In general, when we form an opinion on religious personalities, it has been seen that we are not able to maintain a balance. If the personality in question is our ‘own’, we easily fall prey to hero-worship by considering it almost infallible. If the personality in question belongs to some ‘other’ group, then we look at it through the lens of prejudice and even resort to character assassination and display of hatred. In fact, we have not been taught looking at the positive and negative aspects at the same time. We have not been able to cultivate a culture of objectivity and balance, the harmful effects of which are often seen around in the form of sectarian divisions. We should not forget that great religious figures are a great asset to the whole ummah and they belong to us all despite differences of opinion. The positive sides of their personalities should be celebrated and highlighted and the negative aspects should be pointed out with respect and left for further academic enquiries. It is the need of hour to open minds to new ideas and broaden mental horizons. The same applies to the passing away of one of the greatest personalities of our time Maulana Waheed-ud-Din Khan. There is no doubt in this That he devoted his entire life for the service of Islam but at the same time he cannot be declared infallible. It was witnessed that soon after his death some people on the one hand adored him with a lot of respect and praise but on the other hand a good number of people severely criticized him and some even resorted to bad language on social media and other platforms. Though it is permitted to raise questions against his ideas on certain grounds however we can not judge his intentions. However there is no doubt in this that he left behind a great contribution in the fields of religion and spirituality. The need of the hour is to rise above prejudices and benefit from his writings. Although Maulana Wahidudin Khan does not belong to a particular school of thought, there is neither shortage of his fans nor critics in almost every group. In his lifetime, he was severely criticized for some ideas, but he did not waste his precious time in responding to each and every critic. Rather he kept on writing books on some critical and burning issues of his time.He left behind more than a hundred books on different themes and worked on guiding the Muslim mind in accordance with the guidelines of Quran and Sunnah. I personally remember the amazement on reading a book “Azmat i Islam” for the first time during college days in 2002.After going through it, my heart was drawn by his aphoristic writing style.I became a fan of his writings and read dozens of books by him.Some of his notable books are ‘Madhab aur Jadeed Challenge, ‘Tafsir Tadhkeer ul Quran’, ‘Paighambar e Inqilab’, ‘Raaz e Hayat’, ‘Islam Daur e Jadeed Ka Khaliq’ ‘Ta’beer ki Galti’ etc. His books are loaded with wisdom and are as per the trends and challenges of modern age.There is hardly any writer in the present day who can match his charming style. He’s second to none in expressing the most difficult religious and spiritual issues in a simple and comprehensive manner. He has made his mark by presenting Islam as a religion in harmony with nature. Among the dozens of books written by him, ‘Madhab aur Jadeed Challenge ‘ can rightly be called his masterpiece. Millions of its copies have been sold all over the world as it has been translated in many leading languages of the world. Its English translation is titled as ‘God Arises’ and about it one of the leading Arabic newspaper in the Muslim world, ‘Al-Ahram’, pointed out in it’s review: “In the history [of Islam] if the best ever written books that call to God are sifted , then this book will undoubtedly find a place in them.”In this book, he has made a great rational effort to prove the efficacy of religion in modern age. He has tried to address modern scientific minds on the basis of logic and wisdom. The book gained great popularity due to its scientific and analytical style and it had a profound recognition in the academic circles of the world. Throughout his life, Maulana Wahidudin Khan focused mostly on what he called ‘da’wah activism’ that is to call people towards Islam through peaceful and academic ways. He wrote a psychological and intellectual commentary of The Holy Quran by the title ‘Tadhkeer ul Quran’ in which he tries to relate the scripture to the contexts of present age. The commentary is purely written for the purpose of ‘Dawah’ ie, calling people towards Allah. He emerged as the most potent voice against extremism and political interpretation of Islam. He authored two major books on the subject, entitled ‘ Tabeer ki Galti ‘ and ‘Deen ki Siyasi Tabeer’. He was a critic of the Sufi tradition in Islam and abstained from using Sufi terminology in his books. He refrained from doing so, but his books such as ‘Kitab-e-Marifat’ etc., often indicate the use of mystical thoughts and sometimes it seems that he has tried to sell sufism in the name of spirituality. He also set up an organization called the Center for Peace and Spirituality International to promote Islam’s message of peace and harmony. Under his influence, Goodword Books was established for the publication of Islamic da’wah books, through which many translations of the Holy Quran were published in many languages and circulated in different parts of the world. Since 1976 he has continuously been publishing a monthly magazine by the name of ‘Al-Risala’ which completely represents his thoughts and ideas.
Throughout his life, Maulana Wahidudin Khan focused mostly on what he called ‘da’wah activism’ that is to call people towards Islam through peaceful and academic ways.
Many lives have been revolutionized by his books and many dark minds have been enlightened with spiritual insight. Through books like ‘Raz e Hayat’ and ‘Rahnama e Zindagi’, he tried to pull out the Muslim youth from hollow sloganeering and idealistic ambitions tried to endow them with realistic outlook. According to him Muslims need to excel in education and adopt themselves according to the situations that they are in. He wanted to see Muslims self- sufficient and self-motivated in different parts of the world. It is also worth mentioning that in addition to his immense virtues, Maulana has some ideas which are not only unacceptable but objectionable as well due to their gravity. For these ideas he has been strongly rejected and refuted by some leading scholars of our time. His views on the second coming of Christ, Mahdi and Dajjal are totally in contradiction with the established theology. Moreover his views on ‘Uswah Hasanah’ have been highly objectionable. His close contacts with some non-Muslim and his severe criticism of Muslim response to some contentious issues like the issues of Palestine, Babri Masjid etc. raised many questions regarding his integrity of thought and action. His severe criticism of Muslim traditional thought and his dissent on collective issues of Muslims has raised many eyebrows. His deviations from mainstream Muslim religious thought deserved to be criticized and the same was done by some noted contemporary scholars. As a result, he could not gain much popularity in the traditional academic circles, however was well received by those with modernist outlook.
( The author is a Senior Lecturer in English at J&K School Education Department . Views are his own)