Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Education in Pre-Colonial India

courtesy of ilmgate.org

Some Aspects of the Muslim Educational System in Pre-Colonial India

By Amer Bashir

The aim of this paper is to bring to light some of the hitherto less known aspects of the Muslim Educational System in pre-colonial India. By pre-colonial India, we refer to the time from the advent of Islam in India in the beginning of the eighth century CE up to the consolidation of colonial rule in the middle of the eighteenth century.[1] This short paper cannot do justice to all the details of the Muslim Educational System during this period. Therefore, we shall confine ourselves to only some aspects of it. These include the evolution of the curriculum over the centuries, and general contours of the educational system. We will also be challenging some conventional theories. These include the notion that before the coming of the press, books were in short supply in India. The other is that hadith was little known in India until the coming of Shah Wali Allah (d. 1762). We will be presenting individual incidents which we feel to be representative of a broader trend and from these we shall draw general conclusions.

During the period under study Muslim rule gradually extended from Sindh to include the whole of Northern India until it became one of the three major Muslim powers of that time under the Great Mughals,[2] Ottoman Turkey and Safavid Iran being the other two. Such a strong and vast empire required a strong administrative structure which in turn required an effective system of education. As we shall see later, education was sufficiently sought after, and provided for during this time, such that India at that time could favorably compare and often compete with the central lands of Islam in the field of scholarship.[3]


We begin our analysis with looking at the position of knowledge and education in Islam. Numerous Qur’anic verses and Prophetic traditions establish the centrality of knowledge in Islam. The verses include “Are those who know and those who do not know alike?” (39:9); the first revelation “Read in the name of your Lord who created” (96:1); and the prayer taught in the Qur’an, “Say (O Muhammad), My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” (20:114). Similarly, the Prophetic traditions (ahadith) exhorting people to seek knowledge are also well known. Examples include the famous tradition in which the Prophet is reported to have said, “It is obligatory upon every Muslim to seek knowledge.”[4] Similarly, al-Tirmidhi has reported a hadith in which the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The excellence of a scholar upon the worshiper is like my excellence over the lowest one amongst you.”[6] This emphasis upon knowledge and education has been taken for granted in Muslim societies since the beginning of Islam.

The religious basis for the pursuit of knowledge resulted in defining the objective of education as al-fawz bi al-sa‘adah fi al-darayn i.e. to succeed through bliss in the world and the hereafter.

This in turn implied that education should be acquired

  1. To understand the will of God and to lead one’s life according to it.
  2. To inculcate Islamic values in oneself.
  3. To cultivate cultured behavior in oneself.[7]

As can be seen from these objectives, acquiring knowledge was considered a sacred duty. It was the sole means to success. Knowledge (ilm) and practice (amal) were inter-linked. Instruction (talim) went hand in hand with training (ta’dib). The traditional Islamic concept of education was, thus, holistic as understood at that time. Muslim scholars had divided knowledge into two parts, the fardh ‘ayn (individually obligatory) and the fardh kifayah (collectively obligatory); but there was no strict separation between the religious and the secular sciences. Both formed part of an integrated whole.


As we have seen above, Islam has placed considerable emphasis upon knowledge. Because of this we find that, historically, the general attitude of Muslims, throughout the world, towards knowledge, scholars and students had been that of reverence. In every land, there were to be found a significant number of people who had dedicated themselves to learning and/or teaching. At the same time, the general public considered it an act of worship to help the scholars and the students. This public attitude coupled with safety of the roads maintained by stable and strong Muslim governments, enabled people to move across great distances in search of knowledge. In spite of the crude means of conveyance, people were constantly on the move; students setting out to learn, teachers traveling to teach. Ghulam ‘Ali Azad Bilgirami (d. 1785) writes in his book Ma’athir al-Kiram, which is a historical account of sixteenth/seventeenth century Mughal India, that:

Seekers of knowledge travel in multitudes from one place to another. Wherever, the situation is agreeable, they get busy in learning…. The well-to-do people of each town take care of these seekers of knowledge and consider it a great honor to serve them.[8]

The teachers occupied a high position in society. Though their emoluments were not always great, they commanded universal respect and confidence. Gilani mentions a number of incidents when the teachers, in spite of their poverty, refused to accept any monetary help from others; and whatever help or gift was accepted, the giver always considered it to be an honor for his gift to have been accepted.[9] This attitude was widespread throughout the period under review. Even absolutist monarchs showed deference to the ‘ulama and the Sufis. Nizami has also mentioned several incidents of ‘ulama and Sufis refusing royal gifts even while suffering from abject poverty.[10] For many, poverty was a chosen path and the royal gifts were seen as undoing years of patient hard work.


The main institutions for teaching and learning during the period of Muslim rule in India were maktabs and madrasahs,[11] mosques and khanqahs (Sufi centers), and private houses. Almost every mosque served as an elementary school. However, a large number of eminent scholars and men of letter taught independently and even supported the students who came to them to study. This then was the foundation upon which the whole system was built; the teacher and the student. The issue of budgetary allocations for school buildings and provision of other services was not the top most priority for these people. What was most important was the existence of a sincere teacher and a sincere student. If these two were obtaining, other things could be improvised. Azad has mentioned a famous teacher of his hometown Bilgiram, Mir Mubarak. He taught there for years but throughout this time, he was based in the verandah of a certain noble of the town. Hundreds came and studied from him but he continued to operate from that verandah.[12]

At the same time, the state was not negligent to matters of education. Kings as well as local Nawabs and other well-to-do people considered it an act of virtue to build maktabs, madrasahs and to support teachers and students. We find a network of such institutions; one-man schools as well as larger more organized affairs; scattered throughout the length and breadth of India. All three levels viz. elementary, secondary, higher, were catered for. However, no one level dominated in any one institution. Private houses were being used to provide basic elementary education but at the same time could be seen to provide advanced studies to those interested. In fact, this lack of bureaucratic uniformity was this system’s greatest strength. The system reflected the needs of the people. It accommodated the grassroots desires and ambitions of people regarding education. Thus, we find huge well-funded, well-organized madrasahs existing side by side with one man schools operating out of private houses.[13] The student had the liberty of choosing which teacher to study from. Problems of admissions and school discipline were rare. The focus was on the real thing: education; with very little squabbling over the means to acquire it.

Muslim rulers also patronized scholars. Amongst the earliest examples is that of the famous theologian Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209). He was also a great philosopher and expert in many Islamic sciences. He was patronized by many rulers. Among these was Shihab al-Din Ghauri (1206), the founder of Muslim rule in India proper. It is reported about him that he had al-Razi stay in his camp wherever he went. Al-Razi was the official prayer leader and delivered sermons and lectures in the camp.[14]


Muslims first reached India as conquerors in the beginning of the eighth century. The intellectual climate of their Arab homeland was extended to Sindh, the portion of India that had been conquered. At this stage we find an active participation of Sindh based scholars in the field of hadith. Their names appear in the chains of transmission of ahadith that were later on recorded by other hadith masters. Some of their names and works have also been mentioned by ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Hasani in his al-Thaqafah al-Islamiyyah fi al-Hind.[15]

However, this period lasted for only four centuries and Muslim rule was confined to Sindh and Multan (southern Punjab). Beginning towards the end of the tenth century, Muslims began to enter India from the North-West in successive waves, each time extending their territories even further towards North and Central India. Along with each invading army, and on their own as well, came ‘ulama and Sufis. Both had a role to play in the spread of Islamic knowledge in India. Major cities in the newly acquired territories quickly turned into centers of learning. Initially, Multan, then Lahore and finally Delhi became the pre-eminent centre of learning in North India.[16]

This second period starting from the end of the tenth century lasted until the last quarter of the fifteenth century. During this time, India benefited enormously from an otherwise unmitigated disaster. The Mongol hordes that ravaged Central Asia, Afghanistan and Khorasan forced many of the scholarly families based there to migrate to other countries. India was the top destination for them. Not a day passed but a noteworthy scholar would arrive in Delhi with camel loads of books. The Indian rulers were fully aware of the worth of the newcomers. They made them feel extremely welcome. Every newcomer was given a post or a stipend or an estate to support himself and his family. Thus, the nascent Muslim community of North India benefitted from a continuous supply of scholars and books.

