Abul Hasan Ali An-Nadwi: A Man of Hope through a Century of Turmoil (Part–VI)
Saddam Hussain’s adventure into Kuwait in 1990 created a situation of emergency and took Ali Miyan to Saudi Arabia to participate in a meeting organised to seek the consensus of the world scholars over the Americans forces that had come into the country. At various other forums in India `Ali Miyan openly condemned the Iraqi regime and, considering Arab nationalism as the root cause of religious decline, social imbalances, material backwardness and political turmoil in the Arab world, wrote several articles for the Urdu magazine “Ta`mir-e-Hayat” criticising it in no concealed words.
The events also prompted him to write a letter to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in which he pointed out that two primary constituents were missing from the Islamic world: (i) a living model of an Islamic society, and (ii) a powerful Islamic leadership that could face up the challenges of the time. It was the lack of the former that had prevented the spread of Islamic call, and that of the latter that had led the youth to respond with enthusiasm to any call that challenged the West, however hollow the challenge were to be. Therefore, it was the crying need of the time to answer to these two pressing needs. He thought the king was in a position both to take steps that would create the model Islamic community as well as could personally assume the role of leadership of the Islamic world in the footsteps of `Umar b. `Abdul `Aziz! The king wrote him back that he was fully aware of the need and the challenge, as well as of the fact that it was only return to the Qur’an and Sunnah and the good example set by the renowned men of Islam that guaranteed salvation to the Islamic world.
When Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister of India in 1991, Ali Miyan wrote to him his customary letter warning him of the depravity to which the country had fallen, the corruption that had boomeranged in the administration, and the moral degradation to which the masses had sunk. Another contemporary evil deserved special attention. It was the wide recourse to violence, which was fuelled by the hatred being freely distributed in tons. Stories that were several centuries old, and which had probably no historical basis, were being dug up from the archives, or cooked up anew, to spread hatred against a section of the people and incite violence against them. Whatever else Rao did, (many people were convinced that he had a hidden hand in the demolition of the Babri Mosque), in response to Ali Miyan’s letter, but at least he spoke to him over the telephone to offer him the Padma Bhushan award. But, following his principles, `Ali Miyan declined to accept the honour. In 1992 Rao also wrote to him (by his own hand in rhetorical Urdu) to come and meet him at Delhi and work out a formula acceptable both to the Muslims as well as the Hindu fundamentalists who had vowed the destruction of the Mosque. But, Ali Miyan felt the dangers involved in meeting politicians on their own grounds, and, therefore, preferred to see him in the company of the Babari Masjid Action Committee in order not to be led into a situation where he would have to bear the responsibility for the unpredictable forthcoming events.
Finally, on the 6th of December 1992, preceded by open rehearsals of the demolition, in front of the TV cameras, and with full co-operation of the governmental security forces, the Babri Masjid was demolished. It led to protest by the Muslims which largely remained peaceful. But the security forces retaliated in the most brutal manner. As a result, tens of thousands of Muslims were martyred and millions of dollars of their property was destroyed in a couple of days. Not only the police and the security forces, but also the para-military organisations seemed to be acting on a plan. They were sure of the demolition, sure of the protests, and sure of what they were then required to do. With the security forces doing their honourable job, and with the cover provided by them, those that had for fifty years been trained how to attack, loot and plunder on short notice, took charge. In the days of complete chaos that followed, all limits of humanity were crossed, in the open, without any majority community organisation raising a single voice of protest. In some places Muslim women were raped in the street while cameras made films. Subsequently they were shot dead.
