Sacrifice


Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)  said: 

‘‘The inspirational achievements of Hadrat [Mawlana Muhammad Qasim] Nanautwi and Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind (Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi), may Allah sanctify their secrets, are guiding lights for us.’’ 

Malfuzat Hadrat Madani, p.70 (Delhi: Dar al-Isha‘at, July 1998 ed.) by Mawlana Abu ‘l-Hasan Barah Bankwi

Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi[1]

(1238-1302 /1823-1885) 

 

Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar ibn Lutf ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Hasan al-Siddiqi al-Hanafi Nanautwi—the righteous imam, ‘arif (knower of Allah) and mujahid—was amongst the leading scholars of fiqh, hadith, and tasawwuf in his time. 

A descendant of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), he was born in Nanautah, a village in the district of Saharanpur (UP, India). He initially studied under his father with whom he completed the memorization of the Qur’an (hifz).  He then travelled to Delhi, where he studied under Mufti Sadr al-Din Dehlawi, Mawlana Rashid al-Din Khan, the teacher of many shaykhs Mawlana Mamluk al-‘Ali Nanautwi, Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri and Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani Dehlawi. He studied some books of hadith from the renowned scholar of hadith Shah Muhammad Ishaq Dehlawi, the great grandson of Shah Wali Allah Dehlawi and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi. 

After studying in Delhi, Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi occupied himself in correcting manuscripts (tas’hih) at the publishing house of Nawlkashur. Later he taught Islamic sciences at Ajmer College, and then at Agra College. 

The Battle of Shamli 

In 1273/1857, Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar fought against the British in the Battle of Shamli under the leadership of Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki, alongside senior scholars such as Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi, Hafiz Zamin Shahid, Mawlana Rahmat Allah Kiranwi and his own younger brother Mawlana Muhammad Munir Nanautwi. It was in this battle that he sustained serious wounds. 

Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi relates: 

‘‘It was the habit of Mawlana Mazhar Nanautwi that he would often lick his upper lip. Someone once asked him the reason for this, but the respected Mawlana did not inform him. When this person insisted, Mawlana remarked, ‘When the battle against the British took place at Shamli, and the Muslims were being attacked, some of my comrades were dying and my leg was also hit by a bullet (due to which it became paralysed). In this state, I saw Hurs (damsels of Paradise) with glasses in their hands. The glasses were filled with a special type of drink that they were giving to those of my fallen comrades who were dying and had no chance of surviving. As this was happening, one of the damsels came towards me. She had just placed a glass against my mouth when another damsel took hold of her hands, pulled them away [from me] and said, ‘He is not among those who are to pass away.’ A very small amount of this drink fell on my upper lip, the [sweet] taste of which remains till today. This is why I have this habit [of licking my upper lip.]” [2] 

After the battle was over, Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar went into hiding at Bareilly. Once a general amnesty was declared, he emerged from hiding and thereafter began teaching at his home. 

Teaching the Islamic Sciences 

Many students studied fiqh, usul al-fiqh (principles of Islamic law), kalam (scholastic theology), mantiq (classical logic), Arabic grammar and other related sciences from him. 

In Shawwal 1283/February 1867, he was appointed headteacher at a madrasah founded in Saharanpur by Mawlana Sa‘adat ‘Ali Saharanpuri, the well-known jurist (faqih), who was a participant of the 1273/1857 jihad and a devoted follower of Shah Ahmad ibn ‘Irfan Barelwi—the martyr of Balakot.[3] When this madrasah progressed and an exclusive building was established for it, it was named Mazahir-e-‘Ulum in Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar’s honour. He exerted his efforts in teaching the Qur’an and Sunnah (hadith), and in disseminating knowledge and the Islamic sciences. He was also involved with the administration of Mazahir-e-‘Ulum at every level and taught there until the end of his life. During his nineteen years at Mazahir-e-‘Ulum he taught all the six canonical collections of hadith as well Mu’atta Imam Malik, Shama’il al-Tirmidhi and Sunan al-Darimi. He taught [from the] various renowned commentaries of the Qur’an as well as Durr al-Mukhtar and other famous works of Hanafi fiqh and usul al-Fiqh. He toiled hard to ensure that the madrasah maintained a high academic standard and he succeeded in doing so. This was acknowledged and appreciated by scholars associated with the madrasah, including Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. It is testimony to the efforts and sincerity of Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi that after his death the consultative committee of Mazahir-e-‘Ulum were unable to find anyone of his calibre to replace him in his all-encompassing role at the madrasah

He had many outstanding students; most prominent amongst them was the eminent hadith scholar Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri.[4] Hujjat al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi, founder of the renowned Islamic seminary, Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, also studied some primary books[5] under his tutelage. 

