Translated by Ismaeel Nakhuda

Translator’s foreword: The story behind Hadrat Shaykh’s Ap Biti is an interesting one. It was while undergoing treatment to his eyes at Gandhi Eye Hospital in Aligarh in July 1970 that Hadrat Shaykh (then aged 72) began narrating his life story which his scribes jotted down over the course of 18 days. The result was a  manuscript consisting of eight chapters with some chapters fully complete and others partially. Is Ap Biti a biography? I would say it is much more than that. It is a personal account that tells the story of what shaped Hadrat Shaykh’s life and consists of practical life lessons for us all. It is no wonder then that its reading is an important part of the syllabus at several khanqahs in South Asia, especially in those Sufi chains that lead back to him. Below is a translation of Chapter Seven which covers the partition of India in 1947 when Hadrat Shaykh was 49 years old; it is a chapter that not only brims with pious advice but is punctuated with the pain that Hadrat Shaykh felt during a troubled episode in recent history. Subheadings and footnotes are from the translator. We pray Allah accepts this humble effort and grants tawfiq for further chapters to be translated, amin. [1]The year of India’s partition, 1947, was definitely a difficult year for Hadrat Shaykh. Several members of his family passed away that year, including in Kandhla his son in law Mawlana Sa‘id … Continue reading

Hadrat Shaykh narrates: The hue and cry for partitioning India had been gaining momentum for many years. Conferences and rallies would be held at all times, night and day, along with the shouting of slogans and noise.

In these areas (the Uttar Pradesh area in the North of India), the [Indian National] Congress was strong whereas the [Muslim] League was weak. Anyone who had a slight connection with the League or would not express a special affinity to the Congress party would be openly abused with slogans of lackey, appeaser of the English, their follower and slave. In the eyes of the League, those who were with the Congress were remembered as their slaves and that they had been bought by them (zar kharid) etc. Each other were openly considered to be irreligious and deviant in such a way that there seemed to be no end.

Affected by this, this lowly one wrote the booklet Al-‘Itidal [fi Maratib al-Rijal] (also known in English as Islamic Politics) which was liked by both sides. It would permanently be in Hadrat Madni’s (may Allah sanctify his secret) travel bag and I have heard that it was mentioned in the gathering of Hadrat Thanwi (may Allah sanctify his secret). However, the exact words did not reach me and I am, therefore, not mentioning them. Nevertheless, the mature individuals from both sides and the senior politicians expressed a deep like for it and many letters were received in relation to it.

After the demise of my uncle [Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalwi] (may Allah enlighten his resting place), on the insistence of my beloved Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf [Kandhalwi] [2]Hadratji Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalwi was the cousin and son in law of Hadrat Shaykh. He was the second amir of the Tablighi Jama‘at until his death, and during his tenure the work spread … Continue reading (may Allah have mercy on him), I would mostly spend the entire Ramadan in i‘tikaf in Nizamuddin. I however spent half of the Ramadan of 1364AH (August-September 1945) in Saharanpur.

The slogan of the [Muslim] League supporters that “we shall take Pakistan, we shall die and take it, we shall kill and take it, we shall take it with blood” (Pakistan le kar rahenghe, mur kar lenghe, mar kar lenghe, khun seh lenghe) was the slogan at every rally. In the nights of Ramadan, however, these slogans could be heard from after the Tarawih prayers until the time of dusk (sehri). Through many people I tried to forbid this and repeatedly advised through others that these nights of the blessed month of Ramadan are times when supplications are accepted, surely ask for Pakistan during it. However, don’t ask for it by killing, dying and with blood. There was, however, a sense of excitement and intoxication that had overcome people.

It is mentioned in the hadith that do not supplicate against your children and wealth. Allah Most High has designated certain hours when whatever is asked for is received. “For indeed, Allah has certain hours in which the beseecher is not rejected.” This subject is mentioned through different wording. It is mentioned in Mishkat [al-Masabih] through Sayyiduna Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) that do not supplicate against yourselves, nor against your wealth and children lest your supplication is done at a time when Allah Most High accepts them.

This illness is found a great deal among women who, when frustrated at the crying of children, firstly supplicate (bad-du‘a) against their children saying die, fall, and when that supplication is accepted they begin to cry.

The importance of Sunnah supplications

Regarding supplications also, I have always stressed during lessons that supplicate using the wording that is found in the Sunnah and are transmitted (mathur and manqul), this is because no religious or worldly need that has been called for has been missed in the pure hadiths.

There is an unrelated story that is appropriate at this juncture that has been heard many times from the elders and which I always often mention during lectures that do not supplicate in your own words but use the blessed wording of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Firstly, the words uttered from the tongue of the beloved has a great deal of value by Allah Most High and, secondly, these words are so concise that the purpose is achieved.

The story is that a Dom (a lower caste) from a village was walking, he became tired along the way and began saying, “Oh Allah, I need a horse.” He was making this supplication recklessly in despair and, finally, the foolish fellow became angry and said, “If not a horse, then grant at least a foal.” Allah Most High quickly accepts the du‘a made at the type of despair. I have also experienced this dozens of times for myself that the supplication made in despair is quickly accepted. The village’s landowner (jajman) was riding by on his mare when his horse gave birth and taking the foal back to the village was proving to be a huge difficulty. On seeing the Dom he called out, “Oh Dom, carry this foal on your shoulder.” The poor fellow was unable to walk and tired; with great remorse he said, “Oh Allah, I had asked for something underneath, what I got was something above.”

It is because of this that I take great care in emphasising to my friends and also via them to their womenfolk that in anger beat your children as much as you want, but do not supplicate against them (Hadrat Shaykh is being sarcastic here). Secondly, as much as you are able to do so, take care in reciting the Sunnah du‘as.

The effect of partition on religion and religious knowledge

Anyhow, the supplications of the League supporters were accepted and India was partitioned. That happened which was asked for in the nights of the blessed month of Ramadan. Pakistan was taken by killing, dying and spilling blood. The incidents from that time are also very important and many. Two of my seniors – Hadrat Hakim al-Ummat Mawlana Thanwi and Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Madni (may Allah enlighten their resting places) – were of differing views. Those who were connected to them were in a difficult predicament.

Molwi Manfa‘at ‘Ali, the late lawyer (wakil) who after partition moved to Pakistan and passed away in Karachi, may Allah forgive him and have mercy on him, was a special student of my father (may Allah enlighten his resting place). He has been mentioned in the section before regarding students. At the beginning, he was an extremely devoted and sincere friend of my father, and because of this he would be very free with me and had a special connection with me. After this, he became bay‘at to Hadrat Thanwi and was among his special attendants.

