Maulana Abul Kalam Azad believed India is a land of multiple languages, religions and cultures, said Prof. Anwar Moazzam while delivering the 18th Foundation Day Lecture at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) on Friday.
Speaking on the topic “Maulana Azad’s Idea of India,” Prof. Moazzam said that unfortunately today politicos are defining the personality and culture of India for which they are not qualified. It is for the academicians in universities like MANUU to do this job, he clarified.
Prof. Moazzam lamented there is no mention of Maulana Azad or his ideas in the current debate on the idea of India. He argued that Azad was possibly the first and the only Indian thinker who accepted the ‘Indian personality’ as a whole. In this wholesomeness there is no compromise of the ‘cultural or religious’ identity of an Indian whether he is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Jain.
Prof. Moazzam who is an expert on comparative religion juxtaposed Maulana Azad’s idea of India against two other significant and competing ideas of India: the constitutional idea of India and the Hindu nationalist idea of India as expounded in Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts. He said the later two are in direct conflict with each other. He also called for an academic debate on the viability of these ideas.
Tracing the concept of the idea of India he said perhaps Alberuni is the first traveler who defined what India is in his remarkable book Indica, a compendium of the country’s religion and philosophy, written in the 11th century. After him the person who praised India a multi-cultural civilization was Syed Jamaluddin Afghani in 1882 while he was visiting Kalkata.
The clarity of plurality of India as found in the works of Maulana Azad is found nowhere else. “It is necessary for a university like MANUU to not only to have intellectual discussion on this subject but also propagate it because it contains the core of Indian spirit,” he said.
Vice Chancellor MANUU, Dr. Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz, in his presidential address, stressed that India will always remain a plural country. He called for a tolerant, assimilative and accommodative understanding of religion. Registrar MANUU, Prof. S.M. Rehmatullah presented the vote of thanks and Media Coordinator, Mir Ayoob Ali Khan, conducted the programme.