known town in the former princely
state of Hyderabad (Deccan), presently Maharashtra, India.
Born in a respectable family, his ancestry on the paternal
side is traced back to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and
blessing of Allah be on him).
The family had a long-standing tradition of spiritual leadership
and a number of Maududi’s ancestors were outstanding
leaders of Sufi Orders. One of the luminaries among them, the
one from whom he derived his family name, was Khawajah Qutb
al-Din Maudud (d. 527 AH), a renowned leader of the Chishti
Maududi’s forefathers had moved to the Subcontinent from Chisht towards
the end of the 9th century of the Islamic calendar (15th century of the Christian
calendar). The first one to arrive was Maududi’s namesake, Abul A’la
Maududi (d. 935 AH).Maududi’s father, Ahmad Hasan, born in 1855 AD, a lawyer
by profession, was a highly religious and devout person. Abul A’la
was the youngest of his three sons.
Educational & Intellectual Growth
After acquiring early education at home, Abul A’la was
admitted in Madrasah Furqaniyah, a high school which attempted
to combine the modern Western with the traditional Islamic
After successfully completing his secondary education, young
was at the stage of undergraduate studies at Darul Uloom, Hyderabad,
when his formal education was disrupted by the illness and
eventual death of his father. This did not deter Maududi from
continuing his studies though these had to be outside of the
regular educational institutions.
By the early 1920s, Abul A’la knew enough Arabic, Persian
and English, besides his mother-tongue, Urdu, to study the
subjects of his interest independently. Thus, most of what
he learned was self-acquired though for short spells of time
he also received systematic instruction and guidance from some
Thus, Maududi’s intellectual growth was largely a result
of his own effort and the stimulation he received from his
teachers. Moreover, his uprightness, his profound regard for
propriety and righteousness largely reflect the religious piety
of his parents and their concern for his proper moral upbringing.
Involvement in Journalism
After the interruption of his formal education, Maududi turned to journalism
in order to make his living. In 1918, he was already contributing to a leading
Urdu newspaper, and in 1920, at the age of 17, he was appointed editor of Taj,
which was being published from Jabalpore, a city in the province now called Madhya
Late in 1920, Maududi came to Delhi and first assumed the editorship
of the newspaper Muslim (1921-23), and later of al-Jam’iyat (1925-28), both of which were
the organs of the Jam’iyat-i ‘Ulama-i Hind, an organisation of Muslim
religious scholars. Under his editorship, al-Jam’iyat
became the leading newspaper of the Muslims of India.
Interest in Politics
Around the year 1920, Maududi also began to take some interest in politics. He
participated in the Khilafat Movement, and became associated with the Tahrik-e
Hijrat, which was a movement in opposition to the British rule over India and
urged the Muslims of that country to migrate en masse to Afghanistan.
However, he fell foul of the leadership of the movement because of his insistence
that the aims and strategy of the movement should be realistic and well-planned.
Maududi withdrew more and more into academic and journalistic pursuits.
During 1920-28, Maulana Maududi also translated four different books, one from
Arabic and the rest from English. He also made his mark on the academic life
of the Subcontinent by writing his first major book, al-Jihad fi al-Islam.
This is a masterly treatise on the Islamic law of war and peace.
It was first serialised in al-Jam’iyat in 1927 and was formally published in 1930. It
was highly acclaimed both by the famous poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938)
and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar (d. 1931), the famous leader of the Khilafat
Movement. Though written during his ’20s, it is one
of his major and most highly regarded works.
Research & Writings
After his resignation from al-Jam’iyat in 1928, Maududi moved to Hyderabad
and devoted himself to research and writing. It was in this connection that he
took up the editorship of the monthly Tarjuman al-Qur’an in 1933, which
since then has been the main vehicle for the dissemination of Maududi’s
He proved to be a highly prolific writer, turning out several scores of pages
every month. Initially, he concentrated on the exposition of ideas, values and
basic principles of Islam. He paid special attention to the questions arising
out of the conflict between the Islamic and the contemporary Western whorl.
He also attempted to discuss some of the major problems of
the modern age and sought to present Islamic solutions to those
problems. He also developed a new methodology to study those
problems in the context of the experience of the West and the
Muslim world, judging them on the theoretical criterion of
their intrinsic soundness and viability and conformity with
the teachings of the Qur’an
and the Sunnah.
His writings revealed his erudition and scholarship, a deep
perception of the significance of the teachings of the Qur’an
and the Sunnah and a critical awareness of the mainstream of
Western thought and history. All this brought a freshness to
Muslim approach to these problems and lent a wider appeal to
In the mid ’30s, Maududi started writing on major political
and cultural issues confronting the Muslims of India at that
time and tried to examine them from the Islamic perspective
rather than merely from the viewpoint of short-term political
and economic interests. He relentlessly criticised the newfangled
ideologies which had begun to cast a spell over the minds and
hearts of his brethren-in-faith and attempted to show the hollowness
of those ideologies.
In this connection, the idea of nationalism received concerted attention from
Maududi when he forcefully explained its dangerous potentialities as well as
its incompatibility with the teachings of Islam. Maududi also emphasised that
nationalism in the context of India meant the utter destruction of the separate
identity of Muslims. In the meantime, an invitation from the philosopher-poet
Allama Muhammad Iqbal persuaded him to leave Hyderabad and settle down at a place
in the Eastern part of Punjab, in the district of Pathankot.
Maududi established what was essentially an academic and research centre called
Darul-Islam where, in collaboration with Allama Iqbal, he planned to train competent
scholars in Islamics to produce works of outstanding quality on Islam, and above
all, to carry out the reconstruction of Islamic Thought.
