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Gandhi (1285 [C.E. 1869]-1367 [C.E. 1948]) descends from a West Indian Christian family. His father was the chief ecclesiastic of the city of Porbtandar, and he was very rich. Gandhi was born in the city of Porbtandar. He went to Britain for his high school education. After completing his education he went back to India. In 1893 he was sent to South Africa by an Indian firm. Upon seeing the heavy conditions under which the Indians working there were and the utterly inhumane treatment they were being subjected to, he decided to put up a struggle for the betterment of their political rights. He dedicated himself to the Indian people. As he was conducting a vigorous campaign against the South African government for the protection of the Indians' rights, he was arrested and imprisoned. Yet he was too undaunted to give up struggle. He stayed in Africa till 1914. Then, quitting his perfectly lucrative job there, he returned to India to carry on his struggle. He waged a struggle in cooperation with the Indian Muslims Unity, which Muslims had established in 1906 for the liberation of India. All his personal property and his father's property he spent for the promotion of this cause.

When he heard that the British were going to launch a second operation of violence and cruelty similar to the one they had perpetrated in the state of Pencap in 1274 [A.D. 1858], he cooperated with the Muslims, induced his friends to withdraw from the civil service, and waged a silent protest and a passive resistance. By wrapping a white piece of cloth around his naked body and contenting himself with the milk of a goat which he continuously kept with him, he carried over his passive resistance. The first reaction on the part of the British was to laugh at him. It did not take them long, however, to see with astonishment and dismay that this man, who believed his own ideals with all his heart and who was ready to sacrifice all his existence with alacrity for the sake of his country, was with the entire India in tow and resounding with his speechless struggle. Imprisoning him proved to no avail. Gandhi's efforts resulted in India's attaining its independence. The Hindus gave him the name 'Mahatma', which lexically means 'blessed'.

Gandhi studied the Islamic religion and Qur'aan al-Karim with meticulous attention and finally found himself a sincere admirer of Islam. The following is his observation concerning this subject:

"Muslims have never indulged themselves in bigotry even in times of greatest grandeur and victory. Islam enjoins an admiration for the Creator of the World and His works. As the West was in a dreadful darkness, the dazzling star of Islam shining in the East brought light, peace and relief to the suffering world. The Islamic religion is not a mendacious religion. When the Hindus study this religion with due respect, they, too, will feel the same sympathy as I do for Islam. I have read the books telling about the life-style of the Prophet of Islam and of those who were close to him. These books generated profound interest in me, so much so that when I finished reading them I regretted there being no more of them. I have arrived at the conclusion that Islam's spreading rapidly was not by the sword. On the contrary, it was primarily owing to its simplicity, logicality, its Prophet's great modesty, his trueness to his promises and his unlimited faithfulness towards every Muslim that many people willingly accepted Islam.

"Islam has abrogated monastic life. In Islam there is no one to intervene between Allahu ta'ala and His born slave. Islam is a religion that commands social justice from the outset. There is not an institution between the Creator and the created. Anyone who reads Qur'aan al-Karim, [i.e. Its explanations and books written by Islamic scholars], will learn the commandments of Allahu ta'ala and will obey Him. There is no obstruction between Allahu ta'ala and him in this respect. Whereas many ineluctable changes were made in Christianity on account of its shortcomings, Islam has not undergone any alterations, and it preserves its pristine purity. Christianity lacks democratic spirit. The need to equip that religion with a democratic aspect has necessitated an increase in the Christians' national zeal and the concomitant reforms."


Source: Waqf Ikhlas Foundation


MAHATMA GANDHI