Words of Advice

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

‘‘It is not obligatory to give bay‘ah [to a shaykh of tasawwuf], nor does salvation depend on it. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims do not give bay‘ah; will they not be forgiven [for their sins] in the Divine Court? Therefore, you should not be hasty. Continue to search for a guide and pious person who is accomplished in shari‘ah and tariqah. If you find one who fulfils these criteria, give bay‘ah to him. Otherwise, everything lies in following our illustrious Master, the honourable Leader of all creation (blessings and peace upon him). Occupy yourself with this.’’ 

Shaykh al-‘Arab wa ‘l-Ajam Hadrat Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani ki Iman Afroz batein, p. 159-160 (Karachi: Majlis-e-Yadgar-e-Shaykh al-Islam, 1993/1413 ed.)

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

‘‘Loving the din and people of din is a great thing. However, to focus on the faults of others whilst not assessing one’s own faults is incorrect.’’ 

Malfuzat Hadrat Madani, p.76 (Delhi: Dar al-Isha‘at, July 1998 ed.) by Mawlana Abu ‘l-Hasan Barah Bankwi

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

‘‘Mawlana [Ashraf ‘Ali] Thanawi’s (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) discourses are extremely beneficial; be sure to read them [regularly]. Likewise, Tarbiyat al-Salik is also beneficial.’’ 

Shaykh al-‘Arab wa ‘l-‘Ajam Hadrat Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani Ki Iman Afroz Batein, p. 177 (Karachi: Majlis-e-Yadgar-e-Shaykh al-Islam 1413 / 1993 ed.)

Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) advised, 

‘‘ The blessed age of youth is extremely valuable; adorn it with the pleasant hues of Allah’s remembrance.’’ 

Malfuzat Hadrat Madani, p.83 (Delhi: Dar al-Isha‘at, July 1998 ed.) by Mawlana Abu ‘l-Hasan Barah Bankwi

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

‘‘Be mindful of following the sunnah at all times. This is [the real form of] excellence, the objective, and the cause of divine pleasure.’’

Malfuzat Hadrat Madani, p.75 (Delhi: Dar al-Isha‘at, July 1998 ed.) by Mawlana Abu ‘l-Hasan Barah Bankwi

Al-I‘tidal fi Maratib al-Rijal

 by Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya


Book Review by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani


This is actually a letter that Shaykh al-Hadith wrote in reply to seven questions posed by one of his students. The letter was written when the political fall out between the Muslim League and Congress was at its peak in pre-partition India, and a difference of opinion arose between Mawlana [Ashraf ‘Ali] Thanawi and Mawlana [Husayn Ahmad] Madani. Some Muslims were concerned about which path to choose in this difference between the seniors. Shaykh al-Hadith has explained the legislative (shar‘i) viewpoint of the difference in this letter, and detailed what the general masses should do in such circumstances. Apart from this, the general poor state of Muslims in the political and social arenas, and the issue of the ‘ulama differing has also been included [in this letter]. Shaykh al-Hadith has explained these issues in detail in his special style, which refreshes one’s faith and conviction. The book is actually a review of a temporary political issue. However, due to its encompassing discussions, it is a specific work that is beneficial in all ages.


(Rabi‘ al-Thani, 1392 AH)


Tabseray, (Karachi: Maktabah Ma‘arif al-Qur’an, Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1426/April 2005 ed.) p. 76

The importance of having the intention of spiritual rectification


Trans. Mawlana Tameem Ahmadi


Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (rahimahullah) received a letter from a person requesting spiritual advice. In reply Imam Hakim al-Ummah Thanwi wrote: “Read the transcripts of twenty of my spiritual discourses and practice upon them. Once you have done that, inform me of your condition.” That is, let me know whether or not you feel some spiritual elevation and change within you.   


After reading the transcripts of twenty lectures the person replied: Unfortunately, I do not feel any change within myself at all.” Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi wrote back: “Either you have not read those lectures with the intention of spiritual rectification or the subject matter was not related to spirituality. If that is not so, it could be that there is nothing within you which needs rectification.  


The person wrote back admitting that he had not read the lectures with the intention of spiritual rectification, to which Imam Hakim al-Ummah Thanwi replied advising him to read them once again, but with the proper intention of rectification.


Once again the person wrote saying: “Al-Hamdu lillah, I have acquired enormous spiritual elevation and benefit from the lectures. An amazing change has now taken place within me.”    


Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (rahimahullah) comments: “If I had merely prescribed some dhikr, he would not have benefited so much. Truly, if a person does something the right way, fulfilling its rights and conditions, Allah, Most High, will definitely put benefit in that thing. But our problem is that we do things according to our own understanding and deficient conjectures. Due to this we end up frustrated and confused.