During this period, the education system in North India consisted of three stages:

At the first stage, as has been the practice throughout Muslim history in all Islamic lands, a child’s education began with the Qur’an. Each locality had teachers who specialized in tajwid, the art of recitation of the Qur’an. It is mentioned about Nizam al-Din Awliya (d. 1325), the great Chishti Sufi saint of Delhi, that he started his education in his hometown, Badaun. This began with learning how to read the Qur’an. His teacher was a freed slave who had converted from Hinduism to Islam and knew the seven major recitations of the Qur’an.[17] After Qur’an, students would normally move on to Persian, the official language of the country. Most of the major works of Persian prose and poetry were studied. These included the works of major writers such as Sa‘di, Hafiz, Salman Saoji, Anwari, and others.[18] The education of the general population normally stopped at this level. However, it seems reasonable to assume that some elementary Arabic was also taught at this stage because the students were expected to understand the Arabic phrases that were often used in Persian books and regular conversation. We also find people with only basic education being able to freely quote from the Qur’an and Prophetic traditions.[19]

The second stage was dedicated to an intensive study of the Arabic language as well as fiqh. Some of the books taught at this stage included: Kafiyah and Mufassal for Arabic grammar; and Mukhtasar al-Quduri and Majma‘ al-Bahrayn for Hanafi fiqh (Jurisprudence). Later on, Mufassal gave way to Sharh Jami and Sharh Wiqayah replaced Majma‘ al-Bahrayn.[20] Education up to this level was considered sufficient for those wanting to engage in teaching, preaching, etc. and entitled one to be called a danishmand (wise man) or a mawlawi. Studies at this level would correspond to the fourth year of study in the present-day eight year Dars-e-Nizami.

In the third stage, also called fadhilat, advanced books of each science were studied. These included Kashshaf and Madarik for tafsir (Qur’anic Exegesis), Mishkat al-Masabih and Mashariq al-Anwar for hadith, al-Hidayah for Hanafi fiqh, and Usul al-Bazdawi for usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence). Along with these, major works in the various branches of balaghah (rhetoric) were also studied. The one who completed this stage was called a fadhil.

As can be seen from this brief outline, rational sciences and kalam (dialectics) were not paid much attention in the regular curriculum. Only a few basic texts of logic and kalam such as al-Qutbi and Sharh as-Sahaif were studied.[21] In fact, the general attitude amongst the ‘ulama towards these is best summed up in this statement of Fatawa al-Tatarkhania, a fatwa collection compiled during the fourteenth century:

The issues of ‘ilm al-kalam lead to new dissentions (fitnahs) and innovations and cause deterioration of faith; (and) the ones who normally engage in it are either less-intelligent or are seeking to dominate rather than seeking the truth.[22]

This all changed towards the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century. During this third period which lasted until the beginning of the eighteenth century, logic, philosophy, and kalam got new impetus. At this time, many students of Sharif Jurjani and Sa‘d al-Din Taftazani moved to India and brought with them new books on grammar, rhetoric, kalam and fiqh.[23] Later, Fathullah Shirazi came to India from Iran and brought with him works of Dawwani, Mulla Sadra and Mirza Jan. These works were readily accepted by Indians and before long these became part and parcel of the curriculum.[24] Again during this period, purpose built institutions existed side by side with individualized private instruction.

The fourth period can be said to have begun from the early part of eighteenth century lasting until the founding of Dar al-‘Ulum at Deoband in 1866. This period is characterized by the presence of two very important personalities. Each of them contributed to education in his own way. One is Shah Wali Allah of Delhi and the other is Nizam al-Din Sihalvi of Lucknow (d. 1748). Wali Allah focused on the teaching of hadith especially the Sihah Sittah (the six major collections of hadith viz. Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Jami‘ Tirmidhi, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan al-Nisa’i and Sunan Ibn Majah) and al-Muwatta of Malik. Later on, his son Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, operating from his base in Delhi, helped to popularize it throughout India.

Sihalvi based at Farangi Mahal in Lucknow focused on developing a comprehensive curriculum which came to be called Dars-e-Nizami, after him. Sihalvi focused more on the ma‘qulat (rational sciences) and fiqh than on the manqulat (transmitted sciences). In fact, an examination of this curriculum shows that it included ten books on logic, five on dialectics and three on philosophy while only a portion from two works of tafsir and one book of hadith were studied.[25] This curriculum proved extremely popular because of its ability to prepare students for independent study. Even the Shi‘ites of Lucknow came to the Sunni school of Farangi Mahal to study because of the reputation of this curriculum at producing well-rounded and rational, educated individuals.

Although, our period of research ends here, however, let us state this much. Wali Allah’s curriculum and Sihalvi’s curriculum represented two extremes in their emphasis upon the transmitted and the rational sciences, respectively. Quite a number of people took advantage of both the curricula but there was still no single unified curriculum. That came about with the founding of the Dar al-‘Ulum at Deoband in 1866. The curriculum adopted at Dar al-‘Ulum, although still referred to as Dars-e-Nizami, was a combination of the two. On the one hand, rational sciences were studied in almost as much detail as Nizam al-Din had envisaged; and on the other hand, Wali Allah’s emphasis on hadith was also incorporated so that during the last year of study, the Sihah Sittah, as well as the Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar of al-Tahawi, and the al-Muwattas of Malik and Muhammad were studied in their totality.


The prevalent idea among the vast majority of Indo-Pakistani ‘ulama is that hadith was historically a neglected science in India. It was only with the coming of Wali Allah that this changed. The unique position that Wali Allah occupies in Indian Muslim intellectual history has meant that his supporters tend to sideline the important contributions made by others before him and during his time.

Regarding the contributions of Indian ‘ulama to hadith, we have to keep Indian history in perspective. Muslims came to regard India proper (Sindh & Multan being the exception) as their home only after the coming to power of Qutb al-Din Aybak in 1206. Indian Muslims’ contributions should be examined keeping this in mind. By this time, all the major works of Hadith had already been compiled. It was too late for Indians to form part of al-Bukhari’s chain of transmitters. They could not have taken part in the formative period of the hadith sciences. Sindh, which was Islamized earlier on, did take part in these activities and was the exception. Later Indians, however, engaged in those pursuits that were still possible. They compiled newer collections based upon the original collections. They learned the hadith sciences, memorized texts with their chains and taught these to others.

In this regard, a prominent example is that of Hasan al-Saghani al-Hindi (d. 1252). He was the Indian ambassador to the Abbasid court in Baghdad. Upon orders of the then Abbasid caliph al-Mustansir Billah, he compiled Mashariq al-Anwar, a collection of 2246 ahadith from the two Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim. The caliph himself studied this book from him. For many centuries after that, this book was an integral part of the curriculum of Islamic madrasahs. Numerous commentaries were written on it by ‘ulama in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Hijaz. It was held in such high esteem that Sultan Muhammad ibn Tughlaq is reported to have placed it side by side with the Qur’an while taking oath of allegiance from his officers.[26]

There are many other examples from each of the succeeding centuries as well as some from the previous ones which show that learning hadith and teaching it to others was very much a part of the educational system. There was Isma‘il Muhaddith (d. 1056) who was based in Lahore and had dedicated himself to teaching the various Islamic sciences including hadith.[27] Then there were Shaykh Bahlul of Delhi and Mufti Muhammad of Lahore, both from the time of Akbar (c. sixteenth century). Both were well-known for their expertise in hadith.[28] Mufti Muhammad used to teach Sahih Bukhari and Mishkaat al-MasabiÍ.

