(This LECTURE was given by the Hon’ble Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, before a large and very influential audience of Muslims in Lucknow, on 18th December, 1887, at 8.30 P.M., in the Baradari, Kaisarbagh, on the attitude the Mahomedan community ought to assume towards the Government, the political questions of the day, and the Bengali movement. This was the first time that Syed Ahmed Khan expressed his political views from a public forum.)
GENTLEMEN, –I am not given to speaking on politics, and I do not recollect having ever previously given a political lecture. My attention has always been directed towards the education of my brother Mahomedans, for from education I anticipate much benefit for my people, for Hindustan, and for the Government. But at the present time circumstances have arisen which make it necessary for me, I think, to tell my brother Musalmans clearly what my opinions are. The object, gentlemen, of this lecture is to explain the attitude which the Mahomedan community ought to adopt with regard to the political movements of the time. I am not going to give a philosophical discourse, nor to speak of those abstract questions on political economy which would require many lectures fully to deal with; but I am simply going to express my opinions in a plain and straightforward manner, leaving it to everyone who hears me to agree with me or differ from me. The reason why I stand here to address you today is because there has grown up in India a political agitation, and it is necessary to determine what action should be taken by the Mahomedan community with regard to it. Although my own thoughts and desires are towards my own community, yet I shall discuss whether or not this agitation is useful for the country and for the other nations who live in it. If it be useful, we must follow it; but if dangerous for the country or our nation, we must hold aloof.
Before I enter on this subject, let me briefly describe the methods of rule adopted by our Government, which has now been here for nearly a hundred years. Its method is this: to keep in its own hands all questions of foreign policy and all matters affecting its army. I hope that we, who are the subjects of the Empire, will not seek to interfere in those matters which Government has set apart as its own. If the Government fight Afghanistan or conquer Burma, it is no business of ours to criticise its policy. Our interests will not suffer from these matters being left in the hands of Government. But we are concerned with matters affecting internal policy; and we have to observe what method Government has adopted for dealing with them. Government has made a Council for making laws affecting the lives, property, and comfort of the people. For this Council she selects from all Provinces those officials who are best acquainted with the administration and the condition of the people, and also some Raïses who, on account of their high social position, are worthy of a seat in that assembly.
Some people may ask — Why should they be chosen on account of social position instead of ability? On this, gentlemen, I will say a few words. It is a great misfortune — and I ask your pardon for saying it — that the landed gentry of India have not the trained ability which makes them worthy of occupying those seats. But you must not neglect those circumstances which compel Government to adopt this policy. It is very necessary that for the Viceroy’s Council the members should be of high social position. I ask you — Would our aristocracy like that a man of low caste or insignificant origin, though he be a B.A. or M.A., and have the requisite ability, should be in a position of authority above them and have power in making laws that affect their lives and property? Never! Nobody would like it. (Cheers.) A seat in the Council of the Viceroy is a position of great honour and prestige. None but a man of good breeding can the Viceroy take as his colleague, treat as his brother, and invite to entertainments at which he may have to dine with Dukes and Earls. Hence no blame can be attached to Government for making those great Raïses members of the Council. It is our great misfortune that our Raïses are such that they are unable to devise laws useful for the country.
The method of procedure in the Council is this. If any member introduce a subject of importance and difficulty, a commission is appointed which collects evidence and digests it. The matter is discussed in every newspaper, and memorials are invited from Associations. The Council then discusses the matter, every member speaking his views with great vigour and earnestness, more even than was displayed in the discussion on the third resolution in the Mahomedan Educational Congress, advocating what he thinks necessary for the welfare of the country; and as regardless of the Viceroy’s presence as if he were a figure of white stone. I have had the honour of being in this Council. I do not recollect any matter of importance concerning which ten or twenty memorials were not sent in. A Select Committee was then appointed, which read through these memorials and discussed them at length, many of which on consideration turned out to be thorough nonsense. Extracts from Urdu papers were also considered. Although not in my presence, yet often amendments suggested by these memorials have been adopted. This is the method of our Government. After this the law is passed and sent to the Secretary of State, who is assisted by the Council of State, which consists of men of the highest ability, who have lived for a long time in India and have often held all offices, from that of Assistant Collector to Lieutenant-Governor. If they think it expedient it is passed, otherwise a short note of four lines cancels it. Often people make objections to the laws so passed, and in some cases they are perhaps right; but in the majority of cases, as far as my experience goes, those very people who sit in their houses and make objections would, if they had been on the Viceroy’s Council, have supported them. Many details appear wrong on superficial consideration, but when all the circumstances and difficulties are taken into account, they are seen to be right. In conclusion, whether the laws be good or bad, no one can say that Government acts independently of the wishes and opinions of its subjects. Often it adopts some of the views expressed in newspapers and memorials. Can we say that Government, in the method it has adopted for legislation, acts without regard to the opinions of the people? Can we say that we have no share in the making of the laws? Most certainly not. (Cheers.)
