Allamah Kawthari’s Tribute To The Scholars of India

April 20, 2020

Allamah Zahid ibn Hasan al-Kawthari (1879-1951 or 1296 AH-1371 AH) was the deputy to the last Shaykh-ul-Islam of the Ottoman Empire and a peerless authority in the Sunni scholarly arena throughout the Arab lands. Being extremely well-traveled, and having settled in several countries including Egypt and Shaam, he was intimately aware of the state of Islamic scholarship throughout the world.

Throughout his numerous works, Allamah al-Kawthari frequently refers to the brilliance of the Indian scholars, and the fact that Allah had entrusted them with the burden of reviving the Sunnah and its sciences for the past three hundred years. Other than a few exceptions, such as Imam Nimawi (rahmatullahi alayhi), his praise of contemporaries is largely limited to the scholars of Deoband. The absence in Allamah al-Kawthari’s analyses, of other self-claimed mujaddids from the same region, is also quite telling.

Allah Revives Deen In Different Lands In Different Eras

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, the great hadith scholar from the last century, wrote the following taqriz (commendation) of I’la al-Sunan when Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani was editing the first few volumes. He states it is the best book on the subject, and quotes ‘Allamah al-Kawthari describing how the different lands take it in turns to revive knowledge and that the burdens of the sciences of the Sunnah were being carried by the scholars of India:

All praise to Allah Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace upon our leader and our master Muhammad, and upon his family and all his companions.

To proceed:

From the most important ways in which the pure Sunnah is served is by commenting on the hadiths of rulings and extracting what is found in them of jurisprudence (fiqh) and teaching, commands and prohibitions, the lawful and the unlawful. The aspirations of the juristic hadith-scholars vied with one another in every age and place to collect these hadiths in one platform so they become a simple reference-point and easily attainable for every student of jurisprudence and seeker of benefit.

From the best, nay the best, of what was compiled on this [subject] in this fourteenth century, and the most far-reaching of them in comprehensiveness, from the perspective of the Hanafi masters, is the book I‘la al-Sunan, a compilation by our teacher, the great scholar (‘allamah), the hadith-scholar (muhaddith), the jurist (faqih), the theoretician (usuli), the proficient researcher, Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani al-Thanawi (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) which was first printed in India using [old] lithographic print in the year 1341 (1923 CE) and [later volumes continued to be printed] from then on, and most of it was printed there. Then its printing was completed in Karachi in Pakistan, and it appeared in twenty volumes*. From them were two volumes written as an introduction to the book, one of them a hadith-related introduction** and another on juristic principles, in consideration of what the book contained of noble hadiths in the main text (matn) and the juristic rulings extracted from them in the commentary (sharh), so the book by means of this comprehensiveness and meticulousness came to be at the peak of what was compiled on its subject-matter.

The reason for compiling this immense beneficial book is what occurred in the course of this century when a group of people in some cities of India arose, before the partition of Pakistan, calling themselves “Ahl al-Hadith,” claiming that the school of the Hanafi masters, which is the school of the majority of Muslims in those large and expansive lands, conflicts with the Prophetic hadiths in many issues, just as they claimed also that the Hanafi masters prefer analogy over the noble hadith, and just as they denied also taqlid of the four Imams (Allah be pleased with them) that are followed, and they lengthened their tongues with respect to Hanafi jurisprudence and more specifically with respect to the jurist of this nation Imam Abu Hanifah.

Outstanding scholars from those Indian lands rose to challenge these deviant beliefs and they falsified these claims through many well-researched hadith-related works. They explained in these [works] the reliance of the Hanafi masters in their jurisprudence and their school on the noble hadiths, and that they prefer the noble hadith and even weak hadith over analogy, and that analogy with its conditions is from the proofs which must be acted upon, and in drawing evidence from the Sunnah and relying upon it, the Hanafis are not less than other than them from the Imams, if not stronger than other than them in relying on hadith and narration. Rather, our teacher, the author of I‘la al-Sunan, Allah Almighty have mercy on him and increase his rewards, established in his hadith-related introduction Qawa‘id fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith p. 289 that the Hanafis prefer the statements of the Companions over analogy, due to their excessive adherence to reports, let alone the noble Prophetic hadiths.

And by this unique comprehensive and rare book I‘la al-Sunan and those hadith-related compilations similar to it which the scholars of India and Pakistan undertook – in those lands which have now carried from between the lands of the Muslims the burdens of the sciences of the Sunnah and its service and its propagation – those deviant claims against the Hanafis have been destroyed, and every arrogant deviant or shameless pretender of knowledge was silenced, and it became apparent to every possessor of two eyes that the Hanafis are from the greatest of people in reliance on hadith and narration while they are also people of reason and analogy.

‘Allamah al-Thanawi, Allah give him abundant reward and raise his position and his mention with Him, exhausted in his book I‘la al-Sunan the proofs of all the chapters of jurisprudence from the chapter of purification to the last chapters of jurisprudence with an excellent effort and in a rigorous hadith and fiqh-related method. Gazes turned to this book so the hands of the scholars from the time of its publication hastily seized it, and acquiring a copy of it came to be from the great hopes in the hearts of the scholars who knew about this book from [other] books or heard about it.

It is a sufficient testimony for you to [know] the lofty position of this book that you see the like of our teacher, Imam al-Kawthari (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) praise it with the most wonderful praise in his book Maqalat al-Kawthari p. 75 in an article of his in which he spoke about the different lands taking turns in carrying the burdens of the sciences of the Sunnah, so after referring to the efforts of the scholars of India and Pakistan and their achievements in the field of the pure Sunnah in the latter centuries, and their undertaking of the burdens of the sciences of the Sunnah since the tenth century till now, he said:

“Some of their scholars also have specific compilations on the hadiths of rulings in a novel original manner, which is to exhaust the rulings from their sources and collect them in one platform [arranged] into chapters, and to comment on every hadith from them with criticism and accreditation and strength and weakness.”

And after Imam al-Kawthari highly praised the book Athar al-Sunan written for the same purpose by the great scholar, the hadith-scholar, the knowledgeable jurist, the critic, Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Ali known as Zahir Ahsan al-Nimawi (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), he said, the summary of which is:

“Similarly, the inimitable great scholar, the unique ocean, the teacher of the scholars of the Indian lands, the great hadith-scholar, the knowledgeable critic, our master, the sage of the nation, Muhammad Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi, the author of works, both small and large, numbering around five hundred, paid attention to this matter, and thus he wrote Jami‘ al-Athar on this subject. A description of this book is dispensable by the mention of the great name of its author. It was printed in India although getting hold of it has become somewhat difficult since its printed copies were depleted because of the great number of those interested in collecting the works of this lordly scholar, who is a blessing of the Indian lands, and he has a high standing amongst the scholars of India such that they call him “the physician of the nation” (hakim al-ummah).

“This magnificent scholar instructed his student and nephew, who completed his hadith studies with him, the critical hadith-scholar, the excellent jurist, Mawlana Zafar Ahmad al-Thanawi (may his achievements increase), to compile the proofs of the chapters of jurisprudence by gathering the hadiths of rulings, [arranging them] into chapters, from the sources which are difficult to obtain, while commenting on every hadith at the bottom of every page according to what is required in the science of hadith of strength and weakness and acceptance and rejection according to the different schools. This enthusiastic scholar occupied himself in this difficult task for around twenty years with the utmost devotion until he completed his work with the utmost brilliance with the accordance of Allah Glorified is He.

“Truth be told, I was astonished by this compilation and this exhaustion and by this extreme comprehensiveness in commenting on every hadith as is required in the science [of hadith], in relation to the text and chain, without there appearing the signs of affectation in support of his school, rather fairness was his principle when speaking about the opinions of the adherents of the [different] schools. Hence, I was pleased with it with the utmost happiness. This is how the aspirations of [real] men and the seriousness of [true] heroes are. If only some of the owners of the big printing presses in Egypt would attain the aforementioned book from its author, and print it with beautiful Egyptian letters, and if one of them were to do that he would have served knowledge a service that is appreciated, and he would fill a gap in this subject.” [Here] ends the statement of our teacher Imam al-Kawthari, Allah have mercy on him.

Indeed Allah Almighty has favoured for the realisation of this priceless noble desire and for the printing of this brilliant hadith and fiqh-related book in the city of Karachi in Pakistan, adorned with an academic and distinguished service, the great scholar, the researcher, the hadith-scholar, the perceptive jurist, the man of letters, the esteemed Shaykh Muhammad Taqi al-‘Uthmani, the son of our respected teacher the Grand Mufti Mawlana Muhammad Shafi‘, his lofty shadow be lengthened in good health and happiness.

That descendant, the brilliant heir, undertook [the task of] verifying this [book] and annotating it, in a way that will make its aims and objectives complete and will perfect its pearls and its benefits, with a lofty academic flavour and a novel typed artistic format, with a brilliant look from the beauty of modern printing. The first volume of it has become a wonderful academic treasure. The services of the sagacious researcher, the apple of Pakistan***, is manifest therein, so this wonderful academic work deserves the gratitude of the students of knowledge and scholars.

Allah is beseeched for the production of this encyclopaedic beneficial book to be completed at his hands, so it becomes a great weight in his overflowing good deeds, Allah willing. Allah reward him the best of rewards on behalf of knowledge and its people. Allah also reward with goodness its publisher and its printer and all who helped in its production in this nice cover and beautiful printing. All praise to Allah by Whose grace good actions are fulfilled.

The one needy of Him Most High wrote it, ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah. Riyadh, College of Shari‘ah. 3/2/1396 (1976 CE)

*The final volume was completed in 1357 Hijri (1938 CE)

**Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah: “This beneficial comprehensive hadith-related introduction called Inha’ al-Sakan ila man yutali‘u I‘la al-Sunan was printed in India in the year 1345 in [old] lithographic print, and then it was printed in Karachi in Pakistan in the year 1383 with modern printing. Later, Allah, with Whom is grace and blessing, favoured me with serving this unique hadith-related introduction and verifying it and annotating it and printing it and publishing it with the title Qawa‘id fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith. Its printing was completed in Beirut in the year 1392 in 550 pages, and it became by Allah Almighty’s grace, a knowledge-filled treasure, wonderful to look at and learn from, and it received the most pleasant acceptance and approval from the great scholars of this field, and all praise belongs to Allah Lord of the Worlds.”

*** Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah: “This is a title with which I named the verifier of this book [Mufti Taqi al-‘Uthmani], Allah Almighty preserve him and maintain him, while he was in the prime of his youth around fifteen years ago in my first trip to Pakistan in the year 1382 (1962 CE) when I saw in him a vigorous talent, a sharp mind, expansive knowledge, overflowing brilliance, along with a high and transparent spirit and a rare Arabic eloquence in his sermons and his extemporary speech. Allah increase him from His favour and His accordance, and benefit through him [His] servants and all lands, and bless me with his righteous supplications.”

None Equal To Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri Since Ibn al-Humam

In Maqalat al-Kawthari, one article is devoted to showing the misguidance of the Qadiyanis. Towards the end of the article, ‘Allamah Zahid al-Kawthari (1879 – 1951) only mentions ‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri (1875 – 1933)‏ and his associates, Mawlana Murtada Hasan al-Chandpuri (1868 – 1951) and Mufti Shafi‘ al-‘Uthmani (1896 – 1976), as those who defeated the Qadiyani heresy in India in writing. Mawlana Murtada Hasan al-Chandpuri is the author of several books refuting Ahmad Rida Khan’s false allegations against the Deobandi scholars.

