With the death of Indian Muslim leader Syed Shahabuddin, a stalwart is gone. A great intellectual is no more. He articulated Indian Muslim causes with both pen and speech that left people dumbstruck.
When he contested the Bangalore North Lok Sabha seat decades ago, I had many occasions to interact with him. On election day when anyone reported to him that people were voting for him multiple times by erasing the ink stains, and by faking identities, he would go into a rage. As head of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, he would not only work for free, he even refused reimbursements for his fuel.
He once told me in Riyadh that one should never take money for public service, and not get into it unless one was fully financially independent. At that time he was 70, and was still working tirelessly. For 25 years as general secretary of the Janata Party, he drew no salary.
His fiery temperament did cause discomfort to many of his friends as well, but his integrity was not questioned by even his worst detractors. When people say that all politicians are corrupt, they will have to make him an exception. Syed Shahabuddin was a very notable exception. As also was his dear friend, the late Ibrahim Sulaiman Sait. He loved India and would not tolerate anyone who showed any signs of treason, even in the most trying moments in the community’s history.
An era has ended. May Allah grant his soul peace and comfort in gardens prepared for the upright and the strugglers in His cause.