Skip to main content

Why Dr Zakir Hussain considered Maulana Azad as one of the greatest innovators in the history of Islam

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, whose 129th birth anniversary falls on November 11, remains relevant as masses look in askance all around in their search of stability in the prevailing times of confusion, vandalism and communalism.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is, by any reckoning, a major figure in twentieth-century Indian History. He was a scholar thoroughly trained in the traditional Islamic sciences, with great intellectual abilities and eloquence of pen and speech.
He had, in addition, a remarkable openness to modern western knowledge even as he opposed western rule over India. He made a lasting contribution to Urdu prose literature with his translation and interpretation of the Qur'an.

The intellectual history of Islam in India has long been described in terms of two contrasting currents: the one tending towards confrontation, the other towards assimilation, with the Hindu milieu.
Today, we hear about so many ministers’ corruption stories ranging from on scam to another or Panama or Paradise Leaks but Azad belonged to an illustrious company of leaders who sacrifed everything for the nation. Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajender Babu, Lal Bahadur Shastri — they were men of principles, whose idealism helped bring freedom to the country. But in the process, did their idealism also affect their families? Most of these leaders, in fact, genuinely believed they would be doing the country a great disservice if they promoted their kith and kin.
Probably the leaders of freedom struggle, having experienced the hardships and turbulent days, knew that their responsibility then lay in nation building. At all costs, they made sure their family members did not take undue advantage of their position, always emphasizing on giving to the country rather than taking.
Maulana coalasced with endogenic creativity, the Vedantic vision of many parts of truth with the Islamic doctrines of Wahdat-e-Deen (unity of religion) and Sulah-e-Kul (universal peace). Maulana is revered without really being understood because to a large bulk of people, he has been reduced to a noble “totem” of the political breed called the “nationalist Muslims.” Azad remains a shining example of the fusion of the rationalist heritage of Islam and the compassionate heritage of India. Maulana’s watchword was assimilation and communal concord at all levels. Dr. Zakir Hussain considered Azad as one of the greatest innovators in the history of Islam.
This dichotomy is, of course, an oversimplification, for separatist and syncretist represent extreme points on a spectrum of possible intellectual responses by Muslims to the Indian scene.
His speech to the Muslims of Delhi delivered on October 23, 1947 from the steps of Jama Masjid is reflective of the man and the ideas he stood for and fought for. Tormented with the course of events in the aftermath of partition, Azad was able to offer advice to his Muslim brethren quoting the holy Quran: “Do not fear and do not grieve. If you possess truth, you will gain the upper hand.”
Reiterating that the partition of India was a fundamental mistake, Azad expressed his anguish: “It was not long ago that I told you that the two-nation theory was death-knell for a life of faith. I entreated with you to reject it, because the foundations upon which it rested were built of sand. But you paid no attention. You believed that the mad race of time would slow down to suit you convenience. Time, however, sped on. Those on whose support you were counting, have today, abandoned you; left you like waifs, exposed to the vagaries of you own kismet.”
Another of his speech betrays note of bitterness that he felt when India stood partitioned. “For thousand of years five rivers of water have flowed in the Punjab. Today, a sixth river is flowing, the river of human blood. On the water we built bridges of brick, stone and steel. The bridge over the sixth river is being built of human corpses.”
The years during which Azad wrote and published the two volumes of his Tarjuman were a period that was politically unrewarding for him. For Indian Muslims generally, the period following the collapse of the Khilafat movement was a time of uncertainty. From 1930 onwards, growing communal disorder jeopardized Hindu-Muslim unity in the eyes of many former nationalist Muslim leaders.
The major concern of Azad's life was the revival and reform of the Indian Muslims in all aspects of life, and his political hopes for them were within this context. For any such reform, he realized the key position of the ulema and of the traditional educational system which produces them.
---
*Community worker and commentator on social and religious issues, grandnephew of Maulana Azad

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

A Marxian trend that queries undemocratic customs and traditions of capitalism

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  A very well-meaning comrade called me a pluriversal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while chairing my book release function in the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to her… There is no other philosopher who is more abused and misunderstood like Marx. There is no other philosophy like Marxism which is more demonised on a regular basis. The mindless vilification campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The propaganda and portrayal of Marxism as a devilish doctrine signify its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces who demonise it. Marxism is a philosophy of praxis which helps us to understand the centrality of creative power of labour in producing socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyse the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, pricing and private property in the development of class-based society. As a humanist p