Speaking at a symposium on ‘Understanding Azad in the present context’, noted lawyer, historian and writer, A.G. Noorani said Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was consistent in two things throughout his life: One, he was always an anti-imperialist; and two, he was never a hatemonger. For him, to rise up against the British was a religious duty. Maulana was a born rebel, both intellectually and politically, said Noorani.
The symposium was part of the ongoing Azad Day Celebrations 2015 at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) that started on November 4 and will end on 13.
Noorani called Azad “far ahead of his times.” He was more insightful than Jinnah in the sense that all his predictions about Pakistan came true. He had questioned the viability of a nation-state created in the name of religion.
He also said that Azad had romantic streak to him, and that is why he was sympathetic to the Bengal revolutionaries.
Disapproving of the general Indian tendency of either deifying or glorifying our leaders, Noorani advocated fair and rigorous criticism of political personalities like Gandhi, Nehru Jinnah and Azad.
Later, interacting with the students of the university, Noorani urged them to write as pen is mightier than sword. He asked the students to start writing letters to the editors and bring out campus magazines.
In-charge Vice-Chancellor MANUU, Prof. K.R. Iqbal Ahmed in his address said that “we need maulanas in all fields. By maulanas I mean learned and tolerant people.” He also said that “we should rise above bigotry and live as children of one God as envisioned by Maulana Azad.”
Speaking at the second and final session of the symposium, leading social activist and writer Irfan Ali Engineer said that understanding and interpreting Azad was more important today than before as the country faces a different kind of political and social situation.
Prof. Aisha Farooqui, Head Department of Islam Studies, Osmania University, said that ‘Self-hood’ in Azad was a ‘construct’ and a ‘given.’ Coming from an orthodox background Azad rebelled against the socio-religious and political system in the country and demanded of Muslims to fight for independence along with Hindus and other communities. Till his last breath he remained committed to communal harmony and integration of the country.
Prof. S A Wahab, professor with Directorate of Distance Education at MANUU, in his presentation emphasized on the theme of communal harmony with extensive quotations from Maulana Azad.
Prof. Amina Kishore, Coordinator Azad Day Celebrations 2015, expressed deep gratitude to A.G. Noorani for agreeing to participate in the symposium despite busy schedule. She also thanked the participants at the end of the programme.
Dr Salma Ashraf, Research Fellow with MANUU’s Abul Kalam Azad Chair, conducted the programme.