There is now another great duty of Government. That is, that in whatever country Government establishes its dominion, that dominion should be made strong, firm, and secure. I believe that if any of my friends were made Viceroy; he would be as loyal to Her Majesty the Queen-Empress of India as is our present Viceroy, Lord Dufferin. And his first duty would be to see that the Empire of Her Majesty were made so firm that no enemy, external, or internal, could shake it. (Cheers.) If it were my fortune to be Viceroy; I speak from my heart when I say I would not be equally, but more, anxious to see the rule of the Queen placed on a firm basis. (Cheers.) It is a first principle of Empire that it is the supreme duty of everyone, whether Hindustani or Englishman, in whose power it rests, to do what he can to strengthen the Government of Her Majesty the Queen. The second duty of Government is to preserve peace, to give personal freedom, to protect life and property; to punish criminals, and to decide civil disputes. Now, everyone will admit that Government completely fulfills its duty in this respect.
Many people think that the laws have become too numerous; and consequently that lawsuits have become more complicated, and thus lead to disputes between the zamindar and the kashtkar. But this is the opinion of the critics who sit in their houses, who if they sat on the Viceroy’s Council would change their views. The multiplicity of laws depends upon the condition of the country and of its people. New companies and new industries are springing into existence. New and unforeseen legal rights have arisen which are not provided for in the Mahomedan law. Hence, when the country is changing at such a rate, it is absolutely necessary that new laws should be brought forward to deal with the new circumstances. Government does not want to increase the number of laws, but when the conditions of the country change, it becomes unavoidable. Taking all these things into account, I cannot but think that there is no requirement of the country that cannot be brought to the notice of Government. And nothing can prevent our expressing our views on the subject and being heard by Government. So that whatever comfort we can experience under any Government, we have under the British Government. (Cheers.)
I come now to the main subject on which I wish to address you. That is The National Congress and the demand that which body makes of Government. I cannot allude to its proposals in detail because, as far as I am aware, there are forty-nine of them, and the time at my disposal is short. I must therefore select the most important. That about which the greatest agitation has taken place is the following. When the Government of India passed out of the hands of the East India Company into those of the Queen, a law was passed saying that all subjects of Her Majesty, whether white or black, European or Indian, should be equally eligible for appointments. This was confirmed by the Queen’s Proclamation. We have to see whether, in the rules made for admission to civil appointments, any exception has been made to this or not; whether we have been excluded from any appointments for which we are fitted. Nobody can point out a case in which for any appointment a distinction of race has been made. It is true that for the Covenanted Civil Service a special set of rules has been made; namely, that candidates have to pass a competitive examination in England. Perhaps it will occur to everyone that this examination ought not to be held in England, and the proposal about which the greatest agitation has taken place is that it should be held in India. And to this is added another proposal that all posts in the subordinate service, from that of Tahsildar to Subordinate Judge, should also be given by competitive examination.
I do not think it necessary for me on this occasion to discuss the question why the competitive examination is held in England, and what would be the evils arising from its transference to India. But I am going to speak of the evils likely to follow the introduction into India of the competitive principle. I do not wish to speak in the interest of my own co-religionists, but to express faithfully whether I think the country is prepared for competitive examination or not. What is the result of competitive examination in England? You know that men of all social positions, sons of Dukes or Earls, of darzies and people of low rank, are equally allowed to pass this examination. Men of both high and low family come to India in the Civil Service. And it is the universal belief that it is not expedient for Government to bring the men of low rank; and that the men of good social position treat Indian gentlemen with becoming politeness, maintain the prestige of the British race, and impress on the hearts of the people a sense of British justice, and are useful both to Government and to the country. But those who come from England, come from a country so far removed from our eyes that we do not know whether they are the sons of Lords or Dukes or of darzies; and therefore if those who govern us are of humble rank, we cannot perceive the fact. But as regards Indians, the case is different. Men of good family would never like to trust their lives and property to people of low rank with whose humble origin they are well acquainted. (Cheers.)
