The tribute of a maulana to the Mahatama

Oct 11, 2019

London: Those familair with the history of India’s freedom movement know the role played by ulema (religious scholars) of Firangi Mahal of Lucknow in the fight against the British, and in the promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Gandhiji had close relations with Firangi Mahal scholars and would stay in this place whenever he was in Lucknow. As a mark of respect to the great leader, people of the area would avoid cooking meat whenever he was staying in Firangi Mahal. This hub of Islamic learning and higher education, was also the meeting place of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and Abul Kalam Azad for discussion on various aspect of the freedom movement.

The following tribute to Gandhiji is from Maulana Jamaluddin Abdul Wahhab Firangi Mahali, more commonly known as Jamal Mian, son of freedom fighter Maulana Abdul Bari. He played a significant role in the political and spiritual affairs of undivided India, and of Pakistan where he migrated to after the partition. This is the English translation of his speech in Urdu broadcast from All India Radio in 1948 after Gandhiji’s assassination. The translation has been done by Jamal Mian’s son Mahmood Jamal, a writer and film producer settled in UK.

The speech:

”This worldwide and international sorrow and grief that is being expressed at the death of India’s great benefactor Mahatma Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi is evidence of his qualities and talents and greatness. There is hardly any example of this mourning in history.

In this age of materialism, it is hardly conceivable, that a man who had no crown on his head, no sword in his hand and who had no rank would become so powerful and respected that even the victors would pay him homage and kings would sing his praises.

In this world of divisions, one could not even imagine that one who fought for his country, who was the protector of his nation, and loyal practitioner of his religion would force all the flags of the world to bow in his grief. That he would bring tears to every nation, to the great and small of every religion, rich and poor, to kings and beggars alike.
In this dark age of prejudice and hatreds, one could not even imagine that on Indian soil was present the sun of love and tolerance whose light would be acknowledged by all mankind.

But Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi turned that impossible dream into reality.

I do not have the qualification to comment on the life of Gandhiji. I have only met him three times. My last meeting with him was only 24 hours before the calamity.

This brief encounter and his heartwarming words have left a deep impression of respect and love in my heart. He was around 80 but did not look old; he appeared more youthful than the young; he had an expression of child like innocence on his face and his gaze had the light of mercy and his words had warmth and sweetness. Even those who were his political opponents recognized his politeness and good character.

Gandhiji never used harsh words against even his enemies. He had great affection for his followers and companions. But he never tried to destroy his enemies. He always tried to make friends of his enemies. He was a truly great man. He had no hesitation in acknowledging his mistake, and never ever despaired of events. He believed in the ultimate victory of truth and had unflinching faith in god. Gandhiji promoted the unity of religions and was an expert on sufiism. He used to visit the shrines of saints as Muslim Sufis would do. He brought religion into politics but his beliefs never altered for political expediency. It was his faith in god and his spiritual qualities which brought even Muslim scholars into his fold.

In my last meeting with him, Gandhiji told me that when he arrived in Delhi and found out that the annual Urs of Hazrat Bhaktiar Kaki was not being celebrated this year as it was always done, he was extremely saddened. It was because of him that the Urs did take place with safety and security. He said , one day before his fast, that when he thinks Muslims will leave Ajmer Sharif he feels very sad and worries about who will look after the dargah sharif !
It is a strange fact that Hazrat Bhakhtiar Kaki passed away while listening to the following Persian couplet in a mahfil-e-sama:

‘Kushtagan e khanjar e Taslim Ra
Har Zaman az Ghaib Jaan e deegar ast’

(Those who are slain by the knife of acceptance
The heavens provide with a new life every moment.)

Gandhiji perfomed the rites at his Urs and how soon after , he joined those ‘who are slain by his will’.

Today I have heard that Delhi Muslims are planning to take some flowers from Gandhiji’s cortege and bury them near the grave of that famous SAHIBE DIL (Lover,) Sarmad. In this way that wish of Sarmad will be fulfilled which he expressed in the following quatrain:

‘Sarmad, the sorrow of love is not given to the pleasure seeker
The burning of the moth’s heart is to the bee not given
A lifetime passes before the beloved comes to hand
This wealth of Love is not given to all and sundry.’

Gandhiji was always a friend of the Muslims.Those who are familiar with recent politics will know how hard Gandhiji struggled for reconciliation and understanding. It was his personality that made all agree to the June 2nd plan and the nation achieved freedom. And it is because of him that Hindus and Muslims are as close to each other as they were before British rule.

It is because of his Muslim friendly attitude that when anyone says he was a leader for only Hindus that Muslims feel aggrieved. Gandhiji was everybody’s . But Muslims believe that he was theirs! Gandhiji trusted us and loved us. He gave his life for us and left on us the responsibility to spread his message of peace and truth and to fulfill those wishes of his that remained unfulfilled in his life.

Thanks be to God, that Muslims are able to recognize and respect his qualities and are today mourning his death as they have not done for any other leader.

And it is not only Indian Muslims, for whom he gave his life, but also in Pakistan and other countries, we learn from Newspapers and broadcast, that his sacrifice and favours are duly recognized.
In India, Muslims are a minority. And by defending minorities, Gandhi has turned the gaze of all nations to this issue and his brave sacrifice has awakened the conscience of many majorities. The most pleasant news is that Pakistan will change in this regard. News from there is that intolerance towards non Muslims is turning into acceptance and goodwill towards minorities.

Where non-Muslims are in danger, we hear that Muslims are taking fruit and milk to stations for their non- Muslim brothers. We hope this will become a permanent feature and that Mahatmajis wishes come true that those who have left their homes (in Pakistan)can return to their homes with dignity and peace and re-inhabit them.

There have been many great men in the world whose lives were exemplary but their death was not special. There were also those whose lives were ordinary but their death left an abiding message. But there were few indeed whose lives and deaths both were lofty and exemplary. I am not sure whether I should call Mahatmajis life more lofty during which he awoke this nation and freed it from slavery, showed us equality, taught us simplicity and gave us equality and brotherhood. Or should I praise his lofty death which informed us of the scared duty of care for the weak. Taught us to fight violence with non violence and taught us how to adopt our critics and turn enemies into friends.

From the day of this fateful event in Delhi, the whole world is expressing praise Gandhiji’s qualities and goodness. Some are calling him the Himalya of greatness, others refer to him as an ocean of love and the sun of leadership. In my opinion, he was a human being and an example of humanity in front of which the mountains of greatness , the force of oceans and the brightness of suns seems inadequate.

What was his message? That is also being related in different ways.I feel his message was simple as it was attractive:
When the poison of intolerance and prejudice had made our hearts immune to brutality and violence, when the fervour of our enmities prevented us from hearing the cries of the innocent, when the intoxication of self preservation and opportunism had made us oblivious to the needs of mankind, then it was Gandhiji who awakened us by removing the curtains (of one sidedness) from our eyes , and filling our hearts with the need for love, forgiveness, and tolerance, honesty, truthfulness and struggle for truth. And his blood flowed to teach us a lesson to become human.

The truth is that to die for the truth has that glory, that greatness , that devotion and that steadfastness which is the essence and heart of humanity.

‘Nahin Kuch Subbha o zunnar ke phande mein girai
Wafadari mein sheikh o barhaman ki azmaish hai ‘

Zindabad Gandhi Zindabad!”

The Mahalsara part of the Firangi Mahal. Door on left of the front arches leads to the room where Gandhiji used to stay whene he would come to Lucknow.

–India News Stream