He was the heart and soul of the Muslim League in Saharanpur and was most likely its head there. He was very extreme in terms of [his support for] the Muslim League. Once he wrote me a note: “I am not asking to publicise or make a declaration, but only to give my heart peace and on account of the connection I had with the late mawlana (my father). I wish to ask you of your opinion about partition. I am asking in secrecy, I shall not tell anyone. Write to me in a few words.”

I wanted to write asking him to speak to me face-to-face. I thought: I do not know what he would understand if I were to speak to him and what he would then convey. In a few words I wrote: “This worthless one has absolutely no understanding of politics, it is the politicians who know this matter. However, I definitely do have this much in mind that the area of the Doab – in other words the land between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers – which has through the blessings (barkat) of Hadrat Gangohi, Nanautwi and Thanwi become the centre of religion, knowledge, suluk and taqwa, there is no example of this in the world today. It is only through the force of the sword that these blessings could be obliterated. The part that has been designated for Pakistan, there is none like the akabir there, nor can they be born through whom the centres of religion, the Arabic madrasahs, the Quranic maktabs of this like could be established.”

Accordingly, this is what happened that though Deoband and Saharanpur, through the favour and grace of Allah, still exist, students from the Punjab, Sindh, Bengal etc are unable to come. Aside from them, hundreds of madrasahs in eastern Punjab that were serving the religion with great sincerity and focus through the barakah of Hadrat [Mawlana ‘Abdul Qadir] Raipuri and his shaykh Hadrat [Mawlana ‘Abdur Rahim] Raipuri, all of them are ruined. It is to Allah that we complain.

Incidents at the time of partition

It was the habit of this worthless one that after the passing away of my uncle (may Allah enlighten his resting place) I would spend the entire Ramadan in Nizamuddin, as I have written just now. The year when partition happened, as per my habit I left for Delhi on Saturday 29 Sha‘ban 1366AH, corresponding to 19 July 1947, reaching Delhi after the Zuhr prayers and Nizamuddin at the time of ‘Asar.

As it was the 29th, on performing the ‘Asar prayer I sat in my uncle’s place of i‘tikaf with the intention of i‘tikaf. Partition was announced to take place on 27 Ramadan, on the Night of Destiny (Shab-i-Qadr), at 12 midnight, corresponding to 15 August. That night, Mawlana Manzur Nu‘mani led a powerful du‘a with lots of crying, as he was also in Nizamuddin at that time and so too were lots of other good people during Ramadan. Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi also spent Ramadan there.

Violence and blood, murder and pillaging, and looting had begun several months before in Bengal and Bihar, and incidents were increasing daily. After partition, such rivers of blood began flowing in India and Pakistan that may Allah grant safety and protection (al-aman wa al-hafiz). Detailing all of this is not my topic, nor do I have the will. The  scene that has been described in the Qur’an and hadith about the Day of Judgement and resurrection (hashr) – “The Day when one will flee from his brother, and from his mother and father, and from his wife and sons, every one of them will be too engaged in his own affairs to care for others” (80:34-37) – I saw all of these scenes with my eyes.

From [the train station in] Nizamuddin, the Special [train] for exchanging populations would leave after Maghrib and the mosque in Nizamuddin would from after Zuhr be so filled that people could be seen outside the mosque at a distance; after ‘Asr it would become completely empty like there was a howling wilderness. After the Special would leave, there would be around 80 young children at the station abandoned by their parents who themselves had climbed on to the train. When it would be said to them why they were leaving their children, then without any pain they would respond that if they reached Pakistan safely they would have more there – how can we carry this burden? There would also be military guards on the Specials who would be armed. It is, however, as the poet says:

They are the killers, they are the informants, they are the judges,

Who can my relatives accuse of spilling blood?

The atmosphere on both sides was so polluted that the police who would come here and go there as guards, let alone coming forward to protect, they would mostly turn a blind eye. As a result, the Specials were often attacked and looted. The Special that left on 22 September reached Lahore in eight days and lots of murder and pillaging took place on it. [3]Hadrat Shaykh is referring here to the 1947 Amritsar train massacre that took place on 22 September in which 3,000 Muslim refugees were killed and 1,000 wounded. It is said only 100 passengers were … Continue reading

Cows, buffaloes, goats and hens were left at home without any arrangements, it did not matter if they died of hunger or beasts devoured them. Those people considered religious would leave their livestock at the Tablighi Markaz. For around four months this worthless one was also as if imprisoned at Nizamuddin. Bringing rations from Delhi was a huge difficulty. We ate these animals without any roti and grain like we do on Eid al-Adha. As the road to Delhi was completely dangerous and closed and rations were found at the vegetable market, which was full of Sikhs, none of us had the courage to go there. However, our Al-Haj Babu Ayaz, may Allah Most High give him lots of courage and strength, would go there in these circumstances and bring rations. The rations, however, would be for 15 people and the permanent residents [at the Markaz] were about 500. Nevertheless, these rations were useful for children. Everyone would be surprised at his going in such circumstances.

Babu Ayaz and the power of Sunnah supplications

On one occasion he was returning from the vegetable market to Nizamuddin with rations and took a horse drawn carriage. In it was Babuji himself and three Sikhs. On leaving Delhi, the Sikhs said, “How have you sat among us? If we were to finish you off, then what?” With extreme passion, daring and boldness, he replied, “You will never be able to kill me, and if you have the courage then kill and show.” They also began pondering. They began making signals to each other, raised their sleeves and said, “Why can’t we kill you?” With even more passion, he said, “I have something, you are not able to kill me?” Through the grace and kindness of Allah they became so awestruck that they kept thinking about this until Nizamuddin and would also make signals to each other [to attack]. When he was disembarking, they asked him to show them that thing. Babuji said, “That is not something that can be shown, and you have seen the rest that despite your intentions you were unable to kill me.” When this worthless one asked him what that thing was, he said you had told me a du‘a: “Oh Allah, indeed we place you before them and we seek your refuge from their wickedness.”

I began thinking that there was no impact of this du‘a on the one who showed him, while he is benefitting so much from it. I felt a lot of shame (ghayrat) from this. This is a matter relating to the strength of one’s conviction. This is definitely the case, there is absolutely no hesitance in this and not even a bit of doubt that the words of Allah Most High have even more strength and power than this, with the condition we have the passion of faith.

