Historical Address To The Students & Teachers Of Azad School 

 

In 1924, a few days before I was due to be released the warder told me that I was to be transferred to Peshawar. A police escort took me to the station and we travelled as far as Khairabad, where we got down, and where I was handed over to the Peshawar Police. They had a car waiting for me to carry me for the rest of the way, but at Mardan the tyre punctured and we had to leave the car there. We then took a tonga to Charsaddah where I was produced before the Assistant Commissioner, who, at that time, was Dilawar Khan. He ordered the police to take me to my village and release me there. When we arrived at Utmanzai they set me free very near my school. The school time was just over and the boys were coming out. When they ssaw me they all came running towards me and surrounded me.

 

The people had planned to go to Attock to welcome me. From there I was to be brought back to Utmanzai on horseback in procession. But the Government was not in favour of such a bit reception; they thought it would give too much publicity to me. So they released me a few days earlier than was expected and thus nipped the plan in the bud.

 

During the three year I had spent in prison my people had taken a considerable step forward. Our school had made very good progress. The credit for this success must go entirely to the boys and the teachers. After my arrest they had gone all out to serve the country. They had taken real advantage of my imprisonment and their unstined labour was a blessing to the community.

 

The anniversary of our school was near, in fact it had been postponed till my release. It was a great success. Thousands of people attended and everyone was full of love and enthusiasm. Speeches were made, poems were recited, and on behalf of the people I was presented with a gift, and the title Fakhr-e-Afghan [1]was bestowed upon me. When I was asked to make a speech I told the gathering the story of the lion cub and the sheep.

 

“One day a lioness attacked a flock of sheep. She was pregnant and during the attack she give birth to a cub. The lioness died and her cub was left with the flock of sheep. One of the ewes adopted the cub and flock of sheep. One of the ewes adopted the cub and it grew up among the sheep. It grazed with the sheep and learnt to bleat like a sheep. One day a lion from the forest came attacked the sheep. The lion was very surprised to see a lion cub, running hither and thither with the frightened sheep, bleating like a sheep and obviously as afraid of him as the sheep. He uried to go near the cub, but it ran away. At last he succeeded in separating the lion cub from the flock and he took it to a pool. ‘Look in the water’ he told the cub, ‘and see your reflection. Your are not a sheep, you are a lion! Stop being afraid, stop bleating like a sheep. Roar like a lion!’”

 

“Oh Pathans,” I sad when I had finished the story.

 

“Oh Pathans, so also I say to you: You are not sheep, your are lions! Your are lions, but you have been brought up in slavery. Stop bleating like sheep. Roar like lions!”

 

My speech must have annoyed the Government but the people were delighted. And when the meeting came to an end they all went back to their villages; the words: “Roar like lions!” still echoing in their ears.

 

In May 1926 my elder sister was going on Haj and she requested me to go with her. I agreed and both my wife and I accompanied her.

 

We left by steamer from Karachi. Though we had tried hard we had not been able to get either first or second class accommodation, that had all been booked well in advance. So we were obliged to travel third class. It was very hot and the third class was crowded. Almost as soon as the shop left Karachi we became seasick and we could not touch any food. When the ship anchored and Cameron we went ashore and had a meal. The shop left the next morning, but then I was struck down with influenza. An Arab second class passenger may God reward him very kindly took me to his cabin and gave me his own berth, and thus saved my life. When we disembarked at Jeddah, I had recovered.

 

A guide was waiting for us and took us to his place. We had a lot of luggage and because of the guide’s carelessness it was left behind on the ship. We never recovered it. Quite possibly the guide himself had stolen it.

 

The next day we left Jeddah and went to Mecca. In Mecca the days were unbearably hot and the nights bitterly cold. Most programs were not used to that kind of climate and they suffered very much. Many fell seriously ill and died.

 

It was the year when Saudi Arabia had taken possession of Mecca and defeated the Sheriff of Mecca. The Saudi Arabian Government ruled with an iron hand and soon peace was established everywhere. During the reign of the Sheriff of Mecca there was great unrest in the country; caravans of pilgrims were robbed and the Sheriff himself used to take a share of the loot.

 

That year Saudi Arabia had invited Mohammed Ali, Shaukat Ali, Zafar Ali Khan and many other leaders from India to take part in a conference of Muslims from all over the world. They arrived while I was in Mecca and I also participated in the conference, which, however, served no particular purpose. No problem of any importance was discussed and instead of promoting harmony the conference ended in discord.

 

After the Hajj my sister went to Medina, and from there she returned home. I was still suffering from the after-effect of influenza and so my wife and I decided to go to Taif, which is a very pleasant and cool place and where I hoped to regain my health.

 

All the beautiful bungalows the Turks built in Taif have now fallen into ruins.

 

We were fortunate, for on the way to Taif we net a Pathan who lived there, and he took us to his very comfortable home where we spent a few peaceful and happy days. Both he and his wife spoke Pashtu, but not their children.

 

One day I had an interesting experience. I was taking a walk outside the town when a long-bearded man in an embroidered robe called me: “Oh Sheikh! Come here!” when I was quite near he said:

 

“ I can show you a hair from the beard of the Prophet and stone that bears his footprint.”

 

I replied: “I have not come here to see relics; I have come here to look for the patience and the courage of the Holy Prophet, who braved the journey through the desert from Mecca and came here for the welfare of the people of Taif. And how did the people of Taif receive him? They threw stones at him, set their dogs at him and beat him. But in spite of all this cruelty the prophet did not despair of the people, but he prayed for them, saying: “Oh God, be Thou their Guide and show them Thy ways.”

 

The bearded gentleman did not reply.

 

From Taif we returned to Mecca where we spent a few days; then we went to Jeddah and a few days later to medina.

 

We were six men and four women in our caravna. Of course there were no motorcars there in those days. We rode camels and travelled by night. All around us was desert, silence and peace.

 

We stayed in medina for a few days and from there we intended to go to Jerusalem. We first went to Rabak which is only a small town, where we boarded a ship that took us to Suez and we covered the last lap of our journey to Jerusalem by train.

 

A very sad thing happened in Jerusalem. My wife fell down a staircase and died. She left me two children, a son and a daughter. Losing my life’s companion so suddenly was a terrible shochk to me. I never married again, though I was still a young man. I decided that there would be no room for another marriage in my life of dedication to the service of my country.

 

I spent several days in Palestine and visited all the famous and historical places. Then I travgelled in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. I made Pilgrimages to Najf and Karbola and after a few days’ sty at Baghdad I went to Basra and took a steamer to Karachi. But what a difference there was between this ship and the ship we had started our journey on! This time I travelled in comfort.

 

I stayed at Karachi for only a few days and then returned to Utmanzai.

 

 

 

[1] Pride of the Pathans.

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