Ali Miyan was unable to account for the violence against those who were only protesting – peacefully – over an illegal act. Unable to explain, and, perhaps finding the truth too bitter for verbal expression, all that he could think was that the Indians were probably passing through a phase of madness. Otherwise, he didn’t know how to explain the massive all-India killing, burning, looting, plundering, and throwing of children on the tracks of running trains, cutting humans into pieces and various other more horrendous acts of violence. In a speech, perhaps the longest of his life, he betrayed his confusion. Was all that he had been saying, for fifty years, a pleasant but deluding philosophy? Merely fashionable words? Was his faith in the ultimate goodness of the humans wrongly placed? Was humanity, as he so often said, merely sleeping, or animalism lived side by side, deep in the souls of those who outwardly and incessantly expressed their faith in peaceful living, and swore by non-violence, but that only when they were not busy with the acts of violence? These were perhaps difficult questions for him to answer. And his speech, which was closer to being a long harangue, betrayed the disquiet of his mind. Although he still found, perhaps, grounds to hold on to his philosophy of hope, he could not, at the same time, be as forceful in his call to reason, logic and goodness. For the first time his mind seemed to be thinking whether retaliation was truly so silly as to be ruled out? But, in keeping with the softness of his character, he only ended by reminding the government that if the Muslim holy places were taken away from them forcibly, then, hadn’t the Jains and Buddhists the right to demand back thousands of their places of worship that had been forcibly taken away from them in the southern Indian regions, by the Shankaracharya in the eighth century? He also reminded his audience that India could survive as one nation only if it remained democratic, secular and non-violent.
It was a disorganised speech, betraying the depth to which Ali Miyan was disturbed by the countrywide, well-directed violence and the cruelty with which it was executed. He just couldn’t believe that his countrymen – in whom he had great faith – could on short notice become wolves and sink their teeth on Muslim necks at no provocation, and later, appear completely normal, as if their teeth weren’t red with blood. He didn’t know which was a greater tragedy: the demolition of the Babri Mosque which had degraded Indians over the globe, or, the unprovoked violence against Muslims, which had led peoples of many nations to a reassessment of the Indian majority community’s true character, and the nature of the religion they professed to follow.
An enquiry commission set up by the government said in its report of the December 13th that the demolition of the Babri Mosque was carried out by the Sangh Parivar and the responsibility lay with the provincial and the central government which were fully aware of their intentions and preparations. The security forces at the time of demonstration stood motionless as mute witnesses to the event. Justice Achniya Reddy, Justice D.S.Tiwatia, and others named Lal Krishna Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Ashok Singhal, Vijay Raja Scindhia, and Vinay Katyar, Uma Bharati and various others as those who were involved in various operations at various stages. These were the very ones who were to form the government later, riding high on popularity gained through their beastly acts, to later hold ministerial positions responsible for law and order in the country. When that happened, all that Ali Miyan could say was that these people had demonstrated that when people make up their mind to do something, they achieve it. He said nothing about those Indians who had placed their trust in this class of people, and had voted them into power for the sole reason that they hated the Muslims. Did their trust in known lawbreakers say something about a redefinition affecting their personality?
Although little did the majority community realise, and actually distributed sweets in the Gulf countries in celebration of the demolition, they paid a huge price in dignity for the barbarian act. In the Middle East, where they were respected for their hard work and professionalism, they suddenly became a third-rate people not only in the eyes of the Muslims, but in the eyes of the international community too. What respect the nation had gained in fifty years, it lost it in a day. And, there were little signs that the lesson was learned. The efforts to deface Hinduism, continued under the impression that covert actions do not carry the same consequences.
All said, felt, questioned and requested, Ali Miyan was not to give up. He stuck to his guns. In 1993 he organised another convention of the “Message of Humanity.” This time it was in Patna (Bihar). Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav presided. Others present were Dr. Jagan Nath Misra, Micoram (IGP), S.K.Sinha (Retd. Army General), Father Paul Jackson (Christian Church representative), Major Balbir Singh, Chief Secretary of the Bihar government, and other dignitaries. In his talk Ali Miyan repeated what he had been saying about the importance of democracy, secularism and non-violence, and expressed his concern over the prevalent excessive love of wealth to obtain which the Indians seemed to be ready to do anything. He informed his audience that he was personally so ashamed of the attack on Muslim lives and property that he had decided against attending the “World Muslim League” conference at Makkah in fear that if asked, he would have to speak out the truth which would only earn the Indians shame and humiliation. So, Ali Miyan’s mind was after all working in the direction of redefinition and reassessment. However, there was now a fundamental change. His Muslim audiences were ahead of him in his reassessments. They had reached conclusions that did not seem to be his conclusions. Many wondered if there was any point in talking on those lines. Some of his linesmen were giving in. And millions of the laity were with them.
Whatever the effects of his talk on the so-called responsible section of the Hindus, a few things did happen that couldn’t be counted out as mere coincidences. The first was the storm in Rae-Bareli, a Congress citadel. Huge preparations were made to conduct a meeting in which top class Congress workers were to meet. Taking place immediately after the demolition of the Babri Mosque, with the feverishness and joy demonstrated in the preparations, it appeared as if it was in celebration of the destruction of the Mosque.
