He perhaps never understood the fact that the powerful tormentor is never content with one kill
Moulana Wahiduddin Khan left for the heavenly abode just a couple of days ago at the age of 97. He will continue to influence many after his death as he did during his lifetime.
Personally, I was never a great fan of him. But how does it matter whether I was or not. He has one too many fans, anyway!
Any Islamic scholar, Islamic spiritual leader, intellectual or preacher, who sidesteps the questions of political Islam and questions concerning politics can never ever be true to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Political Islam is the pith and marrow of any discussion on Islamic tenets. In fact, Islam explicitly encourages the link between politics and religion. Moulana Wahiduddin Khan was found wanting on this count many a times.
I first read him in an article in The Times of India in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai, in which for the first time I came across Wahiduddin Khan’s favourite in Islamic history, the Treaty of Hudaybia, a 629 CE pact between Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Quraiysh tribe. That article could have been sufficient for me to understand the strand of thought of the Moulana. But I continued to read him off and on.
His book ‘God Arises’ is surely one of the easiest books on the concept of God and Godliness. It is because of its easiness that the book has been included in the curriculum of 6 Arab countries, translated into several languages. I enjoyed his ‘Islam and Science’ book and his deliberative and dour sentences on Darwinism. His example of an ant being an ant forever without any Darwinian evolution is perceptive. 13 years ago, such things seemed to be quite a revelation to me.
I enjoyed reading his transliteration of the Quran. His popularity seemed to have gained an astronomical leap after its publication. Though many a scholar do question the authenticity of this English translation. An odd article adopted from his writings in the local rag newspapers and magazines of Kashmir I always loved.
In mid to late 2009, I came across his Al-Risala (published in Urdu, Hindi, English, besides other languages), a magazine Moulana had started in the year 1976. I was driven towards the articles, written solely by Moulana Wahiduddin, because his comparison of Science and Islam seemed very effective. Being interested in Grand Unification Theory (GUT), basically the theory of everything, I felt fascinated by the titles the magazine had for any such science-related article which talked about relativity, Z-particle, bosons, gravitons, etc. One unique characteristic of the magazine I loved was its translation in English of the sentences which seemed difficult to understand. For me, because of my infantile comprehension of Urdu language, I felt gratitude for the author. Everytime I used to come across “How to prove God?”, reading intently with adolescent enthusiasm, I felt I was the next big thing in the world of elementary particle physics, about to unify three basic forces of the universe (Electromagnetic, and Strong and Weak nuclear forces) with gravitational force!
I always liked his travelogues on the travels he carried out across the world, where he disseminated his peaceful message of Islam. But his “peaceful” message of Islam alongside his exegesis of history seemed contradictory, at times confusing. From 2011 onwards, I always felt repulsed by the writings of the Moulana. He seemed to be a propagandist, a hook, line and sinker self-flagellator. All his spirituality and reason went to the dumps when he talked about the plight of the Muslims across the world, blaming them for the same. He had a lyrical disregard for the fact that there is a consistent othering of the Muslims at almost all the levels. While it endeared him to a larger audience, which included non-Muslims as well, putting him in the mould of a ‘Good Muslim’, it came at the cost of the need to be by the side of Muslims when they needed him the most.
For famous people like him, who have a following, to utter inconvenient truths must be the norm. But he was too self-indulgent to think of the larger cause of his community. His position on Babri Masjid can be excused to be a tactical move to avoid the loss of lives and not let the energies of the Muslims be consumed by such intractable issues. But his basic proposition that Muslims have brought unto themselves the state they are in is flawed and reeks of a flawed understanding of the sociopolitical history of Islam.
What had set in as a repulsive doubt in me early on developed into pure detestation with the passage of time. While I knew his support for the Balfour Agreement of 1917 as the absolutely right thing to have been done by the imperial masters, as a foundation stone to set up the Jewish state of Israel, what is baffling is his holding the Palestinians responsible for their plight today by not accepting the agreement. In his pliability, he perhaps never understood the fact that the powerful tormentor is never content with one kill. Instead of the 7 percent land that the Balfour agreement gave to the Jews to settle down and create their own separate homeland, even 70 percent doesn’t satisfy them today. This counterfactuality of his arguments is a very poor commentary on his understanding of history. Almost pathetic!
Nowhere does the Moulana stutter about as wrongly as in the case of Kashmir, for which he time and again invoked the Treaty of Hudaibia. Sad! In his innumerable declamations on Kashmir, he did a complete role reversal of the ‘Victim’ and ‘Oppressor’. He repeatedly told Kashmiris to accept their state of affairs as fait accompli and many inside Kashmir valley do agree that it is so. This concept of predestination and the practice of predestinarianism is humiliating of the people who suffer in the conflict.
Reducing Islam to predestination is aimed to contort and distort the message of Islam as being full of reason and rationale. In many of his booklets, he says that he had told two Kashmiri youth, by the grace of Allah (SWT), in the year 1992 that Kashmiris won’t get anything even after years and years vis-à-vis their political fortunes. Many years later in 2008, he says, he felt vindicated when he met the same youth that they got nothing because they were bound to get nothing. He cofuses his prescience in the case of Kashmir to be a product of his far-sightedness, thus self-extolling himself to the pedestal of prophethood. It is just a poor reading of history and conflict-resolution.
Just as an aside, if he was destined to die at 97, why did he go to a hospital or even get medicated is a complete puzzle!
Nobody can discount his work for spreading the Quran’s message, albeit, at times, in a falsified manner.
Uzair Qadri is a writer.