Translated by Zameelur Rahman
Our master, the scholar of great learning, Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), is counted amongst the leading ‘ulama of India and Pakistan who carried the banner of the pure religion in these lands and spent their lives and their strength in elevating its word, and lit in Deoband, India, the lamps of renewal with splendid flames and bright lights, so that the caravan of Islam continues to proceed, while eliminating the darknesses of disbelief and heresy and bringing life, by means of hope, to the souls caused to die by despair and hopelessness.
The Shaykh (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) was born on the 21st of Sha‘ban in the year 1314 H (January 1897 CE). He grew up in the embrace of knowledge and gnosis, for he was devoted to acquiring knowledge from the great ‘ulama from a young age, and he maintained the companionship of the gnostics early on in his life.
After having read the Noble Qur’an, he was admitted in the year 1325 H into Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband which is the greatest religious seminary propagating the precious Islamic sciences in India and renewing therein their lights, which were almost extinguished due to Western imperialism. Allah accepted the efforts of its founder, for men of knowledge and piety emerged from it that combined between knowledge and practice, scrupulousness and sincerity, and devotion and sacrifice, and have consequently filled these lands with light and knowledge.
Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] was admitted into this Dar al-‘Ulum while he was still in the prime of his youth, and he remained for a period of ten years occupied in his studies, constant in acquiring the sciences from the learned ‘ulama whose reputations were carried by riders to all corners and sides of India.
[Some] of his most distinguished teachers were:
- The imam, the hafiz, the hadith-scholar, the scholar of great learning, the researcher, Mawlana Shaykh Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri, who was a treasure-filled ocean in the sciences and arts, exceptionally gifted in every science and a sign from the signs of Allah in memory and exactness. Rarely would one find the like of him in wide knowledge and deep analysis in this age. His lectures on Sahih al-Bukhari have been published under the title Fayd al-Bari, and he has other valuable works on various topics (Allah Almighty show him expansive mercy). Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] read with him the two collections of al-Bukhari and al-Tirmidhi, and the latter’s al-Shama’il and al-‘Ilal, and the book al-Falsafat al-Jadidah and Sharh al-Nafisi in medicine. He was amongst his foremost students, and the respected imam adored him so much so that he selected him to be from amongst his close associates who assisted him in the task of refuting the Qadiyanis. It was upon his instruction, Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] (Allah have mercy on him) compiled the book Khatm al-Nubuwwah in Urdu, and al-Tasrih bi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih and Hadiyyat al-Mahdiyyin fi Ayat Khatam al-Nabiyyin in Arabic.
- The imam and jurist, Mawlana Shaykh Mufti ‘Aziz al-Rahman, who was (his secret be sanctified) from the outstanding scholars and jurists. He was a student of Shaykh [Rashid Ahmad] al-Gangohi (Allah sanctify his secret) and a group of the senior scholars. He was the head of the Fatwa Department in Dar al-‘Ulum, and was an exemplary spiritual master of the path of the Naqshbandis, from the successors (khulafa’) of the knower of Allah, Shaykh Rafi‘ al-Din. A collection of his fatwas have been printed under the title ‘Aziz al-Fatawa in the Urdu language (Allah Almighty show him expansive mercy). Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] read with him al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik in the transmission of Yahya ibn Yahya and in the transmission of Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar by Imam Abu Ja‘far al-Tahawi (Allah Almighty have mercy on them), Tafsir al-Jalalayn by al-Suyuti and al-Mahalli, Mishkat al-Masabih by al-Tibrizi and Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikar by Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Allah Almighty have mercy on them).
- The imam, the ascetic, the scholar of great learning, Mawlana Shaykh Sayyid Asghar Husayn al-Hashimi al-Hasani, who was (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) from the outstanding scholars of his time. He was an excellent model of the noble Islamic characteristics of humility, simplicity and fear of Allah. He has small beneficial works most of which have been published in the Urdu language (Allah Almighty show him expansive mercy). Our Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him) acquired from him al-Sunan of Abu Dawud al-Sijistani and al-Sunan al-Kubra by al-Nasa’i, and a section from the end of Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi (Allah Almighty have mercy on them).
