:: Biography of Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi

Examplar of IslamicLiving, Exponent of Islam, Defender of Islamic Identity (1914 – 31 December, 1999)

During the twentieth century, Muslim India has produced great Islamic theologians,interpreters of the Quran, scholars of Hadith, Islamic jurists, historians, propagators of the faith, social reformers and educationists, but one cannotname another Islamic scholar whose concerns covered the entire spectrum of the collective existence of the Muslim Indians as a living community in thenational and international context, who, for decades, enjoyed universalrespect, and who was accepted by the non-Muslims, at the highest level, as the legitimate spokesman for the concerns and aspirations of the entire community.

Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi was indisputably one of the greatest exponents ofIslam in the second half of the twentieth century and because of his commandover Arabic, through his writings and speeches, he had a wide area of influenceextending far beyond the Sub-continent, particularly in the Arab World.

His exposition of Islam was marked by moderation. He was not a fanatic in any senseof the term but he believed in Islam as a blessing for mankind and as apositive and creative factor in human history. In a sense Islam was perceivedby him as a civilizational force which retained its relevance in the modern ageas a viable counterpoint to the Western civilization with all its excesses.

The Maulana’s forte was his extraordinary grasp of Islamic history. It is thishistoric sense of the rise and fall of Islam in different ages and regions,which prompted him ever to take a long-term rather than a short-term, a broadrather than a narrow, view of the problems the contemporary community faced.

The Maulana was the very anti-thesis of the media image of the fire-eating, narrow-mindedMullah. Orthodox as he was, he was far from being conservative in his approach.Umma-conscious as he was, his love for the motherland knew no bounds. He neverpreached ‘Jihad’ to restore Muslim dominance; He stood for mutual respect, forpeaceful coexistence, for human values, for establishing a social ambiencebased on tolerance and harmony in India and in the world at large.

The Maulana understood the spirit of the age. He appreciated the role of Democracyand Nationalism. With his deep insight into the Quran and his understanding ofthe personality of the Holy Prophet, he understood the implications of amulti-religious world, a global village divided into multi-religious States.

Scion of an illustrious family which has produced scholars and spiritual preceptors likeShah Alamullah Naqshbandi and Syed Ahmad Shaheed, the Maulana’s father, HakimSyed Abul Hai, was an eminent scholar of his time, immortalised by hisencyclopaedic work, Nuzhatul Khawatir, (in eight volumes) containing about5,000 biographical notes on Muslim scholars, theologians, jurists, etc. ofIndia, apart from other notable works.

Syed Abu lHasan Ali was born in 1333 A.H. (1914 A.D.). Having lost his father at the ageof nine, he was brought up by his elder brother, Dr. Syed Abul Ali Hasani whopractised medicine at Lucknow. He specialised in Arabic literature at NadwatulUlema, Lucknow, studied Hadith under Sheikh Husain Ahmed Madani at Darul Uloom,Deoband and Tafsir under Maulana Ahmad Ali of Lahore where he came in touchwith Iqbal whose poetry left an abiding impression on him. Besides literary andtheological studies, Maulana developed keen interest in Islamic history andalso learnt English in order to keep himself abreast of contemporary thought.He taught Arabic literature and Tafsir at the Nadwatul Ulema for ten years.

After the demise of his elder brother, he became the Secretary of Nadwatul Ulema andsubsequently as Rector he supervised both its academic and administrativemanagement.

In 1947,the Maulana could have followed his mentor Syed Sulaiman Nadvi and migrated toPakistan but he did not.

In hisformative years, the Maulana was associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami for a fewyears after its establishment by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi. Then he turned tothe Tablighi Jamaat founded by Maulana Ilyasi’s. But the Maulana’s geniusdemanded a wider horizon for its unfolding.

Spirituallya disciple of Maulana Abdul Qadir Raipuri, the Maulana belonged to the SufiSilsila Qadiriya Naqshbandia.

Apart from his long association with Nadwa (as student, teacher, Secretary andNazim), he served on the Shura of the Darul Uloom, Deoband, chaired theManaging Committee of Darul Musannefin, Azamgarh and established the Academy ofIslamic Research and Publications at Lucknow.

A prolific writer his works have been prescribed in the courses of study in anumber of Arab Universities. His notable Arabic work Maza Khasera al-Alamb’inhitat-il-Muslimeen was not only widely acclaimed but also carved out aplace for him in the literary circles of the Arab world. Several of his workshave since been translated into Arabic, English, Turkish, Bhasha Indonesia,Persian, Tamil and some other languages.

