Essence of a true scholar

Unknown Genius

Pundit Al-Haaj Qari Maulana Dr Bashiruddin Qadri Shahjahanpuri, expert in 11 languages, had been one son of the soil who had rendered yeoman’s service to the cause of interfaith concord by translating the holy Gita into Arabic and holy Quran into Sanskrit.

Besides, he had also learnt both the scriptures by heart with a perfection that the Hindu pundits used to come to Bashiruddin for correction of their pronunciation for the shlokas in the same way as maulvis used to frequent him for improving their recitation of the Quranic verses.

Pundit Bashiruddin also proved in his treatise that 60 percent quotes of Gita and Quran are exactly identical in matters relating to importance of others’ rights, truth, humane concerns and mutual dignity.

Not only this, Bashir hadn’t crammed these scriptures simply in their respective languages, but had also learnt the translation of both these religious texts by heart, in Hindi and Urdu. This is a magic that no one till date has been able to perform. Of course, there have been umpteen people who have learnt the Quran or Gita by heart, but no one has been able to do the same simultaneously.

Pundit Maulana had worked as a teacher at Islamia Inter College at Shahjahanpur. Interestingly, Pundit Maulana Bashiruddin had also been a great sports enthusiast and an expert scouts master besides being a counsellor with the Red Cross Society. He had also conducted many mushairas (poetic gatherings) during his tenure.  

Pundit Maulana Bashiruddin has also written many books, of which Tarikh-e-Hindi Qurun-e-Wusta, product of a 12-year research by him, is taught at the Aligarh Muslim University. It was at the behest of Dr Rajendra Prasad, India’s first president, that Pundit Bashiruddin was granted the special President’s Award in the presence of  Dr Sarvapalli Radha Krishnan, vice president, and Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the prime minister, in the Parliament House on October 31, 1961. He deserved a better deal!

The award citation reads: “A teacher with 33 years’ experience! An author and a distinguished scholar of Oriental languages, he has devoted himself to the study of Urdu, Persian, Arabic on the one hand, and Hindi and Sanskrit on the other. His work on medieval India has highly been appreciated.” Unfortunately, only two parts of it had come by 1959 and the third part of it could not be published owing to paucity of funds.

Tamizan Begum, his wife, who had died on March 3, 1995, kept on begging the local authorities for the publication of the third part of the book, but no one bothered. Tamizan Begum wanted to preserve 2,500-plus books of the personal library of Pundit Bashiruddin (also containing books and articles penned down by him), asked for help from the authorities, but they all turned deaf ears to her.

Nevertheless, her youngest, educated but unemployed son Zafaruddin Qadri had to preserve these books.Besides many other books, some noted books by this venerated scholar include: Hindi Grammar, Hindi ke Muslim Kavi, Mulk-o-Millat ka Pehla Shaheed Hazrat Tipu Sultan Shaheed, Poorva Kaleen Bharat, Chiranjivi Shubh Kranti, Sarva Manya Antim Rasool, Muallim-e-Azam, etc.

Born on October 5, 1900 to a humble primary teacher at Lilma village, Badaiun in Uttar Pradesh, Bashiruddin left no stone unturned to study Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, English, Gurmukhi, Persian, Arabic and other languages.

Having rendered his tutorial services for 35 years, Pundit retired from the Islamia Inter College, Shahjahanpur, in 1986 as principal. Incidentally, Shahjahanpur happens to be the abode of sons of soil like Ashfaqullah Khan, Pundit Ram Prasad Bismil and others.

In 1922, after clearing the Inter exam, Pundit Bashiruddin did his graduation and post graduation from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1929. He completed his doctorate in Sanskrit from AMU and earned his living by doing calligraphy on Urdu posters and books’ titles or the holy Quran.

Pundit Bashirudiin was often invited at temples to give suitable interpretations. In some of the temples, devotees started worshipping him as the incarnation of God, something for which he sternly rebuked them and made it a condition that nobody treated him that way as the Almighty is the only one before whom they should bow down.

M Atyab Siddiqui, legal adviser to Friends for Education, has approached the Centre for offering the Bharat Ratna to the eminent scholar who had spent the whole of his life working for furthering the cause of communal harmony and mutual understanding. Another plea made by the same platform is that a road be named after him in Shahjahanpur, his hometown.

After the demise of Pundit Basheeruddin on February 12, 1988, his mazar (mausoleum) had been erected at Jungla, Shahjahanpur, that has been visited by people from all faiths. Each year, there is an urs (religious conclave) at Chandausi, managed by the Pundit’s family, students and well-wishers. An educational award in the name of Pundit Bashiruddin has also been instituted, besides opening a library for the weaker sections.

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