ذكريات مع عملاق البحث والتحقيق سماحة العلامة الدكتور عبد الحليم النعماني

ذكريات مع عملاق البحث والتحقيق سماحة العلامة الدكتور عبد الحليم النعماني

سماحة الأستاذ المفتي محمد قاسم القاسمي

مكثتُ في مدينة كراتشي ١٢ عاما أدرس، وسمعتُ حينئذ ما سمعت عن المحقق الكبير مولانا المحدّث الشيخ محمد عبد الرشيد النعماني، وعرفت من أعماله «ما تمس إليه الحاجة»، فتمنيتُ لقاءه والاستفادة منه، ولكن لم يقدّر لي ذلك، ثم في سفرٍ لي إلى باكستان وفّقتُ لزيارته، فاستقبلني بأيّما حبّ وحفاوة. ومما تكلمتُ معه في تلك الزيارة بشأنه علم الحديث والشبهات التي تُثار من قبل أدعياء العلم والتحقيق حول الفقه الإسلامي من حين إلى حين، فتكلم الشيخ ودلّ على كتب وأساليب، وأوصاني بمطالعة كتاب «ذبّ ذبابات الدراسات عن المذاهب الأربعة المتناسبات» للشيخ الفقيه الأصولي عبد اللطيف بن محمد هاشم السندي، والذي تولّى الشيح محمد عبد الرشيد النعماني تحقيقه.

وأهدى إليّ نسخة منه، وما كنتُ أعرف آنذاك أنّ له أخًا باحثًا محقِّقًا في علم الحديث أشبّ منه، فلما انتقل الشيخ عبد الرشيد نعماني إلى رحمة الله تأسّفنا على عدم الاستفادة منه، ثم عندما جاءنا الخبر عن طريق الطلاب الوافدين إلى باكستان بأنّ له أخا شقيقا يواصل طريقه، وهو الشيخ الدكتور عبد الحليم النعماني، وقد ملأ الفراغ الذي حدث برحيل شقيقه في جامعة العلوم الإسلامية التي أسسها العلامة السيد محمد يوسف البنوري رحمة الله عليه، اشتقنا إلى لقائه وزيارته فحقق الله تعالى هذا خلال رحلة قمت بها إلى باكستان، فرحّب بنا، وأبدى ارتياحًا وسرورًا، وغمرنا بشفقته وحفاوته وخلقه الحسن، فدعوناه إلى إيران لافتتاح «التخصص في الحديث النبوي الشريف» بدار العلوم زَاهِدَان، فرحّب بالدعوة، وبعد العودة أخبرَنا فضيلة الشيخ عبد الحميد بقبول الدعوة، ففرح بذلك وتمّ التنسيق وتحديد الموعد، ثم راسلنا الشيخ النعماني، فلبّى الدعوة مُخبرًا إيانا بموعد السفر، وعند الموعد ذهبنا إلى الحدود استقبالًا له، منتظرين قدومه بفارغ الصبر وكل سرور وشوق [1]، نعدّ الدقائق واللحظات حتى شرّفنا بقدومه الميمون، فوصل إلى دار العلوم زاهدان، وأقام فيها حوالي أسبوع، وعقدت حفلة افتتاح التخصص في الحديث، حسب المقرر، حضرها فضيلة مولانا عبد الحميد والأساتذة والطلاب، فخطب الشيخ، وأفاد وأجاد، وزوّد الحاضرين بنصائح قيمة.

ومن الجدير بالذكر أن الافتتاح كان بقراءة كتاب «نخبة الفكر» للعلامة ابن حجر العسقلاني، ومن حسن حظي أنّي تشرّفت بقراءة العبارة ناويًا التلمذ المباشر عليه، فشرح الأستاذ ما وسعه الوقت مسلطًا الأضواء على أهمية الفن وفضله. وهكذا تم تأسيس قسم التخصص في الحديث لأول مرة في إيران بكلمة الشيخ ودعائه ونصائحه، جعله الله صدقة جارية له ولمؤسس الدار الراحل مولانا الشيخ عبد العزيز رحمه الله وللمعنيين بالأمر. وانعقد حفل في الجامع المكي لتكريمه، فألقى فيه خطابا عاما نصح به المسلمين، ولما شاع خبر قدومه بدأ أهلُ العلم يَفِدُ لزيارته والاستفادة منه من المدن الأخرى.

