Mohammad Ali Jauhar

Indian Muslim leader, activist, scholar, journalist and poet

Muhammad Ali Jauhar (10 December 1878 – 4 January 1931) was an Indian Muslim activist, founding member of the All-India Muslim League, a preeminent member of Indian National Congress, journalist and a poet, a leading figure of the Khilafat Movement and one of the founders of Jamia Millia Islamia. He and his brothers are known as the Ali brothers.

Mohammad Ali Jauhar


  • I had long been convinced that here in this Country of hundreds of millions of human beings, intensely attached to religion, and yet infinitely split up into communities, sects and denominations, Providence had created for us the mission of solving a unique problem and working out a new synthesis, which was nothing low than a Federation of Faiths … For more than twenty years I have dreamed the dream of a federation, grander, nobler and infinitely more spiritual than the United States of America, and today when many a political Cassandra prophesies a return to the bad old days of Hindu-Muslim dissensions I still dream that old dream of 'United Faiths of India.'
    • —Mohammad Ali; from the Presidential Address, I.N.C. Session, 1923, Cocanada (now Kakinada).
  • After all what is the meaning of this precious prosecution? By whose convictions are we to be guided, we the Musalmans and the Hindus of India? Speaking as a Muslim, if I am supposed to err from the right path, the only way to convince me of my error is to refer me to the Holy Quraan or to the authentic traditions of the last Prophet—on whom be peace and God's benediction—or the religious pronouncements of recognized Muslim divines, past and present, which purport to be based on these two original sources of Islamic authority demands from me in the present circumstances, the precise action for which a Government, that does not like to be called satanic, is prosecuting me to-day.

    "If that which I neglect, becomes by my neglect a deadly sin, and is yet a crime when I do not neglect it, how am I to consider myself safe in this country?

    "I must either be a sinner or a criminal. . . .Islam recognizes one sovereignty alone, the sovereignty of God, which is supreme and unconditional, indivisible and inalienable. . .

    "The only allegiance a Musalman, whether civilian or soldier, whether living under a Muslim or under a non-Muslim administration, is commanded by the Koran to acknowledge is his allegiance to God, to his Prophet and to those in authority from among the Musalmans chief among the last mentioned being of course that Prophet's successor or commander of the faithful. . . .This doctrine of unity is not a mathematical formula elaborated by abstruse thinkers but a work-a-day belief of every Musalman learned or unlettered. . . .Musalmans have before this also and elsewhere too, lived in peaceful subjection to non-Muslim administrations. But the unalterable rule is and has always been that as Musalmans they can obey only such laws and orders issued by their secular rulers as do not involve disobedience to the commandments of God who in the expressive language of the Holy Koran is the all-ruling ruler.' These very clear and rigidly definite limits of obedience are not laid down with regard to the authority of non-Muslim administration only. On the contrary, they are of universal application and can neither be enlarged nor reduced in any case."

    "One thing has to be made clear as we have since discovered that the doctrine to which we shall now advert is not so generally known in non-Muslim and particularly in official circles as it ought to be. A Musalman's faith does not consist merely in believing in a set of doctrines and living up to that belief himself; he must also exert himself to the fullest extent of his power, of course without resorting to any compulsion, to the end that others also conform to the prescribed belief and practices. This is spoken of in the Holy Koran as Amribilmaroof and Nahi anilmunkar, and certain distinct chapters of the Holy Prophet's traditions relate to this essential doctrine of Islam. A Musalman cannot say: 'I am not my brother's keeper,' for in a sense he is and his own salvation cannot be assured to him unless he exhorts others also to do good and dehorts them against doing evil. If therefore any Musalman is being compelled to wage war against the Mujahid of Islam, he must not only be a conscientious objector himself but must, if he values his own salvation, persuade his brothers also at whatever risk to himself to take similar objection. Then and not until then, can he hope for salvation. This is our belief as well as the belief of every other Musalman and in our humble way we seek to live up to it; and if we are denied the freedom to inculcate this doctrine, we must conclude that the land, where this freedom does not exist, is not safe for Islam."