Karvaan-e-Zindagi,his autobiography in 8 volumes, and Purane-Chiragh (life sketches ofcontemporary personalities), his biography of Syed Ahmad Shaheed, his biographyof Hazrat Ali (KW) and his Tarikh-e-Dawat-o-Azimat are his permanentcontribution to Urdu literature.

He was anHonorary Member of the Academy of Arts and Letters, Damascus and Academy ofArabic Language, Amman and served as Visiting Professor in a number of Arabuniversities.

Internationally recognised, he was one of the Founder Members of the Rabita at-Alam-al-Islami,Makka, (1963), and served on the Higher Council of the Islamic University,Medina, the Executive Committee of the Federation of Islamic Universities,Rabat, and as the Chairman of the Board for the Centre of Islamic Studies ofthe Oxford University. The lectures he delivered at Indian, Arab and WesternUniversities have been highly appreciated as original contribution to the studyof Islam and on Islam’s relevance to the modern age.

In 1980,he received the Faisal International Award, followed by the Brunei Award andthe UAE Award in 1999.

A greatscholar, the Maulana was not confined to the cloister. Not involved in activepolitics, he never participated in party or electoral politics. He did not evenjoin the All India Muslim Majlis, established by his protégé Dr. A.J. Faridi in1967, as it took to electoral politics. The Maulana was one of the founders ofthe All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (1964), the All India Muslim PersonalLaw Board (1972) and the All India Dini Talimi Council. He presided over theMilli Convention in 1979. He also extended his patronage to the Islamic FiqhAcademy and the All India Milli Council when they were established.

Topromote communal harmony, the Maulana became one of the founders of FOCUS whichwas later transformed into Society for Communal Harmony. He also established amovement ‘Pyam-e-Insaniyat’ to preach the gospel of universal love andbrotherhood.

TheMaulana valued the Constitution and the secular order as a guarantor of theIslamic identity of the Muslim community and of non-discrimination against themin various spheres of life. But he clearly saw the historic process ofassimilation at work in India and the long-term objective of Hindu Nationalismto absorb the Muslim Indians into the Hindu fold. That explains his firm standon the question of Muslim Personal Law against any interference throughlegislation or through judicial pronouncement and on introduction of SaraswatiVandana in Schools in UP.

The greatpolitical battles of the Muslim community during the last decades of thecentury were fought under his guidance. The A.I. Muslim Personal Law Boardlaunched in 1985 the movement for legislative nullification of the SupremeCourt judgement in the Shah Bano Case which the Muslim Indians saw as the thinend of the wedge for interference with the Shariat and for distorting theIslamic identity of the community. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights onDivorcees) Act, 1986 was its fruit; though it had several inbuilt flaws whichhas landed the community subsequently in endless litigation.

With theMaulana’s consent in 1986, the AIMMM and the AIMPLB took up the question ofrestoration of the Babari Masjid when the unlocking of its doors in January1986 for regular darshan and puja converted it into a de-facto temple. Thoughhe did not directly involve himself in the Babari Masjid Movement (whoseCoordination Committee was later split to form the A.I. Babari Masjid ActionCommittees), he guided it at all critical points and participated innegotiations with the government as well as Hindu representatives. Subsequentto the Demolition, the AIMPLB, under his presidentship took the question in itsown hands including the direction of the proceedings in the title suit, thecriminal case and the inquiry.

In thelast decade of his life the Maulana served as the final arbiter, the last word,the Marja’, the ultimate point of reference, on any intra-communal differences,even if he did not play any active role in resolving them. He counselledcommitment with patience and wisdom, movement within the framework of democracyand rule of law, and dignity and not rhetoric in utterances.

With hisoff-repeated commitment to the principles of Democracy, Secularism andNon-violence as the only viable foundation for the Indian polity, his constantendeavour for inter-religious dialogue and for reconciliation and harmony, hecommanded universal respect for his moderation, learning and integrity, for hisinfluence in the Muslim community and for his outreach in the Islamic world,

Assiduouslysought by eminent political personalities from Indira Gandhi to Atal BehariVajpayee, the Maulana acted as the bridge between the government and thenational parties, on one hand, and Muslim community, on the other.

