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Old Sunday, February 10, 2013
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Francis Bacon interviewed by David Sylvester


David Sylvester: Have you ever had any desire at all to do an abstract painting?
Francis Bacon: I've had a desire to do forms, as when I originally did Three Forms at the Base of the Crucifixion. They were influenced by the Picasso things which were done at the end of the 20s ...

David Sylvester:
After that triptych, you started to paint in a more figurative way: was it more out of a positive desire to paint figuratively or more out of a feeling that you couldn't develop that kind of organic form further at that time?
Francis Bacon: Well, one of the pictures I did in 1946, the one like a butcher's shop, came to me as an accident. I was attempting to make a bird alighting on a field. And it may have been bound up in some way with the three forms that had gone before, but suddenly the lines that I'd drawn suggested something totally different, and out of this suggestion arose this picture. I had no intention to do this picture; I never thought of it in that way. It was like one continuous accident mounting on top of another.

David Sylvester: Did the bird alighting suggest the umbrella or what?
Francis Bacon: It suddenly suggested an opening-up into another area of feeling altogether. And then I made these things; I gradually made them. So that I don't think the bird suggested the umbrella; it suddenly suggested this whole image. And I carried it out very quickly, in about three or four days.

David Sylvester: It often happens, does it, this transformation of the image in the course of working?

Francis Bacon: It does, but now I always hope it will arrive more positively. Now I feel that I want to do very, very specific objects, though made out of something, which is completely irrational from the point of view of being an illustration. I want to do very specific things like portraits, and they will be portraits of the people, but, when you come to analyse them, you just won't know - or it would be very hard to see how the image is made up at all. And this is why in a way it is very wearing, because it is really a complete accident. For instance, the other day I painted a head of somebody, and what made the sockets of the eyes, the nose, the mouth were, when you analysed them, just forms which had nothing to do with eyes, nose or mouth; but the paint moving from one contour into another made a likeness of this person I was trying to paint. I stopped; I thought for a moment I'd got something much nearer to what I want. Then the next day I tried to take it further and tried to make it more poignant, more near, and I lost the image completely. Because this image is a kind of tightrope walk between what is called figurative painting and abstraction. It will go right out from abstraction, but will really have nothing to do with it. It's an attempt to bring the figurative thing up on to the nervous system more violently and more poignantly.

David Sylvester: In painting this Crucifixion, did you have the three canvases up simultaneously, or did you work on them quite separately?
Francis Bacon: I worked on them separately, and gradually, as I finished them, I worked on the three across the room together. I did in about a fortnight, when I was in a bad mood of drinking, and I did it under tremendous hangovers and drink; I sometimes hardly knew what I was doing. And it's one of the only pictures that I've been able to do under drink. I think perhaps the drink helped me to be a bit freer.

David Sylvester: Have you been able to do the same in any picture that you've done since?

Francis Bacon: I haven't. But I think with great effort I'm making myself freer. I mean, you either have to do it through drugs or drink.
David Sylvester: Or extreme tiredness?
Francis Bacon: Extreme tiredness? Possibly. Or will.

David Sylvester: The will to lose one's will?
Francis Bacon: Absolutely. The will to make oneself completely free. Will is the wrong word, because in the end you could call it despair. Because it really comes out of an absolute feeling of it's impossible to do these things, so I might as well just do anything. And out of this anything, one sees what happens.

David Sylvester: If people didn't come and take them away from you, I take it, nothing would ever leave the studio; you'd go on till you'd destroyed them all.
Francis Bacon: Probably so.

David Sylvester: Can you say what impelled you to do the triptych?
Francis Bacon: I've always been very moved by pictures about slaughterhouses and meat, and to me they belong very much to the whole thing of the crucifixion. There've been extraordinary photographs, which have been done of animals just being taken up before they were slaughtered; and the smell of death. We don't know, of course, but it appears by these photographs that they're so aware of what is going to happen to them, they do everything to attempt to escape. I think these pictures were very much based on that kind of thing, which to me is very, very near this whole thing of the crucifixion. I know for religious people, for Christians, the crucifixion has a totally different significance. But as a nonbeliever, it was just an act of man's behaviour, a way of behaviour to another.

David Sylvester: But you do, in fact, paint other pictures which are connected with religion, because, apart from the crucifixion, which is a theme you've painted and returned to for 30 years, there are the Popes. Do you know why you constantly paint pictures which touch on religion?
Francis Bacon: In the Popes it doesn't come from anything to do with religion; it comes from an obsession with Velasquez's Pope Innocent X.

David Sylvester: But why was it you chose the Pope?
Francis Bacon: Because I think it is one of the greatest portraits that have ever been.

David Sylvester: But aren't there other equally great portraits by Velasquez which you might have become obsessed by? Are you sure there's nothing special for you in the fact of its being a Pope?
Francis Bacon: I think it's the magnificent colour of it.

David Sylvester: But you've also done two or three paintings of a modern Pope, Pius XII, based on photographs, as if the interest in the Velasquez had become transferred on to the Pope himself as a sort of heroic figure.
Francis Bacon: It is true, of course; the Pope is unique. He's put in a unique position by being the Pope, and therefore, like in certain great tragedies, he's as though raised on to a dais on which the grandeur of this image can be displayed to the world.

David Sylvester: Since there's the same uniqueness, of course, in the figure of Christ, doesn't it really come back to the idea of the uniqueness and the special situation of the tragic hero? The tragic hero is necessarily somebody who is elevated above other men to begin with.
Francis Bacon: Well, I'd never thought of it in that way, but when you suggest it to me, I think it may be so. One wants to do this thing of just walking along the edge of the precipice, and in Velasquez it's a very, very extraordinary thing that he has been able to keep it so near to what we call illustration and at the same time so deeply unlock the greatest and deepest things that man can feel. Which makes him such an amazingly mysterious painter. Because one really does believe that Velasquez recorded the court at that time and, when one looks at his pictures, one is possibly looking at something which is very, very near to how things looked. But of course so many things have happened since Velasquez that the situation has become much more involved and much more difficult, for very many reasons. And one of them, of course, which has never actually been worked out, is why photography has altered completely this whole thing of figurative painting, and totally altered it.

David Sylvester: In a positive as well as a negative way?
Francis Bacon: I think in a very positive way. I think that Velasquez believed that he was recording the court at that time and recording certain people at that time; but a really good artist today would be forced to make a game of the same situation. He knows that the recording can be done by film, so that that side of his activity has been taken over by something else and all that he is involved with is making the sensibility open up through the image. Also, I think that man now realises that he is an accident, that he is a completely futile being, that he has to play out the game without reason. I think that, even when Velasquez was painting, even when Rembrandt was painting, in a peculiar way, they were still, whatever their attitude to life, slightly conditioned by certain types of religious possibilities, which man now, you could say, has had completely cancelled out for him. Now, of course, man can only attempt to make something very, very positive by trying to beguile himself for a time by the way he behaves, by prolonging possibly his life by buying a kind of immortality through the doctors. You see, all art has now become completely a game by which man distracts himself; and you may say it has always been like that, but now it's entirely a game. And I think that that is the way things have changed, and what is fascinating now is that it's going to become much more difficult for the artist, because he must really deepen the game to be any good at all.

David Sylvester: Can you say why photographs interest you so much?
Francis Bacon: Well, I think one's sense of appearance is assaulted all the time by photography and by film ... 99% of the time I find that photographs are very much more interesting than either abstract or figurative painting. I've always been haunted by them.

