By Prof. A.R. Kidwai*
Director, UGC Academic Staff College, AMU Aligarh
Scion of a family of religious scholars:
Dr. Muhammad Hashim Kidwai was born in 1921 in Lucknow in a family of religious scholars and civil servants. Both his father, Abdul Majeed and his grand father, Abdul Qadir were Deputy Collectors in the British India. They stood out for their piety, their integrity and their administrative acumen. On the other hand, his uncle and father-in-law, Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi, and his great grandfather, Mufti Mazhar Kareem won acclaim for their substantial contribution to Islamic religious scholarship.
Dr. Kidwai passed his High School from Govt. High School, Sitapur Intermediate from Christian College, Lucknow and earned his B.A. (Hons.) and M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Lucknow. He was awarded Ph.D. by the Aligarh Muslim University for his doctoral study on the early Islamic state.
His teaching career: He joined the Aligarh Muslim University in 1948 as Lecturer in the Dept. of Political Science and was appointed Reader in 1961. It is a great pity that while he served the AMU until 1982 with distinction, he was not elevated as Professor owing to the unhealthy and deplorable campus politics. Destiny however, had reserved higher positions for him. For, in 1984 he was elected Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) in recognition of his active, nay dynamic role in the Freedom Movement.
A genuine Muslim Nationalist: Since his student days he was drawn towards politics, though his father was part of the British state machinery. He joined the struggle for Independence and, did all that he could as a student activist for freeing his motherland from the yoke of the British. With the same aim he set U.P. Muslim Students Federation at the University of Lucknow. More intriguing, however, was his joining the Congress party in the heyday of Pakistan movement which had captured the imagination of Muslims even in the north India in 1940s. While swimming against the tide he strove with his heart and mind for promoting Muslim nationalism among fellow students at the University of Lucknow and in the wider community. In the then emotionally surcharged and volatile politicized atmosphere it was a seemingly suicidal, self - destructive step. However, he adhered consistently to his ideals of the united India and nationalism and put up with all the hardships in pursuing his mission. Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Dr Syed Mahmud were his mentors during this period. He managed to organize a band of Muslim students wedded to nationalism in the university which was quite an achievement in the face of the frenzy generally evoked by Muslim League. He had close contact with Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, especially from 1940 to 1947.
A Committed Muslim Activist: Notwithstanding being a staunch nationalist, he never compromised on any issue detrimental to the Indian Muslims. Throughout his career he always championed vigorously the causes dear to the Muslims – minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University, plight of Urdu in the Independent India, harrowing carnage of Muslims in communal riots in various parts of the country, Muslim Personal Law, especially in the context of the Shah Bano case and the outrageous demolition of the historic Babri Masjid. On these issues he never toed in a servile way the official party line of the Congress party. All along he expressed and conveyed the wishes of the Muslim community, even at the expense of incurring the displeasure of certain elements within Congress. He never forgave M.C. Chagla and Noorul Hasan for being treacherous to the Muslims in stripping the AMU of its minority character. As he was an M.P. (1984-1990) during the Shah Bano case, days he played a crucial role in persuading Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, to ensure that the new legislation about the divorced Muslim woman did not run counter to any principle and norm of Islamic Shariah. Likewise, he testified before the Lucknow High Court about the existence of the Babri Masjid in which he had offered prayers. His crusade for the Muslim issues is on record – in the form of his numerous pieces published mostly in the English national dailies since 1970s to this day.