He also assisted in completing Ghayat al-Awtar, the Urdu translation of Imam ‘Ala’ al-Din al-Haskafi’s al-Durr al-Mukhtar, as stated in its introduction by Mawlana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautwi.[6] 

From the legacy of Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi’ is the continuous chain of exceptional hadith scholars that have graduated from Mazahir-e-‘Ulum, which include and is not limited to the likes of: 

  • Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri
  • ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani
  • Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi
  • Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Kamilpuri
  • Mawlana Muhammad Idris Kandhlawi
  • Mawlana Ashfaq al-Rahman Kandhlawi
  • Mawlana Muhammad Ayyub Saharanpuri
  • Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi
  • Mawlana Badr-e-‘Alam Miruthi,
  • Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Yunus Jonpuri.

His Characteristics and the Spiritual Path 

He trod the path of tasawwuf under the guidance of Shaykh al-Sunnah Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, who granted him permission (ijazah) to initiate others into the path. This despite him being older than his beloved shaykh

Mawlana Qari Muhammad Tayyib Qasimi relates from his father, Mawlana Muhammad Ahmad Qasimi: 

‘‘Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi once saw Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi in a dream, sitting on a throne. Mawlana (who was older than the two shaykhs) relayed the dream in a letter to Haji Imdad Allah in which he also requested him to accept his bay‘ah (pledge of spiritual purification). In reply, Haji Imdad Allah interpreted the dream by instructing him to give bay‘ah to either one of the two [shaykhs]. Therefore, Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar brought the letter to Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi and requested him to accept his bay‘ah. Embarrassed, Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi replied, ‘Accept my bay‘ah instead!’ Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar remarked, ‘Here, this is the letter [of Haji Imdad Allah] and this is the instruction.’ Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi then said, ‘Let me give you some sound advice. Proceed to Gangoh.’ Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar went there. At first, Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi also declined. He, however, later accepted bay‘ah.’’ [7]

Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi would express his embarrassment at the love, respect and veneration afforded him by Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi. Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi was a person of great insight (basirat). The respect he showed his shaykh due to his eminence and lofty rank, and the love he felt for him, was natural for him as a disciple. However, Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was unable to disregard his disciple’s seniority in age and felt obliged to act according to the blessed words of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), ‘‘He who does not have mercy on our young, and does not respect our elders is not of us.’’ (Tirmidhi

Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi was also granted ijazah in tasawwuf by Shaykh al-‘Ulama’ Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki, in whose heart he held a special place, as indicated in his letters (maktubat).

Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi was from amongst the ascetic and righteous ‘ulama’; he would be referred to in matters of fiqh. He was an erudite scholar of the rational (ma‘qul), literary (lughawi), and Islamic sciences, who embodied Shari‘ah and Tariqah. He would habitually use perfume when reciting the Qur’an in tarawih prayers. He would refrain from affectation (takalluf) and was an awe-inspiring person; very few people would have the courage to speak in his presence. He was known for his simplicity, humbleness, piety, intelligence and wisdom.   

Mawlana Sayyid Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi wrote of him: 

‘‘He was a scholar of deep learning, who had mastery over the [Islamic] sciences. He gave bay‘ah to Imam Rashid Ahmad ibn Hidayat Ahmad Gangohi, who granted him ijazah. He would recite the Qur’an often, would be constantly engaged in the remembrance of Allah, and his tongue would remain moist with [the utterance of] Ism al-Dhat (Allah). He remained aloof from affectation, was an ascetic of an austere nature, dignified and was awe-inspiring.’’ [8]

 Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya writes in Tarikh-e-Mazahir-e-‘Ulum (History of Mazahir-e-‘Ulum):    

‘‘Mawlana Mazhar Nanautwi had very close relationships with Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi and Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. Despite being senior in age to Mawlana Gangohi, he was from amongst his deputies (khalifahs) and beloved servants.  In fact he was an ardent lover of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and was extremely devoted to him. He had great understanding of fiqh and hadith. He was an Allah-fearing, pious, soft-natured and virtuous saint. ’’[9]

Journeys on Hajj 

His first Hajj, in which Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi and Mawlana Ya‘qub Nanautwi accompanied him, was performed in 1277/1861. He performed his second Hajj in 1294/1877 in the company of his shaykh Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi, Mawlana Ya‘qub Nanautwi, Mawlana Shah Rafi‘ al-Din, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan and others.  

Famous Brothers 

He had two brothers, both younger than him, who were accomplished scholars. 