“May Allah (Glorified is He) elevate the rank of the lost soul of Islam, the penetrating hadith-scholar, Shaykh Muhammad Anwar al-Kashmiri in the rooms of the Gardens [of paradise], and may He repay him with the reward of those who defended the borders of the religion of Islam, for indeed he uprooted the Qadiyanis with his irrefutable arguments, and he created a barrier before the terrible evil of the moderate of them and the extreme of them in India, by compiling beneficial books in refutation of them in various languages.

He researched in his book Ikfar al-Mulhidin the matter of anathematising them and their ilk. At its conclusion is found around seventy seven quotes similar [to the quotes] that have preceded from the writings of the aforementioned Ghulam Ahmad the false claimant to prophethood, quoting from the books of this deviant while identifying the pages from them by the selection of the eminent teacher, Mawlana Sayyid Murtada [Hasan al-Chandpuri] al-Hindi, and along with those texts are their translations into Arabic by the pen of the earnest teacher, Mawlawi Muhammad Shafi‘ al-Deobandi. Awareness of [even] one of them is enough to be certain of the speaker and his partisans having left the fold of Islam.” (Maqalat al-Kawthari, p. 271-2)

While discussing the deviant belief that the Prophet ‘Isa (upon him peace) has died and will not descend, ‘Allamah al-Kawthari writes:

“And in ‘Aqidat al-Islam fi Hayat ‘Isa ‘alayhi al-salam by our master, the oceanic-scholar, al-Kashmiri, is a detailed explanation of the ways the Book indicates to what the people of truth are upon, so whoever wants more detail should refer to that.” (Maqalat al-Kawthari, p. 266)

Besides ‘Aqidat al-Islam (and its commentary Tahiyyat al-Islam) and Ikfar al-Mulhidin, ‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri also authored al-Tasrih bi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih in refutation of the Qadiyanis. In this book, he collected all the narrations proving the bodily descent of ‘Isa at the end of time. The book was edited and published by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah.

‘Allamah al-Kawthari also said ‘Allamah al-Kashmiri’s work on the issue of raf‘ al-yadayn is one of the best on the topic:

“From the best of what was written on this topic is Nayl al-Firqadayn and Bast al-Yadayn both of them by our master, the great scholar, the deep ocean, Muhammad Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri, Allah have mercy on him.” (Ta’nib al-Khatib, p. 166)

On specific works on hadith-proofs for the Hanafi school, he also has a book on reciting behind the imam in prayer (Fasl al-Khitab fi Mas’alati Umm al-Kitab), and another on Witr (Kashf al-Sitr ‘an Salat al-Witr); and he was also an aide to ‘Allamah Nimawi’s Athar al-Sunan to which he made further notes after the author’s death with the title al-Ithaf li Madhhab al-Ahnaf.

Finally, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah wrote in the introduction to his edition of al-Tasrih bi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih:

Our shaykh, the researcher, al-Kawthari said: “After the shaykh, the imam, Ibn al-Humam, there appeared none equal to him [i.e. ‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri] in eliciting rare points of discussion from hadiths – and this is a long period of time!” (al-Tasrih bi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih, p. 26)

The Achievements of the Indians are Beyond Estimation

While speaking about the important works written on the topic of hadith-proofs for the schools of fiqh, ‘Allamah Zahid al-Kawthari wrote on the contributions of the Indian scholars on this topic, saying it is “beyond all estimation,” and while mentioning these “Indians of the Ahl al-Sunnah,” he directly or indirectly refers to and praises at least six Deobandi scholars from the seven that he mentions:

Then came the turn of our brothers, the Indians of the Ahl al-Sunnah, for their achievements in the Sunnah in these latter centuries is beyond all estimation, and their commentaries of the six mother-books are brimming with richness in [commenting on] the hadiths of rulings, so you have Fath al-Mulhim fi Sharh Sahih Muslim [by Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad al-‘Uthmani]; Badhl al-Majhud fi Sharh Sunan Abi Dawud [by Mawlana Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri]; al-‘Arf al-Shadhi fi Sharh Sunan al-Tirmidhi [by ‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri] and innumerable other [works] in which are found satisfactory explanations of controversial issues [of fiqh].

Some of their ‘ulama also have specific compilations on the hadiths of rulings in a marvellous new style, which is to exhaust the hadiths of rulings from their sources and gather them onto one platform [dividing them] into the chapters [of fiqh], and discuss every hadith from them with criticism and accreditation and strengthening and weakening.

Thus, the great scholar and hadith-expert Mawlana Zahir Ahsan al-Nimawi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote his book Athar al-Sunan in two short volumes*, in which he compiled the hadiths related to purification and prayer according to the different juristic schools, and he commented on every hadith from them with criticism and accreditation in the manner of the hadith-scholars, and he excelled in what he accomplished with complete excellence. He had intended to continue in this way to the last chapters of fiqh, but death came between him and his hopes (Allah have mercy on him). This book is printed in India with lithographic print although the people of knowledge snatched it after its publication, so it is difficult to get hold of a copy of it unless it is printed again.

Similarly, the inimitable great scholar, the unique ocean, the teacher of the scholars of the Indian lands, the great hadith-scholar, the knowledgeable critic, our master, the sage of the nation, Muhammad Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi, the author of works, both small and large, numbering around five hundred, paid attention to this matter, and thus he (his stay be lengthened) wrote Ihya’ al-Sunan and Jami‘ al-Athar on this subject. A description of these books is dispensable by the mention of the great name of its author. Both of them were printed in India although getting hold of them has become somewhat difficult since their printed copies were depleted because of the great number of those interested in collecting the works of this lordly scholar (Allah extend his stay), who is a blessing of the Indian lands, and he has a high standing amongst the scholars of India such that they call him “the physician of the nation” (hakim al-ummah).

This magnificent scholar instructed his student and nephew, who completed his hadith studies with him, the critical hadith-scholar, the excellent jurist, Mawlana Zafar Ahmad al-Thanawi (may his achievements increase), to compile the proofs of the chapters of jurisprudence by gathering the hadiths of rulings, [arranging them] into chapters, from the sources which are difficult to obtain, while commenting on every hadith at the bottom of every page according to what is required in the science of hadith of strength and weakness and acceptance and rejection according to the different schools. This enthusiastic scholar occupied himself in this difficult task for around twenty years with the utmost devotion until he completed his work with the utmost brilliance with the accordance of Allah Glorified is He in twenty slim volumes with the paper size of Athar al-Sunan and this book of his was called I‘la al-Sunan; and a special volume was written for it as a brilliant introduction to the principles of hadith which is beneficial in [reaching] the goal in this subject.

Truth be told, I was astonished by this compilation and this exhaustion and by this extreme comprehensiveness in commenting on every hadith as is required in the science [of hadith], in relation to the text and chain, without there appearing the signs of affectation in support of his school, rather fairness was his principle when speaking about the opinions of the adherents of the [different] schools. Hence, I was pleased with it with the utmost happiness. This is how the aspirations of [real] men and the perseverance of [true] heroes are. May Allah extend his stay in goodness and safety and enable him to compile similar beneficial works. The author (Allah preserve him) has printed around twenty parts of this book with lithographic print, and the copies of the first parts have finished. As for the publication of the remaining [volumes], it is happening very slowly, so if only some of the owners of the big printing presses in Egypt would obtain the aforementioned book from its author, and print it with beautiful Egyptian letters, and if one of them were to do that he would have served knowledge a service that is appreciated, and he would fill a gap in this subject.

Also from the famous scholars of India, of those who have an interest in the hadiths of rulings, is the great scholar and hadith expert, Shaykh Mahdi Hasan al-Shahajanpuri [a graduate of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband and student of Shaykh al-Hind], the Mufti (Allah preserve him), for he commented on the book al-Athar by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani in two large volumes. Allah (Glorified is He) increase the likes of such men.

This is a small selection of the achievements of these brothers, and in this let the competitors compete.”

(Maqalat al-Kawthari, p. 68-9)

*This was also, in part, the contribution of a scholar from Deoband: ‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri helped the author with the writing of this book. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah in his biography of ‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri in Tarajim Sittah min Fuqaha al-‘Alam al-Islami quotes ‘Allamah Yusuf al-Binnori (the student of ‘Allamah Kashmiri), who after mentioning the ‘ilmi benefit acquired from ‘Allamah al-Kashmiri by his major contemporaries like Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi, Mawlana Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri, and his teacher, Shaykh al-Hind Mahmud al-Hasan al-Deobandi, he said:

“Mawlana Muhammad Zahir Ahsan al-Nimawi (d. 1322/1904), Allah have mercy on him, the famous hadith-scholar, author of Athar al-Sunan, would seek assistance from Shaykh [Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri] with regards to the ambiguities of hadith, by correspondence through letter-writing. He would seek help from him while writing his book Athar al-Sunan and he would present to him what he had written piece by piece. This is what I heard from the revered Shaykh [himself], Allah have mercy on him. He said in his book Nayl al-Firqadayn: “The deceased Shaykh [al-Nimawi] while writing that book would send it to me piece by piece, until I became an aide therein; and I added many things to it after him.” The Shaykh, Allah have mercy on him, at that time was a youth whose reputation was not [yet] manifest to the people while the hadith-scholar al-Nimawi was an experienced scholar, and in spite of this, this was his [manner of] interacting [with ‘Allamah Kashmiri], and this shows his intellectual humbleness and his estimation of men. Allah raise both their statuses.” (Tarajim Sittah min Fuqaha al-‘Alam al-Islami, p. 29)

The Commentary of Sahih Muslim That Supersedes That of Imam Nawawi: Allamah Zahid al-Kawthari’s Praise of Fath al-Mulhim by Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani

The people of knowledge have a special interest in Sahih Muslim, in recognition from them of its lofty position amongst the six mother-books of Islam. Some of them composed mustakhrajat (a collection of the same hadiths with different chains) upon it; and some of them compiled specifically on its narrators; and some of them paid interest to the areas criticised by some critics of the chain and text; and some of them strove to clarify its hidden meanings and comment on the manners of its indications and release all that was locked in its chains.

From the group of the commentators of this eminent book are:

• Imam Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Maziri author of al-Mu‘lim fi Sharh Sahih Muslim;

• and from them is al-Qadi ‘Iyad ibn Musa al-Yahsabi author of Ikmal al-Mu‘lim fi Sharh Sahih Muslim;

• and from them is Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Umar al-Qurtubi author of al-Mufhim lima Ashkala min Talkhis Kitab Muslim;

• and from them is Abu Zakariyya Muhyi al-Din Yahya al-Nawawi author of al-Minhaj fi Sharh Sahih Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj which is derived [primarily] from the three books of these luminaries that we mentioned and Ma‘alim al-Sunan of al-Khattabi.

This commentary of al-Nawawi is the first commentary to appear in the world of printing from the commentaries of Sahih Muslim, although it is not of that which quenches the thirst of the researcher in all objectives. Then there appeared Ikmal Ikmal al-Mu‘lim by Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Khalifah al-Ubbi in the world of existence which was printed around thirty years ago together with Mukmil Ikmal al-Ikmal by Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Sanusi, in which they collected the essence of what is found in the previous commentaries, of benefits, together with their amendments as far as was possible for them, and the people of knowledge were greatly impressed with them due to what they received in them of a degree of expansion in comparison to the commentary of al-Nawawi printed previously.

