Glistening Stars From India’s Old Educational Institute In Delhi
By Justice ʿAllāmah Khālid Maḥmūd
Translated by Mawlānā Abū Zaynab

Translator’s Foreword

Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd, the great mujāhid, Ḥanafī and Naqshbandī Ṣūfī, is an extremely misunderstood individual on the World Wide Web. Misconceptions and preconceptions about this individual—who was described, at the time of his death, by the likes of Mawlānā Faḍl-e-Ḥaq Khayrābādī as not just a molwī but rather the ḥakīm (physician) of the Ummah—are abound.

The following is a translation of some writing on the issue by Justice Dr. ʿAllāmah Khālid Maḥmūd. The text has been acquired from an excellent Urdu poster about the Walī Allāh camp, entitled “Glistening stars from India’s old educational institute in Delhi.” Biased individuals, while writing on this subject, have given the impression that many leading scions of the Walī Allāh camp were hostile to Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd (may Allāh shower him with His mercy). A thorough reading of the translation below shows otherwise.

This post is not directed at the antagonists of the Akābir of Deoband and their respected elders, but rather presented for the benefit of lay-Deobandīs (and those seeking justice) to gain insight into their shuyūkh and not be swayed by “popular trends” in pseudo-Islāmic thought. In fact many of the quotes mentioned by ʿAllāmah Khālid Maḥmud are from notable scholars, who are projected by these sectarian writers to have viewed Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd with disdain. The below demonstrates, with references, how such inferences are not only inaccurate but rather a gross misrepresentation of history. With the dawn of the blessed month, I hope and pray readers keep me close in their heartfelt supplications to the Almighty. ʿAllāmah Khālid Maḥmūd writes:

Ahl al-Bidʿat were against all of the ḥadīth scholars (muḥaddiths)

The Ahl al-Bid’at, who opposed Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd, were not only against him, they were, in the same way, also against Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq. In fact, in terms of Islāmic knowledge, they had rebelled against Ḥaḍrat Shāh Walī Allāh and his entire family.

Before Molwī Aḥmad Raḍa Khān, Molwī Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī (d. 1272AH) wrote in his Persian book Al-Bawāriq al-Muḥammadiyya bi Rajmī al-Shayātīn al-Najdiyya (The Muḥammadan Lightning in Striking The Najdī Satans):

The conclusion of everything that Shāh Walī Allāh has written shows that he is against the Ahl al-Sunnat wa al-Jamāʿat. Shāh Walī Allāh’s pious children[1] have not published and distributed these types of books (by Shāh Walī Allāh), and have kept (these books) hidden. It is as if they have veiled those words of their father that were unveiled.

Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī worked for the British and his plan against the ḥadīth scholars of Delhi remained unsuccessful. Haḍrat Shāh Walī Allāh was not alone in propagating tawhīd (monotheism) and the sunnat, and opposing shirk and bidʿat. Among his students were famous pious people such as Qāḍī Thanā Allāh Pānīpattī (d.1228AH). His son Haḍrat Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Muḥaddith Dehlawī (d.1239AH), and learned brother Shāh ʿAbd al-Qādir Muḥaddith Dehlawī (d.1230AH), Shāh Rafʿī al-Dīn Muḥaddith Dehlawī (d.1233AH), Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd (d.1246AH) and Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq (d.1262AH) were all of the same maslak (methodology). Their biggest mistake was that they strove hard in support of the noble Ṣaḥābah (may Allah be pleased with them). The Shīʿah did not wish that the Ahl al-Sunnat wa al-Jamāʿat remain united. For them, in order to protect themselves, creating internal disputes among the Ahl al-Sunnat was a major service to their people. Apart from his (Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd’s) family there were many other ʿulamā, who had complete faith in this family.

The view of Mawlānā Faḍl-e-Ḥaq Khayrābādī

The words uttered by Mawlānā Faḍl-e-Ḥaq Khayrābādī at the time of Mawlānā Ismāʿil’s death show that the ikhtilāf (difference) that existed between them was only of an academic (ilmi) sort, not of the type that would take one out of the fold of Ahl al-Sunnat.

When Mawlānā Faḍl-e-Ḥaq Khayrābādī heard the news of Mawlānā Ismāʿīl’s martyrdom, he said:

We do not consider Ismāʿīl to be just a molwī but rather the ḥakīm (physician) of the Ummat of Muḥammad (peace be upon him). There was nothing whose love and importance was not in his mind. If Imām Rāzī gained (knowledge) then he did so by inhaling the smoke of a lantern,[2] and Ismāʿīl gained (knowledge) only through his own competence and god given talent.

It can be understood from this that according to Mawlānā Faḍl-e-Ḥaq Khayrābādī, Mawlānā Ismāʿīl was on the truth. It is on account of this understanding that those from among his followers who are worthy of mention always remained connected to this family (the Walī Allāh family) and never allowed differences in masā’il to cause them to sever relations.

