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Seyyed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi was one of the eminent and reputed scholars in the Muslim world. He had a multidimensional personality. He was a unique historian, a genuine sermonizer, a biographer, a popular author and scholar. One of the salient features of his writings is his authentic and thought provoking criticism of western civilization. Many Muslim scholars have depicted the picture of modern western civilization in an awe inspiring and apologetic style, but the analysis and critique of the western civilization presented by Seyyed Abul Hassan Ali is considered as one of his great maneuver.([i])
He acquired a deep insight of the western civilization by the literature of Muslim scholars like Muhammad Iqbal, Abul Ala Mududi, ‘Islam at the Cross Roads’ by Muhammad Asad, and from the literature of western authors, e.g. History of ‘Conflict between Religion and Science’, Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of European Morals’, Robert’s ‘The making of Humanity’[ii], etc. Moreover, he insinuated of Western civilization by the several tours of Europe, which provided him the chance to study the West and its lifestyle intimately. He expresses his feelings about his tour of Europe in such words:
“The tour of Europe had given me the opportunity to see, at first hand, the major centers of Western Civilization about which so much had been said in the book. I also made use of the material available in the British Museum and other well-known libraries in the European countries I visited.” ([iii])
Sayed Abul Hassan Ali had the occasion to meet and converse with different orientalists in Europe. In one of his letters, he evinced his reflections about the western civilization that, neither I have manifested an excessive realistic portrayal, nor with prejudice, and this is the matter of fact
that without personal observation it is difficult to deliver any judgment about the goodness and falsehood of this civilization.([iv]) It was the result of his frequent visits of Europe and America that he depicted an apt picture of the West in front of the Muslims living abroad and in the Muslim countries, and warned them regarding the merits and demerits of western civilization.