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Biography of Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi (RA) March 1, 2009

Posted by Liliek in Biografi.
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Examplar of IslamicLiving, Exponent of Islam, Defender of Islamic Identity (1914 – 31 December, 1999) …

During the twentieth century, Muslim India has produced great Islamic theologians,interpreters of the Quran, scholars of Hadith, Islamic jurists, historians, propagators of the faith, social reformers and educationists, but one cannot name another Islamic scholar whose concerns covered the entire spectrum of the collective existence of the Muslim Indians as a living community in thenational and international context, who, for decades, enjoyed universalrespect, and who was accepted by the non-Muslims, at the highest level, as the legitimate spokesman for the concerns and aspirations of the entire community.

Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi was indisputably one of the greatest exponents ofIslam in the second half of the twentieth century and because of his commandover Arabic, through his writings and speeches, he had a wide area of influenceextending far beyond the Sub-continent, particularly in the Arab World.

His exposition of Islam was marked by moderation. He was not a fanatic in any senseof the term but he believed in Islam as a blessing for mankind and as apositive and creative factor in human history. In a sense Islam was perceivedby him as a civilizational force which retained its relevance in the modern ageas a viable counterpoint to the Western civilization with all its excesses.

The Maulana’s forte was his extraordinary grasp of Islamic history. It is thishistoric sense of the rise and fall of Islam in different ages and regions,which prompted him ever to take a long-term rather than a short-term, a broadrather than a narrow, view of the problems the contemporary community faced.

The Maulana was the very anti-thesis of the media image of the fire-eating, narrow-mindedMullah. Orthodox as he was, he was far from being conservative in his approach.Umma-conscious as he was, his love for the motherland knew no bounds. He neverpreached ‘Jihad’ to restore Muslim dominance; He stood for mutual respect, forpeaceful coexistence, for human values, for establishing a social ambiencebased on tolerance and harmony in India and in the world at large.

The Maulana understood the spirit of the age. He appreciated the role of Democracyand Nationalism. With his deep insight into the Quran and his understanding ofthe personality of the Holy Prophet, he understood the implications of amulti-religious world, a global village divided into multi-religious States.

Scion of an illustrious family which has produced scholars and spiritual preceptors likeShah Alamullah Naqshbandi and Syed Ahmad Shaheed, the Maulana’s father, HakimSyed Abul Hai, was an eminent scholar of his time, immortalised by hisencyclopaedic work, Nuzhatul Khawatir, (in eight volumes) containing about5,000 biographical notes on Muslim scholars, theologians, jurists, etc. ofIndia, apart from other notable works.

Syed Abu lHasan Ali was born in 1333 A.H. (1914 A.D.). Having lost his father at the ageof nine, he was brought up by his elder brother, Dr. Syed Abul Ali Hasani whopractised medicine at Lucknow. He specialised in Arabic literature at NadwatulUlema, Lucknow, studied Hadith under Sheikh Husain Ahmed Madani at Darul Uloom,Deoband and Tafsir under Maulana Ahmad Ali of Lahore where he came in touchwith Iqbal whose poetry left an abiding impression on him. Besides literary andtheological studies, Maulana developed keen interest in Islamic history andalso learnt English in order to keep himself abreast of contemporary thought.He taught Arabic literature and Tafsir at the Nadwatul Ulema for ten years. 

After the demise of his elder brother, he became the Secretary of Nadwatul Ulema andsubsequently as Rector he supervised both its academic and administrativemanagement.

In 1947,the Maulana could have followed his mentor Syed Sulaiman Nadvi and migrated toPakistan but he did not.

In hisformative years, the Maulana was associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami for a fewyears after its establishment by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi. Then he turned tothe Tablighi Jamaat founded by Maulana Ilyasi’s. But the Maulana’s geniusdemanded a wider horizon for its unfolding.

Spirituallya disciple of Maulana Abdul Qadir Raipuri, the Maulana belonged to the SufiSilsila Qadiriya Naqshbandia.

Apart from his long association with Nadwa (as student, teacher, Secretary andNazim), he served on the Shura of the Darul Uloom, Deoband, chaired theManaging Committee of Darul Musannefin, Azamgarh and established the Academy ofIslamic Research and Publications at Lucknow.

A prolific writer his works have been prescribed in the courses of study in anumber of Arab Universities. His notable Arabic work Maza Khasera al-Alamb’inhitat-il-Muslimeen was not only widely acclaimed but also carved out aplace for him in the literary circles of the Arab world. Several of his workshave since been translated into Arabic, English, Turkish, Bhasha Indonesia,Persian, Tamil and some other languages. 

Karvaan-e-Zindagi,his autobiography in 8 volumes, and Purane-Chiragh (life sketches ofcontemporary personalities), his biography of Syed Ahmad Shaheed, his biographyof Hazrat Ali (KW) and his Tarikh-e-Dawat-o-Azimat are his permanentcontribution to Urdu literature.

He was anHonorary Member of the Academy of Arts and Letters, Damascus and Academy ofArabic Language, Amman and served as Visiting Professor in a number of Arabuniversities.

Internationally recognised, he was one of the Founder Members of the Rabita at-Alam-al-Islami,Makka, (1963), and served on the Higher Council of the Islamic University,Medina, the Executive Committee of the Federation of Islamic Universities,Rabat, and as the Chairman of the Board for the Centre of Islamic Studies ofthe Oxford University. The lectures he delivered at Indian, Arab and WesternUniversities have been highly appreciated as original contribution to the studyof Islam and on Islam’s relevance to the modern age.