However, truth be told, none of these commentaries fulfil the right of Sahih Muslim, of commentary and exposition from all perspectives, which concern the thirsty researchers [seeking] to reveal the secrets of the book. So if one commentary excels in jurisprudence or beliefs according to one school, for example, you find it lacking in the commentary of what relates to the remainder of the schools of practice and belief. This does not quench the thirst of the researcher. Or you find it neglecting the commentary of its introduction despite it being from the oldest of what the imams of hadith wrote in preparing the principles of the science of hadith like the book al-Tamyiz by Muslim, and such [a book] deserves a full commentary. And you find amongst the commentators those who omit commenting on the narrators altogether, although the researcher is in great need of this in areas of known criticism. Hence, when one of these commentaries pleases you from some perspectives, you find it does not quench your thirst from other perspectives. The remainder of the commentaries are similar. This is a substantial gap. We had the strongest desire that a commentary of Sahih Muslim appears in the world of print to fill this gap.

Now we are ones who have chanced upon our longed-for lost treasure in the production of Fath al-Mulhim fi Sharh Sahih Muslim in its wonderful dress and brilliant suit in a number of Indian prints. Till now two large volumes of it have been printed. The number of pages in each of its volumes is five hundred, and the number of lines in every page is 35. If the book were printed in Egypt, each volume would be two volumes in large size paper. The entire book is like this in five volumes, and the third volume is about to be published.

We were very pleased by this glorious and splendid commentary, in form and meaning, since we found it adequate and satisfactory from every perspective. And it filled, in the true sense, that void which we alluded to. Hence, the researcher finds a big introduction at its opening, collecting miscellanea of the science of the principles of hadith with brilliant research, collecting the opinions of the hadith-scholars who have written on this topic, according to what the scholars of the principles of jurisprudence authorised in accordance with the different schools, not being limited to one party besides another. Thus, this marvellous introduction suffices the researcher the burden of looking at endless sources. After the amazing introduction is a hundred pages giving the researcher a commentary of the introduction of Sahih Muslim, a commentary by which the breast of the examiner will expand, since the brilliant commentator did not leave any place of ambiguity therein at all, rather he explained what is for it and what is against it with absolute fairness. Then he commented on the hadiths in all the chapters with the utmost balance, so he left no juristic issue without his full assessment, rather he enumerated the proofs of the schools in the juristic issues and compared them, strengthening the strong and weakening the weak with utmost fairness.

Likewise, this learned commentator did not neglect any hadith-related matter in all of the chapters, rather he gave it its full due, of verification and elucidation. Hence, he exhausted:

• determining the correct vowelling of the names;

• explanation of the uncommon words;

• discussion of the narrators;

• verification of the areas in which some imams of this field brought various objections from the perspective of the art, not yielding to the acceptance of the statement of those who said, “All who the two shaykhs have transmitted from, he has jumped the hurdle,” as a means to blind imitation.

He refuted many deviant groups in this commentary of his and he had complete impartiality in his refutations of the opponents from the jurists and hadith-scholars. And he produced while commenting on hadiths many runaway benefits and lofty realities which none realise besides exceptional men and masters of the hearts.

There is no surprise that this commentary is as we described, rather better than what we described to the fair reader, since its author is that brilliant scholar, the proof, the embodiment of multiple sciences, the verifier of this age, the exegete, hadith-scholar, expert jurist, deep critic, Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad al-‘Uthmani, teacher of hadith at the Islamic University in Dabhel, Surat, in India, and principal of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, the Azhar of the Indian lands, and author of famous works on the sciences of the Qur’an, hadith, jurisprudence and refutation of opponents. May Allah extend his stay in affluence and good health, and enable him to complete the publication of this priceless commentary, and to compile many such [works] in which is happiness in the two abodes; and may He benefit by his sciences the Muslims in the east and west of the earth. Verily, He is Near, Responding.

(Maqalat al-Kawthari, pp. 74-5)

Mufti Shafi – Faqih an-Nafs in the True Sense

Allamah Zahid Al-Kawthari’s letter to Hadhrat Mufti Shafi (father of Mufti Taqi Usmani):

To our respected brother (for the sake of Allah), the ‘Allamah, the Hadith Scholar, the Jurist, Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ ad-Deobandi (may Allah protect him)

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

I received your kind letter on the 15th of Safar, 1369 AH. There was much delay in receiving this letter due to a mistake in the address. Anyway, your kindness in writing to me greatly pleased me. I thank Allah that you are well and that you have remained busy in the affairs of the religion with your excellent companions under the leadership of Shaykh al-Islam ‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani (may Allah lengthen his life in goodness and wellbeing, and may Allah grant you all the ability to establish Islamic knowledge and the foundations of Shari’ah in this Islamic state for which we have high aspirations).

I hope that you send my sincere greetings and regards to that person who holds a unique position in knowledge, Muhaqqiq al-’Asr Mawlana [shabbir Ahmad] ‘Uthmani. May Allah cure him completely from that illness which he has. The scholarly community of the world is impatiently awaiting him to expand his efforts in completing his commentary, which is tremendous in every way.

I have desired, for a long time, [to become acquainted] with your honoured self, since I have seen your beneficial works and benefited from them. Ustadh [Yusuf] Binnori and Ustadh [Ahmad Ridha] al-Bijnori have been perfuming our gatherings with sweet smelling words of praise for you. Therefore, my happiness was multiplied when I was made aware of your membership to the organisation that Mawlana ‘Uthmani presides over. Your words are due to your extreme humbleness, otherwise your high rank in knowledge is known to all, whether they are close to you or far. We supplicate sincerely for you all, for complete success in your efforts, and that Allah keep you safe from the evils of the Isma’ilis and the Qadiyanis, and their like at home and abroad.

As far as issuing fatawa is concerned, you are the expert in this. Your long engagement [with issuing fatawa] has made you ‘Faqih an-Nafs’ in the true sense. The points that you have brought up [in your letter] are extremely notable … [Trans: this part of the text has been omitted by Hadhrat Mufti Taqi Saheb]

However, I do not dare add my signature to the fatwa, [because] I consider this to be insolence in light of your expertise in fiqh.

I pray to Allah that he grants you and I the ability to do that in which his pleasure lies and that he keeps you in good health.

The author of Faharis al-Bukhari was extremely pleased at your appreciation for his book. He expresses his gratitude and sends his sincere greetings. I hope you do not forget me in your prayers during those likely times in which prayers are accepted.


Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari.

16 Safar 1369 AH (Mere Walid Mere Shaykh Aur Un ka Mijaz Wa Mizaq, Idarat-ul-Ma’arif, Pages 58-62)

Barelwī Muhammad Danyaal Misleads his Readers on Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī’s Positive Opinion of Deobandī Scholars

April 16, 2020

Barelwī Muhammad Danyaal has started a new blog, and his first “note as a seeker” includes taking a dig at Deobandī scholars.

Overplaying Admiration for Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī?

He notes a chain Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī has to Shaykh ‘Abdul Qādir al-Jilānī via Ḍiyā’uddīn Madanī from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī. The book of Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī that Muhammad Danyaal is quoting from can be found here.

The first thing to note is the second line of Muhammad Danyaal’s translation:

The word “Imām” used here for Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī appears to be an interpolation by Muhammad Danyaal.

The original Arabic from Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī’s book is as follows (p102):

As can be seen Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī only says “Maulānā Aḥmad Riḍā Khān” not “Maulānā Imām Aḥmad Riḍā Khān”. Unless Muhammad Danyaal is using a different print, this would appear to be a deliberate distortion on his part to overplay to his readers Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī’s admiration of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān.

Downplaying Admiration of Deobandī Scholars 

In his second footnote, Muhammad Danyaal writes:

Muhammad Danyaal is being deceptive here. Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī doesn’t only “cite transmissions” from Deobandi scholars, but refers to them as “imāms of dīn”. On p8 of the very same book Muhammad Danyaal is quoting from, Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī says:

“I narrate from a number of the imāms of dīn with both reading and authorisation or just authorisation, from whom I will specifically mention: Shaykh Muḥammad Zakariyya al-Kāndehlawī, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth at India, Shaykh Ḥabībur Raḥmān al-A‘ẓamī, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth, Shaykh Muḥammad Yūsuf al-Bannūrī, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth at Karāchī, Shaykh Muḥammad Shafī‘, the Mufti of Pakistan…”

He goes on to mention other names. Here he cites a number of the “imāms of dīn” that he narrates from and foremost amongst them he cites 4 Deobandī scholars!

It is therefore not a matter of just “citing transmissions” from them while not endorsing them, as Muhammad Danyaal would like his readers to believe. Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī is very clearly endorsing them. Is it not an act of deception for Muhammad Danyaal to miss out this key detail?

Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī also refers to Maulānā Zakariyyā Kāndehlawī as “author of Awjaz al-Masālik” (p51) and as “commentator of al-Muwaṭṭa’” (p. 56), and Maulānā Khalīll Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī as “commentator of Sunan Abī Dāwūd” (p 56) and “author of Badhl al-Majhūd” (p70), and Maulānā Yūsuf Bannūrī as “author of Ma‘ārif al-Sunan” (p73) and Maulānā Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī as “author of al-Arf al-Shadhī” (p73), showing a recognition of the accomplishments/works of these Deobandī scholars. He also has a chain to Imām Abū Ḥanīfah that is “musalsal bi ‘l-Ḥanafiyyah” (p87), connected entirely through Ḥanafī scholars, which goes through Deobandī scholars.

Regarding the “intimate friendship” that Muhammad Danyaal seems so desperate to deny, there is evidence in the form of a letter from Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī to Maulānā Zakariyyā Kāndehlawī, in which he refers to himself as “your lover and the servant of your sandals”. (source)

This is how Maulānā ‘Abdul Ḥafīẓ Makkī (1946 – 2017) describes Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī’s relationship with Maulānā Zakariyyā Kāndhlewī: “Regarding his connection with our Hazrat Shaykh [Maulānā Zakariyyā Kāndehlawī], it is beyond description. He always recognised Hazrat Shaykh as being in place of his father after the passing of his respected father. In fact, he would address him as abī. Whenever he would come in the service of Hazrat, and he would come frequently, he would always kiss the blessed hand of Hazrat Shaykh, then sometimes he would kiss the shoulder and the forehead, and then sometimes the knees and sometimes he would also kiss the feet. Hazrat would thereupon wrap him in his love and compassion. Hazrat Shaykh would remain very informal with him and joke with him. He would behave with him just like those close to him. Pretty much all attendants of Hazrat Shaykh (his soul be sanctified) knew that Hazrat would always behave with Sayyid Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī as a father and he like a son. He has a lot of affection and love for this disgraced one (i.e. Maulānā ‘Abdul Ḥafīẓ Makkī himself) and other attendants and associates of Hazrat by virtue of this connection with Hazrat.” (Āp Ke Masā’il aur un Kā Ḥall, 10:140)

Surely this suggests more than just an “intimate friendship”?

Regarding Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī’s Mafāhīm, Deobandī scholars in general disagreed with some contents of the book. Mufti Taqi Usmani’s review can be read here (which also refers to the links Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī and his father had with Deobandī scholars). Maulānā Yūsuf Ludhyānwī’s discussion can also be found in the tenth volume of Āp Ke Masā’il aur un Kā Ḥall (available here). There were some Deobandī scholars, however, who maintained their endorsement of Mafāhīm, like Ṣūfī Iqbāl and Maulānā ‘Abdul Ḥafīẓ Makkī. Regardless, a negative opinion of (some) Deobandī scholars towards Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī/some of his ideas does not negate Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī’s positive opinion of Deobandī scholars, which is what Muhammad Danyaal here seems to be desperately trying to downplay.

