ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Marathi Public Intellectual

Remembering Fakruddin H Bennur

Fakruddin H Bennur was the driving force behind the Muslim Marathi Sahitya Parishad and Muslim Other Backward Classes’ movement in Maharashtra. He sought to counter the communal distortion of Indian history by questioning its assumptions rooted in orientalist historiography. Debunking the view that Muslims in India are a homogeneous monolith, he emphasised the regional, linguistic, cultural diversities and traditions of syncretism. 

Fakruddin H Bennur, a prominent public intellectual and political scientist, passed away on 17 August 2018, at the age of 80. He had taught political science for almost 32 years in Sangameshwar College, Solapur. His family hailed from Hubli in north Karnataka, but his father had migrated to Solapur. Bennur represented the synthesis of Marathi and Kannada cultures. He admirably harmonised his social activism with a career in academics, involving himself in public projects that had affirmative implications for social change. Though he was proficient in English, he chose to write only in Marathi.

He realised that partition in 1947 had put Muslims in a precarious position where they were likely to be accused of nurturing “extraterritorial loyalties” for Pakistan. Bennur was of the view that Muslims were considered a homogeneous monolith and even progressive intellectuals avidly discussed the “Muslim problem” in those terms. He was of the opinion that a majority of Indian intellectuals sought to understand Muslim history and society through the prism of orientalist historiography. In Maharashtra, there were three groups of intellectuals writing on the “Muslim question” (Muslim prashna). The first comprised Hindutva writers who liberally borrowed from British historians to substantiate their communal interpretations of Islam. The second group was made up of liberal and secular intellectuals who were genuinely interested in modernisation of Muslim society, but relied heavily upon orientalist historiography to make their arguments. Hamid Dalwai, A B Shah, Narhar Kurundkar, and M A Karandikar were prominent among them. They were influential intellectuals and at times their writings—particularly Kurundkar’s—shared a strange affinity with Hindutva views. The third set of intellectuals were Marxists who did not write much.

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Updated On : 6th Sep, 2018

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