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

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.