But, one day before the jubilant Congress Party members, could climb the stage behind the Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, the town experienced a massive tornado rare for the geographical area. The preparations of months were destroyed in minutes. Everything was blown away – Ghazwah Khandaq like. The losses were estimated at 50 crores.
A second event was the earthquake that struck in the south of India, centring in at a place called Lathur. Few people outside of the region knew where Lathur was. But Muslims knew it pretty well. It was the hotbed of BJP and Shiv Sena. It was from here that seven truckloads of volunteers (Kar Sewaks) were sent to participate in the demolition of the Babri Mosque. Send-off parties had been arranged participated by maddening crowds that displayed uncontrolled jubilance while despatching the Kar Sewaks. It was from this place that a gold brick was sent for the construction of the proposed Ram Temple in place of the Babri Mosque. And it was here that on 11th of November of the year 1993 a massive earthquake struck two hours before dawn. What happened was an eye opener for Hindus and Muslims alike. While the whole area was reduced to rubble, including a Temple built out of concrete, and so too a Bank building, a loner stood its ground proud among the rubble. It was a mosque. Even Qur’an copies in the open racks and niches had not toppled down, while the buildings around lay flat on their roofs. Killari, another anti-Muslim town nearby, was also completely flattened. But that was not all. Some 52 towns and villages had been flattened. In an area of mixed population, where the Muslims were massacred in great numbers at the time of (Hyderabad) Police Action in 1948, the earthquake took the life of some 77,000 people. The Muslims however, suffered marginal losses. They lost a total of 1080 lives. After the earth-quake the first to reach the spot were Shiv Sena workers and the police and the first thing they did – so alleged the people – was to rob the dead of their gold and cash.
In keeping with his principles, Ali Miyan wouldn’t believe in the published stories until he travelled to nearby Bombay for a few days rest and as an escape manoeuvre from the elections in North India. There he received eyewitness accounts from extremely trustworthy sources. Interestingly, when some religious, political and community leaders went to inspect the area after the earthquake, those very people who had organised the seven truck-load of men for Babri Mosque destruction abused them and told them to stay away from them. Hundreds of miles away from the fault lines, no geologist could have predicted an earthquake of that magnitude. A university teacher travelling with his students told them that there was good reason to connect the earthquake with the destruction of the mosque.
A third incident that could have acted as an eye-opener for the political leaders at the centre, if there was willingness, was that of plague that struck another famous anti-Muslim region: Gujarat. It centred on the town of Surat: the town where Muslim women were paraded in naked in the streets during the riots that followed the destruction of the mosque. The townspeople had committed other atrocities during their attack on Muslim lives, honour and property. The plague, which struck in September 1994, divided the town into two sections: the Muslim and the non-Muslim. The Muslim area was the unaffected area. The non-Muslim area was clearly the target. In consequence, the posh area of the town was emptied of its inhabitants in a few days. Thousands died and some 7-800,000 ran away. The Hindus of the area however, were quick at learning the lesson. Two of the mosques that had stopped functioning after the attack on Muslims in Dec. 1993 were re-opened on Hindu request. Hundreds of people were seen trekking to the Muslim graveyard, going down on their knees at the graves and seeking their forgiveness for what was done to them in December 1993. The elite’s of the non-Muslims were thronging the slums for amulets from the Muslim Charm workers.
Ali Miyan was about 80 years old in 1994 when he made the longest journey of his life attending various conferences in Turkey, UK, USA, Switzerland, and, finally Makkah and Madinah. He returned to India to carry on with his “Message of Humanity” conventions and assemblies. Several large ones were held in different parts of the country with some non-Muslim cabinet members attending them. As if a suitable reply was needed to counter his activities, it came in the form of a raid on Nadwah by the Intelligence Bureau in December 1994. They came at midnight, broke their own rule of not raiding any students’ residential quarters without first contacting the Principal or Warden of an educational institution. The raiding party locked the rooms of several hostels from outside, and then forced open a room of one of the hostels, arresting several inmates. When a few others emerged from the unlocked rooms and protested the arrest the security forces opened fire injuring some. The interrogation of the arrested students however proved nothing: they were as innocent as butterflies and were later unconditionally released. When a protest was launched by the institution for not taking the head of the institution into confidence before the raid, Nadwah was awarded Rs. 100,000 as compensation, which it declined to accept. The message was very clear: “You are not safe anywhere in this country.”
