Life and work of Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani
Author: Shah Imran Hasan
Publisher: Rahbar Book Service, New Delhi - 110025
Asif Anwar Alig
Shah Imran Hasan’s biography of Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani an enriched addition of literature on the Rahmani movement, a movement for social, economic and educational uplift of Muslims. It has brought many transformations in the community. This book hails the initiatives as harbingers of change.
Beyond an individual’s biography it also profiles scholars who mentored Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani for years. His Rahmani movement success leaves a great impact on the Muslim psyche. The biographer provides thorough detail of the movement while profiling personalities associated with it. Such attempts bring to fore their lives and works as much as the resurgence in Muslim lives. This book is therefore a commendable chronicle of a movement for the transformation of the Muslim community.
While highlighting the Maulana’s personality it also focuses on other scholars briefly. Notable highlights are his command over many languages including, English, usually considered alien to India’s Islamic scholars. His initiatives for social uplift since last several decades make him a distinguished figure in Munger in Bihar and the rest of India.
Reproducing some selected sermons of the Maulana the author introduces a thinker, social activist and educationist of our times as an advocate of unity among all sects of the Muslim community. He has been insisting on integrity and unity by appealing to them to become Muslims first instead of being identified as Barelwis, Deobandis, Shias and Sunnis.
Hasan describes the establishment of Khanqah-e Rahmania in 1901. Late Maulana Mohammad Ali Mungaeri and his associates founded it, but Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani’s father late Maulana Minnatullah Rahmani nourished the khanqah.
This khanqah has been constantly nourished by visionary scholars, including its current custodian Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani. It shapes the destinies of a large chunk of indigent Muslims under the maulana’s guidance. This book informs about the system of preaching, guidance for Islamic learning involving common Muslims to rectify errors in prayers and to learn the basics of Islam. It also highlights the well-organised Madrasa education system.
This book also describes the historical contexts of the lives of many personalities associated with Khanqah-e Rahmania. Many scholars from this institution had to go to jail fighting injustice. They were actively involved in India’s freedom movement as well.
The Maulana considers himself a passionate admirer of freedom fighter and towering leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. As an educationist, Maulana Rahmani has been grooming young scholars to serve the Muslim community with zeal. This book profiles a few of them. It also talks about his journalistic attributes and details the publications of the Rahmani movement.
This book reproduces many of his writings and speeches. Subsequent chapters describe the maulana’s exposure to politics and social service. With his election as member of the Bihar Legislative Council on 7 April 1974 he raised many issues in the state Legislative Council to benefit common Muslims legally. Besides speaking for Urdu he struggles to safeguard Indian madrasas from “deliberate defamation”. He wants to ensure their sanctity isn’t tarnished. He inspires young Muslims to stand up and act prudently for their rights without creating any turmoil to compel authorities for timely action.
Khanqah-e Rahmania’s contribution in the movement to safeguard the Sharia Law and to establish Muslim Personal Law Board in 1972 is undeniable. Besides developing spiritual merit this khwanqah proved a stepping stone for several initiatives and inspired Muslims to develop interest in education.
Rahmani Foundation and Rahmani Thirty are major outcomes of his initiatives. They provide the best platform to poor Muslim students to be groomed to crack IIT/JEE, AIIMS and other entrance exams. Rahmani Thirty is a successful pan-India initiative that nourishes meritorious Muslim students to enroll in reputed educational institutions.
The maulana’s other remarkable steps are struggle against Uniform Civil Code; seeking justice to border-area Muslims being unfairly declared “Bangladeshi migrants” and harassment in the name of religion (Islam) by different governments. His steps for acquiring justice to sufferers have been thoroughly described in this book.
Last, but not the least, the the maulana’s untiring efforts and timely steps to save the country’s madrasas are worth mentioning. He met several dignitaries, including the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and presented before him the case of madrasas in the context of their roles in the country’s freedom struggle and nation-building. He argued that madrasas had contributed much to India’s religious and cultural life as universities, if not more.
Arguing that the role of Muslims in India’s freedom struggle preceded the 1857 uprising and it shouldn’t be considered the first war of independence as it was a continuation of preceding struggles and countless resistance movements before 1857. Such facts have been deliberately excluded from history to de-emphasise the irrefutable contributions of Muslims.
The maulana’s notable initiatives include revolutionary steps to bring social reformation, educational reforms in Muslim-majority areas and the assessment of Qur’an recitation. He argues that undoubtedly reading and understanding the Qur’an is crucial in knowing the divine message. Equally, it is important to recite the Holy Book even if not understood.
His steps to support the cause of Urdu, donning the robe of a poet; efforts to establish Muslim Personal Law Board and building modern buildings with necessary amenities for institutions have also been described in this book.
Khanqah-e Rahmania has, over the years, welcomed several dignitaries, including the historic visit of late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam during his presidency. Besides him, several former prime ministers visited to personally inspect the functioning of its educational institutions.
This book concludes with reproduction of an exclusive interview of Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani by the author Shah Imran Hasan. It can be translated into other Indian languages for maximum reach.
The reviewer is assistant professor and media relations specialist at Saudi Ministry of Education. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org