Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, (also Sayyid Ahmad Khan) (Urdu: سید احمد خان} (October 17, 1817 – March 27, 1898), commonly known as Sir Syed (although this is technically incorrect; he would have properly been called "Sir Ahmed" as Sayyid is itself a title in this case), was an educator and politician, and an Islamic reformer and modernist. Sir Syed pioneered modern education for the Muslim community in sub-continent by founding the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later developed into the Aligarh Muslim University. His work gave rise to a new generation of Muslim intellectuals and politicians who composed the Aligarh movement to secure the political future of Muslims in India. He is widely considered as a 'traitor' in leftist and patriotic circles of India.

Born into Mughal nobility, Sir Syed earned a reputation as a distinguished scholar while working as a jurist for the British East India Company. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 he remained loyal to the British and was noted for his actions in saving European lives. After the rebellion he penned the booklet Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind (اسباب بغاوت ہند The Causes of the Indian Mutiny) — a daring critique, at the time, of British policies that he blamed for causing the revolt. Believing that the future of Muslims was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook, Sir Syed began promoting Western-style scientific education by founding modern schools and journals and organizing Muslim intellectuals. Towards this goal, Sir Syed founded the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 with the aim of promoting social and economic development of sub-continent’s Muslims.

One of the most influential Muslim politicians of his time, Sir Syed was suspicious of the independence movement and called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Rule. He denounced nationalist organizations such as the Indian National Congress, instead forming organizations to promote Muslim unity and pro-British attitudes and activities. Sir Syed promoted the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Muslims of sub-continent, and mentored a rising generation of Muslim politicians and intellectuals. Although hailed as a great Muslim leader and social reformer, Sir Syed remains the subject of controversy for his views on Hindu-Muslim issues.

Early life
Syed Ahmed Khan Bahadur was born at Delhi, India on 17th October, 1817, then the capital of the Mughal Empire. His family is said to have migrated from Herat (now in Afghanistan) in the time of Emperor Akbar, although by other accounts his family descended from Arabia. Many generations of his family had since been highly connected with the Mughal administration. His maternal grandfather Khwaja Fariduddin served as wazir ( وزیر Minister) in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a mansab,( منصب designate) a high-ranking administrative position and honorary name of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. Sir Syed's father Mir Muhammad Muttaqi was personally close to Akbar Shah II and served as his personal adviser. However, Sir Syed was born at a time when rebellious governors, regional insurrections and the British colonialism had diminished the extent and power of the Mughal state, reducing its monarch to a figurehead status. With his elder brother Syed Muhammad Khan, Sir Syed was raised in a large house in a wealthy area of the city. They were raised in strict accordance with Mughal noble traditions and exposed to politics. Their mother Azis-un-Nisa played a formative role in Sir Syed's life, raising him with rigid discipline with a strong emphasis on education. Sir Syed was taught to read and understand the Qur'an by a female tutor, which was unusual at the time. He received an education traditional to Muslim nobility in Delhi. Under the charge of Maulvi Hamiduddin, Sir Syed was trained in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and religious subjects. He read the works of Muslim scholars and writers such as Sahbai, Rumi and Ghalib. Other tutors instructed him in mathematics, astronomy and Islamic jurisprudence. Sir Syed was also adept at swimming, wrestling and other sports. He took an active part in the Mughal court's cultural activities. His elder brother founded the city's first printing press in the Urdu language along with the journal Sayyad-ul-Akbar(سیدالاخبار) . Sir Syed pursued the study of medicine for several years, but did not complete the prescribed course of study. Until the death of his father in 1838, Sir Syed had lived a life customary for an affluent young Muslim noble. Upon his father's death, he inherited the titles of his grandfather and father and was awarded the title of Arif Jung (عارف جنگ) the emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Financial difficulties put an end to Sir Syed's formal education, although he continued to study in private, using books on a variety of subjects. Sir Syed assumed editorship of his brother's journal and rejected offers of employment from the Mughal court. Having recognized the steady decline in Mughal political power, Sir Syed entered the British East India Company's civil service. He was appointed serestadar at the courts of law in Agra, responsible for record-keeping and managing court affairs. In 1840, he was promoted to the title of munshi(منشی) .

