Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1879 – 1957 CE), a prominent student of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (1829 – 1905), explains in a letter dated 1950 that Mawlānā Gangohī’s positive stance towards Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb was because of a lack of awareness about him.
[To] the one of respected position, may your honour be increased. Assalāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāh wa barakātuh. The answers to the things inquired about are as follows.
Undoubtedly, al-Shihāb al-Thāqib ‘ala l-Mustariq al-Kādhib is my first book. Since it was written against Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s refutation, Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, discussion on the Wahhābīs came as a secondary [discussion], the objective of which was [to show] that our predecessors are aloof of both extremism and laxity – their track was of moderation, and they are the true followers of the noble predecessors of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah.
That which was expressed in the book remains my position, and it is the way of my noble predecessors.
I wasn’t the only one [to write against] Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdil Wahhāb and his group. In fact, ‘Allāmah Shāmī (Allāh have mercy on him) has also written [against them] in his book Radd al-Muḥtār Sharḥ al-Durr al-Mukhtār, which is a very reliable and authoritative book in Ḥanafī Fiqh, on p339 of the third volume. Since the author of Radd al-Muḥtār, ‘Allāmah Shāmī (Allāh have mercy on him) lived in that part [of the world] and was from that time, and he had gone to Makkah Mu‘aẓẓamah for Ḥajj in 1233 H when Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdil Wahhāb and his group had control over Ḥijāz, just as he stated on p674 of the first volume , the extent to which he is acquainted with Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdil Wahhāb and his group, those living far away and in a later time cannot be as well acquainted.
Hazrat Mawlānā Gangohī (his soul be sanctified) is someone from a much later time living in Hindustan. He did not have as much awareness of the conditions of this group. Thus, in Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah p64, this [i.e. that he has little awareness of the conditions of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb] is stated explicitly in a fatwā. On p8 the passage that is written positively about him, it is based entirely on things that were heard. Hazrat Gangohī (Allāh sanctify his soul) would rely a lot on this book Shāmī. Generally his fatāwā were derived from this book.
The shame of the predecessors, Ḥusayn Aḥmad
Deoband, 4 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, 1370 [ 1950 CE].
(Maktūbāt e Shaykh al-Islām, 2:343-4)
 Shāmī mentions that he performed Ḥajj in this year, 1233. (Radd al-Muḥtār, Dār al-Thaqāfat wa ‘l-Turāth, 5:409) What Mawlānā Madanī probably meant to say is that 1233 was the final year that Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s followers remained in power and had control over Ḥijāz, as it was in this year that they were defeated and ousted by the Ottomans.