Last week, we had the birth anniversary of one of the icons of ‘Hindu Muslim unity’, someone whom Gandhi put on par with Plato and Aristotle, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. It is celebrated as education day in India since 2008. In 1923, at an age of 35, he became the youngest person to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress, and post independence became the first education minister of the country.
As usual, the cliched tributes flowed in, like they have for every one of the numerous anniversaries that only the bureaucracy seems to care about:-
He’s hailed as the stalwart who laid foundations of education in India, a staunch nationalist, the personalization of Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb, who made emotional appeals like:-
“If an angel descends from heaven with the gift of freedom of India and declares from Qutub Minar that India is a free country I would not accept it unless Hindus and Muslims were united. If India does not get freedom it would be India’s loss but if Hindus and Muslims do not unite it would be entire humanity’s loss.”
But did the Maulana see Hindus and Muslims as equals when among his own people? Did he put patriotism on par with his ‘deen’?
Following are the excerpts from his speech to a rally in Kolkata on 27 October 1914, totally defy his image of a modernist:-
“One momin for another momin is like one brick assisting another brick in a wall.This biradri (community of Muslims) has been established by God…All relationships in the world can break down but this relationship can never be severed. It is possible a father turns against his son, not impossible that a mother separates her child from her lap, it is possible that one brother becomes the enemy of other brother…But the relationship that a Chinese Muslim has with an African Muslim, an Arab bedouin has with the Tatar shepherd, and which binds in one soul a neo-Muslim of India with the right-descendant Qureshi of Mecca, there is no power on earth to break it, to cut off this chain…”
“If even a grain of the soul of Islam is alive among its followers, then I should say that if a thorn gets stuck in a Turk’s sole in the battlefield of war, then I swear by the God of Islam, no Muslim of India can be a Muslim until he feels that prick in his heart instead of sole because the Millat-e-Islam (the global Muslim community) is a single body.”
“Then, if it is true that a sword is being sharpened to strike in the heart of Islam, then what hesitation that we be engaged in developing a shield. If the worship of Jesus has ancient enmity against the worship of God, and this is not a new Christian conspiracy, then the unity of brotherhood is not a new tactic of the followers of Tawheed (Islamic monotheism) to defend against the attack of polytheists.”
“Remember, today, for Islam, for Muslims, any national or local movement cannot be fruitful. In my beliefs, all of this is an act of magic by the presager-Satan who makes those asleep because it does not like those sleeping [ie Muslims] to rise up”.The most important matter is that we have to build a university in Aligarh, have to collect Rs 30 lakh for this, it will serve as a kaaba of Aligarh. The day the university is established, wahi (revelation, of Quranic verse 5:3) … will land on the roof of the Strachey Hall (of AMU).” In verse 5:3, Allah says: “This day I have perfected for you your religion…”
How different is this speech from that of any recruiting agents for Islamist terror organizations today?
How different is this from the similar toned speeches that Mohammad Ali Jinnah and HS Suhrawardy would make three decades later to initiate direct action day in the same city?
What makes this speech look more dangerous is that it was made at the time of first world war, when British Indian Army was fighting the Ottoman Empire which had sided with the German Empire. The global Islamist strategy of saving the Caliph ie Ottoman Emperor, started much before the Khilafat movement.
There were instances of mutiny among the Muslim soldiers in the British Indian army. One prominent example is the 5th light infantry regiment stationed in Singapore during Feb 1915
Instances like these were as much fueled by the likes of the speech cited above , as by the propaganda spread by the intelligence of the Ottoman intelligence. This speech was a meticulously prepared one, and its speeches from the likes of him which played a major role in more than 18,000 Muslims from India going to Turkey to fight the jihad against the British , and women sending their jewellery for the same. Compared to this, the number of Indian Muslims that have joined domestic or international terror organizations since independence is microscopic. No Muslim from rest of India ever went to fight the Pakistan fuelled jihad in Kashmir. We are in a much better situation as compared to that in 1900-47, but that is no excuse to have false pretexts of all being right.