With his age advancing on him, Ali Miyan was getting less active. But not so inactive as not to answer pressing invitations. Although in 1995 he avoided going to Sudan for a conference, twice he made to South India, in addition to journeys to Aurangabad, Nagpur, Bombay and even to Doha. However, when invited by the “Muslim Universities Federation” to attend its conference in Cairo in May 1995, he begged excuse on health grounds and sent one of his deputies. The report that the deputy later compiled detailed both religious oppression on a massive scale, as well as gave hope. The report said that in Egypt some 70-80,000 religious men were in prisons. Religiously inclined youth were being engaged in false encounters and shot dead. Mosque courtyards and open spaces in front of them where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians traditionally assembled for ‘Eid Prayers were being inundated with water and roads leading to the mosques lined up with tanks preventing entry. No religious assembly was possible. Ikhwan’s social and economic activities too were being curtailed: some of their financial institutions had been sold to the Jews. Imams read sermons prepared by governmental authorities. Most institutional course books had been emptied of any critical reference to the Jews and Christians. Early Islamic war stories had been replaced with the stories of the Pharaoh dynasty, and all Qur’anic verses referring to the Jews removed from the school and college textbooks. The hope contained in the fact that despite the oppressive measures, religiosity seemed to be on the rise. More and more women were now wearing modest dresses. Some fifteen percent of them were wearing the Indian type of Burqah complete with Niqab covering their faces and the outfits complete with socks and hand-gloves. Bookstores selling Islamic books had vastly increased in numbers and Islamic books were under greater and greater demand. Ali Miyan’s book “Maa Dhaa…” had been reprinted by no less than five Egyptian publishers and were all doing well on the stands. His recent “Al-Murtada” being the life of `Ali had received praise from a person no less than Gaad al-Haq, the Rector of Azhar University and read out on the Egyptian radio. Several of his other works were being popularly read by Egyptians of all classes. Egyptian schools and nurseries were increasingly adopting his “Stories of the Prophets”. One of the Egyptian reformers, `Abd al-Karim Sulayman had in fact set up a Da`wah institute where quite a few of his works were prescribed as course books.
By 1996 Ali Miyan had not only acquired international fame, but within India too, where the majority community normally ignores Muslim leaders, he was receiving acknowledgement. Deve Gowda (the first and until now the only non-Brahmin Prime Minister of India), who had been freshly elected as a Prime Minister of a coalition government at the centre, paid a short visit to him at Lucknow. Reacting to it, the BJP issued a statement that the visit only strengthened the anti-social and anti-national elements in the country! The party spokesman also said that the two great educational institutions, the Deoband and the Nadwah were both centres of Pakistani intelligence operations. In his response to the unexpected visit, Ali Miyan later wrote his customary letter to the Prime Minister reminding him that ultimately what succeeded were sincerity, honesty and truthfulness. He also reminded him that the great leaders of India had built this country on the principles of democracy, secularism and non-violence. Any action by those in power in neglect of these principles would only destroy what had already been built.
Having attended the annual conference of the “World Muslim League” held in Makkah at the end of the year 1995, which he had decided to attend in the hope of gaining a first-hand knowledge of the Muslim situation, meet important personalities, stay in touch with the latest developments, and, may be, warn the participants of the dangers the Islamic world was facing from the Israeli-American team up and conspiracies. They were attacking the already weakened Muslim world and with the help of the media and political influence, were trying to reduce the Ummah’s confidence in the Shari`ah, faith in its ability to solve its problems, and create an inferiority complex among the Muslims. Their efforts have led to a situation of confrontation between the Muslim masses and their ruling classes: one for Islam and the other against Islam, leading to wastage of energies in internal conflicts.