أشار يومًا إلى أنه راغب في زيارة جامعة سِيستان وبلُوشِستَان، فتمّ التنسيق مع بعض الأساتذة بالجامعة فذهبنا هناك حيث قابل طائفة من الأساتذة وتبادل معهم الآراء حول التعليم والتربية. ولما سألهم عن عدد الأساتذة من أهل السنة – وكانت الإجابة أن عددهم قليل جدًّا لا يتجاوز العشرين من مجموعة يتجاوز عددها ٤٠٠ شخصًا – تعجّب الشيخ، وتأسف جدًّا، وعلّق على ذلك مبيّنا أهمية الدراسات العليا في حياة الشعوب وتأثيرها في مستقبلها.

كانت أيام إقامة شيخنا الدكتور أيام فرحة وسرور وتنشيط للطلاب والأساتذة، قد متّعنا بفيوضه وبركاته وأحاديثه وذكرياته الحلوة مع أساتذته ومشايخه، وكان يحكي لنا قصص أساتذته في دِيُوبَند، سيّما سماحة الشيخ المجاهد مولانا السيد حسين أحمد المدني رحمه الله وكان معجبًا به جدًّا، يذكر أحواله وصفاته، ويومًا – وقد كان في ضيافة الشيخ عبد الحميد – دعاه إلى منزله لوجبة العَشاء، فحكى هناك نبذةً من أحوال العلامة السيد حسين أحمد المدني، فلم يتمالك نفسه، وأجهش بالبكاء تسيل دموعه بغزارة، فتأثر الحاضرون جدًّا.

إلى خراسان وتهران

بعد أن قضى الشيخ أياما في دار العلوم زاهِدَان أبدى رغبته لزيارة خراسان حيث كانت مركزا للعلم والعلماء سيما مدينة مَشهَد، فحجزنا التذاكر متوجهين إلى مشهد، وهناك نزلنا في بيت أحد الإخوة، فاجتمع بعض الناس في بيت المضيف من هنا وهناك، ممن عرفوا قدومه واستفادوا من كلماته ونصائحه القيمة.

في طوس

ذهبنا إلى طوس لنزور مرقد الإمام الغزالي رحمه الله، فزرنا قبره، وذكرنا الأيام الخالية التي كانت تتلألأ فيها شمس معارف الغزالي وعلومه في خراسان وبغداد، وتمنّينا عودتها في المستقبل، وليس ذلك على الله بعزيز لأنه على كل شيء قدير.

وذهبنا إلى نيشابور كوطن للإمام المحدث مسلم بن الحجاج النيشابوري والعارف الكبير الشهير فريد الدين العطار النيشابوري، وتحسّر الشيخ مُبدِيًا أسفه البالغ على جفاء الأيام وحوادث الدهر واندراس حلقات العلم في تلك الديار ونسيان أهليها تاريخ سلفهم الصالح.

إلى طهران

غادرنا مشهد إلى طهران وكان السفر بالقطار، ومن الجدير بالذكر أني كنتُ أواصل قراءة كتاب

«نخبة الفكر» على الشيخ طولَ الطريق في الطائرة وفي القطار وحيثما تيسّر، مستفيدًا من شرحه وآرائه، وختمتُ الكتاب قبيل مغادرة الشيخ طهران. والحمد لله.

وفي طهران نزلنا في منزل الشيخ عبيد الله موسى زاده، حيث قد اجتمع كثير من أهل طهران ممن دُعوا إلى استماع محاضرة الشيخ ونصائحه، فاستفادوا وفرحوا بلُقياه، وبعد فراغ الشيخ من الخطاب اقترب إليه المستمعون محاولين تقبيل يديه، فلم يرض بذلك، وقال كلمة عجبية لا أنساها: «إنهم يُحسنون بنا الظنّ، ولعلهم ينجون، لكننا نخشى أن يأخذنا الإعجابُ بأنفسنا فنؤاخَذ». فقلتُ: «إن هذا العمل تقليد سائد لدينا»، ولكن الشيخ لم يطمئن قلبه ولم يقنع.

كانت إقامته في طهران قصيرة بَيد أنها كانت مباركة مفيدة، قد هزّ النفوس، وألقى الفكرة، وبيّن السبيل والمناهج، وحثّ على المجاهدة والاستقامة.

