Mushirual Hasan was born on 15 August 1949 Bilaspur in Uttar Pradesh. He studied at Aligarh Muslims University, and did his M. A. in1969. Later he went to the Cambridge University for higher education. He was an eminent academic historian of modern India. He passed away early morning (10 December, 2018) at the age of 70 years. Hasan was awarded the Padma Shri, for his academic contribution on themes like,Partition, Communalism and History of Islam in South Asia.
Hasan was the second son of the noted historian Prof. Muhibul Hasan.He married Zoya Hasan, awell-known political scientist and presently an emeritus professor at JNU. He went to the University of Cambridge, and obtained his Ph.D degree on the theme of, ‘Nationalism and Communal Politics in India, 1885–1930’. As professional and teaching carrier, he taught briefly at Ramjas College, history department, University of Delhi.After that he joined at the Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, where he taught history till the date of his retirement.
He was also associated with Council for social Development, and Institute of Advance Study. Hasan authored more than a dozen books and contributed several articles. For taking the firm academic stand against the majority and minority communalism, he was often targeted by the Communal forces, Muslims clergy and conservative classes too. For instance, when he spoke and took stand against the banned of infamous and controversial book’ ‘Satanic verses’, authored by the Salman Rushdie.
After Batla House episode (2009), when he announced for giving the financial and legal assistance to the falsely alleged students as terrorists, the RSS-BJP leaders attacked him and alleged that he is siding with terrorist outfits. However, secular minded teachers and students belonging to both Hindus and Muslims communities supported his stand and collected money from JMI teachers and from the local Muslim community.
However, contrary to both Hindu communal forces and certain section of conservative Mullahs, argued that he epitomized and cherished the progressive values like liberalism, secularism, pluralism, multicultural ethos of our Indian society. Besides, he took firm stand against the communalism and erosions of secular and democratic culture after the rise of communal and sectarians forces of all variants.
Some of his highly noted books like, ‘Nationalism and Communal Politics in India, 1885–1930’ (Delhi: Manohar, 1991);‘The Legacy of a Divided Nation: India’s Muslims Since Independence’ (Oxford University Press, 1997; ‘From Pluralism to Separatism: Qasbas in Colonial India’ (Oxford University Press 2003; ‘A Moral Reckoning: Muslim Intellectuals in Nineteenth-Century Delhi’, Oxford University Press,2005, are considered as an academically worthwhile. Besides, he contributed several articles in the reputed academic Journals like, Economic and Political Weekly, social scientist, Indian historical review and elsewhere. Moreover, he has also written on the contemporaryissues like communalism, Islam in south Asia and secularism in the mainstreamnews papers like The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Hindustan Time etc.
Apart from his academic contributions, he was also a great instituition builder. He established and served as the Director of Academy of Third World Studies for several years. He was the Pro-Vice Chancellor (from the year 1992 to 1996). And later Professor Mushirul Hasan served as the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia (2004-2009). In May 2010, he was appointed as the Director-General of the national Archives of India. Hasan was also elected as the President of the Indian Congress in 2002.As a VC of Jamia, he established several academic centers like Dalit and Minorities Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for studies, Media and Governance, Arjun Singh Distance and open learning Centre, Women’s studies centre, to name few. Besides, several buildings were constructed including current one DR.Zakir Husain library ( new) was established and constructed during his tenure.
Hasan will not only be remembered as the great historian across the world but also as an instituition builder and a great human being who struggled for and epitomizes progressive values in the life of India’s history and society. His loss of life is has created a huge gap in the academic and intellectual life of our country when our society is confronting challenges of communalism, crisis of secular democracy mainly after the upsurge of communal forces in the Indian politics. A real tribute to his life is to strengthen and carry forward his great secular legacy in years to come.
The author is a research scholar at Delhi University, Department of political science and earlier has done M.A and M.Phil. from JMI.