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Rekhta Faces Backlash, Removes Ilmuddin Biography Amidst Outcry from Hindu Groups

Rekhta, an online portal, dedicated to Urdu literature, recently removed a biography ‘Sawaneh Umri Ghazi Ilmuddin Shaheed’ by Mohammad Afzal Hashmi from its online directory.

The book ‘glorified’ the killing of Mahashey Rajpal, a Hindu publisher who was killed by Ilmuddin, a Muslim carpenter, in 1929 for publishing a book that allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

The book, by Mohammad Afzal Hashmi, which talks about Ilmuddin’s murder of Rajpal, was available on Rekhta’s website until recently when it was removed after an uproar from Hindu groups, who accused the portal of promoting an ‘Islamic agenda’.

Published in 1980, the book ‘Sawaneh Umri Ghazi Ilmuddin Shaheed’, was a response to ‘Rangeela Rasool’ (Colorful Prophet), a controversial book that satirized the marital life of the Prophet Muhammad and his wives.

The book was written by Pandit Chamupati, a member of the Hindu reformist Arya Samaj sect, and published by Rajpal in 1924.

The publication of ‘Rangeela Rasool’ sparked outrage among the Muslims, who demanded that the book be banned.

In 1927, the British Raj enacted a law prohibiting insults to the founders and leaders of religious communities. However, Rajpal was acquitted by the court, as the book was claimed to be based on the sources of Islamic scriptures.

It was during this time, that Ilmuddin, a 19-year-old Muslim, decided to take the law into his own hands and assassinated Rajpal in his shop in Lahore on April 6, 1929.

Ilmuddin, though, later executed by the state, was hailed as a martyr by many Muslims, including the renowned Muslim intellectuals and thinkers.

Rekhta, founded in 2013, as a non-profit organization by Sanjiv Saraf, is the largest online resource for Urdu books and literature. It notably features digital versions of numerous old and rare books.

The present edition of the controversial book was provided by Jamia Hamdard in Delhi. However, Rekhta has yet to release an official statement regarding the removal of the book.

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