A little later, in May 1996, Ali Miyan found time to travel to Bombay, where he spent a whole month in a villa provided by a friend and follower in the outskirts. In total seclusion, he engaged himself in editing some old works, writing the sixth volume of his “The Caravan of Life” being his own biography and, in some free time, listening to the first part of his own work “The Saviours of Islamic Spirit” read out to him. The next month, in June, he travelled to Bangalore and covered several South Indian towns, performing opening ceremonies of Madrasas, other educational institutes and orphanages. Later that year he set off for Turkey to attend the annual meeting of the “Islamic Literary Forum,” (touching first on Dubai, delivering a speech to the Urdu audience there). Dr. `Abdul Mun`im Ahmed Yunus (Azhar University), Muhammad Qutb, Yusuf al-Qardawi, Muhammad Ali Sabuni, Dr. Abdul Quddus Abu Saleh (Imam Ibn Saud University, Saudi Arabia), Dr. Hasan al-Imrani (Morocco) and others were also participating. The main article of the session was on Ali Miyan himself, prepared and read out by Yusuf al-Qardawi, “Da`wah Principles in Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi’s Writings.” Seven more articles on him were to follow in later sessions. While in Turkey, he also thought it fit to send his customary letter to Najmuddin Arbakan, the Prime Minister of Turkey pointing out the need for creating Islamic awareness, especially among the youth. The media was another element that, according to him, needed to be reformed. From Istanbul he proceeded to London to attend the opening ceremony of the Nadwah type Madrasah in Nottingham. Later he visited the Islamic Foundation in Leicester where Professor Khurshid Ahmed, Khurram Murad, Manazir Ahmed (Director) and others received him and where too he delivered a talk. Returning to India via the Hejaz where he visited Makkah and Madinah, he landed in Bombay and then into Delhi to visit the Tablighee headquarters in Nizamuddin to offer condolence over the death of Mawlana Izhar al-Hasan Kandhlawi, who was the chief of the Shura committee. By December he was in Hyderabad to attend a seminar on the “Islamic Literary Forum.” In December he was back again in the Hejaz to attend the Muslim World League’s session on Mosques.
Early in the year 1997, when a movement centring in the Gulf countries began to gather strength seeking to discredit the famous past Muslim personalities, present day scholars, institutions, and the da`wah movements that had sprung from the Indian sub-continent…the discrediting simply because they subscribed to the Hanafi Fiqh…then Ali Miyan spoke out and wrote strongly in protest. This new movement pitched its tent against the already under pressure, if not on the run, Muslims of India, and was behaving as if it was fighting infidels. The leaders of the new movement forgot who their common enemy was, what were the true challenges that the Muslims were facing in this region, and ignored the writing on the wall that even if every individual Muslim began to sing their song, abandoning the local leadership and following those sitting far away, with little interest and no understanding of the Indian situation, the problem of maintaining an identity as Muslims in this region would not be mitigated.
He felt that it was being pursued for financial advantages and fanatical reasons. Those who had no past record of service to the Ummah, could only gain attention, credit and leadership, by first discrediting those who were in selfless service from the day Islam had set foot on the sub-continent. Ali Miyan wrote a long article highlighting the services rendered by the great scholars and movements of the past, the present-day efforts by individuals and movements, and the dangers in the efforts to divide the Ummah on fresh lines with the help of holy slogans. He got the booklet titled “Udawaa’” sent across to all those in the Arab world who mattered. He sent a detailed letter to ten well-known Salafi scholars pointing out the need to curb the efforts at declaring anyone who followed one of the four Fiqhi schools as those committing bid`ah, creating a front where no front existed and fighting one’s own brothers as one fights an enemy. In reply, Sheikh Abdullah bin Baaz – the grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia whose name was being used without his knowledge for strength and authenticity – wrote that the “The Council of Higher Research and Religious Rulings” as well as “The Fiqh Council” of the “World Muslim League” had already issued rulings that it was perfectly alright to follow any of the four well-known schools of Fiqh. The Sheikh also praised the work done by the founders of the four Fiqh schools. His reply carried the signature of several other scholars of Saudi Arabia. Other scholars also responded well.