Tawriya is very difficult to spot. The same Allama Iqbal who wrote ‘’saare jahaan se accha hindostaan hamara’’ also wrote tarana e mili which said “cheen o arab hamara, hindostaan hamara, muslim hai hum watan hai, saara jahan hamara”. It can hide murderous intentions under the veil of piety, fanaticism under the veil of modernism.
What has conveniently been looked over by liberals also is that Azad had made an Islamist political party called Hizbullah in 1913. By this, he also inspired the ultra-revivalist leader and founder of Jamat-e-Islami Maulana Maududi, before getting disappointed by the response of a section of the Ulema on various scores and deciding to enter the Congress in 1920. Today we know Hizbollah as a Lebanese Shia terrorist organization that came up seven decades later. But know that they weren’t the first ones to use this name!
While its a fact that Maulana Azad became an enthusiastic supporter of Gandhi’s ideas of non-violent civil disobedience, and worked to organise the non-co-operation movement in protest of the 1919 Rowlatt Acts, was a polygot speaking in Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Persian, Arabic and English, it should not be forgotten that he came into prominence in a public life as one of the Leader of Khilafat movement (1919-22), which aimed at restoring the Ottoman empire (the Ottoman Emperor was nominally the supreme religious and political leader of all Muslims across the world. However, this authority was never actually used.) , aimed to build political unity amongst Muslims and use their influence to protect the caliphate. In 1920 an alliance was made between Khilafat leaders and the Indian National Congress, with its leaders such as Dr. Ansari, Maulana Azad and Hakim Ajmal Khan grew personally close to Gandhi. At first this so called Hindu Muslim bonhomie was very successful, but it did not take long for the forces rallied for Khilafat to turn into an anti Hindu movement, the most horrific of which was seen in Malabar where over 10000 Hindus were done to death by Moplahs. Others like Ali Brothers cast away Gandhi like a piece of crumpled paper after using him like a ladder. Abul Kalam Azad stayed on and was promoted for the cause of Hindu Muslim unity, but he remained a pan Islamist till his last day. Khilafat movment lost its reason to exist with the victory of Mustafa Kemal’s forces, who overthrew the Ottoman rule to establish a pro-Western, secular republic in independent Turkey. He abolished the role of Caliph and sought no help from Indians. But the damage to India was done. In the greed for political gains and self promotion, Gandhi and Co gave political legitimacy to a bunch of rabid fanatics which would lead to the vivisection of the country in less than three decades.
“There is ample evidence now to prove that nationalist Muslims like Abul Kalam Azad and the then Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind president Ahmad Hussain Madani opposed Pakistan only because they felt that Partition would affect Muslim domination in the sub-continent and Muslims would heavily lose. Plus they tried to extract a heavy price from the Congress for their patriotism in the name of minority protection. Congress leaders have tried to hide the fact that as Congress president in 1945, Azad even went to the extent of agreeing to a proposal of rotating Indian headship. It meant India would have a Hindu and then a Muslim head of State and army chief by turns. So, eventually Gandhi and Nehru made Congress a hostage to ‘Hindu-Muslim unity at any cost’ which Jinnah skillfully exploited and got more concessions from the Congress to establish parity in numbers between Hindu and Muslim representation.”
Lets have a look at the opinions on Maulana Abul Kalam Azad by the secular and lslamic scholars/leaders of Pakistan.
“The tradition of rationalism suffered immensely at the hands of Qasim Nanotvi (founder of Deoband School in 1866 along with Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi) , Abul Kalam Azad, Anwar Shah Kashmiri (a top Deobandi preacher), Syed Sulaiman Nadwi and Mohammed Ali Jauhar.”
“The Ulema (including Azad) opposed to Partition thought that Hindus didn’t pose threat to the Muslims and that Muslims would be able to deal with the Hindus very easily in United India. They also belived that division of India would divide Muslim power”.
