An eminent Islamic scholar and a secularist to the core, Maulana Wahid-ud-Din Khan has left behind a rich legacy which will continue to inspire many generations of Muslims to come.
By Asif Ahmad Shah & Syed Mustafa Ahmad
Leaving the differences aside, there is no way that any sane person can deny the scholarship of Maulana Wahid-Ud-Din Khan. His contribution in every aspect of life is totally remarkable which persuaded students like us to know more about him. In the world of rhetoric, he was a practical man. While his words have deep insight, yet he was silent to let his silence speak. Maulana Rumi says that silence should speak for you. Moreover, he was of the opinion that one mouth and two ears mean that we should listen more and speak less.
In the world of communal passions, he stressed the fact that all religions preach the same idea of togetherness but in different ways. All the basic things are common, even though there are many differences. We are always eager to discuss him and learn from his teachings. Belonging to the families where we happen to be ‘chance Muslims’, we are thankful to the Maulana Wahid-ud-Din Khan for his religious scholarship that made us conscious Muslims. So, in this regard, let us try to know what Maulana taught us in all these years.
The first and foremost lesson we draw from Maulana’s writing is to lead a God-conscious life. Maulana Khan taught us that God is alive. So it means that we must never try to think that we are free to do anything. He advises us to remain conscious of our duties towards Allah and other fellow beings. The balance of life is encompassed in the maxim that we must try to fulfil our duties towards Allah and His creatures because, without it, the grand edifice of humanity will come crumbling down. Hence, he taught us to remain conscious of God’s presence.
Maulana Khan believed that academic education is as important as learning at other places like mosques and temples. He used to say that learning should be the main motive of life.
The second lesson is international thinking. He taught us to think internationally. About eight billion people live on the planet Earth. They are created by the same God, who created Muslims. When the Creator is the same, what is the point of dividing humanity into sects? This line of thinking broadens our horizon and convinces us to pursue international thinking so that we become accommodative and listen to different opinions and make this world a happy place to live.
The third lesson is distinguishing between learning and education. Maulana believed that academic education is as important as learning at other places in the world like mosques, temples, churches, playgrounds, picnic spots, graveyards, etc. He used to say that learning should be the main motive of life. At every step of life, a man should be ready to learn something new. To put it in another way, every day should be all about learning new and sowing something for the coming future. I am reminded of Mahesh Bhatt, the great filmmaker when he said that when I began to pursue my life’s journey, the first encounter of my life taught me that I had to bring something innovative for the sake of society. The person who interviewed him asked what new idea or ideas he had brought with him. Could you do anything for the sake of society? In this way, Maulana was somehow similar to Bhatt. This lesson teaches us that every day should be a new day for us to sow something beneficial.
The fourth and last lesson is dissent. Maulana was the epitome of accepting dissent. He welcomed everyone to say what they wanted to say. He accepted both praise and criticism. However, in case of praise, he advised that whosoever praises me is my enemy. Anyone who is my critic is my real well-wisher. My mission is peace, i.e., Islam. In this way, he taught us to be the acceptor of dissent. In the present age, when dissent has become a crime, I think he was one of the few modern Islamic scholars who welcomed it. So we have learnt to digest criticism, without having any inclination towards praise.
In short, Maulana’s presence will be felt everywhere. Before wrapping up this piece, we are reminded of his last words before he departed to the other world. He asked what would be our reaction when we would hear that Maulana was no more. Well, he advised us to say that if Maulana dies, God is still alive. When God is alive, it means Maulana’s books about God will remind you of his presence. So, he said, don’t grieve over my death. My life is an open book, he said. ‘What you have to do is to find ways of reading me’.
May Allah give him Jannat!
The authors are from Hajibagh Zainakote in Srinagar.