Meanwhile Ali Miyan’s friends in high places hadn’t forgotten or forgiven him. The Lucknow edition of “The Hindustan Times” reported in its 22nd Feb. 1998 issue that while several terrorists had infiltrated into the country and were operating freely, the law and order authorities were sleeping. The terrorists named were Abdul Mawdudi, Abdul Hasan Al-Nadwi, Dr. Abdul Hameed Qadri and Muhammad Manzur Noamani. (The slight twist in the names was, of course, not intentional). Despite a Muslim journalist informing the editor that of those named two were already dead, a third unknown, and a fourth an honoured citizen and a true son of the soil, more patriotic than the most (fraudulent) patriots were, the newspaper took no notice. Then, in April the same year, the country offered him another gift. Local and foreign newspapers reported that a criminal case had been filed against Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi and some others, and the Judicial Magistrate Ashok Kumar Singh had issued a non – bail able arrest warrant. The charges? Ali Miyan and his accomplices had made off with huge amounts collected for those Muslims affected by the attacks on their lives and property during the 1995 Meerut riot. Those who had filed the case were “Muslims!” However, after some legal proceedings, the case was withdrawn.
Also in 1998 having just been back from the Hejaz he made a full circle tour of the Indian cities in the north, central and southern parts, in August he was in Amman to attend the yearly conference of the “World Muslim League of Islamic Literature.” Amman had, over the years, developed into a sprawling modern city. An interesting religious development was that all mosques had a radio which relayed the Adhan five times a day to the loudspeakers of the mosques. Ali Miyan was well received by Prince Hasan, who arranged for a lavish dinner for the participants. Ali Miyan was also requested and in response got recorded a television talk. But, as luck would have it, according to the television authorities the recording was so poor due to machine failure that it could not be broadcast! On his wheel chair, Ali Miyan visited the two holy sites in the Hejaz in his return journey.
Following the 1997 election when BJP was able to form government in the Centre in coalition with other parties, one of the things it was striving to introduce was the song known as Vande Matarm. Finally, it issued directives to all educational institutions that every class was to have a map of India and 400mmx700mm image of the Saraswati goddess. The students were required to gather before the map and the image and sing Vande Mataram. (Following is the meaning of the wordings of “Vande Mataram”:)
I am your slave,
O my mother (land),
Your nice waters,
Dry southerly wind,
My mother, having
Lush green farmland!
Having brightened nights,
From beautiful moonlit night,
Having smiling flowers,
Plenty of trees,
Having sweet smile,
My mother, that gives
Peace and blessings!
Thirty crores arms
That hold swords,
O my mother!
Are you still weak
Having all these powers,
You are the strength
Of my arms,
My mother, I bow to you
And kiss thy feet!
You are my knowledge,
You are my religion,
You are my inner self,
You are my goal,
You are the soul of my body,
Within the hearts,
You are the reality,
It is your adorable image in
Each and every temple!
You are Durga
With ten armed hands,
You are Kamla,
Fragrance of smiling Lotus;
You are the water,
The fountain of knowledge,
I am your slave,
Slave of slave,
Slave of slave of slave.
My Mother, having
Nice water, having nice fruits!
Having lush green farmland,
Sacred, admirable, adorable;
Of great strength,
Ever present, ever lasting
I am your slave.
The students were also required to garland the map and the image and stand a while before them in reverence and then, finally, sing the national anthem. Muslims of all classes opposed the introduction of the pagan practice. Those could not be expected to go along with the practice whose Holy Book the Qur’an said, “It is He the Lord God (of the universe) beside whom there is no Lord: the Sovereign, the Holy One, The Source of Peace (and Perfection), The Guardian of Faith, The Preserver of Safety, The Exalted in Might, The Irresistible, the justly Proud, Glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him” (59:23).
Could those who believed in a God of such attributes ever bow down to idols, deities and images like the map of a country? No Muslim bowed down to the map of Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt or Morocco. Muslims of all classes and regions were therefore completely opposed to the practice that the government wished to introduce. Ali Miyan gave a clear statement that it would be better to withdraw all the Muslim children from the schools rather than accept the introduction of idol worship. Protests all over India, including by the Shi`as whose leader Mawlana Kalb Ali Saadiq said that the Shi`ah would not prostrate themselves even to Imam Hussain, far from idols. As a result of massive protests all over India the government was forced to retract. Prime Minister Vajpayee and Home Minister Advani issued statements that the orders did not made it mandatory, although, copies of the original orders clearly proved otherwise and exposed the lies of men in important positions. Some newspapers reported that the orders were cancelled, meaning, originally, orders were in fact issued.