The elder of the two, Mawlana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautwi, was a prominent Hanafi jurist who translated a number of classical works in Urdu. In contrast to his brothers, elders and companions, Mawlana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautwi actively opposed the jihad of 1273/1857. Due to this, under duress of the local populace, he was forced to leave Bareilly, his town of residence. He returned later, after the battle had ended. There, aided by his two brothers, Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar and Mawlana Muhammad Munir, he established a publishing house called Matba‘-e-Siddiqiyyah.[10] A number of brilliant works were published from there, including: 

  • A critical edition of Qadi ‘Iyad al-Maliki’s Al-Shifa’
  • Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi’s Tahdhir al-Nas
  • Various works of Hakim al-Islam Shah Wali Allah al-Dehlawi.  

Mawlana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautwi’s translations include: 

  • Imam Ghazali’s Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din
  • Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah’s Ighathat al-Luhfan
  • Shah Wali Allah Dehlawi’s Al-Insaf fi Bayan Sabab al-Ikhtilaf and Al-‘Iqd al-Jid fi Ahkam al-Ijtihad wa ‘l-Taqlid.  

He translated and annotated: 

  • Imam al-Nasafi’s Kanz al-Daqa’iq
  • The latter part of ‘Allamah al-Haskafi’s Durr al-Mukhtar.  

 He also annotated the following works of Shah Wali Allah Dehlawi: 

  • Qurrat al-‘Aynayn fi Tafdil al-Shaykhayn
  • Izalat al-Khafa’ ‘an Khilafat al-Khulafa’
  • His Magnus opus Hujjat Allah al-Balighah.

He also collated the juridical edicts (fatwas) of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi. 

Mawlana Muhammad Ahsan was wrongly and unjustly declared an unbeliever by some ‘ulama of Bareilly[11] when he attested to a verdict of the famed scholar ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lucknowi, in which the latter had authenticated the narration of Sayyiduna ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) regarding the creation of seven Earths and the existence of Prophets on each of them.[12] 

His teachers included Mawlana Mamluk al-‘Ali Nanautwi, Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri and the renowned hadith scholar Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani Dehlawi, from whom he also received ijazah in tasawwuf. Luminaries with whom he enjoyed close relationships included: 

  • Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani Dehlawi
  • Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki
  • Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri
  • Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi
  • Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi
  • Mawlana Nur al-Hasan Kandhlawi
  • ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lucknowi
  • Mawlana Muhammad Husayn Muradabadi
  • Shaykh Nihal Ahmad Deobandi
  • Mawlana Fayd al-Hasan Saharanpuri.

 

He lies buried in the Qasimi cemetery in Deoband alongside Mawlana Dhu ‘l-Fiqar ‘Ali, father of Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi. 

The youngest brother, Mawlana Muhammad Munir Nanautwi, was a student of Mawlana Mamluk al-‘Ali Nanautwi, Mufti Sadr al-Din Dehlawi and Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani Dehlawi. He served as a principal of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband for a short period upon the request of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. He also actively fought alongside senior ‘ulama’ in the battle of Shamli in 1273/1857. He was heavily involved with Mawlana Muhammad Ahsan’s publishing house, Matba‘-e-Siddiqiyyah. His academic works include an Urdu translation of Imam Ghazali’s Minhaj al-‘Abidin. He had a very close relationship with Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi and was particularly known for his knowledge, piety, honesty and integrity. 

Final Illness and Death  

Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi endured pain in his kidneys for a number of years and passed away at the age of sixty-four (Islamic years) after Maghrib prayers on the evening of Monday 24th Dhu ‘l-Hijjah 1302/October 1885. During his final illness, he would often touch his forehead searching for traces of sweat, as according to the Prophetic hadith it is a sign of a believer’s death. When his death was near and he began sweating from his forehead, his face lit up with joy. He was not survived by any children. 

May Allah enlighten his resting place. May Allah shower His mercy upon him and grant him, his teachers and students the highest stations in Paradise. Amin.


[1]               Adapted from Al-I‘lam bi man fi Tarikh al-Hind min al-A‘lam (also known as Nuzhat al-Khawatir), Akabir ‘Ulama’-e-Deoband, Hadrat Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi awr unke Khulafa’, Awjaz al-Masalik ila Mu’atta al-Imam Malik, Tadhkirat al-Rashid, Tarikh-e-Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband and other sources.   

[2]               Malfuzat-e-Faqih al-Ummat (Karachi: Dar al-Huda, September 2005 ed.) Vol 3, p. 264-265 by Mufti Muhammad Faruq Mirathi.