Leave this a moment, and consider what are the conditions which make the introduction into a country of competitive examinations expedient, and then see whether our own country is ready for it or not. This is no difficult question of political economy. Everyone can understand that the first condition for the introduction of competitive examination into a country is that all people in that country, from the highest to thc lowest, should belong to one nation. In such a country no particular difficulties are likely to arise. The second case is that of a country in which there are two nationalities which have become so united as to be practically one nation. England and Scotland are a case in point. In the past many wars were waged between those countries, and many acts of bravery were done on both sides; but those times have gone, and they are now like one nation. But this is not the case with our country, which is peopled with different nations. Consider the Hindus alone. The Hindus of our Province, the Bengalis of the East, and the Mahrattas of the Deccan, do not form one nation. If in your opinion the people of India do form one nation, then no doubt competitive examination may be introduced; but if this be not so, then competitive examination is not suited to the country. The third case is that of a country in which there are different nationalities which are on an equal footing as regards the competition, whether they take advantage of it or not. Now, I ask you, have Mahomedans attained to such a position as regards higher English education, which is necessary for higher appointments, as to put them on a level with Hindus or not? Most certainly not. Now I take Mahomedans and the Hindus of our Province together, and ask whether they are able to compete with the Bengalis or not? Most certainly not. When this is the case, how can competitive examination be introduced into our country? (Cheers.)
Think for a moment what would be the result if all appointments were given by competitive examination. Over all races, not only over Mahomedans but over Rajas of high position and the brave Rajputs who have not forgotten the swords of their ancestors, would be placed as ruler a Bengali who at sight of a table knife would crawl under his chair. (Uproarious cheers and laughter.) There would remain no part of the country in which we should see at the tables of justice and authority any face except those of Bengalis. I am delighted to see the Bengalis making progress, but the question is — What would be the result on the administration of the country? Do you think that the Rajput and the fiery Pathan, who are not afraid of being hanged or of encountering the swords of the police or the bayonets of the army, could remain in peace under the Bengalis? (Cheers.) This would be the outcome of the proposal if accepted. Therefore if any of you — men of good position, Raïses, men of the middle classes, men of noble family to whom God has given sentiments of honour — if you accept that the country should groan under the yoke of Bengali rule and its people lick the Bengali shoes, then, in the name of God! jump into the train, sit down, and be off to Madras, be off to Madras! (Loud cheers and laughter.) But if you think that the prosperity and honour of the country would be ruined, then, brothers, sit in your houses, inform Government of your circumstances, and bring your wants to its notice in a calm and courteous manner.
The second demand of the National Congress is that the people should elect a section of the Viceroy’s Council. They want to copy the English House of Lords and the House of Commons. The elected members are to be like members of the House of Commons; the appointed members like the House of Lords. Now, let us suppose the Viceroy’s Council [to be] made in this manner. And let us suppose first of all that we have universal sufferage, as in America, and that everybody, chamars and all, have votes. And first suppose that all the Mahomedan electors vote for a Mahomedan member, and all Hindu electors for a Hindu member; and now count how many votes the Mahomedan members have and how many the Hindu. It is certain the Hindu members will have four times as many, because their population is four times as numerous. Therefore we can prove by mathematics that there will be four votes for the Hindu to every one vote for the Mahomedan. And now how can the Mahomedan guard his interests? It would be like a game of dice in which one man had four dice, and the other only one.
In the second place, suppose that the electorate be limited. Some method of qualification must be made; for example, that people with a certain income shall be electors. Now, I ask you, O Mahomedans! Weep at your condition! Have you such wealth that you can compete with the Hindus? Most certainly not. Suppose, for example, that an income of Rs. 5,000 a year be fixed on, how many Mahomedans will there be? Which party will have the larger number of votes? I put aside the case that by a rare stroke of luck a blessing comes through the roof, and some Mahomedan is elected. In the normal case no single Mahomedan will secure a seat in the Viceroy’s Council. The whole Council will consist of Babu So-and-so Mitter, Babu So-and-So Ghose, and Babu So-and-so Chuckerbutty. (Laughter.) Again, what will be the result for the Hindus of our Province, though their condition be better than that of the Mahomedans? What will be the result for those Rajputs, the swords of whose ancestors are still wet with blood? And what will be the result for the peace of the country? Is there any hope that we and our brave brothers the Rajputs can endure it in silence?
