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Maulana Hameed Azhari: A Crusader has left for his heavenly abode

Barely two weeks before his death, Maulana Azhari went to Kasganj to meet the family members of Altaf, who was found dead in police custody

Tuesday December 7, 2021 5:55 PM, Aleem Faizee, ummid.com

Maulana Azhari

[Maulana Abdul Hameed Azhari's Janaza taken to Bada Qabristan in Malegaon for the funeral and last rites. (ummid.com photo)]

September 16, 2006, exactly a week and a day later, we were in a meeting with then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh in Matralaya, Mumbai. The meeting was called at the behest of Abu Asim Azmi, then Rajya Sabha MP of Samajwadi Party (SP). Azmi had gathered about 25 Muslim MPs, including Maulana Mehmood Madani, Asaduddin Owaisi and others, along with the relatives and close family members of those arrested after the July 2006 Mumbai train blasts.

Abu Asim Azmi had sought from the Chief Minister a hearing to lodge complaint against the indiscriminate arrests of Muslim youth following July 2006 Mumbai train blasts. The case of September 08, 2006 Malegaon serial blasts at Bada Qabristan and Mushawerat Chowk was added in the agenda in the last minute.

Top police officials including Director General (DG) Police Maharashtra P.S. Pasricha, Mumbai Police Commissioner A.N. Roy and then ATS Chief K.P. Raghuvanshi were also there in attendance.

Family members of those thrown in jail following the Mumbai train blasts were sharing the heart wrenching stories of how their close kin were framed in the case and made accused for something they were not responsible of. It was then that a man in his sixties wearing white kurta and sporting Jinnah cap stood up.

“You have framed innocent Muslims in false cases. Now you want to repeat the same to cover up the Malegaon blasts case”, he said, his fingers pointing at the police officials.

He then turned towards Chief Minister Deshmukh and said, “We don’t trust your police. We have lost our near and dear ones in Malegaon blasts. Any attempt to cover up the case will be dealt with strongly.”

The Chief Minister, not accustomed to such plain speaking, watched in dismay.


The man who had upset the highest chair in the state was Maulana Abdul Hameed Azhari. Besides Maulana Azhari, I had seen only Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani (Sample here) talking to ministers and top officials in such a blunt, unapologetic and uncompromising tone.

My very first meeting with Maulana Hameed Azhari was when I went to Riyadh in 1994 to work as an Engineer at Saudi Carpet Factory. Maulana Hameed Azhari was in the Saudi capital since 1978. He served there at Information Centre of Saudi Ministry of Defence till his retirement in 2002 as Supervisor of the Centre.

“We used to work on monochrome computers provided on rent by IBM. Multi-tasking operating systems with GUI support were not yet available for the users. It was literally tiring to work on computers those days. No wonder if we were left completely exhausted after office hours.

“The Maulana however was a workaholic, and despite his hectic and tiring duty hours, would regularly engage with fellow Indians, especially those from Malegaon, listening their issues if any and helping them out in whatever way he could”, Sheikh Ahmed, who worked with him at the same centre in Riyadh, told ummid.com.

“His home in Riyadh was a centre for the expatriates to share their grievances, especially on Fridays when he used to serve lunch to the visitors. His wife was a good cook, and for the expatriates having home-made food in Riyadh was no less than a delight”, he said.

“Maulana Azhari was respected also by his seniors for his devotion to work. This is why he was honoured and conferred upon an award of appreciation and acknowledgement at the time of retirement”, Sheikh Ahmed recalled.

The post Maulana Azhari held was probably the highest by any Malegaonian abroad. Things have changed now a bit. But, getting rewarded for work in Saudi Arabia was rare during those days.

“Early days and Education”

Maulana Azhari was born in 1944. He was among the founding batch students of Madrasa Millat, established by Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani - his mentor, guide and inspiration. After graduating from Madrasa Millat, Maulana Azhari went to Darul Uloom Deoband for further studies.
Later, he went to Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt for higher studies. Maulana Hameed Azhari was one among the 05 students of Maharashtra who went to Al Azhar for higher education. Besides him, others were Maulana Nazir Azhari, Maulana Abdul Ahad Azhari and Maulana Mukhtar Azhari –a all from Malegaon. The 5th one was from Sholapur.

Back home from Al Azhar, Maulana Hameed Azhari joined Madrasa Millat, his alma mater, as a teacher. He spent few years here and then went to work at Saudi Embassy in New Delhi. It was because of this assignment that he got the posting at the Information Centre of Saudi Ministry of Defence in Riyadh where he worked till retirement.

During the same period, Maulana Azhari, with the help of some of his friends, worked towards establishing Kulliyah at Taherat – a madrasa for education of girl-students. The madrasa was administered by his younger sister, Gulshan Aapa, till her death.

