Obituary of The Biographer of The Elders — Mawlana Anwar al-Hasan Sherkoti
Written by Mufti Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani
Translated by Abu Unaysah
Edited With An Introduction by Mawlana Abu Zaynab
“Oh, you who believe attain taqwa and remain in the company of the truthful (sadiqin). (Surah Al-Tawba, 9-11)
The Quranic injunction to seek taqwa, one of the goals of traversing the Path of Suluk, has closely been entwined with advice to seek and remain in the company of the pious. In adherence to this principle, the suluk of the ‘Ulama of Deoband lays special emphasis, among other things, on constant exertion to emulate the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his companions and the innumerable scions of piety and saintliness that traversed the Sufi path in days of before.
The lives of the Elders of Deoband epitomize a high level of piety, adherence to the Shariah and Sunnah, and an in-depth indulgence in tasawwuf. It is for these reasons that the salik is encouraged to read the biographies of the Akabir (Elders), and emulate them in the best of manners.
Below is a translation of a touching obituary penned by Mufti Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani in remembrance of Mawlana Anwar al-Hasan Sherkoti—a scholar renowned for his marked devotion to the Elders of Deoband, something that led the late mawlana to author several well-acclaimed biographies.
The manner by which Mufti Taqi saheb remembers the mawlana and poignantly celebrates his admiration of the Akabir is indicative of Mufti Taqi Saheb’s own personal devotion to the luminaries of this blessed camp. In these trying and testing times—as one wave of tribulation accedes, making way for another much greater in magnitude, causing confusion among believers—the biographies of the Akabir are such works that console the heart instilling in one a love for the spirit of Islam and selfless sacrifice in its service.
Those that sadly only respect and acknowledge the standing of Mufti Taqi Saheb in Islamic finance and economics, do so selectively. Mufti Taqi Saheb’s prominence in these sciences is – along with the grace of the Almighty – on account of the blessings of the maslak that he belongs to. He is not a new-age Deobandi as some like to infer but rather a strict follower of his Akabir — Deobandi in maslak, tasawwuf and also lineage. The angle by which the obituary below has been written attests to this simple fact.
Hadhrat Mawlana Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani writes:
”Another painful loss, which is being announced in Al-Balagh after much delay, is the death of Mawlana Anwar al-Hasan Sherkoti. The late mawlana is not in need of an introduction in academic circles, he was a graduate of Darul ‘Uloom Deoband and was a great admirer of the Elders of Deoband. Although, he was a lecturer at a college in Lailpur (Faisalabad), all of his private time was spent in writing. His pet subject was the biographies of the Elders of Deoband and, with great fervour and devotion, penned the biographies of a number of Akabir. From these, Hayat-e-Imdad, Seerat-e-Ya’qub wa Mamluk and Anwar-e-Qasmi have been published, while Hayat-e-Dhu ‘l-Fiqar is currently undergoing publication.
He had a special love for Shaykh al-Islam ‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani and wrote three books about him. Tajalliyat-e-‘Uthmani is a detailed memoir of ‘Allamah ‘Uthmani’s contemporary academic knowledge; and Anwar-e-‘Uthmani is a compilation of his lectures and writings. Both of these books have been published. The mawlana’s third book on ‘Allamah ‘Uthmani, entitled Hayat-e-‘Uthmani, which is still in manuscript form, is a detailed biography of ‘Allamah ‘Uthmani’s life. Apart from this, the mawlana has provided an extremely valuable service by publishing, along with his own Urdu translation and commentary, a compendium of Hadhrat Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi’s letters, entitled Qasim al-Uloom.
Recently, in Sha’ban 1396 AH, I visited Lailpur and with affection, Mawlana Anwar al-Hasan Sherkoti showed me his unpublished Hayat-e-‘Uthmani. It was his desire that Maktabah Darul ‘Uloom [Karachi] publishes it; something that this lowly one promised to do.
Apart from this, the mawlana was also translating the introduction of Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim. I am unaware how much of this has been completed. He was a treasure of information on the lives of the Elders of Deoband, and had gathered rare material relating to them.
Apart from this, he was extremely humble, mild-mannered, polite, sociable, and soft natured. My last meeting with him was in [the month of] Sha’ban at his home. He had expressed a desire to accompany me on my journey until Lahore but was unable to arrive at the station on time. Thereafter, on the 9th of Shawwal 1396 AH (one day before the passing of my honourable father), he suddenly became ill and immediately, having traversed all the stages of life, met with the real Master.
Verily we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return. May Allah award him an elevated status in the shade of His mercy and grant beautiful patience to the bereaved. Amin.”
Nuqoosh-e-Raftagan, Pages 63-64 (Maktabah Darul ‘Ulum Karachi)
This article was originally published in the monthly periodical Al-Balagh in 1396 AH