By Afzal Usmani
On November 26, 1949, when The Indian Constituent Assembly proposed the Indian constitution to adopt for an independent, sovereign, democratic and republic of India and assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, only one member of the constituent Assembly of India raised his voice of dissent. The then Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru rush to his desk and said “Maulana, what you are doing, your only vote against the proposed constitution will become a part of the history”. Maulana replied very politely “That is why I raised my voice to make sure that at least one voice of dissent was made against the proposed Indian constitution which has not done justice with Indian Muslims”. This voice of dissent was from no other than one of the great alumni of our beloved Alma Mater Aligarh Muslim University, a freedom fighter by nature, a journalist by profession, a humble human being by instinct and an integral element of Aligarh Movement and represented the true interpretation of Aligarh Movement, Syed Fazlul Hasan, popularly known as Maulana Hasrat Mohani. He was the first voice of rebellion and revolution raised at Aligarh Muslim University where he studied. He coined the slogan Inquilab zindabad. On various occasions, he stood alone in a crowd and refused to be browbeaten by Mahatma Gandhi or Mohammad Ali Jinnah. A simple man unimpressed by pomp and grandeur. At the outset, he advocated the cause of independence from the platform of Indian National Congress followed by his persistent demand from the platforms of the All India Muslim League and the Communist Party.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani was born in 1878 in the middle class Sadaat family of Syed Azhar Hasan in a town Mohan in Unnao district, around 25 kilometers on the western side of Lucknow. His ancestors Syed Mahmood Nishapuri came from Nishapur and settled in Mohan. He was a decedent of Imam Hazrat Ali Moosa (R.A.). He completed his primary education from a Maktab (traditional Madarsah) in Mohan and acquired the knowledge of Urdu, Persian and Arabic from his teachers, Miyan Ji Ghulam Ali Mohani and Miyan Ji Balaqi Mohani. In 1894 he passed his middle school from Mohan middle school and secured First position in entire state of Central Province. In 1899, he completed his High School from Government High School of Fatehpur with honors, awarded scholarship and joined Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College (MAO) Aligarh (now Aligarh Muslim University). He completed his admission in Inter College on 15th March 1899. When he arrived in the college, he was short in height, lagar badan, gandumi rang, uljhi uljhi darhi (beard), Kalabatuni topi, Char Khaney ka Angarkha, takhno se uncha pajama, old fashioned glasses, umbrella in one hand a Pandaan in second. His typical appearance and style gave him a lot of attraction and a title “Khala Jaan”, which stuck with his name in Aligarh for a while. But very soon due to his caliber and attitude, he earned the respect of student community and became very popular and transformed from Syed Fazlul Hasan to “Maulana Hasrat Mohani”.
Prof. Babu Jadav Chandar Chakravarti, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmad and Sahebzada Aftab Ahmad Khan were among the college faculty and Theodore Beck was Principal of the college at that time. Syed Sajjad Haider Yaldaram, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Khan Bahadur Syed Abu Muhammad and Zarif Dahri were among his contemporaries in the college. This was a time of Principal Theodore Beck and after few months of young Fazlul Hasan’s admission, Principal Beck died. He wrote a poem to praise Principal Beck and his achievement love for the college. He completed his Intermediate exam in 1901 and joined B.A with Arabic and Mathematics as Optional subject. He was a nationalist so once College Cricket team beat an English team and Maulana Hasrat Mohani led the celebration. This hearted the feelings of British establishment in the college and they rusticated him. Maulana fought back and got re-instated but was not allowed to live in hostel so he moved to a rented place in Rasal-Ganj area of Aligarh city. During those days in college he started taking interest in national politics which was also not accepted by College administration and he was rusticated again, but every time he fought for truth and came back to college to complete his education. In 1903 he completed his B.A. MAO College which was affiliated with University of Allahabad so he received a degree of BA from University of Allahabad. He was an ardent supporter of Aligarh Movement and mission of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. His personality was a true interpretation of the product of Aligarh Movement, what Sir Syed had dreamed years ago. The basic principle of Aligarh Movement was to follow your religion with full faith and integrity and at the same time take part in the individual and community growth to live a better life. Maulana Hasrat Mohani followed this principle in its entirety. From his early days to his last breath, he was an ardent follower of Islam. His participation in the freedom struggle of India, anti British establishment nature, social communism lineage never deviated him from his religious beliefs and practices. During his stay of 2 years in jail, despite of the hard work, he was observing Ramadan fast and regular prayers.