David Sylvester: One very personal recurrent configuration in your work is the interlocking of crucifixion imagery with that of the butcher's shop. The connection with meat must mean a great deal to you.
Francis Bacon: Well, it does. If you go to some of those great stores, where you just go through those great halls of death, you can see meat and fish and birds and everything else all lying dead there. And, of course, one has got to remember as a painter that there is this great beauty of the colour of meat.

David Sylvester: The conjunction of the meat with the crucifixion seems to happen in two ways - through the presence on the scene of sides of meat and through the transformation of the crucified figure itself into a hanging carcass of meat.
Francis Bacon: Well, of course, we are meat, we are potential carcasses. If I go into a butcher's shop I always think it's surprising that I wasn't there instead of the animal. But using the meat in that particular way is possibly like the way one might use the spine, because we are constantly seeing images of the human body through x-ray photographs and that obviously does alter the ways by which one can use the body. You must know the beautiful Dégas pastel in the National Gallery of a woman sponging her back. And you will find at the very top of the spine that the spine almost comes out of the skin altogether. And this gives it such a grip and a twist that you're more conscious of the vulnerability of the rest of the body than if he had drawn the spine naturally up to the neck. He breaks it so that this thing seems to protrude from the flesh. Now, whether Dégas did this purposely or not, it makes it a much greater picture, because you're suddenly conscious of the spine as well as the flesh, which he usually just painted covering the bones. In my case, these things have certainly been influenced by x-ray photographs.

David Sylvester: It's clear that much of your obsession with painting meat has to do with matters of form and colour - it's clear from the works themselves. Yet the Crucifixion paintings have surely been among those which have made critics emphasise what they call the element of horror in your work.
Francis Bacon: Well, they certainly have always emphasised the horror side of it. But I don't feel this particularly in my work. I have never tried to be horrific.

David Sylvester: The open mouths - are they always meant to be a scream?
Francis Bacon: Most of them, but not all. You know how the mouth changes shape. I've always been very moved by the movements of the mouth and the shape of the mouth and the teeth. People say that these have all sorts of sexual implications, and I was always very obsessed by the actual appearance of the mouth and teeth, and perhaps I have lost that obsession now, but it was a very strong thing at one time. I like, you may say, the glitter and colour that comes from the mouth, and I've always hoped in a sense to be able to paint the mouth like Monet painted a sunset.

David Sylvester: The Pope ... is it Papa?
Francis Bacon: Well, I certainly have never thought of it in that way, but I don't know - it's difficult to know what forms obsessions. My father was very narrow-minded. He was an intelligent man who never developed his intellect at all. As you know, he was a trainer of racehorses. And he just fought with people. He really had no friends at all, because he fought with everybody, because he had this very opinionated attitude. And he certainly didn't get on with his children ...

David Sylvester: And what were your feelings towards him?
Francis Bacon: Well, I disliked him, but I was sexually attracted to him when I was young. When I first sensed it, I hardly knew it was sexual. It was only later, through the grooms and the people in the stables I had affairs with, that I realised that it was a sexual thing towards my father.

David Sylvester: So perhaps the obsession with the Velasquez Pope had a strong personal meaning?
Francis Bacon: Well it's one of the most beautiful pictures in the world and I think I'm not at all exceptional as a painter in being obsessed by it. I think a number of artists have recognised it as being something very remarkable.

David Sylvester: Most people seem to feel there's somehow a distinct presence or threat of violence [in your work].
Francis Bacon: Well, there might be one reason for this, of course. I was born in Ireland, in 1909. My father, because he was a racehorse trainer, lived not very far from the Curragh, where there was a British cavalry regiment, and I always remember them, just before the 1914 war was starting, galloping up the drive of the house which my father had, and carrying out manoeuvres. And then I was brought to London during the war and spent quite a lot of time there, because my father was in the War Office then, and I was made aware of what is called the possibility of danger even at a very young age. Then I went back to Ireland and was brought up during the Sinn Fein movement. And I lived for a time with my grandmother, who married the commissioner of police for Kildare among her numerous marriages, and we lived in a sandbagged house, and as I went out, these ditches were dug across the road for a car or horse-and-cart or anything like that to fall into, and there would be snipers waiting on the edges. And then, when I was 16 or 17, I went to Berlin, and of course I saw the Berlin of 1927 and 1928 where there was a wide open city, which was, in a way, very, very violent. And after Berlin I went to Paris, and then I lived all those disturbed years between then and the war which started in 1939. So I could say, perhaps, I have been accustomed to always living through forms of violence.

David Sylvester: We've talked before about roulette and about the feeling one sometimes has at the table that one is kind of in tune with the wheel and can do nothing wrong. How does this relate to the painting process?
Francis Bacon: Well, I'm sure there certainly is a very strong relationship. After all, Picasso once said: "I don't need to play games of chance, I'm always working with it myself."

David Sylvester: And with the painting?
Francis Bacon: Well, again, I don't think one really knows whether it's a run of luck or whether it's instinct working in your favour or whether it's instinct and consciousness and everything intermingling and working in your favour.

David Sylvester: Your taste for roulette doesn't, as it were, extend to Russian roulette.
Francis Bacon: No. Because to do what I want to do would mean, if possible, living. Whereas the other day somebody was telling me about De Stael - that Russian roulette was an obsession with him and that very often he would drive round the corniche at night at tremendous speed on the wrong side of the road, purposely to see whether he could avoid the thing or not avoid it. I do know how he's supposed to have died, that out of despair he committed suicide. But for me the idea of Russian roulette would be futile. Also, I haven't got that kind of what's called bravery. I'm sure physical danger actually can be very exhilarating. But I think I'm too much of a coward to court it myself. And also, as I want to go on living, as I want to make my work better, out of vanity, you may say, I have got to live, I've got to exist.

David Sylvester: Where did you go to school? Or did you not?
Francis Bacon: I went for a short time to a place called Dean Close, in Cheltenham. It was a kind of minor public school and I didn't like it. I was continually running away, so in the end they took me away. I was there only about a year. So I had a very limited education. Then, when I was about 16, my mother made me an allowance of £3 a week, which in those days was enough to exist on. I came to London, and then I went to Berlin. One is always helped when one is young because people always like you when you are young, and I went with somebody who had picked me up - or whatever you like to say - to stay at the Adlon Hotel. It was the most wonderful hotel. I always remember the wheeling-in of the breakfast in the morning - wonderful trolleys with enormous swans' necks coming out of the four corners. And the nightlife of Berlin was very exciting for me, coming straight from Ireland. But I didn't stay in Berlin very long. I went to Paris then for a short time. There I saw at Rosenberg's an exhibition of Picasso, and at that moment I thought, well I will try and paint too.

David Sylvester: How did your parents react when they heard about that idea?
Francis Bacon: They were horrified at the thought that I might want to be an artist.

David Sylvester: You've often said that when you're painting you very much prefer to be alone - that, for instance, when you are doing a portrait you don't like to have the subject actually there.
Francis Bacon: I feel that I am much freer if I'm on my own, but I'm sure that there are a lot of painters who would perhaps be even more inventive if they had people round them. It doesn't happen in my case. I find that if I am on my own I can allow the paint to dictate to me. So the images that I'm putting down on the canvas dictate the thing to me and it gradually builds up and comes along. That is the reason I like being alone - left with my own despair of being able to do anything at all on the canvas.


An edited extract from Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester in 1963, 1966 and 1979.
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Interview of Muhammad Ali Jinnah with Doon Campbell, Reuters' Correspondent, New Delhi, 21st May 1947

Doon Campbell: What sort of relationship do you envisage between Pakistan and Hindustan?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah: Friendly and reciprocal in the mutual interest of both. That is why I have been urging: let us separate in a friendly way and remain friends thereafter.

