Abul Ala Mawdudi



One of the most influential Islamic thinkers of the twentieth century. His ideas have greatly influenced Islamic movements in his native subcontinent as well as the Middle East and North Africa in the west and Southeast Asia in the east. His voluminous (six volumes) translation and interpretation Tafhim-al-Qur'an, began in 1942 and completed in 1972, are his magnum opus - a masterpiece of Urdu literature unmatched in traditional religious scholarship. The Maulana's racy style of Urdu and its interpretative reading influenced Muslim thinkers and activists throughout the Muslim world. Maulana Mawdudi articulated his particular views on four aspects of life namely religion, politics, economy, and society. His was a clear and coherent writing pertaining to Islam and raising issues relating to Muslims in general and Indian Muslims in particular in the first half of the twentieth century. It all began concerning the future of his own native Hyderabad State in the Deccan, southern India. His view on Islam and the future of Muslims in British India have been the subject of numerous polemics, paeans and academic works. He spent ten years (1917 - 1927) in central and north India and worked for various newspapers: Madinab of Bijnor (1918), Taj of Jabalpur (1920), Muslim (1922 -23) and finally editor of al-Jam'iyyat, Delhi (1925) the official newspaper of the ulema of the Indian subcontinent. In 1928, he moved back to Hyderabad for a period of ten years. Hyderabad as the bastion of the Mughal culture defied the colonial example by using an Indian language, Urdu, for higher education and to achieve that Dar al-Tarjamah (Translation Bureau) was established in 1918. Maulana also contributed into it and eulogised the Bureau as the chief instrument of India's literary revival. The Bureau acted for introducing Western philosophers and school of thought to an Urdu-literate readership throughout India and promoted a debate between modern intellectual thought and Indian culture in general and Islam in particular. The collapse of the Khilafat movement in 1924 was a turning point in his life. He now believed that it was his duty to lead his community to political and religious salvation. He proposed a programme for safeguarding and promoting Muslim rights and advocated a separate homeland for Indian Muslims. In 1941 he had formed Jamat-i-Islami, which is even now a formidable force in Pakistan. As a result of his political activism, he had to go to jail several times in 1948 and 1967. Maulana's dispassionate analysis of the Muslim situation in Hyderabad at dawn of India's independence, and his support to the idea that Muslims agree to the merger of Hyderabad state with the Indian Union may surprise some but a cool and careful reading of the situation and the dilemma the Muslims were in, the thinking was clear and coherent. He did not believe in violent revolutionary upheaval but a general transformation through preaching and practical example. He advised Muslims to respect the democratic aspiration of the Hindu-majority of Hyderabad. However, it is rather odd that while confronting the East Pakistan crisis of 1971 the Maulana and his Jama'at failed to be guided by the same principles, which he had counselled the Hyderabadi Muslims to follow. Maulana Mawdudi was born in Aurangabad, India, (the family had settled there though they belonged to Delhi), and was raised in religious environment and that permanently imprinted his heart and mind. He was educated at home in Urdu, Arabic and Islamic texts. He died in New York and his funeral took place in Lahore that drew a crowd of over a million. The house where Maulana was born and raised has now been acquired and made a centre of Islamic da'wah. The ancestral home, named as 'Maulana Mawdudi House' opened its doors on 23 July 2000.

Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin

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