I have written somewhere before that my uncle wrote a du‘a for a sick person and commanded me to recite this du‘a on the person and to regularly blow on him (dum) and that if he does not recover then it is better for him to die. At that time, I experienced the effect of the du‘as from the Quran and hadith on numerous occasions that cannot be counted. May Allah Most High grant us today the firm belief experienced in that era and conviction in du‘as minus the fights and riots [that took place then], this would be His favour. I also have my own experiences of many things.

The threat of mob attacks and police raids

Our homes and the Masjid-i-Bangla were often searched [by the military and police]. Once a large contingent of armed Gurkhas, no idea what wrong information these poor fellows had received, came; this worthless one was in the mosque. “And We have placed a barrier in front of them and a barrier behind them, and (thus) they are encircled by Us; so they do not see.” (36:9) Spontaneously, this verse began flowing from my tongue to such an extent that I was astonished. There were 10 to 15 men and they searched above and below roofs. They, however, did not touch anything. I do not know if they did not see anything or something else happened.

On several occasions we heard reliable news that the Masjid-i-Bangla (the Tablighi Markaz) was to be attacked. However, each time Allah Most High assisted us such that it would heavily rain and hailstone would fall from the time of Maghrib that the entire road would become closed. We heard of a strange incident in those days, Allah knows what the reality is. A mob of rioters came to attack from Bhogal (an area of Delhi). They, however, suddenly fled. People asked them what happened. They said, “Here, those who are alive are alive, but even the dead fight and are ready to face us.” They said, “When we came close to Masjid-i-Bangla, the dead rose from their graves, we saw them and that is why we returned.” I have only written one story, there are many stories of this type. I do not know whether these stories should be written.

A sweater that was used for 15 years

When this worthless one went to Nizamuddin at the end Sha‘ban, it was Summer. I only had one kurta, a pyjama and a lungi. In those days it was my habit that on the day of Friday I would wear the lungi and give my clothes to the laundrymen to wash. They would tussle amongst themselves as to who would wash (in order to gain the honour of washing Hadrat Shaykh’s clothes), so there was no objection in this. Within two to three hours they would dry and I would wear them. As a result, I had no other clothes to wear aside from these three items of clothing. I was confined there for four months. Severe winter came and what chance was there to purchase clothes as it was very dangerous to go to Delhi.

My very sincere friend Sufi Iqbal Hoshyarpuri, [4]Hadrat Sufi Muhammad Iqbal (d.2000) was born in 1926 in Hoshiarpur, India. He became bay‘at to Hadrat Shaykh in 1945 and settled in Pakistan following partition. In 1963, he migrated to Madinah … Continue reading then Pakistani, then Madni, was also confined there along with me. Sensing I was feeling cold, he purchased a sweater from a soldier for two rupees. I was extremely opposed to wearing sweaters, rather I had a dislike for them. I had never worn one before then nor did I dress my children in them. However, compulsion forces one to do everything. I wore this sweater for 15 years. After that, one of my late friends insisted for many years, “Forgive the fault of this sweater and by way of barakah hand it to me. I shall place it in my shroud (kafn).” I would tell him, “When I find one for two rupees, then I shall give to you.” You could, however, never find one for two rupees. After 15 years he brought a new sweater to me and said, “I have actually purchased it for two rupees.” I did not believe this. However, I gave him two rupees and my sweater. After that it was as if I stopped wearing my old [type] of clothing, the cotton kamari (Nehru waistcoat), and then sweaters began to be used by the ‘ulama fraternity.

A strange incident

There was a strange incident that occurred them days. It was always my habit to go [to Nizamuddin] on 29 Sha‘ban, complete the full month i‘tikaf there, perform the ‘Id prayer early in Nizamuddin, leave and then arrive in Saharanpur in the evening. However, that year, somewhat due to news of rioting and somewhat due to the severe illness of dear Harun’s (may Allah protect him) mother – her condition was such that each day it was as if it was her last – I was delayed by two to three days, everyone here [in Saharanpur] was very worried.

My dear Al-Haj Master Mahmud al-Hasan Kandhalwi, who in those days was the second master at Islamia School and was also sometimes the principle and whose story relating to his recommendation (sifarish) I narrated in the section regarding exams, also came to Nizamuddin to find out about me on account of my delay. With him was also my sincere friend and someone who was devoted to Hadrat Madni (may Allah sanctify his resting place) the late Molwi ‘Abdul Majid Jalalwi who permanently stayed by me. He had a lot of love and sincerity.

An example from among the many examples of his devotion to Hadrat Madni is that whenever he heard a rumour that Hadrat was coming at night from Deoband or Lucknow, he would spend the entire night at the station and would look in every train [that arrived]. May Allah Most High reward him well, whenever there was an hour wait between trains, he would take a return horse carriage from the station, wake me up and say Hadrat has arrived, there is this much time left and I have bought a return horse carriage. What excuse would I then have not to go?

Once the late Molwi ‘Abdul Majid, and I shall call it foolishness, however, foolishness occurs in love. Hadrat Madni (may Allah sanctify his resting place) arrived at night and there was a one hour wait until the next train. He told the coachman, “Rush, I need to go and come back. I shall give you whatever you say.” The coachman said he wanted a rupee. “I shall give you five instead of one, hurry up,” he said. The coachman came to my home in five minutes and the horse was sweating, rather it was neighing. I was furious and felt like refusing to go. However, since he had told Hadrat (may Allah sanctify his resting place) that he would bring me, I had to go because of this and I was also forced to pay the rupees.

Brother Mahmud and Molwi ‘Abdul Majid arrived in Delhi on 3 Shawwal to find out about me via the 4.30pm Express. They were also ogled at on that train; the rioters eyed them up and shouted slogans. After that, the train that left Saharanpur at 6pm, there was widespread killing at Daurala station, and it was as if after that the route from Saharanpur to Delhi was completely shut. When Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified) would go to Delhi from Deoband, and he would have to go many times, he would come from Deoband to Saharanpur and from here to Moradabad. From there he would go to Delhi through various ways, using roads that were relatively safe.