Doon Campbell: How would you divide the armed forces? Do you envisage a defence pact or any other kind of military alliance between Pakistan and Hindustan?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah: All the armed forces must be divided completely, but I do envisage an alliance, pact or treaty between Pakistan and Hindustan again in the mutual interest of both and against any aggressive outsider.

Doon Campbell: Do you favour a federation of Pakistan states even if there is to be partition of Punjab and Bengal?


Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The new clamour for partition that is stated is by the vocal section of the caste Hindus in Bengal and the Sikhs in particular in the Punjab will have disastrous results if those two provinces are partitioned and the Sikhs in the Punjab will be the greatest sufferers; and Muslims under contemplated Western Punjab will no doubt be hit, but it certainly will deal the greatest blow to those, particularly the Sikhs, for whose benefit the new stunt has been started. Similarly in Western Bengal, caste Hindus will suffer the most and so will the caste Hindus in Eastern Punjab.

This idea of partition is not only thoughtless and reckless, but if unfortunately His Majesty’s Government favour it, in my opinion it will be a grave error and will prove dangerous immediately and far more so in the future. Immediately it will lead to bitterness and unfriendly attitude between Eastern Bengal and Western Bengal and same will the case with torn Punjab, between Western Punjab and Eastern Punjab.

Partition of Punjab and Bengal, if effected, will no doubt weaken Pakistan to a certain extent. Weak Pakistan and a strong Hindustan will be a temptation the strong Hindustan to try to dictate. I have always said that Pakistan must be sufficiently strong as a balance vis-à-vis Hindustan. I am therefore, deadly against the partition of Bengal and the Punjab and we shall fight every inch against it.

Doon Campbell: Will you demand a corridor through Hindustan connecting the Eastern and Western Pakistan States?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah: Yes.


Doon Campbell: Do you envisage the formation of a Pan-Islamic state stretching from the Far and Middle East to the Far East after the establishment of Pakistan?


Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The theory of Pan-Islamism has long ago exploded, but we shall certainly establish friendly relations and cooperate for mutual good and world peace and we shall always stretch our hand of friendship to the near and Middle East and Far East after the establishment of Pakistan.

Doon Campbell: On what basis will the central administration of Pakistan be set up? What will be the attitude of this Government to the Indian States?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The basis of the central administration of Pakistan and that of the units to be set up will be decided no doubt, by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. But the Government of Pakistan can only be a popular representative and democratic form of Government. Its Parliament and Cabinet responsible to the Parliament will both be finally responsible to the electorate and the people in general without any distinction of caste, creed or sect, which will the final deciding factor with regard to the policy and programme of the Government that may be adopted from time to time.

As regards our attitude towards Indian States I may make it clear once more that the policy of the Muslim League has been and is not to interfere with the Indian States with regard to their internal affairs. But while we expect as rapid a progress as possible in the various states towards the establishment of full responsible government, it is primarily the concern of the ruler and his people.

As regards the position of the states in the light of the announcement made by His Majesty’s Government embodied in the White Paper of the 20th of February, I wish to make it clear that the states are at liberty to form a confederation as one solid group or confederate into more than one groups, or stand as individual states. It is a matter entirely for them to decide. And it is clear, as I can understand, that paramountcy is going to terminate and, therefore, they are completely independent and free. It is for them to adjust such a matter as there may be by virtue of their treaties and agreements with the paramount power. They must consider as completely independent and free states, free from any paramountcy, as to what is best in their interest and it will be open to them to decide whether they should join the Pakistan Constituent Assembly or the Hindustan Constituent Assembly – Constituent Assemblies must be and will be two sovereign Constituent Assemblies of Pakistan and Hindustan.


Doon Campbell: In general terms what will be the foreign policy of Pakistan? Will it apply for membership of the United Nations?


Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The foreign policy of Pakistan can only be for peace and friendly relations with all other nations and we shall certainly play our part in the membership of the United Nations.

Doon Campbell: On which major power is Pakistan most likely to lean?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The one that will be in our best interests. It will not be a case of leaning to any power, but we shall certainly establish friendship and alliances which will be for the benefit of all those who may enter into such an alliance.

Doon Campbell: What sort of relationship do you envisage between Pakistan and Britain?


Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The question can only be decided by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and as I understand the situation, a relationship between Pakistan and British can be established which will be really beneficial for both. Pakistan cannot live in isolation, nor can any other nation do so today. We shall have choose our friends and I trust, wisely.

Doon Campbell: What are your views in regard to the protection of minorities in Pakistan territories?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah: There is only one answer: The minorities must be protected and safeguarded. The minorities in Pakistan will be the citizens of Pakistan and enjoy all the rights, privileges and obligations of citizenship without any distinction of caste creed or sect.

They will be treated justly and fairly. The Government will run the administration and control the legislative measures by its Parliament, and the collective conscience of the Parliament itself will be a guarantee that the minorities need not have any apprehension of any injustice being done to them. Over and above that there will be provisions for the protection and safeguard of the minorities which in my opinion must be embodied in the constitution itself. And this will leave no doubt as to the fundamental rights of the citizens, protection of religion and faith of every section, freedom of thought and protection of their cultural and social life.
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'No room for the alien, no use for the wastrel'


This edited interview of Adolf Hitler by George Sylvester Viereck took place in 1923. It was republished in Liberty magazine in July 1932


"When I take charge of Germany, I shall end tribute abroad and Bolshevism at home."
Adolf Hitler drained his cup as if it contained not tea, but the lifeblood of Bolshevism.

"Bolshevism," the chief of the Brown Shirts, the Fascists of Germany, continued, gazing at me balefully, "is our greatest menace. Kill Bolshevism in Germany and you restore 70 million people to power. France owes her strength not to her armies but to the forces of Bolshevism and dissension in our midst.

"The Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of St Germain are kept alive by Bolshevism in Germany. The Peace Treaty and Bolshevism are two heads of one monster. We must decapitate both."

When Adolf Hitler announced this programme, the advent of the Third Empire which he proclaims seemed still at the end of the rainbow. Then came election after election. Each time the power of Hitler grew. While unable to dislodge Hindenburg from the presidency, Hitler today heads the largest party in Germany. Unless Hindenburg assumes dictatorial measures, or some unexpected development completely upsets all present calculations, Hitler's party will organise the Reichstag and dominate the government. Hitler's fight was not against Hindenburg but against Chancellor Bruening. It is doubtful if Bruening's successor can sustain himself without the support of the National Socialists.

Many who voted for Hindenburg were at heart with Hitler, but some deep-rooted sense of loyalty impelled them nevertheless to cast their vote for the old field marshal. Unless overnight a new leader arises, there is no one in Germany, with the exception of Hindenburg, who could defeat Hitler - and Hindenburg is 85! Time and the recalcitrance of the French fight for Hitler, unless some blunder on his own part, or dissension within the ranks of the party, deprives him of his opportunity to play the part of Germany's Mussolini.

The first German Empire came to an end when Napoleon forced the Austrian emperor to surrender his imperial crown. The second empire came to an end when William II, on the advice of Hindenburg, sought refuge in Holland. The third empire is emerging slowly but surely, although it may dispense with sceptres and crowns.

I met Hitler not in his headquarters, the Brown House in Munich, but in a private home - the dwelling of a former admiral of the German Navy. We discussed the fate of Germany over the teacups.