Scholarly works
The Social Reformer was a pioneering publication initiated by Sir Syed to promote liberal ideas in Muslim society. While continuing to work as a jurist, Sir Syed began focusing on writing on various subjects, mainly in Urdu. His career as an author began when he published a series of treatises in Urdu on religious subjects in 1842. He published the book A'thar-as-sanadid آثار لصنادید) Great Monuments) documenting antiquities of Delhi dating from the medieval era. This work earned him the reputation of a cultured scholar. In 1842, he completed the Jila-ul-Qulub bi Zikr-il Mahbub (جلال القلوب بذکرالمحبوب) and the Tuhfa-i-Hasan تحفۂ حسن)) along with the Tahsil fi jar-i-Saqil (تحصیل فی الجارصقیل) in1844. These works focused on religious and cultural subjects. In 1852, he published the two works Namiqa dar bayan masala tasawwur-i-Shaikh نمیق در بیان مسلۂ تصور شیخ)) and Silsilat ul-Mulk (سلسلۃالملک) He released the second edition of A'thar-as-sanadid (آثار لصنادید) in 1854. He also penned a commentary on the Bible — the first by a Muslim — in which he argued that Islam was the closest religion to Christianity, with a common lineage from Abrahamic religions.

Acquainted with high-ranking British officials, Sir Syed obtained close knowledge about British colonial politics during his service at the courts. At the outbreak of the Indian rebellion, on May 10, 1857, Sir Syed was serving as the chief assessment officer at the court in Bijnor. Northern India became the scene of the most intense fighting. The conflict had left large numbers of civilians dead. Erstwhile centres of Muslim power such as Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur were severely affected. Sir Syed was personally affected by the violence and the ending of the Mughal dynasty amongst many other long-standing kingdoms۔ Sir Syed and many other Muslims took this as a defeat of Muslim society. He lost several close relatives who died in the violence. Although he succeeded in rescuing his mother from the turmoil, she died in Meerut, owing to the privations she had experienced۔

In 1858, he was appointed to a high-ranking post at the court in Muradabad, where he began working on his most famous literary work. Publishing the booklet Asbab-e-Bhaghawath-e-Hind اسباب بغاوت ہند)) in 1859, Sir Syed studied the causes of the revolt. In this, his most famous work, he rejected the common notion that the conspiracy was planned by Muslim élites, who were insecure at the diminishing influence of Muslim monarchs. Sir Syed blamed the British East India Company for its aggressive expansion as well as the ignorance of British politicians regarding Local culture. However, he gained respect for British power, which he felt would dominate sub-continent for a long period of time. Seeking to rehabilitate Muslim political influence, Sir Syed advised the British to appoint Muslims to assist in administration. His other writings such as Loyal Muhammadans of India, Tabyin-ul-Kalam (تابین الکلام) and Series of Essays on the Life of Muhammad and Subjects Subsidiary Therein helped to create cordial relations between the British authorities and the Muslim community۔

Muslim reformer
Through the 1850s, Syed Ahmed Khan began developing a strong passion for education. While pursuing studies of different subjects, Sir Syed began to realize the advantages of Western-style education, which was being offered at newly-established colleges across India. Despite being a devout Muslim, Sir Syed criticized the influence of traditional dogma and religious orthodoxy, which had made most sub-continent’s Muslims suspicious of British influences. Sir Syed began feeling increasingly concerned for the future of Muslim communities. A scion of Mughal nobility, Sir Syed had been reared in the finest traditions of Muslim élite culture and was aware of the steady decline of Muslim political power across sub-continent. The animosity between the British and Muslims before and after the rebellion (Independence War) of 1857 threatened to marginalize Muslim communities for many generations. Sir Syed intensified his work to promote co-operation with British authorities, promoting loyalty to the Empire amongst Muslims. Committed to working for the upliftment of Muslims, Sir Syed founded a modern madrassa in Muradabad in 1859; this was one of the first religious schools to impart scientific education. Sir Syed also worked on social causes, helping to organize relief for the famine-struck people of the Northwest Frontier Province in 1860. He established another modern school in Ghazipur in 1863.

Upon his transfer to Aligarh in 1864, Sir Syed began working wholeheartedly as an educator. He founded the Scientific Society of Aligarh, the first scientific association of its kind in sub-continent. Modelling it after the Royal Society and the Royal Asiatic Society, Sir Syed assembled Muslim scholars from different parts of the country. The Society held annual conferences, disbursed funds for educational causes and regularly published a journal on scientific subjects in English and Urdu. Sir Syed felt that the socio-economic future of Muslims was threatened by their orthodox aversions to modern science and technology. He published many writings promoting liberal, rational interpretations of In face of pressure from religious Muslims; Sir Syed avoided discussing religious subjects in his writings, focusing instead on promoting education.