Another story relating to Molwi ‘Abdul Majid

Regarding the late dear ‘Abdul Majid there is another story of foolishness that I shall dictate. During the four months of incarceration at Nizamuddin paan (betel leaf) was not available. Dear Molwi Yusuf and Molwi In‘am, and many others staying there, had more of a habit to chew paan than I. However, as there was no paan, they would consume the betel nut (chaliya), lime (chuna) and catechu (katha) [without the leaf]. I didn’t like this, and because of this I had almost abandoned it. May Allah Most High forgive dear ‘Abdul Majid and also me. He arranged from Delhi for a desi paan via a Sikh for five rupees. [5]According to my estimates, this would be around £18 in today’s money. I felt even more remorse and trouble over this than the story of the horse carriage. However, the love of something makes one blind and dumb. When brother Mahmud came to know of this paan, he took it off the late Molwi ‘Abdul Majid and – may Allah Most High reward him also – he didn’t eat it himself, nor did he give it to someone else. I insisted that he gives half the paan to Molwi Yusuf. He, however, did not agree and divided the paan into small ta‘wid-like portions, added katha and chuna to them and would give two three portions a day. I perhaps finished it in eight days, it was as if the five rupees had been recuperated. As the postal service had also halted in those days, there was no mention of going to and fro, because of this one of my sons-in-law, the late Molwi Sa‘id al-Rahman, passed away in Kandhla. I received notification of this after two months.

A person seeks permission to leave for Pakistan

There was an Individual – the writing of whose name would be inappropriate – who well before partition was bay‘at to Hadrat Mawlana ‘Abdul Qadir Raipuri (may his secret be sanctified) and was employed in Patiala State. He would often present himself at [the Khanqah of] Raipur and when he would go to Raipur he would definitely, along the way, spend a night by me. Once, while going to Raipur, he told me that he was employed at such a such school. On reading your Hikayat-i-Sahabah I resigned from the school. I became very angry because I am severely against handing in one’s resignation as long as another means of livelihood is not found. I told him, “There is no discussion of this sort in Hikayat-i-Sahabah. Bring the book and show me where it is written.” When I severely reprimanded him, he said, “It’s not written in there. However, this is the effect that it had on me.” I told him, “When my book had this effect on you, then you should at least ask me. Go immediately and rescind your resignation.” He said that the resignation had been accepted and there was no way of taking it back.

As he also had a connection to Tabligh and Nizamuddin, I advised (mashwera) him to go to Raipur and, after staying there eight to 10 days, go to Nizamuddin and stay there permanently and to come to Raipur every month for four, five days, and to also convey my suggestion to Hadrat Raipuri. There are today thousands who saw the time of Hadrat Raipuri (may Allah sanctify his secret) in that, for Hadrat Raipuri, if this sinner’s opinion was even contrary to Hadrat Raipuri’s opinion then he would express such like for it that it would seem as if it was Hadrat’s opinion. I do not know whether this was from his heart or to make me happy; Hadrat liked my suggestion. For a long time this person did this. At the time of partition he was also incarcerated in Nizamuddin.

In those days it was the general norm, save for who Allah intended otherwise (illa masha Allah), that whoever would seek permission from Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him) to go to Pakistan, then he would express his great displeasure and say, “Are you going because of fear of death? The time of death is fixed, it shall not leave the Indians or the Pakistanis.” On the other hand, those who sought permission from this sinner, I would happily grant them permission. In those days, as has been mentioned before, the mosque of Nizamuddin would begin filling up from Zuhr and by ‘Asr would become empty as the Special would depart after Maghrib. From morning to evening, Mawlana Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him) would deliver a speech from the pulpit (mimbar) and would, with great passion, lecture on trusting in Allah, the shame of fleeing death and other such matters. When the above mentioned late mawlana would, for some need, descend from the pulpit then this molwi sahib would immediately reach the pulpit and, in an even more passionate way, elaborate on the late mawlana’s topic and stress on not going to Pakistan. When the late mawlana would come back, he would get off the pulpit.

Once Mawlana Yusuf, having read the Zuhr prayer, went because of some need and that fellow immediately climbed on to the pulpit and with great zeal, as was his habit, begin lecturing. I was also sitting in the late Molwi Yusuf’s room listening and when Mawlana Yusuf reached the pulpit then that fellow came down from the pulpit and immediately came into the room. On coming he said to me, “Grant me permission, I wish to go to Pakistan.” There was no end to my astonishment, he was lecturing with such emphasis and noise just a while ago and now he was seeking permission to go to Pakistan. In accordance with my habit I said, “Gladly go.” He said, “I wish to hear from the mouth of Hadratji [Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf].” I said, “My permission is Hadratji’s permission. Gladly go.” With a lot of emphasis and in a very worried manner he said, “Hadrat, I need to go on the Special today and wish to hear the words of permission from Hadratji’s mouth.” I sent a person to Mawlana Yusuf with the message, “For one minute listen to one thing I wish to say, do not end the speech.” The late mawlana would, with reverence and from the heart, accept inappropriate instructions from me. He suddenly left the pulpit saying to the congregation, “Remain seated, I am immediately coming. Bhaiji (my respected brother) is calling me.” I said to him, “Brother, he wishes to go. I have given him permission from me and you. He however  seeks to hear permission from you.” With a lot of anger he said, “After Bhaiji has granted permission, what need is there for my permission. Gladly go.” After that, the late mawlana went to the lecture and I bid Allah Hafiz to the person.

At that moment and with great diligence, the person gathered many of the elite people of Nizamuddin. Outside the mosque is a neem tree, he took them under there where Babu Ayaz’s restaurant is and on reaching there began a very passionate speech; the passion with which he had been lecturing from the pulpit in the mosque on stopping people going, he was speaking even more forcefully on encouraging people to go and said, “Hadratji is unable because of Hadrat Shaykh, and Hadrat Shaykh is only staying here eager to become martyred, he has no other purpose. No work of religion can be done here. Worshipping or protecting these graves is not our job.” He exhorted a lot. However, none of the elite were convinced. Some of the general people went with him.

Do we migrate to Pakistan or stay?

This issue also remained a cause of controversy for three four months in that those dear ones going to Pakistan were passionately insisting on Hadrat Mawlana Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him) going; some of the seniors were coming daily with 25, 30 airplane tickets to take Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf along with his family. They were insisting that many Muslims had moved there and because of this for Mawlana Yusuf to go there for the sake of their religious reformation (islah) was highly necessary. In addition to that, the tumultuous situation here and the general desertion of UP and Delhi, the hope of religious work here seemed less. Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him), however, had one answer, “If Bhaiji goes, then I shall also go, otherwise not.” Because of him, there was also at all times a cluster of people around this sinner.

Friends in Delhi and other places were at all times insisting that this worthless one also quickly decides to go to Pakistan. I only had one response, “As long as I do not take advice (mashwera) from my two buzurgs, Hadrat Mawlana Madni and Mawlana Raipuri (may Allah enlighten their graves), until that time I shall not make a decision.” Those friends insisted, “Write a note, we shall seek permission from these two buzurgs.” I would say, “I did not say permission, I said advice, and that has to be done verbally. Whenever it is destined, I shall establish an opinion having spoken to them verbally.”