- The imam, the great caller [to Allah], Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad, the author of the magnificent commentary on Sahih Muslim, who was (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) from the exceptional scholars of the recent age. He had complete mastery of every science. He was from the distinguished leaders of the movement to create Pakistan, and the Pakistani people will never forget his priceless sacrifices in this cause. He migrated to Pakistan after its independence and he persisted in trying to establish religion therein until he passed on to the mercy of Allah (Allah Almighty sanctify his secret and reward his effort). He has valuable and well-known works on different religious topics, from the most famous of them Fath al-Mulhim bi Sharh Sahih Muslim, a comprehensive and magnificent commentary [on Sahih Muslim], which the Islamic ummah in all lands have received with acceptance. Our Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him) acquired from him the Sahih of Imam Muslim and half of the book al-Hidayah. Then he accompanied him in the movement to create Pakistan, and he fought with him side by side, as we will mention shortly if Allah Almighty wills.
- The learned imam, the great scholar, the master of literature and jurisprudence, Mawlana I‘zaz ‘Ali (his secret be sanctified), who was (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) adept at all sciences, and in particular the literary sciences. He has well-known valuable footnotes to many of the [traditional] books of study. Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] read with him all the books of literature, Sharh Hidayat al-Hikmah by al-Maybadhi, Sharh al-‘Aqa’id al-Nasafiyyah by al-Taftazani, Sharh al-Wiqayah by Sadr al-Shari‘ah, and some other treatises.
- The imam, the philosopher, Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Ibrahim al-Balyawi (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) who was a teacher well-grounded in all the common sciences, especially in the rational sciences of philosophy, logic and dialectics. He is from the righteous remnants from the group of the Shaykh’s teachers (Allah Almighty extend their shadows) ((This was true during the writing of the original version of this biography in 1383 H (1964 CE). See last footnote.)). Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] read al-Sadra and al-Shams al-Bazighah with him.
Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] had [many other] teachers besides them, whose biographies we left out for fear of prolixity. They truly are beautiful reminders of our righteous predecessors in their plentiful knowledge and their upright pious works.
From the first moment when the respected Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him) showed signs of brilliance and intelligence, his teachers began to give special attention in teaching him with all affection and devotion. Their pure intentions had an undeniable hand in creating his academic temperament and stimulating his brilliant talents.
He completed his studies in the year 1325 H, and because he was from the advanced students in the period of his studies, the teachers of the Dar al-‘Ulum selected him to become a teacher there. He began teaching in the year 1336 H, and very soon his teaching came to be highly regarded amongst the students in all the Indian lands. He remained teaching hadith, Qur’anic exegesis, jurisprudence and other well-known religious sciences for a period of 26 years, and a great multitude of students studied under him in this period, benefiting from his sciences and his gnosis, and drinking from his sweet and wholesome water, until there remained no city from the cities of India and Pakistan except he had students from there. Most of them are [now] occupied with teaching, lecturing and propagating the sciences, and are considered to be from the outstanding scholars of these lands.
His Search for Spiritual Guidance from the Masters of the Sufi Path
From an early age, the respected Shaykh had great interest in acquiring benefit from the company of his teachers and the noble spiritual guides, so he would frequently attend the gatherings of the imam, the caller, the great warrior, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan (Allah Almighty sanctify his secret), and acquire benefit from the ocean of his gnosis. Then when Shaykh al-Hind was imprisoned in the island of Malta, he consulted the grand spiritual master of the time, Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana [Ashraf ‘Ali] al-Thanawi (Allah sanctify his secret).
