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Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

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Subject: Gospel of Barnabas, Islamism, 1903, Islamic philosophy, Jizya, Takfir, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, Khurshid Ahmad (Islamic scholar), Al-Mu'awwidhatayn, Timeline of 20th-century Muslim history
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Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

Abul A'la Maududi
Born (1903-09-25)25 September 1903
Aurangabad, Hyderabad State, British India
Died 22 September 1979(1979-09-22) (aged 75)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Era 20th Century
Region Islamic philosophy
School Sunni Islam
Main interests Tafseer, Hadith, Fiqh, Politics

Abul Ala Maududi [Abū 'l-Alā Mawdūdī][1] (Urdu: ابو الاعلی مودودی‎ – alternative spellings of last name Maudoodi, Mawdudi, and Modudi) ((1903-09-25)September 25, 1903 – September 22, 1979(1979-09-22)) was a journalist, theologian, Muslim revivalist leader and political philosopher, and a 20th-century Islamist thinker in India, and later Pakistan.[2] He was also a political figure in Pakistan and was the first recipient of King Faisal International Award for his services in 1979. He was also the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamic revivalist party.[3]

Early life


Maududi was born in Aurangabad, India, then part of the princely state enclave of Hyderabad, until it returned to India in 1948. He was born to Maulana Ahmad Hasan, a lawyer by profession. He was the youngest of his three brothers.[4] His father was the descendant of the Chishti line of saints; in fact his last name was derived from the first member of the Chishti Silsilah i.e. Khawajah Syed Qutb ul-Din Maudood Chishti (d. 527 AH)[5]


At an early age, Maududi was given home education, he "received religious nurture at the hands of his father and from a variety of teachers employed by him."[5] He soon moved on to formal education, however, and completed his secondary education from Madrasah Furqaniyah. For his undergraduate studies he joined Darul Uloom, Hyderabad (India). His undergraduate studies, however, were disrupted by the illness and death of his father, and he did not graduate from the Darul Uloom.[4] His instruction included very little of the subject matter of a modern school, such as European languages, like English.[5] He reportedly translated Qasim Amin's The New Woman into Urdu at the age of 14[6] and about 3,500 pages from Asfar, a work of mystical Persian thinker Mulla Sadra.[7]


For formal education, Syed Maududi was admitted to eight class directly in Madrassa Furqania, Aurangabad. Where he excelled his class mates, in all respects, despite being the youngest of all. It was the time when Maududi was attracted to Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, and he studied the fundamental concepts in Physics and Mathematics in depth. Meanwhile his father shifted to Bhopal where he suffered a severe paralysis attack and died leaving no property or Bank Balance, as he belonged to a middle-class family. Therefore, Young Maududi had to sever his education due to financial hardship.

Personal aspects

His father’s death brought young Maududi to reckon with the economic realities of life. As he was a gifted penman, he chose Journalism as his profession, and edited papers such as ‘ The Madeena’ Bajnour, the ‘Taj’ Jabal Pur and organ of Jamiat Ulma Hind—Al Jamiat from Dehli. During his Editorship of Al jamia Dehli, he penned down honest, threadbare, incisive, analytical and visionary editorials and analysis, which speak of his worth as a top Journalist. Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar had also proffered him to work for his Daily Hamdrad, but Syed Maududi declined the offer.

Iqbal’s poetry had impressed Syed Maududi from his early childhood. His father had also taught him the history of India. This background helped him a lot in his journalistic career. His hatred for the foreign rulers, more specifically the English, his larger interests of the Muslims of India, prompted his participation in the Khilafat Movement,Emigration from India Movement and the Satya Gera Movement. Syed Mududi also tried to purge the Muslim Society of its moral evils, and at the same time, warned them of their political mistakes, suggesting various corrective measures. In his opinion malady of the Indian Muslims was the deviation from Islamic teachings.He maintained that the Muslims could gain might only if they followed Islam in letter and spirit. When Jamiat Ulma-e-Hind entered into alliance, with Congress in 1925, Syed Maududi resigned in protest as editor of the Al Jamiat, for he opposed the concept of one nation theory for both Hindus and Muslims.[8]

