PERSONS OF THE YEAR 2023
Man of the Year
MAULANA MAHMOOD A. MADANI
Maulana Mahmood Madani is the President of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), one of the oldest and most-respected Muslim organisations in India. He served as its General Secretary for nearly two decades before assuming the position which his illustrious father, Maulana As’ad Madani, had held for over 50 years. He has invigorated the organisation by tackling head on critical issues of the day such as terrorism and Islamophobia, as well as never losing sight of the grassroots work that is at the heart of the day-to-day concerns of Indian Muslims.
Maulana Madani is an Islamic scholar, public speaker, social worker and preacher of Islamic humanitarian values, tolerance, and peace. Through the platform of the JUH, he has fought the twin battles of condemning terrorism in all its forms as well as calling out those who would use the issue to scapegoat the Muslim community. He has regularly arranged massive public rallies and international scholarly conferences dealing with all the ramifications of these issues. He has consistently and clearly called out the evil of DA’ISH. On the flip side, he has defended hundreds of cases Muslims who have been falsely implicated in terror cases. He has also taken on other cases with regard to securing the rights of Indian Muslims (including the right to citizenship, and the right to practice religious duties).
With the ruling BJP party promoting Hindu nationalism—Hindutva—to ever-more harmful levels, Indian Muslims are killed and discriminated against as never before. The response to this has been multi-pronged. First, to provide protection against the growing cases of Islamophobia and hatred, Maulana Mahmood Madani has founded JEIM (the Justice and Empowerment Initiative for Indian Muslims). This initiative records cases of Islamophobia in a systematic manner and provides advocacy and other forms of assistance to victims. It is a simple, logistical and necessary step to show to the outside world the scale of the problem.
Coupled with this defence of Muslim rights, Maulana Madani has always been a vocal supporter of unity in diversity and has consistently emphasised harmonious relations between different faiths in India. As his famous grandfather Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani was in the 1920s, he is a firm believer in the concept of nationalism. The practical outcome of this was Maulana Mahmood overseeing over 1000 interfaith conferences, sadhbhwana sansad, to promote communal harmony and involving leaders of all faiths.
The basis of the JUH has been humanitarian, welfare and educational activities. During his 25 years of service at JUH, he has served the victims of tragedies in Gujarat, Bihar, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kashmir, Kerala, Assam, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha etc. He is also a great supporter of the rights movement of minorities and the marginalised. His presence matters to India and its principles of secularism and pluralism.
Responsible for the education of over a million children in tens of thousands of maktabs and madrasahs, Maulana Madani has worked on upgrading the educational curriculum to meet the demands of the modern age. Always a sensitive subject for outsiders to approach, he has the expertise and legitimacy to upgrade the Dar Ulums’ curriculum and he has introduced a system whereby madrasah students are certified and recognised as having secondary level (10th standard) education without any adverse change to their existing religious curriculum.
This has been a historic development. Coupled with this, the Jamiat Yout Club (JYC) empowers youth with other skills. It is an affiliate of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, and works under the umbrella of the world-renowned autonomous body “Bharat Scouts & Guides” of which Maulana Mahmood Madani is its chairman. Its vision is to support the youth to achieve their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential as individuals, as responsible citizens, and as members of the local, national and international communities.
Maulana Madani is a leading voice in the Indian Muslim community, which is 200-million strong. Their challenges are unprecedented and the success of his work has a major influence on how they fare.
Woman of the Year
Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley (b. 1948) is one of the world’s most prolific and accomplished translators of classical Islamic works from Arabic to English. Since converting to Islam in 1968, she has spent the past 5 decades faithfully learning the Islamic tradition and making its key texts available to the global English-speaking Muslim community, sometimes in collaboration with her husband, Abdalhaqq Bewley, with whom she translated The Noble Qur’an. The subjects she has covered in translation and in her own writings range from the Noble Qur’an, commentary on the Qur’an (tafsir), Hadith, works on Islamic law, sufism, and Islamic history among others. The WorldCat union catalog lists her as the author or translator of “73 works in 172 publications in 3 languages and 855 library holdings.”
Born in the United States in 1948, Hajja Aisha obtained an MA in Near Eastern Languages from the University of California at Berkeley. She spent a year at the American University in Cairo and attended a seminar on Sufism at Cairo University’s Philosophy Department. In the early seventies she met and became a murid of Sheikh Dr Abdalqadir as-Sufi al-Murabit (d. 2021). Hajja Bewley started her traditional Islamic learning following the teachings of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib of Meknes (d. 1972) under the late Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi al-Murabit. Under the former’s guidance and inspiration she began to translate classical Islamic works from Arabic to English. She has continued this work unstintingly; making available many key Islamic texts to the global English-speaking Muslim community, many of whom are introduced to these texts for the first time through her translation.