Note: See Maulānā ‘Abdul Ḥafīẓ Makkī’s (1946 – 2017) full account on the strong bond between Muḥammad ‘Alawī Mālikī (and his father) and Deobandī scholars. (p138-144 of volume 10 from Āp Ke Masā’il aur un Kā Ḥall)

A Critique of Husam al-Haramayn: English Translation of ‘Ibārāt e Akābir by ‘Allāmah Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar

January 13, 2019

‘Allāmah Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar’s (1914 – 2009) ‘Ibārāt e Akābir, a work written in 1972, is a detailed appraisal of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s false fatwās of takfīr against the Akābir of Deoband. An edited and adapted English translation of the work has alḥamdulillāh been completed, and can be found at the link below.

The book not only provides a detailed and clear rebuttal of the allegations made in Ḥusām al- Ḥaramayn, but also some allegations made against Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd in Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s al-Kawkabat al-Shihābiyyah (and in other Barelwī writings).

There are also responses to allegations made based on two dreams mentioned in the writings of Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī and Shaykh Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī.

The work clearly demonstrates Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s deception, distortions, extremism in takfīr and the lie of his carefulness in issuing takfīr. The book has the added advantage of providing short biographies of the personalities Aḥmad Riḍā Khān assaults and providing clear translations and citations of useful passages from original Urdu works (some for the first time made available in English).

The introduction also offers a useful historical background, showing Aḥmad Riḍā Khān and his senseless takfīrism was opposed by mainstream Sunnī scholarship of his day, even by those unaffiliated with the madrasa of Deoband and its luminaries.

Read here:

Imkān al-Kidhb and the Arab Scholars

December 31, 2018

In al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad, a work completed in Shawwāl of 1325 AH (1907 CE), ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī described the beliefs of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband in matters that they were alleged to have parted from the Ahl al-Sunnah. The work comprises of 26 questions and answers.

He discusses the topic of “imkān al-kidhb” under questions 23, 24 and 25. Questions 24 and 25 are particularly relevant to the subject, a translation of which is produced below:

Question Twenty-Four

Do you believe in the possibility of the occurrence of falsehood in a statement from the Speech of the Master (Great and Glorious is His Transcendence). If not, what then is your opinion?


We and our elders (Allah Most High have mercy on them) declare and are convinced that all speech that issued from the Creator (Great and Glorious is He) or will issue from Him is absolutely truthful, and it is certain that it concurs with reality. Undoubtedly, there is no trace of falsehood in any part of His (Exalted is He) Speech, nor any doubt about [the absence of] contravening reality [in His Speech]. Whoever believes contrary to this or conceives of a lie in any part of His Speech is a disbeliever, apostate and heretic, and does not have even a trace of faith.

Question Twenty-Five

Have you ascribed the view of “imkān al-kadhib” (the possibility of lying) to some of the Ash‘arīs? If so, what is meant by this? And do you have a proof-text for this view from the reliable scholars? Explain the matter to us as it is.


This began as a dispute between us and the Indian logicians and innovators about the ability of the Creator (Transcendent is He) to act contrary to what He promised, informed, intended, etc. They said that acting contrary to these things is negated from Allah’s Ancient Power (qudrah qadīmah), hypothetically impossible (mustaḥīl ‘aqlan), impossible to exist within His ability, and it is necessary for Him [to act] in accordance with His promise, report, intent and knowledge.

We said: Such things are certainly within His ability but their occurrence (wuqū‘) is not possible according to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, namely the Ash‘ārīs and Māturīdīs, textually and logically according to the Māturīdīs, and only textually according to the Ash‘arīs.

They objected that if it were possible that these things are included within the Power, it would entail the possibility of falsehood and this is certainly not in His ability and is intrinsically impossible (mustaḥīl dhātan).

We responded using a variety of answers from the kalām-scholars, of which was:

Even if the concomitance of the possibility of falsehood in acting contrary to the promise, reports etc. in His ability is accepted, it too is not intrinsically impossible, rather, like oppression and impudence, it is intrinsically within the Power, but it is textually and logically impossible, or just textually, as several imāms have espoused.

When they saw these responses, they caused corruption in the land and attributed to us [the position of] allowing imperfections (naqṣ) in relation to His Holiness (Blessed and Exalted is He), and they spread this accusation amongst the foolish and the ignorant to create enmity in the common people and to seek enjoyment and popularity amongst men. They reached the roads of the heavens in fabrication when they fabricated an image from themselves on the actuality (fi’liyyah) of falsehood [and ascribed it to us] without fearing the Knowing King. When Indians became aware of their scheming, they sought help from the noble ‘ulamā’ of the two Sanctuaries because they know they are ignorant of their evil and the reality of the views of our ‘ulamā’.

Their likeness is but the likeness of the Mu‘tazilah as compared with the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah since they [i.e. the Mu’tazilah] excluded rewarding the sinner (ithābat al-‘āṣī) and punishing the obedient (‘iqāb al-muṭī’) from the Pre-Eternal Power and made justice (‘adl) necessary for Allāh’s essence. They called themselves “the advocates of justice and transcendence” and they attributed injustice, unconscientiousness and ugliness to the ‘ulamā’ of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. So just as the predecessors of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah did not mind their ignorance and did not permit inability in relation to Him (Transcendent and Exalted is He!) in the aforementioned injustice, and broadened the Pre-Eternal Power while also removing imperfections from His Noble Absolute Self and perfecting the transcendence and sanctity of His Lofty Holiness, saying, “Your understanding of the possibility of the ability to punish the obedient and reward the sinner as an imperfection is but the consequence of [following] despicable philosophers”; in the same way, we say to them, “Your understanding of the ability to act contrary to the promise, report and truth and the likes of them as an imperfection, while their issuance (ṣudūr) from Him (Exalted is He) is impossible, only textually, or rationally and textually, is but the misfortune of philosophy and logic and your adverse ignorance.”

They do what they do because of the absolute transcendence [of Allāh], but they are unable to perfect the Power and broaden it. As for our predecessors, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, they combined between the two matters, of widening the Power and perfecting transcendence for the Necessary Existent (Transcendent and Exalted is He).

This is what we mentioned in al-Barāhīn in summary-form, and here are some of the proof-texts in support of it from the relied upon books of the madhhab:

(1) It says in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif:

“All the Mu‘tazila and Khawārij make punishing the one who incurs a major sin necessary when he dies without repentance and they do not allow Allāh to pardon him for two reasons. First, He (Exalted is He) made it a promise to punish major sins and informed [us] of this i.e. punishment because of it, so if He does not punish for a major sin and pardons, it would entail reneging on His threat and falsehood in His speech, which are impossible. The answer is, the conclusion of this [argument] is that punishment will [actually] occur, so where is the [intrinsic] necessity of punishment, on which is our discussion, since there is no doubt that non-necessity [of punishment] along with [its] occurrence does not entail reneging and falsehood? It cannot be said that it entails their possibility which is also impossible, because we say: its impossibility is not accepted. How so, when they [reneging on a threat and stating something false] are from the possibilities included in His (Exalted is He) Power?”

(2) In Sharḥ al-Maqāsid by ‘Allamah al-Taftāzāni (Allāh Most High have mercy on him) at the end of the discussion on Power:

“The deniers of the inclusiveness of His Power are many groups; of them are al-Naẓẓām and his [Mu‘tazilī] followers who say that He does not have power over foolishness, falsehood and oppression and all ugly acts (qabā’iḥ), for if their creation were in His capacity, their issuance (ṣudūr) from Him would be possible, and this concomitant (lāzim) is false because it results in impudence (safah) if He knows the ugliness of this and its dispensability, and in ignorance if He is not knowing.

“The response is: We do not concede the ugliness of a thing in relation to Him, how [can we accept this] when He is in complete control of His kingdom? And if it is conceded, Power over it does not negate the impossibility of its issuance from Him, by consideration of the presence of disposal and the absence of need, even if it is possible (mumkinan).”

(3) It says in al-Musāyarah and its commentary al-Musāmarah by ‘Allāmah al-Muḥaqqiq Kamāl ibn al-Humām al-Ḥanafi and his student Ibn Abi l-Sharīf al-Maqdisī al-Shāfi‘ī (Allāh Most High have mercy on them):

“Then he i.e. the author of Al-’Umdah said, ‘Allah (Exalted is He) is not characterised by Power over oppression, impudence and falsehood because the impossible is not included in [His] Power, i.e. it is improper for it to pertain to them, while according to the Mu’tazilah, He (Exalted is He) is capable of all that but does not do [them].’ End quote from Al-‘Umda.

“It appears as though he altered that which he transmitted from the Mu‘tazilah, since there is no doubt that the absence of power over what was mentioned is the madhhab of the Mu‘tazilah. As for its presence, i.e. power over what was mentioned, and then abstention from pertaining to them by choice, it is more fitting to the madhhab, i.e. it the madhhab of the Ash‘aris, than it is to the madhhab of the Mu‘tazilah. It is obvious that this more fitting position is also included in transcendence, since there is no doubt that abstention therefrom i.e. from those things mentioned of oppression, impudence and falsehood, is from the matter of transcendence, from that which does not befit the majesty of His Holiness (Exalted is He).

“Hence, it should be understood by the foregone premise, i.e. the intellect understands, which of the two views are more excessive in transcendence from indecencies: is it power over it, i.e. what was mentioned from the three matters, along with impossibility, i.e. His abstention from it by choosing that abstention; or its impossibility from Him because of the absence of power over it? It is incumbent to rely on the more inclusive of the two statements in transcendence, which is the statement more fitting to the madhhab of the Ash‘aris.”

(4) In Ḥawāshī al-Kalnabawī ‘alā Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id al-Aḍuḍiyyah by al-Muḥaqqiq al-Dawwānī (Allāh Most High have mercy on them):

In sum, lying being ugly in the uttered-speech (al-kalām al-lafẓi), in the sense that it is an attribute of deficiency, is not accepted according to the Ash‘arīs. That is why al-Sharīf al-Muḥaqqiq (al-Jurjānī) said it is from the totality of the possibilities (mumkināt), and acquiring decisive knowledge of its non-occurrence in His speech by consensus of the scholars and the Prophets (upon them be peace) does not negate its intrinsic possibility like all decisive knowledge of normal occurrences (al-‘ulūm al-‘adiyah) and it does not negate what Imām al-Rāzī said…”.

(5) In Taḥrīr al-Uṣūl by the author of Fatḥ al-Qadīr, Imām ibn al-Humām, and its commentary by Ibn Amir al-Hajj (Allah Most High have mercy on them):

“Therefore – i.e. since whatever is conceived as a deficiency is impossible for Him – the decisiveness of the impossibility of characterising Him – i.e. Allāh (Exalted is He) – with lying and the like of it (Transcendent is He beyond that) becomes apparent. Also, if His act being characterised by ugliness was possible, confidence in the integrity of His promise, the integrity of His speech besides it – i.e. [besides] His (Exalted is He) promise – and the integrity of His Prophets would be removed – i.e. in principle, His integrity would be uncertain.

“According to the Ash‘arīs, He (Exalted is He) is certainly not characterised by ugly acts, but they are not rationally impossible, like all of creation. [This is] just like all the sciences in which one of two opposites being the reality is certain, but the other is not impossible, if it were assumed that it is the reality; just like the certainty of Mecca and Baghdad – i.e. their existence – since their non-existence is not rationally impossible. Therefore – i.e. when the matter is such – confidence [in the integrity of His word] being removed is not necessitated because the possibility of something rationally does not necessitate not having firm resolve of its non-existence.

