Narendra Modi leads India tributes to Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The renowned scholar died of Covid-19 at 97

Muslim cleric and scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has died at 97. AFP
Muslim cleric and scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has died at 97. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led India’s tributes to renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, who died in New Delhi on Wednesday of Covid-19 complications.

Maulana Khan, 97, was admitted to a private hospital on April 12 after he complained of a chest infection and subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

“Maulana Khan has left us as one big family to stay united,” his son, Dr Saniyasnain Khan, said.

The recipient of this year’s second-highest Indian civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, Maulana Khan wrote more than 200 books, including a commentary and a translation of the Quran in English, Hindi and Urdu.

Founder of Centre for Peace and Spirituality (CPS) International, he also published a periodical in Urdu titled Al Risala. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, in 2000.

A strong votary of interfaith dialogue and pluralism, he had hit the headlines in the early 2000s by proposing a “peace formula” to end the Babri Masjid- Ram Mandir dispute by asking Muslims to forego their rights over the mosque, which was demolished by an extremist Hindu mob on December 6, 1992.

But his proposal was rejected by a large section of India’s Muslim community, including its leadership and clergy.

Mr Modi expressed his sadness over the death of Maulana Khan and said he would be remembered for his insightful knowledge on matters of theology and spirituality.

“He [Maulana Khan] was also passionate about community service and social empowerment. Condolences to his family and countless well-wishers,” Mr Modi said on Twitter.

Friends and followers of Maulana Khan remembered his tireless efforts in bridging the decades-old divide between India’s Hindu majority and minority Muslims, with some even calling him “peace ambassador” and “an Indian scholar of Islam”.

Mohammed Wajihuddin, journalist and a longtime acquaintance of the late scholar, remembered Maulana Khan as a man who engaged with life’s issues in straightforward language.

“When he wrote or spoke, the Maulana didn’t pontificate. He conversed,” Mr Wajihuddin said.

“In his death, India and the world have lost a strong voice of sanity, a peace ambassador, a preacher who blended Islamic teachings with Gandhian values to crusade against violence and hatred,”

Maulana Khan was born in Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh in 1925.

He studied at a traditional Islamic seminary, the Madrasatul Islahi, in Sarai Mir, near Azamgarh in 1938 to receive religious education. He is survived by two sons and two daughters.

Updated: April 22, 2021 06:21 PM

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