Special Reports

Book on Syed Shahabuddin released

New Delhi: In a book release ceremony, attended by the cream of Delhi Muslims and civil society, a book on the life and achievements of diplomat, parliamentarian and Muslim leader Syed Shahabuddin was released by Union ministers Salman Khurshid and K Rahman Khan. The book, Syed Shahabuddin: Outstanding Voice of Muslim India, was compiled by the editor of Usool (Pune), Mushtaque Madni and commissioned by the famous educationist PA Inamdar.

“He lit a light for the political discourses in the country. His contribution in the field of politics will be felt by the future generationd,” said  Salman Khurshid about the 78-year-old Syed Shahabuddin who dominated the Indian Muslim scene in the 1980s and early 1990s. “Some narrow-minded people say he raised the issue of Babri Masjid and Personal Law for petty politics. This is wrong. The fact is that we could not take full benefit of him as much as we should have,” Khurshid said.

Turning to Shahabuddin, who was sitting on the dais, Khurshid said: “You speak strongly and clearly. If someone who did not know that you were a diplomat, would never sense it from your personality. You have ruled over the hearts of many men and women. We got in you a leader, an icon, a role model.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, the publisher of the book who is himself a stalwart in the field of education, PA Inamdar said he was repaying a debt. Publishing a book on his life was one way to appreciate the work and life of Syed Shahabuddin. “I set up a B.Ed. college in 1992 without prior permission of the Maharashtra government, using the benefit of Article 29 and 30. But it was objected by the government and the matter. I saw an article in Syed Shahabuddin’s Muslim India about Article 30 of the constitution and decide to take the government to the court. In those days, we got huge support from the writings of Syed Shahabuddin highlighting the constitutional guarantees and judgments of courts. This book is a repayment of my debt to him. Today my Azam Campus in Pune has 92 institutions with 25000 students. I wanted to repay that debt,” said PA Inamdar, president of Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society, Pune. “Publishing a book on the life of iconic personalities like Syed Shahabuddin is one way to appreciate his works and tireless struggle,” he said adding, “His stand, however debatable, had the stamp of complete honesty and total dedication for social, educational and economic uplift of the Muslim community. He became controversial because he was a public figure fully armed with the constitutional weapons to challenge his adversaries.”

Speaking on the occasion, Syed Shahabuddin recalled his diplomatic and political days. “It is said diplomats tell lies and politicians mint money. But in 20 years of my diplomatic career, I never told a lie. And despite three terms in Parliament, one in Lok Sabha and two in Rajya Sabha, I remained a darweesh. When I wanted  to resign in the 1970s, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the External Affairs Minister. He called me thrice and asked me not to resign,” said Mr. Shahabuddin.

Talking about the controversy when he started Muslim India magazine in 1982, Shahabuddin said: “When I started Muslim India some people said I wanted to become a second Jinnah. I said if ever I wanted to become like someone, it would be a second Nehru, not a second Jinnah.” He said if the Congress and the Muslim League had tried to understand each other, there would not have a partition of the homeland. Pakistan was not inevitable, he said adding that it was wrong on the part of the League to demand one third of the seats while Muslims were only one-fourth. Our leaders, he said, were either in the pay of the British or were appended to the Congress. They did not have their own standing. He said, I can understand the demand of the Muslim-dominated provinces for Pakistan but not the demand of Muslims in U.P. and Bihar. The leaders went to Pakistan after the partition and left us orphans. He said it was only after 1971 that both the government and the community started thinking about the Muslims of India. He said, on the slogan of secularims is not enough. A lot has to be done for the Muslim Indians, especially in the field of education. He said Muslim Indians still have a role waiting for them. “I look upon it as a historic role -- they must act as a bridge with east, the west and the north. It is possible that with such a positive role, a south Asian federation will emerge,” he said. India will become a great power one day. The Indian caravan is marching ahead and if Muslims remain tuned, they will have a big role to play, he said. He ended his speech with a quote: “”People are not always reasonable and logical but love the people of India any day. Do good any day. Be honest and frank any day. Think big any day. Think of the future any day. You will get kicked. Give the best any day.”

In his presidential address, Union Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan  said: “Syed Shahabuddin is an anjuman, an institution. He is fearless, frank and honest. No one dares doubt his commitment. He has a vision. His magazine Muslim India has vast materials for future historians...He struggled for the Muslims to get a place in India. He left a mark in every field he worked — whether it be diplomacy or politics or journalism or social activism...He is indeed an outstanding voice of the Muslims in India. His life is a struggle for the Muslims to get a place in India. No parliamentarian, Muslim or non-Muslim, can match him. He demonstrated his concern for every issue facing the country and the community.” He said, we are not getting our constitutional rights in the country and the struggle of Syed Shahabuddin was to win these rights. He tried to empower us. Rahman Khan said we have not defined our role and we have not set our priorities.  

The 112-page large format volume has 24 articles on Syed Shahabuddin's life and personality, ideas and thoughts written by renowned personalities including Vice President M. Hamid Ansari, former Chief Justice AM Ahmadi, Justice Rajindar Sachar, Justice Aftab Alam, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, diplomats Muchkund Dubey and Salman Haider, Asghar Ali Engineer,  Kaleem Kawaja and others.

In his foreword, Vice President Hamid Ansari said, “A passionate espousal of causes he believed in, regardless of consequences, distinguishes Syed Shahabuddin from most of his contemporaries. As a result, he is as much understood as misunderstood.” Mr. Ansari further said that Syed Shahabuddin is “A patriot to the core of his being, wedded in letter and spirit to the Constitution of India, motivated by the belief that selective justice leads to injustice, and propelled by an urge to rectify it meaningfully led him in his public life to seek avenues for furthering his quest.”

Mushtaq Madni, the compiler of the volume, said that earlier with PA Inamdar’s help he has compiled and published similar volumes on Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, Saiyid Hamid and B Sheik Ali and PA Inamdar. He said Syed Shahabuddin’s name will appear on any list of prominent Indians of modern times.

This book is available from Pharos Media, click here for ordering details.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2013 on page no. 13

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