Also from the sixteenth century is Mir Murtaza Sharifi, the grandson of Mir Sayyid Sharif Jurjani. He left Shiraz to go to Makkah and learned hadith from ibn Hajar al-Makki and got ijazah (permission/license) from him to teach it to others. He came to settle down in Agra and passed away during the reign of Akbar.[29] Then there was Hafiz Daraz Peshawari who had learned hadith from his mother. This lady had written a commentary on Sahih Bukhari in Farsi.[30] Moreover, it is mentioned about Muhammad Farrukh, the grandson of Ahmad Sirhindi, that he had memorized 70,000 ahadith along with their chains and texts and their strengths and weaknesses.[31]

This devotion to ÍadÊth was not confined to North India alone. Gujarat in western India is situated opposite the Arabian Peninsula and therefore, has enjoyed a closer relationship with the Arab peninsula from the beginning. Prominent ‘ulama such as ‘Ali Muttaqi (d. c. 1568) and his students Muhammad ibn Tahir Patni (d. 1578) and ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Muttaqi (d. 1592) were in the forefront in the science of hadith. They flourished in Gujarat and Makkah and from there, their influence extended to various parts of the world. In Delhi, ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s student ‘Abd al-Haqq (d. 1642) was active in disseminating hadith. He wrote important commentaries on the major works of hadith. He was followed by his son Nur al-Haqq, who similarly, was quite active in serving the hadith sciences.

In South India, we find the sixteenth century scholar Bhikari Kakorvi who wrote a book on the principles of hadith, titled al-Minhaj.[32] In Zaidpur in eastern India, Maulana ‘Abd al-Awwal (d. 1560) had written a commentary on Sahih Bukhari, titled Faydh al-Bari.[33] Even Azad, more famous for the historical works that he wrote, had written a commentary on Sahih Bukhari, titled Dhaw’ al-Dharari.[34] In Kashmir, there was Mulla Inayat Allah Kashmiri (d. 1713). He had taught Sahih Bukhari thirty six times.[35] And then in the nineteenth century, we find Rahmat Allah Ilahabadi who had memorized the six books of hadith (Sihah Sittah).[36]

The rulers also took active part in patronizing hadith sciences. It is mentioned about Sultan Mahmud Shah (d. 1397) of the South Indian Bahmani kingdom that he had set aside special stipends for the scholars of hadith so that they could stay engaged in their scholarly pursuits without having to worry about earning their living.[37]


Sufis enjoy perhaps the worst reputation in Islamic scholarly circles. Much of this stems from the behavior and statements of ignorant Sufis. This then leads to a blanket condemnation of all Sufis including the classical giants of tasawwuf. Historical evidence points in a different direction. It would be helpful to consider here the case of some Sufis and their attitudes towards education. In fact, in the second half of the thirteenth century, Delhi saw the founding of the khanqah of the famous Chishti saint, Nizam al-Din Awliya. Not only had Nizam al-Din studied the above-mentioned Mashariq al-Anwar from cover to cover but also knew the entire collection by heart.[38] The best source of information about him is his utterances (malfuzat) that were recorded by his disciple Amir Hasan Sijzi (d. 1336) in his famous work Fawa’id al-Fu’ad.[39] Even a cursory glance at this collection will show that Nizam al-Din had a thorough understanding of hadith and fiqh. And this in spite of the fact that he was busy training his Sufi disciples and did not have time to be actively involved in the intellectual life of Delhi.

Another incident is worth considering. It is mentioned about a certain Akhi Siraj who had moved at a young age from his native Lakhnauti to Delhi to benefit from Nizam al-Din Awliya. He lived in Nizam al-Din’s khanqah for many years. Once, someone recommended his name to Nizam al-Din for successorship. Nizam al-Din replied that Siraj was not educated and therefore, not qualified to be a successor. Upon this, one of the scholar disciples of Nizam al-Din, Mawlana Fakhr al-Din Zarradi volunteered to teach Siraj and fulfill this important condition for him. He accomplished this in six months.[40] This shows the erudition and skill of Zarradi as well as the acumen of Siraj to learn. Above all, this incident shows the central importance that Sufis gave to education.

One could argue that the sources for all such incidents are hagiographical accounts whose sole purpose is to glorify the personality of the person being written about. Even if we were to accept this charge, although there is enough reason not to, even then, the fact that the biographers considered acquisition of knowledge to be praiseworthy shows the status of knowledge and education in the Muslim society of that time.


The scarcity of books in India before the coming of the press has been made quite an issue of. Some historians, as evidence of this claim, have cited an incident involving Wali Allah’s son, Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. It is reported that when ‘Abd al-‘Aziz began writing his Persian commentary on the Qur’an (Fath al-‘Aziz), he could not even find al-Tafsir al-Kabir of al-Razi.[41] After a desperate search, he finally found it in the library at the Royal Palace in Delhi. This is hard to believe. All of ‘Abd al-‘Aziz works have come down to us. We find him referring directly to classical works of Shafi‘i, Abu Yusuf (the main student of Abu Hanifah), al-Ghazzali, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Taymiya, etc. Some of these works were hard to find even after coming of the press. It is reasonable to assume that someone who had access to such rare works would also have had access to al-Razi’s work. Even if the incident was to be considered true, it cannot be taken to be representative of a general trend. It appears as an exception rather than the rule.

Moreover, Gilani has cited an incident involving Azad’s teacher, Mir Tufayl. Azad writes that once Mir Tufayl went to see the Nawab of Agra. There, a debate ensued about certain linguistic aspects of the Qur’anic verse “and for those who have the power” (2:184). According to Azad even for this relatively minor issue, most major works of tafsir, including al-Razi’s al-Tafsir al-KabÊr, Kashshaf, Baidhawi, and other books of language and rhetoric were consulted.[42]

Mulla Muhib Allah Bihari (d. 1707) is a prominent scholar who flourished during Aurangzeb’s (d. 1707) reign. He is the author of Musallam as-Thubut, a famous work on the principles of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh). A manuscript of the author’s marginalia on this work is available online.[43] In this, he mentions the books that he consulted while writing this book. The list includes all the major works of usul of each of the Sunni schools viz. Usal al-Bazdawi, Usul al-Sarkhasi, Kashf al-Bazdawi, Kashf al-Manar, al-Badi‘ along with its commentaries, al-Tawdhih wa al-Talwih, al-Tahrir along with its commentaries al-Taqrir and al-Taysir, al-Mahsul of al-Razi, al-Ihkam of al-Amidi, Qadhi’s Mukhtasar along with its various glosses, Sharh of al-Abhari, Sharh of Taftazani, gloss of Fazil Mirza Jan, al-Rudud, al-‘Unqud, al-Minhaj of al-Baidhawi along with its commentary, Mukhtasar of ibn al-HÉjib and Muntaha al-Usul. This is an exhaustive list. If these books were available to someone working in Bihar, it is quite reasonable to assume that they would have been available in the capital Delhi as well.

In fact, not only were books easily available during the period under study, rather it was not such a major issue. There are two important reasons for that.

Firstly, there was always a professional group of copyists in each locality who were called warraq (scribe) or nussakh (copyist). They kept track of all the books available in their area as well as other cities and upon demand they could quickly make copies of the desired book.[44] Secondly, amongst the general educated public most people could write quite fast. About the first contention, the following incident is quite telling.

‘Abd al-Qadir Badayuni (d. 1625) was an accomplished scholar and man of letters who was attached to Akbar’s court. Although working under Akbar, he had become thoroughly disgusted with Akbar’s eclecticism. Even though an officially approved history of Akbar’s reign had been written by Abul Fazl titled Akbar Namah, Badayuni felt that the record needed to be set right. So, in secret, he wrote his historical work titled Muntakhab at-Tawarikh, in which he showed the darker side of Akbar’s reign. He could not make it public during his own lifetime for fear of severe official reaction. After his death, some copyists got hold of it and before long its copies were to be found all over the country. By this time, Jahangir, the son of Akbar, had ascended the throne. He tried to ban the book. However, in spite of his absolutist powers, Jahangir could not take this book out of circulation. Every now and then, a report would be received that this book was seen in this town or that city.[45] This can be reasonably attributed to the easy availability of copyists who made sure that they had access to books that people wanted. In fact, this also explains the slow spread of the press in India. The effective system of copyists had relieved people of the need for a printing press.

