In this book, Syeda Saiyidin Hameed has brought out the eminence of Maulana Azad with great aplomb. … The book being extremely analytical crisscrosses the life and times of Azad seamlessly adhering to his concepts of Muslim advancements and Hindu-Muslim unity. Indeed a book to be reckoned with in understanding the Muslims, national movement and of course Maulana Azad.
After having gone through only about one fifths of the book, I am already convinced that the book is a must-read for anybody interested in Indian national movement.
There are quite a few surprises (for me, at least) in the book. For example, I did not know that one of the Sufi saints (Mansur Hallaj) declared An-al-Haq ‘I am Truth’. I also did not realise that for people like Maulana, the participation in Indian freedom movement was a religious duty:
He reminded the Muslims that thirteen hundred years ago they had embarked upon bringing freedom to all mankind. They owed it to their belief in Allah and His Prophet that India’s freedom should be achieved and achieved only through their vaseela (intercession).
Till now, I (at least) have never heard of this strand of Indian national movement.
As a matter of fact, I found the views of Maulana on religion to be the most interesting:
There is one type of religion — hereditary; believe what your forefathers believed in. Another type is geographical, which comprises of the well-worn path travelled by many on any given piece of the earth. Then there is religion of the census survey; put down ‘Islam’ in the appropriate box. There is also the conventional religion — the compendium of rituals and ceremonies, do not tamper with it; allow it to run all over you. Apart from all these there is the haqiqi (true) religion and it is the path to this which somehow always gets lost.
From the preface, I understand that Oxford India rejected the manuscript in 1997 while OUP, Pakistan published it. Now, in 2014, OUP, India has published the book. Better late than never, I suppose.
The only thing that I would have liked more is if there were more photographs added to the book — though the two (on the cover) and the one with the author’s family (By the way is it K M Munshi with the Gandhi cap in the photo?) are really nice!