Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee joined the Muslim world in mourning the sudden death of internationally renowned scholar, Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi.

“He was an intellectual giant who was highly respected by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, both in India and abroad,” Mr. Vajpayee said in condolence message.

Ali Mian, who was the chairman of the All India Muslim Personal board and chairman of the Islamic Centre at Oxford University, died while reading the Holy Quran before the Friday prayers at his home in Takiapur village in Rae Bareli district. “He made an outstanding contribution to the spread of Islamic teaching through his scores of acclaimed books, countless discourses and, of course, the world renowned seminary at Nadwa, near Lucknow, which he headed,” said Mr Vajpayee, who had visited the scholar recently.

Describing him as a “great scholar,” Mr Vajpayee noted that Ali Mian had strongly condemned the hijacking of the Indian Airlines Plane. “Nobody having respect and love for human beings can ever approve of such action,” he had said. “In passing of Ali Mian, India and the Islamic community all over the world have lost a towering religious leader,” Mr Vajpayee said.

Syed Shihabudhin, former law-maker and editor of the monthly publication Muslim India, described Ali Mian as “one of the greatest Islamic personality of our times” and said his death was “an irreparable loss not only to Muslim Indians but for all Indians, not only for the Islamic world but for all humanity.”

All shall miss not only his scholarship but more so his sagacious advice and his voice of reason and moderation at critical junctures in our contemporary history. He was recognized by the Muslims, not only as a great religious receptor but as their supreme and ultimate point of reference in all matters affecting community. All his life he stood unwaveringly for Muslim identity and dignity within a democratic and secular India,” he added.

Many establishments in the Uttar Pradesh state capital Lucknow shut down after hearing the Maulana’s death.

In Delhi the mood was somber when the news of his death came during the Friday prayers. “Though I have never met him I feel orphaned. He was a very pious soul who died in a manner befitting a man of his stature,” said one devotee.

Ali Mian, who was a spiritual guide of Muslims around the world, specialized in Hadith- tradition of Prophet Muhammad . He authored 80 books on Islam and the history of Arabic and Urdu literature with many of his works being translated into English, French, Turkish, Persian and other languages.

Khaleej Times, Sunday Jan 2 2000