You can find a nice collection of many books of Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi (may Allah have mercy on him) on what seems to be a new website devoted to uploading pdf files of the books of Hakim al-Ummah as well as Shaykh Dr. ‘Abd al-Hayy ‘Arifi and Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.
Many of these books are not easily available in printed form, so it is a great service to Muslim readers to have them uploaded online. You can access the books at: www.ashrafiya.org
10 thoughts on “Collection of Online Books of Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi”
Is it true Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi do takfir of Allamah Shibli Nomani for having mutazili views?
Yes he did, based on what is now considered a misconstrued reading of a passage from his controversial book, ‘ilm al-Kalaam’, and only to take it back later.
It is said, the detractors of Sir Sayyid from Delhi, (the author of Mawahib al-Rahman and co.) had shown Moulana Ashraf certain quotes from this text, which give the impression that they were out of context, and gave rise to Moulana Thanawi’s fatwa.
Howver, Hazrat Thanawi retracted his Fatwa-e-takfeer after Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi, one of Shibli’s dearest students and who had recieved Khilaafat from Hazrat Thanawi in a week, insisted that Shibli’s intent was quite different and that he has changed a lot of his views. Hazrat Thanwi retracted the fatwa-e-takfeer based on the testimony/clarifcation of Sayyid Sahib.
Lastly, about his Mu’tazilism, it is not quite clear to what extent Shibli was a rationalist and whether he had completely abandoned his rationalist tendencies by the end of his life. What we do know is that one of Shibli’s first teachers, Moulana Chirayyakoti, was a fully-fledged Mu’tazilite. He is responsible for making Shibli curious about Mu’tazilism. It is said when Shibli was leaving his teacher, he told his young and talented student to never let go of studying rationalist texts.
It is also true that Shibli had grown to study and develop a keen eye for rationalist texts. Sir Sayyid also encouraged him to persue them when he was out on his voyage to Egypt, Syria and Turkey. But was is unclear is to what degree was he a rationalist, if he ever was, and whether he had completely disavowed his previous views. One thing is for sure, Shibli was not a huge fan of the conventional Ash’ariism of his time. Under such a pretense i.e. having a Mutazilite teacher, actively trying to amass Mu’tazilte texts, working with Sir Sayyid, liasing with people like Prof. Thomas Arnold and the notorious Atiyya Fayzi and with him being critical of conventional Ash’arism, it is very easy to dismiss him as a rationalist.
Hakim Abd al-Hay al-Hasani, author of Nuzhat al-Khawatir and his colleague makes it clear that he was a Mu’tazilite in his Usul (Wa Kaana Mu’taziliyyan Fi ‘l-Usul). However, Shiekh Yunus Jawnpuri, the current Sheikh al-Hadith of Mazahir al-Uloom, successor to Sheikh Zakariyya al-Kandhelwi, strongly denies such accusations.
Allah knows best.
So Allamah Shibli Nomani was not considered Deobandi? Wasn’t he one of the founders of the Natawat al Ulama movement?
In as much i’d like to answer that query after I hear you define Deobandism, the answer would be no. He was considered a modernist on par of Moulana Hali, Deputy Nazir and co.
Shibli represented the modernist strand of the Nadwi thought almost single handedly. Many Nadwis, especially the progressives believe that the modernist legacy of the Nadwa reached its peak with Shibli and has been lost since, or at least never reached that momentum again. It is a common misunderstanding that Shibli No’mani was the founder of Nadwat al-Ulama (cf. ‘Wrongipedia’). The official founder, or to be even more pedantic, the first General Secretary (Nazim) of the Nadwat al-Ulama was Moulana Mongeri, a graduate of Mazahir al-Ulum.
Since Shibli had not studied at the Deoband nor at the Mazahir and having come to the Nadwa from Aligarh with radical reform proposals, the ‘clergy’ (Deoband/Saharanpuri along with some Ahl-e-Hadith Scholars) saw his views as questioning their religious authority. He was met with intimidation and resistance.
It is possible that Ahmed Riza Barelwi’s polemical treatise, the Takfeer Fatwas on the Ulama of Nadwa may have been partially targetted at Shibli. However, as is evident from the text itself almost all of the beliefs castigated in the Fatwas are not those of the Nadwat al-Ulama but those of Sir Sayyid (the Naturalists or ‘Neycharis’). It should be remembered Sir Sayyid did not join the Nadwat al-Ulama nor did he affiliate himself with the institute, rather he sent his ‘regards’ and wished the institute all the best. That’s all.
Shibli’s erudition was unquestionable and having come back from his trip around the Muslim world looking at the different schools and universities, his education twinned with his experience made him the ideal candidate for the first Education Minister of the Nadwa.
He made three proposals in capacity of the Education Officer. Only one of them did he manage to achieve successfully and that was after he resigned from the Nadwa and founded the Dar al-Musannifin. Shibli found himself at odds with the majority of the institute and felt that he was being ill-treated based on some of the biases that came forth.
Many of the Deobandi/Mazahiri/Ahl-e-Hadith representatives at the Nadwa have maintained that the reservations they had with Shibli were not only intellectual; it was also due with his nature and company.
Having been at Aligarh as the head of the Persian and Arabic Department (or whatever it was called then), you can imagine the type of people he knew. Not all of them were religious, Muslims, nor were they all Indian. The fact that Shibli was knighted by the British as Shams al-Ulama should be indicative of the kind of cirles he was involved in. And then his relationship with the notorious Atiyyah Fayzi which lead to the accusation of adultery, wa ‘l-‘Ayaadhu Billah. Dont you think a widescale media accusation of adultery on the first Education Minister of a religious institute was damaging enough to raise concerns amoungst the establishment? (I still need to see whether this last conclusion is chronologically accurate)
In terms of his nature, he was very refined and sensitive. He would only meet people at a certain time, never traveled on other than horseback, ate meat in a specific way, drank only one type of water etc. … the list can go on! Many seniour Ulama felt he was setting a bad example for the students.
