Why was Muhammad Ehsanul Huq Affendi’s pamphlet forfeited by the British?

Story by  Saquib Salim | Posted by  Aasha Khosa • 1 Months ago
Rabindranath Tagore's Hindu-Muslim Raksha Bandhan festival
Rabindranath Tagore's Hindu-Muslim Raksha Bandhan festival


Saquib Salim

“The Governor hereby declares to be forfeited to his Majesty all copies, wherever found, of a pamphlet in Bengali entitled ‘Bartaman Rajnaitik Sankat o Musalmaner Kartabya’ (Present political crisis and duty of Muslims) by Muhammad Ehsanul Huq Affendi of Sonarai, Domar, Rangpur and printed at the Kali Krishna Machine Press, Rangpur, on the ground that the said pamphlet contains-matter which brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt and excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in British India” M. K Vellodi, Chief Secretary to the Government, wrote this to the Chief Secretaries of all the provinces in British India on 7 August 1939. 

Slice of History

Who was Ehsanul Huq Affendi? Why was this pamphlet banned? Why the British Government felt threatened by a six-page article?

The biggest fear for the British since 1857 was Hindu-Muslim unity. They sponsored ‘leaders’ who kept lighting up communal hatred thus dividing the country. Any attempt to fight against divisive politics was seen as seditious. Ehsanul was a local Congress leader from Bengal who was fighting against the communal politics of the Muslim League. Congress of those days comprised the nationalists of diverse ideologies. Marxists, Hindus, Muslims, socialists, Akalis, Harijans, Adivasis, etc. agreeing upon national unity were part of Congress. 

The pamphlet was written to warn common Bengali Muslims against the evil designs of the Muslim League. Ehsanul argued that communal allegations put against Congress and Hindus were baseless. He wrote that in 1888, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his supporters asked for a fatwa from Ulema hoping that they would prohibit Muslims from joining the party. After knowing the details of Congress, Ehasanul wrote, “in that very year of 1888 hundreds of Ulemas and perfect saints such as Enamul Ulema Kutubul Aktab Hazrat Shah Rashid Ahmed Gangohi, a bright sample of ‘the family of gracious saints’, and Shaikhul Hind Hazrat Maulana Mahamadul Hasan by publishing a book named 'Nasratul Abrar' had proclaimed its propriety.

And not only did they proclaim its propriety but they also carried on all through their life non-violent Satyagraha against British imperialism. Today also, Hazrat Nayebe, the universally respected teacher of the Moslem world, Shaikhul Hind Allama Madni, Mufti-e-Hind Allama Kefayetulla, Sobhanul Hind Allama Ahmad Sayid, Hazrat Maulana Habibur Rahman, the tiger of Punjab, Mufti-e-Azam Maulana Mohammad Nayim Ludhianvi, Maulana Shah Ataulla Shah Bokhari, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Saiyed Solaiman Nadvi and many other saints and Ulemas, world famous fighters for religion are repeatedly proclaiming its propriety and have themselves been connected with it for a long time past."

Ehsanul asked the Muslim League how could they claim that common Hindus had oppressed common Muslims, He asked the Muslim League who was keeping Muslims educationally backward, snatching away their lands, and trying to convert them with a new education system. He wrote, "Moslems, say, say truly who they are. Are they the 22 crores Hindus or the British government itself?"

Ehsanul blamed Muslim League for misleading Muslims in the name of Islam. He concluded with his remarks "they (Muslim League) have begun to infuriate the simple-minded Moslems in rural areas against the Congress (and Hindus) by raising the cry of Islam in danger. I hope that Moslems will thoroughly scrutinise everything and then decide their duty and will never bring about their ruin under the influence of any temporary excitement."

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Ehsanul had committed a grave crime. He tried to attack the very foundation of the British Empire, i.e. the religious division of India. The pamphlet was banned and its copies were forfeited to save the Empire.