Books

Ulama and reform

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Book: Ihya-e Deen Aur Hindustani Ulama
Author: Ubaidullah Fahad Falahi
Publisher: Al-Qalam Publications Truck Yard, Baramulla, Kashmir 193101, distributed by Urdu Book Review 1739/39 (Basement) New Kohinoor Hotel Pataudi House, Darya Ganj New Delhi-110002
Pages: 304 Price: Rs 210 1st Edition March 2011

Ubaidullah Fahad, associate professor at AMU, is a famous writer, translator and orator. He has several published works to his credit. Though his area of specialization is political science, but being an Alim he takes keen interest in Islamic studies and more specifically in studies of modern Islamic revival movements and their ideologues, specially Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and Jamaate Islami of Indian sub continent.

The book under review, in fact is a collection of some articles he had written some years back, focusing on Islamic revivalism in Indian subcontinent, which are now compiled in a book form. The book consisting of a preface and 10 chapters and one annexure, discusses revolutionary thoughts of Shahidain Movement, Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi’s ideas of sovereignty of God (Hakimiyate Ilah) and his political thoughts along with Maulana Sulaiman Nadwi, Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi ,and Maulana Mohammad Ilyas’s ideological and  political thoughts. He also carefully reads in Maulana Azad’d reforming movement Hizbullah and its ideology, objectives and activities.  He also looks into some basic objections raised by Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi and Maulana Manzoor Numani regarding Maulana Maududi’s movement, ideas and discourses. What the author has written on Hizbullah, founded by Maulana Azad, can be considered a seminal study on the subject, though there is need of a comprehensive study of this almost forgotten movement, which still remains to be done. The chapter which examines Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s ideology is in fact, a translation of an Arabic article by Yoosuf Kamal, which appeared in Ikhwan’s Arabic organ Al-Dawah fortnightly, published from Cairo.

Though the author never mentioned what he exactly means by the term “Ihyae Deen”, but from reading between the lines it emerges that he believes and uses this term in the exact meaning, it is being used in the discourse of Jamaate Islami and the Ikhwanul Muslimun .The author thus takes the matter of revivalism as a set pattern of Ikhwan and Jamaate Islami. His pet theory seems to be that most of the Ulama of the Indian subcontinent were supporting this set pattern, arguably it is not the case. The main thrust of the book, as the writer claims is that “The history of Islamic revivalism and resuscitation of Sharia in Indian subcontinent is both , scintillating  and ironic. Scintillating, because the members of the Shahidain Movement laid down their precious lives for the sake of propagation and establishment of true Islam in this country, great Muslim scholars, like Moulana Farahi, Sulaiman Nadwi, Abul Kalam Azad and others, explained the ideology of Islamic movement in clear terms and they gave a clear blue print of methodology of Islamic resuscitation, so that Islamic system will get the upper hand. It is ironical, that when the Islamic movement (read Jamaate Ialami) did materialize in this country in the actual sense , then suddenly, with so many excuses and arguments ,many voices full of harsh criticism in the garb of well wishers and wise counsel, came up. So this book in a nut shell, is an album of this ironic as well as bright and glowing history.” This really is a big claim which is not supported and proved with sufficient arguments and irrefutable facts. For example by the term “Islamic movement” if you mean the ideology of Jamaate Isalmi put forth by Maulana Maududi, the founder of the Jamat, how can you prove that Sulaiman Nadwi and Abul Kalam Azad and Tabliqhi Jamaat and other ulama have the same views, when they clearly do not share these ideas, and their views are on record? This question is unanswered by the writer. Moreover the concept that man is the “vicegerent of Allah on earth” also is not an accepted fact, because there are  many great ulama, Ibn Tamia one of them, who very harshly reject this whole concept.

Again the seventh chapter of the book is a rejoinder to one article published in monthly Al-furqan Lucknow, and it has no direct relationship with the subject matter of the book, Ihyae Deen, because Al-furqan’s article deals with and answering some critical objections against Hazrat Ameer Muaavia (RA) raised by Maulana Maududi in his famous book Khilafat wa Mulookiat. It means that the writer blindly believes every word of Maulana Moududi.

The author in one chapter examines the thought of Maulana Whiduddin Khan which he termed, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s ideological retreat. But why this term? You only insufficiently translate an Arabic article criticizing Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and without consulting and going through W.Kahn’s arguments, that he has given in his critical book “Tabir Ki Ghalati”and other books, how can you term it a retreat? It would have been better if the author had taken the trouble to read Khan’s books and then criticized him. Secondly, Maulana Maududi , no doubt was a great writer, thinker and ideologue, but at the same time, some of his ideas were not acceptable to, and vehemently opposed and rejected by his peer and contemporary ulama of the Indian sub continent. Some even dubbed his thought as political interpretation of Islam. How can then you treat his ideas as accepted facts?. However the author’s reading of the Tabligh movement, its true context and wide nature as was in the mind of its founder, Maulana Ilyas, is very interesting and thought provoking, and eye-opener of Tabligh’s followers and votaries. With these observations the book, however, with an attractive presentation and rich subject matter is a readable one, specially for researchers and scholars of modern Islamic revivalist movements.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2011 on page no. 27

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