“The running dispute regarding the rational impossibility and possibility of this applies to all faults – is Allah’s power over it absent or is it, i.e. the fault, contained in it, i.e. His Power? He will certainly not do it, i.e. the absolutely decisive condition is the fault will not be done…”

Similar statements to what we quoted from the madhhab of the Ash‘arīs are mentioned by al-Qāḍī al-‘Aḍuḍ in Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Uṣūl and the commentators on it, as well as in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif and the marginalia to al-Mawāqif by al-Chalabī, and others. Similarly, ‘Allamah al-Qushjī in Sharḥ al-Tajrīd, al-Qunawi and others stated this. We avoided quoting their texts fearing prolixity and tedium. Allāh has charge of right guidance and right direction. (al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad, Dār al-Fatḥ, p. 87-96)

These answers were then sent to prominent Arab scholars of that era, who endorsed them. Some of these prominent Arab scholars include:

  1. Shaykh Muḥammad Sa‘īd Bābuṣayl al-Makkī (d. 1912), the Shāfi‘ī Muftī of Makkah and one of its leading scholars at the time. He wrote: “I have studied these answers by the perspicacious erudite scholar to the answers mentioned in this treatise and I found them to be at the peak of correctness, may Allāh (Exalted is He) repay the answerer, my brother and dear one, the unique Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad, may He continue his fortune and reverence in both worlds, and may He break the heads of the misguided and the jealous by him to the Day of Judgement. [I ask this] through the status of the Messengers, āmīn.” (ibid. p. 115)
  2. Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī (d. 1919), the Shāfi‘ī Muftī of Madīnah, who wrote an entire treatise in response to Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s request to give his assessment on the answers. The treatise is called: Kamāl al-Tathqīf wa l-Taqwīm li ‘Iwaj al-Afhām ‘ammā Yajib li Kalāmillāh al-Qadīm. He wrote at the end of the treatise: “Once the discussion has reached this stage, we make a general comprehensive statement for all the answers of the treatise comprising of 26 answers, which the respected erudite scholar Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad presented to us to inspect and consider the judgements therein: We indeed do not find in there any view that necessitates disbelief or innovation. Nor anything that is to be criticised for whatever reason, besides these three places which we mentioned, and there is nothing there too that necessitates disbelief or innovation as you are aware from our discussion about them. It is known that every scholar who compiles a book will not be safe from slips in some places of his speech.”

The bulk of Sayyid Barzanjī’s treatise is on the topic of imkān al-kidhb, as reflected by its title. He thus states: “The reason I gave it this title is that the answers which he gave to these questions, although diverse and related to various rules of both peripherals and principles, the most important of them is the one related to the necessity of truthfulness in Allāh’s self and spoken speech. Due to this importance, I give priority to this discussion over other answers…After having realised this adequate clarification and comprehending it with sound sufficient understanding, you know that what the respected Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad mentioned in answers 23, 24 and 25, is a recognised position in the reliable widely-circulated books of the latter-day ‘Ulamā’ of Kalām like al-Mawāqif, al-Maqāṣid, Shurūḥ al-Tajrīd, al-Musayārah and so on. The outcome of these answers that Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad mentioned is in agreement with the aforementioned ‘Ulamā’ of Kalām on it being within the ability of Allāh (Exalted is He) to go against the promise and threat and the truthful report in the spoken speech, which according to them necessitates intrinsic possibility, while there is certainty and conviction on it not occurring. This much does not entail disbelief, obstinacy, nor innovation in religion nor corruption. How so when you know the statement of the ‘Ulamā’ that we mentioned agreeing with it? As you saw in the statement of Mawāqif and its commentary which we cited earlier. Thus, Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad has not come out of the parameters of their speech.” (ibid. p. 121 – 125)

The treatise is dated to Rabī‘ al-Awwal, 1329 H (1911), and was cosigned by over 20 scholars of Madīnah.

  1. ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muḥammad Abu l-Khayr Ibn ‘Ābidīn (1853 – 1925), the grandson of the brother of the famous Ibn ‘Ābidīn, author of Radd al-Muḥtār. He was a notable scholar of Shām. He states that he has read the treatise and that its author has described the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. (ibid. p. 130)
  2. Shaykh Muṣṭafā ibn Aḥmad al-Shaṭṭī al-Ḥanbalī (1856 – 1929), a prominent Ḥanbalī muftī and ṣūfī of Damascus, and author of a work refuting Wahhābīs. (ibid. p. 131)
  3. ‘Allāmah Maḥmūd al-‘Aṭṭār (1867 – 1943), a great scholar of Shām, and the most notable student of ‘Allāmah Sayyid Badr al-Dīn al-Ḥasanī (1851 – 1935). He writes: “I have come across this important work and found it to be a book comprising of all subtle and manifest [matters] in refutation of the innovated group of Wahhābīs, may Allāh (Exalted is He) increase the likes of its author.” (ibid. p. 132 – 133)

Al-Shihāb al-Thāqib and the Response of the Arab Scholars to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān

February 15, 2017

Introduction and Background to al-Shihāb al-Thāqib by Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī

Since al-Shihāb al-Thāqib by Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1296 – 1377 H/1879 – 1957 CE)* is an important work in both explaining the background to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s shenanigans in the Ḥijāz/exposing him as a fraudster and deceiver, as well as in showing the differences between the Akābir of Deoband and the Wahhābīs, it will be worth sharing a translation of the introduction to the book so that the background to, and reasons for, its authorship can be appreciated.

Along with getting an idea of the contents of the work, one will also be able to appreciate the efforts made to give a detailed response to the slanders and lies of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921) directly by the Akābir.* The introduction translated below makes up about 5 pages of a book consisting of a total of over 90 pages.

The book was written around the year 1910 CE (i.e. many years before the Saudi/Wahhābī takeover of Ḥijāz) while Mawlānā Madanī was still residing in Madīnah, having lived there for over ten years. (He lived in Madīnah between the years 1899 and 1914 CE). A lengthy, and illuminating, part of the introduction contains a somewhat detailed description of the reaction of the scholars of Makkah and Madīnah to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s arrival in the Ḥijāz and to his request for their signed approvals to his fatwā. This part has not been translated, but a summary of it is given below.

[*In a letter dated 1370 H/1950 CE, Mawlānā Madanī wrote about the work al-Shihāb al-Thāqib: “Since it was written against Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s refutation, Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, the discussion on Wahhābīs came as a secondary [discussion], the objective of which is [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 this book remains my position, and it is the way of my noble predecessors.” (Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 118]

[** Of course, the Akābir who were themselves accused also made direct refutations: Mawlānā Thānawī in a detailed discussion in his Basṭ al-Banān, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī in his Muhannad, and even Mawlānā Gangohī rejected the attribution of the fabricated fatwā to himself as reported by his student, Sayyid Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī (Majmū‘ah Rasā’il Chāndpūrī, 1:106).]

The following is a translation of the introduction to the book:

The Piercing Projectile on the Eavesdropping Liar

Praise to the One Who adorned the sky of the two Noble Ḥarams with stars of pious ‘Ulamā’ and protection from every accursed rebellious devil. ‘They do not eavesdrop on the highest company and are bombarded from every side, repelled, and they have a lingering punishment – except for one who snatches a fragment, who is then followed by a piercing projectile.’ (Qur’ān, 37:8-10)

Thanks to the One Who granted the lordly imāms with a plentiful share of the Prophetic Legacy and those things left behind by al-Muṣṭafā, even to the point that He appointed for each of them ‘an enemy, devils of man and jinn, inspiring one another with fancy words to deceive’ (Qur’ān, 6:112) and ‘to strive for corruption on the earth’ (Qur’ān, 5:33), ‘for indecency to spread amongst the believers’ (Qur’ān, 24:19) and to split the adherents of Islām, so that they gain in aversion amongst themselves – and thereafter, He punished them causing their fancies and contrivances to vanish, and exposing them over the heads of witnesses, revealing their ploy and expelling each of them from the cosmos of [His] mercy, condemned and defeated.

And blessing and peace be upon the one who brought guidance and the Religion of Truth to make it manifest over all religion, even if the idolaters detest it; and [who brought] signs that break the necks of those who wish to extinguish the light of Allāh with their mouths, but Allāh refuses but for His light to be complete, even if the wicked are angered; and [blessing and peace be] upon his progeny and his companions who cleansed the upright religion from the impurities of doubt, unconcerned by those who oppose them from the obstinate ones, and [who] expended their efforts in making the word of the Sunnah and Congregation high, giving no attention to the innovations of the deviated People of Desires; and [blessing and peace be] upon their followers in excellence and sincerity till the Day of Judgement – for verily they are the nation from all communities holding firmly to justice, and with sincere concern for truth, till the Day of Resurrection, neither harmed by those who oppose them nor forsaken because of those who abandon them, by assistance of the Most Merciful of the merciful ones, and they are the pivots of the Bright Sharī‘ah and of the White Monotheism, by glad-tidings of the Unlettered Prophet, Allāh bless him and grant him, his progeny and his companions peace.

To proceed.

The servant of the students [of Dīn], Ḥusayn Aḥmad ibn Sayyid Ḥabībullāh al-Ḥanafī al-Ḥusaynī al-Chishtī al-Ṣābirī al-Rashīdī al-Fayḍābādī thumma l-Madanī, submits in the holy service of all Muslims residing in India that:

A long period ago, this lowly one, having left his ancestral hometown, the province of Fayḍābād, with his honorable father – may his honor remain –, had entered into the shadow of Prophetic Bounty (upon him blessing and peace) – that is, Madīnah Munawwarah. Because, since childhood, and in fact since infancy, I have had no other preoccupation besides academic engagements, this is why there too I have not engaged in any preoccupation besides studying, teaching and keeping the company of scholars and students. Till now, the part of my life spent there, I have endeavored as far as possible to spend in these activities. This is why I have gained a complete familiarity with the Muslim residents of the Pure City and a full acquaintance with their conditions, beliefs and ideas. I can say with conviction that the revered noble scholars living in Madīnah Munawwarah – Allāh increase it in honour and excellence – follow completely the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah and the seniors of the predecessors in beliefs and so on, and they agree with all the beliefs of the revered Elders of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband and Sahāranpūr, both in particulars and universals, without even slight variation.

However, at the start of 1324 H (1906 H), an astonishing disaster occurred, that one “Ḥaḍrat Barelwī,” who is referred to by his devotees as “reviver of the present century,” journeyed to the Ḥijāz in this year. And there is no doubt that he is indeed “reviver of the present century,” since those individuals of the past who endeavoured and struggled hard to declare the Elders and People of Truth to be deviant and wicked, regarding the targeting of their dignity and honour and spending one’s precious life in debasing and anathematising them a cause of salvation and high rank, for some time, their zeal had become extremely diminished, and their power had become close to being non-existent. This “A‘lā Ḥaḍrat” Barelwī gave life to their decomposed bones. He transformed their weakness into strength. He brought into existence such varying types of injustice and savagery that he became the ultimate reminder and revival of his predecessors from the people of deception and injustice, and in fact he became the pride of all previous fabricators. A practising scholar, researcher and the Sunnī ‘Ulamā of India [in general] are unfortunate who were not martyred at the savage hands of this “A‘lā Ḥaḍrat”. In fact, no group in those lands will be of the “saved group” who this Barelwī reviver and his followers did not slaughter with their pens and tongues.