In 1903, he got married to a well educated Nishatun-Nisa Begum. Maulana Hasrat Mohani started taking interest in literary and cultural activities from his middle school in Mohan and during his Aligarh life he proved himself to be a respected poet and few of his Ghazals become very popular. His interest in Urdu journalism inspired him to start “Urdu-e-Mu-alla” in 1903 and settled down in Aligarh city. During this time he published few rarely available literary books and started studying literature and political science and became a pioneer in Urdu journalism. He made journalism and politics as his sacred mission and struggled for the causes of muslims and other oppressed people of the society for his entire life. In 1904, he attended Indian National Congress session as a delegate in Bombay. This was the time when Swadesi Movement was launched and Maulana Hasrat Mohani became an active participant in the movement. In 1905, he took active participation in All India Industrial Conference and became a campaigner of Swadesi Movement. He published several articles in Urdu-e-Mu-alla to support the Swadesi Movement. To promote the swadesi movement, he started a swadesi store which was run buy his beloved wife and due to their efforts, the store became a successful venture. In the political thoughts, he was a supporter of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and always criticized Motilal Nehru, Bal Krishna Gokhlay and other moderates of the party. In 1907 when, Bal Gangadhar Tilak left Indian National Congress, Maulana Hasrat Mohani followed him and he also left the Indian National Congress. In 1908, he published an article in Urdu-e-Mu-alla and criticized the policies British rulers of Egypt. British Government prosecuted him and jailed him for 2 years. He was released in 1910 and re-started Urdu-e-Mu-alla. This was the time Aligarh Movement leaders started the movement to form Muslim University which will be an independent institute of muslims of India and will be capable to affiliate other muslim institutions. Maulana Hasrat Mohani took an active part in the movement and wrote several articles in Urdu-e-Mu-alla for Muslim University. His ideology and methodology to raise the issues of muslims o India lead him to house arrest in 1916. He did not obey the British orders so he was sent to Lalitpur Jail but soon he was released from there.
When it comes to bold and trenchant political writings, the three names that are usually invoked are those of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Zafar Ali Khan. But much earlier than these three, Maulana Hasrat Mohani had suffered incarceration for his editorial independence. His Urdu-e-Mu-alla also appeared much earlier than Comrade, Al-Balagh and Zamindar. The Mu-alla had invited British wrath for Hasrat’s writings during the agitation on the Kanpur Mosque demolition, resulting in a security demand for Rs 3,000 under the Vernacular Press Act. It was sheer tyranny to demand Rs 3,000 from a press, worth little more than Rs 50. Undeterred, however, he founded the Tazkiratush Shu'ra in place of the Urdu-e-Mu-alla. Throughout his life, Hasrat was in dire financial straits, but he consistently refused financial assistance from everyone. And his wife was made of the same stuff. While he was being held at the Baroda jail in Puna, in 1922, she declined financial assistance from Puna Muslims, saying, “If you are such admirers of my husband, then why not purchase his books? But on no account would I accept financial help.” Both Hasrat and his wife led a simple life. And she helped her illustrious husband in all possible ways – getting his books published, reading the proofs, looking after the press and running the Swadesi store.
In 1919, Maulana Hasrat Mohani participated in Muslim League Convention in Amritsar. In 1920 along with Maulana Shaukat Ali, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. Mukhtar Ansari, Maulana Abdul Bari, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Dr. Kichlu met Lord Chelmsford, Viceroy of India. In annual session of INC in1921 at Ahmadabad, Maulana Hasrat Mohani was a member of the subject committee. During the meeting of subject committee and in open session he emphasized the need of complete independence suggested to start the movement to achieve complete independence. Undeterred by his discomfiture at the Ahmadabad session of Congress, the Maulana included his proposal in his Presidential Address to the All India Muslim League on December 30, 1921. He suggested that complete independence should be announced from January 1, 1922, that India be declared a Republic, that it be named the United States of India. If Martial Law be imposed then guerrilla warfare should be launched against the British government. The Presidential Address was confiscated and Hasrat was prosecuted. The jury went for the defendant, but the Session Judge convicted the Maulana, sentencing him to two years’ rigorous imprisonment and putting him in a condemned cell. However, on a reference to the High Court, Justice Crump found that the Maulana was not “guilty of instigating and therefore abetting the waging of war”. Since the learned Judge found no incitement to violence in the Maulana’s Presidential Address, the earlier sentence was set aside and the Maulana set free.
