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.

Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn Kandhlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) has been mentioned several times on the blog. I recently came across some more biographical information about the mawlana which readers may find interesting. 

The mawlana’s biographers write that he was of an extremely pious disposition from a young age and an ardent follower of the sunnah. His condition, later in life, became such that his body would not accept even a morsel of food procured from doubtful sources. Once, when mawlana was involved in the construction of a mosque in Kandhla, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan — on account of close family ties — donated some money. Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn’s taqwa was such that he refused the cash saying, “Your income is haram and cannot be used for a mosque.’’ 

Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn Kandhlawi was among the trusted colleagues and students of Shah Muhammad Ishaq Dehlawi[1] and his brother Shah Muhammad Ya‘qub (may Allah shower His mercy upon them). He was among those who were named by these two savants as their successors in India when they migrated to the Hijaz.[2] 

Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn was also from among the leaders of the 1857 War of Independence against Colonialism. The mawlana strove greatly and rendered remarkable services during the war. Mawlana Rashid al-Hasan Kandhlawi notes that it is regretful that much has not been written regarding the services of Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn and the zeal and fervour of the people of Kandhla and its surrounding areas during the 1857 jihad

As a shaykh of the Naqshbandi tariqah, Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn had thousands of disciples, a number of whom received ijazah from him, including Mawlana Rafi‘ al-Din Deobandi (d. 1309 AH), Mawlana Isma‘il Kandhlawi (d. 1315 AH),[3] Mawlana Muhammad Husayn Faqir Dehlawi (d. 1324 AH) and Hafiz Tafaddul Husayn Baghrawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon them all). 

It was Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn’s practice to visit and reside in the mosques of neighbouring towns and villages for three to four days at a time. During his stay he would explain the method of offering salah to the people, teach them the rulings of religion, and encourage them to bring them into practise. Mawlana Muhammad Isma‘il Kandhlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) inherited this practise from Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn. This method of preaching was later popularised by his son Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) and is now prevalent throughout the world in the form of the Tablighi Jama‘ah movement. 

Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn also authored a treatise — Radd-e-Rusum (Refutation of Customs) — in refutation of innovations and the practise of not marrying widows, something that was prevalent in India at that time.[4] Mawlana Rashid al-Hasan Kandhlawi writes that he is in possession of a manuscript of this treatise in Hafiz Damin Shahid’s (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)[5] handwriting. 

Adapted from Makatib-e-Rashidiah (Lahore: Idara Islamiat, August 1996/Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1417 ed.) p.195-196[6]

[1] Grandson and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)

[2] See Mawlana ‘Ubayd Allah Sindhi’s (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) ‘‘Shah Wali Allah Awr Unki Siyasi Tahrik’’.

[3] He was the father of Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi and Mawlana Muhammad Yahya Kandhlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon them).

[4] The notion of considering the marrying of widows shameful is something that had become prominent in India owing to local Hindu culture. The practise was also strongly opposed by Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and his followers (may Allah shower His mercy upon them all).

[5] He was a senior khalifah of Shaykh Mianji Nur Muhammad Jhinjhanawi and a close companion of Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki. He was martyred in the Battle of Shamli in 1857. He left this temporal world in a mosque with his head resting in the lap of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah shower His mercy upon them all).

[6] This section of the book comprises footnotes by Mawlana Rashid al-Hasan Kandhlawi. The book itself was compiled by Mawlana Mahmud Ashraf Usmani.

A Brief Biography Of Shaykh al-Hadith Fazlur Rahman Azmi

Book Cover: A Brief Biography Of Shaykh al-Hadith Fazlur Rahman Azmi


A Brief Biography Of Shaykh al-Hadith Fazlur Rahman Azmi

Biographies tend to surface after the death of a notable individual. The mere fact that this biography is before you in the lifetime of its subject- Shaykh Fazlur Rahman Azmi, is an indication of the acceptance with which he has been bestowed. This book will provide the reader with a glimpse of one of the great contemporary scholars of Islam and a leading authority of hadith. Furthermore, it is hoped that this brief work will serve as an inspiration to all: with effort, sacrifice and devotion to Allah, a great deal can be achieved.