Advocacy of Urdu
The onset of the Hindi-Urdu controversy of 1867 saw the emergence of Sir Syed as a political leader of the Muslim community. He became a leading Muslim voice opposing the adoption of Hindi as a second official language of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). Sir Syed perceived Urdu as the lingua franca of Muslims. Having been developed by Muslim rulers of sub-continent, Urdu was used as a secondary language to Persian, the official language of the Mughal court. Since the decline of the Mughal dynasty, Sir Syed promoted the use of Urdu through his own writings. Under Sir Syed, the Scientific Society translated Western works only into Urdu. The schools established by Sir Syed imparted education in the Urdu medium. The demand for Hindi, led largely by Hindus, was to Sir Syed an erosion of the centuries-old Muslim cultural domination of India. Testifying before the British-appointed education commission, Sir Syed controversially exclaimed that "Urdu was the language of gentry and Hindi that of the vulgar. His remarks provoked a hostile response from Hindu leaders, who unified across the nation to demand the recognition of Hindi.

The success of the Hindi movement led Sir Syed to further advocate Urdu as the symbol of Muslim heritage and as the language of all the Muslims of sub-continent. His educational and political work grew increasingly centered around and exclusively for Muslim interests. He also sought to persuade the British to give Urdu extensive official use and patronage. His colleagues and protégés such as Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Maulvi Abdul Haq developed organisations such as the Urdu Defence Association and the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu انجمن ترقی اردو , committed to the perpetuation of Urdu. Sir Syed's protégé Shibli Nomani led efforts that resulted in the adoption of Urdu as the official language of the Hyderabad State and as the medium of instruction in the Osmania University جامعہ عثمانیہ . To Muslims in northern and western areas of suh-continent, Urdu had become an integral part of political and cultural identity. However, the division over the use of Hindi or Urdu further provoked communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus in sub-continent.

Founding Aligarh
On April 1, 1869, Sir Syed travelled to England, where he was awarded the “Order of the Star of India” from the British government on August 6. Travelling across England, he visited its colleges and was inspired by the culture of learning established after the Renaissance. Sir Syed returned to sub-continent in the following year determined to build a "Muslim Cambridge." Upon his return, he organized the "Committee for the Better Diffusion and Advancement of Learning among “Muhammadans" (Muslims) on December 26, 1870. Sir Syed described his vision of the institution he proposed to establish in an article written sometime in 1872 and re-printed in the Aligarh Institute Gazette of April 5, 1911:

I may appear to be dreaming and talking like Shaikh Chilli (شیخ چلی, a character) but we aim to turn this M.A.O. College into a University similar to that of Oxford or Cambridge. Like the churches of Oxford and Cambridge, there will be mosques attached to each College. The College will have a dispensary with a Doctor and a compounder, besides a Unani Hakim. It will be mandatory on boys in residence to join the congregational prayers (namaz) at all the five times. Students of other religions will be exempted from this religious observance. Muslim students will have a uniform consisting of a black alpaca, half-sleeved chugha and a red Fez cap. Bad and abusive words which boys generally pick up and get used to, will be strictly prohibited. Even such a word as a "liar" will be treated as an abuse to be prohibited. They will have food either on tables of European style or on chaukis in the manner of the Arabs… Smoking of cigarette or huqqa and the chewing of betels shall be strictly prohibited. No corporal punishment or any such punishment as is likely to injure a student's self-respect will be permissible. It will be strictly enforced that boys shall not discuss their religious differences in the College or in the boarding house. At present it is like a day dream. I pray to God that this dream may come true.

By 1873, the committee under Sir Syed issued proposals for the construction of a college in Aligarh. He began publishing the journal Tahzib al-Akhlaq (تہذیب الاخلاق Social Reformer) to spread awareness and knowledge on modern subjects and promote reforms in Muslim society. Sir Syed worked to promote reinterpretation of Muslim ideology in order to reconcile tradition with Western education. He argued in several books on Islam that the Qur'an rested on an appreciation of reason and natural law, making scientific inquiry important to being a good Muslim. Sir Syed established a modern school in Aligarh and, obtaining support from wealthy Muslims and the British, laid the foundation stone of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College on May 24, 1875. He retired from his career as a jurist the following year, concentrating entirely on developing the college and on religious reform. Sir Syed's pioneering work received support from the British. Although intensely criticized by orthodox religious leaders hostile to modern influences, Sir Syed's new institution attracted a large student body, mainly drawn from the Muslim gentry and middle classes. The curriculum at the college involved scientific and Western subjects, as well as Oriental subjects and religious education. The first chancellor was Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, a prominent Muslim noblewoman, and Sir Syed invited an Englishman, Theodore Beck, to serve as the first college principal. The college was originally affiliated with Calcutta University but was transferred to the Allahabad University in 1885. Near the turn of the 20th century, it began publishing its own magazine and established a law school. In 1920, the college was transformed into a university.

