A saner Muslim voice falls silent
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, a great Islamic scholar and a humanist par excellence passed away today in a Delhi hospital. In Maulana’s demise, Muslims, particularly of India and the sub-continent have lost a saner voice that always stood against extremism and fanaticism. A great theologian and practitioner of Islam, Maulana never strayed from the core and toiled his entire life to present the message of Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in its real perspective. He staunchly believed that Allah is Rab-ul-Aalimeen (God of all universes) and his Prophet (SAW) is Rehmatul lil Aalmeen (Mercy for all the worlds). He insisted and counseled Muslims not to look at their Allah and Prophet (SAW) in an exclusionist way but in a universal way.
Born on 1 January 1925 in Village Badharia, in district Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India, Maulana received his education at a traditional seminary.Maulana’s Tafseer, Tazkirul Quran is a commentary on the Quran that has been read and hailed widely. He wrote this Tafseer in Urdu in 1983 and it was first published in Arabic in 2008 from Cairo as al-Tadhkir al-Qawim fi Tfseer al-Quran al-Hakim. It has also been translated in Hindi and English. Besides the Tafseer, Maulana has authored some 200 books on Islam, prophetic wisdom, spirituality and co-existence in a multi-ethnic society. Most of his works deal with Islam’s relations with modernity and secularism. He started a magazine Ar-Risala in 1976 in Urdu. The magazine would carry articles written by him and would be read by Muslims all over India. He later started English and Hindi editions of the magazine too. In the magazine, he would propagate inclusiveness of Islam, would write about the rights of women and minorities besides the concepts of charity and Jihad. Co-existence was the core of his all writings as he firmly believed that in contemporary world Muslims can’t prosper if they live in cocoons.
The Maulana was pained by the miss-interpretation of some of Quranic verses by some fringe elements within the Muslim world to suite their jaundiced, violent and unreal world-view. Through his writings he took such elements head-on and tried to introduce Islam to Muslims and others in its real and correct spirit. In his Tafseer of Quran he has tried to explain all the content in the light of context which most of the Islamic scholars miss thus providing space to the extremist elements to come up with the meanings that suite their respective political agendas. Despite threats, malicious campaigns, character assassination by some of his own community members and so called leaders, Maulana stood his ground and stood by his principles till his last breath. His humanism, message of universal fraternity and inclusiveness earned him great rewards from all over. He received Demiurgus Peace Award under the patronage of former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev. He also received Padma Bhushan in 2000 besides National Citizens’ Award presented by Mother Teresa and Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavna Award in 2009. In 2021, he received India’s second highest civilian honour the Padma Vibhushan.
With his demise Muslims, particularly of India, have lost a friend, philosopher and guide. In today’s world where Islamophobia has become order of the day and some Muslim fringe groups are hell-bent on to fuel this phenomena by indulging in terrorism, Maulana’s was the voice of wisdom cautioning Muslims from falling prey to false and fake narratives spread by these elements. While these elements are busy discrediting Muslims and making them look like barbarians, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan did everything possible to show the human face of Islam to the world. May his soul rest in eternal peace and his writings and teachings guide Muslims to shun the fake gods of extremism and violence and embrace the Allah, the most merciful.