Role of Muslims in the Freedom Movement – II

The British purposely alienated Muslims from Hindus. V.D. Mahajan writes: “In 1843, Lord Ellenborough declared the entire Muslim community to be disloyal and recommended the policy of favouring the Hindus. (We must note that fanatic Hindutva organisations still speak the language of Ellenborough). After 1858, men like John Lawrence advocated the policy of straining the relations between the Hindus and the Muslims. The policy of the government gave a death blow to Muslims; it was specially stated in the government advertisements that only Hindus were eligible and others. (Advanced History of India, P.308).

The British even today play the same trick to alienate Muslims from the mainstream and thereby halt Islamic growth, as Anti-Muslim groups of West and East are testing different styles of the same fascist pattern. Starting from accusing Muslims of orthodoxy and fanaticism, these anti-social groups have put blames of terrorist blasts on Muslims for the crimes committed by men owing allegiance to R.S.S. and its numerous allies in the country and abroad, including Zionists. The World Trade Centre issue and Bombay blasts are tricks by anti-social elements to halt Islamic growth or slow down the speed of Islamic trend. Recently, Jack Straw, former British Home Secretary has delivered an irresponsible remark that Muslims are aiming at Whites for conversion, especially Hindu and Sikh girls. In Islam there is no merit for colour, and so, it is not a point to counter.

Fanatic Hindutvawadis supported the British against Muslims and they repeated the British anti-Muslim stand. Researches have proved that all the propaganda were false. Regarding Mappilla freedom fighters of Malabar in Kerala, the British spread false statements of their being anti-Hindu. In fact, Muslims fought against the Hindus who helped the British against freedom fighters – both Hindus and Muslims. Muslim peasants and agriculturists agitated against the British for their inhuman laws and taxation policies. When the freedom movement reached a critical stage after World War I, Mappillas joined Congress freedom fighters. However, few persons joined the British, and freedom fighters turned against them. They included both Hindus and Muslims. Muslim freedom fighters attacked Muslims who supported the British along with Hindus. It was not communal at all.

Dr. Beni Prasad, W.C. Smith, and A.R. Desai opine that “the rise and growth of Muslim communalism was due to Hindu revivalism. Some Congress leaders put too much emphasis on the Hindu heroes of the past and thereby alienated the Muslims. In particular, the names of Tilak, B.C. Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Aurobindo Ghose are mentioned.” (Advanced History of India, P.313).

V.D. Mahajan states: “The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ policy was also responsible for the rise and growth of Muslim communalism in the country. The British rulers realised that they could stay on in the country so long as the Hindus and Muslims did not join hands against them. (Advanced History of India, P.314)

Referring to Hindu fanaticism, Pandit Nehru writes: “In the course of my speech I had much to say about communalism, and I denounced it in forcible language, and especially condemned the activities of the Hindu Mahasabha.” (Autobiography, P.483)

In the History of South India by P.N. Chopra, et al, it is written; “It is a mistake to consider that all Muslims of ‘fanatical zone’ [this name given by the British to ridicule Muslim freedom fighters. This is the attitude of Hindutvawadis even today, which shows that they have the same attitude as the British who considered India to be their own property] or outbreak area shared the rebels feelings and were fanatically inclined towards their Hindu neighbours. Even the rebels did not, in every case, indulge in indiscriminate killing of every Hindus who crossed the way” (p.196). The British writer, Winterbotham wrote; “To the house of every large Hindu landlord hasten numbers of his Mappila tenantry to put themselves in evidence and show their loyalty by offering themselves on guards. When one or more members of a family cast their lot with the fanatics, the remaining male members hurry off to their landlords’ house and stay there ‘on guard’ until the disturbance is over.” (Ibid, p.197)

Narrow minded policies of Sardar Patel and V.D. Savarkar alienated Muslims from the mainstream and national movement. However, Muslims fought against the British more vigorously for independent India. Referring to the fanaticism and fascist mind of Hindu Mahasabha (the parent organisation of R.S.S and its several associates) Pandit Nehru writes: “Hindu Mahasabha tries to cover up its extreme narrowness of outlook by using some kind of vague national terminology, though its outlook is more revivalist than progressive. (Discovery of India, P.386)

Pandit Nehru remarks that the heavy hands of British fell on Muslims more than the Hindus, since Muslims were the real enemies of British. The Hindutva terrorists make all kinds of anti-national activity and put blame on Muslims, who are taken into custody with ‘help’ of their associates in the military and police. These terrorists also misuse government machinery for anti-Muslim acts and, thereby, pose a serious threat to development. In his autobiography Pandit Nehru writes: “In recent years Indian Muslims have had repeated shocks, and many of their deeply cherished notions have been shattered.” (P.471)

National Movement and Muslims

Muslims were patriotic and devoted people, and hence, struggled hard to expel the foreign elements exploiting India. V.D. Mahajan opines: “So long as the Khilafat question was alive, it played a progressive role in turning a large number of Muslims hostile to the continuation of British rule in India. The movement made positive contribution to the growth of nationalism.” (The Nationalist Movement in India, P.349). Pandit Jawaharlal wrote: “The Revolt of 1857 was a joint affair, but in its suppression Muslims felt strongly, and to some extent rightly, that they were the greatest sufferers’. (Discovery of India, P.342). Many Muslims joined hands with Jagdish Subash Chandra Bose and I.N.A, and Abdur Rahman was his close friend and associate.