In 1925 Hasrat Mohani played a key role to organize annual convention of All India Communist Party in Kanpur. He was chairman of the reception committee of the convention. His association with communist also never led him to deviate from his religious beliefs. In the same year, Ibn Saud attacked on Hijaz (area of Mecca and Medina). This event displeased Maulana Hasrat Mohani and they formed “Anjuman Khuddam-e-Harmain” under the leadership of Maulana Abdul Bari Farangimahli and organized “All India Hijaz Conference” in Lucknow under its banners. In his presidential address Maulana Hasrat Mohani expressed his anger over the destruction and desecration of holy places in and around Hijaz. In 1929 he started a daily newspaper “ Mustaqil” from Kanpur. The newspaper did not survived for long time but he continued publishing Urdu-e-Mu-alla. In 1935 he launched an independent party with the support of Shaikh Mushir Hasan Qidwai, Maulana Azad Subhani, Syed Zakir Ali and Syed Hasan Riyaz to promote a Hindu-Muslim unity and mutual cooperation.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani presided over the annual session of the All India Khilafat Committee in 1923 and was elected President of the All India Muslim League in 1923. He was a zealous worker of the Muslim League and took a prominent part in its reorganization since 1936 and actively participated in the movement started by Muslim League to achieve the political emancipation of Indian Muslims and secure an honourable place for them in the socio-economic structure of India. Interestingly, it was at the instance of the Maulana that the All India Muslim League adopted “full independence” as its creed at Lucknow in 1937. The word, “complete”, had been dropped because, in view of being variously defined as Dominion Status, Purna Swaraj, as the Maulana explained, its interpretation had made the word meaningless. In the same year of 1937, Maulana lost his biggest support, his beloved wife Nishatunisa Begum.
In subsequent years, the Maulana was in the forefront of, first, the struggle for Pakistan, and, later, for the rights of the Muslims in the Indian dominion. In 1945, he was elected as a member of UP Assembly and member of The Constituent Assembly as a representative of Muslim League. After the birth of Pakistan, he stayed behind in India to face the aftermath and to safeguard the interests of Muslims in India. He was the lone member of the Indian Constituent Assembly who refused to sign the Indian Constitution. He asserted that at such a critical moment he could not think of leaving the Muslims of India in total despair. His struggle continued against injustice, poverty and ignorance. A person who had withstood the onslaught of British Imperialism in his entire life in the present century did not give serious consideration to the threats, intimidations and insinuations. His memorable words challenging Sardar Patel, in the Constituent Assembly, will long run in the memory of future generations: “You should not think that Muslims are orphans today. I am here to defend their rights against all odds and will fight for them till death”.
The other side of Maulana Hasrat Mohani’s life was his love for urdu literature and poetry. His involvement with literature and journalism brought into sharp focus the loving man that he was who introduced a new trend in Urdu poetry, which was a mingling of the praiseworthy attributes of the schools of thought that existed in Delhi and Lucknow. The exceptional qualities of sincerity, forbearance, fearlessness, perseverance, patience and contentment which the jail life had developed in his character, are profoundly reflected in his poetry. He has left behind him ten volumes of poetical works. His individuality as a poet is reflected in his poems throughout his career, but the best part of his contribution to Urdu Poetry was composed in jail, wherefrom each time when he was released, he used to bring out a volume of Urdu poems. Though he was not supplied with paper and ink in the jail, he memorized his couplets and released them to the press on the expiry of his term of imprisonment. He was the founder of the Modern Urdu Lyrics. He revived the lyrics in Urdu. He emphasized on depth of feelings and sincerity of thought, with the result that Urdu lyrics had become a mixture of unnatural and artificial picture of human life and brought about the renaissance of Urdu lyric. He concentrated mainly on the sincerity of thought and simplicity of diction; hence his poems paint the true but dignified sentiments of love and portray the multifarious phases of human passions. In this way, though Hasrat may be termed as a conservative lyrist, yet he infused a new life in its fast decaying body and after Mir may be classed as the best Urdu lyrist.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani has an individuality of his own and was the pupil of Taslim in the realm of poetry. He comes in the line of Momin Khan Momin and Naseem Dehlavi in respect of the type of his verses, but he carved out an independent course for giving vent to his sentiments. His main attributes are the purity of thought, simplicity of sentiments and simplicity of diction. Like Mir, Hasrat, too, passed a life of despair and anxieties, hence there is a spiritual connection between the two and the works of both reflect deep pathos. His poetry, according to Arnold, is the mirror of his life; hence, it has been much affected by his environments and portrays much variety of subjective phases of his many-sided personality. His poetry is mainly subjective and he has tried to avoid the objective colour which had crept into the works of Urdu lyrists of Lucknow. He has depicted numerous pictures of those turbulent times, giving a realistic touch to his poems. He founded a new School of Urdu Lyrics whose aim is to depict true human sentiments and reactions to his environments. He is the true product of his time. According to Mathew Arnold, "Literature is the mirror of life", and like the celebrated English poet Lord Tennyson, Hasrat too has been much affected by his environments. His verses are full of revolutionary thought, reactions and national aspirations of a person whose life was so stormy and turbulent. His lyric composed in the Faizabad jail, carrying the following couplet, is a typical instance in point:
Hai mashqi sukhan jaaree chakkee kee mushaqqat bhee
Ik turfah tamaashah hai hasrat kee tabee`at bhee
(Hasrat is continuing his hobby of composing verses side by side with the grinding of wheat. What a peculiar nature does Hasrat possess!)