    ". . .paradoxical as it may seem, the creation of separate electorates was hastening the advent of Hindu-Muslim unity. For the first time a real franchise, however, restricted, was being offered to Indians, and if Hindus and Musalmans remained just as divided as they had hitherto been since the commencement of the British rule, and often hostile to one another, mixed electorates would have provided the best battle-ground for inter-communal strifes, and would have still further widened the gulf separating the two communities. Each candidate for election would have appealed to his own community for votes and would have based his claims for preference on the intensity of his ill-will towards the rival community, however disguised this may have been under some such formula as 'the defence of his community's interest'. Bad as this would have been, the results of an election in which the two communities were not equally matched would have been even worse, for the community that failed to get its representative elected would have inevitably borne a yet deeper grudge against its successful rival. Divided as the two communities were, there was no chance for any political principles coming into prominence during the elections. The creation of separate electorates did a great deal to stop this inter-communal warfare, though I am far from oblivious of the fact that when inter-communal jealousies are acute the men that are more likely to be returned even from communal electorates are just those who are noted for the ill-will towards the rival community.
    • quoted in B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • However pure Mr. Gandhi's character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of religion inferior to any Musalman, even though he be without character... Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Musalman to be better than Mr. Gandhi.
    • Mahomed Ali (1924). The statement created a great stir, according to B.R. Ambedkar. Quoted in B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • But between belief and actual character there is a wide difference. As a follower of Islam I am bound to regard the creed of Islam as superior to that professed by the followers of any non-Islamic religion. And in this sense the creed of even a fallen and degraded Mussalman is entitled to a higher place than that of any other non-Muslim irrespective of his high character even though the person in question be Mahatma Gandhi himself.
    • Letter to Swami Shraddhananda, quoted in Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins)
  • To consider one’s creed as superior to that of every non-Muslim is the duty of a Mussalman.
    • In a letter to the Tej, quoted in Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins)
  • Muhammad Ali's observation on the sudden manifestation of zeal by the Muslims and Hindus for conversion and reconveision to their faith is worth quoting : “My own belief is that both sides are working with an eye much more on the next decennial census than on heaven itself, and I frankly confess it is on such occasions that I sigh for the days when our forefathers settled things by cutting heads rather then counting them'

Quotes about Jauhar

  • In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin. That is probably the reason why Maulana Mahomed Ali, a great Indian but a true Muslim, preferred to be buried in Jerusalem rather than in India. (pp. 330-331)
    • BR Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • Maulana Mohammed Ali, the right hand man of Mahatma Gandhi in the early days of freedom struggle, had announced in public, not once but repeatedly, that the worst sinner and debauchee among the Muslims was, in his eyes, far superior to even Mahatma Gandhi!
    • M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of thoughts
  • I cannot understand why the Ali Brothers are going to be arrested as the rumours go, and why I am to remain free. They have done nothing which I would not do. If they had sent a message to the Amir, I also would send one to inform the Amir that if he came, no Indian so long as I can help it, would help the Government to drive him back.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • A very important factor which is making it almost impossible for Hindu-Muslim unity to become an accomplished fact is that the Muslims can not confine their patriotism to any one country. I had frankly asked (the Muslims) whether in the event of any Mohammedan power invading India, they (Muslims) would stand side by side with their Hindu neighbours to defend their common land. I was not satisfied with the reply I got from them… Even such a man as Mr. Mohammad Ali has declared that under no circumstances is it permissible for any Mohammedan, whatever be his country, to stand against any Mohammedan."
    • Rabindranath Tagore, Interview of Rabindranath Tagore in `Times of India', 18-4-1924 in the column, `Through Indian Eyes on the Post Khilafat Hindu Muslim Riots [1] Also in A. Ghosh: "Making of the Muslim Psyche" in Devendra Swamp (ed.), Politics of Conversion, New Delhi, 1986, p. 148. And in S.R. Goel, Muslim Separatism – Causes and Consequences (1987).
    • Mohammed Ali, one of the famous Ali brothers, the leaders of the Khilafat Movement
  • Even Muhammad Ali, who posed as a staunch nationalist and a gitat admirer of Gandhi, and in whose sincerity Gandhi had absolute confidence. belonged to the anti-Hindu group. In support of this, reference may be made to the speech of Muham- mad Ali as President of the Muslim League Session in 1908, in which he not only accepted the standpoint of Sir Syed Ahmad that the Muslims in India must stand by themselves but ridiculed the idea of Hindu-Muslim unity, as the following extract from his speech will show : “At any rate the Muslims canot be expected to take poisonous cup and drink it to the dregs without a murmur as a martyr to the unity of India... .... -The sanctimonious apostles of unity contend that the interests of Mohammadans do not differ from those ot Hindus. They were the same when $hivaji revolted against Aurangzeb, or when the situation described in the Anand Math existed. The interests in that sense of the whole of humanity are the same.........--- The position of different societies in the scale of political evolution is judged according to the degree to which each has eliminated the personal from the principles that guide it in its system of Government. It is therefore a retrogade step in our political evolution to leave us at the mercy of an angelic majority that invariably thinks of the unity of India’s ultimate interests.” It is of interest to note that this is quoted with approval by a distinguished Muslim leader, Mohammad Noman, in his book, Muslim India, published in 1942. (224)
    • R.C. Majumdar History Of The Freedom Movement In India, vol I.
  • Even Muhammad Ali, later regarded as the greatest nationalist leader among the Muslims, admitted in a public speech in 1908 that the interests of the Muslims differed from those of the Hindus and would suffer if they joined the Hindus in their political agitation. He therefore frankly asserted that the Muslims could not be expected to become martyrs to the unity of India and it would be a retrograde step in the political evolution of the Muslims to leave them “at the mercy of an angelic majority” (i.e. of the Hindus)." The spirit of Syed Ahmad dominated the Muslims who, with rare exceptions, regarded themselves as Muslim first and Indian after- wards,
    • RC Majumdar, ed., Volume 11: Struggle for Freedom [1905-1947] p151ff
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