Speech of Honorable
Professor Dr. Hugh van Skyhawk
Institute of Indology
Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz and
South Asia Institute
Ruprecht Karls University, Heidelberg Germany
Three Voices of Peace and Universal Brotherhood
Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris.
Now (this bell) tolling softly (for another), says to me, Thou must die.
…All mankind is of one other and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another…No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a cold be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery nor a borrowing of misery, as though we where not miserable enough of ourselves but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors….
John Donne, Meditations XVII
At this place, on this day, one month following the bomb blast near the Lal Masjid, two months following the bomb blast at the
Embassy of Denmark, and seven months following the assassination of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Mohtarma Benazir Bhotto, in the midst of terrifying signals of the breakdown of human relations, I understand my mission not as a sign of confrontation in a satanical ”War of Cultures”, but as a heartfelt statement of tolerance and respect for the religious beliefs and traditions of my friends and neighbors in Pakistan, a statement that I make where I feel it is needed most, here in the Melody Market and now. For this solemn occasion I have chosen three voices of moral authority, one is perhaps the most famous transcendental poet from the Christian tradition of the West and two are from the Muslim traditions of the subcontinent: one is a holy man and one a poet, both are well loved in Pakistan and in India. All three voices re-echo my fervent wish that men of good will irrevocably renounce the madness of indiscriminate destruction and the ever increasing brutalization of human society:
Bol, ki lab azad hai tere
Bol, zaban ab tak teri hai
Tera sutva jism hai tera
Bol, ki ja ab tak teri hai
Dekh ki ahan gar ki duka mem
Tunda hai shole, surkh hai ahan
Khulne lage kuphlo ke dahane
Phaila har ek zanjir ka daman
Bol, ye thora vakt bohut hai
Jismo zaban ki maut se pahle
Bol, ki sac zinda hai ab tak
Bol, jo kuch kehana hai keh le
(Faiz Ahmad Faiz)
Speak! Your lips are free.
Speak! Your tongue is still yours.
This strong youthful body
Is still yours.
Speak! Yours life is still yours.
Look inside the smithy—
Leaping flames, red-hot iron,
Padlocks open wide
All chains disintegrate.
Speak—there is little time,
But it is enough!
Before the body
and the tongue
Speak—truth lives still.
Tell the story you have to tell!
(Translated from the Urdu by Hugh van Skyhawk)
In January, 1948, violence in the traditionally peaceful cities and countryside of the Nizam’s State, Hyderabad Deccan, increased to a level greater than had ever been seen before or since. Hindu paramilitary groups attacked Muslims at will; Muslim paramilitary groups did random violence to Hindus wherever they could. In a pattern that has since become all too familiar, families, friends,
neighborhoods and entire villages were rent asunder and destroyed in a frenzy of blood shedding which we would now call ”ethnic
Cleansing”. Set against the background of widespread violence Husein Baba Kadri (Husain Baba Qadri), a former police inspector and shaikh
(Says) of the Qadiri-silsila, published an open letter in English and Urdu to the people and leaders of the religious communities of the Deccan in Secunderabad on 8 January 1948.Underlying this passionate appeal for peace and universal brotherhood was a tradition of divine love and mutual obligation that, for centuries, had united Hindus and Muslims in the dargahs and astanas of the Deccan. It was as a custodian of this tradition of communal harmony that Husein Baba Kadri admonished the people of the Deccan to forsake violence and hatred.
Armed only with the spiritual authority of Muhammad (PBUH), the shaikh al-baraka, which resides in every Sufi-shaikh, Husein Baba placed himself between the lines of combatants and appealed to a higher moral authority than mere allegiance to one’s own community.
As a document of history the following open letter can be more fully appreciated if one keeps in mind the historical context, the spiritual and moral authority of the speaker, the sincerity of his appeal, and the need for peace that was as urgent in his society in 1948 as it is for us on this day in the Melody Market in Islamabad:
In the name of God, the Almighty, who is the most kind and compassionate, I, Durvesh Husein Baba Kadri of Ahmednagar, invite all my human brethren, irrespective of caste and creed, to understand and act on the following message of Love, Truth, and Loyalty, so that the present and future generations may attain peace and happiness on His earth and seek His grace and blessings to help each other in order
into build a peaceful and healthy nation. Oh most loving creatures of the most kind and forgiving God (Pray to his Holy Name!) what has made thee to be so cruel, untruthful and disloyal to thy own brethren?
Do all of ye know what ye are doing? Thou art causing His wrath to fall upon us through starvation. This is because ye hath no faith in thy most beloved Creator, who is the only supreme ruler of Earth and Heaven.