After Shaykh al-Hind returned to Deoband, he took the pledge of the spiritual journey at his hand in the year 1339 H, and he remained constantly in his company until Allah Almighty took his [soul]. Then after his departure (Allah have mercy on him), he consulted the aforementioned Hakim al-Ummah a second time, and he renewed the pledge at his hand in the year 1346 H. Then he remained in his company for a period of 26 years. Hakim al-Ummah had great love and adoration for him and counted him amongst his closest disciples. He would consult him in every important religious matter. The respected Shaykh assisted him in the composition of many books, like al-Hilat al-Najizah li al-Halilat al-‘Ajizah which is an outstanding book comprising of the laws of the wife of a madman, a violent man, a lost man and an impotent man, in which the madhhab of the Hanafis was restrictive, so they corresponded with the Maliki scholars and wrote to them and then issued verdicts according to their madhhab. Thereafter, the Hanafi ‘ulama agreed on this, and it is the preferred fatwa according to our Hanafi scholars today. At the instance of the aforementioned Hakim al-Ummah, Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] compiled many books, from the most important of them Ahkam al-Qur’an, the book which we are introducing today. In brief, Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] stayed in the company of Hakim al-Ummah (Allah have mercy on him) till the year 1362 H, and in the year 1349 H, Hakim al-Ummah gave him his successorship (khilafah) in this spiritual path.
His Issuance of Fatwa
Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] had a complete affinity with jurisprudence and fatwa from the moment when he began to teach at Dar al-‘Ulum, and as a consequence he would frequently assist his teacher Mufti ‘Aziz al-Rahman the head of the Fatwa Department (Allah Almighty have mercy on him). Then, when Allah Almighty took his [soul], the teachers appointed him as the head of the Fatwa Department at Dar al-‘Ulum to fill the void that was created with the departure of Shaykh ‘Aziz al-Rahman (Allah sanctify his secret). Our Shaykh (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) maintained this prominent post from the year 1350 H till 1362 H. His fatwas in this period spread to the eastern and western regions of the earth.
Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] wrote over 40,000 fatwas in this period. A small number of them have been published in eight large volumes under the title Imdad al-Muftin, which is a small droplet from that expansive ocean preserved in the accounts of Dar al-‘Ulum which have not yet been published. There is no doubt that it is a valuable treasure for Islam and Muslims. May Allah make its publication possible.
Then the respected Shaykh continued to write fatwas after he left Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband. It is very unfortunate that he did not record his fatwas for a period of 9 years. Then when he migrated to Pakistan and he founded at its capital a religious institute called Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi in the year 1371 H, his fatwas were again recorded in its accounts. Their number today reaches around 80,000 fatwas, and this is all that issued from the year 1381 H to the end of his life, besides the oral questions which he would respond to in private conversations and over the phone throughout the night and day.
Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi is considered, by the blessing of our Shaykh, the Mufti, to be from the greatest of the fatwa departments in the Indian and Pakistani lands. Seekers of fatwa from all lands and places consult it, from them the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, America, Britain, Africa and other [countries] besides them whose numbers cannot be counted.
His Struggle for the Creation of Pakistan
When Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] was teaching at the Dar al-‘Ulum, the Muslims were going through the phase of Western imperialism. The ‘ulama of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband remained steadfast from its very beginning in the difficult struggle for freedom and independence. In this great project, the imam and warrior, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan (Allah have mercy on him), spent his entire life, and he endured the greatest suffering when he was imprisoned in the island of Malta. And then he continued to struggle for this cause until he passed on to the mercy of Allah.
After that the hopes of freedom began to play with the minds of Muslims, and their aspirations to reach this goal did not subside, as a consequence of which they joined cause with the Hindus, on the grounds that they will participate with them in the government of India after its freedom in a democratic system.
Hakim al-Ummah Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali] al-Thanawi had long held the view that the Muslims will have no success except by building an independent and free country in which they will execute the rules of their Shari‘ah, and in which they will live as true Muslims. Hence, according to him the Muslims didn’t only have one issue, the issue of freedom from Western colonialism, rather there were two issues: Firstly, freedom from Western colonisation and secondly, creating an independent Islamic country with no share in it for the Hindus or any other nation from the disbelieving peoples.