"Why," I asked Hitler, "do you call yourself a National Socialist, since your party programme is the very antithesis of that commonly accredited to socialism?"

"Socialism," he retorted, putting down his cup of tea, pugnaciously, "is the science of dealing with the common weal. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. The Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists.

"Socialism is an ancient Aryan, Germanic institution. Our German ancestors held certain lands in common. They cultivated the idea of the common weal. Marxism has no right to disguise itself as socialism. Socialism, unlike Marxism, does not repudiate private property. Unlike Marxism, it involves no negation of personality, and unlike Marxism, it is patriotic.

"We might have called ourselves the Liberal Party. We chose to call ourselves the National Socialists. We are not internationalists. Our socialism is national. We demand the fulfilment of the just claims of the productive classes by the state on the basis of race solidarity. To us state and race are one."

Hitler himself is not a purely Germanic type. His dark hair betrays some alpine ancestor. For years he refused to be photographed. That was part of his strategy - to be known only to his friends so that, in the hour of crisis, he could appear here, there, and everywhere without detection. Today he could no longer pass unrecognised through the obscurest hamlet in Germany. His appearance contrasts strangely with the aggressiveness of his opinions. No milder mannered reformer ever scuttled ship of state or cut political throat.

"What," I continued my cross-examination, "are the fundamental planks of your platform?"

"We believe in a healthy mind in a healthy body. The body politic must be sound if the soul is to be healthy. Moral and physical health are synonymous." "Mussolini," I interjected, "said the same to me." Hitler beamed.

"The slums," he added, "are responsible for nine-tenths, alcohol for one-tenth, of all human depravity. No healthy man is a Marxian. Healthy men recognise the value of personality. We contend against the forces of disaster and degeneration. Bavaria is comparatively healthy because it is not completely industrialised. However, all Germany, including Bavaria, is condemned to intensive industrialism by the smallness of our territory. If we wish to save Germany we must see to it that our farmers remain faithful to the land. To do so, they must have room to breathe and room to work."

"Where will you find the room to work?"

"We must retain our colonies and we must expand eastward. There was a time when we could have shared world dominion with England. Now we can stretch our cramped limbs only toward the east. The Baltic is necessarily a German lake."

"Is it not," I asked, "possible for Germany to reconquer the world economically without extending her territory?"

Hitler shook his head earnestly.

"Economic imperialism, like military imperialism, depends upon power. There can be no world trade on a large scale without world power. Our people have not learned to think in terms of world power and world trade. However, Germany cannot extend commercially or territorially until she regains what she has lost and until she finds herself.

"We are in the position of a man whose house has been burned down. He must have a roof over his head before he can indulge in more ambitious plans. We had succeeded in creating an emergency shelter that keeps out the rain. We were not prepared for hailstones. However, misfortunes hailed down upon us. Germany has been living in a veritable blizzard of national, moral, and economic catastrophes.

"Our demoralised party system is a symptom of our disaster. Parliamentary majorities fluctuate with the mood of the moment. Parliamentary government unbars the gate to Bolshevism."

"Unlike some German militarists, you do not favour an alliance with Soviet Russia?"

Hitler evaded a direct reply to this question. He evaded it again recently when Liberty asked him to reply to Trotsky's statement that his assumption of power in Germany would involve a life-and-death struggle between Europe, led by Germany, and Soviet Russia.

"It may not suit Hitler to attack Bolshevism in Russia. He may even look upon an alliance with Bolshevism as his last card, if he is in danger of losing the game. If, he intimated on one occasion, capitalism refuses to recognise that the National Socialists are the last bulwark of private property, if capital impedes their struggle, Germany may be compelled to throw herself into the enticing arms of the siren Soviet Russia. But he is determined not to permit Bolshevism to take root in Germany."

He responded warily in the past to the advances of Chancellor Bruening and others who wished to form a united political front. It is unlikely that now, in view of the steady increase in the vote of the National Socialists, Hitler will be in the mood to compromise on any essential principle with other parties.

"The political combinations upon which a united front depend," Hitler remarked to me, "are too unstable. They render almost impossible a clearly defined policy. I see everywhere the zigzag course of compromise and concession. Our constructive forces are checked by the tyranny of numbers. We make the mistake of applying arithmetic and the mechanics of the economic world to the living state. We are threatened by ever increasing numbers and ever diminishing ideals. Mere numbers are unimportant."

"But suppose France retaliates against you by once more invading your soil? She invaded the Ruhr once before. She may invade it again."

"It does not matter," Hitler, thoroughly aroused, retorted, "how many square miles the enemy may occupy if the national spirit is aroused. Ten million free Germans, ready to perish so that their country may live, are more potent than 50 million whose will power is paralysed and whose race consciousness is infected by aliens.

"We want a greater Germany uniting all German tribes. But our salvation can start in the smallest corner. Even if we had only 10 acres of land and were determined to defend them with our lives, the 10 acres would become the focus of regeneration. Our workers have two souls: one is German, the other is Marxian. We must arouse the German soul. We must uproot the canker of Marxism. Marxism and Germanism are antitheses.

"In my scheme of the German state, there will be no room for the alien, no use for the wastrel, for the usurer or speculator, or anyone incapable of productive work."

The cords on Hitler's forehead stood out threateningly. His voice filled the room. There was a noise at the door. His followers, who always remain within call, like a bodyguard, reminded the leader of his duty to address a meeting.

Hitler gulped down his tea and rose.
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Stars from another sky:
An interview with Faiz Ahmed Faiz
By Anwar Iqbal



I stopped outside a house near Islamabad’s Covered Bazaar. This is where Begum Sarfraz Iqbal lived. The road is now named after her. And this was where I interviewed Faiz Ahmed Faiz so many years ago.

It was published in The Muslim, Islamabad, on June 28, 1982. Islamabad was still a small, leafy town with tall pine and Eucalyptus trees lining the roads.

The air was always fragrant with the aroma of seasonal flowers. It rained heavily in the summer. So the evenings were almost always cool. The winter was cold and mysterious.

The inescapable dust which now covers the city from all sides was not there. Green patches of trees crisscrossed the city and a thick carpet of grass prevented the soil from turning into dust.

All things fall apart. Is Islamabad falling apart too? Hopefully not but it has changed. Many people and places that our generation associated Islamabad with are disappearing fast.

Begum Sarfraz Iqbal and Faiz Saheb are both dead. The Covered Bazaar is no more. Half of it has already been demolished and the rest is awaiting the hammer.

But when I arrived at this house back in 1982, all three – Faiz Saheb, Begum Sarfraz and the bazaar – were still there.

“I have been waiting for you,” said Begum Sarfraz Iqbal when I entered the house. I knew she was and I also knew why.

She had arranged the interview on my request but on one condition, she will see and approve the questions. “I do not believe in censorship,” she said, “but you have just started your career and obviously I am not sure if you can handle such a major interview.”

I showed her the questions. She read them, twice. Looked at me and said: “No, there will be no interview. You can have tea with Faiz Saheb and go.”

When I asked why, she said: “These are not questions. These are political statements: Urdu should not be the national language of Pakistan, a state should have no ideology, there is no room in Pakistan for art for art’s sake and religious politics should be banned. Where is there question? And why should a poet get involved in such controversies?”

Her rebuke depressed me. This was going to be first major interview and I was really looking forward to it. I did not try to defend myself against her charges. Did not have to. As she finished, Faiz Saheb walked into the room.

“Bhai, sobah, sobah kis per naraz ho rahi hain (who are you shouting at so early in the morning)?” he said.