TheMaulana, it has been correctly observed, stood for social reform, religiousrevival and political awakening but not for Islamic Revolution. He wasrealistic enough not to chase mirages or instant solutions. He saw clearly thatthe destiny of Muslim Indians was intertwined with that of the Indian people asa whole and that, in the age of democratic pluralism, an Islamic Revolution orthe restoration of Islamic power was out of the realm of possibility but it waspossible for the Muslim Indians to lead an Islamic life and at the same time participatein managing the affairs of the country and contribute to its progress anddevelopment. This was the basis of his efforts to reduce the distance betweenthe Muslims and the Hindus, to demolish the wall of distrust between them andto create bonds of understanding and cooperation in rebuilding relations on theterms of common moral values of the society which he saw as being engulfed bydark forces of hatred and violence.

All hisactive life, with Lucknow as his base, he wandered ceaselessly, not only withinthe country but in the Arab-Islamic world and the West, in a constant search,it seems to me, for reconciliation between Islam and the West, between rivalideologies in the Arab-Islamic world, between India and Pakistan and betweenthe Hindu and Muslim Indians. Cautious in taking positions, he always lookedbeyond the turbulence of the time, through the flames of the currentcontroversy. Even when he took part, his role was that of a mediator, ofcounselling patience, of avoiding confrontation, of appealing to reason.

A man whopersonified Islamic values, soft-spoken, cultured and courteous to the core,humility and modesty, patience and tolerance, moderation and balance,generosity and compassion – all Islamic values – marked his personality. Neithera politician, nor a publicist, essentially a scholar, a man of religion, aspiritual person, a modern Dervish, a Mard-e-Momin who combined in himself thehighest values of the Shariat and the Tariqat, of orthodoxy and Sufism and whocommanded respect for his transparent sincerity, for his simple living and forhis selfless devotion to the common cause of the Community and the Nation, aman who lived for Allah alone and who wanted nothing but the good of all is nomore.

Hisdemise is the end of an era in the history of the Muslim India and has createda void impossible to fill in the foreseeable future.

May hissoul rest in eternal peace, Ameen!






21 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Islam is a blessing for all man kind. Muhammad is the last Messenger.

  2. 2

    muslim said,

    he was very great muslim muslims need such scholers.may his soul restwith eace ameen

  3. 3

    Anis Ahmed.Z said,

    True to every word, He was one of the Best persons to have ever lived on this earth. One of His Best Quality was not to get carried away by the people at any cost. I clearly remember when I was working in the UAE the speech in which he had clearly warned the Arabs of their deviation from islam especially in Dubai and Other Places, this when he had been invited to be given an award. Others would have merely sung songs of praise to the people who were to give away the award. He knew the trememdous responsibility on his shoulders and he also knew that answering allah was more important than receiving any number of awards.
    May Allah guide us in the right Direction and give more of such Personalities who will stand for sinners like me and guide us in the right Direction.
    May Allah reward him and accept his work to the whole of Humanity.Ameen

    • 4

      Zaka Ulllah said,

      please read his books, those r available in urdu, arabic, english turkish and other languages. u will feel confidence hope, real spirit of islam, islamic history, causes of fall of muslims, cosmatic attitude of west and much information about islam.
      Zaka Ullah

  4. 5

    he was a great person who make muslim people feel proud

  5. 7

    shirazuddin said,

    greatest personality of the century

  6. 8

    Ajmal Farooq Nadwi said,

    He was a great Islamic leader and “MAN OF THE 20th CENTURY”.

  7. 9

    Ismail Patel said,

    By Ismail Patel:
    Formerly A Lecturer in Mech. Engg. worked for ten years
    and Senior Supervisor, Maintenance at Indian Railway for Eleven years.
    Presently in USA.

    Al Furqaan: The Clear Differentiating book between the Truth and The Falsehood:

    Al Furqaan is one of the names of Al Quran. The name itself suggests
    that this book Al Quran is giving a clear difference between the truth
    and the false. By studying this marvelous and unique book, one can
    find out the way of the truth and obtain eternal salvation.

    In Quran in surah Al Hajj verse number 32 Allah says “Zalek,
    wamanyyuazzim sa’arillah fainnaha min taqwal qulub” meaning “This,
    who/which work respect the symbols of Allah are surely from piety
    (taqwa) of heart”

    Taqwa is a piety obtained through the truth, patience and sincere
    obedience of Allah and his beloved Prophet (Pbuh).

    Now in Quran in Surah Al Bakrah verse 158 it is written “Inn safa wal
    marwaa min sa’arillah” meaning “Safa and Marwaa are symbols of Allah”

    The Safaa and Marwaa are two small hills in Makkah in Arabia. These
    hills have a relation with a friend of Allah named Bibi Hajara. So,
    Allah has guided us that the things related with friends of Allah are
    called as symbols of Allah, and further commanded that the respect of
    such symbols is declared as piety of heart.

