58. The Critical Period for the Musalmans of India
In so far as the evolution of religious ideas is concerned there are principally three stages in the development of a community:
1) The Attitude of scepticism towards traditional religion – a revolt against dogma.
2) But the need of religion as a social force of great value is at last felt and then begins the second stage – an attempt to reconcile religion with reason.
3) This attempt leads necessarily to difference of opinion which may have awful consequences for the very existence of a community. Difference of opinion, if not honest (and unfortunately it is generally not honest), must lead to utter disintegration. The Musalmans of India are now in the third stage; or, perhaps, partly in the second partly in the third. This period in the life of our community appears to me to be extremely critical; but I am glad that there [are] forces of a different nature at work which have a tendency to preserve the solidarity of the community – though their influence, I fear, will be only temporary.