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When Bi Amma (mother of Ali Brothers) addressed public along with Mahatma Gandhi in a veil (Burkha)

(Following is the diary entry made by Mahadev Desai, secretary of Mahatma Gandhi, regarding the Moradabad conference (10th October, 1920) which proceeded with Gandhi’s visit to Aligarh. The conference was addressed by Motilal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malviya, Shaukat Ali, Mohammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, and others. Abadi Begum, better known as Bi Amma also addressed the gathering.) 

Bi Amma: The Forgotten Mother India

The whole meeting stood up to hail the advent on the platform of Shaukat Ali’s mother (Bi Amma/Abadi Begum) covered with a veil. In the beginning, Shaukat Ali also kept standing to repeat loudly what she was speaking in a low tone. It was thus Shaukat Ali who repeated aloud her first sentence: “It is not within the pale of veiled ladies to attend such gatherings, but the time has now come when not only old ladies like myself but even young girls will take part in them.” The people acclaimed this sentence with loud cheers. 

Abadi Bano Begum: Bi Amma, A Woman Who Became One Of Freedom Struggles Most Powerful Voices

As if the applause infused spirit into her voice, she herself began to speak loudly. She must have spoken for hardly two or three minutes but her short speech electrified the whole audience. She said, “I ask you, who is more powerful, God or the Government? Who has created you? What reputation will you gain today by saving your skin and your property? Gather courage. Remember God. Nothing is higher than Islam to a Mussulman. My sons are not mine; they are God’s. He may protect them or kill them, but I have given them to His charge. Fear God. Why fear man? May God give you the strength to do all that keeps bright the honor of yourself, your country, and your religion. Let Hindus and Muslims unite; the Government cannot then destroy you. And, after all, death is a certainty.”

Trial of Maulana Shaukat Ali at Karachi Court

From a mere perusal of these few, crisp sentences that touched the heart to its depth, one can imagine what effect they must have produced. When votes were taken, only two or three hands were raised against the resolution. Declaring the resolution passed, Babu Bhagwandas very chivalrously remarked, “We have been blessed today, not by this dowager mother of the Ali brothers, but, through her, by that Divine Mother who has two sons, the Hindu and the Muslim. All’s well with us now.”

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Saquib Salim

Saquib Salim is a well known historian under whose supervision various museums (Red Fort, National Library, IFFI, Jallianwala Bagh etc.) were researched. To his credit Mr. Salim has more than 400 published articles on history, politics, culture and literature in English and Hindi. Before pursuing his research and masters in modern Indian History from JNU, he was an electrical engineering student at AMU. Presently, he works as a freelance/ independent history researcher, writer and works at www.awazthevoice.in