His contribution to scholarship: Apart from his pieces on current issues, he has authored several valuable books in both English and Urdu. His book on Rafi Ahmad Kidwai in both English and Urdu is a treasure house of information about the Freedom Movement and the role of nationalist Muslims in national politics. His series of books in Urdu on several topics related to Civics and Political Science has benefitted generations of Urdu-speaking students all over the country. Equally substantial is his annotatied editing of several volumes of the letters of his illustrious uncle, Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi. He made a mark also as a brilliant reviewer. Equipped with his enviable memory and thorough familiarity with the fairly recent Indian history, his reviews on the Freedom Movement and other facets of national life are read with much profit by the specialists and the lay alike. In some of his reviews on the recent Indian history he has pointed out numerous factual errors marring these and exposed the authors’ bias against Indian Muslims. At the AMU too, he criticized both the Muslim communalists and Muslim progressives and communists who indulged in Islam-bashing It is gratifying that a volume containing his more than seventy reviews on Urdu books was released in 2010 by Mr Hamid Ansari, Vice President, who happens to be his student. This volume is a testament to Dr. Kidwai’s sweeping scholarship, his assiduity and his religiosity.
Pivotal role in AMU’s corporate life:
Throughout his career he took a very keen interest in the residential life of the AMU. For years he served as Warden, Amin Hostel and later became the first Provost of Mohsinul Mulk (MM) Hall. As Proctor in 1965-1967 he rendered valuable services in restoring peace and cordiality on the campus that had been rocked by indiscipline. For more than two years he performed the twin arduous jobs of University Proctor and Provost, MM Hall. God has gifted him with such remarkable retentive memory that he managed to remember the names of all the students of his hall of residence and of his classes. He was the keeper of the Duty Society, that catered to helping the needy students. He was also elected President AMU Teaching Staff Association in 1978. His love for both his wards and students is immense and selfless. He spent most of his salary on sponsoring the education of even those students whom he hardly knew. His students hold him in much esteem and take pride in maintaining their ties with him even years after they completed their studies at the AMU. His concern, rather affection for students is so strong that he does not approve that any disciplinary action betaken against them. In view of his integrity he was appointed Treasurer of the Relief Committee set up to help the victims of communal riots in Aligarh in 1978.
Amid his varied contributions, his unswerving committment to the cause of Indian Muslims and his crusade for helping the Muslims in getting their due share in national life is the most glittering aspect of his role in pubic life. Indian Muslims stand in need of such selfless, committed mentors for playing their meaningful role in their own motherland, which is regrettably denied mostly to them. Dr. Kidwai’s example, in both word and deed, has been a beacon light amid the all-round darkness. May Allah grant him a long, happy life, enabling him further to keep waging this crucial battle for the Muslim community (Amin)
*Professor Abdur Raheem Kidwai is a Professor of English and Director, UGC Academic Staff College, Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached at email@example.com
The title of “Chhote Sardar” has been conferred on Mr Narendra Modi, who has been responsible for the state-sponsored anti-Muslim pogrom and whose administration’s law and peace enforcing agencies actively helped the rioters in committing the worst kind of brutalities in Gujarat.
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the Bara Sardar far from being appreciative of the RSS, held very strong views against it as is evident from the following extracts from his letters:
“Militant communalism which was preached only a few months ago by many spokesmen of Maha Sabha, including men like Mahant Digvijaynath, Prof Ram Singh and Deshpande, could not be regarded but as a danger.
The same would apply to the RSS with the additional danger inherent in an organisation run in secret on military and semi-military lines”.
[Sardar Patel to Dr S.P. Mookerjee, May 4, 1948. Sardar Patel’s correspondence edited by Durga Das, Vol 6 page No. 64].
(Dr) M. HASHIM KIDWAI, ex-member, Rajya Sabha, New Delhi
Politics of hatred & freedom of speech
It is really distressing that some political leaders, especially VHP leaders, are bent upon pursuing the politics of hatred and by their utterances they have put the nation to shame. In a democracy every individual has a right to express his or her views but this freedom of expression ends when the freedom of another individual begins and the rabid hate speak of a few political leaders cannot be tolerated by all right-thinking Indians.
Dr Parvin Togadia, General Secretary of the VHP, who happens to be a cancer specialist, heads the list of those who spread the cancer of communal hatred all around. His highly deplorable and sordid attacks on Ms Sonia Gandhi, Congress President, affects the entire country. We rightly boast of our great civilisation that has survived the onslaught of time and foreign rule, but this civilisation has not taught us to be uncivil or intolerate. The strenth of the Hindu religion comes from the fact that it has very much flexibility and encompasses all kinds of views.
