Browsing: Biographies of Scholars

Biographies of Scholars

The Great Muhaddith: Shah Ishaq al-Dihlawi

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.

Biographies of Scholars

The Proof of Islam: Shaykh Qasim al-Nanotwi

The shaykh, the imam, the great scholar, Muhammad Qasim ibn Asad ‘Ali ibn Ghulam Shah ibn Muhammad Bakhsh al-Siddiqi al-Nanotwi, one of the learned scholars.
He was born in Nanotah in the year 1248 H (1832 CE). He came to Saharanpur at a young age. He read the short texts under Shaykh Muhammad Nawaz al-Saharanpuri. Then he travelled to Delhi, and he came under the tutelage of Shaykh Mamluk al-‘Ali al-Nanotwi. He read under him all the books of study. Then he took hadith from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghani ibn Abi Sa‘id al-Dihlawi, and he stayed in his company for a period. He took the spiritual path from Shaykh Imdad Allah al-‘Umari al-Thanawi, and he accompanied him and was blessed with many spiritual effusions from him. He worked at the Ahmadi Press in Delhi under Shaykh Ahmad ‘Ali ibn Lutf Allah al-Saharanpuri, who was a great teacher at that time, and was working on preparing Sahih al-Bukhari and annotating it, so he delegated five sections from the end of the book to him, which were the most difficult sections, especially the areas in which al-Bukhari objected to Abu Hanifah. Thus, he expended his effort in preparing the book and annotating it, and he excelled in supporting the madhhab, and gave it its full due.

Biographies of Scholars

The Valiant Imam: Sayyid Imam Ahmad ibn ‘Irfan al-Barelwi

The sayyid, the valiant Imam, the proof of Allah amongst creation, the elucidator of the straight path of religion and Islam, the suppressor of disbelievers and heretics, a model of the righteous caliphs and the guided Imams, our master, the Imam, the warrior (mujahid), the martyr, the fortunate, Ahmad ibn ‘Irfan ibn Nur al-Sharif al-Hasani al-Barelwi. He was from the offspring of the great emir, the full moon of religion, Shaykh al-Islam Qutb al-Din Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Madani.
He was born on Safar of 1201 H (1786 CE) in the city of Rae Bareli at the Zawiyah of his ancestor Sayyid ‘Alam Allah al-Naqshbandi al-Barelwi. He was brought up with complete care and attention, and with moderation in clothing and eating. He remained on that [upbringing] as a righteous successor, upright and god-fearing, scrupulous, worshipping, devout, fasting, praying, remembering Allah Almighty in all affairs, turning to Him in all states and standing by His boundaries, His commandments and His prohibitions. His heart would find contentment in the service of widows and orphans; he would go to their homes and discover their needs, and he would [then] exert himself in drawing water, collecting firewood and acquiring the products from the market.
But despite this he was not interested in acquiring the well-known sciences. Hence, he memorised only a few chapters from the Noble Qur’an, and of writing [he only learnt] the transcription of [some] words and phrases, and that was in three years. His elder brother Ishaq ibn ‘Irfan al-Barelwi was grieved by this so he took responsibility of his education. Thereupon, his father said: “Leave him to his affair, and entrust him to Allah (Exalted and Glorious is He),” so he left him.

Answering Distortions and Lies

On Abu Hanifah being the Most Learned of his Time

Hafiz al-Sam‘ani said in al-Ansab in the biography of Imam Abu Hanifah:
He occupied himself in seeking knowledge, and he excelled therein until he accomplished what others had not accomplished. One day he entered upon al-Mansur, while ‘Isa ibn Musa was with him, and he said to al-Mansur: “This is the scholar of the world today.” (p. 247)
‘Allamah Hafiz al-Mizzi said in Tahdhib al-Kamal:
Makki ibn Ibrahim mentioned Abu Hanifah and said: “He was the most learned of the people of his time.”
This is in the marginalia of Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (10:451).
I say: This Makki ibn Ibrahim is from the senior teachers of al-Bukhari, and most of his three-narrator-chains are from him.
Abu Yusuf al-Qadi said: “I have not seen [one] more learned in the exegesis of hadith than Abu Hanifah.”

Biographies of Scholars

Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘: The Grand Mufti of Pakistan

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.

Biographies of Scholars

Epitome of Humility: Shaykh Muhammad Ayyub A’zimi (Part Two)

This tragic news reached Jami’ah Islamiyyah Dabhel by telegram on Saturday 7th Shawwal 1404 AH (1984 CE). Many hearts were saddened and many became unsettled. This news spread throughout the surrounding areas of Dabhel. Recitation of the Noble Qur’an took place in many masjids for the isal al-thawab of the shaykh.

The Jami’ah was still closed at this time. It reopened on 14th Shawwal. After admission formalities, lessons commenced and on the 19th of Shawwal the students also recited the Noble Qur’an for isal al-thawab. Supplications for forgiveness were made, and grief and sorrow was expressed at the passing of the shaykh. His life and virtues were enumerated and people were encouraged to follow his footsteps.

It was supplicated that Allah Most High grant the deceased a high stage in Jannah al-Firdaws, and that Allah Most High compensates the grief incurred by Muslims, especially the Jami’ah, at the loss of the shaykh in a most appropriate manner. Classes were, thereafter, suspended for the day.

