Known for its culture, literature and Islamic Mysticism, Qasba Rudauli in Faizabad District is not far away from the centers of Awadh region. Having won railway station, it is 91 km from Lucknow. Some say this town got its name after a ruler namely Rudra Mull and other give their opinion that it was named in the name of Rud Wali on his arrival in Rudauli Shareef.
Nawabi culture of Awadh, of which it is a part, is characterized with Ttameez-o-Tehzeeb (Etiquette and civility) and Nafasat-o-Nazakat (finesse) sweet sounding persianized Urdu, lavish living and indulgence in sensual pleasure.
The Zamindari feudal system provided them with a very comfortable life without lifting a finger. Their lands were cultivated by hired farmers and salaried munshees looked after other Zamindari affairs. After the fall of Nawabi Awadh and Zamindari abolition, life in Rudauli Sharif changed drastically. The landless zamindars could neither maintain their lavish lifestyle nor their “Havelis” (mansions). Some areas of the present day Rudauli look as if devastated by an earthquake. But every cloud has a silver lining. The fall of the Zamindars gave rise to the status of the much exploited farmers and other low class workers. Thus, the gap between the rich and the poor narrowed.
The teachings of the Sufi saints could be summarized as “Simple living and high thinking”. It is said about Rudauli that in spite of the downfall, people have still maintained relics of the old culture of the civility, finesse, hospitality and generosity. It must be the influence of Sufi Teachings which came to their rescue. Rudauli has been home to several Sufi saints. But most of revered of them all was Makhdoom Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Haq “Tosha” Rudauli whose “Urs” (Death Anniversary) is observed at the greatest scale, Qwwalis (spiritual songs) are sung throughout the “Urs”. Huge “Melas” (Fairs) are organized which attract enormous crowds of people of all faiths from the villages around Rudauli and also from nearby towns which provide an excellent opportunity for interfaith interaction and understanding. At this occasion, sometimes, Sufis from other countries such as Afghanistan also come visit this shrine. The population of Rudauli is predominantly Muslim even after the exodus to Pakistan. According to the 2011 Census Muslims are 50%.
Muharram in Rudauli is celebrated just like in Lucknow. The magnificent Masjid and Imambara built by a prominent Rudaulvi, Chowdhry Irshad Hussain is beautifully illuminated and there is daily Marsiya Khwani (recital of eulogies for the martyrs of Karbala).
Romance in Rudauli
The persons living in Rudauli are a romantic lot. There have always been “Laila Majnoon” affairs going on. The tragic love story of Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz is not secret in the literary world. He remained faithful to her beloved who was engaged to be married when they met and never married.
There have been many prominent Rudaulvis who were Urdu, Persian and Arabic scholars, theologians and philanthropists. Some of them are:
Chowdhry Seraj-ul-Haq was the first Rudaulvi to earn B.A. and L.L.B. Degrees, the first Zamindar to take up a government job and the first Rudaulvi to send his two daughters, Safia and Hameeda to university in late 1930s.
Chowdhry Mohammad Ali was an institution in himself – an original thinker, a flamboyant and dynamic personality, a romantic, a philanthropist, a social reformer and prolific writer who published a number of books on various subjects. He came from a Shia – Sunni mixed background and was often asked about his personal religion which he always gave as “humanism”.
Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz, an eminent romantic and revolutionary poet who died prematurely at 44 and left behind a collection of his poems, which earned enormous popularity. He was also famous for his witty remarks.
Safia (Serajul Haq) Jaan Nisar Akhtar was the first girl from Rudauli to go to the University, get a Master’s degree and teach at the university. Unfortunately, she also died young at age 37 leaving behind a book: “Andaz-e-Nazar”. A collection of critical essays and two volumes of her letters to her husband, “Zer-e-Lub” and “Hurf-e-Ashna” were published posthumously.
Hameeda (Seraj-ul-Haq) Salem also went to university soon after her sister Safia earned a Masters’ in Economics. She also taught and in her 70’s and 80’s wrote several books in Urdu.
Zarina (Farid-ul-Haq) Ahmad Bhatty: The first girl from Rudauli to go to London, England in 1951 and earn one degree from London School of Economics and one from School of African and Oriental Studies. One her return to India she taught at Delhi University and has been active in the feminist movement.
Dr. Mussayab Abbas “Sharib” Rudaulvi, served as Professor and Head of the Department of Urdu at Delhi University. He is India’s top literary critic in Urdu and has written more than two dozen books in his subject.
Zoya Hassan is the first girl from Rudauli to be a Professor of Political Science and the Dean of School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal University Delhi. She is a prolific writer and is best known for her works on the politics of Uttar Pradesh, ethnicity, gender and identity, and on Muslim woman in India. Other dignitaries include Javed Akhtar and Salman Akhtar including a number of freedom fighters.