Chapter 5 The Word of God for the Indian Muslim of Today

Abul Kalam Azad’s Tarjuman al-Qurʾan

In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World
Jan-Peter Hartung
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Research on Muslim intellectual perspectives during the Indian movement for independence from British colonial rule have so far been focused predominantly on those that eventually succeeded in shaping the actual political realities in the Subcontinent after 1947. In an attempt to open up for religiously sustained socio-political visions which were ultimately unsuccessful, in this essay, the one cast by Abul Kalam Azad is put into the limelight. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Azad developed his argument against the division of the British crown colony along religious communal lines within his exegesis of the Quran, something that allows for comparing and contrasting his vision with that of Islamist mastermind Abul Aʿla Mawdudi. Emphatically focusing on the opening chapter of the Quran (Surat al-Fatiha), Azad developed the metaphysical concept of the “oneness of religion” (vahdat-i din), on the basis of which he built a strong case for the continuation of a politically unified, yet, in terms of outward religious expression (mazhab), highly diversified India after the end of direct British colonial rule.

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