Founding the Jamaat-i-Islami

In 1941, Maududi founded Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) in British India as a religious political movement to promote Islamic values and practices. As JI Ameer he was in favor of an Islamic State but he argued that the leaders of the Muslim League did not have an Islamic outlook. He believed that the leaders seeking an independent state in the name of Pakistan, were in no case competent enough to lead an Islamic state; that was why, they pleaded for a Muslim state where only Muslims would be majority in numbers and quantity. Maulana Maududi argued that, a Muslim state did not necessarily mean an Islamic state. He said,"An Islamic state is a Muslim state, but a Muslim state may not be an Islamic state unless and until the Constitution of the state is based on The Holy Qura'an and Sunnah. His arguments were criticized by many Muslim League Leaders fighting to create independent state of Pakistan. After the Partition of India, the JI was redefined in 1947 to support an Islamic state in Pakistan. The JI claims to be the oldest religious party in Pakistan.[9]

With the Partition of India, the JI decided to split the organization with the new political boundaries of new countries carved out of British India. The organisation headed by Maududi is now known as Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan. Also existing are Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, and autonomous groups in Indian Kashmir, and also in Sri Lanka.[9]

Maududi was elected Jamaat’s first Ameer (president) and remained so until 1972 when he withdrew from the responsibility for reasons of health.[9]

Political struggle

In the beginning of the struggle for the state of Pakistan, Maududi and his party criticized other leaders of the Muslim League for wanting Pakistan to be a state for Muslims and not as an Islamic state. After realizing that India was going to be partitioned and Pakistan created, he began the struggle to make Pakistan an Islamic state. Maududi moved to Pakistan in 1947 and worked to turn it into an Islamic state, resulting in frequent arrests and long periods of incarceration. In 1953, he and the JI led a campaign against the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan resulting in the Lahore riots of 1953 and selective declaration of martial law.[9] He was arrested by the military deployment headed by Lieutenant General Azam Khan, which also included Rahimuddin Khan, and sentenced to death on the charge of writing a propaganda pamphlet about the Ahmadiyya issue. He turned down the opportunity to file a petition for mercy, expressing a preference for death rather than seeking clemency. Strong public pressure from in and outside Pakistan, as well as,from the outside world, ultimately convinced the government to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment. Eventually, his sentence was annulled.[10]

Late life

In April 1979, Maududi's long-time kidney ailment worsened and by then he also had heart problems. He went to the United States for treatment and was hospitalized in Buffalo, New York, where his second son worked as a physician. During his hospitalization, he remained intellectually active.

Following a few surgical operations, he died on September 22, 1979, at the age of 76. His funeral was held in Buffalo, but he was buried in an unmarked grave at his residence in Ichhra, Lahore after a very large funeral procession through the city.[10]

Islamic beliefs and ideology

Maududi wrote over 120 books and pamphlets and made over 1000 speeches and press statements. His magnum opus was the 30 years in progress translation (tafsir) in Urdu of the Qur’an, Tafhim ul-Qur’an (The Meaning of the Qur'an), intended to give the Qur’an a self claim interpretation. It became widely read throughout the subcontinent and has been translated into several languages.[10]


Maududi saw Muslims not as those whom followed the religion of Islam, but as everything: "Everything in the universe is 'Muslim' for it obeys God by submission to His laws." The only exception to this universe of Muslims were human beings who failed to follow Islam. In regard to the non-Muslim:
“His very tongue which, on account of his ignorance advocates the denial of God or professes multiple deities, is in its very nature 'Muslim' ... The man who denies God is called Kafir (concealer) because he conceals by his disbelief what is inherent in his nature and embalmed in his own soul. His whole body functions in obedience to that instinct… Reality becomes estranged from him and he in the dark".[11]

Maududi believed that Islam was a "religion" in a broader sense of the term. He stated: "Islam is not a ‘religion’ in the sense this term is commonly understood. It is a system encompassing all fields of living. Islam means politics, economics, legisla­tion, science, humanism, health, psychology and sociol­ogy. It is a system which makes no discrimination on the basis of race, color, language or other external categories. Its appeal is to all mankind. It wants to reach the heart of every human being."[12]


"The Qur'an is not a book of abstract theories and cold ideas, which one can grasp while seated in a cozy armchair. Nor is it merely a religious book like other religious books, whose meanings can be grasped in seminaries and oratories. On the contrary, it is a Book which contains a message, an invitation, which generates a movement. The moment it began to be sent down, it impelled a quiet and pious man to abandon his life of solitude and confront the world that was living in rebellion against Allah. It inspired him to raise his voice against falsehood, and pitted him in a grim struggle against the lords of disbelief, evil and iniquity. One after the other, from every home, it drew every pure and noble soul, and gathered them under the banner of truth. In every part of the country, it made all the mischievous and the corrupt to rise and wage war against the bearers of the truth."[13]


