Maulana Wahidudin Khan, an Islamic scholar, spiritual leader, and a peacenik, passed away in Delhi on Wednesday night. He was 96.
The Maulana, as he was popularly known, had tested positive for Covid-19 and was admitted to a private hospital with a chest infection last week.
He is survived by his two sons and a daughter.
Born in village Badharia of Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh state of northern India in 1925, Maulana Wahidudin Khan was educated at an Islamic seminary. Since he belonged to a family of freedom fighters, the Maulana was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of peace and ahimsa.
Apart from his scholastic works, the Maulana was known for his pro-active efforts in bringing people of different faiths together and bridging the gap between the religion of Islam and modern-day thought. He spoke against religious extremism and was a great motivational speaker with a good following among people of all faiths.
Maulana Wahidudin Khan has authored 200 books on Islam. His first book, Naye Ahd Ke Darwaze Par, (On the Threshold of a New Era) based on his research was published in 1955. His next work, Ilme Jadid Ka Challenge, (Islam and Modern Challenges) was later published as ‘God Arises’.
This book is accepted as the standard Islamic position on modern thought and has been incorporated in the curricula of universities in six Arab countries. The book has been translated into English, Arabic, Malay, Turkish, Hindi, Malayalam and Sindhi.
Its Arabic version has been published under the title of Al-Islam Yatahadda and has become popular throughout the Arab world.
His translation of the Holy Quran into Urdu Tazkirul Quran is considered to be the most authoritative translation of the holy book. Later it became popular with its Hindi and English versions.
Maulana Wahidudin Khan with Dalai Lama
n an era when social media wasn’t around, the Maulana became a face of peace as he along with other religious gurus undertook a peace march across Maharashtra in the wake of communal tensions in 1992. He led a15-day Shanti Yatra (peace march) through Maharashtra along with Acharya Muni Sushil Kumar and Swami Chidanand, addressing large groups of people at 35 different places on the way from Mumbai to Nagpur. Their march is believed to have contributed to the return of peace in the country.
He also set up Islamic Centre at New Delhi and published, Al-Risala – the monthly magazine – in Urdu that has a large circulation. His Sunday talk on social media through the platform of Center of Peace studies International, an organization founded to propagate his thoughts and ideas were popular across the religions.
His journals and articles always highlighted the peaceful face of Islam; and were aimed at creating awareness among Muslims of their social responsibilities and to promote positive thinking and action.
The government of India has conferred on him the highest civilian awards Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan for his role in peace and communal harmony. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan was also the recipient of several international awards for his contribution to world peace and efforts to avert the danger of a nuclear conflict.
He received the Demiurgus Peace International Award by the Nuclear Disarmament Forum AG for his peace efforts. He also received the title of Ambassador of Peace by the International Federation for World Peace, Korea.
Covers of some of his published books
Besides he also received the National Integration Award, the Communal Harmony Award, the Diwaliben Mohan Lal Mehta Award, the National Amity Award, the Urdu Academy Award, the Aruna Asaf Ali Sadbhavna Award and the National Citizen’s Award. presented by Mother Teresa.
Recently he was conferred with the Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Ibn Ali Peace Award (2015) in Abu Dhabi and Life Time Achievement Award by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) at Chicago in Sep 2015.
In May 1989, the Government of Pakistan awarded the first international prize for Maulana's book, The Prophet of the Revolution (English).
His death has been widely mourned by people of all religions on social media.