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MessaggioInviato: Mer Mar 05, 2008 9:36 pm    Oggetto: Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (R. ‘a.) Rispondi citando

Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi
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Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi, referred to by many South Asian Muslims as Hakim al-Umma (“Spiritual Physician of the Muslim Umma”) and Mujaddid al-Milla (“Reformer of the Nation”), is a towering figure of Islamic revival and reawakening of South Asia in the twentieth century. Mawlana Thanawi was the “most eminent religious figure of his time, a prolific author, and believed to be the greatest Sufi of modern India.”

“He led a very active life, teaching, preaching, writing, lecturing, and making occasional journeys” (Naeem 94). The distinguishing mark and guiding principle that led to the vast success of his message was a remarkable sense of balance and straightforwardness in his speeches and writings. Mawlana Thanawi was an exemplar of the Qur’anic verse “And thus have We made you a nation justly balanced, that you might be witnesses over mankind” (Qur’an 2:143). An astounding, comprehensive knowledge of all branches of Islamic learning was evident in his personality, explicated in his lectures, and recorded in his writings. The Indian jurist Qadi Mujahid al-Islam Qasimi said, “It is hard to think of an area of Islamic sciences left unattended by his writings” (Zayd 11).

His religious approach encompasses all aspects of the subject under discussion, and his viewpoints on different issues reflect a genuine, thorough examination of traditional Islamic thought. His acute intelligence, revolutionary method of training and teaching, love of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), organized management of time, broadmindedness, tolerance, and unique and fresh, yet conservative, understanding of religious disciplines has etched him a permanent place in Islamic history.

He will be remembered as a reformer of the masses, an exemplary spiritual guide (shaykh), a prolific author, a spiritual jurist, an intellectual sage, and a fortifier of Islamic tradition who, at a time when Muslims were physically and intellectually attacked by Western colonial powers, supplied them with literary and academic firepower in the form of his speeches, writings, legal verdicts (fatawa), and spiritual training (tarbiya) to battle all irreligious influences of the Modern Age. Describing the great religious services and endeavors of Mawlana Thanawi, Mufti Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani writes, “The likeness of his accomplishments is not found in many preceding centuries” (Hakim al-Ummat ke siyasi afkar 22).

Birth and Upbringing

Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi, named ‘Abd al-Ghani by his paternal family, was born in the village of Thana Bhawan (in the Muzaffarnagar district of the Uttar Pradesh province of India) on the fifth of Rabi‘ al-Awwal, 1280 ah (August 19, 1863 CE). He was named Ashraf ‘Ali by the renowned saint of the times Hafiz Ghulam Murtada Panipati, who was a maternal relative of Mawlana Thanawi.

His family was well-respected and held an eminent position in Thana Bhawan. His father, ‘Abd al-Haq, was a wealthy landowner, a devout Muslim, and a respected citizen of Thana Bhawan. ‘Abd al-Haq was well versed in the Persian language, and although he had not memorized the Qur’an, he knew the Holy Book so well that he would sometimes correct the recitation of the im a m during prayer. Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi’s lineage can be traced back to the second Caliph of Islam, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, a glimpse of whose intelligence, wisdom, foresightedness, piety, and sincerity was certainly visible in Mawlana Thanawi.

As a young boy, he was zealous in offering the prayer (salat), and by age twelve, he was constant in offering the night vigil prayer ( Tahajjud). He attained his early Arabic and Persian education under his maternal uncle Wajid ‘Ali and Mawlana Fath Muhammad in Thana Bhawan and also memorized the Holy Qur’an at a very young age from Hafiz Husayn ‘Ali of Meerut.

Traditional Islamic Studies at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband

In 1295 ah, Mawlana Thanawi enrolled at the prestigious Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, from where he graduated in 1301 ah, after studying under some of the most erudite Islamic theologians of his time. Among his teachers were Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi, Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Mawlana Muhammad Ya‘qub Nanotwi, and Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan. Mawlana Thanawi’s six years at Deoband were spent under the tutorship and guidance of God-fearing men, many of whom were the spiritual students of Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki.

The spiritually charged atmosphere of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, coupled with brilliant teachers and Mawlana Thanawi’s own intelligence and piety, together contributed to the excellence of theory and practice that was manifested in his personality. His literary life began at Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, when he wrote Mathnawi zer-o bam in Persian at the age of eighteen. He possessed unmatched linguistic skills and mastered the Arabic, Persian, and Urdu languages by the same age.

Teacher of the Teachers

Mawlana Thanawi did not have many opportunities to study under the founder of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi, whose last year [of life] coincided with Mawlana Thanawi’s first year there. However, Mawlana Thanawi mentions that he would occasionally attend the lectures of Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi on Tafsir al-Jalalayn (a renowned exegesis of the Holy Qur’an by Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli and his famous student Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti). The two personalities from whom Mawlana Thanawi greatly benefited were Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Mawlana Muhammad Ya‘qub Nanotwi.

Mawlana Thanawi said, “Among my teachers, I was spiritually attached to Mawlana Gangohi more than anybody else, with the exception of Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki. I have never witnessed such a unique personage, one in whom external and internal goodness merged so cohesively, like Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi” (Alwi 51). Mawlana Thanawi received much affection and spiritual training from Mawlana Gangohi as well. Upon the arrival of Mawlana Thanawi, Mawlana Gangohi would say, “When you arrive, I become alive” (Alwi 52). Once Mawlana Thanawi came to Gangoh to deliver a lecture. Mawlana Gangohi sent all his visitors to attend this lecture, saying to them, “What are you doing here? Go and listen to the lecture of a truthful scholar.” Mawlana Gangohi would also send some of his students to Thana Bhawan to benefit from the ocean of knowledge and spirituality that was Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi.

Mawlana Thanawi was also deeply inspired by Mawlana Muhammad Ya‘qub Nanotwi, a devout theologian and a divine mystic. Mawlana Ya‘qub had sensed that Ashraf ‘Ali was an unusual student, endowed with extraordinary traits. As a result, Mawlana Ya‘qub would make sure to include the most intricate discussions while teaching this bright student. Mawlana Thanawi, describing the lectures of Mawlana Ya‘qub, said, “His lectures were not ordinary lectures, but sessions in which one’s attention turned toward Allah. He would be teaching exegesis of the Holy Qur’an and tears would be flowing down his cheeks” (Alwi 51).

Graduation and Future Scope

Mawlana Thanawi graduated from Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband in 1301 ah (1884 CE). When Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi arrived for the graduation ceremony, Shaykh al-Hind Mahmud al-Hasan informed him that on that day a very bright and intelligent student would be graduating. Mawlana Gangohi wished to test this bright student. Hence, before the actual ceremony, Mawlana Gangohi asked Mawlana Thanawi the most difficult questions he could think of. His answers amazed and pleased Mawlana Gangohi (Quraishi 14).

At the graduation, the turban-tying ceremony (Dastar bandi) was carried out by Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. The graduation ceremony of that year stood out from the past and was celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy by the teachers of Deoband. At this occasion, Mawlana Thanawi, with some classmates, said to his teacher Mawlana Ya ‘qub, “We are not deserving of such a celebration and our graduation might bring derision to Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband.” Upon hearing this concern from Mawlana Thanawi, Mawlana Ya ‘qub became incensed and said, “This thinking of yours is completely wrong! At Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, you perceive of your personality as very meek and insignificant because of your teachers, and in fact, this is how you should feel. But once you graduate and step out of this institution, you will realize your worth and importance. I swear by Allah, you will prevail and become dominant wherever you go; the field is open and empty [before you]” (Alwi 53). After graduating from Deoband, Mawlana Thanawi accompanied his father to the holy cities of Makka and Madina. After performing his first pilgrimage (hajj), Mawlana Thanawi mastered the art of Qur’anic recitation under Qari Muhammad ‘Abdullah Muhajir Makki. In Makka he also had the opportunity to stay in the companionship of Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki, whose spiritual attention, luminous personality, brilliant teachings, and excellent methodology of training prepared Mawlana Thanawi for the great reform movement he was destined to lead.

Spiritual Training under Haji Imdadullah

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Make the company of ‘ulama’ compulsory upon yourselves and listen to the words of the wise, for Allah Most Exalted restores life to dead hearts by the light of wisdom just as He makes alive the dead earth by rain” (‘Asqalani 25). Companionship of a pious, God-fearing shaykh is necessary for each and every Muslim. Through the knowledge of books, one’s external self is reformed, and through the companionship of a shaykh, one’s internal condition is purified. Mawlana Thanawi was greatly concerned about focusing on his internal rectification. During his studies at Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, he asked that Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi train him in the spiritual sciences as well. However, Mawlana Gangohi advised him to wait until the completion of his traditional studies.