During Gandhiji’s all India tour gaining support for the movement, many Muslims contributed a lot of money and ornaments. In Kerala, Mappila ladies contributed their gold ornaments during his tour along with Abdur Rahman Sahib, the Congress leader of Kerala. Even Muslim League, formed for Muslim unity, cooperated with Congress and other national movements. The fanatical attitudes of certain anti-Muslims in the Congress party provoked them to think that Muslims are a separate community. In this context, Pandit Nehru states: “It is true that very many Muslims joined the nationalist movement from time to time and played a memorable part, but on the whole, the Muslims remained away from the national mainstream of the national movement.” (Discovery of India, P.314)

Referring to Muslim freedom fighters, Jaswant Singh writes: “In Aligarh and Rohilkhand they (Muslims) were mostly with uprising” (Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence, P.24). He also adds that due to poverty of Bengal Muslims they were not powerful to raise their voice against the British. Jaswant Singh continues; “The Pathans, Rajputs and Bundalas participated with robust vigour in this struggle.” (P.24)

He further writes: “It is true that Mohammedans in many parts of India are ill-disposed towards the British Government and have at various times excited disturbances.” (Ibid., P.25) Jaswant Singh writes that Muslims lost most of their wealth. He points out: “Eighteen fifty seven did though, cause an inevitable shift in the land holding traditions and pattern of the Muslim community; those with a Mughal past losing to a British future.” He continues: “Without doubt Muslims suffered grievously, paying a price for 1857; their sense of honour was outraged, their self-pride broken through economic deprivation, their lifestyle altered permanently.” (Ibid, P.26)

Contribution of Muslims to Freedom Movement

Famous historian K.R. Qunango states: “A Hindu is content if he himself does not do any injustice to others; whereas a Muslim thinks ‘Insaf’ is the best virtues and it is his duty to intervene for the sake of justice even in matters that do not concern him. There was a time when the Hindu would prefer unskilled Muslim labour to Hindu labour. A Muslim labourer required less supervision than a Hindu, because his inward fear that his pay would not become halal made him work to his normal capacity honestly.” (Historical Essays, P.139)

Ali Jinnah, who is accused of ‘creating Pakistan’, acted for a united India. Michel Edwards writes: “The mistake of many people at that time, and most of the commentators later, was to believe that Jinnah’s main aim was to create a new State of Pakistan when in fact all his actions were negative, directed at preventing an undivided, Congress dominated India.” (The Last Years of British in India, P.108)

At Jalian Wala Bagh, many Muslims lost their life. Dr. Saifudin Kichlu and Dr. Satya Pal were the leaders of the meeting; Dr. Basheer was the chief guest.

Urdu played a very crucial role in the freedom movement. There were many scholars in the Urdu language. Poets, literary scholars, journalists, orators and writers promoted the cause of freedom movement. The publications like Al-Hilal, The Comrade and Al-Balagh were parts of freedom movement. The leaders of Jamiat-ul-Ulama toured every district of Bengal and preached Hindu-Muslim unity and importance of freedom movement. Majlis Ashraful Islam, Khudai Khidmatgar, Shia Political Conference and the like Muslim organisations lent their support to the National movement.

Freedom Fighters

There were many Muslim leaders forgotten by writers. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Maulana Shuakat Ali, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Barkathulla, Bi Amma (mother of Ali brothers), Badarudeen Tyabji, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. M.A. Ansari, Dr. Siafudeen Kichlu, Dr. Basheer Ahmad, Syed Ameer Ali, Dr. Syed Muhammad, Hazrat Mohani, Nawab Abdul Latheef, Althaf Hussain Hali, Syed Ahmad Sirhindi, Syed Ahmad Barielly, Maulana Shibli Numani, Munshi Karamat Ali, Poet Hali, Munshi Zakaullah (Delhi) were very few names in the history of freedom movement. But, there are many Muslim leaders who were forgotten by our writers. Fanatics say they left India.

Muhammad Barkathullah worked along with Ram Chandra and Bhagat Singh. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was closely working with Gandhiji and so, he was called Frontier Gandhi. Pandit Nehru writes: “There were many Muslims in the Congress. Their numbers were large and included many able men and the best-known and the most popular Muslim leaders in India were in it.” (Autobiography, P.139)

In his tribute to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Gandhiji writes: “I have had the privilege of being associated with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in national work since 1920. His nationalism is robust as his faith in Islam.” (Arsh Malsiani, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, P.173, Publication division, Government of India, 1988)


Development of India is at a slow pace due to the partiality of certain fanatic government officials. In military and police departments Muslim representation is very few, even though Muslims fulfil all the conditions of eligibility. Certain fanatics propagate that Muslims do not keep confidence of official secrets. Time has proved that those persons caught for treason are not Muslims at all. No Muslim is a participant in anti-national activity. It should be noted that hardcore fanatics and anti-social elements among the Hindutva rank and file have link to fascists and Zionists.

Development is possible on certain conditions:

(1) Fanatics and communal minded people should be kept from government services, especially military and police services.

(2) Those who involve in furnishing wrong information to government on matters concerning social issues should be barred from entry to public services, as they cannot do justice.

(3) Production should be increased with the help of non-governmental organisations.

(4) Exploitation of national wealth should be contained.

(5) Perfect justice should come on communal issues and equal attitude should be done to all communities.

(6) Government personnel should not be allowed to use double standard. Discrimination should be avoided.

(7) People should be arrested only on valid proof.

(8) The media which spread rumours and publish false reports should be banned permanently. (Concluded)