Anyway, his resignation, in my opinion, was a dark day in the history of the Nadwa and many historians share this sentiment. It brought about the great strike where the Dar al-Uloom was closed for months. Students going on strikes and not attending classes goes to show how much they valued Shibli.
In summary, he was not a Deobandi yet I believe he was one of the greatest geniuses of that era. I once told one of my teachers that I think he was a Mujaddid. He bitterly disagreed yet Sheikh Yunus once confirmed my inclination and corrected my teacher, asserting that not only was he a genious polymath (‘Abqariyyat al-Dahr) but he was also a Mujaddid! Wa Lillah al-Hamd.
Everyone that knew Shibli, friend to foe, have accepted his inimitible endevours in revolutionising the way we percieve history. This is where I believe his tajdeed lies.
Allah knows best.
Is there any biography on Shibli Nomani? I did not realize how controversial he is until now.
Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi’s ‘Hayat-e-Shibli’ is perhaps the most extensive biography on Shibli. However this book has been criticised by modernists who would only want us to remember the Shibli at Aligarh, and not the one who rose one day to see himself forced to leave it. Or as Sayyid Sahib brilliantly puts it, ‘Shibli, much like Tariq ibn Ziyad, burnt all the ships he had come with to take upon his lifetime mission at the Nadwa’. These biographers accuse Sayyid Sahib of painting Shibli as an ‘othrodox tradtional Mulla’.
For such an exposition of Shibli see, Mehr Afroz Murad’s MA thesis ‘Intellectual Modernism of Shibli No’mani’. The books sent chills down my back the first time I read it. I wouldnt want to buy into everything she says. Indeed the Shibli at Aligarh was quite different to the one heading Dar al-Musannifin and it is crucial for biographers to make such a distinction.
What biographers must accept if they are to heavily/aggresively assert his modernism (which Mehr pushes to something closer to what is now understood as ‘progressivism’,) that the frail Shibli who sat down to write the Sirat al-Nabi was a new Shibli on a completely different mission. As objective historians we must account for this reality.
Dar al-Musannifin have two other biographies on Shibli, a simple one in english that has Shiblis photos in it (including his award winning portrait). The other is in Urdu and is more analytical, dealing with the controversial issues of whether Shibli was an adulturer and the reasons for such an accusation. It becomes pretty clear that some of his detractors were very low and ‘perverted’.
Lastly, Dr. Akram has also written a biography on Shibli as part of the Dar al-Qalam series. (cf. personality no. 83)
Jazakullahu Khairan, maulana. Your answers are very informative.
I have already requested Mehr’s book, but I’ll be wary of it as you suggested. As for the others, I have not been able to find a place to purchase them, although I have found many references to them. I am especially interested in Hayat-e-Shibli (is it in English?) and the two books by Dar al-Musannifin. Would you know where to purchase them?
Hayat-e-Shibli by Sayyid Sulayman is about 400 pages long if I remember correctly (the last time I read it was 5 years ago!). As far as I am aware, it has not been translated into English. Please inform me otherwise.
With regards to the other two books, the english is called simply ‘Shibli’ or ‘Allamah Shibli Nomani’ whilst the Urdu was called ‘Moulana Shibli No’mani par eik Nazar’.
Apart from the Dar al-Musannifin in Azamgarh, I am not aware of any other bookseller/bookshop that stocks their books in the whole world besides Nadwa. And even that was at the persistance of students like me completely nagging the Dar al-Uloom booksellers!
The Dar al-Musaniffin titles that are available in England are actually Pakistani prints that are so much better than the originals. I must admit the Hayat-e-Shibli was not a good print, nonetheless it pushed itself as a print of average quality to DM standards. Some of the DM editions are seriously borderline illegible.
I personally wouldnt recommend Murad’s thesis unless you were questioning why Shibli did not gain prominence in Indian history in the way Sir Sayyid, Iqbal, Azad, Abdul Bari Firanghi Mahalli, Jawhar brothers to even Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi are recorded. Whence the neglect?
Murad does a good job in tackling this issue (she seems like the only person to deal with it really).
Or even questions like: to what extent was Shibli a Modernist? What was his primary roles at the Aligarh? His relationship with the Modernists/Progressives at that era? What about his political role? etc.
But judging from your previous posts, if your intent is to merely clarify certain accusations levied against Shibli, then the ‘Moulana Shibli No’mani par eik Nazar’ is most suited for your purpose. Its interesting that even people like Sayyid Sahib, those most close to him, did nothing to counter the accusations of adultury/romance against him. Their silence, it seems, has only created greater problems for posterity.
Having voiced my disapproval for Murad’s thesis, I must admit I read that book 5 years ago as well. Who knows, I might see her in different light now. Lo and behold!
I hate to butt into the conversation without anything to add to it, but I would just like to comment that I am enjoying Shaykh Uwais’s comments very much. May Allah allow us to benefit more from his knowledge and reading.
Related to the topic of online books, but slightly different, does anyone have any suggestions for arabic websites to utilize that have 1) a shaikh who gives audio commentary on 2) a classical islamic text AND 3) simultaneously has the written transcript of what the shaikh said. I find that quite beneficial at times, but it seems the only websites that fit all three criteria are based out of Saudi Arabia, for example http://www.taimiah.org.