Biographies of Scholars

Epitome of Humility: Shaykh Muhammad Ayyub A’zimi (Part One)

Shaykh A’zimi was born in the month of Shawwal 1319 AH (1902 CE) at Mau Nat Bhanjan in the district of Azamgarh, U.P., India. His lineage is as follows: Muhammad Ayyub bin Muhammad Sabir bin Ahmad bin Jiwan bin Rawshan ‘Ali. This family previously resided in a place called Bakhtiyar Ganj, which was approximately one and a half miles from Mau. His father moved to Ilah Dad Pura, Mau, to live close to his in-laws and remained there. This is where the shaykh was born. There were many scholars and sufis in this family-Mawlana Ismatullah, ‘Abd al-Hakim, Mawlana Safi’ullah, Mawlana Muhammad Zahir. These great personalities are mentioned in the books Nuzhat al-Khawatir and Tadhkirah ‘Ulama Hadhaz Zaman by Yunus Bilgirami. There were also other great personalities-Mawlana Muhammad Salim, Mawlana Salamatullah, Mawlana Ata’ullah, etc. (may Allah have mercy on them all). The family kept a spiritual link with Sufi Wali Muhammad Ghoswi (may Allah have mercy on him). Ghosi is a small town in the district of Azamgarh.

Biographies of Scholars

Scholar of Deep Learning: Shaykh Mazhar Nanautwi

Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar ibn Lutf ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Hasan al-Siddiqi al-Hanafi Nanautwi (1238 1302 AH /1823-1885) – the righteous imam, ‘arif (knower of Allah) and mujahid-was amongst the leading scholars of fiqh, hadith, and tasawwuf in his time. A descendant of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), he was born in Nanautah, a village in the district of Saharanpur (UP, India). He initially studied under his father with whom he completed the memorization of the Qur’an (hifz). He then travelled to Delhi, where he studied under Mufti Sadr al-Din Dehlawi, Mawlana Rashid al-Din Khan, the teacher of many shaykhs Mawlana Mamluk al-‘Ali Nanautwi, Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri and Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani Dehlawi. He studied some books of hadith from the renowned scholar of hadith Shah Muhammad Ishaq Dehlawi, the great grandson of Shah Wali Allah Dehlawi and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi.

Biographies of Scholars

Mawlana Gangohi and the Wali Allah Tradition

Shaykh al-Islam Abu Mas’ud Rashid Ahmad Gangohi is the son of Hidayat Allah Ansari. He was born in 1244 AH, and learnt from Mawlana Mamluk ‘Ali [Nanautwi], Mawlana ‘Abd al-Ghani [Dehlawi], Mawlana Ahmad Sa’id [Dehlawi], and Mawlana Imdad Allah [Muhajir Makki] etc. I personally studied a large portion of Sunan Abi Dawud from him. Allah granted me immense benefit through it. It is the effect of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad’s company that I followed his maslak in such a way that I never even contemplated moving away from it. Through him, the Wali Allahi approach to fiqh and hadith became manifest to me, and through his blessings I became well versed in the fundamentals as well as advanced rational discourse in the sciences of fiqh, suluk & ma’rifah, Arabic and the Qur’an & Sunnah. I found Mawlana Rashid Ahmad to be a well-versed imam and mujtahid of the Hanafi School. He conformed strictly to the school of thought of his teacher, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Ghani, and was as unshakeable as a mountain in this regard. He closely resembled Mawlana Muhammad Ishaq [Dehlawi] ((Grandson and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)) ) in the Wali Allahi maslak. I understood the reality of sunnah and bid’ah from his book, Barahin-e-Qati’ah. He had authored this book in support of Shah Isma’il Shahid’s work, Idah al-Haq. Mawlana Rashid Ahmad became the Imam of the Deobandi group after Amir Imdad Allah and Mawlana Qasim [Nanautwi] ((Please refer to the work this paragraph is being quoted from for details.)). In excess of three thousand shaykhs attained religious knowledge from him. His year of passing is 1323 AH.

Biographies of Scholars

Brief notes on Shaykh al-Hind

Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan was my teacher. During my stay at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband my sole reliance was upon him. His father’s name was Dhu ‘l-Fiqar ‘Ali. His genealogy stretches back to the Umayyad branch of the Quraysh. Mawlana Mahmud Hasan was born in 1268 AH/1851 CE. He gained primary education from his father and paternal uncle. He gained admission into the Madrasah of Deoband when it was founded in 1283 AH /1866 CE, and studied under Mawlana Muhammad Ya’qub ibn Mamluk ‘Ali and Mawlana Mahmud Deobandi. He remained in the company of Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim [Nanautwi] and benefited from him immensely. He sought permission from Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali [Saharanpuri], Shaykh Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi and Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman Panipati to teach and impart knowledge. Considering him worthy of such a post, they all granted him ijazah.

Biographies of Scholars

The Pride of Deoband: Shaykh Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar

On the 5th of May 2009, the great researcher (muhaqqiq) and hadith scholar of our age Shaykh Sarfaraz Khan Safdar (may Allah shower His infinite mercy upon him) passed away at the age of 98. Mawlana Sarfraz Khan ibn Nur Ahmad Khan ibn Gul Ahmad Khan was born in 1914 in the city of Mansehra, in the North West Frontier Province of what is now Pakistan. He was a renowned researcher and scholar, a prolific writer, a lecturer in hadith and tafsir, and a master of Tasawwuf.

Biographies of Scholars

The Epitome of Shari’ah and Tariqah: Shaykh Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi

The Shaykh, the Imam, the ‘Allama, the Hadith Scholar Rashid Ahmad ibn Hidaya Ahmad ibn Pir Baksh ibn Ghulam Hasan ibn Ghulam ‘Ali ibn ‘Ali Akbar ibn Qadi Muhammad Aslam al-Ansari al-Hanafi al-Rampuri then al-Gangohi. He was one of the research, learned and accurate ‘ulama. In his age, there was none like him in honesty, virtue, trust in Allah, fiqh, nobility, courage at times of danger, firmness in religion and emphasis in adhering to the (Hanafi) school.