Some of my relatives were also very insistent on my and Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf going. However, they did not have the courage to tell me. Nevertheless, they would insist a great deal via those friends who were going. This was also a permanent battle at all times. As the roads were also closed from all sides there was no way of speaking to both of the shaykhs: Mawlana Madni and Mawlana Raipuri (may Allah enlighten their graves).

A predicament: to vacate Nizamuddin Markaz or not

At the beginning of Muharram 1367AH (November 1947), my sincere friend and benefactor Molwi Nasir al-Din (may he be protected), who was very aware of what touched a nerve with me, wrote me a letter that reached me with great difficulty by hand. In it he wrote, “A scribe has been found for the fourth volume of Awjaz al-Masalik and I have begun the work. You are needed for this.” The publishing of the fourth volume of Awjaz had begun before partition. Lots of my money had been spent in having it written out for printing (kitabat) and on the paper for its printing. However, in the turbulence of partition all of that was destroyed for which I was very upset and, in view of the situation, I also did not have hope that it would be possible to print it. On this letter of Molwi Nasir’s, which he had only written to mislead and call me back [to Saharanpur], I began pressing to return and I asked my dear Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him) for permission to return. Whenever I remember his words, they pierce me. With tears in his eyes he said, “Bhaiji, are you leaving me in this condition?”

At that time, there was also another difficulty about moving from Nizamuddin to Delhi. In that matter, Al-Haj Hafiz Fakhr al-Din (may Allah have mercy on him) was very much at the front and had arranged several buildings in Balli Maran (a suburb of Delhi) for women, men and jama’ats to stay; the above Hafiz Sahib enjoyed a special connection with Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman Seoharwi [6]Hadrat Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman Seoharwi (d.1962) was an activist of the Indian independence movement who served as the fourth general secretary of the Jamiat ‘Ulama-i-Hind. He campaigned against … Continue reading and  it is because of this that he would massively stress that we all move to Delhi. On the issue of our safety, the late Mawlana [Seoharwi] was also of the same opinion as Hafiz Sahib. However, he was not as passionate as he was. Nevertheless, on the insistence of the Hafiz Sahib, Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman (may Allah have mercy on him) – may Allah Most High grant him a lofty rank – came several times to Nizamuddin in a government truck to take us to Delhi.

The opinion of Mawlana Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him) was to absolutely not move. He would say, “If we were to vacate [Nizamuddin Markaz] and the refugees were to occupy it, then returning here would become difficult.” There was also at all times crowds of refugees around there who would also terrorise and threaten the people that lived there [at the Markaz]. In regard to this objection, Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman was with Mawlana Yusuf that regaining control of it would not be easy. In this difficulty, this worthless one was the ally of my dear above mentioned (Hadratji Mawlana Yusuf Sahib), while Hadrat al-Haj Hafiz Fakhr al-Din would issue commands with a lot of stress. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t put too much pressure on this sinner. On my intention to return, my late dear one also said, “On your departure, it shouldn’t be that Hafiz Sahib also becomes obstinate on moving to Delhi.” I said, “The answer to that is very easy. In my absence you could stress that as long as Zakariyya does not permit, I shall not move.”

There was a strange issue that caused a lot of astonishment which I still do not comprehend. What it was that in Shawwal and Dhu al-Qa‘dah (August-September 1947), there was an evil sinister feeling (nahusat) in every nook and cranny that made me fearful; I would think what is this darkness? I didn’t express this to anyone there. However, on returning I mentioned it to Hadrat Raipuri. That darkness, however, suddenly began to become less at the beginning of Dhu al-Hijjah (October 1947) and after ‘Id al-Adha positive energy (anwar) began to be felt. I consoled my dear Mawlana Yusuf because of this that there is now nothing to fear, be at peace. I did not mention the darkness and light. I did, however, console him a lot.

Return to Saharanpur with Hadrat Madni

Names of some of the places that feature in this translation, including the places that Hadrat Shaykh and Hadrat Madni stopped by on their return from Nizamuddin to Saharanpur.

On 28 Dhu al-Hijjah 1366AH, corresponding to 12 November 1947, Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified and may Allah enlighten his grave), having left Deoband and spent the night in Muzaffarnagar, arrived in Delhi in the afternoon after a long journey. There, Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru expressed a lot of pain and remorse that he had come with such difficulty and hardship and said, [in future] let us know, a government truck shall bring and take you. They also, at that moment, arranged a government truck for Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified) that would take him to Deoband and four army Gurkhas armed with weapons were also assigned for protection.

Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified) informed this worthless one in Nizamuddin, “I am going to Deoband in a government truck with military guards. Your womenfolk (who had all gone to Nizamuddin on 21 Sha‘ban 1366AH because Harun’s mother was severely ill and had been confined there) would find it easy going with me at this time. I had been thinking of coming before.” There was no other easier way to bring the womenfolk than this. As a result, Mawlana Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him) – unhappily, rather remorsefully – granted everyone permission and in the morning of Sunday 3 Muharram 1367, corresponding to 17 November 1947, Hadrat Madni sent his truck to Nizamuddin and Zakariyya with the womenfolk, having bid farewell to Mawlana Yusuf (may Allah have mercy on him) and with both of us teary eyed, took leave and climbed on.

The [rear of the] truck was covered from all sides and four armed Gurkhas were assigned to the four corners. At the front [in the cabin] was Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified), the late dear Molwi ‘Abdul Majid and ‘ali janab Mahmud ‘Ali Khan, [7]Nawabzada Mahmood ‘Ali Khan was a prominent freedom fighter and member of the central executive committee of the All India Majlis Ahrar-i-Islam. He was a close associate of Amir-i-Shari‘at … Continue reading the chief of Kailashpur, who had by chance gone to Delhi and was seated with his revolver. This worthless one was in the back with the womenfolk.

The truck breaks down

We left Delhi at 9am and having travelled almost seven miles the truck suddenly broke down. With a lot of trouble and difficulty it was kickstarted. It was difficult to get the womenfolk to disembark. However, Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified) pushed the truck himself, in spite of his weakness and old age, using more so his spiritual strength than his physical strength. It was through Hadrat’s blessings (barakat) that it started, otherwise it was so heavy that us few weaklings could not do this. It wouldn’t budge a bit by pushing it. It would only move through Hadrat’s (may his secret be sanctified) effort.