About the second contention, i.e., the writing speed of educated people, let us present some incidents.

Azad has mentioned about a certain scholar Shaykh Kamal:

Text books of sarf (Morphology), nahw (Syntax), mantiq (Logic), hikmah (Philosophy), ma‘ani, bayan, fiqh, usul, and tafsir, all of these, he copied with his own hand. And for every book, he wrote its gloss in such a way that the text did not require the commentary anymore and the commentary did not require the text anymore.[46]

Regarding Shaykh Nagauri, the father of Abul Fazl and Fayzi, Azad writes, “He wrote 500 volumes with his own hands.”[47] Similarly, it is mentioned in the account of a certain Shaykh Junayd Hisari that he could copy the whole Qur’an in three days and that too with the diacritical marks.[48]

To close this topic, let us mention what ‘Abd al-Wahhab Muttaqi has mentioned regarding his teacher ‘Ali Muttaqi. This has been quoted by ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s student ‘Abd al-Haq Dehlavi in his Akhbar al-Akhyar. ‘Ali Muttaqi had moved to Makkah and was the foremost scholar of that city. ‘Abd al-Wahhab mentions about him that he had a habit of copying important books and sending them out to all those regions where such books were unlikely to be found and people would need them. Writing books was a religious vocation for him.[49]


A systematic study of Islamic intellectual heritage (of India as well as the rest of the Muslim world) is essential for any scholar of Islamic civilization. In the preceding account, we have tried to give a glimpse of the educational system of Muslim India. This is just a preliminary study. The abundance of historical evidence seems to suggest a very well-organized and organic system of education. Madrasahs, maktabs, mosques, private houses, all kinds of institutions existed in harmony. The options available to any sincere seeker of knowledge were many. Seeking knowledge and imparting it was a sacred exercise and not a commercial enterprise. The general attitude of the public towards knowledge and those who engaged in it was fundamental to the flourishing of this system. General interest in the various Islamic sciences meant that all segments of the population participated in the cultivation and dissemination of Islamic sciences. Sufis thus placed high value on seeking a proper Islamic education. Similarly, Indian scholars paid close attention to the hadith sciences. Many of them rose to become pre-eminent hadith scholars known for their erudition throughout the Muslim world. Moreover, the curriculum that had evolved over the years maintained a healthy balance between the secular and the religious. There were differences in terms of emphasis on the rational vs. the transmitted sciences. However, the overall curriculum was still relatively holistic. In short, Muslim India matched the central lands of Islam in terms of its educational advancement and achievements.


Al-Bayhaqi, Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn. (1410 AH). Vol. 2, Shu‘ab al-Iman [Bracnhes of Faith]. Bayrut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah.

Bihari, Muhib Allah. Hashiyat Musallam al-Thubut [Marginalia on the Flawless Evidence]. MS. Or. 350. University of Leipzig Library, downloaded from Usul al-Fiqh wa al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah [Principles of Jurisprudence and Legal Maxims], al-Mustafa min al-Makhtutat al-‘Arabiyyah wa al-Islamiyyah [Chosen Arabic and Islamic Manuscripts]. Retrieved August 16, 2010. http://mostafamakhtot.blogspot.com/search/label/16%20أصول%20الفقه%20والقواعد%20الفقهية.

Dehlavi, ‘Abd al-Haqq. (n.d.). Akhbar al-Akhyar [Reports of the Select]. (Subhan Mahmud and Muhammad Fazil, Trans.). Karachi: Madinah Publishing Company.

Gilani, Sayyid Manazir Ahsan. (n.d.). Pak-o-Hind main Musalmanon ka Nizam e Ta‘lim-o-Tarbiyyat [The educational system of Muslims in Pakistan and India]. Lahore: Maktaba Rahmaniyya.Jaffar, S.M. (1972). Education in Muslim India. Delhi: Idara Adbiyat-e-Dilli.

Al-Hasani, ‘Abd al-Hayy. (1983). Al-Thaqafah al-Islamiyyah fi al-Hind [Islamic Civilization in India]. Damascus: Mujamma‘ al-Lugha al-‘Arabiyyah bi Dimashq.

Jaffar, S.M. (1972). Education in Muslim India. Delhi: Idara Adabiyyat-e-Dilli.

Keller, Nuh Ha Mim. (1997). Copyrights in Islam. Retrieved August 17, 2010. http://www.shadhiliteachings.com/tariq/?act=article&id=6.

Mubarakpuri, Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abd al-Rahim. (n.d.). Vol. 7, Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi bi Sharh Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi [Gift of the Skilful, a commentary on Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi]. Ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad ‘Uthman. Bayrut: Dar al-Fikr.

Muhammad Ishaq. (1976). India’s Contribution to the Study of Hadith Literature. Dhaka, University of Dacca.

Muhammad Shafi‘. (2002). Futuh al-Hind [Conquests of India]. Karachi: Idarat al-Ma‘arif.

Al-Nadvi & Moinuddin, Survey of Muslim Education: India, (Cambridge: The Islamic Academy, 1985), 5.

Nizami, Khaliq Ahmad. (1961). Some Aspects of Religion & Politics in India during the 13th century. Bombay: Asia Publishing.

Nizami, Khaliq Ahmad. (1982). Islami Tehzib ka Asar Hindustan par [The effect of Islamic Civilization on India]. Lucknow, Majlis Tehqiqat-o-Nashriat Islam.

Sijzi, Amir Hasan. (1996). Fawa’id al-Fu’ad [Benefits of the Heart]. (Ziya-ul-Hasan Faruqi, Trans.). New Delhi: DK Printworld.

[1] All the dates mentioned in this paper are CE (common era) dates unless otherwise noted.

[2] “Great Mughals” is a term used to refer to the first six Mughal Emperors of India. These are, in chronological order, Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Awrangzeb. These are the first and the greatest of all Mughal Emperors. In all, they reigned from 1526 to 1707 with a fifteen year interregnum from 1539 till 1555. The empire reached its zenith with Awrangzeb (reigned from 1658-1707) and after his death began her decline which ended with the capture of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar at the hands of the British in 1857.

[3] S.M. Jaffar, Education in Muslim India, (Delhi: Idara Adbiyat-e-Dilli, 1972), viii.

[4] Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman, (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1410AH), 2:253.

[6] Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abd al-Rahim Mubarakpuri, Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi bi Sharh Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad ‘Uthman, (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.), 7:456.

[7] Al-Nadvi & Moinuddin, Survey of Muslim Education: India, (Cambridge: The Islamic Academy, 1985), 5.

[8] Sayyid Manazir Ahsan Gilani, Pak-o-Hind main Musalmanon ka Nizam-e-Ta‘lim-o-Tarbiyyat. (Lahore: Maktaba Rahmaniyya, n.d.) 19.

[9] Ibid., 24.

[10] Khaliq Ahmad Nizami, Some Aspects of Religion & Politics in India during the 13th century, (Bombay: Asia Publishing, 1961), 152-156.

[11] It should be noted that madrasah refers to an institute which offers a comprehensive multi-year course in Islamic studies. It is different from a maktab which refers to part-time schools that offer basic instruction in reading the Qur’an and basics of Islam.

[12] Gilani, 21.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Muhammad Shafi‘, Futuh al-Hind, (Karachi: Idarat al-Ma‘arif, 2002), 60-61.

[15] ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Hasani, al-Thaqafah al-Islamiyyah fi al-Hind, (Damascus: Mujamma‘ al-Lugha al-‘Arabiyyah bi Dimashq, 1983), 135.

[16] Ibid., 9-10.

[17] Gilani, 139. Also cited by Nizami in Khaliq Ahmad Nizami, Islami Tehzib ka Asar Hindustan par, (Lucknow, Majlis Tehqiqat-o-Nashriat-e-Islam, 1982), 42.