فودّعناه إلى المطار مغادرًا إلى كراتشي بعد أن أفاض علينا من معين علومه وفيوضه، وأوصانا وشرّفنا بدعواته الصالحة وتشجيعاته. جزاه الله خيرا ورفع درجاته.

اللقاء الأخير

كلما قدِّر لي الرحلة إلى كراتشي حاولتُ زيارته في مقرّه بجامعة العلوم الإسلامية قسم التخصص في الحديث. وكان دعاه الشيخ المفتي عبد الرحيم في السنوات الأخيرة إلى جامعة الرشيد، استفادةً من بركاته ونصائحه وتوجيهاته التعليمية والتربوية.

وقبل ثلاث سنوات لما ذهبت إلى جامعة الرشيد بكراتشي تشرّفت بزيارته ففرح جدّا، ودعاني إلى بيته، وأراني مكتبته الزاخرة بالكتب القيمة، مُكرِمًا إياي بما لا أستحق، وكانت فرصة سعيدة لتبادل أطراف الحديث بشأن التعليم والدراسة والتحقيق وتكوين الرجال الباحثين، فأعجبني آرائه القيمة الحصيفة، ويا ليت أهل العلم والجامعات الدينية يلتفتون إلى آرائه القيمة ويطبّقونها. قد فوجئنا بنبأ رحيله وقد كنا نتمنّى التمتّع بحياته والاستفادة من حضرته، ولكن كان أمر الله قدرا مقدورا. فإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون، وإنّا لِفراقه لمحزونون.

لقد فقدنا برحيله عالما ربّانيا ومُربّيًا ناجحًا وباحثًا كبيرًا ومحقّقا عملاقا تذكّرنا أعماله وجهوده بالسلف الصالح، مما يقتضي أن نأخذ دروسا وعظات من حياته ونقتدي به في مجال خدمة الإسلام والمسلمين وتحمّل الشدائد والصبر في سبيل العلم والدين. كما ينبغي أن نتأسّى به في الاعتناء بالتحقيق والدراسة والمحافظة على الأوقات واغتنام الفرص واللحظات واختيار حياة الزهد والتقشّف والتواضع في القول والعمل والحلم وأدب الأساتذة والاتصال الدائم بالمشايخ الكبار والاهتمام بالتزكية والتقوى في جميع شؤون الحياة.

وهناك ذكرى رائعة أخرى حدثت خلال مدة إقامة الشيخ في زاهدان، لا يفوتني بيانها، وهي أنها جاءت فئة من شباب أهل العلم من مدينة خاش لزيارة الشيخ طالبين منه أن ينصحهم، فتواضع الشيخ أوّلا ثم أنشد شعرا باللغة الفارسية:

من نمی گویم زیان کن یا به فکر سود باش

ای ز فرصت بی خبر در هر چه باشی زود باش

«لستُ أقول لك اربح أو اخسر، وإنما نصيحتي لك أيها الغافل عن فوات الفرصة أن أسرع فيما تريد»، ففرحوا بإرشاده وقالوا: لقد كفانا هذا، ثم ودّعوه شاكرين.

حقيق بنا أن نستفيد من كتبه ومآثره، ونقدّمها للجيل المعاصر والقادم ونواصل طريقه، ولا ننساه في دعواتنا، فإن له علينا حقّا.

اللهم اغفر له، وارحمه، وعافه، واعف عنه، وأكرم نزله، ووسّع مدخله، وأبدله دارًا خيرًا من داره وأهلا خيرًا من أهله، وارزق أهله وذويه وأصحابه صبرًا جميلًا وأجرًا عظيمًا.

اللهم لا تفتنّا بعده، ولا تحرمنا أجره، وجازه أحسن الجزاء عن الإسلام والمسلمين.

 

(فاتحة مجلة «الصحوة الإسلامية»، العدد (١٤٦_١٤٥) الخاص لحياة الشيخين الدكتور محمد عبد الحليم النعماني والدكتور محمد عادل خان رحمهما الله)

 



[1] في الأصل: «وكلنا سرور وشوق».

Book Review: Islam in Victorian Liverpool

By Mawlana Ismaeel Nakhuda

A version of this review was earlier published in the Asian Image newspaper. Additional information has been added to the review for the Deoband.org and Basair.net readership – Ismaeel.