Mawlānā Aḥmad Raḍā Khān went to study under Mawlānā Faḍl-e-Ḥaq Khayrābādī’s son, Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Ḥaq Khayrābādī. However, Mawlānā Aḥmad Raḍā Khān returned having become upset with him.

Mawlānā Muʿīn al-Dīn Ajmerī – who is known as the ʿAllamah al-Zamān (The ʿAllamah of the Age) of the Khayrābādī maslak—disagreed with the takfīr of Mawlānā Aḥmad Raḍā Khān and even penned two books against him, Tajalliyāt Anwār al-Muʿallimīn (Divine Manifestations of the Radiances of the Teachers) and Al-Qawl al-Aẓhar (The Clear Word). In Tajalliyāt Anwār al-Muʿallimīn Mawlānā Muʿin al-Dīn has discussed the character of Mawlānā Aḥmad Raḍā Khān in great detail.

It should be noted that none of the other students of Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz and Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq supported Mawlānā Aḥmad Raḍā Khān. In defence of Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd, they all remained vociferous.

The view of Ṣadr al-Ṣūdūr Delhi Muftī Ṣadr al-Dīn

He wrote:

(I) saw Molwī Ismāʿīl and I never saw anyone like him. These people are those, in whose support the Almighty in chapter four, Surat Al ʿImrān has said…”

(Faḍā’il-e-ʿĀlim Ba-ʿAmal [Virtues of a Practicing Scholar]p.5)

The view of Ṣadr al-Ṣūdūr Molwī ʿAbd al-Qādir Rāmpūrī (d. 1265)

He wrote:

In Delhi, Molwī Ismāʿīl (the son of Molwī ʿAbd al-Ghanī, who was the son of Shāh Walī Allāh Muḥaddith Dehlawī)—who in being well-spoken, deriving rulings from texts and being of a sharp mind was a reminder of his grandfather and uncles—girded his loin in stopping people from bidʿat, which had become mixed into those actions of religion that are mustahab and wājib.”

(Waqāʿi ʿAbd al-Qādir Khānī [Stories of ʿAbd al-Qādir Khānī], Urdu translation, part 2, p. 233)

The view of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Rashīd al-Dīn Khān Kashmīrī

Mawlānā Rashīd al-Dīn Khān, one of Kashmir’s revered individuals, was the leading student of Ḥaḍrat Shāh Rafʿī al-Dīn Muḥaddith Dehlawī. He attained a sanad in ḥadīth from Ḥaḍrat Shāh ʿAbd al-Azīz, was an expert (imām-e-fan) in the Rawāfiḍ and a successor of Ḥaḍrat Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. His son Mawlānā Ṣadīd al-Dīn was the student of Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq. His enormous library was lost during the events of 1857. He said:

We are not as remorseful at having our library looted as we are at losing those footnotes (hāshiyat) that Mawlānā (Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd) wrote on religious books.”

(Akmal al-Bayān [The Complete Statement], p702)

The view of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Aḥmad al-Dīn Bughawī (d. 1286)

He was one of the senior students of Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq Dehlawī, however, Ḥaḍrat Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz handed him his sanad. It is mentioned in Ḥadā’iq al-Ḥanafiyyah (The Gardens of the Ḥanafis) (p. 504):

There is none in the Punjab who can escape from being his student. Some are direct, and others are indirect students of his.

He was asked regarding Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd. This was the eighth question out of ten. He said:

The warrior who left his homeland and who sacrificed himself in the path of Allāh, Molwī Muḥammad Ismāʿīl. On the outside, he left the world clean and pure… Whoever—with regards to such a distinguished scholar (ʿalim fāḍil) who was a follower of the sunnat—entertains ill thoughts and feels he (Shāh Ismāʿīl Shahīd) has committed kufr then that person is guilty himself of those things. Such a person is a denier of the verses of the Qur’an and the ḥadīths… or the kalimah has simply not transcended his throat.”

(ʿAshr-e-Kāmilah [The Complete Ten], 1272, Fakhr al-Maṭābʿi, Dehli)

The view of Ḥakīm Maḥmūd Aḥmad Barakātī, a follower of the Khayrābādī maslak

Shāh Muḥammad Ismāʿīl was a brilliant ʿalim. He was strict, had sharp memory, was well versed in the sciences, he understood delicate issues, was of lofty character and was god fearing. His entire life was like that of the pious and chosen ones. In great prestige he handed his life over to He who takes and with such eagerness did he answer the call for martyrdom that from the heart of every believer a voice can be heard saying: ‘Allāh is the greatest, this is something worthy of attaining.

(Ḥayāt Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq Muḥaddith Dehlawī [The Life of Shah Muhammmad Ishaq Muḥaddith Dehlawī], p38 )


[1] Translator: Molwī Fal-e-Rasūl is being sarcastic here                                                                                                                                                                      [2] Translator: An Urdu metaphor alluding to spending time at night under the lantern studying