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Maulana Sultan Ahmad Islahi

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By Ashhad Rafiq Nadwi

Maulana Sultan Ahmad Islahi, religious scholar, founder of Fikr-o-Amal Movement, former senior fellow of the the Idarah Tahqiq-o-Tasnif Islami, founder-secretary of Idarah Uloomul Qur’an, a prominent member of the Islami Fiqh Academy and Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, patron of Parcham Party of India, eminent thinker and author, died of cardiac arrest in the midnight of 28-29 May. Whoever heard the sad news through social media was at his wits’ end, particularly those who were with him till last night. This is what is death, the certainty of which is repeatedly stated in the Qur’an and Hadees. After taking dinner, he read the Qur’an and went to sleep. He himself didn’t know that this would be his last recitation of the Qur’an. As soon as he lied down, he felt pain in his chest. Seeing his restlessness, his children rushed him to a hospital where he breathed his last before doctors could do anything. People wish and pray for such easy and sudden death.

Born in a village of Mau district near Azamgarh in 1950, after his early education in a maktab of a nearby village, he studied in Madrasatul Islah from 1963 to 1971 and thereafter he appeared in the exams of Aligarh’s Jamia Urdu and later did his graduation from AMU. I first got in touch with him through a letter wherein I sought his advice about my future course after completing my studies at Nadwatul Ulama. In my letter, I had expressed my desire to follow in his footsteps to which he agreed, encouraged me and assured me of his full cooperation. This was in 1986. On his advice, I came to Aligarh and in all my activities at Idara Uloomul Qur’an, Jamat-e Islami etc. he always guided me like an elder brother.

Maulana Islahi was a prominent writer who authored 52 books. In all his books he dealt with burning topics and problems of the day. In his book, Islam ek najaat dahinda tahreek (Islam: a liberating movement), he laid emphasis on the point that instead of getting bogged down in the make-believe and deceitful life of science and fashion, man should lead life in accordance with the teachings of Islam. In two of his books, he analysed the reasons of unrest in man’s social life and offered a solution in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Weaker sections of society and their problems like bonded labour, child labour, early marriage, joint family system, children’s rights in Islam etc were his favourite topics which he provided guidance to his readers. He wrote two books on religious madrasas, their problems and syllabi. People everywhere are facing great difficulties about water these days. Years ago, Maulana Islahi highlighted this problem in Uloomul Qur’an and offered its solution in the light of the Qur’an. Means of communication in today’s world are considered a powerful medium but unbridled means of communication are turning out to be a bane for society everywhere. In his book, Modern means of communication and Islam, he offered an impartial analysis of positive as well as negative effects of communication and presented the ideal view of Islamic values. In our society discussions on sexual problems and education are considered a taboo but in his books Islam ka nazariyah-e jins (Islam’s ideology of sex) and Jinsi ta’leem ka mas’ala aur Islam (Problems of sexual education and Islam) he has provided positive guidance. These Urdu books became so popular that unscrupulous publishers and plagiarists are minting money. Among his other famous books (all in Urdu) are Islamic Concept of Religion, Theory of Unity of Religions and Islam and Islam’s Concept of Equality.

Nine years back Maulana Islahi started publishing an Urdu quarterly magazine, Ilm-o-Adab, in which most of the articles were written by him as he used to write articles in such abundance that they could not be accommodated in other magazines. Only a few days prior to his death, he had written on Surya namaskar and Bharat mata ki jai but he died before its publication.

Before setting up his own institution he was associated with a number of other institutions. During his association with Idara-e Tahqeeq-o Tasneef-e Islami during which he was trained by Maulana Jalaluddin Umri and Maulana Sadruddin Islahi. He had good knowledge of the current political and milli problems and used to read many newspapers every day in Urdu, Hindi and English. He also used to keep useful cuttings from newspapers and used them in his writings. He was also a brilliant speaker and very much impressed people with his views and thoughts. His last and 52nd book, Azad Hindustran mein Musalman aur siyasat (Muslims and Politics in Independent India) was released on 29 February, 2016 when I also shared the dias with him and others. This function was chaired by Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmad Zilli and I was requested to conduct the proceedings.

In spite of being so learned and being held in high esteem, he was an extremely humble person and used to meet everybody very warmly and cordially. He was also extremely hospitable and was very kind to weaker sections of society. Most of his books have been published by other publishers while there are some waiting to be published  or need to be given final touches. (Translated from Urdu by MG staff)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 June 2016 on page no. 12

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