Here is his another poem;
Ra'naa-ii men hissa hai jo Qabras ki pari ka
Nazzaara hai mas'hoor isi jalwa~gari ka
Raftaar-e-qiyaamat yuN'hi kya kam thi ke us par
Ik turfa hai fit'na tiri naazuk~kamari ka
Poshaak men kya kya shajari naqsh haiN dil~kash
Baa'is na yeh hi shauq ki hoN jaama~dari ka
La~rayb ke is husn-e-sitam~gaar ki surKHi
Moojib hai mire zuh'd ki 'is'yaaN~nazari ka
Baa~wasf-e-talaash in ki KHabar kuchh bhi na paa kar
Kya kahiye jo hai haal meri be~KHabari ka
Jab se yeh suna hai ke woh saakin haiN yaheeN ke
'Aalam hai 'ajab 'ishq ki aashufta~sari ka
Saath un ke jo aaye the hum Beirut se Hasrat
Yeh rog nateeja hai usi hum~safari ka
This ghazal was written aboard a ship, when Hasrat had visited Europe, stopping en route at some Middle East ports. The time is1939, just before the start of World War II.
His most famous roomani Ghazal is;
chupake chupake raat din aa.Nsuu bahanaa yaad hai
ham ko ab tak aashiqii kaa vo zamaanaa yaad hai
baahazaaraa.N iztiraab-o-sad-hazaaraa.N ishtiyaaq
tujhase vo pahale pahal dil kaa lagaanaa yaad hai
tujhase milate hii vo bebaak ho jaanaa meraa
aur teraa daato.n me.n vo u.Ngalii dabaanaa yaad hai
khii.nch lenaa vo meraa parde kaa konaa daffaatan
aur dupaTTe se teraa vo muu.Nh chhupaanaa yaad hai
jaan kar sotaa tujhe vo qasa-e-paabosii meraa
aur teraa Thukaraa ke sar vo muskuraanaa yaad hai
tujh ko jab ta.nhaa kabhii paanaa to az_raahe-lihaaz
hal-e-dil baato.n hii baato.n me.n jataanaa yaad hai
jab sivaa mere tumhaaraa koii diivaanaa na thaa
sach kaho kyaa tum ko bhii vo kaarKhaanaa yaad hai
Gair kii nazaro.n se bachakar sab kii marzii ke Khilaaf
vo teraa chorii chhipe raato.n ko aanaa yaad hai
aa gaya gar vasl kii shab bhii kahii.n zikr-e-firaaq
vo teraa ro ro ke mujhako bhii rulaanaa yaad hai
do-pahar kii dhuup me.n mere bulaane ke liye
vo teraa kothe pe na.nge paao.n aanaa yaad hai
dekhanaa mujhako jo bargashtaa to sau sau naaz se
jab manaa lenaa to phir Khud ruuTh jaanaa yaad hai
chori chori ham se tum aa kar mile the jis jagah
muddate.n guzarii.n par ab tak wo thikaanaa yaad hai
beruKhii ke saath sunaanaa dard-e-dil kii dastaa.N
aur teraa hatho.n me.n vo ka.ngan ghumaanaa yaad hai
vaqt-e-ruKhsat alvidaa kaa lafz kahane ke liye
vo tere sukhe labo.n kaa thar-tharaanaa yaad hai
baavajuud-e-iddaa-e-ittaqaa 'Hasrat' mujhe
aaj tak ahad-e-havas kaa ye fasaanaa yaad hai
Maulana Hasrat Mohani’s famous literary works are;
Kulliyat-e-Hasrat Mohani: A collection of most of the ghazals of Maulana Hasrat Mohani, comprising of 13 "Diwans" and more than 700 ghazals and other poetic work written during the period 1903 and1950.