Shaykh al-Hadith Fazlur Rahman Azmi was born in 1356/1946 in Maunath Bhanjan (Mau), Uttar Pradesh, India. After memorizing the Qur’an at an early age by his father, Shaykh Hafiz al-Rahman Azmi, Shaykh al-Hadith embarked on an intensive period of studying during which he mastered Arabic, Persian and Urdu. Upon completion of the rigorous Shari’ah program (‘alim course) at Madrasah Miftah al-‘Ulum, Mau in the traditional Islamic sciences, he studied the various modes of Qur’anic recitation (qira’ah), thereafter specializing in hadith and answering legal questions (ifta) under the great scholar of hadith, Shaykh Habib al-Rahman Azmi.

Shaykh al-Hadith’s illustrious teaching career began in his home town of Mau. On the advice of his teacher he moved to Madrasah Mazhar al-‘Ulum, Varanasi where he taught for four years. In 1395/1975 he moved to the renowned seminary, Jami’ah Islamiyyah Dabhel, Gujarat where he taught the major books of tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis), hadith, fiqh (Islamic law) and qira’ah. In 1406/1986 he was invited to Madrasah Arabia Islamia, Azaadville, South Africa and was offered the post of Shaykh al-Hadith (‘Senior Lecturer of hadith’). To date he has been teaching Sahih al-Bukhari, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Mishkat al-Masabih and other major books at this institute.

Shaykh al-Hadith is a prolific writer and has authored over forty books. His most famous works include introductions to Sahih al-Bukhari and Sunan al-Tirmidhi. He has also been active in the field of da’wah and tabligh and has benefited many as a distinguished disciple (khalifah) of Shah Hakim Muhammad Akhtar in the field of spiritual reformation (tazkiyah). Shaykh al-Hadith currently resides in Azaadville with his family.

Praise of Shaykh al-Hadith from distinguished scholars …

‘His mere presence is a great bounty for the people of South Africa.’ – Shaykh Marghub Ahmad Lajpuri

‘Hold firmly to him … firstly, because of his faith (iman), then because of his love of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him), then because of his knowledge.’ – Shaykh Zuhayr Ibn Nasir al-Nasir (al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia)

‘…of whom the term ”mountain of knowledge” is most appropriate.’ – Mufti Muhammad Faruq Mirathi


Cover: Paperback

Author: Mufti Atiqur Rahman Azmi

Translator: Muhammad Abdul Khaliq Yusuf

Editor: Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera

Publisher: Madrasah Da’watul Haq (Azaadville South Africa)

Pages: 130


This book is available from: and other Islamic bookshops.

Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah on Contemporary Scholars

Of the Indian Subcontinent


The renowned contemporary Hadith scholar, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah, born in Aleppo, Syria and currently residing in the illuminated city of Madinah, was asked about scholars around the world whom he considered beacons of guidance. In reply, he mentioned some of those whom he was aware of and who came to mind at that time. Below is a translation of what he said about the scholars of the Indian Subcontinent.


In Karachi, Pakistan: [There is] the eminent Dr. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaq Iskandar, the director of Jami’ah [al-‘Ulum al-Islamiyyah in the Binnuri Town area], whose da‘wah efforts within and beyond Pakistan are huge. There is also the eminent Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abd al-Halim Chishti, who is the brother of our Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rashid Nu‘mani, may Allah shower His mercy upon him. There is also the eminent Shaykh Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani whose academic endeavours within and beyond Pakistan are great, and his elder brother Shaykh Muhammad Rafi‘, the rector of Jami’ah Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi. There are others too. 