With great difficulty, in five to six hours we reached Sonta [Rasulpur]. There was a madrasah for children there. The villagers and people at the madrasah, on seeing Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified), became very happy and brought maize, rice and such that they had, whatever type of rotis and saag and the like. As I had women with me, a section of the madrasah was vacated and the women were housed there, while Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified) and I went to the mosque and the soldiers began repairing the truck. There was no telephone there. An army vehicle that was going past stopped. A message was relayed via those soldiers. The truck was repaired after Maghrib. The Gurkhas pressed to move. Hadrat said, “I have womenfolk with me. There is difficulty in going at an improper time. We shall now go in the morning.” However, why would the Gurkhas listen? They insisted more and so we hastily offered ‘Isha prayer. We ate food in the truck and as it was covered from all four sides and there were soldiers on the four corners, alhamdulillah no one hindered us along the way.

On reaching Muzaffarnagar, Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified) halted the truck at the home of one hakim and said to me, “After going to Deoband, they won’t go any further. You will be in difficulty because of the womenfolk. I shall easily go to Deoband from Muzaffarnagar during the day.” Hadrat (may Allah enlighten his grave) made a lot of restrictions on me at that hakim sahib’s home that I had to accept. Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified) said, “You are delaying.” The soldiers were also pressing to leave. Because of this, we reached Saharanpur from Muzaffarnagar via Roorkee at 4am. The reason for this was that the solid road from Deoband to Saharanpur had until then not been built. In that journey was Zakariyya, the late Molwi ‘Abdul Majid and ‘ali janab Mahmud ‘Ali Khan with his revolver. On reaching Kailashpur I suggested to him to get off. However, may Allah reward him well, he said, “I surely feel comfort in that I’m passing my home. However, I shall not let you go alone.” He came to Saharanpur with me.

Arrival in Saharanpur

There was a curfew in Muzaffarnagar and also in Saharanpur. There was also a blackout in both Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur, and there was no electricity light on. We found the house in complete darkness. On reaching home, the soldiers and drivers pressed that we quickly disembark. When the late Molwi ‘Abdul Majid came to the house, he found all of the [window] shutters in the men’s and women’s sections open from inside and outside. On seeing this, he became astonished and with tears in his eyes began saying, “Hadrat, there’s no one here. They’ve all gone to Pakistan.” As the postal service had been almost shut for several months, no one knew about each other. At the home of Molwi Nasir al-Din the chain was locked from the inside. Molwi ‘Abdul Majid rattled it a lot. He called out and I also called out a lot. However, no one opened the chain or answered our calls. We spent three to four minutes in this running around when the soldiers took out our luggage, left it on the ground and pressed the women to quickly disembark. I sat them on the library’s raised platform (chabutra). Due to the darkness we didn’t know what came off the truck and what was left. There was also worry that the local police may trouble us on seeing us sat outside. Khan Sahib went to his Saharanpur home, which is in the bazar, in the same truck which was also going that way.

On my and Molwi ‘Abdul Majid’s making noise for 10 to 15 minutes, Molwi Nasir slightly opened the shutter on his door and peeked. I rebuked him, “Oh slave of Allah (Allah ke bande), open the shutter it’s Zakariyya.” I made salam and told him bring lanterns. One after the other, he lit and brought two lanterns. With one of the lanterns, the late Molwi ‘Abdul Majid came inside the building and with a lot of fear looked inside and outside the house, up and down, in the lavatories etc to ensure there was no one there. With the second lantern, first we got the women inside, then myself, Molwi Nasir and Molwi ‘Abdul Majid quickly carried the luggage. That was placed at the entrance of the building and I asked Molwi Nasir, “Why are all these shutters open?” He said, “I don’t recall shutting them after ‘Asr and after Maghrib the curfew set in.” I said this wasn’t an excuse. When there was no one here why were they opened?

When this worthless one went to the mosque for the morning prayer, firstly in the locality and then in the entire city, a hue arose about my return. I heard such lofty mighty words [about me] that I also, like the jackal, began thinking I was a beautiful creature. [8]In Indian folklore, the jackal is the trickster character, similar to how the fox is perceived in the West. The writings of Hadrat Shaykh time and again are replete with sentences showing his sheer … Continue reading To migrate to Pakistan, many people from our neighbourhood and lots of friends from the city had reached the camps that had been set up in abundance when one gets off from the bridge near the court.

On my return, Shaykh Izhar Ahmad, the timber merchant who is my very sincere friend, and his father who at that time was alive and was also a major timber merchant were the first to bring their families along with all of their luggage from the camp. I heard that by the evening 200 people, seeing each other, returned.

Background to an important discussion

Feeling ill due to travel is something that has remained with me my entire life and this journey was undertaken with great difficulty due to which on coming here [to Saharanpur] I developed severe fever. Hadrat Raipuri (may Allah enlighten his grave), on hearing about my illness, came the next day on Wednesday morning and stayed for three days. He returned on Saturday morning. On the morning of Monday, 10 Muharram 1367AH, Hadrat Madni (may Allah sanctify his secret) came at 1.30AM and went to Gangoh by car. Hadrat Raipuri (may Allah enlighten his grave), hearing news of Hadrat Madni’s arrival, also came on Monday morning. However, Hadrat Madni had gone from the station straight to Gangoh; because of this his plans relating to his return journey were not known.

Hadrat Raipuri (may his secret be sanctified), having waited for Hadrat Madni all day, left after ‘Asr. After Maghrib, Hadrat Madni returned and having come to know of Hadrat Raipuri’s arrival, wait and return in the morning left for Behat and, on arriving there, when he came to know that Hadrat had gone to Raipur followed him to Raipur. Both elders (akabir) came to Saharanpur before ‘Asr. After Maghrib that consultation (mashwera) which caused great diversity in opinion took place and which was mentioned in many places in various pamphlets and newspapers at that time. ‘Ali Miyan has also mentioned this in Hadrat Raipuri’s biography. [9]Hadrat Mawlana Sayyid Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali Hasani Nadwi, also known as ‘Ali Miyan, (d.1999) was a khalifah of Hadrat Mawlana ‘Abdul Qadir Raipuri and a confident of Hadrat Shaykh. He was an … Continue reading

During my return from Delhi I had mentioned to Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified) and on coming to Saharanpur to Hadrat Raipuri, “In Delhi it was severely stressed that dear Yusuf and I go to Pakistan. However, my [decision to] travel is pending the advice of both you respected ones and dear Yusuf’s journey is dependent on me.” On that day Hadrat Raipuri had also in Raipur alluded to a similar discussion, “The people of the Punjab have been pressing me. However, I have deferred this matter to consulting (mashwera) Hadrat [Madni] and Hadrat Shaykh.” It is because of this that both these respected ones returned together and after Maghrib this sinner gathered with these two elders at Kachcha Ghar [10]Kachcha Ghar was the name given to Hadrat Shaykh’s home in Saharanpur which also served as his khanqah. Elsewhere in Ap Biti Hadrat Shaykh explains the background of its name which we shall leave … Continue reading for mashwera.