“”The Pan-Islamic Khilafat movement (Azad was one of its leaders) backed by the Congress and Gandhi capitalised on the Pan-Islamic sentiment amongst the Deobandi Indian Muslims and undermined the secular leadership of the Muslim League. Gandhi helped the Mullahs to set up a political organisation of their own namely Jamat-e-Ulema-e-Hind (JUH), which was later reincarnated in Pakistan as Jamat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, the extreme hardliner fundamentalists who were instrumental in the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan.” ( Azad was one of the main backers of the JUH in its initial years.). The Khilafat Movement has been idealised as an anti-colonial movement. But the main achievement of the Movement was the turning away of Indian Muslims from a secular understanding of politics towards a religious and communalist one. It has left a legacy of political activism of the Muslim clergy that bedevils India and Pakistani politics to this day. In the same article he writes: “The Khilafat Movement also introduced the religious idiom in the politics of Indian Muslims. Contrary to some misconceptions (and misrepresentations) it was not the Muslim League, the bearer of Muslim Nationalism in India, that introduced religious ideology in the politics of Indian Muslims but the Deobandi Ulema. Muslim Nationalism was a movement of Muslims and not a movement of Islam.”
In the words of Maulana Azad himself on partition, and on how it will affect Muslims of India:-
“As a Muslim, I for one am not prepared for a moment to give up my right to treat the whole of India as my domain and share in the shaping of its political and economic life. To me it seems a sure sign of cowardice to give up what is my patrimony and content myself with a mere fragment of it.” About possible consequences of the partition, he says if India was divided into two states, “there would remain three and half crores of Muslims scattered in small minorities all over the land. With 17 per cent in UP, 12 per cent in Bihar and 9 per cent in Madras, they will be weaker than they are today in the Hindu majority provinces. They have had their homelands in these regions for almost a thousand years and built up well known centres of Muslim culture and civilisation there.”
The Muslims who would be left behind, he said, would discover that they have become alien and foreigners. Backward industrially, educationally and economically, they would be left at the mercy of what would become ‘an unadulterated Hindu raj.’ On the other hand, their position within the Pakistan state will be vulnerable and weak. Nowhere in Pakistan will their majority be comparable to the Hindu majority in the Hindustan States. “In fact their majority will be so slight that it will be offset by the economical, educational and political lead enjoyed by non-Muslims in these areas. Even if this were not so and Pakistan were overwhelmingly Muslim in population, it still could hardly solve the problem of Muslims in Hindustan.”
“If the nine-crore [90 million] Muslims were thinly scattered all over India, and demand was made to reorganize the states in a manner to ensure their majority in one or two regions [i.e. within the Indian union], that would be understandable. Tell me, who can eliminate these populations? By demanding Pakistan we are turning our eyes away from the history of the last 1,000 years and, if I may use the League terminology, throwing more than 30 million Muslims into the lap of ‘Hindu Raj.’ The Hindu-Muslim problem that has created political tension between Congress and League will become a source of dispute between the two states.”
And since we had the honour of having him as the first education minister of so called independent India, its not surprising that we have to read about the Mughal rule in Delhi being golden age of India and many other such perversions, that are too numerous to be quoted in one article.
To sum it up, ‘’nationalist’’ Maulana Abul Kalam Azad opposed partition “till his last breath” because he saw it as an event which will scuttle the Islamic takeover of India as the Muslim populace will be divided forever.
Almost half a century before the Maulana Azad’s speech in Kolkata, Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, had expressed his lamentation in the following words—
Woh deene Ilahi ka bebak beda,
Nishan jiska aqsa-e-alam mein pahuncha;
Mazahim hua koi khatra na jiska,
Na Amman main thithka na kulzam mein jhijhka;
kiya pashe par jisne saton samandar,
woh dooba dahane mein Ganga ke aakar
(The armada of the religion of Allah, whose banner reached all over the world, which was undeterred by fear , which did not waver in the deserts nor hesitated in the rivers, which crossed the seven seas unchallenged and invincible, drowned when it arrived at the mouth of the Ganga. )
This lamentation is what Maulana Azad, like thousands of Islamic bigots, took to his grave with him.
And under the name of secularism, the game of white washing bigotry continues, whether it is calling Mahmud as ‘patron of arts’ , Akbar as ‘great’, ,Moplahs as freedom fighters , Khilafat as a nationalist movement and Abul Kalam Azad as a nationalist.