Mawlana Thanawi remained restless and sought a way to ask Haji Imda­dullah, the spiritual guide of Mawlana Gangohi, to recommend him to Mawlana Gangohi. When Mawlana Gangohi went on hajj, Mawlana Thanawi sent a letter with him to Haji Imdadullah, requesting the great mentor to persuade Mawlana Gangohi to initiate him in his spiritual order. Haji Imdadullah put in a good word for Mawlana Thanawi and then said, “All right, I shall initiate him myself,” and wrote to Mawlana Thanawi, “Do not worry. I have taken you under my own mentorship.” When Mawlana Thanawi read the letter his heart became full of joy. Mawlana Gangohi used to say to Mawlana Thanawi, “Brother, you have eaten of the ripe fruits of Haji Imdadullah, whereas we ate his unripe fruits” (Alwi 52). Fruits refer to knowledge. Mawlana Gangohi and his peers received the spiritual guidance of Haji Imdadullah when he was still in the Indian Subcontinent, and Mawlana Thanawi benefited from him in his last years. Hence, the training of Haji Imdadullah in the later years of his life is compared to ripe fruits and his earlier training to unripe fruits.

Mawlana Thanawi visited Haji Imdadullah during his first hajj in 1301 ah (1884 CE) but could not remain in his company for long. In 1310 ah (1893 CE), Mawlana Thanawi left for the pilgrimage a second time and, after performing the hajj, stayed with his shaykh for six months.

Strengthening Knowledge through Teaching

Fourteen years after graduation were spent teaching religious sciences in the city of Kanpur. Over a very short period of time, Mawlana Thanawi acquired a reputable position as a sound religious scholar. His teaching attracted many students, and his research and publications enhanced Islamic academia. In these fourteen years, he traveled to many cities and villages, delivering lectures in hope of reforming people. Printed versions of his lectures and discourses would usually become available shortly after these tours. Until then, very few scholars in the history of Islam had their lectures printed and widely circulated in their own lifetimes. The desire to reform the masses intensified in his heart during his stay at Kanpur.

Eventually, in 1315 ah, he retired from teaching and devoted himself to reestablishing the spiritual center (khanqah) of his shaykh in Thana Bhawan. Upon this transition, Haji Imdadullah remarked, “It is good that you came to Thana Bhawan. It is hoped that the masses will benefit from you spiritually and physically. You should engage yourself in revitalizing our school (madrasa) and spiritual center (khanqah) once more in Thana Bhawan. As for myself, I am always praying for you and attentive toward you” (Alwi 58).

Mastership in Islamic Spirituality (Tasawwuf)

A master of Islamic spirituality, Mawlana Thanawi was “widely considered the preeminent Su f i of modern India” (Metcalf 157). His approach to tasawwuf was in complete harmony with the Qur’an and hadith. Accurately summarizing the approach of the scholars associated with Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, regarding Sufism, Kenneth W. Jones writes:

Deobandis conceived of Islam as having two points of focus, Shari ‘a (the law, based on scriptures and religious knowledge), and the Tariqa (path, derived from religious experience). Thus they accepted Sufism with its form of discipline and the role of the ‘ulama’ in interpreting the four schools of Islamic law. The Qur’an, the h adith, qiyas (analogical reasoning), and ijma‘ (consensus) provided the foundation of religious knowledge, but understanding them required the ‘ulama’ as guides. Uneducated Muslims could not make judgments on belief or practice. The Deobandis, while accepting Sufism, rejected numerous ceremonies and the authority of pirs who claimed sanctity by their descent rather than by their learning. Knowledge granted authority and not inheritance. Pilgrimages to saints’ tombs, and the annual death rites of a particular saint (the urs) also lay outside acceptable Islamic practice. Among the types of behavior seen as erroneous innovations was any social or religious practice that appeared to come from Hindu culture (Jones 60).

The scholars of Deoband purified Islamic mysticism in the Indian subcontinent from all un-Islamic elements and practiced a tasawwuf that earlier Muslims, such as Hasan al-Basri, Junayd al-Baghdadi, and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani would advocate if they were living in the twentieth century. Pure, unadulterated Sufism is an important part of the Islamic faith. Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband trained individuals to become rational scholars as well as sound practitioners of tasawwuf. Through the Deoband movement, Islamic history once more witnessed the combination of the jurist and the mystic into a well-rounded Islamic scholar. In choosing “Muftis and Shaykhs” as the title of a chapter in her well-researched monograph Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860–1900, Barbara Daly Metcalf emphasizes this beautiful combination.

Effectiveness of Spiritual Efforts

Imam Shafi ‘i said, “Knowledge is not what is memorized; knowledge is what benefits” (Nawawi 43). Mawlana Thanawi’s knowledge was such that it not only benefited its contemplator, but continues to benefit Muslims all over the world. The words of Mawlana Thanawi would flow into the ears of the attendants of his discourses and then would strike their hearts, scraping away their spiritual rust. Mufti Muhammad Shafi ‘, former head mufti of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband and later the Grand Mufti of Pakistan, after the partition of India, would sit in front of Mawlana Thanawi as a student of traditional Islamic studies sits before his teacher. “He would closely observe Mawlana Thanawi, and each move of his showed that he had left this world and whatever was in it while engaging in the study of his shaykh’s appearance. When Mawlana Thanawi would say something remarkable, Mufti Muhammad Shafi ‘, who seemed totally absorbed in his shaykh while unconscious of everything else, would leap forward in excitement” (‘Uthmani, Akabir-e Deoband kya the? 30).

Mufti Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani says,

Hakim al-Umma laid great stress on prescribing proper remedies for the spiritual ailments of people. This cure was not to give them some sort of medicinal syrup or to engage in some formulas (wazifas), but his prescribed remedy comprised action (Irshadat-e akabir 25).

Students and Disciples

Mawlana Thanawi’s students and disciples constitute a generation of leading scholars of South Asia. His disciples settled in all parts of South Asia and served humanity in many different ways. Among his famous disciples are Qari Muhammad Tayyib Qasimi (grandson of the founder of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi, and head principal of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband for over fifty years, from the early 1930s to the early 1980s), Mawlana Muhammad Masihullah Khan (founder of Madrasa Miftah al- ‘Ulum in Jalalabad, India, and a leading spiritual figure of the past century), Mufti Muhammad Shafi ‘ (head mufti of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband before partition and, after migrating to Pakistan, founder of Dar al- ‘Ulum Karachi, one of the largest academies of religious sciences today in Pakistan, and, also the former Grand Mufti of Pakistan), Mufti Muhammad Hasan of Amritsar (founder of Jami ‘a Ashrafiyya, Lahore, Pakistan), Mawlana Khayr Muhammad Jalandhary (founder of Jami ‘a Khayr al-Madaris, Multan, Pakistan), Mawlana ‘Abd al-Bari Nadwi (renowned theologian and philosopher in India who taught modern philosophy at Osmania University in Hyderabad and translated the books of Western philosophers, such as Descartes, into Urdu and left behind many valuable literary tracts), Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi (great researcher and the outstanding student of Shibli Nu ‘mani who turned to Mawlana Thanawi for spiritual reformation), Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (founder of the Tabligh Movement), Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid Daryabadi, Mawlana Athar ‘Ali of Silhet, Mawlana Shams al-Haqq Faridpuri, Mawlana Muhammad ‘Abd al-Ghani Phulpuri, Mawlana Shah Muhammad Abrar al- Haqq of Hardoi, Khwaja ‘Aziz al-Hasan Majdhub (great poet and mystic, author of Ashraf al-sawanih, a four volume biography of Mawlana Thanawi), Mawlana Muhammad Idris Kandhlawi (author of Ma‘arif al-Qur’an, a commentary of the Qur’an, and Al-Ta‘liq al- sabih, a commentary of Tabrizi’s hadith collection Mishkat al-Masabih), Mawlana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani (author of the twenty-two volume compendium in Hanafi Law, I‘la’ al-Sunan), Mufti Jamil Ahmad Thanawi, Mawlana Shabbir ‘Ali Thanawi, Dr. ‘Abd al- Hayy ‘Arifi, Mawlana Muhammad ‘Isa of Allahabad, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hamid of North Waziristan, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Salam of Nawshehra, Mawlana Muhammad Sa ‘id of Madras, Mawlana Wasi’ullah of Fatehpur, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Kamilpuri, Mawlana Jalil Ahmad of Aligarh, Mawlana Murtada Hasan of Chandpur, Mawlana Asadullah of Rampur (head principal of Madrasa Mazahir ‘Ulum in Saharanpur for many years), Mawlana Faqir Muhammad of Peshawar, Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Binnori (author of Ma‘arif al-Sunan, a commentary on the Sunan of Imam Tirmidhi), Mawlana Muhammad Na ‘im of Kabul, and Mufti ‘Abd al-Karim of Gamthla.