Now, we will suppose a third kind of election. Suppose a rule to be made that a suitable number of Mahomedans and a suitable number of Hindus are to be chosen. I am aghast when I think on what grounds this number is likely to be determined. Of necessity, proportion to total population will be taken. So there will be one number for us to every four for the Hindus. No other condition can be laid down. Then they will have four votes and we shall have one.
Now, I will make a fourth supposition. Leaving aside the question as to the suitability of members with regard to population, let us suppose that a rule is laid down that half the members are to be Mahomedan and half Hindus, and that the Mahomedans and Hindus are each to elect their own men. Now, I ask you to pardon me for saying something which I say with a sore heart. In the whole nation there is no person who is equal to the Hindus in fitness for the work. I have worked in the Council for four years, and I have always known well that there can be no man more incompetent or worse fitted for the post than myself. (“No, No!”) And show me the man who, when elected, will leave his business and undertake the expense of living in Calcutta and Simla, leaving alone the trouble of the journeys. Tell me who there is of our nation in the Punjab, Oudh, and North-Western Provinces who will leave his business, incur these expenses, and attend the Viceroy’s Council for the sake of his countryrnen. When this is the condition of your nation, is it expedient for you to take part in this business, on the absurd supposition that the demands of the Congress would, if granted, be beneficial for the country? Spurn such foolish notions. It is certainly not expedient to adopt this cry —Chalo Madras! Chalo Madras!— without thinking of the consequences.
Besides this there is another important consideration, which is this. Suppose that a man of our own nationality were made Viceroy of India; that is, the deputy of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen-Empress. Could such a person grant demands like these, keeping in view the duty of preserving the Empire on a firm and secure basis? Never! Then how absurd to suppose that the British Government can grant these requests! The result of these unrealisable and impossible proposals can be only this: that for a piece of sheer nonsense, the hearts of everybody will be discontented with Government; and everybody will believe that Government exerts over us a tyrannical rule, and turns a deaf ear to our requests. And thus anger and excitement will spread throughout the people, and the peace of the country will be destroyed.
Everybody knows well that the agitation of the Bengalis is not the agitation of the whole of India. But suppose it were the agitation of the whole of India, and that every nation had taken part in it, do you suppose the Government is so weak that it would not suppress it, but must needs be itself overwhelmed? Have you not seen what took place in the Mutiny? It was a time of great difficulty. The army had revolted; some budmashes had joined it; and Government wrongly believed that the people at large were taking part in the rebellion. I am the man who attacked this wrong notion, and while Government was hanging its officials [actually, “while the Government officials were hanging people”], I printed a pamphlet [“The Causes of the Indian Revolt”], and told the Government that it was entirely false to suppose that the people at large were rebellious. But in spite of all these difficulties, what harm could this rebellion do to Government? Before the [reinforcing] English troops had landed she had regained her authority from shore to shore. Hence, what benefit is expected from all this for the country, and what revolution in the Government can we produce? The only results can be to produce a useless uproar, to raise suspicions in Government, and to bring back again that time which we experienced thirty or thirty-one years ago. This is on the supposition that by all of us coming together we could do something; but if you take the agitation as it is, what could it accomplish? The case of Ireland is held up as an example. I will not discuss the question whether that agitation is right or wrong. I will only point out that there are at this moment in Ireland thousands of men ready to give up their lives at the point of the sword. Men of high position who sympathise with that movement fear neither the prison nor the bayonets of the police. Will you kindly point out to me ten men among our agitators who will consent to stand face to face with the bayonets? When this is the case, then what sort of an uproar is this, and is it of such a nature that we ought to join it?