Founding the Party
Around the year 1940, Maududi developed ideas regarding the
founding of a more comprehensive and ambitious movement and
this led him to launch a new organisation under the name of
the Jamaat-e-Islami. Maududi was elected Jamaat’s first
Ameer and remained so till 1972 when he withdrew from the responsibility
for reasons of health.
Struggle & Persecution
After migrating to Pakistan in August 1947, Maududi concentrated
his efforts on establishing a truly Islamic state and society
in the country. Consistent with this objective, he wrote profusely
to explain the different aspects of the Islamic way of life,
especially the socio-political aspects.
This concern for the implementation of the Islamic way of life led Maududi to
criticise and oppose the policies pursued by the successive governments of Pakistan
and to blame those in power for failing to transform Pakistan into a truly Islamic
state. The rulers reacted with severe reprisal measures. Maududi was often arrested
and had to face long spells in prison.
During these years of struggle and persecution, Maududi impressed all, including
his critics and opponents, by the firmness and tenacity of his will and other
outstanding qualities. In 1953, when he was sentenced to death by the martial
law authorities on the charge of writing a seditious pamphlet on the Qadyani
problem, he resolutely turned down the opportunity to file a petition for mercy.
He cheerfully expressed his preference for death to seeking
clemency from those who wanted, altogether unjustly, to hang
him for upholding the right. With unshakeable faith that life
and death lie solely in the hands of Allah, he told his son
as well as his colleagues: "If the time of my death has come,
no one can keep me from it; and if it has not come, they cannot
send me to the gallows even if they hang themselves upside
down in trying to do so."
His family also declined to make any appeal for mercy. His firmness astonished
the government which was forced, under strong public pressure both from within
and without, to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment and then to cancel
Maulana Maududi has written over 120 books and pamphlets and made over a 1000
speeches and press statements of which about 700 are available on record.
Maududi’s pen was simultaneously prolific, forceful and
versatile. The range of subjects he covered is unusually wide.
Disciplines such as Tafsir, Hadith, law, philosophy and history,
all have received the due share of his attention. He discussed
a wide variety of problems C political, economic, cultural,
social, theological etc. C and attempted to state how the teachings
of Islam were related to those problems.
Maududi has not delved into the technical world of the specialist,
but has expounded the essentials of the Islamic approach in
most of the fields of learning and inquiry. His main contribution,
however, has been in the fields of the Qur’anic
exegesis (Tafsir), ethics, social studies and the problems
facing the movement of Islamic revival.
His greatest work is his monumental tafsir in Urdu of the Qur’an, Tafhim
al-Qur’an, a work he took 30 years to complete. Its chief characteristic
lies in presenting the meaning and message of the Qur’an in a language
and style that penetrates the hearts and minds of the men and women of today
and shows the relevance of the Qur’an to their everyday
problems, both on the individual and societal planes.
He translated the Qur’an in direct and forceful modern Urdu idiom. His
translation is much more readable and eloquent than ordinary literal translations
of the Qur’an. He presented the Qur’an as a book of guidance for
human life and as a guide-book for the movement to implement and enforce that
guidance in human life. He attempted to explain the verses of the Qur’an
in the context of its total message. This tafsir has made a
far-reaching impact on contemporary Islamic thinking in the
Subcontinent, and through its translations, even abroad.
The influence of Maulana Maududi is not confined to those associated with the
Jamaat-e-Islami. His influence transcends the boundaries of parties and organisations.
Maududi is very much like a father-figure for Muslims all over the world. As
a scholar and writer, he is the most widely read Muslim writer of our time. His
books have been translated into most of the major languages of the world C Arabic,
English, Turkish, Persian, Hindi, French, German, Swahili, Tamil, Bengali, etc.
C and are now increasingly becoming available in many more of the Asian, African
and European languages.
Travels & Journeys Abroad
The several journeys which Maududi undertook during the years 1956-74 enabled
Muslims in many parts of the world to become acquainted with him personally and
appreciate many of his qualities. At the same time, these journeys were educative
for Maududi himself as well as they provided to him the opportunity to gain a
great deal of first-hand knowledge of the facts of life and to get acquainted
with a large number of persons in different parts of the world.
During these numerous tours, he lectured in Cairo, Damascus,
Amman, Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Kuwait, Rabat, Istanbul, London,
New York, Toronto and at a host of international centres. During
these years, he also participated in some 10 international
conferences. He also made a study tour of Saudi Arabia, Jordan
(including Jerusalem), Syria and Egypt in 1959-60 in order
to study the geographical aspects of the places mentioned in
He was also invited to serve on the Advisory Committee which prepared the scheme
for the establishment of the Islamic University of Madinah and was on its Academic
Council ever since the inception of the University in 1962.
He was also a member of the Foundation Committee of the Rabitah al-Alam al-Islami,
Makkah, and of the Academy of Research on Islamic Law, Madinah. In short, he
was a tower of inspiration for Muslims the world over and influenced the climate
and pattern of thought of Muslims, as the Himalayas or the Alps influence the
climate in Asia or Europe without themselves moving about.
His Last Days
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 hospitalised in Buffalo, New York,
where his second son worked as a physician. Even at Buffalo,
his time was intellectually productive. He spent many hours
reviewing Western works on the life of the Prophet and meeting
with Muslim leaders, their followers and well-wishers.
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 (Ichra) in Lahore after a very large funeral procession through
May Allah bless him with His mercy for his efforts and reward him amply for the
good that he has rendered for the nation of Islam (Ummah).