The story of Islam in Britain as told nowadays would always be incomplete without mention of the so-called ‘Shaykh al-Islam of the British Isles’ Abdullah Quilliam (d. 1932), the Victorian-era solicitor who converted to Islam and founded and presided over the Liverpool Muslim Institute.

As Muslims began settling in the UK in large numbers following World War Two, there was a time when we knew very little if anything about Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim community. This unknown history, however, began to unravel itself bit by bit as historians and academics began piecing together Quilliam’s life through archives, his personal papers and, more importantly, past issues of his periodical, The Crescent.

Aside from being the main source of what we know today about this fledgling community situated at the second most important port of the mightiest empire of the day, The Crescent was at that time Quilliam’s main vehicle for raising his profile and that of his community and institute. It made him famous and drew funds from across the globe. In addition to a readership in Britain, thousands of copies were regularly sent abroad to subscribers across the world, from the Americas to the Malay Archipelago and as far south as Cape Town.

As a result, Quilliam became well known throughout the Islamic world. Eccentric, flamboyant and peculiar is how he is perceived. Those who have studied his life and his congregation often mention that there is still much to discover about the Brit who converted to Islam in Morocco in the late 1800s. To, therefore, come across a Muslim account of Quilliam and his community written by someone who was Quilliam’s contemporary is surely a novelty.

Having heard of the community and Quilliam, Yusuf Samih Asmay (d.1942), an Ottoman intellectual, travel writer and journalist who lived in Cairo, spent over a month in Liverpool observing the institute and interviewing its leader and the people associated with it. On his return to Egypt, he corresponded with the people he met and wrote a unique and intriguing eyewitness account of Britain’s first mosque community in the Ottoman language. What makes Asmay’s account specifically stand out is that he presents Quilliam and his institute in a way that is at odds with the image depicted in The Crescent.

Asmay does not take any prisoners. He criticises both Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim Institute. His main denunciations revolve around how religious services are unorthodox and at odds with Sunni Islam (there seems to be a mixing of Islamic practices with Anglican Christianity). According to Asmay, prayers were conducted not at the appointed hours or in the necessary Islamic format. Ablutions and prescribed purity rituals seem to be ignored or not performed in the proper way, and Asmay laments “if only the brothers and sisters-in-faith in Liverpool could study the Qur’an and … a concise manual of Islamic faith, worship and ethics under a religious scholar one evening a week at this school it would be of great benefit.” This was something that fell on deaf ears with Asmay suggesting this himself as did other well-intentioned people.

Asmay also criticises how anti-Christian polemics are often the topic of discussions at the institute, something that he considers unwise in a deeply Christian Victorian society. He further observes that the private Islamic school and museum at the Liverpool Muslim Institute are not as grand as one may be led to believe going by The Crescent.

In relation to the museum housed at the Liverpool Muslim Institute, he amusingly writes that “the contents of the room are no more than a few fish and cat skeletons, some stuffed birds and a few stones and ores of different minerals and suchlike. There are antique shops that sell similar items on Manchester Street in Liverpool and if you are familiar with the contents of a single display cabinet in these shops, then it would suffice to describe the objects in this room. To have the audacity to name a room that lacks historical or scientific objects a museum can only be explained by Quilliam being an attorney.” The reference to the cat skeletons really caught my eye. Though not mentioned by the editors, I would not be surprised if the cat skeletons that Asmay observed were one of the estimated 180,000 mummified Egyptian cats that were sold at auction at Liverpool docks in 1890. Almost all were crushed and used for manure, except for a few that were saved and are housed today at Liverpool’s World Museum.

Asmay also reproduces an Ottoman translation of an advertisement that is regularly printed in The Crescent about the Liverpool Muslim Institute and its activities. He then comments, “Muslims in general in Liverpool are not members of the elementary school that is named an institute, which in reality is a small room where Mr. Quilliam’s children study. The mosque is not open for visitors every day let alone for worship. Saying [we are holding] Friday prayers is only lip-service. A lecture room and library has not come into existence. The [desultory] state of the museum has been mentioned above. The day school is an embellishment as is the case with the Friday prayers.”

He then amusingly adds, “Writing that there are evening classes for Oriental languages is like putting one zero in front of another. Alas, how much do the events of our times suffer from the pens of English journalists and the speeches of their lawyers? They have the ability and power to make a grain as small as a speck appear as big as a ladle. With our brother Mr. Quilliam being both a lawyer and a journalist, is it hard to imagine what he might be capable of, if we give it a little consideration?”