Many things happen in India by co-incidence. It was by coincidence that in November 1998 representatives and correspondents of the radio, T.V., newspapers and magazines, including the “BBC,” “Star” and “Zee-T.V” inundated Nadwah. They all wished to interview Ali Miyan over the Vande Matram issue. The reports of the interview and Ali Miyan’s opposition to the introduction of Vande Mataram in schools also brought the security men to Ali Miyan’s residence in Takya Kalan. They choose 2 A.M. as the time suitable for the visit. They entered his guesthouse and made a thorough search but not finding anything returned empty handed. Luckily Ali Miyan was then in Lucknow.
The spread of the news of the raid brought prominent men of politics and government to Nadwah in sympathy. Sonia Gandhi too wrote a letter expressing her deep concern at this kind of mean behaviour against a man of global fame of whom the nation should be proud and whom the Nehru family had always deeply respected. The Rae Bareli public was also with Ali Miyan. Mr. Akhlaish Singh called a protest strike and for the first time ever in the history of the city, shutters of every shop, small and big were brought down for twenty-four hours. Even corner shops did not open.
If the security forces were raiding Ali Miyan’s house in appreciation of his efforts to create peace and harmony in India, recognition came from abroad in a manner distasteful to them. In January 1999 he was awarded the “Most Prominent Islamic Personality” award by the “International Qur’an Organisation” in Dubai. Unable to stand on his legs, he received the award with weak hands and distributed the accompanying amount among various educational and welfare organisations in India. A month later and despite increased weakness; he travelled to Bombay, Bhatkal and Bangalore to attend various functions. But when he returned in March he was exhausted. A stroke paralysed the right wing of his body. However, with quick and massive treatment he began to show signs of recovery. From almost complete paralysis to movement of the arms, fingers, the ability to write the Basmalah, stand up on his feet for a while, to finally move about a little: every week he showed improvement. In about two months he was able to deliver a half-hour speech in the annual Tablighee gathering in Nadwah. As the news of the stroke spread visitors started pouring in from all parts of the country. One of them was the Saudi Ambassador. The other was the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with the Chief Minister of UP and its governor. Ali Miyan told them that the only way India could survive as a nation was to follow the three golden principles that had kept its various irreconcilable elements together: democracy, secularism and non-violence. Mawlana Rabe` Nadwi, the rector of Nadwah, gave them the hadith example of a ship of two decks. The hole that the lower deck travellers would make if denied water by the upper deck travellers would sink both. The visiting party listened in silence and left in silence. What was the effect of the admonition was to be demonstrated a little later.
By June Ali Miyan had recovered enough to be able to move about in a wheel chair and – cancelling his journey to Bombay, to escape the heat of UP – he decided to stay back in Nadwah and address the Tablighee gathering in it. Speaking in a weak voice to the 100,000 delegates, he told them that the Muslims should build up such an exemplary character that people should raise their fingers at them and say, “There goes a Muslim, a slave of God, an exemplary person.” It is individuals of this kind, when produced in large numbers that would wipe out paganism, worship of false gods, and the inordinate love of wealth the contemporary society suffered. It was a matter of serious concern that in a country where such large number of Muslims lived, they were unable to bring about any moral change. It was simply because the religion of Islam was not accepted wholeheartedly. It was time that the Muslims improved not only upon their faiths and beliefs but also their moral rectitude, their social behaviour, their worldly dealings, and everything else without any section of life left untouched by Islam. Allah has commanded them to “accept the whole of the religion of Islam.” A part, fifty percent, or eighty-percent acceptance did not meet with the requirement. Nothing less than a hundred percent was acceptable. Muslims should return from this gathering with a firm resolution that when they spread out from here, all over the country, they will live by Islam, the whole of it. Their character and conduct in private and public should be such, as that would influence the people around them. A revolution is necessary, but not political, rather within the individual’s soul, and at mass level.
Many people were surprised that a man who could not speak out a few sentences in private, was able to deliver a forceful lecture lasting twenty-seven minutes. He himself was surprised at the outpouring of energy. A fitful response to his call came two weeks later. A Hindi daily based in New Delhi reported that Ali Miyan had addressed a huge gathering of religious men and had incited them against the country, advising them to seek separation. The report alleged that he had also got distributed thousands of pamphlets that advised the people to spread out in the country and take the message of insurrection to its every nook and corner. The report also said that Ali Miyan was requested to pray for the soldiers fighting against the enemy in Kargil (Kashmir), but had refused.