[18] Gilani, 141.

[19] Al-Nadvi & Moinuddin, 4.

[20] Ibid., 5.

[21] Gilani, 151.

[22] Ibid., 155.

[23] Al-Nadvi, 6.

[24] Ibid., 7.

[25] Al-Nadvi & Moinuddin, 10.

[26] Muhammad Ishaq, India’s Contribution to the Study of Hadith Literature, (Dhaka, University of Dacca, 1976), 218-221.

[27] Ishaq, 45-46.

[28] Gilani, 129.

[29] Ishaq, 99.

[30] Gilani, 130. For more information about women muhaddithat (traditionists) throughout Muslim history, see Akram Nadvi’s up-coming 40 volume work Al-Muhaddithat: Women Scholars in Islam. Its one volume introduction (muqaddimah) has recently been published by Interfaith Publications, UK.

[31] Gilani, 128.

[32] Ishaq, 124.

[33] Ibid., 122.

[34] Ibid, 163.

[35] Ishaq, 160 and Gilani, 128.

[36] Gilani, 128.

[37] Ibid., 134 and Ishaq, 103.

[38] Gilani, 119. See Nizami, Some Aspects…, 347 for the ijazat namah (license to teach) that Nizam al-Din received from his teacher after completing Mashariq al-Anwar.

[39] Amir Hasan Sijzi, Fawa’id al-Fu’ad, translated from Persian into Urdu by Ziya-ul-Hasan Faruqi, (New Delhi: DK Printworld, 1996).

[40] Nizami, Islami Tehzib…, 43.

[41] Gilani, 38.

[42] Ibid., 57.

[43] Muhib Allah Bihari, Hashiyat Musallam al-Thubut, MS. Or. 350, p. 1, University of Leipzig Library, downloaded from “UÎËl al-Fiqh wa al-QawÉ‘id al-Fiqhiyyah,” al-MuÎÏafÉ min al-MakhÏËÏÉt al-‘Arabiyyah wa al-IslÉmiyyah, <http://mostafamakhtot.blogspot.com/search/label/16%20أصول%20الفقه%20والقواعد%20الفقهية> (accessed 16 August, 2010).

[44] During the period under study, copyrights violation was not an issue. There was no legal hindrance to making copies of other people’s books. Today, the opinion is divided among traditional scholars regarding copyrights. Some insist that they have no basis in Islamic law. Others approve of them. For a sampling, see Nuh Ha Mim Keller, “Copyrights in Islam,” Shadhili Teachings, <http://www.shadhiliteachings.com/tariq/?act=article&id=6> (accessed 17 August, 2010).

[45] Gilani, 59.

[46] Ibid., 62.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid., 63.

[49] See ‘Abd al-Haqq Dehlavi, Akhbar al-Akhyar, translated from Persian into Urdu by Subhan Mahmud and Muhammad Fazil, (Karachi: Madinah Publishing Company, n.d.), 529.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Muslim Viewpoint on Why Juan Williams Should Have Been Fired

Juan Williams, a long time NPR and Fox contributor was recently fired by NPR because of a comment he made on the O'Reilly Factor.

He told O'Reilly, "When I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

The whole ignoramus establishment of pseudo-conservative opportunistic washed out Republican imitation-tea-product Fox-people has started to wail and scream so much that the US media sounds like a room full of 8 year old children whose puppy got ran over by a car.

Firstly, this is not a free speech issue. The man basically got fired for going on record for being a bigot. No one arrested him, fined him, or took any legal action against him; in fact, it was he who broke the rules of his contract with NPR through these comments as well as other offensive and bigoted comments which he made in the past in which he said that the first lady was like "Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress," as well as a long history of being smugly anti-Muslim.

Why was his comment bigoted? Why do I call him a bigot?

His comment was bigoted because it demonstrated that he was prepared to judge individuals from a very non-homogeneous group based on the actions of an overwhelming fringe minority. This is something that any ten-year old child can tell you is wrong.

To then smart off and act like its okay because he somehow believes that the "world" is at war with Islam and that is a "fact," is like me saying that:

Black people make me uncomfortable as they are mostly criminals. Black people make up a disproportionate amount of the prison population, and that is a "fact."

White people make me uncomfortable as they are probably meth addicts. White people make up a disproportionately high percentage of crystal met addicts, and that is a "fact."

Jews make me angry as they manipulate the economy to make money at the expense of regular Americans. Jews make up a disproportionately high percentage of Wall Street executives and are disproportionately richer than normal Americans, and that is a "fact."

Asian drivers make me nervous on the road because they don't know how to drive. The average Asian man will get into more accidents than the average American driver, and that is a "fact."



So fine, Juan Williams said something bigoted. Why do I believe that he is a bigot as a person? I believe he is, because these are exactly the kinds of things that people have been saying about black people, Jews, etc., for decades, and we as a nation have grown to recognize that it is wrong; however, Mr. Williams, despite knowing all of this, has not come clean and apologized for comments that were just plain mean. Note, he has made the defense of claiming that he was only expressing what he honestly felt. I say that not every feeling in your heart is something that you should be socially forgiven for expressing; knowing which feelings to suppress is a skill most people learn when they are children. This skill saves a person from many racist, bigoted, sexually inappropriate, and just plain stupid comments.

Note that most racists nowadays, before they make racist comments will say something like: "I have no problem with Black people. I'm not racist. Its not my fault that they are all drug dealers."

Had the man just apologized, I would have not been so annoyed. But no, he is riding the wave, he signed a two million dollar a year contract with FOX, and what is more, people like Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich are now trying to claim that this is somehow a free speech issue. If it were really a free speech issue, where were these big defenders of free speech when Rick Sanchez, Octavia Nasr, and Helen Thomas were fired for expressing their views? Note, I am not claiming to agree with any or all of the aforementioned people and their different views on different issues, but I will say that their gaffes, in my book, were at about the same level as Mr. Williams. The only difference between them is that they offended a politically more enfranchised, powerful, well-financed and established group, and Mr. Williams took a cheap shot at a demographic which is already down for the kicking.

The most depressing and frustrating part of the "far-right" anti-Islam frenzy is that practicing Muslims are the most socially conservative, staunchly God-believing, natural set of allies that the Republican party could have. If this was really about ideas, values, beliefs and morals, then Republicans would try to forge alliances with Muslims, the demographic, which before 9/11 was the most consistently republican voting bloc in the USA after white males, rather than try to gain cheap mob-frenzy points by exploiting the uneducated working class's lack of information about Islam, fear of terrorism, and the human tendency to act tribalistic when faced with fear.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ramadan of the Saintly Elders

For those of us who have never had the rare opportunity to spend Ramadan in the company of the people of Allah, this article is a glimpse into a world that is different than ours...

Such people as are described in the below article are real. Their students, students' students, and students' students' students are alive and carrying on the practices, exercises, mujahadat, and traditions of the mashayikh to this very day. I have met many of them. Not only that, but Allah has made, in this ummah His awliya' who stand guard at every out post of the dar al-Islam so that such people are spread throughout the earth.

Anyone who doubts that such people exists, needs to step out of the office and see the world, for I testify, that Allah has made many wonders greater, more elegant, graceful, and powerful than Microsoft, Boeing, and Wal-Mart. However, be cautioned that in order to find them you may have to search some hard-to-reach places. You might not find them at the mall, and they might not have enough money to buy a ticket to go to a big "Islamic" convention in Chicago, DC, Toronto, or LA.

Such people eo exist. To carry their shoes is sainthood. To meet them is to be of the elect. To keep relations with them is to make tawbah to Allah. To see them is to be a muslim.

By Allah, the treasures of this ummah are not in its museums, bank vaults, building, arts, sciences, institutions, armies, weapons, music, paintings, or literature. The treasures of this ummah are the hearts of the awliya', and the radiant eyes which act as their windows, may Allah let their lights shine on us, even though we don't deserve it.