Many of Hajja Aisha’s works are available for free on the internet on her website, or have been published through popular Muslim publishers. Her translation of Imam Malik’s Al-Muwatta (Madinah Press, 1991) and Qadi Iyad’s Ash-Shifa are especially well-known and form the backbone of thousands of teaching circles throughout the world. Another of her notable translations is the Tabaqat of Ibn Sa’d series of books.
In collaboration with her husband, Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley, Hajja Aisha has translated The Noble Qur’an, and the Tafsir of al-Qurtubi (so far 6 volumes have been published). In her own right she is an author on a wide range of topics. Some of her titles include: The Subatomic World in the Qur’an (Diwan Press, 1980); Islam: the Empowering of Women (TaHa, 1999), and Democratic Tyranny and the Islamic Paradigm (Diwan Press, 2018). She has lectured at Dallas College in Cape Town and Lady Aisha College in Cape Town. Alongside this work, she travelled with her husband and family to many countries, including Nigeria, Bermuda, Germany and Spain, spreading knowledge of Islam and helping establish communities of Muslims, seeking to follow the first Madinan model. Her life’s work has been remarkable and her intellectual output truly significant; long may it continue.
The Subatomic World in the Qur’an, Diwan Press, 1980.
Signs on the Horizons: The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, Zahra Publications, 1981
Islam: the Empowering of Women, TaHa 1999.
Glossary of Islamic Terms, TaHa 1998.
Mu‘awiya: Restorer of the Islamic Faith, Dar Al-Taqwa, 2002.
Muslim Women: A Biographical Dictionary, TaHa, 2004.
Democratic Tyranny and the Islamic Paradigm, Diwan Press, 2018.
There is also an unpublished text book which had a small printing: Survey of Arabic Historical Methodology with Textual Examples dealing with Women in the Ridda Wars and the Battle of the Camel
The Tawasin of Mansur al-Hallaj, Diwan Press, 1974.
The Islamic Book of the Dead (Hadith on the Garden and the Fire), Diwan Press, 1977
The Meaning of Man by ‘Ali al-Jamal of Fez, Diwan Pess, 1977
Self-Knowledge (Commentaries on Sufic Songs), Diwan Press, 1978.
The Darqawi Way (Rasa’il Mawlay al-‘Arabi ad-Darqawi), Diwan Press, 1979.
The Diwans of the Darqawa, Diwan Press, 1980
The Invocations of Shaykh al–‘Alawi, Diwan Press, 1980.
The Seals of Wisdom (Fusus al-Hikam) by Ibn al-‘Arabi, Diwan Press, 1980.
Muwatta‘ of Imam Malik (joint translation with Ya‘qub Johnson), Diwan Press, 1982. New revised edition, Kegan Paul International, 1989. Later Diwan Press editions
Muhammad Messenger of Allah (ash-Shifa’ of Qadi ‘Iyad), Madinah Press, 1991. Later editions by Diwan Press and TaHa.
Women of Madina, Vol. 8 of Tabaqat Ibn Sa‘d, TaHa 1995
Defence Against Disaster, Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi, Madinah Press, 1996. Diwan Press.
Men of Madina, Vol. 7 of Tabaqat Ibn Sa‘d, TaHa 1997.
Men of Madina, Vol. 5 of Tabaqat Ibn Sa‘d, TaHa 1999.
The Nasiri Du‘a (Shaykh Muhammad Fatha), Black Stone Press, 2001.
On the Mysteries of Bearing Witness, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Kazi, 2002 (selections from al- Futuhat al-Makkiya)
On the Mysteries of Fasting, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Kazi, 2009 (selections from al-Futuhat al- Makkiya)
On the Mysteries of Purification and Formal Prayer,, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Kazi, 2009 (selections from al-Futuhat al-Makkiya)
On the Mysteries of the Pilgrimage, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Kazi, 2009 (selections from al- Futuhat al-Makkiya)
On the Mysteries of Purifying Alms, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Kazi, 2009 (selections from al- Futuhat al-Makkiya)
Gardens of the Gnostics, Bustan al-‘Arifin by Imam an-Nawawi, Bookwork, 2001.
Sufis and Sufism: A Defence, (Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Hayy al-‘Amrawi and Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Karim Murad) Madinah Media, 2004.
