(Following is the diary entry made by Mahadev Desai, secretary of Mahatma Gandhi, regarding the Moradabad conference (10th October, 1920) which proceeded 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.)
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.
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 honour 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.”
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.”