Political career
In 1878, Sir Syed was nominated to the Viceroy's Legislative Council. He testified before the education commission to promote the establishment of more colleges and schools across sub-continent. In the same year, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Association to promote political co-operation amongst Muslims from different parts of the country. In 1886, he organized the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Aligarh, which promoted his vision of modern education and political unity for Muslims. His works made him the most prominent Muslim politician in 19th century’s sub-continent, often influencing the attitude of Muslims on various national issues. He supported the efforts of political leaders Surendranath Banerjea and Dadabhai Naoroji to obtain representation for locals in the government and civil services. In 1883, he founded the Muhammadan Civil Service Fund Association to encourage and support the entry of Muslim graduates into the Indian Civil Service (ICS).

However, Sir Syed's political views were shaped by a strong aversion to the emerging nationalist movement, which was composed largely of Hindus. Sir Syed opposed the Indian National Congress (created in 1885) on the grounds that it was a Hindu-majority organization, calling on Muslims to stay away from it. While fearful of the loss of Muslim political power owing to the community's backwardness, Sir Syed was also averse to the prospect of democratic self-government, which would give control of government to the Hindu-majority population:
His fierce criticism of the Congress and Indian nationalists created rifts between Muslims and Hindus. At the same time, Sir Syed sought to politically ally Muslims to the British government. An avowed loyalist of the British Empire, Sir Syed was nominated as a member of the Civil Service Commission in 1887 by Lord Dufferin. In 1888, he established the United Patriotic Association at Aligarh to promote political co-operation with the British and Muslim participation in the government. Syed Ahmed Khan was knighted by the British government in 1888 and in the following year he received an LL.D. honoris causa from the Edinburgh University.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan lived the last two decades of his life in Aligarh, regarded widely as the mentor of 19th- and 20th century Muslim intellectuals and politicians. He remained the most influential Muslim politician in India, with his opinions guiding the convictions of a large majority of Muslims Battling illnesses and old age. This great scholar and leader died on 27th March, 1898, at Aligarh, India and was buried besides Sir Syed Masjid inside the campus of the Aligarh University. His funeral was attended by thousands of students, Muslim leaders and British officials. Sir Syed is widely commemorated across South Asia as a great Muslim reformer and visionary.

Sir Syed was mourned by a large number of friends and admirers both within and outside South Asia.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

Abul Ala was born on Rajab 3, 1321 AH (September 25, 1903 AD) in Aurangabad, a well-known town in the former princely state of Hyderabad (Deccan), presently Maharashtra, India. Born in a respectable family, his ancestry on the paternal side is traced back to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be on him).

Educational & Intellectual Growth:
After acquiring early education at home, Abul Ala was admitted in Madrasah Furqaniyah, a high school which attempted to combine the modern Western with the traditional Islamic education. After successfully completing his secondary education, young Abul Ala was at the stage of undergraduate studies at Darul Uloom, Hyderabad, when his formal education was disrupted by the illness and eventual death of his father. By the early 1920s, Abul Ala knew enough Arabic, Persian and English, besides his mother-tongue, Urdu, to study the subjects of his interest independently. Thus, most of what he learned was self-acquired though for short spells of time he also received systematic instruction and guidance from some competent scholars.

Involvement in Journalism:
After the interruption of his formal education, Maududi turned to journalism in order to make his living. In 1918, he was already contributing to a leading Urdu newspaper, and in 1920, at the age of 17, he was appointed editor of Taj, which was being published from Jabalpore, a city in the province now called Madhya Pradesh, India. Late in 1920, Maududi came to Delhi and first assumed the editorship of the newspaper Muslim (1921-23), and later of al-Jam’iyat (1925-28), both of which were the organs of the Jam’iyat-i ‘Ulama-i Hind, an organisation of Muslim religious scholars. Under his editorship, al-Jam’iyat became the leading newspaper of the Muslims of India.