As for the political parties of that day, all of them aimed only towards freedom from foreign occupation, and they did not put in front of them the aim of dividing the lands between Muslims and disbelievers based on the corrupt notion of nationalism and due to their belief that Indians, the Muslims of them and the disbelievers of them, are one nation [and they proclaimed]: “We wish only for the removal of occupation from us and then the Muslims of us and the Hindus of us will be equal.”
However, Allah illuminate the resting place of Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali] al-Thanawi, as he was not satisfied with this, since he believed that the Muslims would soon suffer more problems under the Hindu government than what they suffered under the Western government. Furthermore, such intermingling with the Hindus will lead to the assimilation of disbelief with Islam and [will lead to] the corruption of the beliefs of the Muslims and the destruction of their symbols and immorality in their actions, and the religious impulse will continue to lessen amongst them until there will no longer remain for the coming generations from their precious time-honoured [legacy] besides the word of faith, bereft of its reality and deprived of its spirit. He had hoped that a Muslim party would undertake this call and would campaign for this vision of Islam and subdue the idols of nationalism which their Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) trampled over with his feet. ((Under the guidance of Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi, his student and nephew, ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani, compiled a powerful refutation of the concept of nationalism in the context of the debates in India at that time, which he included in his renowned legal commentary of hadiths, I’la al-Sunan. A translation of this refutation can be viewed here. Within this short work, the author relates a dream he saw of the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) giving glad-tidings of a near victory for the Muslims, which was probably realised in the creation of Pakistan which occurred within a decade of this dream and the writing of this piece.))
Allah made his hopes come true when the political party, Muslim League, campaigned for Pakistan. Hakim al-Ummah Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi instructed all the Muslims and ‘ulama to support this campaign. Many of the common Muslims and the ‘ulama supported it, and at the forefront of them were: The imam, the caller, Shaykh al-Islam Shabbir Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him), Mawlana Shaykh Zafar Ahmad and our respected Shaykh, Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ (Allah have mercy on him.) They founded a council of ‘ulama called Jam‘iyat ‘Ulama’ al-Islam in order to struggle in this cause and encourage Muslims to unite in preserving the religion and supporting the idea of Pakistan.
Our Shaykh spent his nights and days in working on this project. When most of his attention turned towards these political activities without which he could not envision the success of the Muslims, he did not find time for his teaching activities at the Dar al-‘Ulum, and he found no option but to part from it after having spent most of his life in its courtyard. He resigned from teaching and issuing fatwa there in the year 1363 H, and from that time all of his moments rested on the struggle to create Pakistan. Thus, for its sake he toured all corners and sides of India and he woke the common Muslims from their slumber with his tongue and his pen and he informed them of the plots of their disbelieving enemies.
Of that in which no one who was honoured to visit the Shaykh will doubt is that Allah (Exalted is He) put an effect in his speech and acceptance in his advice, so he received success in all places with the bounty and grace of Allah (Exalted is He). The truth is that his continuous efforts played an important role in the creation of Pakistan, and some of its leaders confessed that success would not have been possible in many matters were it not for these [efforts].
In the year 1367 H corresponding to 1947 CE, Allah (Exalted is He) showed favour to the Muslim population of India, and the time had come for their efforts which had been sustained for long periods of time to come to fruition, and for the sketch of a new Islamic country to appear on the map of the world. To Allah belongs all praise, firstly and lastly.
This country was given to the Muslims in order that they can establish therein their religion and execute their Shari‘ah and remove from themselves all the filth with which they had been contaminated due to closeness to the foreign disbelievers.
His Migration to Pakistan
It was a duty on the active ‘ulama to migrate to Pakistan and expend their efforts in constructing an Islamic constitution suitable for a government therein. Our Shaykh, the Mufti (Allah have mercy on him), therefore, followed the Sunnah of the trustworthy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and in the year 1367 H (1948 CE), he left his familiar hometown wherein he had resided for his entire childhood and in which he had spent 25 years of his life.