The Ramadan of Imam Rashid Ahmad Gangohi

By Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi

I have written in Aap Beeti Vol. 6 under the heading of spiritual exertion that while dictating the practices of Hadrat Rashid Ahmad Gangohi in Ramadan, I wanted to note it down because of its relevance to the subject. There I wrote:

“His extreme exertion in spiritual exercises was such that onlookers felt pity for him. Such was he that in Ramadan, even when his age had advanced beyond seventy, he fasted the whole day. Then in awwabin, instead of six rakats he used to perform twenty rakats during which he never recited less than approximately two juz. So long did he stay in ruku’ and sujud that onlookers thought that he had forgotten himself. Upon finishing this salat, he proceeded homeward to partake of the evening meal. Even during this time he would not remain idle, but en route and waiting for the food etc…, he also finished reciting several juz.

Soon he would commence ‘isha salat and tarawih, which did not take less than an hour or an hour and a quarter at least. Thereafter he would lie down at about half past ten only to rise again at about two o’clock or half past two for tahajjud. At times his attendants and assistants found him performing wudu’ at one o’clock. At this time of the night he used to spend 2 ½ hours to three hours in tahajjud. Sometimes it happened that an attendant would go to him at five o’clock to join him for suhur and would find him in prayer.

After fajr he remained busy reciting wazifas, wirds and engrossed in meditation until eight o’clock or half past eight. Then it was time for the ishraq prayer. Thereafter, for a few hours he would rest.

During this time the mail would arrive and he would begin answering letters and writing fatwas or dictating them. Thereafter it was time for rashid al-duha (chasht), and on performing this salat, he would have his daytime siesta.

After zuhr salat he usually closed the door of his private room and busied himself with the recitation of the Quran until ‘asr. Note that in the year for which this was his practices, he was suffering from extreme old age and various other sicknesses to such an extent that to walk from the toilet to his room – a mere fifteen paces – he became so tired that he had to sit down somewhere along the way to rest. In spite of this condition he never performed fard nor nafl salats sitting down, but remained standing for hours. On several occasions attendants implored him: “Hadrat, today you should perform tarawih while sitting. It seems appropriate.”

He always replied: “No! It is a sign of a lack of courage and perseverance.”

All I can say is this that it is no easy task to be a true follower of him who is reported to have answered:

“Shall I then not be a grateful slave?”

During Ramadan there was a marked increase in his ‘ibadah and exertion especially as far as his recitation of the Quran was concerned. Even when going to and from his house he never spoke. If an estimate of the total amount of his daily recitations in and out of salat is made, it comes to about half a complete recitation of the Quran daily. On the morning of the first day of fasting he used to say:

“From today all noises of conversation shall cease. If any man allows Ramadan to be wasted, it is a great sorrow indeed.”

Now, what was his diet for such severe efforts? So little did he eat for the whole of Ramadan that the total of it all amounted to less than five kilograms of grain. In his biography, Tazkirat Rashid written by his successor (khalifah), Hakim Ishaq, his Ramadan habits are discussed:

“During Ramadan he used to emerge from his private resting place late in the morning. In summer he generally came out about ten o’clock because he used to greatly increase his nafl salat, tilawah of the Quran, and his moments of silence and meditation as compared to other months. In this time he slept very little, spoke very little, only retiring after maghrib for a while to eat something. Initially he himself used to lead all twenty raka‘ahs of tarawih salat and later performed it behind his son, Hafiz Hakim Muhammad Mas‘ud Saheb. After that he performed two long raka‘ahs of nafl salat, sometimes standing up and sometimes sitting down, thereafter remaining seated for a long time facing the qiblah and reciting. Thereafter he performed one sajdat al-tilawah and stood up. From hearing some of the words that he recited softly, I deduced that he would recite Surat al-Mulk, Surat al-Sajdah and Surat al-Dukhan. He usually fasted the ten days of Dhu ‘l-Hijjah, the days of ‘ashurah, and the middle of Sha‘ban.” [Tadhkirat Rashid]

My late father (Mawlana Muhammad Yahya al-Kandhalawi) on many occasions told the following story:

“During Hadrat’s last Ramadan I led the tarawih prayers (for him and his attendants). It so happened that because of some reason or the other, Hadrat’s son, Hakim Muhammad Mas‘ud was unable to perform it.”

For quite some days before the commencement of Ramadan Hadrat told us:

‘Mas‘ud Ahmad Sahib is indisposed and not available to lead the tarawih prayers. Who then is going to recite the Quran for us in tarawih?’

On every occasion I wanted to offer my services and declare my readiness, but out of respect I refrained from doing so. Two days before Ramadan, Hadrat said:

‘Maulwi Yahya Sahib, are you not also a hafiz of the Quran?’

I replied: ‘Yes Hadrat, I am. But I recite the Quran in a Persian tone. You are used to hearing the recitation of Hakim Mas‘ud Ahmad Sahib, who is indeed a fine Qari.’

Hadrat replied: ‘No, I have already heard your recitation. You shall lead in tarawih.’

My father says: “On the first day it was a great burden for me. By way of preparation, I had to recite one and a quarter juz by looking into the Quran. I had memorized the Quran at the age of seven. Thereafter for six months I had to look into the Quran and daily recite one full khatam. And since then I had never looked into the Quran to recite it. The first day, in order to prepare myself properly, I recited 1 ¼ juz from the Quran, but from the second day onwards the fear, nervousness and anxiety disappeared. Thereafter there was no further need to look into the Quran.”

My late father (may Allah fill his resting place with light) was indeed a very good hafiz with tremendous energy to recite the Quran by heart. He had a bookshop where he himself made up the parcels to be posted and wrote the addresses himself. While doing that he was all the time reciting the Quran in audible fashion without ever becoming confused or struggling over the mutashabihat.

Mawlana ‘Ashiq Ilahi writes about him in Tadhkirat Khalil:

“Once upon my request he was invited to Meerut to lead tarawih prayers and recite the Quran in Ramadan. I saw that wherever he went, he was always busy reciting by himself so that he finished a whole khatam daily. When it was time for iftar, he would be reading: qul a‘uthu bi rabbi al-nas…”

When he arrived by rail at Meerut it was ‘isha time. Being one continuously in a state of wudu’, he entered the masjid and immediately proceeded to the prayer area to lead the prayers and in three hours recited ten juz so clearly and without any struggle over difficult patches that it was as if the Quran was an open book in front of him. So comfortable was his pace of recitation that he completed a full khatam of the Quran in three nights and departed. So good a hafiz was he that there was no need to revise his reading beforehand; neither was there any need for someone to stand behind him and listen with a view to correct if needed.”

My father also used to say about this visit to Meerut: “When the word got around in Meerut that a certain man was coming to complete a full khatam of the Quran in salat within three days, thirty or forty huffaz arrived from far and wide to stand behind him and test him.”

My late father never had trouble with fever in Ramadan like myself. On the invitations and insistence of friends, he often went to their places to finish a khatam in two or at the most three nights before returning home. In masjids he generally did it in three nights and in other places of worship he generally did so in two or even in one night. Once on the invitation of the late Shah Zahid Husayn he completed a khatam at Shah Sahib’s house in two nights.

I can still remember his recitation in the Nawab Wali Masjid in Qasabpura, Delhi. A certain Maulwi Nasir al-Din was busy performing tarawih in the Hakim Ishaq Masjid. At that time my father arrived in Delhi from somewhere. He went to rest a little at the resting place of Hakim Ishaq attached to the masjid. It so happened that Mawlvi Nasir al-Din was reciting the 14th juz and making heavy weather, so that he had to be corrected time and again. My father went into the masjid and as soon as Maulwi Nasir al-Din performed the next salam, he asked him to vacate the spot, and he himself took over. In the next sixteen raka’ahs he recited sixteen juz. No doubt, the musallis must have found the going tiring and exhausting. But it is a fact that people are more pleased with finishing the Quran quickly than they are worried about a bit of hardship. To have been able to finish the Quran on the 12th night made them forget their exhaustion.

