I belong to two circles of equal size, but which are not concentric. One is India, and the other is the Muslim world.
I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of the fact that I have inherited Islam's glorious tradition of the last fourteen hundred years. I am not prepared to lose even a small part of that legacy. The history and teachings of Islam, its arts and letters, its culture and civilization are part of my wealth and it is my duty to cherish and guard them. But, with all these feelings, I have another equally deep realization, born out of my life's experience which is strengthened and not hindered by the Islamic spirit. I am equally proud of the fact that I am an Indian, an essential part of the indivisible unity of the Indian nationhood, a vital factor in its total makeup, without which this noble edifice will remain incomplete.
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I make no claim, therefore, that my account is either comprehensive or objective, let alone that it is the authoritative and definitive account of what happened ... Like all account it is partial, in the twin senses of being both incomplete and one-sided, and that partiality is inescapably mine. Nevertheless, while I cannot avoid imposing myself as a screen between the people ... and the reader, I am consoled by the thought that without my intervention few people would ever hear their voices... at all.
This is not because [they] are incapable of speaking for themselves. Far from it: they are as eloquent as anyone else. But inequalities in the distribution of power, wealth, and the technologies of communication virtually guarantee that, without the intervention of someone like myself, they would be heard only within a very narrow horizon.
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