The Gardens of the Hadith Scholars, Shah Abd Al Aziz Ad-Dehlawi, Turath Publishing, 2008.
Al-Wasiyyah (The advice of the esteemed scholar), Muwaffaq ad-Din al-Maqdisi, Turath Publishing, 2009.
Bidayat as-Sul fi Tafdil ar-Rasul, Izz ad-Din ibn Abd as-Salam, Turath Publishing, 2009.
al-Arba‘in, as-Suyuti, Turath Publishing, 2009.
al-Arba‘in, Ibn ‘Asakir, Turath Publishing, 2010.
Kitab at-tabaqat al-kabir, volumes 2, 3 and 6, Muhammad ibn Sa‘d, Taha Publishers, 2912. (All 8 volumes to be reproduced)
Risalah, Ibn Zayd al-Qayrawani, Diwan Press, 2010.
Published Joint Translations (with Abdalhaqq Bewley):
Handbook on Islam, Iman, Ihsan (a translation of Kitab Usul ad-Din and Kitab ‘Ulum al-Mu‘amala by ‘Uthman dan Fodio), Diwan Press, 1980.
The Soul’s Journey After Death, Ibn al-Qayyim, Dar at-Taqwa, 1987
The Jinn in the Qur’an and the Sunna, Mustafa Ashour, Dar at-Taqwa, 1989
Stories from Islamic History for Children, Abul-Hasan Ali Nadwi, UK Islamic Academy. 1992
Stories of the Prophets, Abul-Hasan Ali Nadwi, UK Islamic Academy, 1993.
Muhammad, the Last Prophet, Abul-Hasan Ali Nadwi, UK Islamic Academy, 1993.
Fate and Predestination, Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi, Dar at-Taqwa, 1994.
Good and Evil, Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi, Dar at-Taqwa, 1994.
The Interpretation of Dreams, Ibn Sirin, Dar at-Taqwa, 1994.
How Allah Provides, Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi, Dar at-Taqwa, 1994.
Magic and Envy, Muhammad al-Sha‘rawi, Dar at-Taqwa, 1994.
The World of the Angels, ‘Abdu’l-Hamid Kishk, Dar at-Taqwa, 1994.
The Laws of Marriage in Islam, Muhammad Rafit ‘Uthman, Dar at-Taqwa, 1994.
Dealing with Lust and Greed, ‘Abdu’l-Hamid Kishk, Dar at-Taqwa, 1995.
The Water of Zamzam, Dar at-Taqwa, 1996.
Yajuj and Majuj, Dar at-Taqwa, 1997.
The Mahdi, Dar at-Taqwa, 1997.
The Day of Rising, Layla Mabruk, Dar at-Taqwa, 1997
Circumcision in Islam, Abu Bakr ‘Abdu’r-Razzaq, Dar at-Taqwa, 1998.
Journey Through the Qur’an, Muhammad al-Ghazali, Dar at-Taqwa, 1998.
Allah: The Divine Nature, Yassin Roushdy, Dar at-Taqwa, 1999.
The Noble Qur’an: A New Rendering of its Meaning in English, Madina Press, 1999.
The Four Imams, Muhammad Abu Zahra, Dar at-Taqwa, 2001.
Intercession, at-Tayyibi, Yassin Roushdy, Dar at-Taqwa, 2000
The Heart and the Tongue: Their Sicknesses and Cure, Yassin Roushdy, Dar at- Taqwa, 2000
The Madinan Way, Sihhat Usul Madhhab Ahli’l-Madina, Ibn Taymiyya, Bookwork, 2000.
Tafsir al-Qurtubi vol. 1, Dar Al-Taqwa, 2003
The Mercy: In the Difference of the Four Sunni Schools of Islamic Law, as Safadi Muhammad Ibn Abd Ar Rahman, Dar Al-Taqwa, 2004.
The Inhabitants of Hell, Muhammad Mitwalli Al-Sharawi, Dar Al-Taqwa, 2004.
Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Dar Al-Taqwa, 2007.
The major sins, adh-Dhahabi, Dar at-Taqwa, 2012.
Mukhtasar al-Akhdari, Diwan Press, 2019
Tafsir al-Qurtubi, so far 6 volumes published, more in production.
Four Gems of Tasawwuf, Ibn ‘Ajiba, Diwan Press, 2021.
A large number of unpublished translations are available on the websites, including the Sahih al-Bukhari.
Currently working on Akhbar Makka by al-Azraqi.