Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has left for his heavenly abode. Long live peace and religious coexistence, which he breathed all through his life, says OSWALD PEREIRA
On the auspicious occasion of Ram Navami on April 21, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan Sahab left his body to live in his heavenly abode. But his memories and saintly fragrance stay on this earth.
The lethal Covid-19 attack on Maulana Sahab snapped short his earthly life four years short of a century, leaving orphaned, millions of his followers, who consider him a fatherly figure. Born on January 1, 1925 in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, he is listed in the 500 most influential Muslims of the world.
The book, The 500 Most Influential Muslims by Georgetown University, Washington DC, named him “Islam’s Spiritual Ambassador to the world.” His approach, the book points out, is “popular among Indians, both Muslim and non-Muslim.”
An Islamic scholar, who adopted peace as the mission of his life, Maulana Sahab authored more than 200 books, including a commentary and a translation of the Quran in English, Hindi and Urdu. Known for his Gandhian views, he considered non-violence as the only method to achieve success.
I had the good fortune to meet Maulana Sahab at his residence in Nizamuddin, Delhi, on May 5, 2018 to present him copies of my book, How to Create Miracles in Our Daily Life, in which he had written six articles. Then 93, Maualana Sahab full of life and energy, talked on various spiritual subjects. He went into raptures about his love for the country and what freedom and independence meant to him.
He had said, “On the midnight of August 14-15, 1947, I felt like my feet had grown wings and I was flying freely like a bird in the sky. I have never ever been so happy and excited in my life like that night. It was the happiness of freedom.”
A true nationalist, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honour, in January 2021. In January 2000, he had received India’s third-highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan. He received the Demiurgus Peace International Award, under the patronage of the former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. In 2009, he received the National Citizens’ Award.
Maulana Sahab, a vegetarian by choice lived a simple life and believed in inter-faith cooperation, dialogue and co-existence of various religions. He was one of the first Muslim scholars to urge the community to give up the claim over the disputed Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya.
To give expression to his mission of peace, he founded the Centre for Peace and Spirituality in 2001. The website https://www.cpsglobal.org/ set up to spread the mission says: “From his early years, he showed a voracious appetite for modern knowledge, spending entire days in the library. As a result he became well versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. His extensive research led him to conclude that the need of the hour was to present Islamic teachings in the style and language of the post-scientific era.”
“In 1992, when the atmosphere was so highly charged throughout India due to the Babri Mosque incident, he felt the necessity to convince people of the need to restore peace and amity between the two communities, so that the country might once again tread the path of progress.
To fulfill this end, he went on a 15-day Shanti Yatra (peace march) through Maharashtra along with Acharya Muni Sushil Kumar and Swami Chidanand, addressing large groups of people at 35 different places on the way from Mumbai to Nagpur,” says the website.
“This Shanti Yatra contributed greatly to the return of peace in the country,” adds the website.
Maulana Sahab’s departure for his heavenly home on Ram Navami is of great significance, I believe. Ram and Allah, I believe, got together to call him back to where he belonged.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan Sahab has left the earth. Long live peace and religious coexistence, which he breathed all through his life.