In 1980,he received the Faisal International Award, followed by the Brunei Award andthe UAE Award in 1999.

A greatscholar, the Maulana was not confined to the cloister. Not involved in activepolitics, he never participated in party or electoral politics. He did not evenjoin the All India Muslim Majlis, established by his protégé Dr. A.J. Faridi in1967, as it took to electoral politics. The Maulana was one of the founders ofthe All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (1964), the All India Muslim PersonalLaw Board (1972) and the All India Dini Talimi Council. He presided over theMilli Convention in 1979. He also extended his patronage to the Islamic FiqhAcademy and the All India Milli Council when they were established.

Topromote communal harmony, the Maulana became one of the founders of FOCUS whichwas later transformed into Society for Communal Harmony. He also established amovement ‘Pyam-e-Insaniyat’ to preach the gospel of universal love andbrotherhood. 

TheMaulana valued the Constitution and the secular order as a guarantor of theIslamic identity of the Muslim community and of non-discrimination against themin various spheres of life. But he clearly saw the historic process ofassimilation at work in India and the long-term objective of Hindu Nationalismto absorb the Muslim Indians into the Hindu fold. That explains his firm standon the question of Muslim Personal Law against any interference throughlegislation or through judicial pronouncement and on introduction of SaraswatiVandana in Schools in UP.

The greatpolitical battles of the Muslim community during the last decades of thecentury were fought under his guidance. The A.I. Muslim Personal Law Boardlaunched in 1985 the movement for legislative nullification of the SupremeCourt judgement in the Shah Bano Case which the Muslim Indians saw as the thinend of the wedge for interference with the Shariat and for distorting theIslamic identity of the community. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights onDivorcees) Act, 1986 was its fruit; though it had several inbuilt flaws whichhas landed the community subsequently in endless litigation.

With theMaulana’s consent in 1986, the AIMMM and the AIMPLB took up the question ofrestoration of the Babari Masjid when the unlocking of its doors in January1986 for regular darshan and puja converted it into a de-facto temple. Thoughhe did not directly involve himself in the Babari Masjid Movement (whoseCoordination Committee was later split to form the A.I. Babari Masjid ActionCommittees), he guided it at all critical points and participated innegotiations with the government as well as Hindu representatives. Subsequentto the Demolition, the AIMPLB, under his presidentship took the question in itsown hands including the direction of the proceedings in the title suit, thecriminal case and the inquiry.

In thelast decade of his life the Maulana served as the final arbiter, the last word,the Marja’, the ultimate point of reference, on any intra-communal differences,even if he did not play any active role in resolving them. He counselledcommitment with patience and wisdom, movement within the framework of democracyand rule of law, and dignity and not rhetoric in utterances.

With hisoff-repeated commitment to the principles of Democracy, Secularism andNon-violence as the only viable foundation for the Indian polity, his constantendeavour for inter-religious dialogue and for reconciliation and harmony, hecommanded universal respect for his moderation, learning and integrity, for hisinfluence in the Muslim community and for his outreach in the Islamic world, 

Assiduouslysought by eminent political personalities from Indira Gandhi to Atal BehariVajpayee, the Maulana acted as the bridge between the government and thenational parties, on one hand, and Muslim community, on the other. 

TheMaulana, it has been correctly observed, stood for social reform, religiousrevival and political awakening but not for Islamic Revolution. He wasrealistic enough not to chase mirages or instant solutions. He saw clearly thatthe destiny of Muslim Indians was intertwined with that of the Indian people asa whole and that, in the age of democratic pluralism, an Islamic Revolution orthe restoration of Islamic power was out of the realm of possibility but it waspossible for the Muslim Indians to lead an Islamic life and at the same time participatein managing the affairs of the country and contribute to its progress anddevelopment. This was the basis of his efforts to reduce the distance betweenthe Muslims and the Hindus, to demolish the wall of distrust between them andto create bonds of understanding and cooperation in rebuilding relations on theterms of common moral values of the society which he saw as being engulfed bydark forces of hatred and violence.

All hisactive life, with Lucknow as his base, he wandered ceaselessly, not only withinthe country but in the Arab-Islamic world and the West, in a constant search,it seems to me, for reconciliation between Islam and the West, between rivalideologies in the Arab-Islamic world, between India and Pakistan and betweenthe Hindu and Muslim Indians. Cautious in taking positions, he always lookedbeyond the turbulence of the time, through the flames of the currentcontroversy. Even when he took part, his role was that of a mediator, ofcounselling patience, of avoiding confrontation, of appealing to reason.

A man whopersonified Islamic values, soft-spoken, cultured and courteous to the core,humility and modesty, patience and tolerance, moderation and balance,generosity and compassion – all Islamic values – marked his personality. Neithera politician, nor a publicist, essentially a scholar, a man of religion, aspiritual person, a modern Dervish, a Mard-e-Momin who combined in himself thehighest values of the Shariat and the Tariqat, of orthodoxy and Sufism and whocommanded respect for his transparent sincerity, for his simple living and forhis selfless devotion to the common cause of the Community and the Nation, aman who lived for Allah alone and who wanted nothing but the good of all is nomore.

Hisdemise is the end of an era in the history of the Muslim India and has createda void impossible to fill in the foreseeable future.

May hissoul rest in eternal peace, Ameen!

http://www.muslimindiajournal.com/ShowArticles.asp?Path=/articles/Editorial/February2000.html

Comments»

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