Literary Contributions

Mawlana Thanawi was a prolific author. His literary contributions “range from 800 to 1000 in the shape of sermons, discussions, discourses, treatises, and books of high standard and quality” (Khwaja vii). Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi said, “Mawlana Thanawi was a translator and exegete (mufassir) of the Qur’an. He explained its injunctions and wisdoms. He removed doubts and answered questions pertaining to the Qur’an. Mawlana Thanawi was a scholar of hadith (muhaddith) and expounded its intricacies and subtleties. He was a jurist (faqih) who issued thousands of legal rulings (fatawa). He solved many legal problems in contemporary issues in Islamic jurisprudence and answered them with the utmost caution and credible research. He was a moving orator (khatib) whose speech was infused with all skills of oration. He was an excellent admonisher (wa‘iz) and hundreds of his speeches have been published and widely circulated.

Mawlana Thanawi was a mystic (Sufi) who revealed the secrets and subtleties of Islamic mysticism. His personality put an end to the battle that had been going on for some time between Shari‘a and tasawwuf by unifying these two essential parts of Islam” (Alwi 293). His books answered the objections raised against Islam by Orientalists and Modernists. “[His] analysis and refutation of the principles of modernism is not a merely theoretical exercise, but is meant to remove the obstacles to intellectual and spiritual understanding and growth for the pious and practicing Muslim” (Naeem 81).

His Arabic writings include Sabq al-ghayat fi nasaq al-ayat, Anwar al-Wujud, Al-Tajalli wa ’l-azim, Hawashi Tafsir Bayan al-Qur’an, Taswir al-muqatta‘at, Al-Talkhisat al-‘ashar, Mi’at durus, Al-Khutab al-ma’thura, Wujuh al-Mathani, Ziyadat, Jami‘ al-Athar, and Ta’yid al- Haqiqa.

Among his Persian books are Mathnawi zer-o bam, Ta‘liqat-e Farsi, ‘Aqa’id baniy-e kalij.

The rest of his books were written in the Urdu language, the most famous of which is Behishti Zewar [Heavenly Ornaments], which has become a handbook for leading an Islamic life in the Muslim household. Although Mawlana Thanawi was the most prolific author of his times, he did not use any of his books as a source of income.

Qur’an: The Special Interest of Mawlana Thanawi

During his teaching career at Kanpur, Mawlana Thanawi is reported to have seen ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas—the cousin of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the leading commentator on the Qur’an among the Companions—in a dream that indicated to him that Qur’anic exegesis should become his primary task (Alwi 297). Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi said, “He not only memorized the words of the Qur’an but also memorized the deeper significance of these words” (Alwi 297). He further said, “He was an exceptional reciter (qari) of the Qur’an who had mastered the art of recitation.… The uniqueness of Mawlana Thanawi’s recitation of the Qur’an was such that each letter was uttered from its proper place of pronunciation ( makhraj). There was no imitation or overly exertive effort to make his voice melodious. He would rather recite in his normal voice, which was full of inspiration and absorbed in reflection” (Alwi 297).

Mawlana Thanawi was also an expert in the various recitations of the Qur’an. In fact, he compiled the famous narrations of the different recitations in his book Wujuh al-Mathani and the rare narrations in his book Ziyadat ‘ Ala kutub al-riwayat. Mawlana Thanawi’s books on recitation of the Qur’an also included Jamal al-Qur’an, Tajwid al-Qur’an, Raf‘ al-khilaf fi hukm al-awqaf, Tanshit al-tab‘ fi ijra’ al-sab‘, Yadgar-e haqq-e Qur’an, Mutasha­bi­hat al-Qur’an li ’l-Tarawih , and Adab al-Qur’an. Mawlana Thanawi’s profound knowledge and insight in the Qur’an is reflected in his Urdu translation of the meanings of the Qur’an. His twelve volume exegesis, Bayan al-Qur’an, can only be appreciated by a scholar who studies it after having read more than twenty commentaries on the Qur’an (Alwi 323). Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi said, “His commentary relies heavily on Ruh al-Ma‘ani of ‘Allama Alusi al-Baghdadi, and because it was written in the mid-thirteenth century ah, it encompasses all previous explanations of the Qur’an” (Alwi 299).

Like Jassas and other scholars, Mawlana Thanawi also wished to collect legal rulings from the Qur’an in support of the Hanafi school. However, his increasingly frail health in the last years of his life did not allow for him to directly author this work, which he wished to name Dala’il al-Qur’an ‘ala madhhab al-Nu‘man. Instead, this academic desire of Mawlana Thanawi was fulfilled by three of his outstanding students and disciples who noted down his explanations of legal rulings and their extractions from the Qur’an. This Arabic work of Qur’anic jurisprudence, entitled Ahkam al-Qur’an li ’l-Thanawi, is available in five volumes and is co-authored by Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘, Mawlana Muhammad Idris Kandhlawi, and Mawlana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani. Mawlana ‘Abd al-Bari Nadwi said,

When Mawlana Thanawi extracted Hanafi legal matters from the Qur’an, we would be astonished that this point was always in this verse but our knowledge could not grasp it. His explanations would remove the clouds [of confusion], allowing us to fully benefit from the brilliant rays [of knowledge]” (Alwi 303).

Mawlana Thanawi: A Caller to Allah

Preaching Islam and calling people to the way of Allah Almighty was an essential part of Mawlana Thanawi’s life. He would be highly organized and plan his lecture tours well in advance. Thousands used to attend these lectures, which usually lasted two to three hours and some even up to five hours. Mawlana Thanawi also undertook a visit to the area of Mewat, where Muslims were at the verge of disbelief. His first visit to this area was in 1922, when he visited Alwar. Mawlana Thanawi also paid a visit to Gajner, a village in the Kanpur district (U.P.), when the Arya Samaj started to preach Hinduism among the Muslims of that area. Using wisdom and tolerance, Mawlana Thanawi was able to take a pledge from the people there “that they would not commit apostasy” (Masud lv). To prevent the spread of apostasy, he wrote the treatise Al-Insidad li fitnat al-irtidad [The eradication of the evils of apostasy] (Masud liv).

Rooting Out Irreligious Practices

Every true Islamic reformer roots out the irreligious practices people perform in the name of religion. Through his speeches and writings, Mawlana Thanawi battled against all evil innovations in religion and presented Islam as it stood in light of the Qur’an and h ad i th. Mawlana Thanawi was deeply concerned about the ignorance of those Muslims who performed many unnecessary acts perceiving them to be righteous acts of religion. Hence, he wrote many books that dealt with this subject. His book Hifz al-iman clearly explains the evils in acts such as grave worshipping, beseeching other than Allah, believing in the omnipresence of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and pious people, and so on. Another work entitled Aghlat al-‘awam is an earnest effort to root out all un-Islamic rituals prevalent among people. Innovations in belief, worship, and transactions are condemned in this book. Mawlana Thanawi’s balanced approach places all religious injunctions in their proper place without excess ifrat) or shortcoming (tafrit).

Embodiment of Humility and Simplicity

Mufti Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani says that Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi used to say, “I consider myself inferior to every Muslim at the present time and possibly inferior to every non-Muslim with respect to the future” (Irshadate akabir 25). He meant that at this time, I am inferior to every Muslim, and inferior to every non-Muslim with respect to the future, because a non-Muslim may accept Islam in the future and become more advanced than myself. Mawlana Thanawi was more concerned with rectifying his own self than correcting others. Once, when he had to deliver many lectures, he said, “Whenever I find the need of reforming myself, I speak on that specific shortcoming of mine. This method is very beneficial. My speech entitled Ghadab (Anger) is an example of this” (Alwi 131). Once, after praising Allah, Mawlana Thanawi said, “I am never unmindful of reckoning with my own self. Whenever I admonish a disciple of mine, I also inspect my own self and continuously seek Allah’s protection from His reckoning” (Alwi 131).

