IOS 13th Shah Waliullah Award Ceremony
Prof. Obaidullah Fahad receives IOS 13th Shah Waliullah Award
September 27, 2019 at Jamia Hamdard Convention Centre, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi
The 13th Shah Waliullah Award on “Islam and Political Science” was presented to Prof. Obaidullah Fahad, head, department of Islamic Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh on September 27, 2019 at a function organised by the Institute of Objective Studies at the Hamdard Convention Centre, Jamia Hamdard.
The function which began with the recitation of a Quranic verse by Maulana Abdullah Trique, Secretary, Idarah Umoor-e-Masajid, was followed by the introductory remarks of Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish, member secretary of the board administering the award and finance secretary of the IOS.
In his remarks, Prof. Danish traced the history of the award instituted in 1986. He said that the IOS was set up to study the situation of the minorities, especially Muslims, and other deprived sections. Since the purpose of the study was to address intellectuals and students, lectures, seminars, symposia, conferences, etc. formed part of its regular programmes.
He informed that more than 1,200 national and international seminars and conferences had so far been organised by the Institute. All proceedings of these events had been published in book form. The number of such books was 300, or so. In order to reach out to the common man, the institute undertook an ambitious project to bring out small booklets containing fundamentals of Islam and its teachings in different Indian languages in a lucid form.
These were translations of original Arabic texts. Referring to Shah Waliullah Mohaddis Dehlavi, he said that he was an outstanding Islamic scholar of the 18th century whose works were as relevant today as they were three centuries ago. His erudition could be gauged from the fact that every school of Islamic thought considered itself close to him. He observed that Shah Waliullah awakened both ulema and nobles of his times.
He was the first Islamic scholar to translate the holy Quran into Persian and the work was taken forward by members of his family. He was perhaps the first great Islamic scholar after Ibne Khaldun.
Commenting on the process of selection for the Shah Waliullah award, Prof. Danish said that a board comprising eminent scholars short-listed the panel of names recommended by a committee of experts. The procedure for selection of the name was independent and was based purely on merit and standard of the published work of the candidate. He elaborated that the award was aimed at encouraging the awardees as well as the younger generation.
The profile of Prof. Obaidullah Fahad was presented by Sohail Anjum of the Voice of America (Urdu Service) and the citation was read out by S.M. Shafiq. While the secretary general, IOS, Prof. Z.M. Khan, presented the scroll of honour to Prof. Fahad, the chairman of the Institute, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, handed him a cheque of Rs. 1 lakh as amount of the award. The function was also marked by presentation of memento to him by the former director, Idarah Uloom-e-Islamia, Aligarh, Prof. Mohammad Yaseen Mazhar Siddiqui.
Prof. Obaidullah Fahad said that Islamic scholars had delved into barely 16 per cent of the references of Islamic political thought. Though individual efforts were made to study and write on the subject, it was only a fraction of the comprehensive field. Those who dared to work on women’s empowerment were subjected to criticism by Western scholars. This exposed their superficial knowledge of Islam. He held that an attempt was made by him to do his bit with regard to the subject. In this connection, he referred to his translation of Dr. Nazar Mohammad’s book.
He said that the Prophet (PBUH) introduced a “democratic” set-up in Madina. The subject attracted the attention of Islamic scholars during the 20th century. Even in the 21st century, the work on the subject was an elementary stage and needed to be taken up in a big way. This was important against the backdrop of the political system in modern democracies based on Western political thought having failed to address people’s problems. Placing on record his sense of gratefulness to the IOS for honouring him with the prestigious award, he exhorted the younger generation to take the stupendous task upon themselves.
The prize for the best two essays on “Political System in Islam: Relevance to Modern Time” was presented to Dr. Meraj Ahmad Meraj, head, department of Arabic Studies, Aliah University, Kolkata, and Dr. Anita Kumari, asstt. prof. of Law & Education, Shobhit University, Meerut (UP) in the junior category. While Dr. Meraj bagged the first prize, Dr. Anita was adjudged the second. Both of them received their prizes from the asstt. secy. gen. IOS Prof. Haseena Hashia. Both the recipients shared their impressions about the topic with the audience.
Speaking as the guest of honour, Prof. Ahmad Kamal, pro-vice-chancellor, Jamia Hamdard, expressed concern over the declining percentage of Muslims pursuing higher education. The cause of this trend must be found out and remedial measures taken. Calling for developing a mechanism to improve the intake of more Muslim students, he said that the IOS could do a lot in this direction. He opined that being an important subject, Islamic Studies must be balanced with social sciences.
Prof. Basir Ahmad Khan, former pro-vice-chancellor IGNOU and head, deptt. of Islamic Studies, Jamia Hamdard, observed that it was Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi Mujaddid Alfsani who revived Islamic learning, leaving behind valuable manuscripts Turkey took a lead in working on manuscripts. Later, it was Shah Waliullah who worked in this area without fear of the then rulers. He awakened Indian Muslims through his writings on the Quran and Hadith. He was followed by Dr. Allama Mohammad Iqbal, who was not only a great poet, but also a philosopher and Islamic scholar, he said.
Addressing the audience, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam regretted that numerous writings on Muslims appeared in the world every year, but not even one percent of it was responded to by them. He made a reference to two books, A World Without Borders and A World Without Islam. Only one scholar replied to the questions raised in the second book, and that too, in two pages. He said that instead of waiting, we must give a befitting reply to the critics of Islam.
He specially asked the younger generation to rise to the occasion and accept the challenge. He invited them to come out with a project and assured them of all possible help from the IOS. Referring to physicist Stephen William Hawking, who held that artificial intelligence could be created, he said that a race that forgot its past and its heroes had no right to survive. He emphasised that the ideas must be linked to knowledge, so as to effectively answer the objections. He also blamed caste hierarchy for impeding free flow of knowledge. He said that barring economics and finance, no significant stride had been made in study of subjects under social sciences category. History and sociology too fell under that category. He reiterated IOS commitment to welcome all such studies.
Presiding over the function, Prof. Mohammad Yaseen Mazhar Siddiqui, remarked that it was the teachers who enabled people to pursue knowledge. But, we were too dependent on our past and read the same books over and over again. Referring to the study of political thought, he noted that Ibne Khaldun was the first ever scholar who visualised an Islamic system of governance. Maulana Abul Ala Maududi was the second such scholar who wrote extensively on the subject. He opined that unless we cherished social justice, we would not create a revolution. This was so because early Islamic era could not be recreated as no caliphs would descend on earth. Thus social justice assumed relevance today.
Once upon a time, democracy was looked down upon but today, democracy was being practised almost everywhere in the world. Great Britain did not have even a written constitution. There arose a question as to which system of governance was suited Muslims the most. He said that the system ordained by Allah, provided by the Prophet (PBUH) and caliphs must be adopted. Stressing the need for undertaking the study of original works, he deplored that our scholars desisted from going beyond their own thought processes due to lack of original thinking. He held that there should be no cause for pessimism as scholars were still making their presence felt.
The function concluded with Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish extending a vote of thanks. The proceedings of the function were also conducted by him.