History


From the writings of Hadrat Shaykh (Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya), may Allah illuminate his grave, the treatises on fada’il were written at the insistence of the people of Allah . Thus, Fada’il-e-Qur’an Majid and Fada’il-e-Durud Sharif were written at the behest of Mawlana Shah Muhammad Yasin Naginawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him [1]. He wrote Fada’il-e-Tabligh, Fada’il-e-Namaz, Fada’il-e-Ramadan, Fada’il-e-Dhikr, Fada’il-e-Sadaqat and Fada’il-e-Tijarat in compliance with the  instruction of Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (may Allah shower His mercy upon him),  Hikayat-e-Sahabah at the insistence of Mawlana Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir Raipuri (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), and Fada’il-e-Hajj at the insistence of Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Dehlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him). […] Thus, he wrote in the introduction to Awjaz al-Masalik that this work was written at the insistence of students. His additional commentary to al-Kawkab al-Durri and Lami‘ al-Darari was written at the insistence of Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah shower His mercy upon him).

Monthly Iqra’ Digest, p. 160 (Qutb al-Aqtab Edition, Part 1), Safar/Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1407 AH/ November 1986 CE.


[1]               He was an authorised deputy of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him).  At the time of his death he instructed his student and loyal servant, Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Du‘aju (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), to request Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) to write a book on the virtues of sending peace and blessings (durud) upon the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). (See Hadrat Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi quddisa sirruhu aur unke Khulafa, p. 140 (Multan: Idara Ta’lifat-e-Ashrafiyah, no date) by Doctor Hafiz Qari Fuyud al-Rahman.

Hafiz Muhammad Akbar Shah Bukhari writes: 

‘‘Mawlana [Zafar Ahmad] ‘Uthmani rendered highly valuable services in writing, preaching and issuing fatwas for approximately twenty five years in the company of Hakim al-Ummat [Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali] Thanawi. During this time, magnificent works on Qur’anic exegesis and fiqh like Ahkam al-Qur’an and Imdad al-Ahkam came to the fore from his pen, which is clear evidence of his academic and juridical insight. Due to this, Hakim al-Ummat was so impressed by and content with his academic capabilities that he would consult only him in his personal affairs. He once said, ‘‘Mawlana Zafar Ahmad is the Imam Muhammad[1] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) of our times and a fountainhead of religious sciences.’’ He had also instructed before his death that Mawlana Zafar Ahmad should lead his funeral prayer. Thus, it was he who was also blessed with this good fortune. His shaykh and guide, the gnostic and hadith expert of his era, Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri would say, ‘‘Mawlana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani is the model of his uncle, Hakim al-Ummat Thanawi.’’ (Anwar al-Nazr fi Athar al-Zafar) 

Mawlana ‘Uthmani’s (may Allah sanctify his secret) academic and spiritual standing can also be gauged by the fact that his students and successors include such exemplary  scholars at whose very mention heads are bowed in reverence.  Elders such as Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Idris Kandhlawi, Mawlana Badr-e-‘Alam Miruthi Muhajir Madani, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Kamilpuri, Mawlana As‘ad Allah Saharanpuri, Mawlana Shams al-Haq Faridpuri, Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi, Mawlana Ihtisham al-Haq Thanawi and Mawlana Sayyid ‘Abd al-Shakur Tirmidhi were his students and successors.”

Maqalat-e-‘Uthmani (Karachi: Bait al-‘Ulum, date unknown) Volume 1, p. 47


[1]           Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, the renowned student and companion of Imam Abu Hanifah (may Allah shower His mercy upon them)

Courtesy of  Deoband.org

By Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki
Translated by Muhammad Habib

Read Part One

An open letter by Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki in favour of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi

In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. We praise Him and send blessings upon His honourable Messenger.

From the needy servant Imdadullah Chishti, in the service of all my friends:

This needy servant has recently received some letters from India, in which was written that some people harbour ill-thoughts concerning Molwi Rashid Ahmad [Gangohi], [and they wish to know] what they should make of him. Therefore, let it be announced and published on behalf of this needy servant that Molwi Rashid Ahmad is an Allah-fearing man of learning and an upright scholar. He is an example of the pious predecessors. His personality is the sublime combination of the exoteric (shari’ah) and esoteric sciences (tariqah).

His days and nights remain occupied in seeking the pleasure of Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). He is preoccupied with the teaching of hadith. After Molwi Muhammad Ishaq[1] that kind of dissemination of the religious sciences has uniquely continued with Mawlana in the entire sub-continent.