Maududi believed that without Sharia law Muslim society could not be Islamic:

That if an Islamic society consciously resolves not to accept the Sharia, and decides to enact its own constitution and laws or borrow them from any other source in disregard of the Sharia, such a society breaks its contract with God and forfeits its right to be called 'Islamic.'"[14]
Maududi also largely expanded upon his view of the Islamic State and Sharia in his book Islamic Way of Life.

Islamic state

Main article: Islamic state

The modern conceptualization of the "Islamic state" is attributed to Maududi.[15] In his book, The Islamic Law and Constitution,[16] published in 1941 and subsequent writings, Maududi coined and popularized the term "Islamic state" itself. In addition, he coined and popularized the term "Islamic revolution" in the 1940s, even though this phrase is commonly associated with the 1979 Iranian Revolution that occurred 40 years later.[15]

The state would be an "Islamic Democracy,"[17] and underlying it would be three principles: tawhid (oneness of God), risala (prophethood) and khilafa (caliphate).[18][19][20] The "sphere of activity" covered by the Islamic state would be "co-extensive with human life ... In such a state no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private."[21]

The state would follow Sharia Islamic law, a complete system covering

family relationships, social and economic affairs, administration, rights and duties of citizens, judicial system, laws of war and peace and international relations. In short it embraces all the various departments of life ... The Sharia is a complete scheme of life and an all-embracing social order where nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking.[22]

Consequently, while this state has a legislature which the ruler must consult, its function "is really that of law-finding, not of law-making."[23]

Maududi believed that the sovereignty of God (hakimiya) and the sovereignty of the people are mutually exclusive.[24] Therefore, while Maududi stated in one of his books that "democracy begins in Islam,"[25] Islamic democracy according to him was to be the antithesis of secular Western democracy which transfers hakimiya (God's sovereignty) to the people.[26]

He also advocated personal freedom and condemned suspicion of government:

This espionage on the life of the individual cannot be justified on moral grounds by the government saying that it is necessary to know the secrets of the dangerous persons. Though, to all intents and purposes, the basis of this policy is the fear and suspicion with which modern governments look at their citizens who are intelligent and dissatisfied with the official policies of the government. This is exactly what Islam has called as the root cause of mischief in politics. The injunction of the Prophet is: "When the ruler begins to search for the causes of dissatisfaction amongst his people, he spoils them" (Abu Dawud). The Amir Mu'awiyah has said that he himself heard the Prophet saying: "If you try to find out the secrets of the people, then you will definitely spoil them or at least you will bring them to the verge of ruin." The meaning of the phrase 'spoil them' is that when spies (C.I.D. or F.B.I.agents) are spread all around the country to find out the affairs of men, then the people begin to look at one another with suspicion, so much so that people are afraid of talking freely in their houses lest some word should escape from the lips of their wives and children which may put them in embarrassing situations. In this manner it becomes difficult for a common citizen to speak freely, even in his own house and society begins to suffer from a state of general distrust and suspicion.[27]


The rights of non-Muslims are limited under Islamic state as laid out in Maududi's writings. Although non-Muslim "faith, ideology, rituals of worship or social customs" would not be interfered with, non-Muslims would have to accept Muslim rule.

Islamic 'jihad' does not recognize their right to administer state affairs according to a system which, in the view of Islam, is evil. Furthermore, Islamic 'jihad' also refuses to admit their right to continue with such practices under an Islamic government which fatally affect the public interest from the viewpoint of Islam."[28]

Non-Muslims would also have to pay a special tax known as jizya. This tax is applicable to all able adult non-Muslims, except old and women, who do not render military service. Those who serve in the military are exempted. All adult Muslim men are subject to compulsory military service, whenever required by the Islamic state. Jizya is thus seen as a protection tax payable to the Islamic state for protection of those non-Muslim adult men who do not render military service.[29]

