Gandhi & the Islamic Connection
March 30, 2009
M.K.Gandhi’s views and movements are popular over the world. Seen as an inspiration, he earns a special place in the hearts of many as a charismatic leader who led by principles of simplicity and non-violence. But not many are aware of the role played by Islamic teachings in shaping up the man.
Gandhi drew inspirations from the glorious Quran, the blessed life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and that of his companions. Of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) he said in an interview with ‘Young India’ (September 23, 1924) – “I wanted to know the best of one who holds today undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind… I became more than convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the 2nd volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of the great life.”
Writing in ‘Harijan’ (issue dated 27-07-1937), Gandhi advised his fellow Congressmen on leading a life of simplicity in this fashion:
“I cannot present before you the examples of Sri Ram Chandr and Sri Krishn as they are not personalities recognized by history. I cannot help but present to you names of Abu Bakar (ra) and Umar (ra). They were leaders of a vast empire, yet they lived a life of austerity.”
An even lesser famous quote is the observation of Gandhi about the caliphate of Hazrat Umar (r.a). Gandhi said “The best thing to happen to India would be to be reigned by a dictator as just and upright as Umar, (ra).”
Why did a non-violent exponent of Gandhi’s stature regard the rule of such a man as the ‘best thing’?
The answer lies in the life of the Prophet (pbuh) and that of his companions…