We ought to consider carefully our own circumstances and the circumstances of Government. If Government entertains unfavourable sentiments towards our community, then I say with the utmost force that these sentiments are entirely wrong. At the same time if we are just, we must admit that such sentiments would be by no means unnatural. I repeat it. If Government entertains these bad sentiments, it is a sign of incompetence and folly. But I say this: we ought to consider whether Government can entertain such thoughts or not. Has she any excuse for such suspicions, or not? I reply that she certainly has. Think for a moment who you are. What is this nation of ours? We are those who ruled India for six or seven hundred years. (Cheers.) From our hands the country was taken by Government into its own. Is it not natural then for Government to entertain such thoughts? Is Government so foolish as to suppose that in seventy years we have forgotten all our grandeur and our empire? Although, should Government entertain such notions, she is certainly wrong; yet we must remember she has ample excuse. We do not live on fish, nor are we afraid of using a knife and fork lest we should cut our fingers. (Cheers.) Our nation is of the blood of those who made not only Arabia, but Asia and Europe, to tremble. It is our nation which conquered with its sword the whole of India, although its people were all of one religion. (Cheers.) I say again that if Government entertains suspicions of us, it is wrong. But do her the justice and admit that there is a reasonable ground for such suspicions. Can a wise ruler forget what the state of things was so short a time ago? He can never forget it. If then the Mahomedans also join these monstrous and unreasonable schemes, which are impossible of fulfilment, and which are disastrous for the country and for our nation, what will be the result? If Government be wise and Lord Dufferin be a capable Viceroy, then he will realise that a Mahomedan agitation is not the same as a Bengali agitation, and he will be bound to apply an adequate remedy. If I were Viceroy; and my nation took part in this affair, I would first of all drop down on them, and make them feel their mistake.
Our course of action should be such as to convince Government of the wrongness of her suspicions regarding us, if she entertain any. We should cultivate mutual affection. What we want, we should ask for as friends. And if any ill-will exist, it should be cleansed away. I am glad that some Pathans of the N.-W. P. [North-West Provinces] and Oudh are here today, and I hope some Hindu Rajputs are also present. My friend Yusuf Shah of the Punjab sits here, and he knows well the mood of mind of the people of the Punjab, of the Sikhs and Musalmans. Suppose that this agitation that has arisen in Bengal — and I imagine that no danger can spring from it there — suppose that this agitation extends to these Provinces, to the Rajputs and Pathans of Peshawar, do you think it will confine itself to writing with the pen — giz, giz, giz, giz, giz [the scratching of a pen] — and to mere talking — buk, buk, buk, buk [babbling]? It will then be necessary for Government to send its army and show by bayonets what the proper remedy for this agitation is. I believe that when Government sees the Mahomedans and other brave races taking part in this stupid agitation, it will be necessary for Government to pass a new law and to fill the jails. O my brothers! Children of my heart! This is your relationship to Government: you should conduct yourself in a straightforward and calm manner; not come together to make a noise and a hubbub like a flock of crows. (Cheers and laughter.)
I come now to some other proposals of the Congress. We have now a very charming suggestion. These people wish to have the Budget of India submitted to them for sanction: “Leave aside political expenses; but ask our opinion about the expenses of the army. Why on earth has Government made so big an army? Why have you put Governors in Bombay and Madras? Pack them off at once!” I too am of the opinion that their ideas should certainly be carried out. I only ask them to say who, not only of them but of the whole people of India, can tell me about the new kinds of cannon which have been invented — which is the mouth and which the butt end. Can anyone tell me the expense of firing a shot? Does anyone understand the condition of the army? One who has seen the battlefield, the hail-shower of shots, the falling of the brave soldiers one over another, may know what equipments are needed for an army. If then under these circumstances, a Mahomedan were on this Council, or a Bengali — one of that nation which in learning is the crown of all Indian nations, which has raised itself by the might of learning from a low to a high position — how could he give any advice? How ridiculous then for those who have never seen a battlefield, or even the mouth of a cannon, to want to prepare the Budget for the army!
A still more charming proposal is the following. When some people wrote articles in newspapers, showing that it was impossible to establish representative government in India, and bringing forward cogent reasons, then they came down a little from their high flight and said, “Let us sit in the Council, let us chatter; but take votes or not, as you please”; can you tell me the meaning of this, or the use of this folly?
