“Maulana Azad”- an evening of history, politics, and literature

By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net

Entertaining, enlightening, and informative- these are the few words that best describe the play “Maulana Azad,” where Azad is played by Tom Alter. For two and a half hour, Tom Alter brought alive Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on stage in Boston, Massachusetts. Over a hundred people showed up to watch the play at the eighth annual convention of Federation of Aligarh Alumni Association organized last weekend in a suburb of Boston.

First premiered in 2002, the play is the fruit of painstaking research and hard work of Dr. M. Sayeed Alam who wrote the script of the play as well as directed it. Script is written in Urdu and was a deliberate choice for the Director. Most of us have read Azad in Urdu but very few had the opportunity to hear him have a conversation. This play is an imaginary conversation between Maulana Azad and Humayun Kabir. Maulana dictates what later gets published as “India Wins Freedom.”

During the writing of the book, the conversation digresses to include religion, poetry, literature, politics, and personal life. Sprinkling of Urdu poetry by Maulana or by the narrator behind the scene (performed by Sayeed Alam) and jokes keep the audience entertained providing lighter moments in what is otherwise a long and a reference-rich monologue.

Those who have not read the book “India Wins Freedom” will learn a lot about the history of India during a crucial time in its history. Lesser known but significant events of both pre and post-partition India and Maulana Azad’s take on those incidents are part of this play.

Many know Maulana Azad as the great leader of the freedom struggle but few know that Maulana Azad has a prominent place in Urdu literature. After Ghalib, it is Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad who is known for his letter writing. Some of his letters published in book form as “Ghubaar-e-khaatir” is enough to prove his literary skills. We get a taste of his letters and some of the topics he covered in those letters. This play also let us in the story behind the first ghazal said by the Maulana.

It is difficult to encompass multi-faceted personality of Maulana Azad in one play but to his credit Sayeed Alam manage to do an excellent job of introducing Azad to the uninitiated while also keeping it informative for those who know him well.

Maulana Azad started his public career as a journalist and soon joined politics and India’s freedom struggle. His journalistic life soon came to an end but his frequent days in prison give him time to shine in literature. He is also a well respected Islamic scholar and his book ’Tarjuman-ul-Quran’ which is a commentary on the Holy Book is still widely read.

This play, which has been preformed in many cities in India and abroad since 2002 does justice to Maulana Azad the literary figure and the politician but audience do not much glimpses of his role as a journalist and a prominent religious scholar of his time. This is a slight weakness in overall brilliantly written and performed play.

Tom Alter’s flawless delivery of Urdu keeps this monologue going and an audience consisting of native Urdu speakers glued to their seats for over two hours.

This play has two more performances in the US- Two in Chicago and one in Detroit.

July 25: Chicago

2950 W Golf Road, Rolling Meadows, Illinois-60008 (Venue of IMC 2008 Convention)
CHECK IN AT 12:30 pm ends at 4:00 pm

July 26: Detroit


call 847-571-0648 or email [email protected]




Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

He was an Ahle-Hadees, and followed the way of Salafi Manhaj. He adopted the pen name Azad to signify his freedom from traditional(taqleed) Muslim ways
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a renowned scholar, poet, freedom fighter and leader of the Indian National Congress in India's struggle for Independence. He was well versed in many languages viz. Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Persian and Bengali, and a prolific debater - as depicted by his name, Abul Kalam, which literally means father or lord of dialogue. His forefathers came from Herat, Afghanistan in Babur's days. His mother was an Arab and the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad Zaher Watri and his father, Maulana Khairuddin, was a Bengali Muslim of Afghan (probably Tajik) origins. Khairuddin left India during the Sepoy Mutiny, proceeded to Mecca and settled there. He came back to Calcutta with his family in 1890. Azad was a descendant of a lineage maulanas
Azad began publication of a journal called Al Hilal (the Crescent) in June 1912 to increase revolutionary recruits amongst the Muslims. The Al Hilal reached a circulation of 26,000 in two years. The British Government used the Press Act and then the Defense of India Regulations Act in 1916 to shut the journal down.

Azad roused the Muslim community through the Khilafat Movement. The aim of the movement was to re-instate the Khalifa as the head of British captured Turkey
Azad found the revolutionary activities restricted to Bengal and Bihar. Within two years, Azad helped setup secret revolutionary centers all over north India and Bombay.

Maulana azad is in no way a

Maulana azad is in no way a salafi/wahabi/ahle hadith/albani follower.I can tell any number of evidences for this argument.

He was a minister in a secular government.He also took part in the formation of secular constitution.Do you know whome he befriended?.These all things are haram for salafis especially Albanis.

You please look on his beard.It is not long as in a salafi.In Albani salafi fiqh, it is haram to trim beard.Look his moustache which is not cut or shaven which is also haram in salafism.

He was a political leader in India.Many of the contemporary leaders were women.He may have to communicate with many women leaders.But in Albani fiqh, the face of woman is nakedness.Did Azad looked into the nakedness of women?.If not, how can he communicate with them?.

Alleging all others as Kafir is the salafism.Never ever Azad was such a man.