“This cub reporter from The Muslim,” she said. “I promised him an interview with you but his questions are more for a politician than a poet. So I told him he can leave after the breakfast.”

“No, no, no. Don’t get upset. Not with the young people,” said Faiz Saheb and asked me to show him the questions.

I saw a ray of hope, walked to the dining table where Faiz Saheb was waiting for the breakfast and showed him the questions. He asked me to make three cups of tea while he read the questions.

I did. He put the papers down and said: “Bring your notebook. Let’s try to finish the interview with the breakfast.”

We started the interview. He would read one question or political statement, as Begum Sarfraz Iqbal had rightly said, at a time and say: “Let’s rephrase it.”

In the process, he turned each political statement into a literary issue without changing the points I had tried to raise. More than once, he also told me how to channel my emotions into a good piece of writing.

“A good journalist tries to instigate the person he is interviewing to say the things he wants. You do not say it yourself. Be cool-headed, methodical and well-prepared. Being emotional does not help,” Faiz Saheb said.

Thus the interview that appeared in The Muslim, and was also included in Ikram Azam’s book, “Poems from Faiz” (1982, Nairang-e-Khayal Publications), happened only because Faiz Saheb was willing to accommodate even a “cub reporter.” A lesser poet would have kicked me out of the room for wasting his time.

Q: It is said that you identify yourself with the people of the land but you leave them whenever they are in trouble?

Faiz: If you want to say that I disappeared from the political scene, it is something different. I did participate in politics in the past but I have left it. I am a poet and not a politician.

But as far as my love for the people is concerned, I have always identified myself with them. I am proud of my people, my land. I have never left them. I will never leave them.

Q: Then why are you living in Beirut and not in Pakistan?

Faiz: Yes, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are living outside the country. One cannot assume that they do not love Pakistan.

I have taken up a job in Beirut. I have been made the editor of a periodical, “Lotus”, and it is my responsibility. That’s why I am staying in Beirut for the time being.

Q: When do you intend to come back to Pakistan?

Faiz: In the near future. I will go back to Beirut, make some alternative arrangement for the “Lotus” and only then I can come back.

Q: What happened during your last visit to Pakistan?

Faiz: Not much. There was some misunderstanding at the Karachi airport, where I stayed for a night on my way to Tokyo where I was going to attend a writers’ conference.

I had to delay my journey for one night. Later, the misunderstanding was removed by Mir Ali Ahmed Talpur and others and I proceeded to my next destination.

Q: It is alleged that you are very eloquent when you talk about Vietnam or Palestine but you are not equally eloquent about Kashmir. Is it true?

Faiz: Who says I am not eloquent about Kashmir? Go through the editorials I wrote about Kashmir in the Pakistan Times and see how eloquent I was.

As far as Vietnam and Palestine was concerned, I did support the cause of the Vietnamese and I do support the Palestinians. I am proud of my stand on these international issues.

Q: Many important events took place in Pakistan in the recent past. Did you reflect those events in your poetry?

Faiz: Whatever I see around me, I read about, I feel for; I absorb it in my memory, which is later reflected in my poetry.

My latest collection of poems, “Meray Dil, Meray Musafir,” is all about Pakistan, its people and their feelings. I am a Pakistani, like all others, and have never considered myself something separate from the mainstream of our national life.

Some of my poetry is “Hekayet-e-dil,” that’s my own personal experience; some of it is about my country.

Q: Poets and writers of our time have become very careful in expressing what they see and feel. Are you satisfied with their attitude?

Faiz: There is nothing new about it. It is an old tradition. Whenever the circumstances are unfavorable, some of our writers take refuge in their own world. They find out many excuses for their utopian attitude, like art for art’s sake and personal aesthetics.

But some people, though very few, do not doge their responsibilities and become more eloquent like Habib Jalib.

Q: What do you say about the art for art’s sake attitude?

Faiz: There is nothing wrong in it if it is genuine. After all, it does reflect the social environment of a particular time and talks about the attitude of a particular group of society in that period, no matter how subjective it is.

Q: Do you think that what is being written now by our writers is genuine?

Faiz: Some of it is genuine and some of it is not. It has always been like that. Some of the literature is written as a fashion and some of it is to articulate the experience of life. All the written words of a particular time are never genuine. Some of it has always been superfluous.

What is important is that a poet or a writer should honestly reflect his experience instead of doing verbal jugglery or imitating others.

Q: Don’t you think that our Urdu literature only reflects the experience, feelings and interests of a particular class?

Faiz: Unfortunately, so far, only the people of a particular class have been well-versed in Urdu and can write literature. So to that extent it does represent a class. But whatever is written in Urdu is not necessarily about a particular class.

All the great poets of the world were not from the working class. It is not important to which class one belongs. It is more important to see what he is writing about and what he believes in.

Q: Don’t you believe that what is written in Urdu is not communicated to the masses?

Faiz: No, this is wrong. Now even the people from the working class are learning Urdu and what is written in that language is communicated to all. Educated and less educated both. Rather, it also reaches the illiterate people.

Q: But what is written in Urdu cannot become as popular among the masses as the poetry of Bulleh Shah, Shah Latif or Rahman Baba. Don’t you agree?

Faiz: Well, there have always been two voices. Not only in our literature but in all the places where there existed a social setup similar to ours. One represented the masses and the other the court. But even in that of the court; the life of the common man is reflected. Only the idiom is different.

Whenever there was a feudal setup and there was a court, the language of the classics was elevated from the spoken language.

Poetry itself is not the spoken language. It is also formalised. Only Bulleh Shah and Waris Shah are not folk. The bulk of folk poetry is unanimous.

The same could be said about other forms of art. The expression of folk art is always different from that of social art. But it does not cross out the community or content of expression. A number of things are always similar and overlap each other.

However, the culture of the dominating class becomes dominant and that’s why we call it classics. Otherwise, folk art is also a classic in its own style.

Q: It is said that what is written by poets and writers is not in conformity with the ideology of Pakistan. What would you say about it?

Faiz: It depends on what one thinks of the ideology of Pakistan. Everyone has a different concept about it.

If one means religion, then there is no difference. We all believe in Islam. However, the difference is of interpretation and not belief. There are many people who interpret Islam in different ways and those who do not agree with their interpretation are wrong in their eyes.

Actually, it is not even the interpretation they are bothered about. It is politics. And when you talk of politics, the difference of opinion is but very natural.

Q:
It is also said about you that you do not believe in the ideology of Pakistan. Would you like to comment?

Faiz: Let them say what pleases them. Not only do I believe in the ideology of Pakistan, I think that whatever I write is always in accordance with the ideology of Pakistan. I have never differed from this ideology. However, if my interpretation of the ideology of Pakistan is different from theirs, I cannot help it.

Q: Urdu is said to be the ‘lingua franca’ in Pakistan. Can it really serve the purpose or will it have to be replaced by some local language?

Faiz: We cannot do without Urdu. It is a developed language and has reached this stage after an evolutionary process of about 300 years. Other languages are yet to reach that stage.

However, some local languages can and will reach this stage in future and replace Urdu but not in the near future.

Q: If we need a developed language, then why not English which is more developed than Urdu?

Faiz: English is only spoken by those who come from a particular background and go to particular schools. They are not even one per cent of the total population, while Urdu is understood by the majority of the people in Pakistan.