The present chaos throughout this country and all over the world is simply due to our present defective teachings at home and abroad, which have caused all this turmoil und unhappiness to all his human souls. If parents return their real duty of education their beloved offspring with proper training of their minds in religion till the child is capable of taking to further worldly education, things that are seen at present will very much improve and the country thou inherit as a gift to
live in by the Most High will be blessed and He will lead us towards the path of peace and happiness. Let the leaders of the countries hearken to the message. The world politics’ should now be changed to guiding the destines of the masses towards righteousness. Know thee all that thou art responsible for the welfare of the human lives only to one
Creator. All the prophets who came in the past preached for the betterment of humanity and not simply to gain power and respect because they knew that God is the most powerful and all praise and respect are due to Him.
Are ye then not the followers of those beloved prophets of the most kind God?
then change thy minds, have faith in Him, and follow the teachings of thine own prophets of whatever religion thou hath adopted, and become a blessing to thy community and to humanity at large by preaching to them the simple qualities of love, Loyalty, and Truth to thine human brethren of the country. The present disgraceful situation caused on His holy land is by the preaching on the political platforms of the countries. Ye all know that. Consult thy own conscience and from your honest opinion whether ye are guiding the innocent masses properly. Ye are really sowing the seeds of animosity, mistrust, and malice amongst your brethren of whatever caste and creed they be, and thereby ye are
losing all the love and respect of thy followers, and they are being led astray without any loving and helpful guide. Thus, all are losing the precious gift of happiness and peace [which is] necessary for human existence, which is not very long So, why not Start a new life and act on the precepts of this message? If every individual and especially the leaders of their communities don’t wake up soon to receive the showers of His blessings in the proper human way, I, Durveesh Husein Baba Kadri, warn ye all by God (in whose power is my life and it will return to Him after death) that the fate of the country is doomed. Then, wherein lie the qualities and blessings of democratic Government by the people and for the people?
I have seen enough of all that is happening. Hence, in this 47th year of my life, I am putting before ye all the simple facts of Love, Truth, and Loyalty to act and then to distribute its blessings to the communities they represent. By following the true laws of life, thou wilt not only guide thy own selves to salvation but will become a savior of humanity.
Let there be no destructive people in the working of the democratic Government. Become constructive as this is the democratic age.
Let true justice make its appearance in thy minds, so that it may act like a scepter of God the all powerful, to guide thy brethren human beings with equal shares in the happiness of the land. This will be achieved by the banishing selfishness from the minds of each and every
community, particularly by the working of Good and peaceful Government. The heads of each and every department should now become broad minded and give a proper share to the intellectuals, one and all, of the different communities in order to sever His creatures.
Every human being has a right to live safely and share in the service of the democratic age. (The sooner) such deeds and actions come into force the better, and I with confidence in my most beloved master, the Lord Almighty, say that He will shower His untold blessings upon the land on which ye all exist and will be honoured and loved by every other nation in His Kingdom of the world. Pray to His holy name. Amin.
The foregoing letter bears the following imprimatur: ”Printed by Mohamed Yasin Kadri of Secunderabad, follower of Husein Baba, for the benefit of humanity. Intizami Press, Hyderabad, Deccan.”
When the carnage in the following months of 1948 did not cease Husein Baba, in the tradition of the Malamatiya, took a baby pig and would sit together with the piglet in his now immobile former police car. When passersby remarked in outrage that sitting near to a pig was forbidden (aram) and he would become polluted by contact with the unclean animal, Husein Baba would often reply with intense scorn:
You fill up the land with pollution of your misdeeds and yet you want to censure me because of a little piglet?
In his later life Husein Baba Qadiri became widely known as a saintly person. In 1956, the honorary title of ”Saint of the Indian Army” was conferred upon him by the Indian government in Delhi. But, in keeping with the traditions of the majority of the great Sufi shaikhs of the Subcontinent, most notably, Nizam ud-Din Auliya, Husein Baba turned away from the courts of worldly power and prestige and returned to Ahmadnagar and his followers. Toward the end of his life, he would often receive his followers. Toward the end of his life, he would often receive his followers in his immobile former police car. Up to this day, Husein Baba’s followers remember his striking metaphors that use
the imagery of everyday life to express profound spiritual teachings, such as:
“O Allah! YOU are an absconder! But, after all,
I am a policemen and I will catch you!”
Husein Baba passed behind the purda of death in Ahmednagar on 29 December 1979.Like Jalal ud-Din Rumi, Madho Lal Husain of Lahore,
and many other Muslim holy men in the Subcontinent who had non-Muslim followers, his death anniversary (‘urs) is celebrated according
to the solar calendar: on the same day in the same season every year.