Mawlana Thanawi and Politics

Mawlana Thanawi was not a politician, Mufti Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani explains, “nor was politics his subject of interest” (Hakim al-Ummat ke siyasi afkar 22). However, Islam is a lifestyle that encompasses all human activities and provides clear and complete guidelines for all aspects of life. Thus, at appropriate places in his speeches and writings, Mawlana Thanawi does comment on politics and provides his useful explanation in that field. While battling secularism, many contemporary Muslims perceived Islam as a branch of government and politics. Mawlana Thanawi proved, mainly using Qur’anic verses, that political rule is only a means of instituting Islam in our lives and not the purpose of life itself. All modern political notions in contradiction with the Qur’an and Hadith would have to be forsaken, and the pure, untainted political thought reflected in the Qur’an and Hadith should guide the Muslims in organizing and structuring their governments (see Hakim al-Ummat ke siyasi afkar).

Death of a Great Sage

Mawlana Thanawi toiled to reform the masses and trained a large number of disciples who spread all over the South Asian Subcontinent. None can deny that his efforts brought a large number of Muslims back to the true teachings of Islam. Mawlana Thanawi passed away in his hometown of Thana Bhawan on Rajab 2, 1362 ah (July 4, 1943 CE). His funeral prayer was led by his nephew, the great scholar of hadith Mawlana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani, and he was buried in the ‘Ishq-e Bazan graveyard. Mawlana Thanawi will be remembered for his inspiring, lucid, and rational writing, balanced approach, and reformative teachings. These still serve many Muslims today in helping them understand the Qur’an and the Sunna.

Books Cited in Biography

Alwi, Mas‘ud Ahsan. Ma‘athir-e Hakim al-Ummat. Lahore: Idara Islamiyyat, 1986.

al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar. Al-Isti‘dad li Yawm al-Ma‘ad. Cairo: Dar al-Bashir, 1986.

Jones, Kenneth W. Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1989.

Khawaja, Ahmed Ali. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi: His Views on Moral Philosophy and Tasawwuf. Delhi: Adam Publishers, 2002.

Metcalf, Barbara Daly. Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900. Princeton: Princeton University, 1982.

Masud, Muhammad Khalid, ed. Travellers in Faith: Studies of the Tablighi Jama‘at as a Transnational Islamic Movement for Faith Renewal. Leiden: Brill, 2000.

Naeem, Fuad S. “A Traditional Islamic Response to the Rise of Modernism.” Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars. Ed. Joseph E.B. Lumbard. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2004. 79–120.

Nawawi, Abu Zakariyya Muhyi ’l-Din ibn Sharaf. Tr. Aisha Bewley. Bustan al-‘Arifin: The Garden of the Gnostics. Leicester: Al-Faruq, 2001.

Qurayshi, Muhammad Iqbal. Ma‘arif-e Gangohi. Lahore: Idara Islamiyyat, 1976.

‘Uthmani, Mufti Muhammad Taqi. Akabir-e Deoband kya the? (Who were the Elders of Deoband?). Karachi: Idarat al-Ma‘arif, 2000.

———. Hakim al-Ummat ke siyasi afkar (The political views of Hakim al-Ummat) in Islam awr Siyasat. Multan: Idara Ta’lifat-e Ashrafiyya.

———. Irshadat-e Akabir (Sayings of the Saintly Elders). Multan: Idara Ta’lifat-e Ashrafiyya, 1998.

Zayd, Muhammad. Dini da‘wat-o tabligh ke usul-o ahkam. Multan : Idara Ta’lifat-e Ashrafiyya, 1994.

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MessaggioInviato: Sab Mar 22, 2008 8:48 pm    Oggetto: Hadrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (R. ‘a.) Rispondi citando

Hadrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (R. ‘a.)
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Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, commonly known as 'Hakeem ul-Ummah' qaddasAllahu sirrahul-azeez is one of the great a'immah of the ummah and is included from amongst the akaabir ulema of al-Hind.

He had memorized the Qur'an at a very young age and studied Islam under the great Indian ulema. He recieved ijazahs in Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh and Aqidah. He studied Tajweed and Qira'ah in Makkah under Qari Muhammed Abdullah. Maulana was the khalifah of Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki rahimahullah, of the Chistiyyah.

He was greatly talented in all areas of Islam and wrote many books, but was also remembered for his reviving sermons. Probably his greatest books are his tafseer ul-qur'an, 'Bayaan ul-Qur'an' which is used by ulema and tulaba all over the world (al-Allaamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri rahimahullah said that after reading the Bayaan ul-Qur'an he developed a desire to read Urdu books); and his book on
Hanafi fiqh for the awaam, specifically the women of the Subcontinent, 'Beheshti Zewar', and it would not be an overstatement to say there is no more read book in the Urdu language than this. In Hadith, the 21 volume I'la us-sunan on the ahadith used in Hanafi Fiqh, written under his supervision, is used in madaaris all over the world from India to Syria. Apart from these, he wrote many books
which total to over 300. It was known that he never took a single penny for any of his works, SubhanAllah!

He wrote about tasawwuf and tazkiyat un-nafs, the best known probably 'Tarbiyat us-Saalik'. The sheikh, Doctor Abdul-Hayy Aarifi (one of his Khulafaa) has written two books, 'Basa'ir e Hakimul-Ummat' and 'Ma'athir e Hakim ul-Ummat' in which he has gone through these briefly. He wrote in defence of the true sufis, and translated many works of sheikh Ibn Ataa Iskandari and allamah Abdul-wahhab Sha'raani etc. He also wrote a 20 volume sharh of the Mathnawi of sheikh Jalaludeen Rumi rahimahullah. Perhaps one of his most commendable characteristics was his rejection of Bid'ah, especially those innovations which had crept into the Muslims in the name of Tasawwuf.

His khanqah in Thana Bhawn is still one of the most well known and well respected in the whole of al-Hind. The khanqah was different to others in that the sheikh rahimahullah used to stress on the importance of the fundamentals before going further. He was known to say `Don't come to this khanqah if you want to become a sufi, only come if you want to become human.'

His khulafa include some of the great ulema known to ummah, ash-sheikh Doctor Abdul-hayy Arifii, maulana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, mufti a`zham maulana Muhammed Shafi sahib, maulana Najm Ahsan, sheikh ul-islam allaamah Shabbir Ahmad `Uthmaani, allaamah Zufar Ahmad `Uthmaani, maulana Ibarul-haq Thanwi etc. rahimahumullah.

He believed strongly in Tasawwuf and Tazkiyat un-Nafs being an important part of Islam, which was clearly within the boundaries of the Shari`ah. He worked hard to show tasawwuf as something essential as the relationship between a person and Allah, rather than the act of a majnun grave worshipping dancing dervish, as the term `sufi' generally brings to mind these days., and he openly condemned all these sorts of acts as obviously against the shari`ah but were
accepted in the name of Tasawwuf.

His definition of Tasawwuf was very simple. He said,

'That tiny bit of wisdom which is the essence of Tasawwuf is: If you
feel lazy about carrying out an act of obedience, challenge laziness
and carry it out; and if you have an urge for sin, challenge the
urge and stay away from that sin.
One who can do that needs just about nothing beyond it because this
very act of wisdom helps establish communion with Allah, and this is
his guard on duty and this is his promoter.
'

And from his parting instructions, he advised,

'Believe in a good end to life as the most graceful and the most
perfect end to all blessings. Always pray for such an end,
especially after the five daily prayers with exceedingly passionate
entreaty and humbleness of heart. And be grateful for the faith you
already have, for this too is according to the promise of Allah "la-
in shakartum la-azeedannakum" (If you will be grateful, I shall
bless you with more, 14:7), one of the effective causes of a good
end.
'

May Allah bless the sheikh and keep him from the slander of the ignorant people, surely he is far above them, and may Allah fill his grave with His nur and shower His rahmah on him and grant him al-Firdaws.

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MessaggioInviato: Mar Lug 31, 2012 1:25 am    Oggetto: Rispondi citando

Legacy of Hakim-ul-Ummah (Mawlana Ashraf `Ali Thanwi, rahimahullah)
Shaykh al-Islam Hadrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

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MessaggioInviato: Mar Lug 31, 2012 1:41 am    Oggetto: Rispondi citando

Hakim al-Ummah: Imam Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi
By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Translated by Muzzammil Husayn

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He (Allah have mercy on him) was from the genius and unique scholars and the righteous and sincere callers, who lit the lamps of renewal in India with bright flames and shining lights, and devoted their lives to elevating the word of Allah and reviving the religious sciences, guarding the frontiers of Islam, remaining steadfast on calling to Allah, and enduring what they suffered in this path.

