Saturday 26 May 2012

On Prophecies and their veracity

(an abridged version was published in Pakistan Today on 23rd May,2012)

Prophecies and their veracity

A lecture titled “A Longer view on dreams and prophecy” was organized by Lahore University of Management Sciences at the start of April, 2012. In that lecture, Professor of South Asian History, Manan Ahmed spoke at length about various aspects of prophecies.

Professor Manan explained the significance and methodology of prophecies. Prophecy is always in the past, but it is applied in the present. Another aspect of prophecies is that they appear at times of crisis, to 'rationalize' those crises and to point towards a better future.

Professor Manan gave example of Qudratullah Shahab's book 'Shahab Nama', the last 2 chapters of which, contained prophecies. Similar rhetoric was used by Shahab's contemporaries, Wasif Ali Wasif,Ashfaq Ahmad and Bano Qudsia.

Prophecies of Shah Naimatullah Wali, which have been used by Zaid Hamid recently, were published first after 1857(end of Mughal Empire),then 1948(Serious problems faced by the new nation), then 1974,1975((Loss of East Pakistan), 1988 and then 2008.

Interestingly, such prophecies are not only propagated by Zaid hamid but also spread via columnists such as Javed Chohdary, Haroon Rasheed and Amir Hashim khakwani.

Other examples of famous prophecies at the times of crisis include the time when Tatars invaded the Muslim territories. The “sages” of those time started saying that the Tatars were actually “Yajooj Majooj” and that the day of judgment was approaching soon.

The prophecy I want to discuss in this post is the one allegedly made by Molana Abul Kalam Azad, the famous Congress Leader and Ideologue. That prophecy was recently highlighted in the show Khabar Naak and in Kamran Khan show.

The long prophecy is based on an alleged interview of Abul Kalam Azad when he visited Lahore in March 1946, conducted by Shorash Kashmiri. In that interview, Abul Kalam Azad said,

“I feel that right from its inception, Pakistan will face some very serious problems:

1. The incompetent political leadership will pave the way for military dictatorship as it has happened in many Muslim countries.

2. The heavy burden of foreign debt.

3. Absence of friendly relationship with neighbors and the possibility of armed conflict.

4. Internal unrest and regional conflicts.

5. The loot of national wealth by the neo-rich and industrialists of Pakistan.

6. The dissatisfaction and alienation of the youth from religion and the collapse of the theory of Pakistan.” (The complete interview can be read here).

Previously, this interview was published in an Indian magazine named “Covert” with the headline, “Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: The Man Who Knew The Future Of Pakistan Before Its Creation” catapulting Mr. Azad’s status from a senior politician to that of a modern day Nostradamus.  Based on some analytical evidence, I shall try to prove that the interview never actually happened and the whole “prophecy” is a work of fiction created by Mr. Shorish himself.

1. The interview is supposed to have taken place in March 1946 when Abul Kalam Azad was visiting Lahore for negotiations about a possible Congress-Unionist Party coalition which ultimately led to All India Muslim League being left out of power despite being the majority party.

2. Shorash Kashmiri was a committed member of Majlis e Ahrar, founded by Ataullah Shah Bokhari, a firebrand speaker and religious scholar. Majlis e Ahrar was famously against the formation of Pakistan. It should be kept in mind that Shorash was a famous for his oratory skills and as a political worker, not as a serious journalist. This interview was not published by Shorash Kashmiri until 1969, when he joined Awami League, which was at that time quite anti-Pakistan in its outlook.

3. On the topic of  Pakistan and creation of Pakistan/division of India, Abul Kalam Azad wrote a whole book, titled “India wins Freedom” which was published in 1958 while Azad was alive. This particular “prophecy” is not mentioned or even hinted about in the book devoted to this topic. Some people assume that the re-print of the book which occurred in 1989 and included additional pages, contain anything related to this, which is completely wrong.

4. The publication of this interview in the Indian magazine “Covert” was a blatant attempt at glorification of Azad and historical revisionism. The aim was to degrade Mr. Jinnah by painting him as short-sighted while simultaneously increasing the stature of Abdul Kalam Azad at his expense.

( Please Note that this post is about the prophecy of Azad that I have mentioned above and not his views about partition of India and formation of Pakistan.)

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