Read

‘My faith is affection and love and the service of humankind’

Abdul Ghaffar Khan | Updated on February 28, 2021

Braveheart: Non-violence is not for the faint-hearted, Gandhi tells Abdul Ghaffar Khan   -  IMAGE COURTESY: GANDHI SMRITI

Abdul Ghaffar Khan exchanges notes on non-violence with MK Gandhi, and finds the message of love in all religions

* When he would ask for one person for national service, one hundred would be prepared to place themselves at his disposal

* But whatever we managed to do in the Frontier, we did simply by preaching and with empty hands

* When the prarthana would begin, I would, before everybody else, recite from the Holy Quran and would translate its meaning for the people

* After me, a Japanese follower of Buddhism, would explain his religious hymns, and then the prarthana would begin

* * * *

The Frontier Gandhi: My Life and Struggle, Autobiography of Abdul Ghaffar / Translated by Imtiaz Ahmad Sahibzada / Roli Books / Non-fiction / ₹ 650

 

Journey to Bombay

Once out of jail, Gandhiji wrote to me to come to Bombay. Whenever I went there, or to Sevagram, I would spend a night in Delhi with Gandhiji’s son, Devadas. His wife was the daughter of C Rajagopalachari. They would look after me well. I would usually travel third-class by train and would get very tired. Here I could rest.

The next morning, I left for Bombay. Gandhiji was staying at Birla’s house. I also went and stayed there. One day he started a discussion on non-violence. I told him, ‘Gandhiji, you have been preaching non-violence in Hindustan for a long time now, whereas I am a newcomer to it and have only recently started preaching the concept to the Pukhtuns. I do not have the means and workers to assist me, like you have. In the year 1946, you can see how much violence was committed in Hindustan during our opposition. But in the Frontier, despite the cruelty and provocation of the British, the Pukhtuns did not resort to as much violence. This is even though Hindustan does not have the wherewithal for such violence, which the Pukhtuns have access to.’ In response, Gandhiji said that non-violence is not for the faint-hearted. This is for the brave, and the Pukhtuns are braver than the inhabitants of Hindustan. That is the reason why they did not resort to violence.

One day I was sitting with Gandhiji when a man came, who was wearing clothes worth two annas. He put his hand into his pocket, took out a wad of notes, and put it before Gandhiji. He asked him how much it was. He was told that it was seventy thousand rupees. Gandhiji said to him, ‘Make it into one hundred thousand.’ He left and returned the next day with one hundred thousand rupees. Similarly, Gandhiji told his secretary, Desai, to tell the inhabitants of Bombay to raise ten lakh (one million) rupees for him, as a donation for the Harijans. There were three people sitting with him. They told Desai not to make any appeal for donations. One informed him that he would donate two hundred and fifty thousand, the other said that he would donate the same amount and the third told him that he would do the same. They said that they needed a fourth person and the amount that they needed would be complete. Similarly, when Gandhiji started the campaign for liberation, he asked the masses for a crore of rupees as donations. The nation donated more than this. And when he would ask for one person for national service, one hundred would be prepared to place themselves at his disposal. And whatever task he would identify for the uplift of the nation, thousands of people would place themselves under his command.

But whatever we managed to do in the Frontier, we did simply by preaching and with empty hands. This was because no one has assisted us financially. And yet some people would blame us, that we had not done any development work but had misappropriated the people’s money.

The Harijan colony was in Delhi and Sevagram was in Wardha. When the prarthana would begin, I would, before everybody else, recite from the Holy Quran and would translate its meaning for the people. After me, a Japanese follower of Buddhism, would explain his religious hymns, and then the prarthana would begin. Gandhiji’s heart was filled with the same respect for all religions and he considered all faiths as the truth. I also have the same belief. I have studied the Holy Quran and the Geeta in depth. When I was imprisoned in Dera Ghazi Khan jail with the Sikhs, I had heard the major portion of the Guru Granth Sahib from them. I was eager to study Buddhism because we were its followers before the advent of Islam. But, unfortunately, I could not get hold of any book. During my days in the Mission High School in Peshawar, I had, studied the Bible. I had gone through the Torah in jail. I was also eager to study the books of Zardasht (Zoroaster), the Prophet of the Parsi faith, because he had been sent to us by God. He was born in Balkh. God proclaims in the Quran that to each nation He has sent a guide from amongst themselves. But, unfortunately, till date I have not located any literature on Zoroastrianism. Khurshid behan and other Parsi friends had promised to find some books on it for me to read, but no one did so. My faith is affection and love and the service of humankind. Religion has always brought a message of love and brotherhood to the world. Those people whose hearts are devoid of love for their fellow human beings and those whose hearts are filled with hatred, anger and partisanship, are very far from the teachings of these faiths.

Excerpted with permission from ‘The Frontier Gandhi: My Life and Struggle, Autobiography of Abdul Ghaffar’, translated by Imtiaz Ahmad Sahibzada, and published by Roli Books

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on February 28, 2021
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor