By M Aamer Sarfraz
December 11, 2018
Allama Iqbal’s thesis was that the existence of clergy is an antithesis to Islam. Therefore, Abu A’la Maududi (current form=Sirajul Haq), Hussain Ahmed Madani (current form=Moulana Fazlur Rahman) and Shabbir Ahmed Usmani (Current form=Taqi Usmani or Khadim Hussain Rizvi) etc. are different faces of the same malevolence. Only two forms of Islam are acceptable to them: one in which they rule (theocracy) and the other in which they control the Muslim personal laws. Iqbal (and Jinnah) had a different vision in which peoples’ representatives govern and make the laws in line with Quranic guidelines with due regard to religious minorities — the State of Medina model. Fortunately, Jinnah and Iqbal won this battle against the mullahs; but unfortunately, the losers arrived here unashamedly and have held Pakistan to ransom since then.
Madani, Azad, Maududi and their posterity have the same vision of Islam with minor variations. This should not be surprising because they had received traditional madrasa-based education and associated upbringing. Maududi was more ‘enlightened’ for having no formal qualification, being related to Sir Syed and due to lateral influences (including that from his wife). All of them were practitioners of what I have earlier described as Ajami Islam after having studied the centuries old Dars-i-Nizami, a curriculum devised by Nizam Uddin As-Sihaalwi (16th century) based on its forerunners by al-Ghazali and al-Toosi. The syllabus offers redundant logic and philosophy along with the Ahadith etc. for learning but only a few Surahs of Quran are taught (in the light of Ahadith). No wonder these Ulema have a history of declaring trailblazing scientific inventions e.g. printing press, as Haram, which kept the Muslims backward for centuries.
Allama Iqbal derives his vision of Islam directly from the Quran. Same is the case with Sir Syed, who is the true architect of Pakistan. Sir Syed not only rescued the Muslims from the wrath of the British after natives’ failed bid for independence in 1857, but also defended Islam against Orientalists and Christian missionaries active under Imperial protection. He also wrote a commentary of the Quran and demonstrated how the prevalent commentaries and translations were biased, and had no relation to the actual meanings of the Quran. After Abi Dawood’s Kitaab al Masahif, Sir Syed was perhaps the first scholar to highlight how traditional commentators including Shah Wali Ullah had distorted the Quran by avoiding the realities and reason. Due to his insightful efforts regarding understanding and reinterpretation of the Quranic text, he is often compared to St. Thomas Aquinas and his contribution to the Christian world.
Iqbal and Jinnah had great affection for the Aligarh University. Iqbal had close relations with several academics including Allama Aslam Jairajpuri who had taken early retirement, as Professor of Arabic Language and Islamic History, to head the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi. At Iqbal’s request, he had agreed to compile an authentic dictionary of the Quran which corroborated with the character of the language in the poetry of the same era as well as the reliable Arabic Dictionaries. Iqbal protégé, Choudhry Ghulam Ahmad Parwez, had started working in Delhi in 1930-31 as a civil servant. He went to see Jairajpuri to discuss Quranic concepts and seek guidance on certain aspects of Arabic literature. Due to similar interests (Quran, Literature, Iqbal, Sir Syed, plight of Muslims), they became soul-mates soon and hardly spent a day without seeing each other if they were in Delhi. Jairajpuri was impressed with the 27-year-old Parwez’s keen interest in Quran and knowledge of the Arabic language and literature. He soon started referring queries regarding Quranic themes, from his students and visiting scholars, to Parwez.
The close association of Jairajpuri and Parwez continued until Parwez moved to Karachi in 1947. This included trips to see Allama Iqbal together in Lahore. During this time, Parwez also lived with Jairajpuri for six months in 1935 to hone his expertise in finer aspects of Arabic language. Along the way, both of them realised independently that the challenging labour for Quranic dictionary was perhaps too much for Jairajpuri due to his age and busy life. Therefore, Parwez took up this mission in addition to his day-job, and discrete work for Mr. Jinnah for Pakistan. The latter was to rebut the Nationalist and anti-Pakistan mullahs in the press while writing under a pseudonym (due to being a civil servant). This invaluable work has since been published and is an important source of reference for historians. Mr. Jinnah valued it so much that Parwez was one of only two such persons who were allowed to meet him without an appointment.
Allama Parwez singlehandedly carried on his missions (Quran and Pakistan) until he took his last breath in 1985. Jairajpuri was the happiest man when the first volume of Parwez’s Maariful-Quran was published in 1939. Quranic Dictionary (Lughat ul-Quran) eventually came out in 1960; and meanings of the Quran (Mafhoomul Quran) were published in 1961. All his life, Parwez crossed swords with anybody, including his old friend Maududi, for the sake of the Quran and Pakistan, mostly at the risk of his own life, health, and property.
(To Be Continued)