[3]               One of the greatest spiritual guides of the Indian sub-continent in the last few centuries. He is popularly known as Sayyid Ahmad Shahid.

[4]               Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri’s love for his teacher can be gauged from the fact that when he became extremely ill in 1340/1922, he wrote in his will, ‘Bury me beside my teacher Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi.’ (See Sawanih ‘Ulama’-e-Deoband (Deoband: Nawaz Publications, Jan 2000 ed.), Vol 1, p. 502-503)

[5]               Mawlana Anwar al-Hasan Sherkoti writes in Anwar-e-Qasimi that Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi studied Sharh Mi’ah ‘Amil, Hidayat al-Nahw, ‘Ilm al-Sighah and other books from Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi. (See Sawanih ‘Ulama’-e-Deoband (Deoband: Nawaz Publications) Vol 1, p. 501)

[6]              See Ghayat al-Awtar (Karachi: H M Sa‘eed Company, 1398 AH ed.) Vol 1, p.10

[7]               Arwah-e-Thalathah, also known as Hikayat-e-Awliya’ (Karachi: Darul Isha‘at, December 2001 ed.) p. 227-228.

[8]               Al-I‘lam bi man fi Tarikh al-Hind min al-A‘lam also known as Nuzhat al-Khawatir (Idara Ta’lifat-e-Ashrafia, 1413/1993) Vol 7, p. 480 by Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Hasani Nadwi and Mawlana Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi.

[9]               Akabir ‘Ulama’-e-Deoband (Lahore: Idara Islamiat, Ramadhan 1419/January 1999 ed.) p.37-38 by Hafiz Sayyid Muhammad Akbar Shah Bukhari.

[10]             See footnote in ‘Ulama’-e-Hind ka Shandar Madi (Karachi: Maktabah Rashidia, 1406/1986 ed.) p.306 by Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad Miyan.

[11]             Mawlana Naqi ‘Ali Khan, father of Mawlana Ahmad Ridha Khan, in particular.

[12]             See Sawanih ‘Ulama’-e-Deoband (Deoband: Nawaz Publications, Jan 2000 ed.), Vol 1, p. 529-534 for details.

Mawlana ‘Ubayd Allah Sindhi writes: 

‘‘Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan was my teacher. During my stay at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband my sole reliance was upon him. His father’s name was Dhu ‘l-Fiqar ‘Ali. His genealogy stretches back to the Umayyad branch of the Quraysh. 

Mawlana Mahmud Hasan was born in 1268 AH/1851 CE. He gained primary education from his father and paternal uncle. He gained admission into the Madrasah of Deoband when it was founded in 1283 AH /1866 CE, and studied under Mawlana Muhammad Ya‘qub ibn Mamluk ‘Ali and Mawlana Mahmud Deobandi. He remained in the company of Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim [Nanautwi] and benefited from him immensely[1]. He sought permission from Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali [Saharanpuri], Shaykh Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi and Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman Panipati[2] to teach and impart knowledge. Considering him worthy of such a post, they all granted him ijazah. 

When Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad Qasim visited Madinah, he also obtained ijazah for Mawlana Mahmud Hasan from Mawlana ‘Abd al-Ghani[3]. Apart from him, Mawlana Mahmud Hasan also derived benefit from Haji Imdad Allah in compliance with the instruction of Mawlana Muhammad Qasim. 

From among the elders who attained knowledge from Mawlana Muhammad Qasim, three came to be especially renowned and distinguished. However, from them, Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind loved his teacher the most. He was the chief inheritor of his teacher’s knowledge, and was his most ardent follower. I studied Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim’s book Hujjat al-Islam from him. Whilst studying the book, I would, at times, feel as if knowledge and faith were descending into my heart from above. My belief regarding the blessed person of Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind is that he was naturally endowed with intelligence and sagacity. He may be considered amongst those [learned] personalities whom, in the terminology of Shah Wali Allah, are called ‘mufahhamun[4].’  He was greatly devoted to his teacher and would zealously attempt to follow him. He inherited the disposition [nisbat] of humility and selflessness from Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim. Shah Wali Allah has identified this nisbat as that of the Ahl al-Bayt in his books. Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind passed away on the 18th of Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1339 AH, corresponding to the 3rd of November 1920 CE, a full one hundred years after the death of Imam ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [Dehlawi][5].’’ 