The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

http://dawn.com/2013/05/04/stars-fro...iz-ahmed-faiz/
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MAULANA ABDUL KALAM AZAD
By Shorish Kashmiri

Congress president (Late) Maulana Abul Kalam Azad gave the following interview to journalist Shorish Kashmiri for a Lahore based Urdu magazine, Chattan, in April 1946. It was a time when the Cabinet Mission was holding its proceedings in Delhi and Simla. Azad made some startling predictions during the course of the interview, saying that religious conflict would tear apart Pakistan and its eastern half would carve out its own future. He even said that Pakistan’s incompetent rulers might pave the way for military rule.

According to Shorish Kashmiri, Azad had earmarked the early hours of the morning for him and the interview was conducted over a period of two weeks. This interview has not been published in any book so far — neither in the Azad centenary volumes nor in any other book comprising his writing or speeches — except for Kashmiri’s own book Abul Kalam Azad, which was printed only once by Matbooat Chattan Lahore, a now-defunct publishing house. Former Union Cabinet Minister Arif Mohammed Khan discovered the book after searching for many years and translated the interview for COVERT

Q: The Hindu Muslim dispute has become so acute that it has foreclosed any possibility of reconciliation. Don’t you think that in this situation the birth of Pakistan has become inevitable?

A: If Pakistan were the solution of Hindu Muslim problem, then I would have extended my support to it. A section of Hindu opinion is now turning in its favour. By conceding NWFP, Sind, Balochistan and half of Punjab on one side and half of Bengal on the other, they think they will get the rest of India — a huge country that would be free from any claims of communal nature. If we use the Muslim League terminology, this new India will be a Hindu state both practically and temperamentally.

This will not happen as a result of any conscious decision, but will be a logical consequence of its social realities. How can you expect a society that consists 90% of Hindus, who have lived with their ethos and values since prehistoric times, to grow differently? The factors that laid the foundation of Islam in Indian society and created a powerful following have become victim of the politics of partition. The communal hatred it has generated has completely extinguished all possibilities of spreading and preaching Islam. This communal politics has hurt the religion beyond measure. Muslims have turned away from the Quran. If they had taken their lessons from the Quran and the life of the Holy Prophet and had not forged communal politics in the name of religion then Islam’s growth would not have halted. By the time of the decline of the Mughal rule, the Muslims in India were a little over 22.5 million, that is about 65% of the present numbers.

Since then the numbers kept increasing. If the Muslim politicians had not used the offensive language that embittered communal relations, and the other section acting as agents of British interests had not worked to widen the Hindu-Muslim breach, the number of Muslims in India would have grown higher. The political disputes we created in the name of religion have projected Islam as an instrument of political power and not what it is — a value system meant for the transformation of human soul. Under British influence, we turned Islam into a confined system, and following in the footsteps of other communities like Jews, Parsis and Hindus we transformed ourselves into a hereditary community.

The Indian Muslims have frozen Islam and its message and divided themselves into many sects. Some sects were clearly born at the instance of colonial power. Consequently, these sects became devoid of all movement and dynamism and lost faith in Islamic values. The hallmark of Muslim existence was striving and now the very term is strange to them. Surely they are Muslims, but they follow their own whims and desires. In fact now they easily submit to political power, not to Islamic values. They prefer the religion of politics not the religion of the Quran. Pakistan is a political standpoint.

Regardless of the fact whether it is the right solution to the problems of Indian Muslims, it is being demanded in the name of Islam. The question is when and where Islam provided for division of territories to settle populations on the basis of belief and unbelief. Does this find any sanction in the Quran or the traditions of the Holy Prophet? Who among the scholars of Islam has divided the dominion of God on this basis? If we accept this division in principle, how shall we reconcile it with Islam as a universal system?

How shall we explain the ever growing Muslim presence in non-Muslim lands including India? Do they realise that if Islam had approved this principle then it would not have permitted its followers to go to the non-Muslim lands and many ancestors of the supporters of Pakistan would not have had even entered the fold of Islam?

Division of territories on the basis of religion is a contraption devised by Muslim League. They can pursue it as their political agenda, but it finds no sanction in Islam or Quran. What is the cherished goal of a devout Muslim? Spreading the light of Islam or dividing territories along religious lines to pursue political ambitions? The demand for Pakistan has not benefited Muslims in any manner. How Pakistan can benefit Islam is a moot question and will largely depend on the kind of leadership it gets.

The impact of western thought and philosophy has made the crisis more serious. The way the leadership of Muslim League is conducting itself will ensure that Islam will become a rare commodity in Pakistan and Muslims in India. This is a surmise and God alone knows what is in the womb of future. Pakistan, when it comes into existence, will face conflicts of religious nature.

As far as I can see, the people who will hold the reins of power will cause serious damage to Islam. Their behaviour may result in the total alienation of the Pakistani youth who may become a part of non-religious movements. Today, in Muslim minority states the Muslim youth are more attached to religion than in Muslim majority states. You will see that despite the increased role of Ulema, the religion will lose its sheen in Pakistan.

Q: But many Ulema are with Quaid-e-Azam [M.A. Jinnah].

A: Many Ulema were with Akbar-e Azam too; they invented a new religion for him. Do not discuss individuals. Our history is replete with the doings of the Ulema who have brought humiliation and disgrace to Islam in every age and period.

The upholders of truth are exceptions. How many of the Ulema find an honourable mention in the Muslim history of the last 1,300 years? There was one Imam Hanbal, one Ibn Taimiyya. In India we remember no Ulema except Shah Waliullah and his family. The courage of Alf Sani is beyond doubt, but those who filled the royal office with complaints against him and got him imprisoned were also Ulema. Where are they now? Does anybody show any respect to them?

Q: Maulana, what is wrong if Pakistan becomes a reality? After all, “Islam” is being used to pursue and protect the unity of the community.

A: You are using the name of Islam for a cause that is not right by Islamic standards. Muslim history bears testimony to many such enormities. In the battle of Jamal [fought between Imam Ali and Hadrat Aisha, widow of the Holy Prophet] Qurans were displayed on lances. Was that right? In Karbala the family members of the Holy Prophet were martyred by those Muslims who claimed companionship of the Prophet. Was that right? Hajjaj was a Muslim general and he subjected the holy mosque at Makka to brutal attack. Was that right? No sacred words can justify or sanctify a false motive.

If Pakistan was right for Muslims then I would have supported it. But I see clearly the dangers inherent in the demand. I do not expect people to follow me, but it is not possible for me to go against the call of my conscience. People generally submit either to coercion or to the lessons of their experience. Muslims will not hear anything against Pakistan unless they experience it. Today they can call white black, but they will not give

up Pakistan. The only way it can be stopped now is either for the government not to concede it or for Mr Jinnah himself — if he agrees to some new proposal.

Now as I gather from the attitude of my own colleagues in the working committee, the division of India appears to be certain. But I must warn that the evil consequences of partition will not affect India alone, Pakistan will be equally haunted by them. The partition will be based on the religion of the population and not based on any natural barrier like mountain, desert or river. A line will be drawn; it is difficult to say how durable it would be.

We must remember that an entity conceived in hatred will last only as long as that hatred lasts. This hatred will overwhelm the relations between India and Pakistan. In this situation it will not be possible for India and Pakistan to become friends and live amicably unless some catastrophic event takes place. The politics of partition itself will act as a barrier between the two countries. It will not be possible for Pakistan to accommodate all the Muslims of India, a task beyond her territorial capability. On the other hand, it will not be possible for the Hindus to stay especially in West Pakistan. They will be thrown out or leave on their own. This will have its repercussions in India and the Indian Muslims will have three options before them:

1. They become victims of loot and brutalities and migrate to Pakistan; but how many Muslims can find shelter there?

2. They become subject to murder and other excesses. A substantial number of Muslims will pass through this ordeal until the bitter memories of partition are forgotten and the generation that had lived through it completes its natural term.

