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Mainstream, VOL LX No 25, New Delhi, June 11, 2022

Hindu Hate versus The Mahatma | M R Narayan Swamy

Saturday 11 June 2022, by M R Narayan Swamy

It was pathetic to hear the other day a BJP spokesperson pour venom on the Prophet. Abusing the icon of a religion cannot be accepted in any sensible society. What was said was not just a punch delivered at Islam but at all the good things that Hindu religion stands for. Equally important, the remarks were a slap on the face of what Mahatma Gandhi repeatedly preached.

The Mahatma agonized in his last 200 days. This was when all that he had believed in appeared to be crashing amid wild fires of communal hatred. But Mahatma Gandhi, a devout Hindu, did not succumb to communal poison. Even as he came under relentless attacks from those who did not like his approach towards Muslims, he remained steadfast in his principles. It is not without reason that he is still revered across the world.

At his routine prayer meeting on December 12, 1947, Gandhi dubbed the communal violence reported from Ajmer and Delhi as “shameful” and made an impassioned appeal: “… do not destroy Hinduism by our conduct. It cannot do any good to destroy it by going against the Muslims. Man was not made by God to live through killing others. If we wish to live, we must let others live.”

Gandhi also spoke about the verses from the Quran recited at his meeting. “These verses are ancient, composed by the Holy Prophet 13 centuries ago… Their very reading bestows merit on the reader. It is good to know their meaning but even without knowing it, correct recitation itself is of great value. In substance, these verses in Arabic are a prayer to God.”

For good measure, he added that God is one by whatever name we call him. “Allah is one of His names… He is called Rahim and Rehman but He is One God.”

Three months earlier, Gandhi defended the right of Muslims to stay on in India despite the partition. He referred to someone who had argued that if Hindus could not live in Pakistan, then Muslims should not be allowed to live in India.

The Mahatma had a ready answer for this madness: “If there is one man doing something wrong, we should not take his example and do wrong things ourselves. Pakistan and Islam cannot mean that non-Muslims cannot live there. The empire of Islam has spread far and wide. Nowhere has it been laid down that non-Muslims cannot live in peace within its reign. Islam has lived on that for the last 1,300 years. Great renunciations and sacrifices have been made for its principles.” And he added with remarkable foresight: “If any other type of (intolerant) Islam emerges, it would not be genuine. It would not be acceptable to true Muslims at all.”

A few days earlier Gandhi’s prayer meeting in the Kingsway Camp area in Delhi could not be conducted because of noisy protests. Earlier that day, he explained that Hinduism was no exclusive religion. A true Hindu could have no quarrel with a follower of Islam, he said. Nor could India live if anybody thought that this nation was for Hindus alone.

The Mahatma was equally worried about the press highlighting instances of communal hatred and burying examples of communal amity.

He said: “I have innumerable instances to show how Hindus and Sikhs have saved Muslims, and Muslims have protected Hindus and Sikhs by keeping them safe in their own houses when violence (raged) on the streets. Such brave and humane people are to be found in every region and province of India. The newspapers should give proper publicity to such healthy, heart-warming incidents. Publishing details of ghastly crimes only excites the dangerous spirit of retaliation and revenge.”

Did Mahatma Gandhi write all this for the eccentrics in today’s Indian media?

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