The volume presents a comprehensive study of the life and works of Sayyid Abul Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi (1913-1999). Sayyid Abul Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi is seen as an important scholar in the modern Islamic resurgence who has made significant contributions to contemporary Islamic thought. He was one of the few Indian ‘ulama to have taken seriously the dynamic role of Islam in a multi-religious society. The book discusses the early life, family and education of the scholar and Ms major writings that are concerned with the themes of the primacy of the Qur’an and the sunnah as harbingers of world civilization, islet (reform) and tided (revival) as anchors of Islamic resurgence, the methodological approach of da’wah, Islam and the West, and Islamic order in an Indian setting. With quotations and references from published translations of Ms Urdu and Arabic works including his autobiography, it details the importance of Ms coherent approach to the diversity of issues in the twentieth century and the importance of his autobiography Karwan in this context. It deals with Ms participative role in the Indian mainstream activities, examining the social and spiritual crises facing Muslims. With an overview of contemporary Islamic movements it illustrates Sayyid Nadwi’s major contributions towards the dynamics of the revivalist trends. The book will undoubtedly be of interest to scholars and students of Islamic studies.
The inspiration to write this book came from Sayyid Abul Hasan ‘Au Nadwi himself. During my correspondence and meeting with him, I was impressed by his suggestion that I should undertake a comprehensive study of his works. It has almost been twenty-five years ago (1986) when 1 read the first volume of Karwan-i-Zindagi. Thereafter my interest intensified and an irrepressible urge to write on his life and writings have culminated in this modest attempt.
Sayyid Muhammad Rabey Nadwi, Rector of Nadwat-al‘ulama (Lucknow) has been exceedingly kind to make available books and manuscripts during my brief stay there. His keen interest and supportive role is much appreciated. Another scion of the Hasani family is Sayyid Bilal Abdul Hayy, who deserves special mention. He has been largely responsible for locating books and articles which have not been easily accessible for my study purposes.
I am very much obliged to my friends, Anver Essa and Imraan Seedat whose support in every possible way has motivated me to study Islamic scholarship in South Asia. Muffi Ayub Moola has always been a source of inspiration. His monitoring on the progress of the study and the special du’as for its successful completion are things I cherish most.
To Muniera, words will not suffice to express my sincerest gratitude for her hard work in not only typing the manuscript meticulously (I can’t recall the number of “revised” manuscripts) and for her editorial collaboration. I have been guided by her insightful comments on linguistic finesse which has greatly enhanced the value of this work. My two nephews, Aqeel and Nabeel, have been in more than one way associated with the production of this book. Their frequent questions on the format of the book and on the life of Sayyid Abul Uasan ‘Au Nadwi has been the most productive phase in my study.
I dedicate this book to my grandsons, Zayd, Rayhaan and Yusuf, with the hope that the spirit of Islamic studies may sustain their future lives.
Finally, the cumulative experiences of my studies in Islamic history and Quranic studies have been directly received from my Ustad, Professor ‘Abdur Rahman Doi. May Allah bless his soul?
Abdul Kader Choughley is involved in research on contemporary Islamic thought in South Asia. He is the author of Islamic Resurgence: Sayyid Abut Hasan Ali Nadwi and his Contemporaries (2011). His current research projects include The Muktubat (Letters) Genre: Islahi Perspectives and Da’wah to the Modern Mind: Life and Times of Fazlur Rahman Ansari.
THE study aims to examine the contributions of Maulana Sayyid Abul Hasan' Ali Nadwi (1913-99) to contemporary Islamic thought. A long and eventful career spanning over 70 years, Maulana Nadwi (hereafter Alimia) is considered an important scholar in Islamic resurgence. This term is applied to specific historical settings in our study; it covers the twentieth century during which globalisation and modernity have influenced Islamic discourse on multiple levels. The 'ulama regarded as bastions of traditional Islam have not been immune to the rapid changes taking place across the Muslim world brought about by technological advancement. In his 'Ulama in Contemporary Islam, Zaman has pointed out to the dilemmas facing Muslim societies in grappling with challenges and the 'ulama'e role as custodians of Islamic traditions. Their constituency is reflected in the institutions they are associated with and their interpretations underpin their respective responses to geo-political developments.
Alimia is among few Indian 'ulama to have taken seriously the dynamic role of Islam in multi-religious India. The predicament of Indian Muslims who as a minority see themselves increasingly beleaguered and threatened by the rise of Hindu militancy is one of his primary concerns. He insists Muslims must come out of their separatist mentality and search for opportunities that exist and work alongside their religious counterparts to build a viable society. According to Alimia Islamic authenticity is the ideal to which Indian Muslims should aspire because they too are connected to the world of Islam at large. This explains his presentation of islah (reform) and tajdid (revival) as tools of Islamic resurgence. It is interesting to note that scholarly tradition combined with Islamic activism contributed significantly to Alimia's profile as a spokesman for Indian Muslims and a reformer of international repute. His versatility is best illustrated in his major writings which seek to elaborate the following themes:
• The primacy of the Qur'an and sunnah as harbingers of world civilisation.
• Islah and tajdid as anchors of Islamic resurgence
• da’wah: A methodological approach
• Islam and the West: a critique
• Islamic order in an Indian setting.
The diversity of themes are embodied in Alimia's multi- volume autobiography Karwan-i-Zindagi. Our study focuses on Alimia's salient accounts which mirror his presentation of views in relation to socio-political developments in both India and the Muslim world. A time line approach is adopted to give chronological and thematic significance to his contributions to Islamic reformist thought. Alimia is a traditionalist 'alim whose understanding of Islam is characterised by his doctrinal orientation and a global view of Islam, both of which affirm the return to an ideal past reflected in the exemplary lives of the salf-al-salih (early representatives of Islam).
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