3. A good number of Muslims, haunted by poverty, political wilderness and regional depredation decide to renounce Islam.

The prominent Muslims who are supporters of Muslim League will leave for Pakistan. The wealthy Muslims will take over the industry and business and monopolise the economy of Pakistan. But more than 30 million Muslims will be left behind in India. What promise Pakistan holds for them? The situation that will arise after the expulsion of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan will be still more dangerous for them. Pakistan itself will be afflicted by many serious problems. The greatest danger will come from international powers who will seek to control the new country, and with the passage of time this control will become tight. India will have no problem

with this outside interference as it will sense danger and hostility from Pakistan.

The other important point that has escaped Mr Jinnah’s attention is Bengal. He does not know that Bengal disdains outside leadership and rejects it sooner or later. During World War II, Mr Fazlul Haq revolted against Jinnah and was thrown out of the Muslim League. Mr H.S. Suhrawardy does not hold Jinnah in high esteem. Why only Muslim League, look at the history of Congress. The revolt of Subhas Chandra Bose is known to all. Gandhiji was not happy with the presidentship of Bose and turned the tide against him by going on a fast unto death at Rajkot. Subhas Bose rose against Gandhiji and disassociated himself from the Congress. The environment of Bengal is such that it disfavours leadership from outside and rises in revolt when it senses danger to its rights and interests.

The confidence of East Pakistan will not erode as long as Jinnah and Liaquat Ali are alive. But after them any small incident will create resentment and disaffection. I feel that it will not be possible for East Pakistan to stay with West Pakistan for any considerable period of time. There is nothing common between the two regions except that they call themselves Muslims. But the fact of being Muslim has never created durable political unity anywhere in the world. The Arab world is before us; they subscribe to a common religion, a common civilisation and culture and speak a common language.

In fact they acknowledge even territorial unity. But there is no political unity among them. Their systems of government are different and they are often engaged in mutual recrimination and hostility. On the other hand, the language, customs and way of life of East Pakistan are totally different from West Pakistan. The moment the creative warmth of Pakistan cools down, the contradictions will emerge and will acquire assertive overtones. These will be fuelled by the clash of interests of international powers and consequently both wings will separate.

After the separation of East Pakistan, whenever it happens, West Pakistan will become the battleground of regional contradictions and disputes. The assertion of sub-national identities of Punjab, Sind, Frontier and

Balochistan will open the doors for outside interference. It will not be long before the international powers use the diverse elements of Pakistani political leadership to break the country on the lines of Balkan and Arab states. Maybe at that stage we will ask ourselves, what have we gained and what have we lost.

The real issue is economic development and progress, it certainly is not religion. Muslim business leaders have doubts about their own ability and competitive spirit. They are so used to official patronage and favours that they fear new freedom and liberty. They advocate the two-nation theory to conceal their fears and want to have a Muslim state where they have the monopoly to control the economy without any competition from competent rivals. It will be interesting to watch how long they can keep this deception alive.

I feel that right from its inception, Pakistan will face some very serious problems:

1. The incompetent political leadership will pave the way for military dictatorship as it has happened in many Muslim countries.

2. The heavy burden of foreign debt.

3. Absence of friendly relationship with neighbours and the possibility of armed conflict.

4. Internal unrest and regional conflicts.

5. The loot of national wealth by the neo-rich and industrialists of Pakistan.

6. The apprehension of class war as a result of exploitation by the neo-rich.

7. The dissatisfaction and alienation of the youth from religion and the collapse of the theory of Pakistan.

8. The conspiracies of the international powers to control Pakistan.

In this situation, the stability of Pakistan will be under strain and the Muslim countries will be in no position to provide any worthwhile help. The assistance from other sources will not come without strings and it will force both ideological and territorial compromises.

Q: But the question is how Muslims can keep their community identity intact and how they can inculcate the attributes of the citizens of a Muslim state.

A: Hollow words cannot falsify the basic realities nor slanted questions can make the answers deficient. It amounts to distortion of the discourse. What is meant by community identity? If this community identity has

remained intact during the British slavery, how will it come under threat in a free India in whose affairs Muslims will be equal participants? What attributes of the Muslim state you wish to cultivate?

The real issue is the freedom of faith and worship and who can put a cap on that freedom. Will independence reduce the 90 million Muslims into such a helpless state that they will feel constrained in enjoying their religious freedom? If the British, who as a world power could not snatch this liberty, what magic or power do the Hindus have to deny this freedom of religion? These questions have been raised by those, who, under the influence of western culture, have renounced their own heritage and are now raising dust through political gimmickry.

Muslim history is an important part of Indian history. Do you think the Muslim kings were serving the cause of Islam? They had a nominal relationship with Islam; they were not Islamic preachers. Muslims of India owe their gratitude to Sufis, and many of these divines were treated by the kings very cruelly.

Most of the kings created a large band of Ulema who were an obstacle in the path of the propagation of Islamic ethos and values. Islam, in its pristine form, had a tremendous appeal and in the first century won the hearts and minds of a large number of people living in and around Hejaz. But the Islam that came to India was different, the carriers were non-Arabs and the real spirit was missing. Still, the imprint of the Muslim period is writ large on the culture, music, art, architecture and languages of India. What do the cultural centres of India, like Delhi and Lucknow, represent? The underlying Muslim spirit is all too obvious.

If the Muslims still feel under threat and believe that they will be reduced to slavery in free India then I can only pray for their faith and hearts. If a man becomes disenchanted with life he can be helped to revival, but if someone is timid and lacks courage, then it is not possible to help him become brave and gutsy. The Muslims as a community have become cowards. They have no fear of God, instead they fear men. This explains why they are so obsessed with threats to their existence — a figment of their imagination.

After British takeover, the government committed all possible excesses against the Muslims. But Muslims did not cease to exist. On the contrary, they registered a growth that was more than average. The Muslim cultural ethos and values have their own charm. Then India has large Muslim neighbours on three sides. Why on earth the majority in this country will be interested to wipe out the Muslims? How will it promote their self interests? Is it so easy to finish 90 million people? In fact, Muslim culture has such attraction that I shall not be surprised if it comes to have the largest following in free India.

The world needs both, a durable peace and a philosophy of life. If the Hindus can run after Marx and undertake scholarly studies of the philosophy and wisdom of the West, they do not disdain Islam and will be happy to benefit from its principles. In fact they are more familiar with Islam and acknowledge that Islam does not mean parochialism of a hereditary community or a despotic system of governance.

Islam is a universal call to establish peace on the basis of human equality. They know that Islam is the proclamation of a Messenger who calls to the worship of God and not his own worship. Islam means freedom from all social and economic discriminations and reorganisation of society on three basic principles of God-consciousness, righteous action and knowledge.

In fact, it is we Muslims and our extremist behaviour that has created an aversion among non-Muslims for Islam. If we had not allowed our selfish ambitions to soil the purity of Islam then many seekers of truth would have found comfort in the bosom of Islam. Pakistan has nothing to do with Islam; it is a political demand that is projected by Muslim League as the national goal of Indian Muslims. I feel it is not the solution to the problems Muslims are facing. In fact it is bound to create more problems.

