non-Turkish Mahomedan subjects of the Sultan in general wanted to get rid of his rule. It is the Indian Mahomedans who have no experience of that rule who want to impose it on others. As a matter of fact the idea of any restoration of Turkish rule in Syria or Arabia, seems so remote from all possibilities that to discuss it seems like discussing a restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. I cannot conceive what series of events could bring it about. The Indian Mahomedans certainly could not march into Arabia themselves and conquer the Arabs for the Sultan. And no amount of agitation and trouble in India would ever induce England to put back Turkish rule in Arabia. In this matter it is not English Imperialism which the Indian Mahomedans are up against, but the mass of English Liberal and Humanitarian opinion, the mass of the better opinion of England, which wants self-determination to go forward in India. Supposing the Indian Mahomedans could stir up an agitation so violent in India as to sever the connection between India and the British Crown, still they would not be any nearer to their purpose. For to-day they do have considerable influence on British world-policy. Even if in this matter of the Turkish question their influence has not been sufficient to turn the scale against the very heavy weights on the other side, it has weighed in the scale. But apart from the British connection, Indian Mahomedans would have no influence at all outside India. They would not count for more in world politics than the Mahomedans of China. I think it is likely (apart from the pressure of America on the other side. I should say certain) that the influence of the Indian Mahomedans may at any rate avail to keep the Sultan in Constantinople. But I doubt whether they will gain any advantage by doing so. For a Turkey cut down to the Turkish parts of Asia-Minor, Constantinople would be a very inconvenient capital. I think its inconvenience would more than outweigh the sentimental gratification of keeping up a phantom of the old Ottoman Empire. But if the Indian Mahomedans want the Sultan to retain his place in Constantinople I think the assurances given officially by the Viceroy in India now binds us to insist on his remaining there and I think he will remain there in spite of America.”
This is an extract, from the letter of an Englishman enjoying a position in Great Britain, to a friend in India. It is a typical letter, sober, honest, to the point and put in such graceful language that whilst it challenges you, it commands your respect by its very gracefulness. But it is just this attitude based upon insufficient or false information which has ruined many a cause in the British Isles. The superficiality, the one-sidedness the inaccuracy and often even dishonesty that have crept into modern journalism, continuously mislead honest men who want to see nothing but justice done. Then there are always interested groups whose business it is to serve their ends by means of faul or food. And the honest Englishman wishing to vote for justice but swayed by conflicting opinions and dominated by distorted versions, often ends by becoming an instrument of injustice.
The writer of the letter quoted above has built up convincing argument on imaginary data. He has successfully shown that the Mahomedan case, as it has been presented to him, is a rotten case. In India, where it is not quite easy to distort facts about the Khilafat, English friends admit the utter justice of the Indian-Mahomedan claim. But they plead helplessness and tell us that the Government of India and Mr. Montagu have done all it was humanly possible for them to do. And if now the judgment goes against Islam, Indian Mahomedans should resign themselves to it. This extraordinary state of things would not be possible except under this modern rush and preoccupations of all responsible people.
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