He (Allah have mercy on him) was born on the morning of the fifth of Rabi‘ al-Thani in the year 1280 after the Prophetic migration (upon its bearer be peace) (September 1863 CE) in a noble family whose lineage reached the Commander of Believers, our master, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah Almighty be pleased with him and make him content), in the village of Thana Bhawan in Muzaffarnagar District, which is considered to be from the villages which are recognised in the Indian lands for its outstanding men and its knowledgeable scholars and its great saints, like the great scholar and verifier, Shaykh Muhammad A‘la al-Thanawi author of Kashshaf Istilahat al-Funun – that great academic encyclopaedia which has gained the praise and trust of the people of knowledge in the eastern and western regions of the globe; and like the great scholar, Shaykh Muhammad al-Thanawi, and Hafiz Muhammad Damin al-Shahid, and the knower [of Allah], the verifier, Hajj Imdad Allah al-Muhajir al-Makki, who are referred to in all corners of these lands as the “three pivots” (al-aqtab al-thalathah), Allah Almighty show expansive mercy to them.

Hakim al-Ummah (Allah have mercy on him) was born in this village that flourished with knowledge and devotion, scrupulousness and piety, and he grew up in this purely religious environment. Here, he memorised the Qur’an, and learnt the primary Persian and Arabic [subjects] and the sciences of religion at the hands of expert teachers. From the prime of his youth, he was dedicated to [gaining] knowledge and [attending to] the scholars, devoted to acts of obedience and far-removed from useless activity. From the brittleness of his nature was that since his early childhood he could not bear to look at another’s belly while it was uncovered, and when he would unexpectedly see one of the children with his belly uncovered he would be overcome by nausea, so the children would [deliberately] come before him and expose their bellies in front of him so that he would vomit, and as such he (Allah have mercy on him) would be exhausted of vomiting again and again, and this brittleness in his nature was an existential reason from Allah Almighty making him averse to mixing with most children, and as a consequence he was far-removed from their vain activities and their futility.

He (Allah have mercy on him) became accustomed to night prayer when twelve years old, and the wife of his paternal uncle would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and see him praying, and she would try to make him lessen it out of affection for him, but because of its rootedness in his soul, he was unconcerned with this and continued with his prayer.

Thus he began his education in his hometown in the primary religious sciences until he reached his fifteenth year, whereupon he travelled to Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, which was and still is the biggest centre for religious sciences in India and an academic seminary filled with people of knowledge, virtue, recognition and piety, and a sweet pool of the pools of knowledge and devotion, from which thousands of men graduated with immense knowledge and extensive experience and deep insight and righteous works and religious firmness and sound taste in calling to Allah and striving in His path. Thus, he (Allah have mercy on him) was admitted into this auspicious institute, and received all the Arabic, literary, rational and transmitted sciences

with teachers that recall the memories of the ancients in their extensive knowledge and their quality precision, like the imam and great warrior, Shaykh Mahmud al-Hasan al-Deobandi, who is called “Shaykh al-Hind” due to his lofty rank in knowledge and piety and due to his constructive and continuous efforts in the cause of liberating India from the hands of oppressive English colonisers; and like our master, the knower [of Allah], the verifier, Shaykh Muhammad Ya‘qub al-Nanotwi, who was known for his proficiency in all the sciences and arts, and his preoccupation with dhikr and acts of obedience; and like the imam, the philosopher, Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Qasim al-Nanotwi, the founder of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband whose reputation for penetrating insight and deep thought and marvellous works on the science of dialectical theology (kalam), beliefs, jurisprudence and hadith spread [throughout India]; and like Mawlana Shaykh Sayyid Ahmad al-Dihlawi who reached the zenith in the rational sciences and he excelled in the mathematical sciences by mere [personal] study without studying them with a teacher.

In brief, Hakim al-Ummah al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) stayed in Dar al-‘Ulum amongst these teachers and their peers (Allah have mercy on them), and he acquired benefit from them, from their sciences and their service and their company. Through his entire student life he had no engagement besides studying his books and serving his teachers and professors. In Deoband, he had a number of relatives, who would often send to him invitations to eat with them, but he would make the excuse to them that he did not enter this city but for the purpose of learning and studying, so he did not visit them for the period of five years until he completed his studies.

While he was a student at Deoband, the Christians sent their missionaries to all parts of India, and they threatened the Muslims and invited them to debate and argue, so when he (Allah have mercy on him) found the opportunity, he went out to them, debated them and overcame them with his far-reaching proofs and his clear speech, as a result of which he became well-known amongst the students and the public as a strong debater and skilled orator. However, this was in the period of his study at Deoband, and after he became an experienced scholar, he (Allah have mercy on him) was the farthest of people from debate and argumentation, due to what he had seen that such debates and discussions lack sincerity and integrity, and rarely help in bringing people to guidance and rightness.

Thus, he (Allah have mercy on him) studied in Dar al-‘Ulum at Deoband until he completed his studies in the year 1300 H. It was from his humbleness that when the school board decided to inaugurate a big ceremony to distribute the certificates and turbans to the graduates, the Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him) became frightened and he went with some of his classmates to his teacher, Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Ya‘qub al-Nanotwi (Allah have mercy on him) – who was then the head teacher – and said: “We heard that the school is going to present us with a certificate of completion of the sciences, and will place turbans on our heads, although the reality is that we are not deserving of this certificate and this honour, and we fear that this will be a reason for bad opinion of the school, that it produces the likes of us who have no knowledge.”

However, Shaykh al-Nanotwi replied: “You only say this because you are in the embrace of [your] teachers, so you consider your knowledge insignificant before these [scholars]; but I bear witness that just as you leave this school, your rank will be recognised, and you will become outstanding in the field of knowledge with no comparison.”

His (Allah have mercy on him) speech came true as Hakim al-Ummah al-Thanawi (his secret be sanctified) became the greatest recourse for the ‘ulama and the commoners, and the greatest axis of learning and religion, and the ‘ulama of that time confirmed that he was a marvel of his age in knowledge and piety, unequalled and unmatched.

His Teaching

In Kanpur there was a famous school called al-Fayd al-‘Am, in which Mawlana Shaykh Ahmad Hasan al-Amrohowi taught, who was an advanced teacher whose reputation in all the sciences spread [throughout India], especially in the rational sciences. He had encountered some things that he disliked from the school committee, so he resigned from teaching there and founded another school.

Therefore, the owners of the school, al-Fayd al-‘Am, requested from the scholars of Deoband to send to them a teacher, and Shaykh al-Thanawi had just graduated from Dar al-‘Ulum in that year, so his teachers selected him to answer their call. Thereupon, he (Allah have mercy on him) moved to Kanpur in the month of Safar in the year 1300 H (1883 CE). Thus, he began his first exodus to benefit the people at the onset of the fourteenth century. Hereof, some of the scholars considered him a reviver (mujaddid) of this century in the Indian lands.

In brief, he (Allah have mercy on him) became occupied in Kanpur with teaching, calling [people to Allah], admonishing and writing, and very soon he came to be known amongst the students for his great knowledge, brilliant teaching and powerful oration, even though he had been given the position of an experienced teacher while still in the prime of his youth. Then he founded in Kanpur another school with the name Jami‘ al-‘Ulum which remains by the grace of Allah Almighty till this day. Thus, a great multitude became his students. From the most eminent of his students are Shaykh Muhammad Ishaq al-Bardawani, who had memorised the entire Sahih of al-Bukhari by heart, and Mawlana Muhammad Mustafa al-Bajnuri, the author of beneficial works in the Urdu language, and Mawlana Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani, for whose overflowing knowledge and expansive experience I‘la al-Sunan is sufficient proof.

His Return to his Hometown

In brief, Shaykh al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) stayed in Kanpur for a period of fourteen years, benefitting people with his lessons, his sermons and his writings. Then solitude was made dear to him, so he resigned from the school at Kanpur in Safar of the year 1315 H (1897 CE) and appointed his student Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Ishaq al-Bardawani as his replacement there. Then he returned to his hometown Thana Bhawan and he stayed in the Zawiyah (spiritual convent) of his spiritual teacher (shaykh), called al-Khanqah al-Imdadiyya, because his spiritual teacher, Hajj Imdad Allah, the emigrant to Mecca, had instructed him to [do] so. Then, he remained in this Zawiyah till Allah Almighty took his [soul] in the year 1362 H (1943 CE). In this Zawiyah, Allah produced by his hands mammoth works on religion, such [works] that large committees and global commissions are unable to [produce]. Indeed it is difficult for us to mention all of these achievements, or most of them, in this brief biography, but we will [suffice with a] selection of some of them. Allah gives accordance.