The Holy Prophet has said, “God has made the whole earth a mosque for me.” Now do not ask me to support the idea of the partition of a mosque. If the nine-crore Muslims were thinly scattered all over India, and demand was made to reorganise the states in a manner to ensure their majority in one or two regions, that was understandable. Again such a demand would not have been right from an Islamic viewpoint, but justifiable on administrative grounds.

But the situation, as it exists, is drastically different. All the border states of India have Muslim majorities sharing borders with Muslim countries.

Tell me, who can eliminate these populations? By demanding Pakistan we are turning our eyes away from the history of the last 1,000 years and, if I may use the League terminology, throwing more than 30 million Muslims into the lap of “Hindu Raj”. The Hindu Muslim problem that has created political tension between Congress and League will become a source of dispute between the two states and with the aid of international powers this may erupt into full scale war anytime in future.

The question is often raised that if the idea of Pakistan is so fraught with dangers for the Muslims, why is it being opposed by the Hindus? I feel that the opposition to the demand is coming from two quarters. One is

represented by those who genuinely feel concerned about imperial machinations and strongly believe that a free, united India will be in a better position to defend itself.

On the other hand, there is a section who opposes Pakistan with the motive to provoke Muslims to become more determined in their demand and thus get rid of them. Muslims have every right to demand constitutional safeguards, but partition of India cannot promote their interests. The demand is the politically incorrect solution of a communal problem.

In future India will be faced with class problems, not communal disputes; the conflict will be between capital and labour. The communist and socialist movements are growing and it is not possible to ignore them. These movements will increasingly fight for the protection of the interest of the underclass.

The Muslim capitalists and the feudal classes are apprehensive of this impending threat. Now they have given this whole issue a communal colour and have turned the economic issue into a religious dispute. But Muslims alone are not responsible for it. This strategy was first adopted by the British government and then endorsed by the political minds of Aligarh. Later, Hindu short-sightedness made matters worse and now freedom has become contingent on the partition of India.

Jinnah himself was an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. In one Congress session Sarojini Naidu had commended him with this title. He was a disciple of Dadabhai Naoroji. He had refused to join the 1906 deputation of Muslims that initiated communal politics in India. In 1919 he stood firmly as a nationalist and opposed Muslim demands before the Joint Select Committee.

On 3 October 1925, in a letter to the Times of India he rubbished the suggestion that Congress is a Hindu outfit. In the All Parties Conferences of 1925 and 1928, he strongly favoured a joint electorate. While speaking at the National Assembly in 1925, he said, “I am a nationalist first and a nationalist last” and exhorted his colleagues, be they Hindus or Muslims, “not to raise communal issues in the House and help make the Assembly a national institution in the truest sense of the term”.

In 1928, Jinnah supported the Congress call to boycott Simon Commission. Till 1937, he did not favour the demand to partition India. In his message to various student bodies he stressed the need to work for Hindu Muslim unity. But he felt aggrieved when the Congress formed governments in seven states and ignored the Muslim League. In 1940 he decided to pursue the partition demand to check Muslim political decline.

In short, the demand for Pakistan is his response to his own political experiences. Mr Jinnah has every right to his opinion about me, but I have no doubts about his intelligence. As a politician he has worked overtime to fortify Muslim communalism and the demand for Pakistan. Now it has become a matter of prestige for him and he will not give it up at any cost.

Q: It is clear that Muslims are not going to turn away from their demand for Pakistan. Why have they become so impervious to all reason and logic of arguments?

A: It is difficult, rather impossible, to fight against the misplaced enthusiasm of a mob, but to suppress one’s conscience is worse than death. Today the Muslims are not walking, they are flowing. The problem is that Muslims have not learnt to walk steady; they either run or flow with the tide. When a group of people lose confidence and self-respect, they are surrounded by imaginary doubts and dangers and fail to make a distinction between the right and the wrong.

The true meaning of life is realised not through numerical strength but through firm faith and righteous action. British politics has sown many seeds of fear and distrust in the mental field of Muslims. Now they are in a frightful state, bemoaning the departure of the British and demanding partition before the foreign masters leave. Do they believe that partition will avert all the dangers to their lives and bodies? If these dangers are real then they will still haunt their borders and any armed conflict will result in much greater loss of lives and possessions.

Q: But Hindus and Muslims are two different nations with different and disparate inclinations. How can the unity between the two be achieved?

A: This is an obsolete debate. I have seen the correspondence between Allama Iqbal and Maulana Husain Ahmad Madni on the subject. In the Quran the term qaum has been used not only for the community of believers but has also been used for distinct human groupings generally. What do we wish to achieve by raising this debate about the etymological scope of terms like millat [community], qaum [nation] and ummat [group]? In religious terms India is home to many people — the Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs etc.

The differences between Hindu religion and Islam are vast in scope. But these differences cannot be allowed to become an obstacle in the path of India gaining her freedom nor do the two distinct and different systems of faith negate the idea of unity of India. The issue is of our national independence and how we can secure it. Freedom is a blessing and is the right of every human being. It cannot be divided on the basis of religion.

Muslims must realise that they are bearers of a universal message. They are not a racial or regional grouping in whose territory others cannot enter. Strictly speaking, Muslims in India are not one community; they are divided among many well-entrenched sects. You can unite them by arousing their anti-Hindu sentiment but you cannot unite them in the name of Islam. To them Islam means undiluted loyalty to their own sect.

Apart from Wahhabi, Sunni and Shia there are innumerable groups who owe allegiance to different saints and divines. Small issues like raising hands during the prayer and saying Amen loudly have created disputes that defy solution. The Ulema have used the instrument of takfeer [fatwas declaring someone as infidel] liberally. Earlier, they used to take Islam to the disbelievers; now they take away Islam from the believers. Islamic history is full of instances of how good and pious Muslims were branded kafirs. Prophets alone had the capability to cope with these mindboggling situations. Even they had to pass through times of afflictions and trials. The fact is that when reason and intelligence are abandoned and attitudes become fossilised then the job of the reformer becomes very difficult.

But today the situation is worse than ever. Muslims have become firm in their communalism; they prefer politics to religion and follow their worldly ambitions as commands of religion. History bears testimony to the fact that in every age we ridiculed those who pursued the good with consistency, snuffed out the brilliant examples of sacrifice and tore the flags of selfless service. Who are we, the ordinary mortals; even high ranking Prophets were not spared by these custodians of traditions and customs.

Q: You closed down your journal Al-Hilal a long time back. Was it due to your disappointment with the Muslims who were wallowing in intellectual desolation, or did you feel like proclaiming azan [call to prayer] in a barren desert?

A: I abandoned Al-Hilal not because I had lost faith in its truth. This journal created great awareness among a large section of Muslims. They renewed their faith in Islam, in human freedom and in consistent pursuit of righteous goals. In fact my own life was greatly enriched by this experience and I felt like those who had the privilege of learning under the companionship of the Messenger of God.

My own voice entranced me and under its impact I burnt out like a phoenix. Al-Hilal had served its purpose and a new age was dawning. Based on my experiences, I made a reappraisal of the situation and decided to devote all my time and energy for the attainment of our national freedom. I was firm in my belief that freedom of Asia and Africa largely depends on India’s freedom and Hindu Muslim unity is key to India’s freedom.

Even before the First World War, I had realised that India was destined to attain freedom, and no power on earth would be able to deny it. I was also clear in my mind about the role of Muslims. I ardently wished that Muslims would learn to walk together with their countrymen and not give an opportunity to history to say that when Indians were fighting for their independence, Muslims were looking on as spectators. Let nobody say that instead of fighting the waves they were standing on the banks and showing mirth on the drowning of boats carrying the freedom fighters.

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