Neither the traditions of the Indian civilisation nor teachings of the Hindu religion have taught Indians to speak like Togadia. Such persons with a particular kind of mindest do not have the mandate to speak on behalf of either all Hindus or on behalf of the Indians.
Dr M. HASHIM KIDWAI, New Delhi
The Press Council of India was set up as a watchdog. But there are a number of instances when the council issued guidelines which were treated with contempt by media houses.
In this era of super capitalism, the lever of control has been transferred from the hands of the editors to the marketing gurus for whom all that matters is competition and more and more business. Means don't matter, only the end does.
So in the process of profit making, no wonder it is becoming increasingly insensitive.
It is high time Parliament gave punitive powers to the Press Council of India to deal with media irresponsibility. The Indian media must introspect and rediscover the past. Remember the glorious role it played during the pre-independence era. And stay away from battles in television studios.
Sir, — The Gujarat riots were a blot on India's fair face of secularism. So it is distressing that the UPA Government, wedded to secularism, should have taken up the visa issue with the U.S. Government. It should not have ignored the frequent reprimand by the Supreme Court, the media, the NHRC and NGOs at various platforms of Mr. Modi. On another front, the visa denial can also be seen as providing a reprieve to Mr. Modi when dissident activity in the Gujarat BJP was at its peak.
M. Hashim Kidwai,
A mr. Hashim Kidwai has written19 that mr. Advani's claim that no namaz was offered in the Babri Masjid since 1936, a full thirteen years before the Hindu take-over, "is not based on facts". To substantiate his counter-claim, he brings up the most first-hand kind of evidence : "My father was posted at Faizabad as Deputy Collector from 1939 to 1941 and I, along with my mother and other members of my family, visited the Babari mosque in October 1939 and again in October 1941 and offered the Zuhar (noon) prayers there."
Sir ? Some Muslim social reformers, outfits and Muslim intellectuals with little knowledge of Islam now question and condemn shariat courts? decisions pertaining to marriage, divorce and inheritance. Unfortunately, the media have been projecting them as the true exponents of Islam. In their zeal to denounce the courts, the media have forgotten that shariat courts have been functioning in Bihar for more than eight decades.
It will not be out of place to remind ourselves here of the unity conference held in Allahabad in 1932, when no Hindu leader had raised any objection to the Muslim proposal for setting up sharia or qazi courts. Madan Mohan Malviya, who cannot be accused of appeasing the Muslim community, was a moving force behind this conference. The Muslim demand for the setting up of such courts was referred to a sub-committee convened by K.N. Katju, who later became the defence minister of independent India and chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. The conference eventually accepted the Muslim proposal. The Congress, at its annual session in Karachi in 1931, had assured the minorities that they would be free to follow their personal laws, and the Indian Constitution later conferred this as a fundamental right of the minorities. Why the hue and cry over the shariat and qazi courts then?
M. Hashim Kidwai, New Delhi
Sir, -- Addressing the first post-election BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that the NDA's drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections had little to do with the Gujarat riots and there was ample evidence to suggest otherwise. The spillover Muslim anger had benefited the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the RJD in U.P. and Bihar, he added. Yet on June 13 in Manali, he said that Mr. Modi and the Gujarat riots factor were responsible for the NDA defeat and that the BJP's National Executive at its Mumbai session would reconsider Gujarat and all related issues. But subsequently the BJP Parliamentary Board decided that the National Executive would not consider Gujarat and Mr. Modi.
Mr. Vajpayee took 27 months to come out with the view that Mr. Modi should have been sacked after the Gujarat riots and that in spite of his wanting to do so he could not because his hands were tied down and his mouth had been gagged by hardline forces all these years. What is most bewildering is that his concern still seems to have more to do with expediency and not morality and that there was not a word of regret for the genocide in Gujarat. What else than another instance of Mr. Vajpayee's flip-flop?
