Eminent People on Islam- Sir Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), was an Indian Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the book Gitanjali and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla. He was thus the author of the National Anthems of two countries. Sri Lanka’s National Anthem too was inspired by his work. He was Knighted by the British in 1915 and given the title “Sir”, which he returned on 30 May 1919 in protest against the brutal Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 13 April 1919 by the British.
This great man had the following to say on Islam:
“Christianity and Islam determined to destroy all other Religions : There are two religions in earth, which have distinct enmity against all other religions. These two are Christianity and Islam. They are not just satisfied with observing their own religions, but are determined to destroy all other religions. That’s why the only way to make peace with them is to embrace their religions.” (Original works of Rabindranath Vol. 24 page 375, Vishwa Bharti; 1982 Publication)
Muslims can not confine their ‘Patriotism to any one country’ : 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 (one of the famous Ali brothers, the leader of the Khilafat Movement along with his brother Shaukat Ali) – the compiler has declared that under no circumstances is it permissible for any Mohammedan, whatever be his country, to stand against any Mohammedan.” (Interview of Rabindranath Tagore in ‘Times of India’, 18 April 1924 in the column, ‘Through Indian Eyes on the Post Khilafat Hindu Muslim Riots‘)
Hindus and Muslims can make a fake friendship : Whenever a Muslim called upon the Muslim society, he never faced any resistance-he called in the name of one God ‘Allah-ho-Akbar’. On the other hand, when we (Hindus) call will call, ‘come on, Hindus’, who will respond? We, the Hindus, are divided in numerous small communities, many barriers-provincialism-who will respond overcoming all these obstacles?
“We suffered from many dangers, but we could never be united. When Mohammed Ghouri (1149-1206) brought the first blow from outside, the Hindus could not be united, even in those days of imminent danger. When the Muslims started to demolish the temples one after another, and to break the idols of Gods and Goddesses, the Hindus fought and died in small units, but they could not be united. It has been provided that we were killed in different ages due to out discord.
“Weakness harbors sin. So, if the Muslims beat us and we, the Hindus, tolerate this without resistance-then, we will know that it is made possible only by our weakness. For the sake of ourselves and our neighbour Muslims also, we have to discard our weakness. We can appeal to our neighbour Muslims, ‘Please don’t be cruel to us. No religion can be based on genocide’ –but this kind of appeal is nothing, but the weeping of the weak persons. When the low pressure is created in the air, storm comes spontaneously; nobody can stop it for sake of religion. Similarly, if weakness is cherished and be allowed to exist, torture comes automatically-nobody can stop it. Possibly, the Hindus and the Muslims can make a fake friendship to each other for a while, but that can not last for ever. As long as you don’t purify the soil, which grows only thorny shrubs you can not expect any fruit.” (The above is the part of the article “Swami Shraddananda”, written by Rabindranath in Magh, 1333 Bangabda i.e. AD 1927-28; compiled in the book ‘Kalantar’)
Own religion true-others are false : “When two-three different religions claim that only their own religions are true and all other religions are false, their religions are only ways to Heaven, conflicts can not be avoided. Thus, fundamentalism tries to abolish all other religions. This is called Bolshevism in religion. Only the path shown by Hinduism can relieve the world from this meanness.” (The above is the part of the article ‘Atmaparichay’ in his book ‘Parichay’).
Make your children strong : The terrible situation of the country makes my mind restless and I can not keep silent. Meaningless rituals keep the Hindus divided in hundred sects. So we are suffering from series of defeats. We are tired and worn-out by the fortunes by the internal and external enemies. The Muslims are united in religion and rituals. The Bengali Muslims, the South Indian Muslims and even the Muslims outside India-all are united. They always stand united in face of danger. The broken and divided Hindus will not be able to combat them. Days are coming when the Hindus will be again humiliated by the Muslims. (He wrote this in 1933. He was proved right by the Partition of India in 1947 with the creation of Pakistan and the near-total extinction of Hindus from West Pakistan- from comprising 20% of the population in 1947 to less than 2% now, and in East Pakistan which was earlier East Bengal and is now Bangladesh the Hindu % has reduced from 34% in 1901 to 29% in 1947 down to 8.6% in 2011.)
“You are a mother of children, one day you will die, passing the future of Hindu society on the weak shoulders of your children, but think about their future.” (From the letter to Hemantabala Sarkar, written on 16th Oct, 1933, quoted in Bengali weekly ‘Swastika’, 21-6-1999)