The discussion takes place

The discussion began with Hadrat Raipuri mentioning the following [while addressing Hadrat Madni], “All of those connected to me are all from East and West Punjab. Those connected to Hadrat [Mawlana ‘Abdur Rahim Raipuri] (may his secret be sanctified) were also in the main from these two places. Those in East Punjab have all moved to West Punjab. They are all passionately insistent that I also go to Pakistan.” The Head of the Ahrar (Ra’is al-Ahrar) Mawlana Habib al-Rahman [11]Hadrat Mawlana Habib al-Rahman Ludhianwi (d.1956) was a khalifah of Hadrat Mawlana ‘Abdul Qadir Raipuri and famed Indian freedom fighter. He was one of the founders of Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam, a … Continue reading had also repeatedly brought Hadrat Raipuri’s attention to the needs of the Muslims in Pakistan and also made his own going dependent on Hadrat Raipuri going. Hadrat Raipuri also said, “My home is also in West Punjab and consoling all of these oppressed people is in that (i.e. migrating to Pakistan). Since the beginning of Ramadan they have been insisting [on migrating]. However, I am deferring the matter to the mashwera of you two respected ones. Still, there are here, through the grace of Allah, people of Allah (ahl allah). However, there the silsilah of those who do Allah, Allah (in other words the dhikr of Allah) is almost finished. Some were martyred, some have been uprooted.” The direction of Hadrat’s conversation was almost that residing there is necessary. On hearing all of this, Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified) took a deep sigh and, with tears in his eyes, said, “Our scheme failed. Otherwise, there would be none of this killing and rioting, nor this population exchange.”

Hadrat Madni’s suggested political formula

Hadrat Madni’s formula was that all of the provinces [of free India] would be independent. In domestic matters they would be autonomous; in external matters, the army, the postal service etc they would be under the centre [of power]. In the [political] centre, the Hindus and the Muslims would be equal with 45-45 percent representation, and 10 percent for all of the other minorities. Gandhiji had accepted this. Mister Jinnah, however, rejected it. [12]The reference here it seems is the Jami‘at ‘Ulama-i-Hind’s August 1931 Saharanpur proposal. Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified) said, “If he accepted our suggestion, then the opportunity for bloodshed would not have risen, nor this population exchange. Now I do not stop anyone from going. Though Madinah is my home and Mahmud [13]Hadrat Mawlana Sayyid Mahmud (d.1971) was the younger brother of both Shaykh al-Islam Hadrat Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madni (d.1957) and Hadrat Mawlana Sayyid Ahmad Faydabadi (d.1939), and was … Continue reading is insisting on calling me there, I however cannot go leaving the Indian Muslims in this state of destitution, terror, killing and pillaging. Whoever wishes to sacrifice his life, wealth, honour, respect, religion and world (din wa dunya) on the Muslims here, then let him stay here. Whoever cannot tolerate it, then let him definitely go.”

The decision to remain in India

On Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified) saying this, I quickly said, “I am with Hadrat.” Hadrat Raipuri said, “For me to go leaving you both is difficult.” I did not narrate this conversation to anyone [at that time] and [until then] did not know what the desires of these two respected ones were. However, on having performed the ‘Isha prayer, there was a general buzz on the tongues of every person that the three akabir have decided to stay here. Then, it was the blessings (barkat) of these two buzurgs, and fundamentally it is the favour and kindness of Allah, that the people who were confused a day before were now saying words of calmness.

Partition: a reminder of the Day of Judgement

That time also refreshed one’s remembrance of the Day of Judgement. The temporary nature of the world had subdued everyone so much that large expensive copper and iron pots would sell for meagre sums of money. There would be auctions in Delhi, and copper pots, without exaggeration, would sell for two, two and a half anna. The wealthy would travel in their cars to get on to the Nizamuddin Specials and would leave their cars at the station to get on to the trains. On numerous occasions, Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman mentioned with remorse, “These people are abandoning good cars on the roads. If they were to be given to the Jami‘at, then they could be sold and [the money] could be used for the Jami‘at. What work can this unclaimed property be used for now?”

Lawlessness had spread so much that it is not worthy writing incidents about that. The daughter of Al-Haj Hafiz Fakhr al-Din lived in Rohtak with her husband. She was pregnant. The rulers there decided the people of Rohtak should be expelled on foot. Hafiz Sahib, on account of his numerous connections with people and with the help of Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman, he had [a note] written from Jawaharlal that his daughter should be exempted from those walking on foot. The head of police, however, refused to accept this suggestion and said, “I am the Jawaharlal here.” I remembered well at that time the Hajj of 1338AH (1920),  the details of which have been mentioned earlier, that whenever a haji would complain of a Bedouin [cameleer] to one of the [Hajj caravan] agents (muqawwim) [14]This was the time when pilgrims would travel on camels. Each caravan would have a guide or agent known as a muqawwim who would ensure provision and water, and oversee the Bedouin cameleers. and say, “I shall go to Makkah and complain to the Sharif,” they would say, “Who is Sharif, I am Sharif.”

The selfless nature of Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman and Hadrat Madani

In that time, Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman (may Allah have mercy on him) – may Allah Most High award him lofty ranks – would with great courage visit the areas of Delhi where riots had taken place. He would console Muslims and hear abuse. However, may Allah grant him a lofty rank, Allah Most High had given him lots of tolerance and patience. Even greater than him was my Hadrat Madni (may his secret be sanctified). In that time of danger he toured the whole of India, he would speak about the reward of tolerating difficulties. Hadrat carried out extremely lengthy tours on keeping Muslims firm. There was one thing which I felt very envious of (rashk). There were [Muslim] League supporters who were extremely harsh in their opposition and obstinate, people who said a lot to Hadrat (may Allah sanctify his secret) in his face. Hadrat wrote many letters consoling them, he personally went to them to provide them with solace and would speak to them as if they were people who had assisted and helped him.