After migrating to Pakistan, he had before him two important projects: First, what we described, of constructing an Islamic constitution and establishing religion in Pakistan in its purest form; and secondly, founding a religious institute to propagate the sciences of Islam as required by a modern state.
His Efforts to Establish Religion in Pakistan
The government of Pakistan in the year 1949 CE approved of a committee of its senior scholars to propose to the national assembly principles it should adopt as a foundation for the constitution of the country. Our Shaykh, the Mufti (Allah have mercy on him), opted to be a member of this committee, and he worked for it continuously with full energy for a period of four years.
During this period, the government proposed a constitution, most of which was in contradiction to the upright Islamic Shari‘ah, and when the ‘ulama of Pakistan expressed their disapproval of it, the government announced that it will accept what all the ‘ulama from all the Islamic groups agree upon, due to their belief that such a consensus will be impossible due to the intense disagreements between the different Islamic groups.
However, the sincere ‘ulama deserve great admiration, and from the foremost of them our Shaykh (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), as they rolled up their sleeves, to make this matter which the minds found improbable, a reality, and they strove night and day to unite the word of Islam, and they encouraged the different groups to unite on the preservation of the religion, until their scholars agreed to meet in one place. They held a well-attended conference in Karachi and they assembled therein from every corner. Indeed this conference was historical, falsifying the claim of Islam’s enemies that the ‘ulama only know disagreement and argumentation, since this conference proposed a basis for the constitution of the country according to religious principles such that all groups agreed upon it, and no two people differed on it and no two goats butted heads on it.
Then the government announced new principles and propagated them to the common Muslims so its opinions could be gauged. The ‘ulama felt there was a need for a second time to hold a conference like the earlier conference, in order that the ‘ulama assemble and deliberate therein and put forward their unanimous and unified views. The ‘ulama strove, and from them our Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him), to hold this conference, and Allah gave them success in this project until the conference completed its work and corrected the evil which the new constitution contained.
Then the matter of the constitution continued to be revised and solved till this day of ours, so at times the open space would shine with shimmers of hope and at other times it would be encompassed by the glooms of despair and hopelessness. However, Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] spared nothing in his efforts [in this cause] as much as was possible, despite what he faced of the suffering of white hair, the great number of his commitments, and his decreased health, until Allah (Exalted is He) took his [soul].
The Founding of Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi
Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] migrated to Pakistan when in its large cities, and in particular in its capital Karachi, there was no religious institute catering for the teaching of the Islamic sciences and propagating them as was required, and there was an intense need for this after the creation of Pakistan, in order to nurture the new generation with the instilment of religious values in all areas of life, and open their minds to a beautiful Islamic ideal, as they are those from whom it is hoped they will carry the burdens of this ummah in the future.
Consequently, Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] founded in the year 1370 H, by the grace of Allah Almighty and His help, a public religious university in a side road from the roads of Pakistan. It is now known as Dar al-‘Ulum, and is considered to be one of the greatest institutions for religious sciences in Pakistan. Allah (Exalted is He) honoured his sincere intentions with acceptance. This institution became a sweet pool to which students from all corners and sides of the lands flocked, and were given drink from its cold gushing water. However, the location could not accommodate them all and there was a need for a more spacious location, so in the year 1377 H, Allah granted by His grace a large plot of land in a suburb from the suburbs of the city, on which was built a spacious and wonderful building away from the hustle and bustle [of the city]. Now, hundreds of students from different parts of the world reside in it.