Many complex problems are solved at the hands of Mawlana. Every year, about 50 people complete their hadith studies, acquiring ijazah from him. He is engaged in following the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and is absorbed in the love of Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). He speaks only the truth. He is the manifestation of the verse:

And [they] are not afraid of the reproach of any critic. (Qur’an 5:54)

His complete reliance is solely on Allah. He shuns bid’ah (innovation) completely; propagating the Sunnah is his occupation. His forte is converting those with corrupt beliefs into those with sound beliefs. His company serves as alchemy and is the greatest elixir for Muslims. One is reminded of Allah by sitting with him and this is the sign of the men of Allah. He is pious, abstains from the world and is desirous of the Hereafter. He has attained perfection in tasawwuf and suluk. The rich and poor are equal in his eyes, and he treats each the same; he is free from avarice.

Whatever this needy servant has written as praise for him in Diya’ al-Qulub[2] is the truth, and my good opinion and love for him is now far more in comparison to what it was previously. This needy servant considers Mawlana the means of his salvation. I say openly that whosoever speaks ill of Mawlana pains my heart. I have two arms: one is the late Molwi Muhammad Qasim [Nanautwi] and other is Molwi Rashid Ahmad. People have also begun to cast the evil eye on the only one who now remains.

 

My ‘aqidah (belief) and Mawlana’s ‘aqidah is one and the same. I also consider innovation to be wrong. Whosoever opposes Mawlana in religious matters, opposes me, and opposes Allah and His Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Those ignorant people who claim that Shari’ah and tariqah are separate entities do so due to their lack of understanding. Tariqah without Shari’ah is unacceptable to Allah, as clarity of the heart can also be achieved by non-believers. The heart is like a mirror. A rusty mirror can be cleared with urine as well as with rose water. However, the difference between both is one of purity and impurity. Adherence to the Sunnah is the yardstick for recognising a friend (wali) of Allah. One who adheres to the Sunnah is a wali of Allah, whilst the innovator acts in vain. Even Dajjal will display many unnatural feats. Allah says,

Say (O Prophet): “If you really love Allah, then follow me.” (Qur’an 3:31)

The one who is not a follower of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and gives custom to innovative practices cannot be a friend of Allah.

The people of knowledge who love this needy servant, it is only so because of adherence to the Sunnah.

Anyone’s opposition does not harm Mawlana. In fact, as the poet says,

He is the one at loss who does not venerate Mir

Mawlana is a person from whom scholars should benefit and whose company they should consider a tremendous good. It is my desire that no one says nor writes to me any words of disrespect concerning Mawlana. I am deeply pained by such matters. It is strange that you inflict pain upon my beloved and then consider yourself my friend. This can never be! Mawlana is firmly a Hanafi by madhhab, sufi in conduct and a pious, perfect wali. His company should be treasured.

[Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki al-Faruqi al-Thanawi]

25th Dhu ‘l-Qa’dah 1310 AH

Reproduced in Al-Shihab al-Thaqib ‘ala al-Mustariq al-Kadhib, p. 291 (Lahore: Dar al-Kitab, May 2004 ed.)

_____________________________

  1. Referring to the great-grandson of Shah Waliullah Dahlawi, Shah Muhammad Ishaq Dahlawi, who was among the foremost authorities of hadith in his time, the resort of the ‘ulama of his era and heir to his grandfather Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz Dahlawi. []
  2. Haji Imdadullah writes in Diya’ al-Qulub: ”Whosoever has love, faith and devotion for me, should consider both Molwi Muhammad Qasim [Nanautwi] (may Allah protect him) and Molwi Rashid Ahmad (may Allah protect him) – who have combined both outward and inward perfection – my equal. In fact, he should consider them to be of a loftier rank than me, even though in practice it is the opposite, in that I am in their place and they are in mine. He should value their company because such people are not found in this age. He should attain benefit from their blessed service and under their guidance traverse the ways of tasawwuf. He will not be unsuccessful [by doing so], if Allah wills.  May Allah bless them in age, bestow them with all the blessings of gnosis and the sublimity of His proximity, elevate their status, enlighten the world with the light of their guidance and through the means of the Leader of both worlds (Allah bless him and grant him peace), perpetuate their spiritual legacies until the Day of Judgment.” (Kulliyat-e-Imdadiyyah, p.72-73, Karachi: Darul Isha’at, 1397/1976 ed.) []

