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Muslims must follow Maulana Azad, who opposed the idea of separate homeland, and not Haseeb, Owaisi, Azam & Co

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
As far as Muslims of India are concerned, two recent incidents not only alarmed and hurt the nation but let this patriotic community down. The most recent is the diatribe of Maulana Haseeb Siddiqui of Deoband’s Muslim Bank who openly declared the opposition to unite against Modi and vote for the so-called secular party.
The other ghastly incident was the adamancy of the AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) students not to remove Jinnah’s photograph from their students’ union office. Had these people followed Bharat Ratna Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s path of interfaith concord and the lesson of gelling Hindus and Muslims for the larger good of India, they would not have done this. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is charged unnecessarily on behalf of both communities on petty issues, sometimes taking the form of communal riots.

Dividing on religious lines

Whatever Maulana Haseeb stated just before the Kairana, UP election, or the transgression on the part of the AMU students, was not only in bad taste but against the very roots of Islam, patriotism and nationalism. Haseeb’s statement that Muslims must vote for Tabassum of Congress and not for Mriganka of BJP, smacked of polarized and communal bias. It is statements like these that give rise to ill-fated mishaps like, Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Junaid and others. Muslims must sideline opportunists like Haseeb and Co.
Truth is that this kind of Muslim leadership has misled the unassuming community. Indian Muslims have been victim to an irresponsible leadership which has been bent upon keeping the community in subjugation by concentrating on emotionally charged and sensitive issues. During every election, it has been proved that all of them turn as power-brokers indulging in pernicious vote-bank manipulations acquiring state patronage themselves and subjecting and finally leaving the community with a begging bowl at the mercy of God.
These so-called Muslim representatives have ruined their followers emotionally, socially and educationally. Has anyone heard an iota of grudge from the Sikh, Christian or Parsi communities against their leaders? Never! Why? They are sincere not only to their community but even people outside it. More often then, not ours are interested in feathering their own nests owing to their ambitions solely materialist while their followers are being pushed to the dark bottomless hell of ignorance owing to the obscurantist attitude of their netas who think they are accountable to none.

Cajoled Muslim community

This is not all; battered by the populist rhetoric and provocative militancy of its myopic and ill- educated clerics and shallow youth, the country’s second majority (not minority!) stands at cross roads. Even the ones from the clergy are indulging in petty mindedness characterized by an extremely narrow and irresponsible outlook completely out of tune with the existing reality. Such leaders are not seriously interested in dealing with the genuine problems of the community. It can be seen that Muslim leaders, clerics and even petty politicians are becoming richer and richer day by day while the people they represent, are languishing in their ghettos and their institutions like the Urdu medium schools, madrasas, khanqahs, maktabs etc, are all nothing more than obscure dungeons. For the last 71 years they have been exploited by the politicians of various hues views.
Afflicted by utter educational backwardness, the administrative apathy and political expediency, the Muslim community in India has been cajoled by almost all the politicians but mostly by the ones from their own fold. These opportunist leaders have been crying hoarse merely indulging in lip-service both inside the parliament as well as outside it.
In this ghettoized situation emerged the churlish political middlemen as interlocutors for communities picking on sensational issues that would apparently tighten their stranglehold on the people they pretend to represent by diverting the attention from real bread and butter issues. Love Jehad, Ghar Wapsi, Shah Bano, Triple Talaq, Babri Masjid, etc are not the real issues.

Taking a leaf from Azad

Calling from Quran for freedom, Maulana Azad coalesced with endogenic creativity, the Vedantic vision of many parts of truth with the Islamic doctrine of Wahdat-e-Deen (unity of religion) and Sulah-e-Kul (universal peace).
Although Azad started his career as an aalim (religious leader), his faith in nationalism, as MKC Gandhi described it, was as robust as his faith in Islam. Though born in a family steeped in religious traditions, Azad was singularly free from all traces of pride and prejudice on religious grounds. As his outlook was scientific and progressive, Maulana Sahab would never agree to what was taught by the traditional mullas and maulvis or the orthodox Muslim theologians as his outlook was scientific and he was a “Modern Maulana”!
Azad did not agree with Jinnah at all and his Lahore address was a lance in Azad’s heart after Jinnah transformed himself as the Qaied-e-Azam of the Muslim nation, his long-cherished ambition. Azad was aware that there was no turning back in Jinnah’s dictionary.
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.
It goes without saying that in the galaxy of patriots and heroes of Indian freedom struggle, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad occupies a unique place head high above shoulders of the others as far as the pitched resistance against the vivisection of the country is concerned. He was the tallest amongst the nationalist Muslims, a savant servant.
Azad was a man who was opposed to the very idea of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India because he thought it was in the interest of Muslims themselves to remain part of a greater whole. A blunt man, his writings are clear about his respect for Gandhi, his friendship with Nehru, his distaste for Jinnah’s politics, and his contempt for the mindset of Vallabbhai Patel and his ilk.
It goes without saying that in the galaxy of patriots and heroes of Indian freedom struggle, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad occupies a unique place head high above shoulders of the others as far as the pitched resistance against the vivisection of the country is concerned. He was the tallest amongst the nationalist Muslims, a savant servant, as also stated in 2005 in Delhi High Court by Justice Vijendra Jain in an order issued in the PIL by this author to protect Maulana Azad mausoleum.
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*Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University; grandnephew, Maulana Azad

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