The respected Shaykh (his secret be sanctified) has many beneficial works whose number surpasses one hundred, most of them in the Urdu language, on the sciences of Qur’anic exegesis, hadith, jurisprudence, spirituality, literature, theology, social etiquettes and other [topics]. At this juncture, we will list only a few of which we found no alternative but to mention them:
- Ma‘arif al-Qur’an. This is a valuable exegesis of the Noble Qur’an which Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] compiled in the Urdu language in 8 large volumes. In it, he commented on the meanings of the Noble Qur’an in an easy and pleasant format. He addressed under every verse those issues of current life which can be extracted from it, in such a way that it elucidates to the reader that the Noble Qur’an carries an eternal message for every man and every time, and it guides him in complex affairs of life to that in which is goodness and righteousness and uprightness. Indeed this exegesis, in this respect, comprises of rare academic investigations created by the modern age. More than forty thousand copies of it have been printed. There is no mosque and no school in the Indian subcontinent in which the meanings of the Noble Qur’an are taught except this exegesis is one of the most important sources from which the teacher draws inspiration from in preparing for his lectures. In the Urdu language, such [an exegesis] does not exist, in its simple phrasing, subtle meaning and immense benefit. This exegesis was translated into a number of languages like Bengali and Persian. A group have begun to translate it into the English language and another into the Arabic language.
- Jawahir al-Fiqh: This is a valuable collection of juristic treatises which the Shaykh (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) wrote on topics on which discussions were common, and it is either not found in the common books of jurisprudence or they have only a brief mention in them with the possibility of multiple interpretations, and thus there is no clarity and verification in the books of jurisprudence. Thus, in this book there are priceless academic discussions on the subjects of moon-sighting, the boundaries of Hajj, copyright, permanent hiring, mechanical slaughter, assisting in sin, and over forty subjects like this.
- Khatm al-Nubuwwah: This is a comprehensive book in refutation of the Dajjalic Qadiyanis in which Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] established the belief of the finality of prophethood upon our Prophet, the Beloved (Allah bless him and grant him peace), with all its proofs from the Noble Qur’an and the upright Sunnah and the consensus of the ummah, and then he refuted all the doubts produced by the false claimants to prophethood in a manner that will satisfy the ignorant and will take him out of the mires of doubt into the liberation of certainty. This book has been printed in the Urdu language a number of times. It comprises of around 500 pages. The ummah has received it with acceptance, and some critics have said that it is the best that has been written on this topic in the Urdu language.
- Sirat Khatam al-Anbiya: This is a brief book comprising of the biography of our Messenger, the Beloved (Allah bless him and grant him peace), with all its important events, which Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] compiled in a concise and pleasant way which instils love for the Noble Prophet (upon him the best of blessings and peace) and his righteous and pure companions (Allah be pleased with them). This book was printed in the Urdu language more than fifty times, and some schools have chosen it as part of its religious curriculum in India and Pakistan. Some people translated it into other local languages like Sindhi, Gujarati and Bengali.
- Alat Jadidah: This is a valuable book in which Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] compiled the rulings pertaining to modern inventions which did not exist in the time of the Prophet (upon him peace), nor in the time of the mujtahid jurists, on which no explicit text relates to their juristic rulings, like prayer on a microphone, reciting the Noble Qur’an on radio, cassette and video, vaccination when fasting, blood transfusions, theatres, and giving testimony via the phone etc. The truth is that this great task would not have been expected but from our respected Shaykh, the Mufti, who Allah has given a powerful ability in jurisprudence and a firm understanding in deriving laws from its sources and a sound temperament in comprehending their secrets. This book was printed in the Urdu language twice. May Allah reward him on behalf of all Muslims the best of rewards.
- Ahkam al-Aradi: This is a book in which Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] compiled the rulings of government land, endowed land and private land in all its types, and what is obligatory on them from the ‘ushr and kharaj taxes. In it, he explained the system of our upright religion, and he clarified the laws specific to the lands of India and Pakistan. He included within it a short summary of the history of the conquests of India at the hands of the Muslims, so that the position of these Indian lands as they relate to the rulings of religion become clear. Truthfully, the Islamic ummah is indebted to him for this great favour for which the Shaykh spent many wakeful nights, and he cleaved boulders and produced thereby cool waters making it possible for every seeker of benefit to drink from it. The book comprises of approximately 500 pages.
