Written by the distinguished twentieth century literary figure, Premchand this piece constituting an assessment of Islam by Hindus was published first in December 1925 in Partap. It was reprinted by India Today (Hindi Edition) in its annual issue of 1995. Its condensed excerpts were produced by Sehroza Dawat 1995.
This piece, exploring effectively the contours of Islamic civilisation, as perceived by the leading Hindu intellectual, is as valid today as it was at the time of its first appearance. For it points to a way of mutual understanding and positive inter-faith relations, which are vital for a pluralistic democracy of India in our times. Following is condensed English version from this brilliant piece.
Although Hindus and Muslims have coexisted for a thousand years in India, they do not understand each other. They are an enigma for each other. Carried away by baseless reports they fight with each other. For Hindus. Muslims embody all evils and they appear as shorn of any virtue of mercy, faith, tolerance and forbearance. In an equal measure, Muslims look upon Hindus as pagans and animal like … True, Muslims have been guilty of great injustice, even while invoking their faith. But, have Hindus, though being votaries of nonviolence, not indulged in large-scale violence.
Although Karl Marx and Russians are credited for the principle of equality. It was Muhammad who preached and practiced it first. He never laid any claim to a special position.
The Prophet’s Sermon¹ on the Mount Arafat is a life-giving message which would always invigorate Islamic life. This sermon permeates with a deep and genuine concern for justice. Justice applies to all be they the king or the subject, the rich or the poor … Instances of tolerance and broadmindedness exemplified by Muslim rulers are unprecedented in history. They routinely appointed non-Muslims to august offices of state on the criterion of merit alone.
Although Karl Marx and Russians are credited for the principle of equality. It was Muhammad who preached and practiced it first. He never laid any claim to a special position. He professed and practiced perfect equality. Islam is justifiably proud of its treatment of slaves. As soon as a slave embraced Islam, he became a free person. And there have been many slave rulers in Muslim history. Which code of life can boast of granting women the right to property which Islam does. Islam firmly believes in equal opportunities. Islam attaches much significance to the principle of fraternity.
Islam is the only faith that has forbidden usury. It goes without saying that usury has given rise to numerous evils and problems in the society.
Islam is the only faith that has forbidden usury. It goes without saying that usury has given rise to numerous evils and problems in the society. Few can rival Muslims in their contribution to knowledge. Muslims are inspired by the ideals of freedom. It has achieved amazing success owing to its teachings of equality and fraternity.
Hindus are, of course, free to reorganise and restructure their social life. However, it should be done without fanning differences with Muslims.
Please also read: The Rational Evidence of Muhammad’s Prophethood
¹‘Listen! You have one God as you have one father (Adam). There is no distinction between an Arab and a non-Arab. There is no preference for the black over the white, or the white over the black. There is distinction only in submission to God. The most virtuous among you is the most honourable in the eyes of God.’ From the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)