Shah Wali Allah awr unki Siyasi Tehrik, p. 203-204 (Sindh Sagar Academy, 2008 ed.) by Mawlana ‘Ubayd Allah Sindhi 


[1]               Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan’s study of hadith was completed between 1286 AH and 1289 AH, over a period of four years, under the guidance of Lisan al-Hikmah Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi. The first two of these years were spent, not in a Dar al-Hadith, but while alternating between Delhi, Deoband and Nanautah, with Shaykh al-Hind accompanying his beloved teacher constantly, diligently serving him and acquiring his wisdom and knowledge. (translator)  

[2]              All of whom were students of Shah Muhammad Ishaq Dehlawi. (translator)

[3]               Mawlana Miyan Asghar Husayn Deobandi writes that Mawlana Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani also granted Shaykh al-Hind ijazah in tasawwuf. (Please see Hayat-e-Shaykh al-Hind) (translator)

[4]               For a detailed explanation of this term please refer to Imam Shah Wali Allah’s Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Bab Haqiqat al-Nubuwwah wa Khawassiha (chapter 55 of the English rendering by Marcia Hermansen. (translator)

[5]               This may be significant as Mawlana ‘Ubayd Allah Sindhi considers the Deobandi political movement, of which Shaykh al-Hind was a leader, an evolvement of the movement led by Imam Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi. Please refer to Mawlana ‘Ubayd Allah’s Shah Wali Allah awr unki Siyasi Tehrik.  (translator) 

May Allah Shower His mercy upon all the honourable ‘ulama’ mentioned above.

Hadrat Ji Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi, the 2nd Amir of the Tablighi Jama‘at wrote regarding Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah shower His Mercy upon them): 

‘‘In the chain of the great luminaries of Islam, Hadrat Shaykh al-‘Arab wa ‘l-‘Ajam (Shaykh of the Arabs and non-Arabs), the great warrior of Islam, lover of immigration and Jihad, adherent to the sunnah, flag-bearer of the knowledge of Islam, leader of the ‘ulama, Muhaddith of the time, jurist of the era, most abstinent from the world and desirous of the hereafter, most enduring and generous, and the least formal Hadrat Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) also occupies a place. Whatever can be written regarding Hadrat is only the little which we had in front of us and could see. The true treasures of man are what lie hidden within. These treasures are hidden in the bosoms of man and shall only be made apparent in the next world. Only Almighty Allah knows what pleasures had filled the heart of this great personality, due to which he was able to bear the severest of difficulties during every juncture of his life for the revival of the spirit of Iman. Spending the last moments of his life in cries and du‘as in front of Almighty Allah, Hadrat handed his soul over to his beloved Master.’’ 

Biography of Shaikhul Islam Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani (Jointly published by Madrasah Arabia Islamia (Azadville) and Zam Zam Publishers (Pakistan), Jumada ‘l-Ula 1428 / May 2007 ed.) p.35, translated by Mawlana Ridwan Kajee. 

Note: Spellings of some words have been edited when reproducing this translation.

Highlighting the continuous sacrifices of Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani, Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi (may Allah shower His mercy upon them both) related: 

‘‘Shaykh al-Islam Hadrat Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani once stood up to give a speech in Deoband whilst his eyes were heavy with sleep. He asked, ‘Brothers! Will you grant me permission to sleep for a little while, as I have been unable to lie down for eleven nights? I will continue my speech later.’’ 

Malfuzat Faqih al-Ummat (Karachi: Dar al-Huda, ) Vol 1, p. 205-206 compiled by Mufti Muhammad Faruq Mirathi

Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Aslam Shaikhpuri (may Allah protect him) writes: 

”Hadrat Mawlana Khayr Muhammad Jalandhari, who is among the special khalifahs of Mawlana [Ashraf 'Ali] Thanawi, relates: ‘Hadrat Thanawi said regarding Hadrat [Mawlana Husayn Ahmad] Madani in my presence, ‘Our elders of Deoband possess, by the bounty of Allah, some special qualities. Shaykh Madani has, in particular,   two God-given excellent qualities which exist in him to the highest degree. One is mujahadah (striving for the sake of Allah), which no one else has as much as him. The second is humility. Therefore, despite being everything, he considers himself nothing.”      