- Imdad al-Muftin: This is a collection of some of his fatwas which he issued in the period of his residence at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband. It consists of eight large volumes, and it is, as we mentioned, a small number of his fatwas whose number today reaches around 100,000. Most of these fatwas are in simple Urdu from which every ‘alim and commoner can benefit. Some of them comprise of important detailed academic discussions, which if we were to isolate they would become separate books. This collection was printed in India once and then its copies were depleted. It will be printed again soon if Allah Almighty wills. We hope from Allah the Great to make our hopes of printing the remainder of the fatwas shortly a reality.
- Al-Tasrih bima Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih: This is a short treatise in the Arabic language which Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] compiled upon the instruction of the imam, the hafiz, Shaykh Anwar [Shah] al-Kashmiri (Allah have mercy on him), in which he collected all the hadiths and narrations wherein the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) foretold the signs of the Messiah (upon him peace) and his attributes so that the mendacity of the false Qadiyani prophet’s claim that he is the awaited Messiah becomes patently obvious. May Allah save all the Muslims from his evil. This book was printed in Deoband and then its [copies] ran out. Thereafter, the respected scholar of great learning, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, published it in Syria in an immaculate dress of print and type along with detailed academic footnotes.
- Hadiyyat al-Mahdiyyin fi Ayat Khatam al-Nabiyyin: This is another treatise in refutation of the liar al-Qadiyani which Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] compiled upon the instruction of his brightest teacher [‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri] just like the previous book.
- Thamarat al-Awraq: This is a small collection of select [articles] on literature, history, spirituality, social etiquettes and other sciences in the Urdu language. Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] collected them from many different books while he was studying them. Every man will find in it what suits his temperament and nourishes his sight. It has been printed twice. It comprises of 500 pages.
The respected Shaykh has many other books, whose number surpasses a hundred, and most of them have been printed in the Urdu language, which relate to all the religious sciences, and the ummah have received them with acceptance and Allah has brought benefit to a large multitude of people by means of them. We only mentioned some of the most important of them and left out the rest as listing them would require a separate treatise. ((Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ co-authored with Mawlana Zafar Ahmad and Mawlana Idris al-Kandhlawi the work Ahkam al-Qur’an in Arabic on the issues of jurisprudence and creed derived from the Noble Qur’an in five volumes upon the instruction of Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi. Mufti Shafi’s contribution to this work was the third and fourth volumes spanning the rulings contained in the Qur’an from Surah 26 to Surah 49 which he completed over the years between 1362 H (1943 CE) and 1388 H (1968 CE) as there were many pauses to this project due to the large number of his other commitments. Spread throughout his commentary are a number of articles he composed as part of the original book in commentary of particular verses to which he gave separate titles so that they can be distributed as independent treatises. These valuable treatises which are a great testimony to his expansive knowledge and deep understanding are listed below:
- Kashf al-Rayb ‘an ‘Ilm al-Ghayb (3:44-64)
- Its addendum (takmilah): Kashf al-Rayb ‘an Mafatih al-Ghayb (3:272-278), both on the topic of the knowledge of the unseen
- Al-Istibanah li Ma‘na al-Tasabbub wa al-I‘anah (3:74-84), on the topic of what amounts to being a means to or helping in wrongdoing
- Takmil al-Hubur bi Sama‘ Ahl al-Qubur (3:163-182), on the topic of the dead hearing in the graves
- Al-Sa‘y al-Hathith fi Tafsir Lahw al-Hadith a commentary on Qur’an verse 31:6 which includes: Al-Nahi ‘an al-Malahi (3:186-202), on the topic of amusement, sports and games; and
- Kashf al-‘Ana’ ‘an Wasf al-Ghina’ (3:203-260), on the topic of singing and music
- Tafsil al-Khitab fi Ayat al-Hijab (3:393-483), on the topic of hijab
- Tanqih al-Kalam fi Ahkam al-Salat wa al-Salam (3:484-502), on the topic of sending peace and salutations on the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
- Thubut ‘Adhab al-Qabr bi al-Kitab wa al-Sunnah (4:77-117), on the topic of the punishment of the grave
- ‘Ayn al-Isabah fi Maqam al-Sahabah (4:225-246), on the topic of the lofty rank of the Sahabah
In brief, Allah (Exalted is He) enabled him to serve Islam and the Muslims with every limb of his body, until his life became dependent on religion and its people. We would probably not be exaggerating if we said that he did not take one step after completing his studies except it can be traced back to a praiseworthy religious incentive. Thus, at times he was occupied in teaching hadith at Dar al-‘Ulum and inspecting its conditions, and sometimes you see him compiling valuable religious books by which he combated the tribulations surrounding Islam from all sides, and sometimes you see him encouraging the Muslims to turn to the guidance of their religion, and at other times you visit him and he is struggling to apply the Islamic Shari‘ah in Pakistan and is concerned with the condition of the Muslims in all corners of the earth and is grieved by their hurtful circumstances.