In India: [There are] senior exemplary scholars, who are known for their academic and da‘wah efforts, in particular, the scholars of the two great Islamic universities – Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband and Mazahir ‘Ulum Saharanpur. From the scholars of the first university is the eminent Shaykh Arshad Madani, son of Shaykh al-Islam Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani, who has until now published seven large volumes of Imam al-‘Ayni’s commentary of Imam al-Tahawi’s Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar, entitled Nukhab al-Afkar.


From the scholars of the second university is the eminent Shaykh Muhammad ‘Aqil, son of the ‘Allamah, the great research scholar (al-muhaqqiq, al-mudaqqiq) Shaykh Muhammad Ayyub Saharanpuri, author of Tarajim al-Ahbar, which contains biographies of the narrators in Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar. From amongst the senior scholars of this university is the eminent Shaykh Habib Allah Qurban, who resides with us in the illuminated city of Madinah, and is from amongst the students of our master Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi, may Allah shower His mercy upon him. He is exclusively occupied with teaching and writing.


In Bangladesh: [There is] the eminent Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abd al-Malik, who is one of those people who were trained and became well versed in this science (hadith) at the hand of our Shaykh, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah and Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rashid Nu‘mani, may Allah shower His mercy upon them, and whose efforts in teaching (ta‘lim) and authoring (ta’lif) are laudable.


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 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.



Fakhr al-Muhaddithin ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani, may Allah shower him with mercy, writes:


“Mawlana [Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi] began writing at the early age of eighteen and continued doing so until his final years. Since Imam Suyuti, aside from the mawlana, there has been no writer who has been able to write on almost all [Islamic] sciences and author such a large amount of books. He was unparalleled in giving advice and in delivering sermons. If he ever stood to speak at a particular gathering, listeners would, thereafter, not enjoy others’ speeches. Mawlana never gained any worldly benefit from his books, nor did he ever take publishing rights for them. All of his books were written for the sake of Allah and for the reformation of Muslims, and everyone was granted permission to print them.”


Maqalat-e-‘Uthmani, Volume 1, (Karachi: Bait al-‘Ulum, p. 320)

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

As-salamu ‘alaykum,

Below is a link to an inspirational talk given by one of our prominent and influential Masha’ikh of the UK, Hadhrat Mawlana Muhammad Saleem Dhorat sahib (may Allah protect him).

Although the lecture is about following the din in its entirety, a large part of it is dedicated to one of the great Hadith scholars and Sufis of the last century, Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (may Allah shower him with mercy). Towards the end of the talk, the honourable Shaykh beautifully recounts the spiritually-charged majalis (gatherings) which took place at Dar al-‘Ulum Bury (UK), during one of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith’s (may Allah shower him with mercy) two visits to the UK. 

The Shaykh also explains the amazing wisdom of spending time in the path of Allah, in the effort of tabligh.

A highly beneficial and inspirational talk!

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful


Hadhrat Mawlana Abd al-Hafeez al-Makki – A Sufi Scholar of the 21st Century

By Mawlana As’ad Mahmud Makki

Translated by [Mawlana] Ismaeel Nakhuda


Jami Shariat wa Tariqat Hadhrat Mawlana Abd al-Hafeez al-Makki is one of the foremost khalifahs (deputies) and leading students of the great Mujaddid of Islam, Qutub al-Aqtab Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi al-Muhajir al-Madani. Hadhrat was born in pre-partition India in 1946CE, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab. His family, originally from Kashmir, had settled in the region approximately fifty years earlier.


Hadhrat’s lineage reaches a certain Raja Abd al-Salam Malik, who had accepted Islam at the hands of Amir Kabir Sayyid Ali al-Hamdani — a famous fourteenth century Sufi scholar, who had arrived in Kashmir to propagate Islam. Raja Abd al-Salam was the ruler of the sub-district of Kuligam, an area surrounding the town of Islamabad in Kashmir.


