All along his life that spanned for 83 years, Dr Kalbe Sadiq was deeply committed to the Indian ethos, and firmly believed that love, not hate, can sustain the unity of Indian society. For this he was always willing to go too far to any extent that none of the religious scholars of his time could not dare to do so.
One fine morning in 2009, he announced he would take a holy dip at the Ganges during the Kumbh in Haridwar unfazed by the strong criticism it would evoke. “ I have decided to take a holy dip in the Ganges at Haridwar as if it washes away the sin it can also wash away the difference between Hindus and Muslims”
Dr Sadiq contacted many of the seers in Haridwar and Rishikesh and his move was welcomed by both communities – barring the hard-core vested interest groups. At another function in Lucknow, he did not object when a Hindu priest applied vermillion on his forehead. “Why should I object if it is tradition of one community with whom I grew up and brought up and played with them,” he would say.
Having seen the continuing strife in Lucknow, which has been the hotbed of Shia-Sunni riots since his birth, he announced in 2015 he would offer the Eid ul Fitr prayers with the Sunni brothers, and behind the Sunni Imam. This created a flutter all over India, but an unfazed Dr Sadiq went ahead with his plan. What a positive response it later evoked!
With his small band of followers, he travelled to the Sunni Jami masjid and offered prayers. “ If my gesture could put an end to this unwarranted difference, I would travel to any place. This madness has to stop”
He was beyond being a reformer. He wanted to change the psyche of the people, and desperately wanted to demolish the walls of hate and segregation, even if he had to walk that extra step. He remained firm with his belief, irrespective of its consequences.
Not many would know that Dr Sadiq, for more than three decades, had broken the stereotype of the Muslim community’s approach to the lunar calendar. He would predict the exact day on which Ramazan would fall, and the day when Eid would be celebrated.
Initially many protested at his approach, but year by year he was proved right, and the people began to follow what Dr Sadiq would declare. “I am not a soothsayer; it is simple science. If you compute the trajectory of the moon, you will decipher the date. It is just science,” he said.
In 2005 the US administration banned his entry, and held him at the airport for three days, before deporting him to London. There was large scale protest against the American move. Dr Sadiq came home, and said it hardly mattered to him. “I had gone to meet my people. What is the issue. They will come here.”
Born in Lucknow in a prominent Shia family, the Khawandah-e-Ijtihaad in 1937, his father, Kalbe Hussain, was a leading Islamic scholar and orator. His brother Kalbe Abid was also an Islamic scholar.
He received his early education from the Sultan Ul Madarus madrasa, before moving to the Aligarh Muslim University for a Bachelor of Arts degree. He later went on to pursue his master’s degree in Arabic Literature from the same University. His doctorate was from Lucknow University.
His father Maulana Kalbe Husain recognized the vast expanse of his son’s knowledge and his rationality and predicted the young man would go places. This was soon evident. He travelled to many countries and interacted with top Shia scholars in Iran and Iraq, besides many Sunni scholars in Egypt and elsewhere. With his travels, and the changing milieu, he shifted his focus to education, and would say the community must look forward to the changing syllabus. He founded the Tauheedul Muslimeen Trust on 18 April 1984 with the objective of giving educational assistance and scholarships to needy and poor students. The many educational, charitable and constructive projects that were running under his supervision include the Tauheedul Muslimeen Trust, Lucknow, Unity College, Unity Mission School, Industrial Training Center, Hiza Charitable Hospital, all in Sicknote Unity Public School in Allahabad, the Aligarh M.U. College, and the T.M.T Medical Centre, in Shikarpur.
He launched “Unity Free Education Programmes” in Lucknow, Jaunpur, Jalalpur, Moradabad, Aligarh and many ither Muslim centers, apart from a Widows’ Pension Scheme and an Orphans’ Educational Sponsorship Scheme.
Kalbe Sadiq will also be remembered for the reconstruction and expansion of the famed Imam Bargah of Ghufran Maab, Lucknow, and the renovation of the tomb of prominent Urdu elegy writer and Marsia Khwan Hazrat Meer Anees in Lucknow. He was also the President of The Era’s Medical College and Hospital, Lucknow. He was the popular general secretary of All India Shia Conference, besides being a member of Anjuman-e-Wazifiya-e-Sadat-o-Momineen.
Education was his prime concern; he wanted the community to go for modern education, to develop a scientific temper along with religious studies. He succeeded at many places, and as a one-man army he was always dreaming high for his community and his country.
“There is no short cut to good education. This is my aim that the community must come forward and seek quality education. Only then the community and nation would grow.”
Dr Sadiq wanted to break the shackles of the old fundamentalist and conservative approach in education. “Quality religious education needs quality modern approach.”
One thing that distinguished him was his understanding of the developing situation. On Ayodhya recently he did not fight shy to say that even if the Muslims won the Ayodhya court case, they should gracefully hand over the site to their Hindu brothers. It required a courage to say this, and Dr Sadiq was a courageous man.
[SAH Rizvi, known in media, literary and political circles as Ziya Rizvi, is a senior Editor and political analyst]