Friends! This prophecy of the Accepted Messenger (upon him peace) is still manifesting. In how many ways is, ‘You will surely follow the ways of those before you…’ [1] ultimately being put into effect? The Jews were filled with [the qualities of]: ‘they slaughter the prophets without right’ (Qur’ān, 3:112), ‘their killing of the prophets’ (Qur’ān, 3:181), ‘their consumption of the impermissible’ (Qur’ān, 5:62), and ‘they take words out of context’ (Qur’ān, 4:46). Thus, in accordance with the statement of the Prophet (upon him peace): ‘the scholars of my ummah are like the prophets of Banū Isrā’īl’ [2], these [followers of theirs] strive to anathematise the erudite scholars and learned ones of excellence, which is far greater than murder. If by murder, it is intended to eliminate the body and negate bodily life, the intent of takfīr is eliminating the soul and destroying the life of īmān. If the Jews would consume the impermissible, then these [followers of theirs] treat interest as their nourishment. If they manipulated the words of Tawrāh, then these [followers of theirs] manipulate the meanings of Qur’ān and ḥadīth and mutilate the words of reliable ‘Ulamā’. Then, why would it not be said that they are the ultimate reminders of their predecessors from the Israelites and revivers of taḍlīl and tafsīq of a deceased nation? Well, whatever will be, will be. I have no purpose in this to [explain] which bright sun of the cosmos of misguidance and which luminous full moon of the constellation of deviance he is.

When “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib” (reviver of takfīr) arrived at the lands of Ḥijāz, he propagated astonishing deception and fraud, and deceived the ‘Ulamā’ of the two Noble Ḥarams using various kinds of plots and ploys. Some unacquainted simple-hearted individuals undoubtedly fell prey to his plot of forgery; but those who Allāh (Exalted is He) granted complete powers of discretion, criticism and insight, or those who someone alerted, did not at all fall prey to his deception.

To maintain his agenda, “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” had to undoubtedly endure various kinds of hardships, difficulties, indignities and insults. In fact, because of this disturbance, all the ‘Ulamā’ of India were debased and humiliated in the eyes of others. Thus, I have time and again, at that time and after that time, heard the people of Egypt, Levant, Ḥijāz and other [places] attacking this “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib”, as well as the whole population of India. Although in Tamhīd Shayṭānī and other [books] also, many praises and commendations are quoted, but at the same time, they are a few numbered individuals, and even they [made these statements] before they were aware of his reality; otherwise, the people of Ḥijāz in general, in the end, came to know of his nature. See Risālah Madīnah, what was and was not written with respect to him. I will write details of this later. Since this lowly one was at this time present in Madīnah Munawwarah, may Allāh increase it in honour and excellence, this is why I am fully aware of all of these events as they unfolded, and know very well those who explicitly opposed him.

Ḥaḍrāt! He made very severe allegations against the revered ‘Ulamā’ and Elders of Deoband, describing them in such a way that seeing which, every religious person would express severe dislike and aversion. Since this lowly one has plucked the fruits of the revered Elders of Deoband and Gangoh and is wrapped up in their hem of compassion, & for seven to eight years I was a sweeper at the court of these Elders and acquired the service of straightening their shoes, this is why I know the beliefs, ideas and practices of these Elders very well. Because of this, at that time also, I had exposed these ploys and allegations in Madīnah Munawwarah, and I showed people the treatises of the Elders. However, those individuals who had already put their signatures before this awareness, as I will describe later, became helpless, and they said after this recognition: “We had put conditions in our respective commendations [i.e. that the fatwā is only valid if the information in the question was correct].”

The upshot is that “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl Ṣāḥib” came to the Ḥijāz with the idea of achieving [currency for] his falsehood by very hard efforts and immense labour. Achieving some incomplete and complete success, he returned from Madīnah Munawwarah in Rabī‘ al-Thānī of the aforementioned year (i.e. 1324/1906), and for some time kept this hidden, from which the idea came that maybe he received some admonition and became ashamed of his ugly actions; because when the general and special [people] head to the two Noble Ḥarams, this is their intent: that by virtue of attendance and performing worship at those blessed spots, sins are eliminated and lessened. “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” Barelwī performed this journey with only a sinful purpose, in fact with the purpose of the greatest of major sins, and undertook to deceive the gullible and simple ‘Ulamā’ there. He had drawn those helpless ones to himself, but what is the error of these innocents? What knowledge did they have of what substances of taḍlīl, tafsīq, misguidance and so on, this Barelwī Ṣāḥib was filled with? They worked according to good expectations (ḥusn al-ẓann), and endorsed his speech and practice.

In 1327 H (1909 CE), this lowly one arrived at the lands of India for some personal needs and observed that the compilation of those invectives and takfīrs of the Elders, along with those seals, was printed. It was being taken around here and there by some ignoramuses, seducing the general Muslims away from the People of Truth and making them lose faith in them, using various machinations to get their treat. Seeing this, I became convinced that my earlier thought with respect to “Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib” of having been reformed was completely incorrect. In fact, he was subject to [the description in the verse]: ‘in their hearts is an illness and Allāh has increased them in illness’ (Qur’ān, 2:10) and is an example of: ‘deaf, dumb and blind, so they will not come back [to truth].’ (Qur’ān, 2:18) He had not retreated from his personal practices and the traits of his forbears.

I had intended in Madīnah Munawwarah to properly describe the events of “Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl Ṣāḥib” that unfolded here, making them clear to the Muslim residents of India. However, two things stopped me from this.

First, several reports reached me that “A‘la Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid Barelwī” upon returning was quiet, so [my] tongue remained moist with “reconciliation is best.” (Qur’ān, 4:128) Thus my feeling [about him] mentioned earlier remained attached [to myself]. The content [of the ḥadīth]: ‘The one who repents from a sin is like one who has no sin’ was what hindered the abovementioned intention.

Second, Mawlānā Shaykh Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm Ṣāḥib Naqshbandī [3] and Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Ṣāḥib Muḥaddith Rāmpūrī [4] had written the conditions of this “Mujaddid Barelwī” to those who met with them, and these individuals circulated all of these events in the newspapers.

But alas, caution [is required]! When I saw that people had forgotten these matters and these news reports have been lost, then the initial poison which he who was with me [in Madīnah] brought from there, and because of which he undertook this blessed journey, and wasted thousands of rupees in this endevour, it now became necessary for me to, in notifying you people of those sketchy circumstances authentically, based on what I witnessed or heard there through reliable means, make you aware of his fabrications and contrivances; because the revered ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband, Sahāranpūr etc. are engaged in their academic engagements such that they give no attention to anything else, and believing all matters of “Mujaddid Barelwī” as senseless delusions, they regarded turning their attention in this direction to be opposed to their standing as scholars and opposed to honorable conduct, while elsewhere the ignorant innovators and the opposing party, finding the arena clear, are misguiding the general Muslims. Thus it was necessary, that the extravagant self-boasts made with respect to him in Tamhīd, their reality is recognised; and this too comes to light that those Elders on whose hem of innocence “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” wanted to put a mark, they are completely clean and pure of those impurities.

It is the fruits of “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib’s” self-interests, search for fame and worldly esteem that is written down in this treatise (i.e. Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn). Those Elders are far removed from those corrupt ideas.

If you people notice any harsh word with regards to him and his group, then excuse this as a mistake of this lowly one. The insulting language which “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” has used in Tamhīd Shayṭānī and Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, if they were to be responded to, and if an answer was written according to the dictates of that, then only God knows to where that will lead! I have restrained my instincts completely, and will proceed with the discussion very cautiously. But what am I to do? In places, because of the swears and delusions of this maligner, my instincts go out control, and I am thus rendered helpless. But even still, there too I will not come outside the bounds of dignity and knowledge as far as possible. A full response to him in this respect can be done by those ignoramuses and savages of low stock and bad manners, but that too would be written in the deeds of “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib”. The statement of the Messenger (upon him peace): “Whatever two people swearing at each other say, it [falls] on the initiator” [5] is a clear text.

The upshot is that when this lowly one arrived at India, I noticed that many savages, who don’t know the difference between alif and bā’, were taking this treatise around to various places, and encouraging people, giving them the idea of circulating it…This is why I felt it appropriate for the purpose of making people informed, a short treatise called al-Shihāb al-Thāqib ‘ala l-Mustariq al-Kādhib be circulated in which the slanders and lies of “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Muḍillīn” (reviver of the deviators), and the reality of the slanders against the innocent Elders [6], and the details of such deceptions are known – which he undertook to fulfil his egotistic wants and satanic desires, and for which day and night he remained in thought and concern.

There are two chapters and a conclusion to this short treatise:

Chapter One: An explanation of the deceits and deceptions undertaken in order to acquire the fatwās, and there are many angles to this.

Chapter Two: On an exposé of the allegations against the Elders and detailed answers to them. There are 9 sections in this [chapter]: The first section is on an explanation of the allegation against Mawlānā Nānotwī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him). The second section is an explanation of Khatm al-Nubuwwa in brief. The third section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Gangohī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him). The fourth section is an explanation of the issue of the possibility and impossibility [of lying]. The fifth section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī (may his blessing remain). The sixth section is on explaining the passage from al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah. The seventh section is on explaining the second allegation against Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī (may his blessings remain). The eighth section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Thānawī (may his blessing remain). The ninth section is a clarification of Mawlānā Thānawī’s passage in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, Dār al-Kitāb, p. 198-202, 214)

[1] Ṣaḥīḥ al-BukhārīṢaḥīḥ Muslim

[2] ‘Allāmah Munāwī writes: “Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Irāqī was asked about what is famous on the tongues, vis-a-vis the ḥadīth, ‘the ‘ulamā’ of my ummah are like the prophets of the Banū Isrā’īl’. He said: ‘There is no basis for it nor a chain with this wording. [The ḥadīth]: “the ‘ulamā’ are the heirs of the Prophets,” frees [us] of [the need for] it; and that is an authentic ḥadīth.” (Fayḍ al-Qadīr, 4:384)

[3] He is described in Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir as follows: “The shaykh, the righteous ‘ālim, Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm ibn ‘Abd al-Rashīd ibn Aḥmad Sa‘īd al-‘Umarī al-Sirhindī thumma l-Dehlawī, one of the prominent ‘ulamā’ in fiqh and ḥadīth. He was born in Delhi on the 9th of Shawwāl, in the year 1263 (1847 CE). He studied ‘ilm with ‘Allāmah Muḥammad Nawāb ibn Sa‘dullāh al-Khāliṣpūrī and with his father. Then he received ḥadīth, tafsīr etc. from the uncle of his father, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī ibn Abī Sa‘īd al-‘Umarī al-Dehlawī. He took ṭarīqah from his grandfather, Shaykh Aḥmad Sa‘īd, and travelled with him to the two noble ḥarams in the year 1274 (1858). When his grandfather died, he kept the company of his father in Madīnah Munawwarah and took from him. When his father died, he arrived at India and lived in Rāmpūr, and Nawāb Kalb ‘Alī Khān al-Rāmpūrī honoured his visit, and made a stipend of four hundred rupees per month for him so he was happy to stay there; he stayed there for a long time, and then travelled to the Ḥijāz and lived in Madīnah Munawwarah. I [Sayyid ‘Abd al-Ḥayy] met him in Rāmpūr. He was a pious shaykh, dignified, of immense position and great stature. He teaches and gives instruction of dhikr to his disciples in morning and evening. He has numerous works. He died on the tenth of Sha‘bān in the year 1341 (1923).” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 1373)

[4] He is described in Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir as follows: “The shaykh, the ‘ālim, the muḥaddith: Munawwar ‘Alī ibn Maẓhar al-Ḥaqq al-Ḥanafī. He was born and brought up in Rāmpūr. He read the short texts with his father and then with Mawlānā Muḥammad Ṣiddīq al-Rāmpūrī. Then he received Manṭiq and philosophy from ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq ibn Faḍl Ḥaqq al-Khayrābādī, and received ḥadīth from Sayyid Muḥammad Shāh ibn Ḥasan Shāh al-Ḥusaynī al-Rāmpūrī. Then he took up a teaching position at Madrasa ‘Āliya, where he taught for some time. Then he travelled to the Ḥijāz in the year 1323 (1905), performed ḥajj and ziyārah, and remained there for a full year, and then returned to India. He died in the year 1351 (1932).” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 1385)

[5] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim

[6] For a detailed refutation of these slanders, one may read the second chapter of al-Shihāb al-Thāqib in Urdu, or the English translation of Fayṣlah Kun Munāẓarah available at the following link:


Response of the Arab Scholars to Aḥmad Riḍa Khān’s Visit to the Ḥijaz

[Summarised from Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī’s al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 202 – 215]

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān arrived at Makkah in the year 1323 H (1905 CE). A short while after he completed the ḥajj, a document was sent from India to Mawlānā Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm (an Indian scholar residing in Makkah) for it to be presented to the Sharīf of Makkah. The document was intended to warn the Sharīf that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was a person of fitnah who is very liberal in issuing fatwās of takfīr, tafsīq and taḍlīl to support his strange views. It also mentioned some of his misguided opinions. The document contained signatures from several scholars of India.

