BOOKS ARE OXYGEN to me. As someone who has been under house arrest for three years, books have been my life support. I spend some five hours reading every day. These days, I’m reading the Tafsil-e-Quran, which gives you satisfaction and peace of mind, important for a person facing life’s ups and downs.
I was 20 when I read my first book, Haqeeqat-e-Zaqaat (The Essence of Charity) by Maulana Maududi. This book not only introduced me to his body of writing, but also to the political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, of which I became a member in 1953. It had such a tremendous impact on me that I immediately began to read his other books: Haqeeqat-e-Hajj (The Essence of Pilgrimage),Haqeeqat-e-Imam (The Essence of Leadership), Haqeeqat-e-Islam (The Essence of Islam),Haqeeqat-e-Jihad (The Essence of Holy War) and Haqeeqat-e-Salat (The Essence of Worship). Maududi urges everyone to select a mission that benefits people en masse.
I give these books the entire credit for whatever I am. These are the books that made me recognise that I must serve my people; that helped set me on the path I’ve taken; that instilled moral uprightness in me, prepared me to launch a legally justified resistance against New Delhi over the Kashmir dispute.
Other authors who have influenced me include Islamic scholars Ibn Taymiyyah and Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadwi, the Indian freedom struggle leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, whose newspapersAl Balagh and Al Hilal revolutionised the life of Muslims in the subcontinent, as well as Mohammad Ali Jouhar, the journalist and poet, and Urdu writer Muhammad Husain Azad.
I was a fan of Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, the Bangladeshi leader, whose Daur-e-Jadeed Ka Challenge (The Challenge of the Modern World) and Haqeeqat Ki Talaash (In Search of Truth) used a scientific approach to convey his message. Those interested in Islam or writing about the religion must first read the six volumes of Tahfeem-ul-Quran (Translation of the Holy Quran).
Mohammad Iqbal tops my list of poets. His poetry instills character; it has a message of peace, justice and sympathy. Faiz Ahmad Faiz and even Asadullah Khan Ghalib are worth reading too.