November 4, 1935|
Ranchi, in erstwhile Bihar, now Jharkhand, India
|Died||March 4, 2017
|Occupation||Indian Muslim Leader, Politician, Diplomat|
Syed Shahabuddin (4 November 1935 – 4 March 2017) was an Indian politician and diplomat from Gaya, Bihar. He began as a diplomat working for the Indian Foreign Service, but later became well-known as one of the most articulate Muslim politicians of independent India. He switched careers after the Emergency, at the time when the Congress began its decline and Hindu fundamentalism first started its ascent to power. He served three terms from 1979 -1996 as a member of the Parliament of India. He is known for his leadership of the Muslim opposition to the Shah Bano case and the Demolition of Babri Masjid. He died in March 2017 of long-term asthma, at a hospital near his residence in Delhi, India.
Syed Shahabuddin served as a diplomat, an ambassador, and a politician. His first posting, under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was as Acting Consul-General in New York. He went onto serve in Rangoon, Burma, as Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and later as Ambassador to Venezuela and Algeria from 1969 to 1976. At the time of his premature voluntary retirement in 1978, Shahabuddin was the Joint Secretary in charge of South East Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific in the Ministry of External Affairs, under External Affairs Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Upon voluntary retirement, with the help of his ex-boss Atal Behari Vajpayee, he was nominated by the Janata Party to a Rajya Sabha seat in 1979. Later, from 1984-96 he represented Kishanganj, Bihar as his Lok Sabha constituency. He is known for his strong belief in the federal structure of India and his desire to see more people participating at every level of governance. He has often called for persistent action against corruption, nepotism, and inefficiency, for democracy within political parties and for equitable distribution of national income and resources in order to provide a life of minimum dignity for all people. In Parliament, he was well-known for his contributions to debates not only on Muslim issues, but also on areas ranging widely from External Affairs and Defence to Education and Health. Looking to build support for minority rights and Muslim issues, he founded the Insaf Party in 1989, dissolved it in 1990, and later revived it.
Throughout his political career, Syed Shahabuddin was involved with many Muslim institutions and organisations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Babari Masjid Action Committee. From 2004 to 2011, he was the President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella organisation of eminent Muslim individuals and organisations, headquartered in New Delhi, India. He continued to guide the organisation until his death in 2017. He created, edited, and published the prestigious monthly journal Muslim India between 1983 and 2006, as a source of reference and research on all matters of interest to Muslims in India. The journal is not only a historical chronicle of the times, but his monthly editorials in it speak of his erudition and his vision for the country.
Syed Shahabuddin was born in Ranchi, in erstwhile Bihar, now in Jharkhand. He was brought up in his family home in Gaya, and attended Patna University for MSc and LLB. During his university years, he became well-known as a student leader throughout Bihar. Throughout his educational career, he was famed for having topped every school, Bihar board, and Patna University exam, and has remained famous in Bihar for his genius, which was combined with rare leadership, and debating skills.
He was involved with many Muslim institutions and organizations including the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, of which he was the President between 2004 and 2011.
Shahabuddin edited the research monthly journal Muslim India between 1983 and 2006. He was a regular contributor to journals, newspapers, and TV discussions relating to Muslim issues & current affairs.
Shahabuddin has received criticism for his failure to bring major changes to his 'backward' constituency of Kishanganj. He has also received criticism for his open letter to Narendra Modi on 16 November 2012, regarding Muslim issues.
Syed Shahabuddin: Outstanding Voice of Muslim India was compiled by Mushtaque Madni and published by P.A. Inamdar. It was released on 21 April 2013.
- Website of Syed Shahabuddin , Retrieved on 3 February 2013
- "Syed Shahabuddin on his life and politics", NewAgeIslam.com, Retrieved on 3 February 2013
- "Shahabuddin says didn’t ask Muslims to back Modi", IndianExpress.com, Retrieved on 3 February 2013
- "Muslim Voters See Some Signs Of Change In Your Attitude", OutlookIndia.com, Retrieved on 3 February 2013
- Syed Shahabuddin: Outstanding Voice of Muslim India