At partition, Hadhrat’s family joined the mass exodus of Muslims migrating to Pakistan and came to live in Faisalabad (Lailpur). It was there that Hadhrat began his education and learned to recite the Qur’an under the tutelage of his paternal grandmother, who would teach local children. Troubled by the turmoil of partition and the consequent pitiful situation of those affected, Hadhrat’s father left Pakistan in 1373AH/1953CE and migrated (hijrah) to the holy city of Makkah al-Mukarramah, where he became a permanent resident obtaining Saudi nationality in 1380AH/1960CE.


In Makkah al-Mukarramah, under the tutelage of Qari Abd al-Rauf, who was a teacher at Makkah’s famous Islamic seat of learning Al-Madrasah al-Sawlatiyyah, Hadhrat studied the Qur’an once more, this time with tajwid. In 1374AH/1954CE, Hadhrat enrolled at Makkah’s Al-Madrasah al-Sadiyyah, where he gained both a religious and secular education. He also subsequently studied at other educational institutes in the holy city.


Having completed his secondary education in 1384AH/1964CE, Hadhrat was instructed by his father Haji Malik Abd al-Haq — a famous Makkan factory owner and one of the responsible individuals of Tablighi Jama’at in the Hijaz, who was also subsequently appointed a khalifah of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith — to spend a year in Jama’at in the special company of the then Amir of Tabligh Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Yusuf al-Kandhalawi, author of Hayat al-Sahabah, a biographical record of the lives of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). During this one year in Tabligh, Hadhrat was also blessed with the close company of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Inam al-Hasan, who remained Amir of Tabligh for thirty-years after the demise of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Yusuf al-Kandhalawi.


In 1385AH/1965CE, with the permission of his respected father and at the direction of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Inam al-Hasan, Hadhrat became a murid of Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi. On returning to Makkah al-Mukarramah, Hadhrat remained involved in the work of Tabligh within Saudi Arabia and studied various books of the Dars-e-Nizami — a study curriculum used in madrasahs across the world.


A couple of years later in 1387AH/1967CE, Hadhrat travelled to the famous north Indian seat of learning Mazahir al-Ulum, Saharanpur, and under the tutelage of famous erudite ulama there studied the Mawquf Alayh — those parts of the Dars-e-Nizami that students need to cover in order to gain admission into the final year of hadith known as the Dawrah Hadith, which consists of an intense study of the major works of hadith.

After studying there some time, Hadhrat returned to Makkah al-Mukarramah where he continued his studies in Islam. The following year in 1388AH/1968CE, Hadhrat returned to Saharanpur once more and completed the Dawrah Hadith. This was also the final year that Hadhrat Shaykh al- Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya lectured on Imam Bukhari’s Sahih. Hadhrat was also blessed with the opportunity of coming first in the highly competitive final year exams at Mazahir al-Ulum.


At the tender age of twenty on 27 Ramadan 1386AH/1966CE, Hadhrat was granted khilafat by Hadhrat Shaykh during eitikaf at Mazahir al-Ulum’s Dar-e-Jadid Mosque. On the occasion, Hadhrat Shaykh took off his turban and placed it on Hadhrat’s head granting him permission in the four Chishti, Naqshbandi, Suharwardi and Qadri tariqahs.


Right until the death of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi in 1402AH/1982CE, Hadhrat remained devoted to his shaykh’s service (khidmah) and would not allow any sort of family, business and educational preoccupations prevent him from remaining in his company (suhbat). This was especially the case during the blessed months of Ramadan.


While Hadhrat Shaykh was alive, all of Hadhrat’s activities — from lecturing hadith at al-Madrasah al-Sawlatiyyah to travelling on Tabligh to the US, Japan, India, Pakistan, Africa and various Middle Eastern countries — were done with the blessings and instruction of Hadhrat Shaykh.


Under the guidance and wish of his shaykh and with the aim of widely circulating his academic works, Hadhrat established Al-Maktabah al-Imdadiyyah in Makkah al-Mukarramah and Al-Rashid Printing Press in Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.


