On April 22, a great Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Wahidduddin Khan, a living legend for guidance and a preacher for peace, bid adieu to this world and left for the heavenly abode. He was 96 years old. Maulana did not need any introduction. He was well known for his exhaustive scholastic Islamic work, translation of Quran in English that stood second best next to the Marmaduke Pickthall translation.
While Pickthall’s translation was in classic English, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan did it in simple English. Modern times have seen 3 great Islamic scholars, Abul A’laMaududi, Ahmed Deedat and Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. All these 3 ulemas did distinguishing scholastic work in their own capacity. Abul A’laMaududi did complete explanatory work(tafseer) on Quran, Ahmed Deedat was the first to discover how Quran was based on mathematics. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan explored Quran and life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through years of his writings. He established an Islamic publication house in New Delhi starting with his famous Al Risala monthly magazine.
But I am not writing this for Maulana’s scholastic work. I am writing this for what attracted me most towards Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and his unique philosophy about God, mankind and this world. Some of his philosophical work was frowned upon by few orthodox, but his appeal was far and wide. The first piece of article I read in Al Risala, written by Maulana was thought provoking.
I could not believe that he was an Islamic scholar with his own convincing philosophy. I do not have that issue with me but I distinctly remembered what it was about. The article was about his journey from Istanbul to Mumbai and I could still summarize his philosophy. Maulana wrote, “I was in flight from Istanbul to Mumbai and looking outside the window of aircraft, I wondered how the aircraft was flying? I knew the mechanical theory of propeller jet engine, yet my mind was having a second thought. Surely, there was a force behind those engines who were pushing the aircraft. That force was what created by God Almighty. In Quran God announced that He had created mankind and Jinn. He has assigned duties on mankind and Jinn and kept a veil between the two creations. So, I feel Jinn are assigned to carry out such hidden task?”
If you look at Maulana’s pictures when he was alive, his appearance reminded the perfect Muslim character as it used to be in the beginning days of Islam, a turban over his head and beard with full mustache above upper lip, unlike other modern Maulvis who remove mustache and keep beard.
Maulana’s words were striking jewels in each narration colored with guidance from Quran and teachings (Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). All his arguments, philosophies and reasons were validated with Quranic verses or practices of Prophet. Few quotes from Maulana’s writings are worth remembering such as, “Knowledge (education) makes a human, human and knowledge is an only authentic way for the development of mankind. “. “Today the problem with Muslims is that under misguided leaders, they consider challenges as siege.”
On the controversial Babri Masjid demolition issue, Maulana’s remarks angered many conservative Muslims. He wrote, “It happened in India that on 06DEC1992 a group of zealot Hindus entered in Ayodhya and demolished Babri Masjid. Had Muslims thought at that time that in the year 1001 a Muslim Sultan demolished Hindu temple in Somnath and Babri Masjid incident was an act of revenge, it would have fostered a positive thinking, realistic and result oriented attitude among Muslims and they could have planned better. But instead, under unwise leadership, they indulged in futile negative activities that proved counterproductive.”
In 2012 he did show a great moderator role when a YouTube movie, “Innocence of Muslims” ignited Muslim passions all over the world. Maulana reminded Muslims it is better to ignore evil than discuss it. He quoted Calip Omar who said that “kill a lie by keeping quiet about it.” Maulana also reminded a verse from Quran that, “An evil word is like an evil tree torn out of the earth; it has no foothold.” (V14:26).
Maulana Wahidduddin Khan was a scholar with in depth knowledge of Quran and Sunnah. At the same time, he was an Indian seeking to live in peace and harmony with fellow Indians.
And in his own knack he succeeded. In an Al Risala article, Maulana wrote that once he was invited for an interfaith gathering at Chowpathy Mumbai where, Hindu Mahants, Christian scholars, Muslim scholars were invited. The event was chaired by the then Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani. When Maulana’s turn came for speech he came to podium and he saw the largest crowd gathered for the event.
Maulana looked at his watch it was past sunset time. He asked everyone to allow him to say his Maghrib (evening) prayer as Maghrib prayer has to be done in time. Advani ji nodded and Maulana laid his prayer mat on stage and started his Namaz. Maulana wrote that when he finished his prayer within less than 5 minutes, he noticed the guests at stage and the large crowd, all were blanketed under an awful silence. He felt his prayer was respected by all. That was Maulana Wahiddudin Khan, the fearless, frank honest scholar who respected other faiths and earned respect for himself. “Negative thinking about others is a bigger hurdle in positive development,” he wrote.