“A Crusader”

Maulana Azhari was a great admirer of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad – one of the front leaders of India’s freedom movement and the country’s first Education Minister. Post retirement, Maulana Azahri established in his name “Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Research Centre” and devoted him for promotion of research and knowledge. He also undertook Arabic teaching classes and Duroos – sessions to study Quran at Rahmani Masjid, Nayapura on regular basis.

The Malegaon serial blasts on September 08, 2006 however “rekindled the activist” in him, and he led from the front the campaign for the acquittal of local Muslim youths who were wrongly framed in the case.

[Watch in this video Maulana Abdul Hameed Azhari criticising the functioning of ATS, Malegaon blasts, and also referring to his September 16, 2006 meeting with then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in Mumbai.]

It was the time when no one, except the close kin of the accused, would dare to speak anything in favour of them. Maulana Azhari however started the campaign - initially with few of his close aides, later expanding it through the Kul Jamaati Tanzeem – an organisation represented by leaders of all Muslim sects.

The formation of Kul Jamaati Tanzeem was a big blow to the investigating agencies that were of the view that the bomb blasts in Malegaon were the result of sectarian differences between various Muslim groups.

During the course of about five-year long campaign, Maulana Azhari met everyone – right from UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister P Chidamabarm to CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and others. This is besides frequently leading representations on a number of occasions to Maharashtra state leadership including Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his successor Prithviraj Chavan. In all these meetings, the Maulana had only one point to raise. Local Muslim youths are innocent and there is a need for a thorough investigation into the 2006 Malegaon terrorist attack.

Slain ATS Chief Hemant Karkare had later confessed that it was because of this strong conviction that he decided to explore all possible angles while investigating the another terrorist attack that rocked Malegaon this time on September 29, 2008 at Bhikku Chowk. It is now a history how the motorcycle on which the bombs were planted led to the expose of the Hindutva terrorists who were involved in the terrorist attack not only in Malegaon but also in other places of the country.

The efforts taken by Maulana Azhari-led Kul Jamaati Tanzeem and others bore fruit when the Muslim accused were first granted bail in November 2011 and later discharged from the 2006 Malegaon blast case in April 2016.

“War against Coronavirus”

After the acquittal of Muslim youths in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case, Maulana Azhari kept alive the Kul Jamaati Tanzeem even though some people felt that the organisation was no more needed.

After the outbreak of the Covid-19 when unfortunately Malegaon became a victim at the initial stages of the Pandemic’s first wave and when whole of the city was turned into a prison, Maulana Azhari again rose to the occasion. Taking members of the Kul Jamaati Tanzeem along he met the Health Minister, District Collector and other officials of the civic body and health department to demand adequate facilities for those who were advised quarantine.

Maulana Azhari personally visited with few of his close aides the temporary quarantine centres and met the Covid-19 victims to solace them in the time of distress. This is perhaps why he too became infected with the deadly virus. Lucky as he always was, he won the battle against the Covid-19 but was forced to suspend his regular activities because of weakness and post-Covid complications.

Also Read | Watch: Malegaon bids farewell to Maulana Azhari, one of its worthiest sons

Maulana Azhari resumed regular activities - this time at national level, after the first wave of Covid-19 ceded and his health condition improved. Expanding his activities, Maulana Azhari joined hands with Waman Meshram of BAMCEF and Maulana Khalilur Rahman Sajjad Nomani of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

While working with BAMCEF, Maulana was also nominated as the National President of Rashtriya Muslim Morcha. Through this platform Maulana Azhari travelled to far-away places of India and met Dalit and Muslim victims wherever they lived.

Barely two weeks before his death, Maulana Azhari went to Kasganj to meet the family members of Altaf, who was found dead in police custody. During the same period, Maulana Azhari visited a number of districts of Uttar Pradesh before attending the 27th session of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) held in Kanpur on November 20 and 21, 2021.

After his return from Uttar Pradesh tour, Maulana Azhari lost no time in meeting with the top police officials in the wake of indiscriminate arrests after November 12 Malegaon bandh and shutdown called to protest against the anti-Muslim carnage in Tripura.

“There should be a distinction between those involved in violence and the organisers who had called for the shutdown. Your tirade against the organisers is arbitrary and unconstitutional. It should be stopped”, he told Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Malegaon Chandrakant Khandvi in his signature blunt tone that had dismayed the Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh back in 2006.

Two days later on December 04, 2021, Maulana Abdul Hameed Azhari, whose crusade and statesmanship helped in exposing the people involved in the war against Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism, left for his heavenly abode.

[The writer is Founder Editor of ummid.com and is privileged to work with Maulana Hameed Azhari.]

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