(Heyrat Angeyz Waqi’at, p. 212, citing Takmilah Al-I’tidal) 

Chalis Barey Musalman (Karachi: Idarat al-Qur’an, November 2000 ed.) Vol. 1, p.513

Hadrat Mawlana Ihtisham al-Hasan Kandhlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) writes:

”Hadrat Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would say that from among the students of Shah Muhammad Ishaq [Dehlawi] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), three were extremely pious (muttaqi). The most pious was Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn [Kandhlawi] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him).[1] The second was Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani [Dehlawi] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)[2] and the third was Nawab Qutb al-Din Khan (may Allah shower His mercy upon him).[3]”


[1] Hadrat Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn Kandhlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) was among the senior scholars of his age. He was renowned for his exemplary piety (taqwa) and strict adherence to the sunnah. (translator)

[2] A descendant of Mujaddid Alf-e-Thani Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi. He was among the greatest hadith scholars of his age. In order to appreciate his high standing as a scholar and spiritual guide it would perhaps suffice to say that his students and khulafa’ (spiritual successors) include the likes of Hadrat Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri, Hadrat Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Hadrat Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi, Hadrat Mawlana Ya‘qub Nanautwi, Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi, Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautwi, Hadrat Shah Rafi‘ al-Din et al. (may Allah shower His mercy upon them all). (translator)

[3] He was among the prominent scholars of hadith and fiqh in 13th century India. He is perhaps most well known for his Urdu commentary of Mishkat al-Masabih, entitled Mazahir-e-Haq. He passed away in Makkah al-Mukarramah in 1289 AH. (translator)

 

Sawanih ‘Ulama’-e-Deoband (Deoband: Nawaz publications) Vol. 1, p. 228, compiled by Dr. Nawaz Deobandi.

Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya’s Written Works

 

According to Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad Shahid Saharanpuri, the written works of his maternal grandfather, Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (may Allah illuminate his grave) amount to a hundred and three (103). From these, fourty-two (42) have been published, while sixty-one (61) remain unpublished.

 

A breakdown of subjects the eminent Shaykh wrote on is below:

 

·        Tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis): Two (2) books

·        Hadith: Sixty (60) books

·        Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh (Islamic Law and its principles): Four (4) books

·        Tarikh and Sirah (History and the life of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace): Twenty-two (22)

·        Tajwid and Qira’ah (Qur’anic recitation and its rules): Two (2) books

·        Arabic Grammar, Classical Logic (Mantiq) and geometry: Three (3) books

·        Suluk and Ihsan (Sufism or Tasawwuf): Three (3) books

·        In defence Of Islam: Four (4) books

·        Miscellaneous subjects: Three (3) books

 

Of Interest:

 

Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya began compiling Tarikh Masha’ikh-e-Chisht (Lives Of Shaykhs Of The Chishti Order) in 1335 AH (1918 CE). However, due to his academic occupations he was unable to complete it. It was completed some fifty-seven years later by Mawlana Muhammad Shahid Saharanpuri (under the dictation of Shaykh al-Hadith) and published in Rabi‘ al-Awwal, 1392 AH (April 1972 CE).

 

Adapted from Dhikr-e-Zakariyya (Markaz al-Shaykh Abi ’l-Hasan al-Nadwi, 2006 CE/1426 AH ed.) p. 396

 

Note: For details on Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya’s unpublished works please refer to Mawlana Muhammad Shahid Saharanpuri’s article in the aforementioned book (p. 395-410), or in his Fihrist Ta’lifat-e-Shaykh, published in three-volumes.

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful 

As-salamu ‘alaykum,   

Below is a link to a wonderful talk given by Mawlana Nabeel Khan (of www.annoor.wordpress.com) regarding the ‘Ulama and Masha’ikh of Deoband, entitled, ‘Those were our Forefathers’.  The Shaykh gives us a glimpse into the lives of various Masha’ikh affiliated to Dar al-’Ulum Deoband. 

 

Recommended listening for anyone who has a nisbat to this noble group of ‘Ulama and for those who wish to know more about them.   Click here to listen to the talk.

 

 

Mauritanian Shuyukh on the Deobandi ‘Ulama

 

Introduction

 

Several months ago, Pearls of the Elders received an email from a Mauritanian student of the Sacred Sciences who expressed admiration and love for the ‘ulama of Deoband. In a subsequent email, he sent a fascinating account of how the erudite ‘ulama of Mauritania had come to know of the ‘ulama of Deoband and how they had benefited from them, especially their books.

 

The student, who asked his name not be published, became acquainted with the writings of the blessed scholars of India and Pakistan through the effort of tabligh. With his permission, Pearls would like to share this email with our readers and hope it will be a means of kindling the love of, and respect for, the ‘ulama of Deoband.

 

The email has been edited to make it suitable for a wider readership. Translations of Arabic words, relevant footnotes and subheadings have also been added.

 

He wrote:

 

Brother Abu Unaysah, wa ‘alaykum salaam wa rahmatullah,

 

I wanted to take some time out to write this because it is an important subject.

