Afshan Khan & Afroz Alam Sahil, BeyondHeadlines
Today, 4th January is the death anniversary of the legendary Muhammad Ali Jauhar. He is known as the most dynamic and versatile leader of the sub-continent and Muslim world.
He was born on 10 December 1878 in Rampur state from a wealthy and enlightened family of Pathans. He was a journalist, educationist, Islamic philosopher and beside this, an excellent speaker and orator. Jauhar was his pen name.
Muhammad Ali Jauhar travelled to London with Gandhi for giving a speech at the first Round Table Conference in London (1930) where he demanded complete freedom for India. In this conference, he said that he would not return to India alive unless the country was set free.
I am mad, Where Islam and India are concerned…
“I have come seven thousand miles of land and sea because where Islam and India are concerned, I am mad, and, as the “Daily Herald” puts it, I am a “convert”; from a “rebel” against the Government, I have become a “traitor” to my country, and I am now working “with the Government.” I say I can work even with the Devil if it is to be, like this work, in the cause of God.” Said Maulana Ali Jauhar after giving a long introduction about his ill-health and ailments.
Defining the purpose for which he went to the Conference, he said “I want to go back to my country if I can go back with the substance of freedom in my hand. Otherwise, I will not go back to a slave country. I would even prefer to die in a foreign country, so long as it is a free country; and if you do not give us freedom in India you will have to give me a grave here.” This means that he did not want to get buried in the slave India.
He was buried in the Campus of Masjid-e-Aqsa
He died of a stroke soon as after the conference in London on Jan 4, 1931, and was buried in Jerusalem according to his own wish, as he declared “I would prefer to die in a foreign country so long as it is a free country,”. He was neither buried in India, nor in Britain. The inscription written on his grave near the Dome of the Rock says: “Here lies al-Sayyid Muhammad Ali al-Hindi”. He was the one and only Indian to be buried in the Campus of Masjid e Aqsa. One reason behind this move was that Muslims of India should be linked to Palestine from religious connection just as they love Mecca and Medina. The decision to bury him in Jerusalem, the place from where the Prophet (PBU) ascended to heaven, was taken by his friends, relatives and followers.
Free India shall have United Faiths
Throughout the whole speech, he kept arguing for a free India and insisted that he would not go back to India with slavery. “The one thing to which I am committed is complete independence,” said this ailing old man who was young in heart, in spirit, in temperament, and in love of fighting.
At the end of his speech he said, “I hope I shall not be called upon to speak again in the Plenary Conference until you announce, Mr Chairman, that India is as free as England.”
In his firm commitment to a Free and United States of India, he declared “We will not go back to India unless a new Dominion is born. If we go back to India without the birth of a new Dominion we shall go back, believe me, to a lost Dominion”. He believed that in India we shall have something better than America because we shall not only have the United States, but we shall have United Faiths.
On the difficulty of Army
He boldly told Britishers that their greatest sin was the emasculation of India. Referring to Universal human philosophy and to show Britishers the strength of India he said “We have 32 crores of people. When they can afford to die in millions from famine and from plagues, surely, they can afford to die from British bullets too…In India, we have not the power to kill, but the moment we develop the will to die, numbers will tell. 32 crore of people cannot be killed. There is no mechanism for which you can find money to kill 32 crore people. Even if you have got that mechanism, even if you have got the material, you have not the morale (or immorale) to dare to kill 32 crore people. We must have in us the will to die for the birth of India as a free and united nation… I do not for a moment imagine that you could find in all England a hundred men so hard-hearted and callous as to fire for long on unarmed and non¬violent people ready to die for the freedom of their country. No; I do not think so badly of English soldiers.” This was his response to the question of British rule regarding the difficulty of Army that India faced.
I am an Indian first…
He famously said that God created Man and Devil created the state. On the question of nationalism and religion, he said “It is not dogma; it is not ritual! Religion, to my mind, means the interpretation of life…Where God commands, I am a Muslim first, a Muslim second, and a Muslim last, and nothing but a Muslim. If you ask me to enter your Empire or into your Nation by leaving that synthesis, that polity, that culture, that ethics, I will not do it. My first duty is to my Maker… I must be a Muslim first, so far as that duty is concerned. But where India is concerned, where India’s freedom is concerned, I am an Indian first, an Indian second, an Indian last, and nothing but an Indian.”
He said that we can never say things like “I am a Muslim and he is a Hindu” when thousands of matters of ordinary life are concerned, which are for the welfare of India. Therefore, he stood strongly with the Hindu Muslim unity.