Salafis will kill all beauty of Islam.They even allege their own sectwallahs as against Islam.Please watch some salafis simply alleging many grave things about another salafi, Zakir Naik.ZN is the most famous salafi on this earth and only salafi with some use for Islam. www.salafitalk.net

Just replace the word salafi

Just replace the word salafi with the phrase >as per Quran And Hadith Maulana AZAD was a salafi muslim with a lot of goodwill for fellow muslims.He tried to extract whatever good he could extract for educational upliftment of muslims in newly liberated india.
Salafis strictly follow or try to follow Quran And Hadith.Noone is 100% perfect,except for the Prophet(saas).
Dont try to list out someones shortcomings to justify your criticism against Quran And Hadith.
Read tranlation and commentry of Quran By Maulana Azad to check who he was.
Salafis have their fiqh from Quran& prophet Muhammad(saas)sayings deeds and actions.Albani is one of the scholars who has separated some weak ahadees.

ZK is salafi

@ Anonymous!

If ZN is a salafi, have you ever seen Peace TV. There, most of the women have their face visible, so how come he is a salafi by your definition. If you write about him from hearsay in the media, please desist from doing so to save yourself from sinning. It is the bootlickers and the apologists who categorise Muslims in salafi/ahle hadees/ deobandi etc whereas I am yet to know an active deobandi who claimed that he is a deobandi Muslim or an ahle hadees claiming so. What is surprising that the barelvis call themselves sunnis denouncing others are bid'ati (بدعتی) I found many of their practice in variance with Islamic practices which amount to بدعت and this group is called liberal because they are pliable by the enemies of Islam. As in Islam, ignorance is haraam, so this barelvi group has very few people who are educated but use their education to rule over the majority of the barelvis who are ignorant. Their condition is like that of pre-Prophet Arabs who though knew Allah but were mushriks. We need to bring them out of their supposed sunniyat which is not more than traditionalism, bad at that.

Azad is much more than we have understood

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has not yet been fully studied or understood by us Indians. He has been brutally put down by the writers of our history. People know Sardar Patel more than Azad because the former alone has got considerable space in our history text books.
The autobiography of Azad - 'India Wins Freedom'- is a must read for all those who are interested in Indian history. In it, Azad clearly states what happened during the critical years of 1940s that led to the partition of the country. Even Muslim League leader MA Jinna had agreed to the Cabinet Mission Plan, which put forward a solution to avoid partition. But a statement of Jawaharlal Nehru regarding how far the Congress approved of the Plan made a big problem, which later resulted in the partition.
He also writes about the poor security provided to Gandhiji by the Home Minister Sardar Patel, even though there were many threats to his life.
The book is a must read, I say, to know the hidden truths in history that we are kept away from.

Moulana Abul Kalam Azad, An Exemplary Muslim

Untiring hard work is the exigency of perseverance. This is how Dr.M.Sayeed Alam could be fittingly alluded for his strenuous work on the “Play” called “Maulana Azad”,saying,”You all have sacrificed much of your time, mind, and matter for the genius called “Maulana Azad”
Tom Atler is a fitting man who depicted a live "Maulana" on the stage.

It is quite incredible that the “Federation of Aligarh Alumni Association” has been rendering patriotic yeoman service being across the oceans. The video clipping in the website so interesting that we long to see alive in India too. Perhaps the federation has keen thinking over this request.

There are some comments on Moulana Abul Kalam Azad. I have sourced some information and I hope that this will be useful to ward of ignorance if any.

“In 1912, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad started a weekly journal in Urdu called Al Hilal to increase the revolutionary recruits amongst the Muslims. Al-Hilal played an important role in forging Hindu-Muslim unity after the bad blood created between the two communities in the aftermath of Morley-Minto reforms. Al Hilal became a revolutionary mouthpiece ventilating extremist views. The government regarded Al Hilal as propogator of secessionist views and banned it in 1914. Maulana Azad then started another weekly called Al-Balagh with the same mission of propagating Indian nationalism and revolutionary ideas based on Hindu-Muslim unity. In 1916, the government banned this paper too and expelled Maulana Abul Kalam Azad from Calcutta and interned him at Ranchi from where he was released after the First World War in 1920.”
(Source: Indian Heroes: http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-heroes/maulana-abul-kalam-azad.html)

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, born in Mecca, whose birth name was Abdul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin, belonged to an orthodox Muslim scholarly family. His mother was an Arab, and his father Moulana Khairuddin a Bengali Muslim. Moulana Abul Kalam Azad was born on November 11, 1888. An accomplished scholar in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and English Moulana was also a writer especially interpreting and analyzing Holy Quran, Hadith, the rules of Fique. He is said to have rejected the orthodoxy of “Taqliq and accepted modern principles of “Tajdid”. Moulana was imbibed into ideologies of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.

Moulana Abul Kalam Azad was an ardent freedom fighter and was close confidante of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. In the pre Independence era, he joined the National Congress and participated in Non-Cooperation Movement, he was a president of special session of the congress and was an active participant of various anti imperial movements resulting confinements of Jail terms. After Indepence he held the prestigious post as Education Minister and other important portfolios. He passed away on 22 February 1958 and was posthumously awarded the India’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna in 1992.

Shafee Ahmed Ko., Chennai, India.