I was first introduced to the Deobandi ‘ulama through the effort of tabligh when I was in the USA. I lived there from 1996 to 2004. Obviously, I benefited greatly from the elders of tabligh. From an academic perspective though, it was from Hadhrat Shaykh Zakariyya Kandhlawi’s writings that I benefited the most. These include the books of fadha’il,[1] the English translation of his commentary of Shama’il al-Tirmidhi and his autobiography, Aap Beti, which I have read several times and greatly benefited from.

 

I often tell my close friends that people who have children — as well as people who wish to understand how important it is to be associated with the mashayikh of tasawwuf — must read Aap Beti.

 

Sometimes our brothers fail to realise how much Mawlana Ilyas Kandhlawi (rahimahullah) and Mawlana Yusuf Kandhlawi (rahimahullah) relied on Hadhrat Shaykh Zakariyya (rahimahullah) to advance the effort of tabligh.  Understanding this would help the brothers associate themselves more assiduously to the ‘ulama; our elders still insist on this in their lectures. We ask Allah for tawfeeq.

 

Studying in Mauritania

 

Mauritania is a very poor country and the ‘ulama here, for the most part, have remained in the country. A few have had the opportunity to travel and bring books back from countries such as Egypt and Morocco.

 

Of course, a couple of hundred years ago, printing did not exist so certain books were copied on manuscripts etc. The teaching style in Mauritania is very different from other parts of the world. Generally it is based on memorising a matn (text) on a subject in the form of a nadhm (rhyming verses). The explanations and details of the texts are taken from the shaykh and his competent students.

 

For example, in nahw (Arabic grammar), the Alfiyyah of Ibn Malik (rahimahullah) is taught. In usul (principles of fiqh) it is the Kawkab of Imam Al-Suyuti (rahimahullah), or the Maraqi al-Sud of the Mauritanian scholar, Al-’Alawi (rahimahullah). Classical books and their commentaries on different subjects were brought to the country by those ‘ulama who travelled abroad.

 

Deobandi Books in Mauritania

 

Books written by Deobandi ‘ulama were introduced to our native Mauritanian ‘ulama very recently; I would say, in the past 20 to 30 years. The ‘ulama who have travelled abroad during the period when the works of some prominent Deobandi ‘ulama had been published did get access to them and benefited from them, as is evident by some of them quoting from their works.

 

One example is Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah al-Mayyaba (rahimahullah) who passed away in 1944. He was a great ‘alim and hafidh of hadith. It is said that he had memorised the six mutun (texts) of hadith with their sanad (chains of narration). He also wrote a nadhm on the importance of the Mu’atta [of Imam Malik] and a short commentary on it in which he repeatedly quotes from Shah Waliullah Dehlawi (rahimahullah).

 

Another interesting point is that Mawlana Yusuf Binnori (rahimahullah) has taken from him and was greatly impressed by him. In his introduction to Awjaz al-Masaalik,[2] Mawlana Yusuf Binnori (rahimahullah), when quoting Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah (rahimahullah), writes:  قال شيخنا بالإجازة (“Our shaykh in ijazah said…”)

 

I intend to further question some of our ‘ulama on how our elders have benefited from Indo-Pak ‘ulama and vice versa.

 

As you know, Al-Haramayan al-Sharifayn used to be a place where ‘ulama would meet and take from each other. For instance, Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri (rahimahullah) had an ijazah in hadith from Ibn Dahlan (rahimahullah), who resided in Makkah al-Mukarramah.

 

Awjaz al-Masalik in Mauritania

 

As far as contemporary Mauritanian ‘ulama are concerned, the ones I know here have benefited from Awjaz al-Masalik in ways that cannot be described. Hadhrat Shaykh’s (rahimahullah) work can be most greatly appreciated by one who has studied fiqh, usul and Arabic in-depth; and alhamdulillah, these subjects are studied and mastered by the Mauritanian ‘ulama, hence their appreciation of the book to its fullest.

 

I have, alhamdulillah, gifted the book to five different ‘ulama — two of whom are considered among the most qualified fuqaha (jurists) here — and the comments I have received have been the same each time: “The person who wrote this is a real ‘alim,” or, “The book is greatly beneficial.”

 

This book is more so beneficial given that writings on hadith from our ‘ulama are very rare. Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah (rahimahullah) has written a commentary of Bukhari and Muslim (Zad al-Muslim fi ma Ittafaqa ‘alayhi al-Bukhari wa Muslim). His brother has also written a commentary of Bukhari, and al-’Alawi (rahimahullah) has compiled a nadhm on the terminology of hadith (mustalah al-hadith), which is a summary of the Alfiyya al-’Iraqi.