On numerous occasions Hadhrat spent a considerable amount of time in Egypt, supervising the publication of Hadhrat Shaykh’s Awjaz al-Masalik, a brilliant multi-voluminous commentary on Imam Malik’s Muwatta, considered one of the best; and Hadhrat Mawlana Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri’s Badhl al-Majhud, also a multi-voluminous commentary on Sunan Abu Dawud considered an authority on the subject.


Hadhrat’s meticulous efforts in the publication of these works won Hadhrat Shaykh’s admiration, love and heartfelt supplications. This is something that Hadhrat Shaykh has mentioned time and again on numerous occasions in his autobiography, Aap Biti, and something that has also been mentioned by Mufakkir-e-Islam Shaykh Abu al-Hasan Ali al-Nadwi in his biography of Hadhrat Shaykh.


Since Hadhrat Shaykh’s demise, Hadhrat has continued to keep alive his shaykh’s academic and spiritual legacy by publishing various Arabic and Urdu books, including a twenty-four volume commentary of Imam al-Bukhari’s Sahih (currently under publication) entitled Al-Kanz al-Mutawari, which contains the commentary of Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi and other Akabir Deobandi Ulama.


Living in the Hijaz, Hadhrat has constantly been involved in enlightening the Arab world about the academic efforts of the Akabir of Deoband and their mode of tasawwuf, which has the distinguishing feature of being in complete agreement to the Qur’an and hadith. Beyond the Hijaz, Hadhrat travels the world regularly — especially to the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa, Europe, North America and the Far East — calling people to tasawwuf.


Hadhrat has also passionately been involved in raising the banner of Islam (e’lah kalimat Allah) by tirelessly establishing organisations and providing them with spiritual and moral support. Apart from preparing individuals to serve at madrasahs, mosques and khanqahs, Hadhrat has also prepared countless individuals to serve Islam in various other fields including in dawah and Tabligh.


Hadhrat’s murids and those that have obtained permission to narrate hadith (ijazah) from him — from the Middle East and beyond — number in thousands. Hadhrat’s khalifahs reside in Pakistan, South Africa, UK, India, Hijaz, Bangladesh, Nepal and the West Indies. Hadhrat regularly visits Pakistan, Africa and other parts of the world to show people the path of tasawwuf with thousands of people flocking to benefit from his landmark visits, spiritual gatherings and lectures.


Published by Maktabah al-Nur, Markaz al-Shaykh International,







Mauritanian Shuyukh on the Deobandi ‘Ulama




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.

The renowned Hadith scholar of the last century, ‘Allamah Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahullah) wrote the following regarding Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband: 

“The great madrasah of Deoband is [like] a radiant sun that has illuminated various parts of India. It revived the Prophetic way (sunnah) academically, practically and in terms of suluk, and it removed the darkness of innovation (bid’ah), which had amassed in those lands for a lengthy time. It stripped the pools of knowledge and shari’ah from all that was alien to them in the same way that it stripped the suluk of the Sufis from new customs — such as sama’ and stringed instruments and their like from the gatherings of bid’ ah that were prevalent in India in those days. It replaced those innovations with clear and radiant sunnah — in terms of teaching and studying, suluk and propagation — until it (the madrasah) became a powerful, great and authentic source of light from which came droves of god-fearing (rabbaniyyin) ulama, who combined the excellence of knowledge and action (‘amal), while adhering to the sunnah and eliminating bid’ah. 

Quoted in Tarajim Sittah min Fuqaha al-A’lam al-Islami (Six Biographies of Jurists of the Islamic World) by Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, page 15, published in Dirasah Hadithiyyah Fiqhiyyah ‘an Ma’arif al-Sunan Sharh Sunan al-Tirmidhi by Shaykh Muhammad Yahya Bilal Manyar.

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