A MAN OF GOD!
In December 1928 Abdul Ghaffarkhan (Bachkhan)with some of his colleagues went to Calcuttato attend a khilafat conference.It revealed a serious rift between the Ali brother and the Punjabi leaders.During a night session a Punjabi leader violently criticized Maulana Muhammad Ali, who was sitting next to Ghaffarkhan on the dais.He could not put with it, he lost his temper and hurled abuses at the Punjabi speaker.Another Punjabi leader, who too was sitting on the dais, suddenly stood up, flashed a knife and reviled Maulana Mohammed Ali.There was uproar on the platform.Ghaffarkhan colleagues intervened and rescued Mahomed Ali.
The Congress session was being held simultaneously in Calcutta.In his presidential address at the Khilafat Conference, Mahomed Ali had attacked the Hindus, ridiculing their civilization, culture customs and manners. It was an unpleasant experience for Abdul Ghaffar Khan and he decided to attend the Congress session. It was a novel experience for him: "The subjects Committee meeting was being addressed by Gandhiji and a haughty yought interrupted him repeatedly with remarks.Gandhiji did not lose him temper, he roared with laughter and continued his speech. I was greatly impressed and, on return to my attention to composure of Mahatma Ghandhi, the leader of the Hindus, that stood in contrast to the behavior of our Muslim leader, Maulana Mahomed Ali.
"Some of us had a discussion with Mahomed Ali. I narrated to him how Ghandhiji, in spite of the interruptions and criticism, delivered his speech in good humour, unperturbed. You are our leader I said to Mahomed Ali, and we wish you to grow in stature. How nice it would be if you cultivate some tolerance and selfrestraint!' He flared up and said: 'Oh, wild Pathans have come to teach Mahomed Ali. 'He left the place in a huff.We were hurt at his behavior. I did not attend the Khilafat session any nore and went back to my village".
After Amanullah's fall in 1928 power came in to hand of a freebooter, known as backa-e-Saquao and Nadirkhan had come from France in an attempt to recover the throne for the Muhammadzais. He and his brother were acting in concert and it was widely assumed that they were acting on Amanullah's behalf.Nadir, like Amanullah, was a Muhammadzai. Mahsuds and Waziris forme the spearhead of Nadirkhan`s advance; it was they who took Kabul for him and made it possible for the Durrani dynasty to be restored. Commenting on these events, Abdul Ghaffarkhan writes: "Amanullahkhan worked for the welfare and prosperity for the welfare and prosperity of the Pukhtoons. But they rose in rebellion, unable to distinguish between a friend and a foe, and banished him from his country. This was sheer ingratitude. Ingratitude is a great crime in the eyes of God who,therefore, punished them by thrusting Bach-e-saquao of the country and community came to a halt and they headed towards disaster. We,the Pukhtoons, considered the ruination of Afghanistan as our own. the British ruined Afghanistan on our account, because the propperity of Afghanistan would have affected us.And this the British did not want. we did our best, with man and money, to help Afghanistan and continued to do so till Nadirkhan triumphed. At the time of chaos I toured extensively to plead the cause of Afghanistan. In the Punjab I met Iqbal and some leaders. The Khilafat colleagues asked me: "Why did you meet Iqbal? He is a worthless fellow, he only writes coupplets". After his death everybody praised him. It is a common practice in the world that living nations Honour living Persons and decadent nations Honour the dead. we, Muslim, always Honour the dead and have no appreciation of the living.
"From Lahore I went to Lucknow, where a congress metting was being held in 1929. Here for the first time I met Gandhiji and jawaharlalji. I was not acquainted with them, but jawaharlalji had intimate relations with Dr.khan Sahib. They were in England together and studied in the London University. My brother had given men a letter of introduction to jawaharlalji. I discussed Afghanistan affairs at length with jawaharlalji.
"Then I went to Delhi. One Friday I met Mahommed Ali in a masque. He was a decent man and very kind to me. His brother, Shaukat Ali, was not a desirable person and he misled his brother, especially, on the quesion of Afghanistan. On that account I was annoyed with him and avoided metting him. When he sighted me, he approachedme with a smile and said, 'we don't care for the Pukhtoons.I retorted'we too do not care for such leaders who are misled by others. Please, remember that you are saying the same things about Amanullah as the Bristishers. Embracing me warmly he said, 'brother, tell me the facts.' He then took me to his house.
"On the eve of Amanullah's departure to Europe, Shaukat Ali had arranged a grand reception and presented him with a welcome address. I was present on the Occasion. It is alleged that Shaukat Ali did not receive the amount of he expected from Amanullahkhan and was, therefore, displeased with him.