This is what Shaykh [Muhammad Shafi‘] spent his nights and his days in and what he struggled for – even in his old age – morning and evening, such that the aspirations of young men are diminished in comparison to him, until Allah Almighty took his [soul] in the night of the 11th of Shawwal of the year 1396 H corresponding to October of the year 1976 CE. He was buried in the graveyard of Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi, and it was a well-attended day, his funeral having been attended by around 50,000 men. May Allah Almighty show expansive mercy on him and accept his appreciated efforts and his priceless sacrifices in the cause of uplifting the word of Allah and spreading the message of Islam.
His Pleasant Taste in Poetry and Literature
The respected Shaykh had a subtle taste in poetry and literature from a very young age. Then he continued to ascend and blossom as a result of what he acquired in Dar al-‘Ulum from the atmosphere perfumed by the flowers of radiant literary excellence. Most of his teachers were of those Allah (Exalted is He) granted an ability in this field like other sciences. His brightest teacher [‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri] (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) founded a literary board to train the minds of the novices, which he called Nadiyat al-Adab. This club would hold weekly or monthly gatherings for literary purposes in which the students and teachers would assemble and deliver their speeches and read out their poems. Our respected Shaykh, the Mufti, due to what Allah (Exalted is He) bestowed on him of a natural disposition [in poetry and literature], was from the champions of these competitions and was distinguished in this field.
Thus, his subtle taste [in poetry] matured until he began to produce pleasant poetry in Urdu, Persian and Arabic. Although he did not opt for poetry as his field and art, he had in his possession a small collection of his poems in the three languages. Some of his Urdu and Persian poems were printed in his book Thamarat al-Awraq and you see in them what the ears find pleasurable and what excites sound taste.
Most of his poems consist of accepted wisdom and effective advice, and you don’t see in them silly and lavish infatuation, and you only see a true love for Allah and His Messenger and incitement towards good deeds and contemplation of the afterlife.
His Arabic poems have been published in a small booklet called Nafhat and here is a diverse bouquet from the flowers which we picked for you from the gardens of his various poems:
[Poems not translated]
This is the end of what we wished to write in this small section, and we ask Allah to guide us to the straight path in all matters of this world and the next. To Him belongs all praise, firstly and lastly.
16 Dhu al-Qa‘dah 1383 H (March 1964) ((Although this was the original date when this biography was authored as part of the introduction to an Arabic book written by Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘, the publishers of Ahkam al-Qur’an made some changes and additions to this version to acknowledge later developments and to reflect the context of this introduction.))
Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Dar al-‘Ulum al-Karachi
Ahkam al-Qur’an, Idarat al-Qur’an wa al-‘Ulum al-Islamiyyah, Karachi: Pakistan, Third Edition, 1429 H, 3:1-19