I had the opportunity myself to hear regarding the extreme [Muslim] League supporters in the Doab and seeing Hadrat’s (may his secret be sanctified) letters to them saying, “Do no fear, insha Allah, the situation at some point will be favourable. Whatever trouble you face, write to me. I shall insha Allah assist you in every way.” He visited Hindu rulers to intercede on behalf of some [Muslim] League supporters whose names I do not wish to write. However, I shall always praise Hadrat’s lofty status in that those who spoke harshly against Hadrat in his absence and in his presence, Hadrat interceded on their behalf and gave a guarantee that now these people shall not say anything against you. However, the League supporters did not trust even this and did not value Hadrat’s intercession and went to Pakistan. May Allah Most High grant Hadrat a lofty status. In that time, Hadrat (may his secret be sanctified) was greatly affected [emotionally]. At times, he would while delivering speeches begin to cry on matters. [It is as the Urdu poet says:]

He who was denied his aspirations, why shouldn’t he look at the sky?

He sees, from one station to another, his hard work in vain.

May Allah forgive him and shed mercy on him, an abundance of mercy.

1 The year of India’s partition, 1947, was definitely a difficult year for Hadrat Shaykh. Several members of his family passed away that year, including in Kandhla his son in law Mawlana Sa‘id al-Rahman whose death he only learned of several months later. While incarcerated in Nizamuddin, his eldest daughter Zakiyyah passed away on 15 September from tuberculosis. She was the wife of Hadratji Mawlana Yusuf Kandhalwi and died while in sajdah during prayers. Looking at his personal diary (his roznamcha), the rioting, looting, killing, arson and breakdown in law and order deeply hurt him. Various friends and family also died in the violence and it is no wonder that his biographer and grandson, Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Shahid Saharanpuri, refers to that year as The Year of Grief (‘am al-huzn). There was, however, a glimmer of hope, including the birth of his first daughter from his second wife Safiyyah on 25 July 1947. Interestingly, it was while held up at Nizamuddin that he began writing Fada’il-i-Hajj on 2 August (finishing it in March 1948) and Fada’il-i-Sadaqat on 11 September (which he finished in December 1948).
2 Hadratji Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalwi was the cousin and son in law of Hadrat Shaykh. He was the second amir of the Tablighi Jama‘at until his death, and during his tenure the work spread beyond India and across the world. He passed away in Lahore in 1965 at the age of 48 and was buried in Delhi.
3 Hadrat Shaykh is referring here to the 1947 Amritsar train massacre that took place on 22 September in which 3,000 Muslim refugees were killed and 1,000 wounded. It is said only 100 passengers were uninjured. The slaughter lasted for around three hours in which Sikhs carrying swords, spears and rifles swept through the train killing men, women and children while troops looked on. It would seem, reading Hadrat Shaykh’s diary, that this was a very personal tragedy as people he knew also died in this massacre. At one place he writes, “Chacha Zakariyya Gangohi’s family and children were also martyred in this.”
4 Hadrat Sufi Muhammad Iqbal (d.2000) was born in 1926 in Hoshiarpur, India. He became bay‘at to Hadrat Shaykh in 1945 and settled in Pakistan following partition. In 1963, he migrated to Madinah where he started a madrasah for young children named Madrasah Khaliliyyah. It was in 1968 that Hadrat Shaykh granted him khilafat. Hadrat Shaykh also entrusted him to compile several books on Tasawwuf during his life. He passed away in Madinah in 2000.
5 According to my estimates, this would be around £18 in today’s money.
6 Hadrat Mawlana Hifz al-Rahman Seoharwi (d.1962) was an activist of the Indian independence movement who served as the fourth general secretary of the Jamiat ‘Ulama-i-Hind. He campaigned against British rule for 25 years and spent eight years in jail. He was from Seohara in Uttar Pradesh and studied at Madrasa Shahi Moradabad and graduated from Madrasa Fayz-i-‘Am in Seohara. He also studied hadith under Hadrat Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband.
7 Nawabzada Mahmood ‘Ali Khan was a prominent freedom fighter and member of the central executive committee of the All India Majlis Ahrar-i-Islam. He was a close associate of Amir-i-Shari‘at Mawlana Sayyid ‘Ataullah Shah Bukhari.
8 In Indian folklore, the jackal is the trickster character, similar to how the fox is perceived in the West. The writings of Hadrat Shaykh time and again are replete with sentences showing his sheer humility, a sense of humbleness that was not just in words but a lived reality. It would seem Hadrat Shaykh here is alluding to a story in the Mathnawi of Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi about a jackal who falls into some dye, changes colour and tells everyone he is a beautiful peacock from Paradise (there is another version of this story in Indian folktale where the jackal assumes the role of king of the animals). Some of his fellow jackals, however, take him to task and bring him down back to earth. Mawlana Rumi quotes the conversation, “Oh little jackal, what is the matter, that you have in your head manifold exultation?”
9 Hadrat Mawlana Sayyid Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali Hasani Nadwi, also known as ‘Ali Miyan, (d.1999) was a khalifah of Hadrat Mawlana ‘Abdul Qadir Raipuri and a confident of Hadrat Shaykh. He was an intellectual and prominent author on history, biography, contemporary Islam and the Muslim community in India, writing both in Arabic and Urdu. Later on in life he became Chancellor of Nadwat al-‘Ulama in Lucknow and was also appointed Chairman of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. He spent time in Tablighi Jama‘at, including with Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalwi. He also authored his shaykh’s Urdu biography, Sawanih Hadrat Mawlana ‘Abdul Qadir Raipuri.
10 Kachcha Ghar was the name given to Hadrat Shaykh’s home in Saharanpur which also served as his khanqah. Elsewhere in Ap Biti Hadrat Shaykh explains the background of its name which we shall leave for a future translation.
11 Hadrat Mawlana Habib al-Rahman Ludhianwi (d.1956) was a khalifah of Hadrat Mawlana ‘Abdul Qadir Raipuri and famed Indian freedom fighter. He was one of the founders of Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam, a nationalist movement that sought an end of colonial rule.
12 The reference here it seems is the Jami‘at ‘Ulama-i-Hind’s August 1931 Saharanpur proposal.
13 Hadrat Mawlana Sayyid Mahmud (d.1971) was the younger brother of both Shaykh al-Islam Hadrat Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madni (d.1957) and Hadrat Mawlana Sayyid Ahmad Faydabadi (d.1939), and was responsible for Madrasah al-‘Ulum al-Shari‘ah in Madinah after the latter’s demise. He enjoyed a deep relationship with Hadrat Shaykh to an extent that each year he would send to him in India mangoes picked from his orchard in Madinah. On his demise, Hadrat Shaykh took great care in publishing a treatise on the Hajj by Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (d.1606) that the mawlana had worked on entitled Al-Khatt al-Awfar fi al-Hajj al-Akbar.
14 This was the time when pilgrims would travel on camels. Each caravan would have a guide or agent known as a muqawwim who would ensure provision and water, and oversee the Bedouin cameleers.