Interest in Politics:
Around the year 1920, Maududi also began to take some interest in politics. He participated in the Khilafat Movement, and became associated with the Tahrik-e Hijrat, which was a movement in opposition to the British rule over India and urged the Muslims of that country to migrate en masse to Afghanistan.

First Book:
During 1920-28, Maulana Maududi also translated four different books, one from Arabic and the rest from English. He also made his mark on the academic life of the Subcontinent by writing his first major book, al-Jihad fi al-Islam. This is a masterly treatise on the Islamic law of war and peace. It was first serialised in al-Jam’iyat in 1927 and was formally published in 1930. It was highly acclaimed both by the famous poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar (d. 1931), the famous leader of the Khilafat Movement. Though written during his ’20s, it is one of his major and most highly regarded works.

Research & Writings:
After his resignation from al-Jam’iyat in 1928, Maududi moved to Hyderabad and devoted himself to research and writing. It was in this connection that he took up the editorship of the monthly Tarjuman al-Qur’an in 1933, which since then has been the main vehicle for the dissemination of Maududi’s ideas. He proved to be a highly prolific writer, turning out several scores of pages every month. Initially, he concentrated on the exposition of ideas, values and basic principles of Islam. He paid special attention to the questions arising out of the conflict between the Islamic and the contemporary Western whorl. He also attempted to discuss some of the major problems of the modern age and sought to present Islamic solutions to those problems. He also developed a new methodology to study those problems in the context of the experience of the West and the Muslim world, judging them on the theoretical criterion of their intrinsic soundness and viability and conformity with the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. His writings revealed his erudition and scholarship, a deep perception of the significance of the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and a critical awareness of the mainstream of Western thought and history. All this brought freshness to Muslim approach to these problems and lent a wider appeal to his message.

In the mid ’30s, Maududi started writing on major political and cultural issues confronting the Muslims of India at that time and tried to examine them from the Islamic perspective rather than merely from the viewpoint of short-term political and economic interests. He relentlessly criticized the newfangled ideologies which had begun to cast a spell over the minds and hearts of his brethren-in-faith and attempted to show the hollowness of those ideologies. In this connection, the idea of nationalism received concerted attention from Maududi when he forcefully explained its dangerous potentialities as well as its incompatibility with the teachings of Islam. Maududi also emphasised that nationalism in the context of India meant the utter destruction of the separate identity of Muslims. In the meantime, an invitation from the philosopher-poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal persuaded him to leave Hyderabad and settle down at a place in the Eastern part of Punjab, in the district of Pathankot. Maududi established what was essentially an academic and research centre called Darul-Islam where, in collaboration with Allama Iqbal, he planned to train competent scholars in Islamics to produce works of outstanding quality on Islam, and above all, to carry out the reconstruction of Islamic Thought.

Founding the Party:
Around the year 1940, Maududi developed ideas regarding the founding of a more comprehensive and ambitious movement and this led him to launch a new organisation under the name of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Maududi was elected Jamaat’s first Ameer and remained so till 1972 when he withdrew from the responsibility for reasons of health.

Struggle & Persecution:
After migrating to Pakistan in August 1947, Maududi concentrated his efforts on establishing a truly Islamic state and society in the country. Consistent with this objective, he wrote profusely to explain the different aspects of the Islamic way of life, especially the socio-political aspects. This concern for the implementation of the Islamic way of life led Maududi to criticise and oppose the policies pursued by the successive governments of Pakistan and to blame those in power for failing to transform Pakistan into a truly Islamic state. The rulers reacted with severe reprisal measures. Maududi was often arrested and had to face long spells in prison.

During these years of struggle and persecution, Maududi impressed all, including his critics and opponents, by the firmness and tenacity of his will and other outstanding qualities. In 1953, when he was sentenced to death by the martial law authorities on the charge of writing a seditious pamphlet on the Qadyani problem, he resolutely turned down the opportunity to file a petition for mercy. He cheerfully expressed his preference for death to seeking clemency from those who wanted, altogether unjustly, to hang him for upholding the right. With unshakeable faith that life and death lie solely in the hands of Allah, he told his son as well as his colleagues: "If the time of my death has come, no one can keep me from it; and if it has not come, they cannot send me to the gallows even if they hang themselves upside down in trying to do so." His family also declined to make any appeal for mercy. His firmness astonished the government which was forced, under strong public pressure both from within and without, to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment and then to cancel it.