Another very laughable idea is this. Stress is laid on these suggestions: that the Arms Act be repealed, that Indian Volunteers be enlisted, and that army schools be established in India. But do you know what nation is proposing them? If such proposals had come from Mahomedans or from our Rajput brothers, whose ancestors always wore the sword, which although it is taken from their belts yet still remains in their hearts — if they had made such proposals there would have been some sense in it. But what nation makes these demands? I agree with them in this, and consider that Government has committed two very great mistakes. One is not to trust the Hindustanis and [not] to allow them to become volunteers. A second error of Government of the greatest magnitude is this: that it does not give appointments in the army to those brave people whose ancestors did not use the pen to write with; no, but a different kind of pen — (cheers) — nor did they use black ink, but the ink they dipped their pens in was red, red ink which flows from the bodies of men. (Cheers.) O brothers! I have fought Government in the harshest language about these points. The time is, however, coming when my brothers, Pathans, Syeds, Hashimi, and Koreishi, whose blood smells of the blood of Abraham, will appear in glittering uniform as Colonels and Majors in the army. But we must wait for that time. Government will most certainly attend to it; provided you do not give rise to suspicions of disloyalty. O brothers! Government, too, is under some difficulties as regards this last charge I have brought against her. Until she can trust us as she can her white soldiers, she cannot do it. But we ought to give proof that whatever we were in former days, that time has gone; and that now we are as well-disposed to her as the Highlanders of Scotland. And then we should claim this from Government.
I will suppose for a moment that you have conquered a part of Europe, and have become its rulers. I ask whether you would equally trust the men of that country. This was a mere supposition. I come now to a real example. When you conquered India, what did you yourself do? For how many centuries was there no Hindu in the army list? But when the time of the Moghal family came and mutual trust was established, the Hindus were given very high appointments. Think how many years old is the British rule. How long ago was the Mutiny? And tell me how many years ago Government suffered such grievous troubles, though they arose from the ignorant and not from the gentlemen? Also call to mind that in the Madras Presidency, Government has given permission to the people to enlist as volunteers. I say, too, that this concession was premature; but it is a proof that when trust is established, Government will have no objection to make you also volunteers. And when we shall be qualified, we shall acquire those positions with which our forefathers were honoured. Government has advanced one step. She has also shown a desire to admit us to the civil appointments in the Empire. (Cheers.)
In the time of Lord Ripon I happened to be a member of the Council. Lord Ripon had a very good heart and kind disposition, and every qualification for a Governor. But unfortunately his hand was weak. His ideas were Radical. At that time the Local Board and Municipality Bills were brought forward, and the intention of them was that everybody should be appointed by election. Gentlemen, I am not a Conservative, I am a great Liberal. But to forget the prosperity of one’s nation is not a sign of wisdom. The only person who was opposed to the system of election was myself. If I am not bragging too much, I may, I think, say that it was on account of my speech that Lord Ripon changed his opinion and made one-third of the members appointed and two-thirds elected. Now just consider the result of election. In no town are Hindus and Mahomedans equal. Can the Mahomedans suppress the Hindus and become the masters of our “Self-Government”? In Calcutta an old, bearded Mahomedan of noble family met me and said that a terrible calamity had befallen them. In his town there were eighteen elected members, not one of whom was a Mahomedan; all were Hindus. Now he wanted Government to appoint some Mahomedan; and he hoped Government would appoint himself. This is the state of things in all cities. In Aligarh also, were there not a special rule, it would be impossible for any Mahomedan, except my friend Maulvi Mahomed Yusuf, to be elected; and at last he too would have to rely on being appointed by Government. Then how can we walk along a road for which neither we nor the country is prepared?
I am now tired and have no further strength left. I can say no more. But in conclusion, I have one thing to say, lest my friends should say that I have not told them what is of advantage for our nation and for the country; and by what thing we may attain prosperity. My age is above seventy. Although I cannot live to see my nation attain to such a position as my heart longs for for it, yet my friends who are present in this meeting will certainly see the nation attain such honour, prosperity and high rank, if they attend to my advice. But my friends, do not liken me to that dyer who, only possessing mango-coloured dye, said mango-coloured dye was the only one he liked. I assure you that the only thing which can raise you to a high rank is high education. Until our nation can give birth to a highly-educated people, it will remain degraded; it will be below others, and will not attain such honour as I desire for it. These precepts I have given you from the bottom of my heart. I do not care if any one calls me a madman or anything else. It was my duty to tell those things which, in my opinion, are necessary for the welfare of my nation, and to cleanse my hands before God the Omnipotent, the Merciful, and the Forgiver of sins.