I can also remember his recitation of the Quran in the house of Ammi Bi in Kandhla. She is Amat al-Rahman, the daughter of Mawlana Muzaffar Husayn, my father’s maternal grandmother who became known as Ammi Bi. In answer to a special request he remained reciting the Quran throughout the night in nafl prayers. Because of the fact that according to us (Hanafis) it is not permissible to have more than four muqtadis in nafl prayers, the ladies behind him had to be changed continuously, while my father continued reciting.

My late uncle (Mawlana Ilyaas) also used to visit Kandhla in Ramadan because of the presence there of Ammi Bi. At such times the Quran khatam used to be completed in a single night. At such times he performed ‘isha salat in the masjid and thereafter go to the house of Ammi Bi to perform tarawih there from after ‘isha until suhur time, thereby completing fourteen or fifteen juz. Mawlana Ra’uf al-Hasan Sahib is the uncle of my late father and the father of my late wife. His story has already been mentioned in Aap Beeti under the heading “Taqwa”. On the 30th of Ramadan he recited from alif lam mim until qul a‘udhu bi rabb al-falaq in one single raka’ah and in the second raka’ah he recited only Surat al-Nas! Then at suhur time he told his mother Ammi bi:

“I have now performed two raka’ah. Will you now perform the other eighteen?”

During all that time his mother listened to the Quran while standing behind him in the salat!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thawr Institute's Comprehensive Guide to Ramadan

Thawr Institute Presents

Thawr Institute’s Comprehensive Guide to Ramadan

Saturday, July 31st Dhuhr - `Isha’

At Thawr’s New Full-Time Location:

4033 Aurora Ave, Seattle, WA 98103

A Day-Long Session Covering the Legal and Spiritual Traditions of the Month of the Qur’an

Guest Speakers Include:

Alim, Hafidh, and Master of the Ten Cannonical Recitations of the Qur’an

Qari Suhayl bin Yusuf Mangera:Detroit, MI

The Walking Madrasah

Shaykh Junayd Kharsani Los Angeles, CA

Local Speakers Include: Shaykhs Fadhl Hasan & Hamzah Maqbul

Sisters are Welcome * Admission is Free * Registration is Required

Register at thawr.org

Speaker Bios:

Qari Suhayl bin Yusuf Mangera

Qari Suhayl Mangera grew up in the United Kingdom. He completed the memorization of the entire Qur’an at Darul-Uloom al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Bury, England. After completing his secondary education, he then travelled to Gujrat, India where he enrolled at the famed Islamic learning institute, Darul Uloom Falah al-Darayn. There, he completed a six-year course in advanced Islamic Studies, culminating in a study of the Sihah Sittah in Hadith.Qari Suhayl graduated in 2005. He was also granted Ijazah in the Qira’at Sab’ah (Seven Recitations) by the world renowned Qari Siddiq (may Allah preserve him).He currently resides in Farmington Hills, MI with his family and three children where he serves as the head Imam and Director of Islamic Studies at the Tawheed Center of Farmington Hills. Shaykh Sohel is also an active member of the UCD (Ulama Council of Detroit).

Shaykh Junayd Kharsani

Shaykh Junaid was born in South Africa in 1975. He memorized the Holy Qur’an at age of 15. His higher studies began at the Madrasah ‘Arabiyyah Islamiyyah in Azaadville, South Africa where he immersed himself in the study of Arabic, fiqh, hadith, the Qur’an, and related sciences. Soon after graduating in 1996, he began teaching hadith and tafsir at Islahul Muslimeen a seminary in Durban. Shaykh Junaid has long been involved in the work of da’wah and has served as a social worker and leader for a number of communities. He is currently Imam at Masjid Jamat Islam in Inglewood, California. He is also the founder of the Riyadhul Uloom Institute in Torrance, CA.

Shaykh Fadhl Hasan

Shaykh Fadhl studied at the Madrasah Arabiyyah Ash-Shafiyah in Gujrat, India for 7 years. He also completed his Hifdh in South Africa. Shaykh Fadhl is distinguished by having met some of the shining luminaries of Islamic knowledge and learning of the past century, including Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Zakariyya Kandhelwi and Shaykh Masihullah Khan of Jalalabad. Being Imam in Bellevue for the better part of a decade, Shaykh Fadhl is one of the senior `Ulama’ in Washington State. As the Imam of the Bellevue Masjid, he teaches Qur’an and tajweed classes in addition to teaching at the Medina Academy. He has worked closely with MSA’s and the community at large. In addition he has been the forefront in leading the Seattle community towards a better understanding of Islam by conducting workshops, lectures, and courses of `ilm.

Shaykh Hamzah Maqbul

Shaykh Hamzah was born in Whittier, CA. He graduated from the University of Washington with a BS in Biochemistry and a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. After graduation, Shaykh Hamzah went on to pursue traditional Islamic studies, which took him to Syria and Egypt where he studied the Arabic language; Morocco, Mauritania, and the UAE, where he studied the madhab of Imam Malik, grammar, usul al-hadith , and the two renditions of the qira’ah of Imam Nafi ‘, Warsh and Qalun; and Pakistan where he had the opportunity to study tafsir, usul al-hadith, hadith, ‘ilm al-rijal and Hanafi fiqh. All of these studies culminated in him receiving an ijazat al-tadris, literally meaning “a license to teach” the classical texts such as the hadith of such books as the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik, the Sihah al-Sittah (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah), and the Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar of Imam al-Tahawi. After his return Shaykh Hamzah has served as an Imam in various localities in the Washington and California areas. These endeavors have lead him to the realization of dispersing Islamic Traditions which have resulted in the establishment of Thawr Institute.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Companions of the Messenger of Allah

There are those whose sole purpose in their claims is to introduce doubt in the beliefs of the Muslims in order to draw them away from their iman toward a twisted heart and twisted mind, full of doubts, suspicions, and negative feelings. It is a quality of the Haqq that it has no likeness and is established on its own qualities and its own consistency. After much study and exposure to different people, I have come to the conclusion that the attack-point of choice for misguiding people, in order to separate them from the din, is the sahabah.

Why the sahabah, may Allah be pleased with them? Because to attack the worship of One Allah is something that will never be successful, neither in the hearts of Muslims or many non-Muslims. To attack the messenger of Allah, sallallahu'alayhi wa sallam, is pointless also, as his love is connected to the love of Allah, in as much as if one were to not love him, he wouldn't be amongst the ranks of the Muslims in the first place; furthermore, if any Muslim were to know of his mubarak sirah they would only increase in their love, until he became more dear to them than life itself.

In fact, to directly attack either of the two would be to inflame the ghayrah of a Muslim. An attack upon either would suddenly and clearly flag one as being a person of misguidance in the eyes of Muslims. It used to be that attacking the companions, may Allah be pleased with them, would be much of the same. However, a combination of a lack of knowledge as well as a lack of the companionship of the people of knowledge, coupled with an age in which anyone who considers anything as sacred is considered 'backwards' have all joined together to allow the poor and unsuspecting and unlearned lay-Muslim to let down his guard when an attack on the sahabah is near.

Once one allows poison to enter his or her heart about the companions of the messenger of Allah, sallallahu'alayhi wa sallam, know that to indict them is to cast a charge against the prophet, that his friends, followers, disciples, wives, children and family. It is really a charge against the prophet himself, may Allah save us from such a blasphemy and misguidance, because you can most surely know someone by knowing who they keep as company. This a stepping stone to the atheism that will surely follow, as one who doesn't believe in Muhammadun Rasulullah, cannot believe in La ilaha ill-Allah.

