Maulana Azad (1888-1958)

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.


The great Italian poet and philosopher Dante ( 1265-1321 ) wrote ” Segui Il tuo corso e lascia dir le gente ” ( Follow your own path, no matter what people say ). In other words, one must steadfastly stand on what one believes to be true, even if one is alone in the world, and everyone else believes the contrary.

The great Indian freedom fighter Maulana Azad, who is one of my heroes, was a true follower of Dante’s dictum. He constantly stood for the truth, and resolutely combated the bogus two-nation theory of Jinnah and the Muslim League that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations. Though a staunch, practicing Muslim, and a deep Islamic scholar,  he strongly opposed Partition of India, which was really a British swindle ( see my article ‘The Truth about Pakistan’ online ), and was a strong believer in the co-existence of all religious communities in India.

For this he was abused, scorned, taunted, jeered, and on one occasion almost killed  when his train was passing through Aligarh. He was often reviled and derisively called ‘ a Congress showboy ‘ by Jinnah, and he had to put up with insults, slander and invectives from his fellow Muslims who had been carried away by Jinnah’s propaganda and demand for Partition. However, he unwaveringly stuck to his principles, and repeatedly warned his fellow Muslims that Partition would be a disaster for them.

Thus, in his Presidential Address at the Ramgarh session of the Congress Party in 1940, he said :

” Full eleven centuries have passed by since Islam came to India, and it has. now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands of years, Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.”

He also said :

” I am proud of being an Indian. I am part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice and without me this splendid structure is incomplete. I am an essential element, which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.”

I may here relate an incident.

During the freedom struggle Congress leaders would often stay in Anand Bhawan, the family residence of the Nehru family in Allahabad.

Once in the early 1940s C.Rajagopalchari ( known as Rajaji, who later became the first Indian Governor General of free India in 1948 ) and Maulana Azad were staying together in Anand Bhawan, with Pt Jawaharlal Nehru.

Around 9 p.m. my grandfather, Dr K.N. Katju, who was a top lawyer in Allahabad High Court, and also a freedom fighter, received a frantic telephone call from Pt  Nehru, who told Dr Katju that Rajaji and the Maulana had had a heated argument, Rajaji strongly supporting Partition, and Maulana Azad equally strongly opposing it. Tempers became so frayed between them that they told Pt Nehru they were not willing to stay together a moment longer in the same house. It was in this tense situation that Pt Nehru asked Dr Katju whether he could accommodate Rajaji for the night ( he was leaving Allahabad the next day ). Dr Katju readily agreed, and that was how Rajaji spent the night in our home.

Maulana Azad became very sad that he was misunderstood by most of his fellow Muslims because he opposed the two-nation theory and Partition of India on religious lines. Speaking to a large gathering of Muslims on 1st October 1947 in Jama Masjid, Delhi, in a speech full of pathos and anguish coming straight from his embittered heart, he said to the Muslims :

” Tumhe yaad hai ? Maine tumhe pukara, tumne meri zubaan kaat dali, maine qalam uthaya, tumne mere haath qalam kar diye, maine chalna chaaha, tumne mere paon kaat diye, maine karwat leni chaahi, tumne meri kamar tod di ”


” Do you remember? I called you, and you cut off my tongue. I picked up my pen, and you cut off my hands. I tried to walk, and you cut off my legs. I tried to turn around in bed, and you broke my back ”

I only wish all Muslims had then heeded Maulana Azad