M. Hashim Kidwai,
C-501, Rose Wood Apartments,
Delhi - 110 091.
Sir, -- The Union Human Resources Development Minister has justified the move of the University Grants Commission (which is interfering in the day-to-day affairs of universities not from any academic point of view but under the threat of monetary assistance to them) of imposing a common test for admission to professional courses. This is quite in consonance with the fascist designs of his party, the BJP. This move amounts to the total annihilation of the minority and special character of the Aligarh Muslim University. Jamia Milia and Hamdard University, the three universities of Muslims of India.
This is nothing but a direct attack on the fundamental rights of the minorities to establish and administer their educational institutions. The Aligarh Muslim University Amendment Act of 1981 has also guaranteed this right to the University to admit students to any course of study. This move clearly shows the real face and attitude of the BJP towards minorities, especially Muslims.
Dr. M. Hashim Kidwai
New Delhi - 110 091
IT IS difficult to share your optimism (October 8), that after the electoral
verdict of 13th Lok Sabha, the country would have a stable Government. The
electorate has given only a fractured mandate and the BJP will have
difficulty managing 24 instead of its former 18 partners. Having very high
expectations of the Prime Minister is far from ground realities. He is a
leader who unfortunately lacks the three distinctive great qualities of his
distinguished predecessors â€”broad mindedness, determined will and the concern
for the welfare of the downtrodden.
M. HASHIM KIDWAI
DR M Hashim Kidwai
26/12/2004 Type: Website English
Sir, — Atal Behari Vajpayee's contention that there is no difference between Hindutva and Bhartiyata, and that the whole debate over Hindutva vs Bhartiyata is irrelevant since there is no contradiction between the two, besides clarifying that he has no differences with LK Advani over ideology, makes it crystal clear that there is no difference between Vajpayee and other Hindu chauvinist leaders of the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal brand, and his image of a liberal and moderate leader is nothing but a mask.
Vajpayee like other Hindu chauvinist leaders aims at converting India into a Hindu country, but he conveniently forgets that the overwhelming majority of our Hindu brethren are deadly opposed to the totally out of date sectarian Hindutva ideology by which he swears, as is evident from the Lok Sabha results in which his party had a debacle. — Yours, etc.,
DR M Hashim Kidwai,
New Delhi, 22 December.
Moral of the mandate
Dr M Hashim Kidwai
18/12/2003 Type: Website English
Moral of the mandate
Sir—Certain conclusions emerge from the electoral verdict of the recently held Assembly polls in the four States. One, anti-incumbency proved very strong and opinion polls proved to be unreliable. Two, these elections were not about personalities. As has been rightly pointed out by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the performance of her party's Governments had fallen short of people's expectations. Third, the BJP refrained from putting before the electorate the issue of Hindutva, by which it swears. This makes it abundantly clear that the party's sole aim is to gain political power even by sacrificing its ideology—Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra. This suggests opportunism of the worst kind. Four, there are some lessons for the Congress. Soft Hindutva proved to be fatal for it. Also, its State Governments should have had stricter control over the bureaucracy, which represents the main hurdle in the smooth functioning of democracy and is quite blind to popular aspirations. At the same time, the Congress should not antagonise Government karmacharis. In Rajasthan, its electoral debacle was largely on account of the latter's hostility towards the party. These results have also shown the weakness of the Congress organisation. The central leadership should, therefore, pay special attention to organisational strength. This it should do by transforming the party into a cadre-based organisation which maintains close contact with the masses by launching countrywide campaigns against communalism and deep-rooted and rampant corruption. The organisation should also expose the dismal performance of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led Government at the Centre, espouse popular causes and launch a crusade for socialist policies, a composite national culture and secularism through rallies, meetings and conferences. It should forge alliances with secular parties to fight the BJP, which stands for communalism and Hindu chauvinism. It must sever ties with those secular parties that have a tacit understanding with the BJP, and which fielded their candidates in order to damage the Congress's prospects, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
Dr M Hashim Kidwai
Sir Syed Nagar, Aligarh