Ali Miyan started receiving telephones, faxes and letters asking him to confirm if the reports were true. Lucknow University students, who share a wall with the Nadwah and who had always in the past pelted stones on Nadwah at the smallest imaginary provocation, issued the statement that they’d burn down Nadwah since all Arabic and religious Madrasas were terrorist organisations. On this particular occasion stone throwing assumed severe proportions. Several political organisations, however, especially those who were in the opposition benches reacted firmly, protesting against allegations that were absolutely baseless. Many important non-Muslim senior politicians, social workers and intellectuals came down to meet and express their sympathy and solidarity. But there was to be no peace between those who carry an open agenda against the Muslims, (although it is referred to as the “hidden agenda”). When Ali Miyan was awarded the Sultan Brunei Award for his services to Islam, which is organised by the Oxford Centre, and a senior Minister of Brunei was to come down to Lucknow to present the award, since Ali Miyan was unfit to travel, the government of India refused the Minister’s journey to Lucknow on grounds that it was unable to provide the necessary security to a foreign dignitary. How could security be a problem when Sonia Gandhi had recently travelled to visit him in his sickness? Finally, the Brunei High Commission decided to hold the function at Delhi where Mawlana Rabe` Nadwi represented Ali Miyan receiving two shields and a cash award. This time, following the suggestion of a close associate Mawlana Abdul Karim Parekh, Ali Miyan decided to distribute the amount among his poverty stricken relatives. Mawlana Parekh also received a share for his good advice.
Most of the time now Ali Miyan was confined to the wheel chair, praying from a sitting posture, at home, except for Friday Prayers which he insisted on doing in the mosque. As usual he wished to spend the month of Ramadan in his village Takya Kalan where, year after year, for some 20 years, sometimes up to 200 people gathered from all parts of India, to whom he and other scholars gave lectures. But the doctors strongly advised against stay in a village, which did not even have electricity. But he insisted on a visit just before Ramadan. He visited the relatives, prayed in the old mosque, spent some time in its courtyard, went up to the bank of the river, and visited the family graveyard praying for the dead there. Then he returned to Lucknow.
Come Ramadan he did twenty fasts doing all twenty Raka`ah of Taraweeh prayers every evening. Following his routine, he would rise for Tahajjud, do all his rosaries and awraad, recite the Qur’an and pray for his teachers, students and others, meet the visitors, reply to letters, revise his works, do some reading, and enquire the outside visitors about religious activities in their towns and countries naming the scholars of the area he knew, and, at times listened to the Qur’an recited to him. That is how he spent the first twenty days of Ramadan when he wished that he be allowed to visit his village. Impressed by his energy, his doctors agreed to the visit with one or two of them agreeing to accompany him. At Takya Kalan he spent two days normally. On the third day, on Friday, he got up at nine in the morning from his usual sleep after Fajr, offered two raka`ah of Prayers and did his usual rosaries etc. At 11 he took a bath for which he needed other’s help, being partly invalid since the stroke, wore his Sherwani (overcoat) following his habit of never going to the Friday Mosques, or the Mosques of Makkah and Madinah without putting on the overcoat and wearing the socks. Then he sat down on his bed, and, following the habit (followed since he was eight years old) wished to read the Surah Al-Kahaf. But, instead of doing that he began to recite Surah Yaa-Seen. It is not clear how many verses he recited since his voice was weak. But, a rough estimate says that he must have recited the following verses (36: 1-11):
“Yaa Seen. By the Qur’an full of wisdom. Surely, you (O Muhammad) are one of the Messengers: on a Straight Path. (The Qur’an) sent down by the Al-Mighty, the Merciful – in order that you might warn a people whose forefathers hadn’t been warned, and so they are unaware. (However) the Word has come true that most of them will not believe. We have placed iron collars in their necks up to their chins so that their heads are high (up in the air). We have placed a barrier in front of them and a barrier behind them – thus We have covered them. So they do not see. And (hence) it is the same unto them whether you warn them or do not warn them: they will not believe. You can only warn the one who follows the Reminder and fears the Merciful – unseen. Therefore, give him glad tidings: of forgiveness and a noble reward.”
With those words his head rolled to one side. It was the last day of the century, and, his burial was completed an hour or so before the celebrations of the new millennium could begin at midnight.