Intellectual Contribution:
Maulana Maududi has written over 120 books and pamphlets and made over a 1000 speeches and press statements of which about 700 are available on record.

Maududi’s pen was simultaneously prolific, forceful and versatile. The range of subjects he covered is unusually wide. Disciplines such as Tafsir, Hadith, law, philosophy and history, all have received the due share of his attention. He discussed a wide variety of problems C political, economic, cultural, social, theological etc. C and attempted to state how the teachings of Islam were related to those problems. Maududi has not delved into the technical world of the specialist, but has expounded the essentials of the Islamic approach in most of the fields of learning and inquiry. His main contribution, however, has been in the fields of the Qur’anic exegesis (Tafsir), ethics, social studies and the problems facing the movement of Islamic revival. His greatest work is his monumental tafsir in Urdu of the Qur’an, Tafhim al-Qur’an, a work he took 30 years to complete. Its chief characteristic lies in presenting the meaning and message of the Qur’an in a language and style that penetrates the hearts and minds of the men and women of today and shows the relevance of the Qur’an to their everyday problems, both on the individual and societal planes. He translated the Qur’an in direct and forceful modern Urdu idiom. His translation is much more readable and eloquent than ordinary literal translations of the Qur’an. He presented the Qur’an as a book of guidance for human life and as a guide-book for the movement to implement and enforce that guidance in human life. He attempted to explain the verses of the Qur’an in the context of its total message. This tafsir has made a far-reaching impact on contemporary Islamic thinking in the Subcontinent, and through its translations, even abroad.

The influence of Maulana Maududi is not confined to those associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami. His influence transcends the boundaries of parties and organisations. Maududi is very much like a father-figure for Muslims all over the world. As a scholar and writer, he is the most widely read Muslim writer of our time. His books have been translated into most of the major languages of the world C Arabic, English, Turkish, Persian, Hindi, French, German, Swahili, Tamil, Bengali, etc. C and are now increasingly becoming available in many more of the Asian, African and European languages.

Travels & Journeys Abroad:
The several journeys which Maududi undertook during the years 1956-74 enabled Muslims in many parts of the world to become acquainted with him personally and appreciate many of his qualities. At the same time, these journeys were educative for Maududi himself as well as they provided to him the opportunity to gain a great deal of first-hand knowledge of the facts of life and to get acquainted with a large number of persons in different parts of the world. During these numerous tours, he lectured in Cairo, Damascus, Amman, Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Kuwait, Rabat, Istanbul, London, New York, Toronto and at a host of international centres. During these years, he also participated in some 10 international conferences. He also made a study tour of Saudi Arabia, Jordan (including Jerusalem), Syria and Egypt in 1959-60 in order to study the geographical aspects of the places mentioned in the Qur’an. He was also invited to serve on the Advisory Committee which prepared the scheme for the establishment of the Islamic University of Madinah and was on its Academic Council ever since the inception of the University in 1962.

He was also a member of the Foundation Committee of the Rabitah al-Alam al-Islami, Makkah, and of the Academy of Research on Islamic Law, Madinah. In short, he was a tower of inspiration for Muslims the world over and influenced the climate and pattern of thought of Muslims, as the Himalayas or the Alps influence the climate in Asia or Europe without themselves moving about.

His Last Days:
In April 1979, Maududi’s long-time kidney ailment worsened and by then he also had heart problems. He went to the United States for treatment and was hospitalised in Buffalo, New York, where his second son worked as a physician. Even at Buffalo, his time was intellectually productive. He spent many hours reviewing Western works on the life of the Prophet and meeting with Muslim leaders, their followers and well-wishers. Following a few surgical operations, he died on September 22, 1979 at the age of 76. His funeral was held in Buffalo, but he was buried in an unmarked grave at his residence (Ichra) in Lahore after a very large funeral procession through the city.

May Allah bless him with His mercy for his efforts and reward him amply for the good that he has rendered for the nation of Islam (Ummah).

Monday, June 8, 2009


Ibn Rushd was born in Cordova (Qurtubah), Spain, to a family with a long and well-respected tradition of legal and public service. His grandfather, the influential Abdul-Walid Muhammad (d. 1126), was the chief judge of Cordova (Qurtubah), under the Almoravid dynasty, establishing himself as a specialist in legal methodology and in the teachings of the various legal schools. Ibn Rushd's father, Abdul-Qasim Ahmad, although not as venerated as his grandfather, held the same position until the Almoravids were ousted by the Almohad dynasty in 1146.