His Writings

Hakim al-Ummah Shaykh al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) was the most prolific author of his time. There are none in this century who are equal to him or match him in the number of books written, as he left behind him around a thousand published books that range between large and small. There is no religious subject that Muslims are in need of in this time except he has a published book or treatise or sermon regarding it. We are unable to mention all of them in detail in this short essay, but here is a list of some of the most important of them:

As for Qur’anic exegesis, he has a marvellous exegesis in the Urdu language with the title Bayan al-Qur’an in four large volumes with large size paper. It includes important academic discussions about exegesis, syntax, rhetoric, jurisprudence, speculative theology and Sufism. The value of this book will only be appreciated when a man refers to it after studying the extended books from exegetical works, for he has combined their essence and their spirit using simple academic and comprehensive expressions.

He hoped to compile Ahkam al-Qur’an in the Arabic language himself, in order to collect therein the issues of jurisprudence and theology derived from the Noble Qur’an, in particular the issues which arose in these latter times and have no mention in the earlier works. However, this was towards the end of his life when it was difficult for him to write by himself, so he delegated its composition to four scholars: my respected father, Mawlana Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ and the respected Mawlana Mufti Jamil Ahmad (Allah preserve them), and Mawlana Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani, the author of I‘la al-Sunan, and Mawlana al-Muhaddith Shaykh Muhammad Idris al-Kandihlawi the author of al-Ta‘liq al-Sabih ‘ala Mishkat al-Masabih (Allah Almighty have mercy on them). Thus, Mawlana Shaykh al-‘Uthmani compiled two volumes of it, and my respected father Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ compiled two volumes, and Mawlana Shaykh al-Kandihlawi compiled one volume. These volumes were printed in Karachi with [old] lithographic print, and the remainder have not yet been printed. May Allah enable us to produce this book in a form pleasing to the readers.

The Shaykh also has a small treatise, al-Taqsir fi al-Tafsir, in which he criticised some of the modern exegeses, and in which he explained valuable rules from the principles of exegesis of which many people in our time are heedless. He has twenty three other treatises on exegesis and the sciences of the Qur’an.

As for hadith, he had himself compiled Jami‘ al-Athar and Tabi‘ al-Athar, and he gave special attention to the compilation of I‘la al-Sunan, and a notice on these books will come separately if Allah wills.

In jurisprudence, he has Imdad al-Fatawa in six large volumes in the Urdu language, which is a collection of his fatwas which he wrote himself. He (Allah have mercy on him) was the leading authority in issuing fatwas in India. Fatwa-seekers from the eastern and western parts of the earth would refer to him and ‘ulama and scholars would write to him on difficult issues, the solution to which was problematic for them, so the Shaykh answered them and solved the difficult and obscure matters with the utmost verification and scrutiny, in a manner that cooled their breasts and satisfied their thirst. Indeed Imdad al-Fatawa bears witness to the depth of his insight in jurisprudence. There are valuable discussions in it related to jurisprudence and an explanation of most of the issues which arose in the latter times. This book is now considered the greatest source for muftis in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

He also has the book Beheshti Zewar (Heavenly Ornaments) which is in approximately 700 pages with large size paper, in which he assembled issues relating to all the chapters of jurisprudence, creed and spirituality. Originally, it was written for the edification of women, so in addition to religious issues, he included in it all that women need in their family life. A group of ‘ulama helped him in writing this book. Although the purpose of this book was to edify women, many men have also benefitted from it, and ‘ulama find it indispensible. It has been translated into a number of local languages.

He also has Tahdhir al-Ikhwan ‘an al-Riba fi al-Hindustan and Rafi‘ al-Dank ‘an Manafi‘ al-Bank on the verification of the matter of usury; and al-Iqtisad fi al-Taqlid wa al-Ijtihad and al-Hilat al-Najizah li al-Halilat al-‘Ajizah in which he verified the issues relating to the wives of a lost man, an impotent man, a madman, and a cruel man, and the issues of delegating divorce (tafwid al-talaq) and [marital] choice after puberty (khiyar al-bulugh), and in most of these juristic issues he issued fatwas according to the madhhab of the Malikis, and he verified their madhhab by seeking fatwa from their scholars. He has many treatises besides these in verifying particular juristic issues.

As for beliefs and theology, he has al-Intibahat al-Mufidah fi al-Ishtibahat al-Jadidah which is a book unique in its field, in which he compiled the doubts which the atheists produce against Islam, and the distortions perpetrated by those who try to travel in the caravans of the Westerners, and he refuted them with a powerful and beneficial refutation; and he proved the basic Islamic beliefs using rational proofs that are convincing to all possessors of sound intellect and seekers of truth. We have just recently published with the help of Allah Almighty an English translation. He also has al-Masalih al-‘Aqliyyah li al-Ahkam al-Naqliyyah and its translation in English has also been published. He has Shahadat al-Aqwam ‘ala Sidq al-Islam in which he compiled the disbelievers’ praise of Islam and its teachings. He has Islah al-Khayal, Ashraf al-Jawab, al-Iksir fi Ithbat al-Taqdir, al-Khitab al-Malih fi Tahqiq al-Mahdi wa al-Masih, Dhayl ‘ala Sharh al-‘Aqa’id al-Nasafiyyah, Dirayat al-‘Ismah in refutation of philosophy, Hidayat al-Hikmah, and many other treatises.

As for spirituality, he has Masa’il al-Suluk min Kalam Malik al-Muluk in the Arabic language, in which he derived the issues relevant to the spiritual journey (suluk) and Sufism from the Noble Qur’an; and al-Tasharruf bi Ma‘rifati Ahadith al-Tasawwuf, in which he compiled the hadiths from which issues of Sufism are derived, and he explained them with sufficient commentary while elaborating on the principles of Sufism and its fundamental issues; and Sharh al-Mathnawi li Mawlana al-Rumi in 8 volumes; and Ma‘arif al-‘Awarif in two volumes; and al-Takashshuf ‘an Muhimmat al-Tasawwuf and Talkhis al-Bidayah li al-Ghazali and Tarbiyat al-Salik wa Tanjiyat al-Halik which is a collection of letters to his disciples answering their questions about spiritual illnesses, and it contains amazing anecdotes on detecting spiritual defects and treating them – no book has been compiled on this subject besides this as far as we know. He has many treatises on spirituality besides what we mentioned.

As for calling [to Islam] and giving counsel, he has Hayat al-Muslimin, Ta‘lim al-Din, Furu‘ al-Iman, Jaza’ al-A‘mal, Adab al-Mu‘asharah, Huquq al-Islam, Huquq al-Walidayn, Irshad al-Ha’im fi Huquq al-Baha’im, al-Qawl al-Sawab fi Mas’alat al-Hijab, Ilqa’ al-Sakinah fi Ibda’ al-Zinah, Islah al-Rusum, Hifz al-Iman in refutation of baseless innovations and beliefs, Aghlat al-‘Awamm, Islah Inqilab al-Ummah, Huquq al-‘Ilm, Kathrat al-Azwaj li Sahib al-Mi‘raj, Islah al-Nisa’ and many other books.

As for litanies and supplications, he has al-Ma’mul al-Maqbul fi Qurbat ‘ind Allah wa Salawat al-Rasul in which he summarised the transmitted supplications from al-Hisn al-Hasin and divided them into seven sections, and this book has reached most of the Muslim houses in these lands and is recited daily; and he has Zad al-Sa‘id on the forms of blessings on the prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace); and al-Khutab al-Ma’thurah in which he collected the sermons of the Noble Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the rightly-guided caliphs; and Khutbat al-Ahkam li Jumu‘at al-‘Amm and Zawal al-Sunnah ‘an A‘mal al-Sanah.

As for [Prophetic] biography, he compiled Nashr al-Tib fi Dhikr al-Nabiyy al-Habib.

And on miscellaneous rare issues: Bawadir al-Nawadir, Bada’i‘ al-Fara’id and al-Lata’if wa al-Zara’if.

