The Great Muhaddith: Shah Ishaq al-Dihlawi

Translated by Zameelur Rahman

The shaykh, the imam, the hadith-scholar, the transmitter, Abu Sulayman Ishaq ibn Muhammad Afdal ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isma‘il ibn Mansur ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qiwam al-Din al-‘Umari al-Dihlawi, the migrant to the blessed [city of] Makkah, buried therein. He was the grandson of Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Wali Allah al-‘Umari al-Dihlawi.

He was born on the 8th of Dhu l-Hijjah in the year 1196 H – and it was said 1197 H – in Delhi, and he grew up in the cradle of his aforementioned maternal grandfather. He read Sarf and Nahw up to al-Kafiyah by Ibn al-Hajib under Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hayy ibn Hibat Allah al-Burhanawi, and he took fiqh from him. He took hadith and then acquired a sanad from the aforementioned Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, and he was like a son to him. The aforementioned shaykh appointed him his successor and bequeathed to him all that he had of books and lands. Thus, he sat after him in his seat and instructed the people with the best of instruction. He travelled to the two noble Harams in the year 1240 H, and performed Hajj and Ziyarah. He acquired sanad in hadith from Shaykh ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Karim ibn ‘Abd al-Rasul al-Makki (d. 1247 H). Then he returned to India and he taught in the city of Delhi for sixteen months, and then he migrated to the illuminated [city of] Makkah with his brother Ya‘qub and all his family in the year 1258 H. He chose residence at Makkah after performing Hajj and Ziyarah a second time. Sharif Muhammad ibn Nasir al-Hazimi took from him in the glorified [city of] Makkah.

He had outstanding students from the inhabitants of India, like Shaykh Muhaddith ‘Abd al-Ghani ibn Abi Sa‘id al-‘Umari al-Dihlawi, the migrant to the illuminated [city of] Madinah, Sayyid Nadhir Husayn ibn Jawad ‘Ali al-Husayni al-Dihlawi, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Paniputi, Sayyid ‘Alim ‘Ali al-Muradabadi, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qayyum ibn ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Burhanawi, Shaykh Qutb al-Din ibn Muhyi al-Din al-Dihlawi, Shaykh Ahmad ‘Ali ibn Lutf Allah al-Saharanpuri, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Jalil al-Shahid al-Saku’ili, Mufti ‘Inayat Ahmad al-Kakurawi, Shaykh Ahmad Allah ibn Dalil Allah al-Anami, and a multitude besides them. Most of them excelled in hadith, and many people took from them, until no chain of hadith remained in India besides this chain, and that is the blessing of Allah He gives to whoever He pleases.

Shaykh Shams al-Haqq al-Diyanawi said in Tadhkirat al-Nubala’: “Shaykh ‘Abd Allah Siraj al-Makki would say after his death upon bathing him: ‘By Allah! Had he lived, and I read hadith unto him my entire life, I would not have acquired what he acquired.’” His teacher, Shaykh ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Karim (Allah have mercy on him) would attest to his perfection in the science of hadith and its narrators, and he would say: “The blessing of his grandfather, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dihlawi, has descended into him.” And his grandfather, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz would often recite this noble verse: “All praise to Allah, Who granted me, despite old age, Isma‘il and Ishaq.”[1] (Qur’an 14:39) And our teacher, Nadhir Husayn, would say: “I have not accompanied a scholar more virtuous than him.” He (Allah have mercy on him) would often recite:

For the guidance of wicked men,
Isma‘il and Ishaq came again

He died in the noble [city of] Makkah in a pandemic, while fasting, on Monday, when three nights remained of Rajab, in the year 1262 H. He was buried in al-Mu‘allah next to the grave of our lady, Khadijah (Allah be pleased with her).

Nuzhat al-Khawatir, 911-2

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  1. This was the supplication of Ibrahim (peace be upon him) when in old age Allah granted him two sons, Isma‘il and Ishaq (peace be upon them). Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz expressed his gratitude to Allah with the same words, intending his nephew, Shah Isma‘il Shahid, and his grandson, Shaykh Ishaq al-Dihlawi. []

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