The publicity that The Crescent generated attracted funds from across the Muslim world. In relation to this, Asmay alleges financial irregularities and calls for the need to improve governance to oversee the donations that poured in. He also stresses the need for regulating the institute as a waqf or Islamic endowment. In the context of the improper use of funds, Asmay provides a profile of Mawlana Barakatullah Bhopali [1] (d.1927), an Indian who Asmay says Quilliam employed as a secretary due to his proficiency in Arabic, Persian and Urdu to write letters to Muslim rulers seeking financial assistance. Asmay was clearly unimpressed by Bhopali and writes that “his additional job is to be introduced as the Mufti of Liverpool to Muslims from the Orient who come to visit the city.”

What is even more damning are the questions that Asmay raises around Quilliam’s character, providing details that I certainly have never come across before. He also dubs The Crescent as a tool for propaganda and interestingly mentions that Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim Institute is a British imperial project with some sort of colonial goal in mind to undermine pan-Islamic solidarity. As the editors mention in their introduction, for some the Liverpool Muslim Institute was a “political attempt to undermine Islamic unity through propaganda about an English mosque with Muslim converts to buttress Britain’s imperial authority” and “to counter Islam as a unifying anti-colonial force and to assimilate Muslims as imperial subjects.”

Interestingly, the editors’ also mention that Quilliam’s “designation as ‘Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles’ came about through nomination” and election at a Liverpool Muslim Institute meeting with “no hard evidence to date that the Ottomans ever formally recognised the title or that its officials ever used the title in connection to Quilliam.”

Asmay’s book caused great controversy among Liverpool’s Muslims and had the potential to severely damage Quilliam and his institute. For reasons that are unclear, the Ottomans banned the book in 1898 following a private audience between Quilliam and Sultan Abdul Hamid II. This clearly shows that Quilliam had reach into the highest echelons of power within the Sublime Port. It is normally assumed that he enjoyed these relations because of a sense of common Islamic brotherhood. Is this, however, the case or is there something else sinister such as Quilliam’s Freemason links?

Though not mentioned in Asmay’s book or the editors’ introduction, notes and appendixes, it is now widely understood that Quilliam was a Freemason and member of several lodges before and after his conversion. He also enjoyed close associations with the Grand Master and Mayor of Liverpool John Houlding who was even awarded the Order of the Imtiyaz on the instructions of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Several prominent Ottoman statesmen and dignitaries were masons who played crucial roles in palace politics, intrigue and kingmaking.

What the nature of Quilliam’s ties to Freemasonry in Constantinople was is unclear. What we do, however, know is that Quilliam suddenly left Liverpool in 1908 for Turkey and then returned to the UK under an alias in 1914. It is assumed that he was running away in advance of being struck off the Roll of Solicitors for unprofessional conduct as a solicitor. However, Quilliam’s arrival in Turkey coincided with the time when the Committee of Union and Progress (or the Young Turks), a secretive revolutionary organisation that had deep ties to Freemasonry, was forcing Abdul Hamid to reinstate the Young Turk constitution that eventually led to his deposition in 1909. Did Quilliam play a role in the political changes that took place in Turkey during that period and did his links to Freemasonry enable this? We know he assumed different aliases. Could it be that he assumed another identity to play a role in Constantinople and if so what was this role? Perhaps there is an Ottoman record chronicling this. These are questions that remain unanswered and hopefully as time passes, we can learn more.

Returning to Asmay’s book, this English translation has once more allowed this book to see the light of day. It includes a brilliantly written detailed introduction by the editors, followed by the actual book with meticulous notes and then an appendix consisting of brief biographies of key individuals mentioned within the text and other relevant information. Though it does not do any favours to Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim Institute, it is an excellent contribution that enriches our understanding of the early days of Islam in Britain.

