Introductory passage is provided by this website and may not represent the views of the archived document's author.

Search the Republic of Rumi

Muhammad Ali Jauhar

Thoughts on the the Present Discontent by Muhammad Ali Jauhar is the cornerstone of historiography of the Indian Muslim community in the modern period.

It was published in 1907, first as a series of articles in the press and then as a booklet. It gave Jauhar an instant popularity as a journalist, and established him as a leading spokesperson for his community.

Dr. Afzal Iqbal writes about the background: "The articles were written almost in one night, when sleep was both difficult and impossible, owing to a great storm that heralded the break of the monsoons. They created a profound impression and won immediate recognition for Mohamed Ali as a serious political thinker."

Thoughts on the Present Discontent

    1. Muslim attitude
    2. Moderates and extremists
    3. Anglo-Indian parties
    4. “Never the twain shall meet”
    5. The education bacillus
    6. Self-government
    7. Not councils but clubs
    8. Noli me tangere
    9. Reaping the whirlwind
    10. Moghal and the British
    11. Last words

Last Words

We have seen that the present discontent is due partly, and inevitably, to the advance of Western education and enlightenment, aggravated by the blunders of the educationalists, and extended and amplified by the active support of the Congress Extremists, and the contributory negligence of the Moderates. But it is also partly due to the actual discourtesy of some Europeans, and the social exclusiveness of all. An additional impetus is also given by the lavish promises of the English and their tardy performance. These pledges were not given by Machiavellian politicians as the Extremists would have us believe, but were the outcome of those generous impulses which a free people are bound to feel from time to time. When our politicians complain of the casuistical interpretation put upon the Queen's Proclamation by pro-Consuls and Parliaments, they are apt to forget that the most gracious sentences were not the compositions of some pettifogging lawyer, but of our Sovereign Lady, Victoria, who was every inch a woman and a queen. In fact, hardly any Indian patriot has rendered India such valuable services as Englishmen of the type of Burke and Bright, Macaulay and Bentinck. But all cannot take the wings of angels. Because the average Englishman lacks the fluffy growth on his shoulder blades, is it any reason to credit him with the cloven foot? He is really and truly much more commonplace, being merely a man.

It is true, however, that nobody in the wide world is half so sanctimonious as an Englishman. His insularity, added to his puritanic bent of mind, makes him an admirable hypocrite. What the French would cynically acknowledge and laugh over, and the Germans would boastfully proclaim from housetops, the English would disguise with the most praiseworthy pertinacity. It is this trait of their character which makes alien nations suspect them of conscious hypocrisy. They feel annoyed if other people take them at their word. "We rule India for India's benefit only," says the Anglo-Indian. Yet no philanthropist was ever so persevering in doing good to others against their will. Every civilian talks of exile, and yet I fancy there is not a little regret when the would-be Governor is denied by the examiners the privileges of martyrdom and life-long exile. Such pugnacious altruism and persistent philanthropy are liable to be misunderstood. A little more self-introspection and cynical frankness could sweep away much of the prevailing discontent. A writer in the Empire Review from Johannesburg has put the case with true Colonial directness. "It is not to-day nor to-morrow," says he, "but the day will come when the Indians can justly claim they can rule themselves, and then we must cast aside hypocrisy, and either acknowledge we do not govern India merely for India's benefit, or we must retire. Self-interest in trade is why we rule India, and not pure philanthropy. It remains to be seen which we stand by."

If this were wholly true, and-what is more,-if the interests of India and England were to become contradictory and mutually exclusive, there would, then, be ample justification for seditionists to do their work. For sedition would then lose its stigma, and become a war of independence. The English would then have to say frankly: "Snatch, if you can, the club from the hand of Hercules," and deport all their disaffected subjects to another continent, or crush three hundred million malcontents. To hope to succeed by persuasion and reasoning would then be as futile as it would be treacherous.

But if that time has not yet come,-and I refuse to believe that it has come,-then, let the elect on the European side curb the petty passions of European Extremists, and let the Indian Moderates silence the rabid Radicals in their own camp, or disown them as courageously as they pronounce anathemas on Fullers and Curzons. The slow but sure method, however, of crushing disaffection is by courting affection. And for that there is no other royal road than that trod by the Afghan and the Moghal. Believe me, there is no greater Little Englander than your Imperialist. His seclusion behind a purdah that neither morality demands nor religion sanctions, and living in the midst of the people, yet avoiding the touch of a sixth of the whole human race, is a folly that would be amusing, did it not lead to a tragic end. Cannot Imperial Rome-with all her failings, truly Imperial-teach the simple text of the Poet, "Homo sum, nihil humani a me alienum puto"? Could but a few men at the top ponder deeply over the rejoicings of an Empire Day in which but a small slice of this gigantic Empire participated, there would be food enough for thought, and hope enough for the Empire's permanence and prosperity.

Source: Writings and Speeches of Maulana Mohamed Ali (1944/1987) by Dr. Afzal Iqbal. Islamic Book Foundation, Lahore

Back to Top

Search the Republic of Rumi
Page Hits | Visitors BACK | HOME | CONTACT