Syed Abul Ala Maududi (Sep 25, 1903-Sep 22, 1979) was undoubtedly one of the greatest Islamic scholars of 20th century who influenced millions of Muslims across the globe through his writings and religio-political activism.

He was a philosopher, jurist, journalist and politician. His numerous works were written in Urdu, but then translated into English, Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Burmese and many other languages.

Throughout his life, he not only strived hard to transfer Pakistan into a true Islamic welfare state but worked in close collaboration with the worldwide Muslim movements to bring betterment in the respective countries through the brilliant principles of Islam.

Independent historians described him as one of the most powerful Islamic ideologues of the 20th century, whose ideas and writings went on to influence a vast number of Islamic movements in the Muslim world.

Throughout his life, he asked people to follow Quran and Sunnah and shun minor differences. For him, sectarianism was the greatest evil which weakened the Muslim societies and made them vulnerable to the enemies’ designs. He urged Ummmah to stand united to thwart the conspiracies against Islam.

Sectarianism, he believed, was the cause of all problems facing the Muslim world and unity was the remedy for the weakness from which Islam had suffered over the centuries. It was perhaps due to this quality that Syed Maududi had enjoyed a great honour and respect in his lifetime and after death across the Islamic world including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Syed Maududi, Syed Qutb and Imam Hasan al-Banna were the leading scholars of 20th centuries who challenged the colonial powers and their agents. Their followers later devoted their lives to transform societies into an ideal place of living for mankind. Syed’s work was the continuations of the efforts made by Hazrat Shah Wali Ullah (R.A), Hazrat Mujadid Alf Sani (R.A), Shah Abdul Qadir Gilani (R.A) and Hazrat Ali Hajveri (R.A) to transform society into an ideal place of living for mankind.

Syed Maududi was born in Aurangabad (then in Hyderabad, now in the state of Maharashtra, in India) into a traditional Muslim family with a strong religious bent. His father, Ahmad Hasan Maududi, was a lawyer and a religious scholar. For several years during Abul Ala’s childhood, his father stopped practicing law and devoted himself to religion. Syed was primarily home schooled. At age 15 he was forced to leave school when his father died. At the age of 17, he became a correspondent, and soon became an editor of Taj, a newspaper in Jabalpur. In 1920 he assumed the editorship of Muslim, which was published by the Jam’iyat-i ‘Ulama,’ the Ulema of India in Delhi. The newspaper closed in 1923, but Syed Maududi soon became editor of the prestigious al-Jam’iyah. While a journalist, he also began writing about Islam. In 1928, Syed Maududi left journalism and took up scholarship. He wrote a history of the Asafiyah dynasty of Hyderabad and another history of the Seljuk Turks. Most significantly perhaps, he wrote a little book, Toward Understanding Islam, (Risala al Dinyat) that really began his career as an Islamic thinker and religious writer.

By 1930, Syed Sahib had published Jihad fil Islam (Holy war in Islam) a collection of essays.

In 1932, he joined the Hyderabadi journal Tarjuman al-Quran, and in 1933 he became the editor. He used the journal as a platform to spread message of Islam, and later in the 1930s he also turned to Indian politics. He urged India’s Muslims to recognize Islam as their sole identity and to become better Muslims. In 1941, Syed Maududi called a meeting in Lahore to found the Jamaat-e-Islami with the sole objective to spread the message of Islam and with the passage of time; the JI became a very important force in Pakistan’s national politics.

He was arrested in 1953 because of his active role to declare Qadyanis as non-Muslims. He was sentence to death but later his death sentence was changed into life imprisonment. He was freed after few months under a public pressure. In 1958 Pakistan came under military rule, and Jamaat-e-Islami was banned.

He was arrested by the regime of Ayyub Khan in 1964. In the 1965 elections he supported the presidential candidacy of Fatimah Jinnah against Ayyub Khan. In 1972 he completed his Tafheem-ul-Quran in Urdu and in the same year, he resigned as Amir Jamaat during to growing health issues. However, he continued his writings until late 70s. Syed Sahib died in September 22, 979 in Buffalo, New York, where he had gone to visit a son who was a physician, and to receive medical treatment for a long standing kidney ailment. He was buried in Lahore.

On the occasion of Maulana Maududi’s 40th death anniversary, the Jamaat-e-Islami renews pledge to continue its struggle to transform Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state—the state where people enjoy free education and health facilities and speedy justice and spend their lives according to the bright principles of Islam.