"A few days later,I received a telegram from Nadirkhan about his conquest of Kabul. We celebrated the happy occasion by taking out two impressive processions from the northern and the southern points of Hashtnagar. They converged at Utmanzai, where we held a mammoth meeting. I told the audience that there are only two means by which a nation progess: religion and patriotism. Though America and Europe have neglected religion, they are full of national spirit. They have prospered.The cause of national and religious spirit. A great revolution is in the offing, but you are not even aware of it. During my recent visit to the sub-continent, Inoticed that men and women were fully prepared to serve the nation. leave aside women, even our men are not aware of the interests of the country and community. the revolution is like a flood. A nation can prosper thereby and can perish as well. A nation that is wide awake, that cultivates brotherhood, comradely feelings and national spirit, is sure to benefit through revolution. A nation that lacks these qualities, is swept away by the flood. you are mistaken if you think that a prosperous nation drops from heaven. A nation progresses that produces people who deny themselves leisure and comfort and stake their social status and future prospects for the advancement of their nation. We have no such men among us, and, therefore, we are backward. Those who march forward, know that their real prosperity lies in the progress of their nation. We look only to our self interest and let the country go to the devil. We fail to understand that our own individual prosperity does not lead to the national prosperity. When a nation prospers, every citizenbenefits thereby. We look only to our own personal gain. Aconcern for isolated existence is the way of the beasts. the animals create their own shelters, choose their mates and rear their progeny. How are we superior beings if we do the same? if your want the progress and prosperity of your country, you should lead a community life instead of an individual existence.
"I have heard that Amanullahkhan used to say, 'I am the revolutionary king of the Pukhtoons'. In fact, it was he who had infused the revolutionary spirit in us. And, indeed, we have benefited more from it then the Afghans themselves because they were sleeping, we were awake.
"the meeting had a great impact on the audience. The following day a young man visited me and said that he wanted to found an organization to serve the Pukhtoon community and bring about reforms.We held discussions and consultations over it. We already had an organization, 'Anjuman-Islah-ul-Afaghina'. It was working for the spread of education and we decided that it should continue to do this very important work. Toremove the other social drawbacks from our backward community, we founded another organization, 'Khudai Khidmatgar',the Servants of God'. At first it was a completely non-political organization, but the British policy of oppression compelled it to participate in politics. It is a paradox that the British were instrumental in bringing us and the Congress together.
"Among us prevailed family feuds, intrigues, enmities,evil customs, quarrels and riots. Whatever the Pukhtoon earned was squandered on harmful customs and practice and on litigations. Underfed and underclothed, Pukhtoons led a miserable life. Nor were we prosperous traders or good agriculturists. After prolonged exchange of views, in September 1929, we succeeded in forming the 'Khudai Khidmatgar' organization. We called it so, in order to fulfill a particular purpose; we wanted to infuse among the Pukhtoons the spirit and community and country in the name of God. We were wanting in that spirit. the Pukhtoons believed in violence and that too not against aliens but their own brethren. The near and dear ones were the victims of violence. The intrigues and dissensions tore them asunder. Another great drawback was the spirit of vengeance and lack of character and good habits among them.
"One who aspired to become Khudai Khidmatgar, declared on solemn oath:'I am a Khudai Khidmatgar, and as God needs no service I shall serve him by serving. His creature selflessly. I shall never use violence, I shall not retaliate or take revenge, and Ishall forgive any one who indulges in oppression and excesses against me. Ishall not be a party to any intrigue, family feuds and enmity, and Ishall treat every Pukhtoons as my brother and comrade. Ishall give up evil customs and practices.Ishall lead a simple life, do good and refrain from wrong doing. I shall develop good character and cultivate good habits. I shall not lead an idle life. I shall expect no reward for my service. Ishall be fearless and be prepared for any sacrifice".
Abdul Gaffar Khan went from village to village to the Pukhtoons.His companions found that their white clothes got easily dirty. So, they decided to colour them. One of them took his shirt, trousers and turban to a local tannery and dipped them in the solution of pine bark prepared for hides. The result was a dark, brown red. The others did the same. When next the group went out, the unusual colour attracted the eye at once. The people left their ploughs in the fields and came to have a look at the red clad men. They came, saw and were conquered. Abdul Ghaffar Khan adopted the red colour for his workers, Khudai Khidmatgars, and that is why they were known as the Red Shirts also. Their aim was freedom, their motive was service.
this remarkable institution, unique in many respects, bears testimony to Abdul Ghaffar Khan's genius for organizing his people. He set up a network of committees of the local people, called jirgas, in every village. Then there were the committees, for a cluster of villages, called Tappa Committees. Next came the tehsil and district committees. Above all there was provincial Jirga, or the unofficial parliament of the Pukhtoons. All these committees were elected bodies. In the volunteer organization, however, the system of election was not introduced, because here the discipline mattered most; and to avoid factious feeling,Ghaffar Khan (Bach Khan) himself nominated the Salar-e-Azam or the Khudai Khidmatgars. This officer, in turn appointed officers who were placed in charge of different units. All such officers and men rendered free service, and paid even for their uniforms. These volunteers were always the greatest source of strength to the organization, they formed the spearhead of the movement and carried out its decrees. They were pledged to free and selfless service and tocheerfully make the greatest sacrifice that occasion demanded. The volunteers had their own flags: red in the beginning, later tri-colour and bands: bagpipe and drums. The men wore red uniforms and the women black. They maintained fashion. But they bore no arms, carried no weapons, not even a lathi.
The Khudai Khidmatgar movement aimed at teacing the Pukhtoons industry, economy and self-respect and the fear of God which "banishes all fear".
The life saga of a sensible, kind hearted man and unstinted man, generosity to all, with a burning hatred of oppression and a passion for justice came to an end at the age of 98 and out of which 35 years he spent jail. So, every third day of his life he was in prison. His soul departed on 18th january, 1988 and he was buried in Jalalabad of Afghanistan. He is no more with us but he will be remembered for his meritorious services and services and sacrifices.