Allamah Rasheed Turabi
A brief introduction by Syed Hyder Mehdi -
Raza Hussain Khan better known as Allamah Rasheed Turabi was born at Hyderabad, India, in 1908. He obtained his Masters and Law degrees from Osmania University but instead of taking up the practice of Law he preferred to study the nuances of religion in depth. This quest led him to gain expertise in Arabic and Persian languages. For a short period he also visited Lucknow to study theology. He had become well known as a Khateeb or a speaker from the pulpit right away at a young age and addressed the Majalis at Bombay and Hyderabad. His popularity then as also ever went beyond sectarian bounds. He had an immense talent as an orator as proved by his captivating speech, naturally organized logical style, appealing ways of addressing, effective elucidation and profoundly incisive approach. He was a pioneer in adopting the style of a discourse under a specific title.
He was deeply interested in collection of books and owned a wonderful collection of very rare books. Janab S V Mir Ahmed Ali who has rendered a voluminous English translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an acknowledges consulting the library of Allamah Rasheed Turabi. According to Mir Ahmed Ali, Allamah Turabi owned such ancient basic authorities that were not commonly available even in big libraries; some were as rare and ancient as dating between 60 to 320 A.H. Dedicated to his scholarly work, the Allamah used to lead more or less a secluded life immersed in his collection of rare books. Then year after year, the Muharram commemoration provided the occasion for the people thirsting for knowledge to satiate themselves listening to Rasheed Turabi. It was as if he used to let his audience partake the fruits of his hard labor of the past year and reap the fruits of his knowledge that were so plenteous.
One of the greatest Khateeb from the sub-Continent of India and Pakistan, his speeches were always refreshing, educative and insightful, replete with spontaneous quotes and recitations of Qur’anic verses ranging from 15-20 or even more verses from the Glorious Qur’an. The perspective of his discourses is founded on the teachings of Ahlul Bayt with emphasis on Intellect or ‘Aql. In many of his speeches he highlights the saying of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) that obtaining knowledge is the bounded duty of all Muslim men and women. He reiterates the importance of knowledge quoting the sayings of Imam Ali … “if you have knowledge follow it; and when you are certain take action; never change your knowledge into ignorance nor exchange your certainty for doubt”. Therefore knowledge, certainty, action, testimony/Shahadah and martyrdom are interrelated one with the other. Certainty is based on knowledge and action itself without certainty is pointless. Those who are knowledgeable qualify to stand for testimony; martyrdom is the zenith of testimony and points to the perfection of knowledge. He used to lay great emphasis upon the fact that the event of Karbala epitomizes the victory of Truth over falsehood and safeguarding the testimony of the Unity of God and preserving the true religion as taught by the Prophet of Islam. However, he was always careful that his speeches from the pulpit do not hurt others feelings. Therefore a large number of people belonging to the other sects also used to attend his Majalis.
Allamah Rasheed Turabi addresses the old and the young with equal facility and prods the minds and curiosity of younger generation encouraging them to use their rational mind and intelligence. A collection of speeches of Allamah Rasheed Turabi have been translated in English for the benefit of the younger generation who are not usually proficient in Urdu language. These are published in two volumes. The first volume entitled Majalis-e-Turabi comprises ten speeches each on two topics, namely the Chosen Religion (Deen-e Murtaza) and the Denial of Favors (Kufran-e-Nia‘math). The second volume of the translations is entitled “The Ways of the Enlightened” and contains 18 speeches, mostly dealing with the philosophy of Bandagi (Submission to God) and Shahadat (Martyrdom); many of these speeches were broadcast from Radio Pakistan.
As evidenced by his discourses Allamah Rasheed Turabi was indeed a unique Khateeb dedicated to the teachings of Kitab-e-Khuda and Ahlul Bayt. Regarding his eloquence his son Naseer Turabi says that in its lineage the voice of Rasheed Turabi belongs to the genealogy of Nahjul Balagha and it is the voice of Certainty.
He left the world in 1973 but people are still enthralled listening to the audio recordings and posthumous broadcasts of his discourses. From Beyond he seem to address his admirers and say,
I am still living in the society of the faithfuls
Do not inquire where my grave is but seek out my assembly
Maiyn ba‘ad-e-marg bhi bazm-e-wafa mein zinda hoon
Talaash kar meri mahfil mera mazar nah pooch.
Syed Hyder Mehdi