This is a short selection of some of his writings, and all this excludes his sermons published in large volumes, which will be discussed in what follows:

His Sermons

When he was a student at Deoband, the Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him) was examined on admonishing and sermonising. A gathering would be held every Friday which the students attended, and they delivered their speeches one after another. The Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him) was from the champions of this competition and was distinguished in this field, such that after completing his studies he became the most famous sermoniser and admonisher of his time. During his stay in Kanpur, he began to counsel the people and call them towards good. Gatherings would be held for this in every corner of the corners of the city, and then in every city from the cities of India. His sermons became famous in all the corners of the lands. For them, mounts would be saddled, and to hear them, difficulties would be endured, and opportunities would be seized. Truthfully, his sermons were like an ocean with no visible coast. There was knowledge and wisdom and proverbs and anecdotes and wonders and treasures in them which are not contained in books. And there were insights into exegesis, hadith, jurisprudence and Sufism in them which are not found in the available literature. In them, the Shaykh distributed the pearls of his gnosis that polished the hearts and illuminated the minds.

His sermons had such an impact on reforming souls and proportioning minds that nothing similar exists in this time, for how many men after listening to them withheld from what they were accustomed to of sins, and how many deviants because of them repented from innovations and passions, and how many men fumbling in doubts have been guided by them to faith and certainty?! The number of those in whom these counsels caused a transformation surpasses thousands of men and women. We praise Allah that a large number of these counsels were recorded by his students and his disciples during his sermons, and from them twenty volumes have been published, each volume comprising of at least 700 pages.

Hence, these published counsels are continuous springs flowing to this day, not scarce and not ceasing, and not depleting and not drying up. And there are innumerable men, who did not accompany Shaykh al-Thanawi and did not see him, but they attained the benefits of his company by his published counsels, and an immense religious transformation occurred in their lives.

From his practices in admonishing was that he would not accept [anything] in exchange for it, such that if a man were to offer him anything after an admonition which apparently seemed to be in exchange [for the lecture] he would never accept it. In his admonitions, he would prefer the method of inciting hope (targhib) rather than inducing fear (tarhib), and he said: “I have experienced the natures of people in this time, and I found they benefit more from what gives them hope than they benefit from what puts fear in them, which is why in my admonitions I most frequently encourage hope and rarely induce fear.” (Sirat Ashraf, p. 137, quoting from Wa‘z al-Batin)

He would supplicate to Allah (Glorified is He) before starting the admonition saying: “O Allah! Grant me the ability to deliver what the attendees are in need of and what will rectify their states.” (Ibid, quoting from Dhamm al-Nisyan)

Controversial issues amongst the Muslims would not interfere in his admonitions unless a controversial matter came up during [the course of] his speech, whereupon he would explain it with a sufficient explanation, gently and softly, tactfully and with good-will, not being harsh in them against his opponents, and not going into excess when criticising them as is the habit of the sermonisers of our time. Rather, he would follow the example of the Prophets (upon them peace) in soft speech (Qur’an 20:44) and good admonition (Qur’an, 16:125).

His Utterances (Malfuzat)

Every day after Zuhr, he (Allah have mercy on him) would conduct a public gathering in the Khanqah Imdadiyyah, in which his students and disciples and the common people gathered, and he would admonish them and answer their various questions, and speak to them with whatever occurred to him without restricting [himself] to one subject and not another subject. One of the attendees in these gatherings would record his speech and whatever beneficial lessons he delivered in them. Then these speeches of his were published under the title al-Malfuzat (Utterances) in more than twenty volumes. These utterances consist of rare anecdotes of knowledge and wisdom, subtleties and wonders, stories and events, admonitions and lessons, counsels and guidance, etiquettes and characteristics, criticisms and refutations. The ‘ulama of these lands have experienced that it has a strong effect in building a sound religious temperament and in encouraging towards righteous deeds.

His (Allah have mercy on him) Pledge in the Spiritual Path

Experience has proven that mere abundance of knowledge and expansive reading are insufficient in moulding a human being to have a firm religious understanding, since rectification of the souls and purification of the hearts and perfection of the faculties and proportioning the character-traits are almost impossible to achieve for any man except by internalising in his life the example of a man from the men of Allah, and acquiring the good fortune of his company, and acquiring benefit from his teachings, and drawing to himself those lofty capacities and that sound taste which was made possible for that man. This is why He (Glorified is He) explained the “Straight Path” (1:5) with His statement: “The path of those whom You have favoured” (1:6), indicating that the Straight Path is only the path walked upon by those favoured by Allah, of the prophets, truthful-saints, martyrs and pious (4:69); and the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) explained it with his statement: “What I and my companions are upon.” He (Exalted is He) said: “And follow the way of those who have turned to Me,” (31:15) and He (Exalted is He) said: “O you who believe! Have consciousness of Allah and

be with the truthful,” (9:119) indicating that a man will only be guided to the desired Straight Path by following those who turn to Allah and by staying constantly in the company of the truthful whose souls have been refined and their internal sensibilities have been proportioned. For this [reason], the practice of the ‘ulama has continuously been, since the time of the Sahabah and Tabi‘in, that they would not suffice with mere reading of books and memorisation of hadiths and listening to lectures, rather they would give special attention to staying in the constant company of the men of Allah and benefiting from their company and service.

Thus, Shaykh al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) loved to accompany his teachers, and was eager to serve them, and after completing his studies, he pledged the pledge of the spiritual path to the knower [of Allah], the perceptive, Hajj Imdad Allah al-Muhajir al-Makki, and he stayed with him for a while. Then in Shawwal, he travelled and performed pilgrimage to the House of Allah and visited the resting place of the Noble Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and stayed with his spiritual teacher for some time. Then he performed Hajj a second time in 1310 H and he stayed in the company of his spiritual teacher for a period of 6 months, and he stayed constantly with him never parting [from him] and never separating. Due to the strength of his preparation and the perfect attention of the spiritual master, in this short time he became like a mirror in which the example of his spiritual teacher shone and his characteristics and his qualities glittered until he came to be recognised in his lands for his worship and his asceticism and his scrupulousness and his excellent guidance and training. He cleansed the path of Sufism from innovated superstitions and ugly innovations and he renewed it with a [comprehensive] renewal, so we should explain his work in some detail:

His Renewal of Sufism and the Spiritual Path

People were, in the matter of Sufism and the spiritual path, between excess and negligence. Thus, one group believed that Sufism and the spiritual path is from the newly-invented innovations having no basis in the Book and Sunnah; and another believed that Sufism and the spiritual path is the name of some unveilings and ecstatic experiences and illuminations which occur to the one walking this path, and that these states and internal experiences are end-objectives of the religion, and whoever acquires them is free from the noose of the outwards laws of the Shari‘ah, and the one from whom some feats and wonders emanate or to whom some unveilings and ecstatic experiences occur while awake or asleep, the people take him as an example and guide, however deviant his beliefs and however corrupt his deeds and qualities.

Thus, Hakim al-Ummah Shaykh al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) began to refute these two notions theoretically and practically. Theoretically, he proved in his books and his sermons and his counsels and his gatherings that Sufism and spiritual excellence (ihsan) is one of the elements of religion and one of the branches of Islam, and that the laws of the Book and Sunnah divide into two categories: one category relating to the external acts which issue from the limbs and organs like prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, marriage, divorce and other such laws of the Shari‘ah which the jurists have expounded in their books; and a second category of the laws of the Book and Sunnah relate to the internal acts which’s place is the heart and soul, and from them are commandments and prohibitions; as for the commandments, examples are: integrity and sincerity, fear and hope, desire and friendliness, patience and gratitude, humbleness and humility, love of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and turning and being sincere to Him, etc; and as for the prohibitions, examples are: ostentation, seeking reputation, vanity, pride, malice, envy, hopelessness, despair, love of wealth and fame, etc.

Hence, Sufism only deals with this category of divine laws, just as jurisprudence deals with the first category of them. The Qur’an and Sunnah are full of texts said in this context, although the laws relating to the inside of a human being are not usually possible to adopt except by training, exercise, edification and practice, because the internal diseases like ostentation, vanity etc. are hidden illnesses which often the sick person does not realise in himself, and he needs a knowledgeable experienced man inspecting his movements and stillness, his deeds and his thoughts, his ideas and his whispers, in order to detect them, and this inspector in Sufism is called a “spiritual teacher” (shaykh) and referral to him the “pledge” (bay‘ah).

As for those unveilings and miracles, wonders and disposals, visions and experiences, Shaykh al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) established that they have nothing to do with Sufism. There is no doubt that Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) often revealed some miracles at the hands of the Sahabah and saints, and there is no question that He (Exalted is He) had blessed some of his servants with true unveilings, but these are not the end-objectives of religion, nor are they a proof in the Shari‘ah, and nor do they prove its bearer to be a saint or fearful [of Allah] or close to Allah Almighty, since such unveilings and disposals are not preconditioned by righteousness and piety, rather not even being Muslim and having faith, since it may occur by exercise and experience to wicked disbelieving men, as seen in the mesmerists.

