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Books and Documents ( 26 Oct 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Tryst with Politics: An Indian Muslim at Crossroads of Partition

By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, New Age Islam

26 October 2021

The Partition of the Subcontinent Is an Open Wound That Still Continues To Hurt

Main Points:

1.    The struggle of Indian Independence is a tumultuous event in the contemporary history.

2.    Hashim analyses the dynamics of Congress becoming unpopular among Indian Muslims in the aftermath of 1937 elections .

3.    The book is an important source for anyone who is interested in the contemporary politics of India and given its essence it deserves to be translated into English.

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Meri Siyasi Sarguzasht (My Political Memoir)

Author: Dr Muhammad Hashim Kidwai

Compiled by Dr Saleem Kidwai

Publisher: Applied Books, New Delhi, India

Year of Publication: 2021

Pages: 104 + 32 (Colour Photos Album) Price: Rs 200

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Autobiographies of important people become essential to understand the developments and trends of an era. If the era is one of great political turmoil, struggle and conflict then autobiographies of people existing in that era simply help in engaging and analysing the era factually. The struggle of Indian Independence is a tumultuous event in the contemporary history, so is the partition of the subcontinent an open wound that still continues to hurt. Understanding the reasons of the partition and Muslim malaise in India, the primary sources like autobiographies become essential.

Dr Muhammad Hashim Kidwai, ex Member of Indian Parliament was an eminent educationist, politician and writer. His two volume autobiography in English “The Life and Times of a Nationalist” has already been published. This Urdu volume compiled by his son Dr Saleem Kidwai documents his life till 1944. It is an incomplete autobiography however it deals with his life as a student, his tryst with politics and other related issues. Hashim Kidwai’s uncle Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi was a great scholar of Islam, writer, theologian, journalist and editor, so his influence on young Hashim was inevitable and immense. Further his youth was a period of political turmoil and last days of British Empire in India coupled with the raging Second World War. So these dynamic events casted their shadows on the impressionable mind of young Hashim. He was drawn to the politics of Indian National Congress and composite nationalism as compared to the divisive politics of Muslim League. He embedded hatred against the British colonialists. The meeting with nationalists like Maulana Muhammad Ali and versatile orator like Syed Attaullah Shah Bukhari added to his zeal of nationalism. His acquaintance as a child with Maulana Muhammad Ali deeply impacted and influenced him.

Hashim describes his participation in politics and being punished for it at school, then being a member of Students Federation in college, while taking part in the boycott of foreign goods and the Swadeshi movement. Further the atrocities against the Satyagrahis by police made his blood boil, instilling hatred against the British government. Hashim has some words of appreciation for the British colonialists too because they did not stoop low to persecute him, despite the fact that he was antagonistic to their policies and government (P-75). To add insult to injury his father was a senior official of the British government. Something that is inconceivable in today’s India because political rivals not only wait for an opportunity to vanquish their opponents but even the government has snooped so low that they crackdown every voice of dissent. So if we start contrasting the colonial government was tolerant towards dissent and criticism whereas democratic clique is abhorrent and allergic towards it.

Hashim analyses the dynamics of Congress becoming unpopular among Indian Muslims in the aftermath of 1937 elections when provincial governments of Congress were formed in many states. He describes that Hindu revivalism surged when Congress became part of the provincial assemblies and Muslim League exploited the situation, hence profiting from the same. Hashim agrees that Congress provincial governments did commit a lot of discrimination against Muslims and even against Urdu language (P-66), thus the politics of Muslim League became popular. So this tussle between the politics of Congress and Muslim League did not remain confined to political stages only, but families got divided on this basis. A father was supporting Congress whereas his son believed in ideology of Muslim League. Further the Muslims supporting Congress were alleged and described as enemies of Islam by Muslim League. This divide also impacted the student politics in Lucknow and ultimately resulted in Muslims getting divided between supporting and opposing Congress and Muslim League. Also documented are the details about the Second World War and Quit India movement and how their dynamics played on the people of India. Hashim upholds the Congress stalwart leader Rafi Ahmad Kidwai as his political mentor because along with teaching he also indulged in practical politics later on.

He also describes the Shia-Sunni riot that took place in Lucknow in 1939 and how Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Allama Inayatullah Mashriqi came to pacify the warring factions and resolving the issue. This book becomes essential documentary proof in vernacular Urdu about the happenings in and around Lucknow in particular and among Indian Muslims in general at a crucial phase of history. We must congratulate Dr Saleem Kidwai for compiling and publishing this important work of his late father. The book is an important source for anyone who is interested in the contemporary politics of India and given its essence it deserves to be translated into English. Although the book leaves many questions unanswered but the details that it documents compensates for the same.

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M.H.A.Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir.

URL:    https://www.newageislam.com/books-documents/tryst-politics-indian-muslim-partition/d/125645


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