Today’s fake pirs and money-making sufi shaykhs have cheated the people, taking money from them and giving them wazífas to read. Is it ever possible to spiritually rectify oneself through wazífas and awrad? Spiritual rectification and elevation can only be acquired through [the proper procedures of] spiritual rectification.”


(Malfuzat-eHakim al-Ummat; 8:317)


Translator’s note: This in no way is intended to undermine the need, importance and power of du‘as and adhkar, which also play an essential role in spiritual rectification. Rather, what is intended here is that if a person does not make an effort on leaving sins and working on changing the low and evil qualities within him, and inculcating within himself good qualities, then simply reading a thousand wazifas and awrad without a genuine effort to abstain from evil and do good will not rectify him.

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!


Imam Hakim al-Ummah Thanwi (1863–1943 CE): The link between the Juniors and Seniors 

 Translated by Abu ‘Asim Badrul Islam 

Shaykh al-Hadith Imam Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (1898-1982 CE) writes: 

 ”I had been acquainted with Mulhiq al-Asaghir bi’l-Akabir Hadhrat Hakim al-Ummah Mujaddid al-Millah[1] [Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali] Thanwi – may Allah enlighten his resting place – for a long time. He passed away on the sixteenth night of the month of Rajab 1362 AH (1943 CE).

  I write the title of Mulhiq al-Asaghir bi’l-Akabir before his name because [his direct] spiritual relationship was with Sayyid al-Ta’ifah[2] Hadrat Haji Imdadullah Saheb who honoured him with ijazah in tasawwuf. Therefore, all of those who had a formal spiritual relationship with Hadhrat Hakim al-Ummah and/or were honoured with ijazah by him have just one link between Hadhrat Sayyid al-Ta’ifah and themselves. This was in Tariqah.  

 As for Shari’ah, Hadhrat Hakim al-Ummah had ijazah in the science of Hadith from Hadhrat Mawlana Fadhl al-Rahman Ganj-Muradabadi. Hadhrat Shah Ganj-Muradabadi had studied under Hadhrat [Imam] Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi] Saheb. It is mentioned in the book Arwah-e-Thalathah (p.347)[3] that: 

  ‘Hakim Ni’matullah Saheb once asked Hadhrat Mawlana [Fadhl al-Rahman Ganj-Muradabadi], “I have heard that your eminence has studied under Hadhrat [Imam] Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi] Saheb?” He replied, “Yes.” I requested that he listen to some Hadith from me and grant me ijazah [in Hadith] so that I may gain some barakah. He listened to [me read] a few Ahadith from Mishkat, and said, “I grant you ijazah”, and impressed upon me to act [upon the hadith][4].’ 

 This useless one has always had an immense desire to obtain an ijazah [in Hadith] from Hadhrat Hakim al-Ummah as the sanad was very high. To this end I had visited Thana Bhavan [where Hadhrat Hakim al-Ummah resided] a few times, intending to seek ijazah. However, on each visit embarrassment prevented me from doing so. How could I say “Please grant me ijazah in Hadith” when I knew that I did not possess any knowledge? This was despite the fact that many of those who had studied under me had obtained ijazah [in Hadith] from him. In this respect, these students have a higher sanad in hadith than me. ”

Shari’at wa Tariqat ka Talazum (The interdependence of Shari’ah and Tariqah), Karachi: Maktabah al-Shaykh, 1993, p.5-6) by Shaykh al-Hadith Imam Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (1898-1982 CE)