Maududi believed that copying cultural practices of non-Muslims was forbidden in Islam, having

very disastrous consequences upon a nation; it destroys its inner vitality, blurs its vision, befogs its critical faculties, breeds inferiority complexes, and gradually but assuredly saps all the springs of culture and sounds its death-knell. That is why the Holy Prophet has positively and forcefully forbidden the Muslims to assume the culture and mode of life of the non-Muslims.[30]

Maududi strongly opposed the Ahmadiyya sect and the idea that Ahmadiyya were Muslims. He preached against Ahmadiyya in his pamphlet The Qadiani Question and the book The Finality of Prophethood.[31]


Because Islam is all-encompassing, Maududi believed that the Islamic state should not be limited to just the "homeland of Islam". It is for all the world. 'Jihad' should be used to eliminate un-Islamic rule and establish the worldwide Islamic state:

Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam, regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which nation assumes the role of the standard-bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State. Islam requires the earth—not just a portion, but the whole planet .... because the entire mankind should benefit from the ideology and welfare programme [of Islam] ... Towards this end, Islam wishes to press into service all forces which can bring about a revolution and a composite term for the use of all these forces is ‘Jihad’. .... the objective of the Islamic ‘ jihād’ is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule.[32]

He explained that jihad was not only combat for God but all effort that helped those waging combat (qitaal):

“In the jihad in the way of Allah, active combat is not always the role on the battlefield, nor can everyone fight in the front line. Just for one single battle preparations have often to be made for decades on end and the plans deeply laid, and while only some thousands fight in the front line there are behind them millions engaged in various tasks which, though small themselves, contribute directly to the supreme effort.”[33]

Criticism and controversy


A general complaint of one critic is that Maududi's theo-democracy is an

ideological state in which legislators do not legislate, citizens only vote to reaffirm the permanent applicability of God's laws, women rarely venture outside their homes lest social discipline be disrupted, and non-Muslims are tolerated as foreign elements required to express their loyalty by means of paying a financial levy.[34]

On a more conceptual level, journalist and author Abdel Wahab Meddeb questions the basis of Maududi's reasoning that the sovereignty of the truly Islamic state must be divine and not popular, saying "Maududi constructed a coherent political system, which follows wholly from a manipulation." The manipulation is of the Arabic word hukm, usually defined as to "exercise power as governing, to pronounce a sentence, to judge between two parties, to be knowledgeable (in medicine, in philosophy), to be wise, prudent, of a considered judgment." The Quran contains the phrase `Hukm is God's alone,` thus, according to Maududi, God – in the form of Sharia law – must govern. But Meddeb argues that a full reading of the ayah where the phrase appears reveals that it refers to God's superiority over pagan idols, not His role in government.

Those whom you adore outside of Him are nothing but names that you and your fathers have given them. God has granted them no authority. Hukm is God's alone. He has commanded that you adore none but Him. Such is the right religion, but most people do not know. [12:40]

Quranic "commentators never forget to remind us that this verse is devoted to the powerlessness of the companion deities (pardras) that idolaters raise up next to God…"[35]

Abdel Meddab's view is contradicted by well-respected Islamic scholars such as Shaikh Salih al-Fawzan. He writes in his book Aqidah ul-Tawhid: "He who accepts a law other than Allah's ascribes a partner to Allah. Whatever act of worship that is not legislated (hukam) by Allah and His Messenger is Bid'ah, and every Bid'ah is a means of deviation... Any other law which is legislated (hukam) by neither Allah nor His Messenger in politics, or for judging in people's disputes, it is considered as the law of Taghut and Jahiliyyah. Allah says: Do they seek the judgment of Jahiliyyah? And who is better than Allah as a judge for a people who have firm faith? (Qur'an 5:50) The right of legalizing and illegalizing belongs to Allah too, and no one is permitted to share this right with Him. Allah says: And do not eat of that on which the name of Allah is not pronounced, for surely that is disobedience. And certainly Satans inspire their friends to argue with you. And if you obey them, then you are polytheists. (Qur'an 6:121)"[36]

Maududi is also criticized for his early open opposition to Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the drive to create Pakistan, although Maududi later changed his view and supported the state of Pakistan.[37][38]

In 2010, his books were banned in Bangladesh on the notion of the Bangadeshi government that his "writings promote radicalism and his ideological goal was to capture power in the name of Islam."[39]


