It was one of the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadhan 1439. Between supererogatory acts of devotion, I decided to complete the reading of the masterpiece by Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi on Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar. These were two great Islamic personalities. Both extremely fluent in English and in Urdu.
Earlier this month, I had browsed through the Biography of Allama Shibli by Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadwi. Have even attempted a translation of 10 pages from the biography which focuses on the Allama political activism.
These gentlemen, too, were great scholars of the early and mid-twentieth century. Allama Shibli and his biographer were experts in the Arabic language. Allama Shibli had learnt French from the famed Professor Arnold at Aligarh.
The aforesaid books bring out, inter alia, one striking fact: Muslims of the sub-continent in the early part of the 20th century, despite being under colonial rule and actively engaged in fighting for the freedom of their country, were deeply concerned about the ummah. Every misfortune that struck the Muslims– from Turkey to Iraq to Palestine to the Hijaz– made their hearts bleed.
They raised money, wrote articles, organized conferences, sent a medical mission and even despatched delegations to major European capitals to lobby for the protection of Muslims the world-over especially after the first World War.
Following the victory of Ibn Saud, they repeatedly pleaded with the conqueror that the Hijaz must be governed by a joint coalition of representatives drawn from all Muslim countries.
In my humble opinion, they could do all this because they rose above petty differences in juristic interpretations, and thought globally.
In the words of a dear friend, “The brilliance and achievements of Indian Musalmans are quite unique, considering the fact that they were a minority throughout their rule. Their fecundity in all fields of human endeavours is a legacy to be cherished”.