[1] This lengthy title could be translated as: The one who acted as a linkage between the young/juniors and the elders/seniors, the spiritual physician of the Ummah, the renovator of the Islamic community. (translator)
[2] ‘The Master of the community of Sufiyyah’. (translator) 
[3] Also known as Hikayat-e-Awliya, this is a work of Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi containing anecdotes from the lives of some of the greatest ‘Ulama and Awliya of India. (translator)
[4] It has been mentioned in Ma’arif al-Akabir (Karachi: Idarah Islamiyyat, p.452) that Mawlana Fadhl al-Rahman Ganj-Muradabadi remained in the company of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi] for two months before returning home. The Mawlana travelled to Delhi again after the demise of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi] and completed his study of hadith at the feet of [Imam] Shah Muhammad Ishaq Dehlawi, the grandson and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi]. At the time the Mawlana was only sixteen to seventeen years of age but was already considered among the most learned scholars. He had produced many erudite scholars of the Qur’an and hadith and Mashayikh of tasawwuf, amongst whom was Hadhrat Mawlana Muhammad ‘Ali Mongeri, founder of the prestigious Dar al-‘Ulum Nadwat al-‘Ulama in Lucknow (India). 
 The famous historian, biographer and scholar of Islam, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Hasani al-Lucknowi (who was the father of the legendary Imam Abu’l Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi) states in his unparalleled work al-I’lam  bi man fi  Tarikh al-Hind min al-A’laam that Mawlana Fadhl al-Rahman Ganj-Muradabadi took from Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi the Hadith known as the al-Musalsal bi’l-Awwaliyyah and the al-Musalsal bi’l-Mahabbah. He also heard a portion of Sahih al-Bukhari  from Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi. The biographer states “He was the greatest [person] I have seen and the most knowledgeable of the Sunnah and ways of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of AllÁh be upon him) […] I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable than him of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.” 
 For a brief biography of Mawlana Fadhl al-Rahman Ganj-Muradabadi the reader may consult the aforementioned outstanding al-I’lam  bi man fi  Tarikh al-Hind min al-A’laam (previously entitled Nuzhat al-Khawatir), 8:1326, entry: 390 (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1999) or, for a detailed biography, Imam Abu’l Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi’s Urdu Tadhkira-e-Fadhl al-Rahman Ganj-Muradabadi, (Karachi: Majlis-e-Nashriyyat-e-Islam). (translator)      
An earnest request from the translator:
There should remain no need to point out to the reader that Shaykh al-Hadith Imam Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi’s words regarding himself, “This useless one” and “I did not possess any knowledge”, are not to be understood in their apparent meanings. These words emanate from his sublime and sincere humbleness and selflessness. Indeed, this was, and still remains, one of the prime characteristics of the true ‘Ulama and Mashayikh. Those who knew this great Imam of the Qur’an and hadith or have studied his works (which, according to his own account in his excellent autobiography, number to no less than 110) would testify to the fact that he was an unparalleled master of all the sciences of Islam. In recognition of his incomparable knowledge of, and insight into, the sciences of Hadith, he was known across the globe with the noble title of ‘Shaykh al-Hadith’. Even today, twenty-five years after his demise, he is known in ‘Ulama circles as the Shaykh al-Hadith. In tasawwuf, he was one of the greatest masters of the last century. Toward the end of his blessed life, when his own Noble Masters had left this world, he was considered the greatest master. His contemporaries gave him the title of ‘Barakat al-‘Asr’ (the blessing of the era).  May Allah ta’ala reward him and all the Great Masters whose names have been mentioned in this brief article with the best of rewards.  
The above excerpt has been translated from Shaykh al-Hadith Imam Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi’s work Shari’at wa Tariqat ka Talazum. This excerpt is less than a page of a book consisting of 250 pages. The book was written approximately 3 years prior to the author’s demise and, in my humble view, is a ‘must have’ for all Muslims, particularly those treading the noble path of Suluk (tasawwuf). With references from the Qur’an, Hadith, lives of the Noble Companions and the Great ‘Ulama and Mashayikh, it very beautifully explains the essence, purpose and necessity of tasawwuf. It proves in an indisputable manner that the Shari’ah and Tariqah are part and parcel of the same whole – Islam; they are interdependent. If the Shari’ah deals with the outer body, then Tariqah deals with the inner spirit and essence. Authored by one who had mastered both, the book calls out to the ‘Ulama of the Western Muslim Ummah to be translated and made accessible to the English readership. This is especially so when one finds in the modern age of severe depravity and spiritual voidness hitherto unprecedented numbers of Muslims turning to tasawwuf. In their desperation for spiritual purification and solace, many sadly fall prey to human imposters and satanic traps. This book, without doubt, would serve as a beacon of guidance for the true seeker of the spiritual path and would answer many questions that constantly arise in his inquisitive mind. It would clarify many misconceptions and misinterpretations of tasawwuf that have become common in Muslim communities. Likewise, it would serve to identify the abuse of tasawwuf that has become all too widespread amongst the masses.  
The book has been translated and made accessible to the Arabic readership by the author’s student and successor, Shaykh Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hafiz Makki.  It has seen several editions in various Arab countries. The English readership awaits a satisfactory English translation from one who is versed in both Shari’ah and Tariqah or, at least, treading this noble path.     
Shaykh Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hafiz Makki’s Arabic translaton of Shari’at Wa Tariqat Ka Talazum, entitled Talazum al-Shari’ah Wa ‘l-Tariqah, was first published in the early 1980’s. It has since seen multiple re-prints in several Arab countries, including Egypt. It’s most recent edition, with a new introduction written by the Shaykh, was published last year by Maktabah al-Haramayn in Dubai. It also contains additional biographical footnotes from Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Hasani al-Lucknowi’s al-I’lam  bi man fi  Tarikh al-Hind min al-A’laam (previously entitled Nuzhat al-Khawatir) (Blog Administrator)


Hakim al-Ummat Hadhrat Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (may Allah sanctify his secret) writes:  

  • It is wajib (obligatory) to reply to the salam which is written in a letter. This reply may be [given] in writing or verbally.
  • The fuqaha (jurists) have said that in reply to the salam which is written in a letter, one may say عليكم السلام or even السلام عليكم

 Adab al-Mu’asharat, page12, English translation by Majlisul-Ulama of South Africa

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