The Telegraph
Friday , March 7 , 2014
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Maulana Azad, Islam and the Indian National Movement By Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, Oxford, Rs 895

The book, Maulana Azad, Islam and the Indian National Movement, is more about the man and the national movement than about Islam as a religion. However, that does not mean that discussion on Islam does not figure in the book. Azadís thoughts and convictions chiefly emanate from his belief in Islam. He wrote and spoke widely to give a clarion call to his community to join the freedom movement. Azad also fought for Hindu-Muslim unity. The author, does not fail to point out these aspects in her book. She effortlessly conveys how the man was sidelined in the communally charged politics of the time, and was relegated to oblivion after his death.

Azad was a prolific writer and an orator who could move the masses. Syeda Saiyidain Hameed begins the book with a brief sketch of his life which is linked to his writings and speeches. She weaves a detached analyses of Azadís writings and also provides a commentary on the troublesome history of the time. This narrative makes the readers see Azad in a different light. Hameed writes about his family lineage, his childhood days, education, religious leanings and phenomenal memory. But the book is much more than a mere memoir of the man. It is also an appreciation of Azadís writings.

Hameed also provides an account of the national politics of the time. She devotes quite a few chapters to Azadís political journey and his imprisonment in different jails of India where he met many leaders like C.R Das, Subhas Chandra Bose and Birendra Nath Sasmal. Azadís mindset was progressive. What he said stands true even in todayís date: ďWhen the order of the day is Ďprotect Hindusí and Ďprotect Muslimsí who cares about protecting the country? The press and platform are busy fanning bigotry and hatred while a duped and ignorant public is freely shedding blood on the streets.Ē

Though Hameed narrates important events like how Azad steered clear of the factions of Moderates and Extremists in the Congress and him becoming the president of the party she does not go into the details of how his thoughts were changing with the passage of times. She also makes little comment about the other leaders who played important roles in shaping the the destiny of the country.

Her tone suddenly changes when she writes about India Wins Freedom, where she launches a scathing attack on Humayun Kabir. Hameed writes in an impassioned manner to give a befitting end to the tragic tale of the man who fought all his life against separatism. Hameedís book might not offer a complete analyses of Azadís political or creative life. But there cannot be two opinions about the authorís intention of trying to do justice to the one who was denied his due both by his community and the country.