Maududi received "sustained hostility" from some of the conventional clerics of Pakistan. However, such attacks against Maududi's work haven't affected their widespread influence in the Islamic community, nor did they conflict with the majority of Maududi's views. The only thing that was disputed was Maududi's usage of certain terms relating to Islamic Prophets and Muhammad's Companions


Maududi's influence was widespread. According to historian Philip Jenkins,[40] Egyptians Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb read him. Qutb "borrowed and expanded" Maududi's concept for being a modern as well as pre-Islamic phenomenon, and of the need for an Islamist revolutionary vanguard movement. His ideas influenced Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian Islamist jurist. The South Asian diaspora, including "significant numbers" in Britain, were "hugely influenced" by Maududi's work. Maududi even had a major impact on Islamic Iran, where Shiite Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is reputed to have met Maududi as early as 1963 and later translated his works into Persian. "To the present day, Iran's revolutionary rhetoric often draws on his themes."[41]


  • 1903 – Born in Aurangabad, Hyderabad Deccan, India
  • 1918 – Started career as journalist in Bijnore newspaper
  • 1920 – Appointed as editor of the daily Taj, Jabalpur
  • 1921 – Learned Arabic from Maulana Abdul Salam Niazi in Delhi
  • 1921 – Appointed as editor daily Muslim
  • 1926 – Took the Sanad of Uloom e Aqaliya wa Naqalia from Darul Uloom Fatehpuri, Delhi
  • 1928 – Took the Sanad in Jamay Al-Tirmidhi and Muatta Imam Malik Form same Teacher
  • 1925 – Appointed as editor Al-jameeah, New Delhi
  • 1927 – Wrote Al- Jihad fil Islam
  • 1930 – Wrote and published the famous booklet Al- Jihad fil Islam
  • 1933 – Started Tarjuman-ul-Qur'an from Hyderabad (India)
  • 1937 – Aged 34, introduced to South Asia's premier Muslim poet-philosopher, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, by Chaudhry Niaz Ali Khan at Lahore[42]
  • 1938 – Aged 35, moved to Pathankot from Hyderabad Deccan and joined the Dar ul Islam Trust Institute, which was established in 1936 by Chaudhry Niaz Ali Khan on the advice of Allama Muhammad Iqbal for which Chaudhry Niaz Ali Khan donated 66 acres (270,000 m2) of land from his vast 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) estate in Jamalpur, 5 km west of Pathankot[42]
  • 1941 – Founded Jamaat-e-Islami Hind at Lahore, appointed as Amir
  • 1942 – Jamaat's headquarters moved to Pathankot
  • 1942 – Started writing a commentary of the Qur'an called Tafhim-ul-Quran
  • 1947 – Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan headquarters moved to Lahore (Ichhra)
  • 1948 – Campaign for Islamic constitution and government
  • 1948 – Thrown in jail by the government for fatwa on jihad in Kashmir
  • 1949 – Government accepted Jamaat's resolution for Islamic constitution
  • 1950 – Released from jail
  • 1953 – Sentenced to death for his historical part in the agitation against Ahmadiyah to write a booklet Qadiani Problem. He was sentenced to death by a military court, but it was never carried out;[43]
  • 1953 – Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment and later canceled.[43]
  • 1958 – Jamaat-e-Islami banned by Martial Law Administrator Field Martial Ayub Khan
  • 1964 – Sentenced to jail
  • 1964 – Released from jail
  • 1971 – Ordered his followers to fight to save United Pakistan.
  • 1972 – Completed Tafhim-ul-Quran
  • 1972 – Resigned as Ameer-e-Jamaat
  • 1978 – Published his last book "Seerat-e-Sarwar-e-Aalam" in two volumes.
  • 1979 – Departed to United States for medical treatment
  • 1979 – Died in United States[44]
  • 1979 – Buried in Ichhra, Lahore

See also


External links

  • Website dedicated to Maududi
  • Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi
  • Al-Quran project includes Abul Ala Maudidi's translation with.
  • Maududi's Tafhim al-Qur'an in English
  • Towards Understanding the Qur'an – Official Site
  • Towards Understanding the Qur'an
  • Mawdudi Response
  • Mawdudi's slandering of Islamic faith and the Ahl as-sunnat scholars and its answer
  • Download Maududi's works
  • Download English translations of many books by Maududi
  • Download Bengali translations of many books by Maududi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Party created
Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami
Succeeded by
Mian Tufail Mohammad

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