I know it may sound like a trite and bland topic, but had I not seen and heard of people losing their iman on the road of disrespecting the sahabah I would not make a point of writing this. The article below is a wonderful short essay written by Shaykh Taha Karan in Cape Town. Shaykh Taha graduated at the top of his class in Dar al-Ulum Deoband in India. He also spent time studying afterward in Egypt, and he runs one of the most intellectually active seminaries in South Africa, possibly the world. He shows by it, how, using a little bit of common sense, one can navigate through the strange and unbelievable types of doubts and whisperings that the people of misguidance throw at the people of belief in order to shake their sound faith in the teachings of Allah and His messenger, sallallahu'alayhi wasallam.

My request to my brothers and sisters in Islam is as follows. Firstly, you should try to read a book which tells about the companions, like The Men Around the Messenger of Allah and Shaykh Yusuf Kandehlawi's masterpiece work (which has been translated into okay English) Hayat al-Sahabah. Secondly, if anyone should whisper any sort of poison regarding even the smallest of matters regarding the sahabah into anyone's heart, then please call upon one of the noble people of learning or even this faqir in order to seek an antidote for the doubt that may linger after hearing something bad; maybe a God-fearing person can administer an antidote for whatever ails the hearts, as is the task with which Allah, Most High, dispatched them.

Finally, I would like to say that my comments are not aimed at any specific group or sect, rather towards the generality of people who don't have the utmost of love and respect for those who Allah, Himself, witnessed in His book, that He is pleased with them, in Surat al-Fath and other places. If anyone feels that this post or its attached article is aimed unfairly at them or their group, then let them ask themselves, "Do I love the companions of the messenger of Allah for the sake of Allah?" if the answer is yes, then rest assured that you are not the target of this article.


Understanding Sayyiduna ‘Ali’s Absence from the Campaigns of the First Three Khalifahs

By Shaykh Taha Karaan

Question: Why did Hadhrat Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu) not participate in the wars during the ruling of the first 3 Caliphs? If Hadhrat Ali had no differences with the first three Khalifas, why did he not participate in any battles that took place during their reigns, particularly when Jihaad against the Kuffaar is deemed a major duty upon the Muslims?

Was salaam


Respected Brother-in-Islam

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakaatuhu

The assumption underlying the question is that since Sayyidunah Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu) did not participate in the campaigns of the first 3 khulafa, it can only mean that he was averse to their rule, perhaps even to the point of not recognising the legitimacy of their rule.

However, this assumption can only be accepted if one is prepared to ignore the existence of several historical facts which glare at the objective observer from the pages of history. Some of these are given here:

1. While Sayyiduna ‘Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu) might not physically have joined the campaigns, he was at the side of the khalifah in Madinah as a valued and trusted advisor – a position that is by no means less important than being at the battlefront. This is a fact documented in both Sunni and Shi`i sources. “Nahj al-Balaghah”, for example, records the advice given by Sayyiduna ‘Ali to Sayyiduna ‘Umar on two occasions. The first one appears as Sermon no. 133 and carries the heading “In reply to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab who consulted him about taking part in the battle against Byzantine”. The second is numbered Sermond 145 and appears under the caption “Spoken when ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab consulted Amir al-Mu’minin about taking part in the battle of Persia”. In both instances the advice given can clearly” be seen to be aimed at the success of the campaigns.

2. It is also significant to note that although Sayyiduna ‘Ali did not personally join the armies on their expeditions, he duly received his share of the spoils of war. Abu Ubayd has recorded that Sayyiduna ‘Umar fixed Sayyiduna ‘Ali’s share at 5000 dirhams, and gave both his sons Hasan and Husayn a similar share of 5000. (“al-Amwal” p. 237) Another son of Sayyiduna ‘Ali, namely Muhammad, was born to him from a woman from Banu Hanifah who was brought to Madinah as a war captive by Khalid ibn al-Walid after his expedition against her tribe that had turned apostate with Musaylamah. This woman was given to Sayyiduna ‘Ali by Sayyiduna Abu Bakr. (“Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d” vol. 5 p. 67) and this Muhammad is known in history as Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah.

3. If Sayyiduna ‘Ali’s not joining the campaigns of the three khulafa means that he was averse to their rule, how is one to interpret the fact that Sayyiduna Hasan and Sayyiduna Husayn both took part in the conquest of Tabaristan during the rule of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman under Sa’id ibn al-’As in 30 AH? (See “Tarikh at-Tabari” vol. 5 p. 103, “al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah” vol. 5 p. 237)

4. Furthermore, what is one to make of the fact that those of the Sahabah upon whom the Shi’ah took favourably as devotees of Sayyiduna ‘Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt unreservedly took part in the campaigns of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman? Here one may speak of the following by way of example:

SALMAN AL-FARISI took part in Sayyiduna ‘Umar’s Persian campaign and played a crucial role in the conquest of Mada’in (“al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah” vol. 5 pp. 135-140). He had also acted as governor of Mada’in for Sayyiduna ‘Umar (“al-Isabah” vol. 3 p. 113) and used to actively encourage the military campaigns in Syria by narrating ahadith on the virtues of jihad (“Ansab al-Ashraf vol. 1 p. 488)

HUDHAYFAH IBN AL-YAMAN had played a leading role in the conquest of’Iraq. Like Salman, he too had acted as governor for Sayyiduna ‘Umar (“al-Isabah” vol. 1 p. 332), and later joined military expeditions during the reign of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman. He is described by the Shi’i scholar, al-’Allamah Ibn Mutahhar al-Hilli, as “one of the four pillars amongst the companions of Amir al-Mu’minin.” (“Jami’ ar-Ruwat” vol. 1 p. 182)

BILAL AL-HABASHI joined the campaign in Syria, either during the time of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr or Sayyiduna ‘Umar. He died in Syria during the reign of the latter Umar. (“al-Isabah” vol. 1 p. 171)*

‘AMMAR IBN YASIR took part in the campaign against Musaylamah in the time of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr. He fought valiantly, spurred on the Muslim forces, and lost his ear in this battle. Later, during the reign of Sayyiduna ‘Umar, he accepted an appointment as the governor of Kufah under him. (“Tarikh al-Islam” vol. 2 p. 581}

ABU AYYUB AL-ANSARI is well known for his participation in several battles, not least amongst which was the expedition against Constantinople led by Yazid in the time of his father Mu’awiyah. Abu Ayyub was martyred during this expedition, and was buried under the walls of the city. (“al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah” vol. 5 p. 518)

5. Apart from the above considerations, one also needs to keep in mind the sort of relationship that existed between Sayyiduna ‘Ali and the khulafa before him. This relationship is best expressed in the fact that he named 3 of his sons Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. This is confirmed even by an avowedly Shi’i source such as Shaykh Mufid’s “Kitab al-Irshad” (pp. 268-269); and the fact that he married Umm Kulthum, his daughter from Sayyidah Fatimah, to Sayyiduna ‘Umar. (For a more detailed discussion of the marriage of Umm Kultnum, see http://www.ansar.org/english/marriage.htm)

All things considered, the assumption that Sayyiduna ‘Ali did not take part in the campaigns of the three khulafa on account of his differences with them, diminishes into an incongruous aberration of ridiculous proportions.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


نمی دانم کہ آخر چوں دمِ دیدار می رقصم
مگر نازم بایں ذوق کہ پیشِ یار می رقصم

تو ھر دم می سرائی نغمہ و ھر بار می رقصم
بہر طرزِ كہ می رقصانیم اے یار می رقصم

کہ عشقِ دوست ہر ساعت دروں نار می رقصم
گاہےبر خاک می غلتم , گاہے بر خار می رقصم

بیا جاناں تماشا کن کہ درانبوہ جانبازاں
بصد سامانِ رسوائی سرِ بازار می رقصم

خوش آ رندی کہ پامالش کُنم صد پارسائی را
زہے تقوٗی کہ من با جبّہ و دستار می رقصم

تو آں قاتل کہ از بہرِ تماشہ خون من ریزی
منم بسمل کہ زیرِ خنجرِ خونخوار می رقصم

منم عثمان مروندیؔ كہ یارِ شیخ منصورم
ملامت می کُند خلقِ و من بردار می رقصم

كلام حضرت لعل شہباز قلندر