Maulana Azad represents our times: Hamid Karzai


New Delhi : Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Monday recalled how relevant the philosophy of freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was in present times.

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“The ocean of peace lies ahead of us, sail the boat, O Maulana Azad… he is the representative of our times,” Karzai said while translating a verse from Nobel Prize winning Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.

He was delivering the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad memorial lecture here on the theme “A Maulana For Our Times” organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

Maulana Azad founded the ICCR in 1950.

Karzai said though he had heard about Maulana Azad and other freedom fighters during his days as an international student in India in the late 1970s, he discovered the depth of the freedom fighter when he started reading about him, including books written by Maulana Azad.

Karzai did his masters in international relations and political science from the Shimla University in 1976.

Terming Maulana Azad a revolutionary, Karzai said he was a practical person and a moralist in the application of politics.

“Maulana Azad said that for him religion was to unite people and he would shun those who talked of division. His personality transcends time,” Karzai said, referring to Maulana Azad’s autobiography “India Wins Freedom”.

According to Karzai, despite the fact that Maulana Azad was raised in the family of mullahs (Islamic clerics), “he was a great educator of Islam and his understanding of Islam is relevant today with radicalism and terrorism coming in the name of religion”.

Karzai also took a dig at the Pakistani Taliban, who recently attacked schoolgirl Malala Yusufzai for propagating education among girls.

Without naming Pakistan and the radical elements within Afghanistan, Karzai lamented that “schools are being attacked and teachers are being killed… bigotry and hatred is being propagated in the name of religion”.

“We must complete his (Azad’s) journey of peace and tolerance,” said Karzai, adding that the “problem was in the politics of the day”.

Noting he did not have the freedom of speech, Karzai said he would have it once Afghanistan had a new president in 2014.

“I hope the new president would be younger and better than me,” said Karzai, who assumed office in 2004 and was re-elected in 2009.