Ibn Rushd's education followed a traditional path, beginning with studies in hadith, linguistics, jurisprudence and scholastic theology. The earliest biographers and Muslim chroniclers speak little about his education in science and philosophy, where most interest from Western scholarship in him lies, but note his propensity towards the law and his life as a jurist.

Ibn Rushd traveled to Marrakesh and came under the patronage of the caliph 'Abd al-Mu'min, likely involved in educational reform for the dynasty. The Almohads, like the Almoravids they had supplanted, were a Northwest African Kharijite-influenced Berber reform movement. Founded in the theology of Ibn Tumart (1078-1139), who emphasized divine unity and the idea of divine promise and threat, he believed that a positive system of law could co-exist with a rational and practical theology. This led to the concept that law needed to be primarily based on revelation instead of the traditions of the jurists. Ibn Talmart's theology affirmed that the existence and essence of God could be established through reason alone, and used that to posit an ethical legal theory that depended on a divine transcendence.

Ibn Rushd's relationship with the Almohad was not merely opportunistic, (considering the support his father and grandfather had given to the Almoravids) for it influenced his work significantly; notably his ability to unite philosophy and religion. It was Ibn Tufayl who introduced Ibn Rushd to the ruler. The prince was impressed by the young philosopher and employed him first as chief judge and later as chief physician, the prince complained about the challenge posed by the Greek philosopher’s texts and commissioned Ibn Rushd to write a series of commentaries on them.

The events surrounding Ibn Rushd towards the end of his life, including his banishment, signaled a broader cultural shift in the Islamic world. Interest in philosophy was primarily among the elite: scholars, royal patrons and civil servants. Nevertheless, its presence among the ruling elite spoke of the diversity of what it meant to be "Muslim." As interest in philosophy waned in the Muslim world after Ibn Rushd, his writings found new existence and intellectual vigor in the work of Christian and Jewish philosophers. The twelfth and thirteenth centuries saw an intellectual revival in the Latin West, with the first great universities being established in Italy, France and England. Within the walls of the University of Paris, a group of philosophers came to identify themselves with the Aristotelian philosophy presented by Ibn Rushd, particularly certain elements of its relation to religion. Ibn Rushd (Averroists), their accusers charged, had promoted the doctrines of one intellect for all humans, denial of the immortality of the soul, claimed that happiness can be found in this life and promoted the innovative doctrine of “double truth”. Double truth, the idea that there are two kinds of truth, religious and philosophical, was not held by Ibn Rushd himself but was an innovation of the Averroists.

Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd, better known in the Latin West as Averroes, lived during a unique period in Western intellectual history, in which interest in philosophy and theology was waning in the Muslim world and just beginning to flourish in Latin Christendom. Just fifteen years before his birth, the greatest critic of Islamic philosophy, al-Ghazzali (1058-1111), had died after striking a deadly blow to Muslim Neoplatonic philosophy, particularly the work of the great philosopher Ibn Sina (980-1037). From such bleak circumstances emerged the Spanish-Muslim philosophers, of which the jurist and physician Ibn Rushd came to be regarded as the final and most influential Muslim philosopher, especially to those who inherited the tradition of Muslim philosophy in the West.

Nevertheless, without the work of the Spanish-Muslim philosopher, much of what occurred in medieval philosophy would have not existed. He became an example of how religions are dynamic and evolving traditions, often shaped by epistemological influences from other traditions.

A common theme throughout his writings is that there is no incompatibility between religion and philosophy when both are properly understood. His contributions to philosophy took many forms, ranging from his detailed commentaries on Aristotle, his defense of philosophy against the attacks of those who condemned it as contrary to Islam and his construction of a form of Aristotelianism which cleansed it, as far as was possible at the time, of Neoplatonic influences.

In the Western world, he was recognized, as early as the thirteenth century, as the Commentator of Aristotle, contributing thereby to the rediscovery of the Master, after centuries of near-total oblivion in Western Europe. That discovery was instrumental in launching Latin Scholasticism and, in due course, the European Renaissance of the fifteenth century. Notwithstanding, there has been very little attention to Averroes' work in English, although greater interest has been shown in French, since the publication of Ernest Renan's Averroes et l'averroisme in 1852, and since that time in Spanish.