    This is very important thing to understand the true path and false
    path. The clear difference between the two paths is:

    (A) Path of Allah, his friends (Messengers, Prophets, friends) and the
    respect of his symbols.

    (B) Path of Satan, his followers (Namrud, Haman, Saddad, Firaun,
    Karoon, Abu Zahal, Abu Lahab, Magicians, Opponents of friends of Allah
    etc) and their places like the place where pillar symbol of Satan is
    hit by pebbles during hajj).

    The work of Path (A) is pious and highly virtuous and leads one to
    paradise (Jannah).
    The work of Path (B) is shirk and sinful and leads one to hell.

    It must be noted that when the respect of symbols provides piety of
    heart; what may be the rank of friends of Allah! Indeed; the friends
    of Allah are those from whom the light of Allah is emanating
    (spreading). To insult or neglect such pious friends of Allah may lead
    one to hell fire. In verse 91 of Surah Al-Ambiya in quran; Mariam (AS)
    and Isa (AS) are said as symbols of Allah. So, in fact, the friends of
    Allah are themselves among the symbols of Allah and their related
    things and matters in favor of them are also symbols of Allah. These
    must be respected. The wooden box containing things of friends of
    Allah is considered as peace providing in quran and that box was used
    by Bani Israel to obtain barakah is also a symbol of Allah.

    For the Mosque to be real mosque, the lectures which promote respects
    to the symbols of Allah and friends of Allah must be delivered. The
    Islamic history witness the mosque built by munafiqs and our
    Prophet(sav) was invited by them but Allah commanded our Prophet not
    to go there and commanded that the so called mosque must be destroyed.

    You may obtain very informative, fully demonstrated book with proofs
    from Quran and Hadis
    of Prophet (sav) and lucid book on Islam in English titled Introduction to Islam
    by surfing http://www.google.com and typing exactly “Introduction to Islam (Revised)”
    This will open in scribd publishing site in pdf. It has facility for
    full page and larger letter size.

  8. 10

    usman said,

    i used to love his books all the Muslims

  9. 11

    Zaka Ulllah said,

    He is one of my favouriete personalities. he was a muslim thinker and expressed thier thinkings in modern rational style of writing in his books as well as in his speeches. RehmatUAllah Hi Alih…..

  10. 12

    Rafi Ahmad said,

    His writings enliven,refresh and empower the reader.Such pious souls are a favour and reward for the umaah.May Allah bless him with all the niceties of hereafter.

  11. 13

    Saif said,

    What an idle life he has live..He was gr

  12. 14

    I always respect Ulma-e-Haqq. I’m fond of studying every Scholar. I shall certainly would like to go through the claimed to having a rich Islamic knowlege both in English and in Urdu. My gratitudes for those who send me i by value paid post value for the real cost of couple of books.

  13. 15

    The above quotation dt 19 July 2011 was laid on discussion Board of Maulana Manzoor Nu’mani in India. I did’nt reach by this time to take any stand toforeign. I don’t know why Mr. Google is particular to diverge me from Indian Scholars and converge on foreign Discussion Board. Why ?
    Jamia Nizamia Hyderabad also acted strange. At the first Instant when I opned the Discussion Board of Jamia Nizamia Hyderabad Deccun. There appeared the translation of Qur’nic verse. The discussion Board read” Laila-tull- quadre first quranic verse says that lailatul-quadre is so big a night that it is equal to one thousand night.” What I wrote may not be exactly the same word to word but the sense was like that. Below that narration it was written in rectangle ‘say something’ I reacted and stated that the translation went incorrect since the verse comes to be third in chapter 97 of holey Qur’an. And it is revealed that Lailatul Qadre Khairum Min Alfe Shahre. If translated sense comes to be Laila-tul-qadre is better that thousend months ” Alfe Shahre” means one thousend months. In a lunar month there are 29 or 30 days. therefore thousand months approximately equals30.000 nights. But Jamia Nizamia instead of appology closed the discussion Board on me. And suggested to join Internatikonal Discussion Board. I ask him why ? Why not with in the
    country? Why Google puts restraints I don’t know

  14. 17

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    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  15. 18

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Great work!

  16. 19

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    I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

  17. 20

    What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience concerning unpredicted emotions.

  18. 21

    […] Taken From https://tablighijamaat.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/biography-of-syed-abul-hasan-ali-nadvi/ […]

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