Who is Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, the latest Padma Vibhusan awardee?
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has many feathers on his hat. The latest is India’s second highest civilian award, Padma Vibushan. He was accorded this prestigious award on January 26, India’s Republic Day, by the central government for ‘his contribution to the field of spiritualism’. In 2021 the Maulana’s name has also figured in the a list prepared by the The Muslim 500 website. Thus choosing him among one of the world’s most influential Muslim leaders. Prior to this, Wahiduddin was awarded the Padmabhushan in 2000. He has received the Demiurgus Peace International Award, India’s National Citizens’ Award and the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavna Award.
Early days of Wahiduddin Khan
Among Maulana Wahiduddin’s seminal contributions to Islamic studies have been his commentary on the Quran. And a translation of the holy book into modern English. Many of the Maulana’s searching pieces were published in the Rashtriya Sawam Sevak Sangha (RSS) mouthpiece Organizer. The RSS presents him in its journal as an ‘enlightened’ Muslim.
Wahiduddin was born in Azamgarh, currently in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, in 1925. He was educated in a traditional Madrasa (Islamic seminary). His father was Fariduddin Khan, who passed away when Wahiduddin was a little child of four. He was brought up by his mother Zaibunnisa Khatun, with the help of his uncle Sufi Abdul Hamid Khan.
Wahiduddin’s family was deeply engaged with India’s freedom struggle. From the early age he was brought up on the ideals and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Young Wahiduddin soon after the completion of his religious studies in the Madrasa realized that while it gave him a profound understanding of Islam, he must also study English and modern sciences to remain up to date with the world at large. Without wasting time, he took great pains to learn both on his own account. Soon he was conversant in the best of the both worlds.
Publications of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
This enabled him to set out comfortably to his final goal. To present to the youth the immortal teachings of Islam in a language and style that was in keeping with the present age. In 1955 he published his first book in Urdu: Naye Ahad ke Darwaze Par (On the Doorsteps of a New Age). In quick succession he published two other books: Ilme Jadid Ka Challenge (later published in English as God Arises), and Al Islam. God Arises has been accepted as a standard account of Islam’s position on modern world and its many issues. It has been included in the curriculum of students in six Islamic states. It has been translated into Arabic, Hindi, Malayalam, Turkish and Sindhi. In the years to follow the Maulana has authored over 200 books.
He founded an organization named The Islamic Centre in New Delhi in 1970. From 1976 the Centre started publishing its own journal Al Risala. At present the journal is published in two other languages: English and Hindi. In 2001 Wahiduddin founded even a larger, an international organization: Centre for Peace and Spirituality. Al through his life the Maulana has worked relentlessly to spread the message of universal love and amity among all people, irrespective of religion, language, nationality and other differences.
(Written by Author and Translator Nilanjan Hajra)