A close confidante of the Sharīf, ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shaybī, came to know of this document. He became enraged at seeing it, and said he will himself take it to the Sharīf. The Sharīf also became very angry, and both he and al-Shaybī made a firm resolution for Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to at once be put in prison. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī here mentions that he came to know of this resolution through several reliable means. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 203) However, Mawlānā Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm and Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Rāmpūrī both insisted to al-Shaybī that he not be put in prison, but instead be interrogated on his beliefs. It appears their motives were for their country, India, to not come into disrepute on account of one of their fellow countrymen being imprisoned in the Ḥijaz. Al-Shaybī agreed.

The works of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān were not at this time available in Makkah, but there was an Urdu commendation he had written on the work of a scholar from Rāmpūr. (Mawlānā Madanī is probably referring to an early edition of: al-Anwār al-Sāṭi‘ah). Based on the contents of this commendation, he was asked three questions: on his usage of azalī (pre-eternal) and abadī (eternal) for the knowledge possessed by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); his statement that not even an atom’s weight is excluded from his (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) knowledge; and his conclusion with the words: “blessings be upon the first, the last, the manifest and the hidden” (صلى الله على الأول والآخر والظاهر والباطن), terms that are used in this sequence for Allāh in the Qur’ān. He was told that without clarifying his position on these issues, he will not be free to leave Makkah. Hence, a week or two later, he answered with his usual tact of obfuscation, as follows: by azalī, I meant the start of the world, not “beginningless” as it usually means; there is a mistranslation, I did not say an “atom’s weight” in the Urdu; and there is a typographical error in this phrase, it should have read: “blessing be upon the manifestation (maẓhar) of the First, the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden.” These answers were of course unsatisfactory, so the Sharīf wished that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān be removed from Makkah as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had expressed great pride in his belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) possessed full and complete knowledge of everything that was and will be from the start of the world until its end. He presented his findings to the Makkan scholar he found most connection with, Shaykh Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl. The latter then argued on behalf of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān with two learned Makkan scholars: Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh and Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, the latter of whom was at that time “Makkah’s greatest scholar, no-one having a study circle equal to his in the Noble Ḥaram.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 205) Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl was defeated, and these two scholars put it to him that he is arguing on behalf of someone who is clearly misguided. The argument became heated, and eventually came to the attention of the Sharīf, who realised from this episode also that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is someone stirring up fitnah. On account of this too, he wanted Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to be escorted out of Makkah at the earliest convenience. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī here mentions that he has presented these details in brief, and if anyone would like more information, he is free to contact Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shaybī, Shaykh Muḥammad Ma‘ṣum or Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Rāmpūrī (who were all alive at the time). (p. 205)

While this was going on, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān sent a message to the Sharīf via Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl, stating that you are making this great fuss over me even though I am from the leaders of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, all the while there is a man here in Makkah [referring to ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, who had also come to perform ḥajj in the same year] who (na‘ūdhu billāh) regards Allāh as being untruthful and Satan as having more knowledge than the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), and he has not been admonished in the slightest! When this message reached the Sharīf, Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh and Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī who were present with him, both said that it is not possible that any Muslim could say such speech and this is pure slander. The Sharīf agreed with them. As a result, Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl felt quite embarrassed for conveying this message.

Up to this point, Shaykh Shu‘ayb had not met Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī. When this reached Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī he made a visit to Shaykh Shu‘ayb and spoke to him. He explained that this slander was directed at him, and he doesn’t at all hold these impure beliefs. He explained, however, that he supports the view of the rational possibility of Allāh going back on His word, while he believes its occurrence is completely impossible. Shaykh Shu‘ayb responded that as soon as he heard the allegation, he knew it to be a lie, and said the view that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī espoused is supported by the statements of the Mutakallimūn. After Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained what he actually said in his al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah with respect to the knowledge of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and demonstrated that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was guilty of slander, Shaykh Shu‘ayb agreed with him completely, and even went on to present many evidences from Qur’ān and ḥadīths from memory proving that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has full and thorough knowledge of all creation is false. They also engaged in further discussions.

Following this, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī also visited Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl. At first, Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl was uneasy with the meeting because of what he had heard from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. However, once Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained the truth, he became fully content and accepted everything Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī said.

These were events that took place following the ḥajj. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madani explains that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had intended to blemish the honour of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī before the ḥajj, but by Divine Aid, he fell ill and was unable to carry out his plans. And at this time, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī saw a dream in which Ḥājī Imdādullāh Muhājir Makkī appeared to him and tied something around his waist – which was interpreted as divine assistance (imdādullāh) coming to him. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 207) After performing the ḥajj, when Aḥmad Riḍā Khān intended to go forward with his plans, the aforementioned events unfolded starting with the document that came from India – so rather than Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī getting into trouble, it was he that fell into serious trouble! By Divine Aid, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī performed the ḥajj with complete ease and peace of mind, and then proceeded to Madīnah without any blemish to his honour. On the other hand, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was at the time that Mawlānā left for Madīnah, humiliatingly forced to remain in Makkah to answer the questions put to him.

[In Naqsh e Ḥayāt, Mawlānā Madanī briefly describes Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s visit to Madīnah: “At the start of 1324 H, Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib arrived at Madīnah Munawwarah after completing the ḥajj, and remained there for approximately fifteen days. Since he was amongst my noble teachers, this is why the students of Madīnah Munawwarah flocked to him, and generally, the ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah came to visit and receive him. A very large group took ijāzah of the books of ḥadīth and the sciences from him in a large circle within the Noble Masjid, after hearing the opening sections of the books of ḥadīths.” (Naqsh e Ḥayāt, p. 118) He further mentions that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān only arrived at Madīnah some time after Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī had already departed.]

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had prepared a short treatise full of deception, fraud and deceit, intended to excite the emotions of simple ‘Ulamā’. (This treatise together with signed approvals of it were later compiled as Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn). Following the above events, he took his treatise to the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah to get their signed approvals of it. Simple and gullible ‘Ulamā’ were deceived by his words and his flattery of them. However, the great ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah (some of whom were already aware of his nature) saw right through him, and based on their natural intelligence and foresight, knew better than to give their endorsements to his fatwā. The following are some of these great scholars:

1. “The most eminent shaykh, the greatest man of virtue, one unmatched in his era, unique in his time, the perspicacious ocean, the vast ocean, the Nawawī of the time, the Rāzī of the present era, the respected, Shaykh Ḥasabullāh al-Makkī al-Shāfi’ī” [1244 – 1335 H/1828 – 1917 CE]. He was a contemporary and equal to the deceased Shāfi‘ī muftī, Shaykh Aḥmad Zaynī Daḥlān. He was an intelligent, perceptive, pious and scrupulous scholar. In all sciences in general, and Shāfi‘ī fiqh and tafsīr in particular, there was no one equal to him in the whole of Makkah. Mawlānā Madanī says: “Further, in age he has surpassed eighty years. In these days, he has lost his eyesight. Many of the ‘Ulamā’ of the two ḥarams are from his students. It is heard often from the Shāfi‘īs that in Makkah Mu‘aẓẓamah there is no greater scholar in the Shāfi‘ī madhhab than him. Anyone who stopped by at Makkah for even a few days will most certainly come to know of him. Whoever wants may ask the people of the two noble ḥarams of his condition. This lowly one has not given his description in any way that matches with his real condition. In brief, he, on account of precaution, refused to endorse ‘Mujaddid Ṣāḥib’s’ treatise.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 208) [Note: Mawlānā Madanī narrated ḥadīth from Shaykh Ḥasabullāh. See: al-Arba‘ūna Ḥadīthan by Shaykh Yāsīn al-Fādānī, p. 59; Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 106]

2. “The sun of the sky of investigation, the full moon of the cosmos of scrutinisation, combiner of rational and transmitted [knowledge], gatherer of peripherals and principles, the imām of the muḥaddithīn, the chief of the mufassirīn, Mawlānā Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, may his blessings last, Mālikī imām and khaṭib at the Noble Ḥaram.” His study circle was the greatest in the ḥaram. He had memorised thousands of ḥadīths with both matn and isnād.

3. “The eminent imām, the noble man of virtue, pivot of purity and chivalry, chief of generosity and courage, foremost amongst the knights of the rational sciences, gatherer of the highest positions in the fields of transmitted sciences, Mawlānā Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh, imām and khaṭīb at the noble ḥaram, may his excellence remain.” He was also a man of great learning. These latter two scholars were also amongst the close associates of the Sharīf.

4. “Chief of the practising scholars, leader of the perfect men of virtue, one adept in the sciences of Arabic, surpassing his contemporaries in the literary sciences, the master of the muḥaddithīn and the imām of the mutakallimīn, Mawlānā Shaykh ‘Abd al-Jalīl Āfandī al-Ḥanafī.” He was a man of great piety and grew to an old age. He was unparalleled in the field of Arabic literature. He died at the start of the year 1327 H (1909 CE). Although originally a scholar of Madīnah, he remained in Makkah for several years. He was present at Makkah when Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made his visit. The latter took his treatise to him to get his signed approval, but “being a man of experience, intelligence and perceptiveness, and a person of great age, he immediately recognised that he is not someone to be trusted.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 209) [Note: Mawlānā Madanī also narrated ḥadīth from him. See: Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 106]

Mawlānā Madanī comments: “These four individuals were at this time, from the greatest and most famous of the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah. Their condition in knowledge, virtue and excellence was most certainly not found in those whose seals and approvals ‘Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl’s’ hands had touched. Whoever wishes may discover their conditions from the people of Makkah themselves.” (ibid.) There were other senior scholars who refused to sign the fatwā also, but these four famous ‘Ulamā’ are sufficient for our purposes. There were more junior ‘Ulamā’ who either in search of fame or due to their simplicity became prey to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s trickery, and gave their signed approvals to his fatwā. Many of these ‘Ulamā’ are such that they “have no part in academic ability, and nor are they involved in studying and teaching, and are not even counted amongst the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah!” (ibid.) [1]

With regards to the situation in Madīnah, Mawlānā Madanī mentions that he is more acquainted with this as he was himself present in Madīnah at the time, and had been for several years. A few days after his arrival, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān very secretively visited several individuals with his treatise, asking for their signed approvals. Some of the ‘Ulamā’ there already had a good opinion of him from what was presented to them by his associates, regarding some discussions he made on some unfamiliar, peripheral issues that they had not previously examined – like the issue of paper money. These associates boasted of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s skills in debate and his having authored hundreds of works. But despite all this, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made attempts to acquire their seals in secrecy. Mawlānā Madanī argues that he did this for fear that had it been done openly, Mawlānā Madanī would have interfered and exposed his lies. [2]

Unlike the condition in Makkah, ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah did not hold a negative view of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān: some had positive views of him and others were neutral. Even still, some of the most famous and eminent scholars of Madīnah did not fall for his deceptions, and refused to sign his fatwā. Others who did sign, later became aware of his lies, while others clearly put conditions to their endorsements, stating that only if the information in the question is correct will the ruling be as he mentioned.