[…] Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would place his hands on the heads of his nephew Shah Isma‘il Shahid (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) and grandson Shah Ishaq (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), and recite the following prayer: ‘‘Praise be to Allah who, despite my old age, blessed me with with Isma‘il and Ishaq.’’ (Surah Ibrahim [14:39]) 

Mawlana Muhammad Isma ‘il Shahid (rahimahullah) awr unke Naqid, p.10 by Mawlana Akhlaq Husayn Qasimi Dehlawi

Mawlana ‘Ashiq Ilahi Mirathi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) writes: 

‘‘Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid Hazarwi would relate, ‘‘When I began studying hadith under the tutelage of Sayyid Nadhir Husayn Dehlawi[1], I would feel anxiety in my heart and would often see dreams in which I was surrounded by roaming piglets. Seeing these dreams I became completely disheartened and went straight to the company of Mawlana Fadl-e-Rahman[2] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) in Ganj Muradabad. I explained to him what I was studying and the nature of my dreams. Mawlana asked me, ‘‘Where do you study?’’ I replied, ‘‘In Delhi, with Mawlana Nadhir Husayn.’’ He suggested, ‘‘Go to Mawlana Rashid Ahmad in Gangoh. That is where the bastion of hadith is.’’ Thereafter, he continued to praise Imam Rabbani (Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah sanctify his secret)), and said, ‘‘Go there, relay my salam to him and inform him that you have been sent by Fadl-e-Rahman.’’ Thus, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid arrived in Gangoh. When he went to Mawlana [Rashid Ahmad Gangohi], he was sitting on a stool for ablution, brushing his teeth with a miswak. He smiled upon seeing Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid. The latter greeted him with salam and relayed Mawlana Fadl-e-Rahman’s salam and message. He informed him, ‘‘Mawlana praised you greatly and I am now here having been sent by him.’’ Upon hearing this, Mawlana said with complete humility, ‘‘He praises others since he himself is worthy of praise, otherwise I know what I really am.’’ 

Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid relates, ‘‘Finally, I commenced [the study of] hadith and benefited from Mawlana [Rashid Ahmad Gangohi], and from that very day my distress began decreasing and my happiness continued to increase daily.’’ ’’ 

Tadhkirat al-Rashid, Vol. 2, p. 320-321 (Lahore: Idara Islamiat, Jumada ‘l-Thaniyah 1406 AH / March 1986 CE edition) by Mawlana ‘Ashiq Ilahi Mirathi. 


[1] A renowned Ahl al-Hadith scholar of the sub-continent

[2] For details about Mawlana please see footnote no. 4 of the following entry: Imam Hakim al-Ummah Thanwi (1863–1943 CE): The link between the Juniors and Seniors

Mawlana Zafar Ahmad Thanawi[1] relates,

‘‘When, in 1328 AH, Hadrat (Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri) travelled for Hajj and arrived at al-Masjid al-Haram for the Tawaf-e-Qudum (the circumambulation of arrival), I was sitting near Mawlana Muhibb al-Din (a senior khalifah of Haji [Imdad Allah]). At the time, Mawlana Muhibb al-Din was reciting salawat from a book, when suddenly he turned towards me and asked, ‘‘who has just entered the Haram, that it has become filled with light?’’ I remained silent. After a little while, having completed his circumambulation, Hadrat walked towards the Gate of Safa to perform sa‘i and came to Mawlana Muhibb al-Din as this was his sitting place. Mawlana stood up and, while laughing, remarked, ‘‘I was wondering who had arrived in the Haram today.’’ He then shook his hands (musafahah) and embraced him (mu‘anaqah). Hadrat left to perform his sa‘i. Mawlana Muhibb al-Din sat down in his place and remarked, ‘‘Zafar! Mawlana Khalil Ahmad is radiance embodied. There is nothing but light in him.’’ He then said, ‘‘I did not see Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, and I was told that he was Qutb al-Irshad. However, I have realised by seeing his successors that he really was Qutb al-Irshad, having trained such proficient (kamil) people.  

Ma‘arif-e-Shaykh al-Hadith, (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, June 2007 ed.), p.78-79, compiled by Hafiz Muhammad Akbar Shah Bukhari


[1]               ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani – most well-known for his masterpiece in the Hanafi madh-hab, I‘la’ al-Sunan, one of the greatest works authored in recent centurieshad ijazah in tasawwuf from Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri and is also among his senior students, having studied hadith under his tutelage at Mazahir-e-‘Ulum in Saharanpur.

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.

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