Thus, the objective of Sufism is only to acquire virtuous character-traits and to avoid spiritual ailments, and the one successful in this path is he who has adorned [himself] with these virtues along with complete loyalty to the Islamic Shari‘ah, and with complete adherence to the Prophetic Sunnah, and if after this Allah gives him a share in the insight (firasah) of faith or a portion of truthful unveilings, then that is an excess from Allah Almighty. As for the one who is deprived of these virtuous character-traits and obedience to the Prophetic Sunnah, and does not stay away from spiritual ills, he is completely removed from Sufism, the spiritual path (tariqah), sainthood and the spiritual journey (suluk), whether he flies in the wind or walks on water or ascends to the heaven.

This sound and balanced vision with respect to Sufism is detailed in different books of Shaykh al-Thanawi and his sermons with its proofs from the Book and Sunnah, and their corroborants from the examples of the Sahabah and the saints, and their evidences from sound intellect and spiritual experience, and he repelled [in them] whatever doubts had appeared about it, and he harmonised the actions of the great Sufis with the Book and Sunnah in [a manner] that the hearts find rest and the chests find coolness, and he left no room for objection except for an ignorant denier or an obstinate feigner of ignorance.

Practically, the Shaykh refuted these two ideas by his actions conforming to the Muhammadan Sunnah and instructing his disciples according to the way of the Shari‘ah. Thus, whenever anyone came to him for the pledge, he commanded him firstly to fulfil his obligations in the Shari‘ah, whether from the rights of Allah or the rights of servants. His attention to the rights of servants was stronger and more common, since he saw the condition of many people that they were persistent on rituals and did much remembrance of Allah, but they were deficient in the rights of the servants and opposed the Shari‘ah in many social interactions. Similarly, his attention to teaching social etiquettes was more [important to him] than the attention he paid to teaching litanies and remembrances, and all optional acts. He would say: “I give most of my attention to no one being harmed by me or my disciples, whether that harm is material, like striking and argumentation, or monetary, like confiscation of rights and consuming illegally, or what is related to his honour, like disgracing a man and backbiting him, or spiritual, like leaving another in a state of conflict and confusion, or treating him in a manner he dislikes, and if any of this occurs by mistake it is necessary to immediately seek forgiveness and pardon. I give more importance to this than anything else, such that if I see anyone disobeying the Shari‘ah in its outward manifestation, that causes in me a degree of pain, but when I see anyone indifferent to fulfilling these rights, it hurts me badly, and I pray to Allah Almighty to save him from these mortal sins.” (Translated from Ashraf al-Sawanih, 2:179)

In another place he said: “The head and foundation of good character is that a man is concerned with no one being harmed because of him, and this is what the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught by his comprehensive saying: ‘The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and whose hand [other] Muslims are safe.’ Everything that is a cause for harming another, it is included in bad character, even if its [outward] form is in the form of service or etiquette and veneration which people claim to be good character, because the reality of good character is to give rest to another, which is given priority over service, for service without giving rest is a fruit skin without a seed. Although social etiquettes are below beliefs and worship from the perspective of them being symbols of the religion, nonetheless, they have priority over beliefs and worship from another perspective, which is that in infractions of belief and worship there is harm to a human being’s self, but in infractions of social etiquette there is harm to others, and a man harming another is worse than him harming himself. Therefore, Allah Almighty first said: ‘Those who walk on the earth gently, and when they converse with the ignorant, they say: Peace,’ (25:63) in which social etiquettes are taught, and then He said: ‘Those who spend the night for their Lord, prostrating and standing,’ in which rituals are taught, so good social conduct has priority over the obligations from some perspectives. As for its priority over optional acts, it is established from all perspectives.” (Translated from Adab al-Mu‘asharah)

Shaykh al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) did not possess mere theories and empty thoughts, rather these theories were manifested in his works and his life, and even in the life of his disciples. For, the Khanqah Imdadiyyah was a house of education, unique in its style in the world, in which characters were refined, and minds were edified, and individual and social etiquettes of life were taught. Muslims from all sides and corners of India come together, from them ‘ulama and senior scholars, and from them doctors and engineers, and from them employers and teachers, and from them farmers and factory workers, and from them men from all walks of life. They came to him and stayed with him for long periods and they may have had with them wives and children, and the Shaykh would look at their states and teach them the religion and make them learn the Islamic characteristics, and describe for them the means to acquire them and train them to [practice] the social etiquettes and explain to them their subtleties, and turn their attentions to their spiritual illnesses, and explain to them the means to rid [themselves] of them. This Khanqah had a superb rota in everything, which none could oppose; and this rota itself was a living example of Islamic social etiquettes, encouraging a man to organise his life and keep check of his moments and be concerned with fulfilling rights and avoiding harm to others.

Eventually, this Zawiyah became a great factory wherein [real] men were built, and excellent qualities and upright etiquettes were moulded. Were we to expand on these qualities and etiquettes which the Shaykh would apply and train others with, we would have a long discussion [ahead of us]. However, we wish to present to the noble reader some examples of his conduct and habit, so that this subject becomes somewhat clear:

1. Whenever he (Allah have mercy on him) needed to speak to anyone, or tell him something, he would never ask him to [come] to him, rather he would walk to him himself, even if he was his student or his disciple or his younger relatives, and he would say: “It should be that the one in need goes to the one he needs not vice versa.” One of the doctors, Hakim Muhammad Hashim, was from his disciples and close followers, who would frequently come to him, but whenever the Shaykh needed to describe to him some of the symptoms of his illness, he would go to him himself so long as that was not too difficult because of his illness. (Ashraf al-Sawanih, 2:43)

2. He would never give two instructions simultaneously to any of his servants, rather he would give him one instruction and then another instruction after he finished the first, and he would say: “I do this so it is not burdensome on the servant to remember the second instruction, so I bear the difficulty of remembering [it] myself, and do not burden the servant with it.” (ibid)

3. He would not intercede for anyone except with justice, and if he knew or thought that that was burdensome on the one he interceded to, he would never do this, and he would say: “The people generally take into account in the affair of intercession the right of the one interceded for, and they do not take into account the right of the one interceded to, while helping a person is a praiseworthy deed and avoiding harm is obligatory, so how is it permissible to leave an obligation to attain [something] praiseworthy?” (Sirat Ashraf, p. 280)

4. He would not insist on a guest to stay in his company for long against his will, even if the guest was from the most beloved of people to him, and his stay from the most desirable of what he enjoyed. Likewise, he would not force a guest to partake of too much food against his will so that it would not be burdensome on him.

5. Whenever he wrote to anyone a letter in which was a question to the one written to, he would place therein an addressed envelope along with stamps for the reply even if the one written to was from his students or his younger relatives.

Thus, he (Allah have mercy on him) would attend to these delicate matters in social etiquettes. On this, he has a separate work. His life, and the life of his disciples, and his method in the Khanqah Imdadiyyah was a practical explanation of these Islamic etiquettes, such that the people recognised his disciples for observance of these subtleties in [their] characteristics and dealings and interactions.

In this manner, he (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) lived for 48 years in al-Khanqah al-Imdadiyyah, benefiting people through his knowledge, his counsels, his works and his teachings, until Allah Almighty took his [soul] in the month of Safar of the year 1362 after the Prophetic migration (1943 CE), may Allah Almighty shower him with His forgiveness and His pleasure and leave him to reside in the highest places of His gardens.

(Introduction to "I‘la al-Sunan")

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MessaggioInviato: Mer Ago 01, 2012 4:36 am    Oggetto: Rispondi citando

Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi
Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

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L'ultima modifica di Sufi Aqa il Lun Ago 13, 2012 6:58 pm, modificato 1 volta
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MessaggioInviato: Mer Ago 01, 2012 4:38 am    Oggetto: Rispondi citando

Mufti Taqi Usmani speaks on the life and works of Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (R.A)
Shaykh al-Islam Hadrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

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MessaggioInviato: Lun Ago 13, 2012 6:55 pm    Oggetto: Rispondi citando

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi and Sufi Study of hadith
Shaykh al-Hadith Abu Nauman Mumtaz ul Haq Abdur Raheem Limbada

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MessaggioInviato: Mer Ago 22, 2012 10:25 pm    Oggetto: Rispondi citando

Legacy of Hakeem ul Ummah Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi R.A
Shaykh al-Islam Hadrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

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