Skip to main content

Maulana Azad 'claimed' Quranic sanction in Hindu-Muslim unity, India's freedom

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
In the Shahjahanabadi old city of Delhi, between the Jama Masjid and the Red Fort, both monuments reminding of the Mughal pristine glory, a green and glossy patch covers an area where once stood the houses of the Muslim nobility. They were leveled after the Indian revolt against the British in 1857.
Maulana Azad was not only this century’s most articulate votary of Hindu-Muslim unity but also the only one erudite aalim (Islamic scholar) who claimed Quranic sanction for his faith in that unity and the freedom of the nation.
Near the mosque, and above the level of the crowded new bazaar, a red sandstone wall encloses a garden in which a tomb of simple dignity marks the resting place of the man born in Mecca on November 11, 1888 and who died in New Delhi on February 22, 1958 -- Mohiuddin Ahmed, better known as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
The location is appropriate, a grave amidst the relics of past history, in a domain wrested by the British from the Mughals, and then freed again at great cost. The other leading figures of the great freedom struggle, Mahatama Gandhi and Pandit Nehru, were cremated not far away, along the banks of the river Jamuna, beyond the battlements of the Red Fort. But Azad, in death as in life, is alone.
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 the western rule over India.
Azad made a lasting contribution to Urdu prose literature with his translation and interpretation of the Qur'an -- Tarjuman-ul-Quran
Azad made a lasting contribution to Urdu prose literature with his translation and interpretation of the Qur'an -- Tarjuman-ul-Quran. 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. 
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.
In his youth, Azad had been totally inexperienced in politics. Now with a full knowledge of what was involved, he had proved that his religious faith could guide him in the area of general principles, and give him strength for the difficulties he had to face.
Maulana Azad earned a reputation for 'absolute impartiality' and 'unimpeachable integrity' which served him well, particularly in the years after independence.
The major concern of Azad's life was the revival and reform of the Indian Muslims in all spheres of life, and his political hopes for them were within this context.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed at Maulana Azad's cemetary
For any such reform, he realised the key position of the ulema and of the traditional educational system which produces them. This was why he pinned his early hopes on the Nadwat ul-Ulema under the leadership of Shibli. Such was Azad's vision concerning matters internal to the Muslim community.
As far as relations with others were concerned, we have seen that Azad never questioned the fact that being Muslim in India meant living with non-Muslims in common citizenship.
He had never contemplated any other political possibility, and when incidents of communal strife in the 1920s threatened Hindu-Muslim unity, and then in the 1930s and 40s the Pakistan movement gathered strength, his spirit rebelled against those trends.
In his presidential address to the Congress in 1923, he said that the ability of Hindus and Muslims “to live together was essential to primary principles of humanity within ourselves.”
Almost twenty years later, when he again addressed Congress from the presidential chair, he repeated this absolutely fundamental premise: “I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of that fact that I have inherited Islam's glorious tradition of the last thirteen hundred years.
I am not prepared to lose even a small part of that legacy. The history and teachings of Islam, its art and letters, its cultural 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 realisation 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 Indian nationhood, a vital factor in its total makeup, without which this noble edifice will remain incomplete. I can never give up this sincere claim...”
---
*Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, grandnephew of Maulana Azad

Comments

TRENDING

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

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.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).