India Belongs to its Citizens

Message to Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind Conference, 17 April 1949. 

I am convinced that the measure of India’s progress will be the measure of our giving full effect to what has been called a secular State. That, of course, does not mean a people lacking morals or religion. It means that while religion is completely free, the State, including in its wide fold various religions and cultures, gives protection and opportunities to all, and thus brings about an atmosphere of tolerance and cooperation.

During our struggle for freedom the Jamiat took a prominent part in it and shared to the full the adventures and sacrifices of that struggle. It is right, therefore, that old comradeship should continue in the new order of things in India. We have many difficult problems before us in India today, but we have shown already that one by one we are solving these problems. Many remain. I have little doubt that even these will find solution. I am convinced that India will march ahead in the months and years to come, bringing an ever-increasing measure of contentment to her people and playing a part in maintaining world peace.

Nevertheless, we have to remember, that forces of disruption in the world and in India are also strong and we have to be vigilant. We have to appeal to men's minds so that they might not be influenced wrongly or feel frustrated. There is nothing to be frustrated about. We live during an epoch-making era in the world and all of us, in greater or lesser degree, are making history.

India belongs to each one of its citizens to whatever faith he may adhere to and each one has rights and obligations attaching to the citizenship. The Muslims in India have passed through difficult times in the course of the last year and a half and more because of the division of India and what preceded it. Terrible consequences followed. The non-Muslims in Pakistan had to face great trials and tribulation.

Muslims in India had also to face trials and the greatest of these was a disturbance of the spirit and a sense of frustration. I am glad to find that this is gradually fading away and men’s minds are recovering their normal poise. We have all been through strange and terrible experiences and we have to learn from them so that we might return fully to the right path which Gandhiji showed us. One of the lessons we have learnt is not to tolerate communalism in any shape or form. I am glad to learn that the Jamiat has decided to become a purely cultural organization.[1] That is right. In politics we must not function in future as Hindus, Muslims, or Sikhs but as Indians.

[1]On 18 April at Lucknow the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind was declared a non-political body which would henceforth concentrate on the religious and cultural uplift of the Muslim masses, since its political goals had been fulfilled with the achievement of freedom.


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