Nukaat-e-Sukhan: A rare book about the techniques of poetry with hundreds of examples and their explanations.
Mushahidat-e-Zindaan: A book depicting actual conditions and happenings within prison in the days of British Raj in India during 1908 and 1909.
Sharah-e-Deewan-e-Ghalib: A rare literary work, written in 1904. It is the explanation of some ghazals of a great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib.
A selection of articles and poetry by Maulana Hasrat Mohani (1903-1908), for which he himself wrote with pride that "such a collection could not be formed elsewhere".
Selected Poems in English with Translation
A collection of selected poems / ghazals alongwith English translation carried out by Maulana himself.
Here is a list of famous literary work done on Maulana Hasrat Mohani;
Author: Syed Ishtiaq Azhar
A detailed account of the life and achievements of Maulana Hasrat Mohani.
Author: Maulana Arif Hasvi
A brief life history including the days in prison of Hasrat Mohani written by another devoted freedom fighter, Arif Hasvi, who knew Maulana Hasrat Mohani very closely and a witness to many of his achievements.
Hasrat Mohani Ka Silsila-e-Sukhan
Author: Senator Late Syed Ishtiaq Azhar
A research work depicting the list of various poets and their works which had a profound effect on Maulana's poetry. (Based on an article in Urdu-e-Mualla by Hasrat Mohani).
Hasrat Mohani Ki Naat Aur Manqabat Goi
Compiled By: S.M.Asghar Kazmi
Various articles relating to an important aspect of Hasrat's poetry (Hamd, Naat and Manqabat) with which Maulana was especially attached to.
Hasrat Ki Kahani Naeema Ki Zabani
Author: Naeema Begum
Some aspects of personal and family life of Maulana Hasrat Mohani, written by his beloved daughter, Naeema Begum.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani Ek Hama Jahet Shakhsiat
Compiled By: S.M.Asghar Kazmi
A book comprising interesting and useful articles relating to various aspects of Maulana's life e.g. Sufism, Leadership, Journalism, Narrator, Poetry, Religious attachment,Communist Ideology and even interest in sports.
Moulana Hasrat Mohani Danishwaron Ki Nazar Mein , Compiled By: S.M.Asghar Kazmi
A collection of articles written by notable figures of present day, e.g. Maulana Jamal Mian Farangi Mahli, Syed Hashim Raza, Prof. Manjnun Gorakhpuri, Dr. Abul Lais Siddiqui, Dr. Syed Abul Khair Kashfi, Professor. Hasnain Kazmi, Dr. Wafa Rashdi, Mukhtar Zaman, to name a few of them.
Compiled by: Syed Inamul Hasan Mohani
A collection of messages and letters from the admirers and contemporaries of Maulana Hasrat Mohani.Some of the names are: Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Mr. Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, Sardar Abdul Rab Nishter, Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy, Niaz Fatehpuri and several prominent figures of present day, e.g. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chairmen of Senate, Speakers of National Assembly, Provincial Governors etc.
Nishat-Un-Nisa Begum Hasrat Mohani
Author: Senator Late Syed Ishtiaq Azhar
The devoted wife and a staunch supporter of Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Begum Hasrat Mohani, is one of the most distinguished woman in Indo-Pak history. This book contains her life history in the light of opinions and letters about her by her contemporaries.
Nishat Un Nisa Begum Afkar-o-Kirdar
Compiled By: S.M.Asghar Kazmi
A collection of articles by notable dignitaries throwing light on the life and achievements of Begum Hasrat Mohani.
As a whole, he was a versatile genius. He possessed a many-sided personality who acquired greatness in contradictory traits of character and spheres of life like poetry and politics; literature and religion, which is rather unparalleled in the history of Indo-Pak subcontinent. He was the very embodiment of truth and sincerity, who in his person, translated into reality the following immortal couplet of Iqbal-the Poet of the East:
Hazaar khauf hu per zabaan hu dil kee rafeeque
Yahee rahaa hai azal sai qalandarun ka tareeque
(Inspite of all sorts of fears, let the heart remain a peer of the tongue. Since time immemorial, this has been the way of the undaunted.)
On 13th May 1951, this great son of the soil and man of his convictions and professions died in Lucknow and was buried in the graveyard of Anwar Bagh in Farngi Mahal.
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