 

Hadith is studied in Mauritania on an individual basis. After a student has studied fiqh, nahw, mustalah of hadith, and balaghah and bayan (rhetoric), they have enough knowledge to study hadith through their own reading of the commentaries.

 

An Interesting Note on Hadhrat Shaykh Zakariyya’s Awjaz al-Masalik

 

One interesting thing to note is that Hadhrat Shaykh (rahimahullah) has quoted from the mu’tamad (relied upon) books of the different madhhabs in Awjaz al-Masalik and relied on them for giving the mashhur (well-known) opinion on a given madhhab.

This means that when a Maliki ‘alim reads Awjaz al-Masalik, he sees the evidences for the Maliki madhhab as he knows it from his long years of study as well as being able to benefit from Hadhrat Shaykh’s (rahimahullah) commentary on other aspects of the hadith.

 

Hadhrat Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri’s (rahimahullah) Badhl al-Majhud.

 

Another more recent and more obvious example of the benefit derived from the mashayikh of Deoband is Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri (rahimahullah)’s Badhl al-Majhud.[3]

 

I gifted the book to Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Ibn Ahmad al-Khadim[4] a year ago. He is an ‘allamah who has written on almost all subjects. The Shaykh is in his early 70s. He is without doubt among the five most knowledgeable ‘ulama in the country. Anyone who reads his writings can appreciate the depth of his knowledge. When I asked him a couple of months later if he had time to look into Badhl al-Majhud (he is busy teaching and writing all day; he teaches from 11am to Maghrib time with a break at Dhuhr time), he told me: “I have not had much time yet to look into it but I have benefited from it. There was a mas’alah (juristic problem) that had been unclear to me for a long while and I found the answer to it in there.”

 

For us who know Shaykh Muhammad Hassan, this means a thousand words. At the time when I gifted him the book and told him about Mawlana Khalil Ahmad, he said: “The ‘ulama of India are ‘ajeeb (wonderful), they are very strong Sunnis in their ‘aqidah (creed)”.

 

Sorry, I’m making this email long, but the subject deserves it. Insha-Allah I hope we can exchange correspondence in the future.

 

We have several books written by our ‘ulama here that may be of interest to your ‘ulama, and we’ll be happy to send copies. I can give you a list of the books and the subjects they deal with, or if there is a specific subject some are interested in you can send me that and I will tell you what we have available.

 

May Allah Almighty accept your efforts and please remember us in your du’a. Also, we’ll be happy to receive you as a guest for a short visit. There are three to four places here that are really worth visiting to meet the ‘ulama.

 

 


[1] Hadhrat Shaykh Zakariyya’s brilliant books of fadha’il — originally written in Urdu, and translated into several languages, including English, French, Persian, Gujarati and Bengali — consist of selected verses of the Qur’an, hadiths, their commentary and other material. The books are read globally and consist of: Stories of the Sahabah, Virtues of Salah, Virtues of the Qur’an, Virtues of Remembering Allah, Virtues of the Holy Month of Ramadan, Virtues of Invitation and Preaching, Virtues of Sending Salutations, Virtues of Charity and Virtues of Haj.

[2] Awjaz al-Masaalik is a multi-voluminous commentary of Imam Malik’s Mu’atta, authored by Hadhrat Shaykh. It has recently been researched under the supervision of Shaykh Taqiuddin Nadwi, a student of Hadhrat Shaykh, and republished in 18 large volumes by Dar al-Qalam in Damascus.

[3] Badhl al-Majhud is also a multi-voluminous commentary of Imam Abu Dawud’s Sunan; it was also recently researched and republished in 14 large volumes by Shaykh Taqiuddin and published by Dar al-Basha’ir al-Islamiyyah in Beirut.

[4]Shaykh Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Khadim is one of the most senior ‘ulama of Mauritania. Extremely pious and humble, the shaykh is a master in every field of the Islamic sciences, without exception. He is also the only Mauritanian scholar who has so many published works to his name (over 30), having written books on fiqh, usul al-fiqh, usul al-hadith and tasawwuf. Among his published works is a commentary on the Alfiyyah of Imam Suyuti (rahimahullah) in usul al-hadith, a commentary on the Nadhm of Jam’ al-Jawami’ of Imam Suyuti (rahimahullah) in usul al-fiqh, a commentary on the Nadhm of Imam al-Kafaf (rahimahullah) in Maliki fiqh and numerous books on tasawwuf.

He is also a senior Sufi shaykh of the Tijani tariqah and very strict in following the Sunnah and wary of bid’ah (innovation). The Shaykh also has great love for the ‘ulama of India and has great admiration for their service to hadith as can be noted from the above.

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