Mawlānā Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī, the mufti of the Shāfi‘īs, initially felt that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was reliable and a person of learning. Based on this good opinion, he signed his treatise, and even encouraged others to do so. However, when he had his final meeting with him in the house of Sayyid ‘Abdullāh Madanī, and they discussed the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, he realised the academic and ideological reality of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, and began to regret his previous actions. At this time, he took back his commendation and demanded his seal be erased, and told them that he has come to realise that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is a person of misguidance, and spoke very harshly to him.

Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī himself told Mawlānā Madanī afterwards that on the following day, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s son came to him, kissed his feet and hands, and begged him to keep the seal on the commendation, saying: “Do not take back the endorsement because we have no disagreement on these issues, and while we disagree on the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, let that remain as it is.” He also showed extreme flattery and servility in speech and actions. Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī used some harsh words, but feeling embarrassed at his pleading, said it will be fine to keep the seal. However, he also pointed out that the seal is of no benefit to them, because he made his endorsement conditional.

A number of other ‘Ulamā’ from the ḥaramayn made their endorsements conditional. (Mawlānā Madanī quotes some of these on page 215-6). [3] Mawlānā Madanī notes that even those ‘Ulamā’ who did not put conditions, it is obvious that their endorsements were premised on the information in the treatise being correct.

Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī, soon after the last meeting with Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, began to pen a detailed refutation of the latter’s views on the knowledge of ghayb given to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Mawlānā Madanī said this treatise is in the process of being published. (It was eventually published as Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl). In this treatise, Sayyid Barzanjī, and by extension those who approved of it, used harsh words against Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. The positive words that were said of him by some of the scholars, either out of good character or because of not being fully aware of his true character, must be weighed against the negative words used by Sayyid Barzanjī.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān rushed back to India soon after this debacle. Some of the great ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah refused to sign his treatise. Mawlānā Madanī lists a total of 25 such scholars as examples (p. 212-3). Five of these are as follows:

1. Shaykh Yāsīn al-Miṣrī al-Shāfi‘ī, who would lecture on taṣawwuf and Shāfi‘ī fiqh in the morning at Bāb al-Raḥmah.

2. The muḥaddith and mufassir, Shaykh ‘Abdullāh al-Nābulsī al-Ḥanbalī [1247 – 1331 H], who taught ḥadīth, tafsīr and Ḥanbalī fiqh after ‘Aṣr and Maghrib, and was a person of great age, piety and knowledge. He was also regarded as a great teacher.

3. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥakīm al-Bukhārī, a learned and elderly scholar.

4. Sayyid Amīn Riḍwān al-Shāfi‘ī a very elderly and pious man. From those who gave ijāza for Dalā’il al-Khayrāt at this time, none were greater than him.

5. Shaykh Ma’mūn Barrī al-Āfandi, who was the main khaṭīb of Masjid Nabawī.

[1] See the testimony of Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī below which also mentions that many of the scholars delivering lessons at the ḥaram were weak in knowledge. (Although his testimony is regarding the ḥaram of Madīnah, not Makkah, the situation was probably similar in both places).

[2] Mawlānā Madanī explains his role in the matter in more detail in Naqsh e Ḥayāt as follows: “These proceedings were undertaken with great effort and secrecy. I was only aware that he was making efforts to come to these ‘Ulamā’, Muftīs and people of influence, but I had absolutely no knowledge that he had some [specific] agenda behind these undertakings. I only thought that since Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib had just visited, and great scholars and many students met with him here, and acquired sanad of ḥadīth and ijāzah, having gained acceptance amongst the people of learning, haters and enemies would like to spread propaganda against him, and in so doing against us [also]. But together with his, I also thought that if anything would be said against us or our Akābir, at the minimum, we would be asked about it. Several days passed in this manner. Then, after investigating I came to know he is getting endorsements for some write-up, so I searched for what this write-up was. In the end, when this write-up reached Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shalabī al-Ṭarāblusī*, he called me and showed me the treatise. I informed him of the reality of the matter. Then I went to Amīn al-Fatwā Shaykh ‘Umar Ḥammād, and showed him the passages of Taḥdhīr al-NāsFatāwā Rashīdiyyah etc., upon which he expressed great remorse [for having signed the fatwā]. Then I went to the muftī of the Ḥanafīs, Tāj al-Dīn Ilyās, and explained the full reality to him, and he too expressed great remorse, and said: ‘We had no knowledge of the reality, so why did you not inform us earlier?’ Since I had deep connections with them before – Muftī Ṣāḥib’s grandson would read to me and youngsters of high families from the people of Madīnah were either close to me or read to me** – this is why I said: ‘I trusted that if any information reached you regarding me or any of my teachers, you would most certainly have asked me.’ He replied: ‘I had no knowledge that those individuals were your teachers! Anyhow, what has happened has happened. We were very careful in endorsing, and said that if in reality these individuals hold these views and beliefs and their retraction has not been proven, then the view of the author of the treatise is correct. If I had knowledge of this before, I wouldn’t have even given this endorsement.’ Other individuals gave similar answers.” (Naqsh e Ḥayāt, 137-8) Before the ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah could take any action after having learnt of the reality, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān hurried back to India.

[3] Mawlānā Madanī writes: “Those scholars of dīn with regards to whom he acquired fatwās of kufr from the two ḥarams, he put false allegations against them, of which they are completely innocent and pure. Such beliefs and ideas were attributed to them which those sanctified scholars of Hindustan are completely free of, and which they themselves regard as kufr. The scholars of the two noble ḥarams gave their answer in accordance to the question, and gave the judgement of kufr on those who maintain such beliefs, because everyone knows that the answer is written in accordance with the question. If this question was written, putting this allegation and slander on someone else, and presented before those sanctified scholars, they too would give a judgement of kufr. Thus, several questions came in the service of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Gangohī, [asking]: ‘What is the ruling on the person who regards Satan as more knowledgeable than the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) or God as being untruthful?’ He issued a fatwā of kufr on these [beliefs]. We will later present the quotations from his Fatāwā. This is why some intelligent and careful scholars of the two noble ḥarams wrote that if the questioner’s description is accurate and these individuals really do hold these beliefs, [only then] are they kāfirs and people of jahannam. Thus by way of example, the statements of a few scholars, from their fatwās, will be quoted. One scholar said: ‘One who adopts these views, believing in them as clarified in this treatise, there is no doubt that he is from the misguided.’ (من قال بهذه الأقوال معتقدا لها كما هي مبسوط في هذه الرسالة لا شبهة أنه من الضالين)…A second scholar wrote: ‘They are – when the outcome is what you have mentioned – deviant disbelievers.’ (فهم والحاصل ما ذكرت كفرة مارقون)…A third scholar said: ‘One who asserts this has disbelieved.’ (من ادعى ذلك فقد كفر)…A fourth scholar was extremely careful, and wrote with great clarity that if these matters are proven from those individuals, that is those things that the Barelwī Shaykh has written, of Ghulām Aḥmad claiming prophethood, and it is proven from Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Ṣāḥib, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib and Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī that they disrespected the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), then there is no doubt in these individuals having committing kufr and deserving execution. (إن ثبت عنهم ما ذكره هذا الشيخ من ادعاء النبوة للقادياني وانتقاص النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم من رشيد أحمد وخليل أحمد وأشرف علي المذكورين فلا شك في كفرهم ووجوب قتلهم)…In a fifth place, in a lengthy write-up, there are these words: ‘This is the ruling on these groups and individuals if these vile beliefs are established from them.’ (هذا حكم هؤلاء الفرق والأشخاص إن ثبت عنهم هذه المقالات الشنيعة)…Even those individuals in whose statement this condition is not found, their intent is also this, because the ruling is on the one who believes in these things.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 215-6)

* On Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Ṭarāblusī’s views on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, see:

** Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī’s teaching and lectures in al-Masjid al-Nabawī in Madīnah were well-received by the people. He was also a highly-regarded scholar. The reason for his acceptance may be gleaned from the following testimony of Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī, a contemporary and student of Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī. Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī (1889 – 1965 CE) was a well-known scholar from North Africa of the last century who had travelled to Cairo, Damascus and Ḥijāz, and sat with many of their scholars. He arrived in Madīnah towards the end of the year 1911 CE. Near the end of his life, when writing a short autobiography, he wrote the following while describing his stay at Madīnah: “I circled the circles of ‘Ilm at the Prophetic Ḥaram, testing [them out]. None of them stood out to me, but it was [like] froth put out by a group having no connection with ‘Ilm or Taḥqīq. I did not find true ‘Ilm except with two men, who are my teachers: Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Wazīr al-Tūnisī and Shaykh Ḥusayn Aḥmad al-Fayḍ Abādī al-Hindī. These two, truth be told, are erudite scholars, their horizons of perception vast in the sciences of ḥadīth and understanding of Sunnah. I had no interest in anything besides extra knowledge of ḥadīth, both in transmission and understanding, and knowledge of tafsīr, so I stuck by them as a shadow. I took al-Muwaṭṭa’ from the first with understanding, and then his erudition in the remaining Islamic sciences struck me, so I remained in his lessons on Mālik’s fiqh and his lessons on al-Tawḍīḥ of Ibn Hishām. I accompanied the second [i.e. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī] in his lessons on Ṣaḥīḥ MuslimI give testimony that I have not seen an equal to these two shaykhs from the ‘Ulamā’ of Islām till now. I have reached old age and I have great experience, and I have consummate skill in some sciences, and I have met from the mashāyikh as [many as] Allāh wanted me to meet. But I have not seen the like of these two shaykhs in eloquence of expression, depth of insight, delving into meanings, illuminating ideas, clarification of ambiguities and bringing distant meanings closer. Because of my expansive reading of books of biographies, I had formed an image of a prominent scholar in the Islāmic sciences, derived from how the biographical literature would describe some of those that they put in their biographies. For a long time, I did not believe that that mental image would materialise in external reality. But I found it realised in these two eminent scholars. Shaykh al-Wazīr died in Madīnah at the wake of the First World War. As for Shaykh Ḥusayn Aḥmad, Sharīf Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī handed him over to the English at the end of his ill-fated revolution, and they exiled him to Mālṭah, and then they sent him back to his original hometown of India. He lived there for years, and the leadership of ‘Ilm culminated at him in the City of Knowledge, Deoband. When I visited Pakistan in the year 1952 CE, I wrote to him and he insisted that I visit India, but that was not destined for me. In these latter times, it has reached me that he passed away in India.” (Āthār al-Imām Muḥammad al-Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī, 5:275-6)