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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Dr Kausar Yazdani Nadwi
A towering personality among Muslims
By Javed Ali

Dr Kausar Yazdani Nadwi

The biography of Kausar Yazdani, a unique personality in modern India, tells us how Muslims in the present day India encountered and faced the problems after the partition of the subcontinent. Muslims of that era did it in most non-violent and peaceful manner, inspite of the great provocations and Himalyan hurdles. Indian Muslims chose the non-political path.

Kausar Yazdani was born in 1935 at Katalpur village of Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. His father was in the police department and retired when he was studying in class VII. He did his metrication in 1951, BA in 1955 from Shibli College and married in his own family in same year. Then he entered in the practical life.

Yazdani came into the contact of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), when he was in Intermediate at Tanda. Jamaat was writing new chapters in Islamic dawah and awakening for non-Muslims as well as Muslims. He learnt, Islam is for everybody. Yazdani, whose subject in BA was not Hindi, chose Hindi journalism as his life long career under the influence of the Islamic movement. At that time, Muslims of north India had a hate relationship with Hindi. Urdu had not become their preferred language but it was crushed just after the Independence. It is a historical fact that Urdu was vastly used in govt. and non-govt. works before 1947. But its use stopped in govt. offices, its teaching banned in schools and other educational institutions and it was labelled as anti-Indian. It place was given to Hindi, which was finally declared the official language of the province in 1951 by Congress govt. in UP, under its chief minister Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant. But no reciprocal safeguard was given to Urdu language. Yazdani chose Hindi as his first love. 

Jamaat decided to publish a Hindi magazine and called him for the job in 1956-7. After some preparations ‘Kanti’ monthly started its publication in 1958. It became a weekly after a decade and changed its place of publication from Rampur to Delhi.

When Nadvi joined the Kanti, he did not know the Arabic language. But as he chose the dawah path, he decided to learn Arabic and studied the language from Maulana Salman Qasmi at Rampur. Then he took three years leave to study Arabic and Islamic sciences at Nadwa College, Lucknow. Jamaat chief Maulana Abul lais allowed him to work from Lucknow and granted him the required leave. Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi gave special permission to enrol him for Almiat. He cleared all the papers in one year and got Almiat degree. Later he completed his Fazilat at Rampur. Kanti was banned during emergency and its editor was jailed for few months. In this critical period he did his MA in Hindi Literature and a PhD in 1980. His thesis was on Sufism and Sadhna. Kanti was divided into weekly and monthly in the same year. Weekly was generally for Muslims and monthly was for non-Muslims. But according to Nadvi, its readership were promidently Muslims, although non-Muslims also read it.

He remained its editor for about 37 years and left it in 1995. Nadvi told us that ‘generally Hindus have a little or no interest for understanding Islam. We reached them and explained its message’. So its circulation in his time remained between 3 to 5 thousands. It published extracts from the Holy Quran and Hadith, episodes from Islamic history and true principles of Islam. It also tried to remove misunderstandings against Islam and Muslims. It had one or two short stories. After 1968, political and social issues increased considerably. Then it became a weekly. To a query, whether Kanti criticised Hindu Dharam also former editor replied that we critcised very little and never made such criticism a formal topic. ‘It was not appropriate in the early phase of Dawah’. Islam’s fundamental teachings were introduced in a positive way, polytheism was mildly criticised. If reverse was done, it could have caused a roit and then nobody would have heard our message, he explained. He concluded that when Islam would be described in more details, in the next phase of our dawah, such criticism may increase, then it would be relevant.

He was not just a journalist or writer, but an active worker and a leader also. He became chief of J. I. H. (Delhi & Haryana State) in 1979 and remained so till 1995. At that time, he used to start his day before morning prayers (salat Fajr), read daily news paper and wrote editorial, etc. Later, he worked for the Kanti till about 1’o clock. After 3 or 5’o clock in the afternoon, to 11 in the night, he spent his time, visiting different places of Delhi & Haryana for Dawah and Islamic awekening. It was his daily routine. In 1995 he was called to central office of the Jamaat as its all India secretary to look after the Dawah work from which he just retired. Nadvi translated about 40 books in Hindi and wrote a dozen books. As his health in deterioted, he spent most of his time at his residence at Abul Fazl Enclave in New Delhi. He has three sons and one daughter. His wife died in 1990.
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