Book details
Title: Islam in Victorian Liverpool
Author: Yusuf Samih Asmay
Translated, notes and introduction: Yahya Birt, Riordan Macnamara and Münire Zeyneb Maksudoğlu
Publisher: Claritas Books

References

1It would seem Mawlana Barakatullah’s involvement with the Liverpool Muslim Institute was not one of his proudest moments. He is remembered today as a prominent Indian revolutionary, delivering fiery speeches and revolutionary writings in newspapers calling for India’s independence. While in Liverpool, Asmay reached out to the mawlana in relation to a host of problems at the institute from finance issues to lack of authentic Islamic instruction, something that might have struck a guilty note and prompted him to separate from the Liverpool Muslim Institute. Many years later, Mawlana Barakatullah appears in Afghanistan where he took on the role of Prime Minister of the first Provisional Government of India, which served as the Indian Government in exile during World War I and was presided over by Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh (d.1979). The government in exile was established by the Indian Independence Committee which was a broad coalition of Indian freedom fighters representing Muslims and non-Muslims of various shades and colours, including the then head lecturer at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi (d.1920) and Mawlana Obaydullah Sindhi (d.1944). Mawlana Barakatullah died in San Francisco and was buried at Sacramento City Cemetery, California.

Taken from Basair.net

Book Review: Maktūbat-i-Mashāyikh

By Mawlana Ismaeel Nakhuda

There are three genres of literature that are perhaps unique within the context of Islam in South Asia: malfuzattazkirahs and maktubat (aphorisms, hagiographies and letters). Often written in Urdu or Persian, all three are a delight to read, and overflow with wisdom and academic nuggets that really help us not only gain a better understanding of notable religious individuals and their temperaments, but also provide unique context of the social milieu people lived and operated in.

When it comes to the maktubat there are numerous famous collections of epistles written and received by luminaries from the Sub Continent. Perhaps one of the most famous being the Maktubat of Mujaddid Alf-i-Thani Shaykh Ahmed Sarhindi (d.1624) (may Allah enlighten his grave), which has been translated into various languages. Likewise, those connected to Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalawi (d.1981) (may Allah have mercy on him) have also tirelessly produced compilations of his letters. Those connected to the silsilah are regularly advised to read them with the aim of gaining spiritual blessings (fayd) and an understanding of the way of our elders.

Within the UK, Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Yusuf Motala (d.2019) (may Allah have mercy on him) – one of Shaykh Zakariyya’s leading khalifahs – led the way on this with several compilations of Shaykh Zakariyya’s letters, including Makatib-i-Shaykh al-Hadith and Mahabbat Nameh, and a third compilation entitled ‘Inayat Nameh consisting of the letters he received from leading religious luminaries. Another lovely compilation of Shaykh Zakariyya’s letters was published by Shaykh Mawlana Hashim Patel, another one of Shaykh Zakariyya’s leading UK-based khalifahs, entitled Mereh Hadrat keh Khutut. (And as I write these words one of Mawlana Yusuf Motala’s khalifahs, Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Lunat has also published Jamal-i-Yusufi, a beautiful and heart touching collection of Shaykh Zakariyya’s letters to Mawlana Yusuf Motala that I hope to also write about soon.)

Maktubat-i-Mashayikh is a continuation of this Islamic tradition and consists of some eighty letters received by my teacher, the most erudite, hadith expert and accomplished lecturer in hadith, Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti Shabbir Ahmed Patel of Blackburn, UK. The letters span over 40 years and are from several leading scholars, particularly the late Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Yunus Jawnpuri (d.2017) and the late Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Yusuf Motala.

As a former student of Dar al-‘Ulum Bury, I saw Mufti Shabbir in his prime and had the honour of attending his classes and lectures in the final years of my time at the madrasah (1996-2001). His deep understanding, passion for imparting knowledge, wide reading, erudition and engaging style of lecturing was something that energised me then and the memories of sitting in his class still provide solace today, some 20 years later. His lessons were engaging and packed to the brim with wisdom and wit. Not only was he a conscientious lecturer, he was also diligent in covering the books he taught at a steady pace, ensuring the book would be comfortably completed by the end of the academic year without the need to rush due to lengthy discussions towards the beginning of the year. Later, I would read in Shaykh Zakariyya’s autobiography, Aap Biti, that this was also the habit of his father, Mawlana Muhammad Yahya Kandhalwi.

When Ramadan came, students at the Dar al-‘Ulum in those days would normally return home or go abroad to lead Tarawih. As someone who was not hafiz of the Qur’an and did not have the responsibility of leading the Tarawih prayers, it would happen that I would often spend several weeks during Ramadan at Dar al-‘Ulum Bury. This time would be spent either in khidmah of those sitting in seclusion (i‘tikaf) or in seclusion myself. It would also often be the case that Mufti Shabbir would be sat in seclusion and oversee the i‘tikaf programme himself. For a teenager from the back-to-back terrace streets of Lancashire, this was an opportunity to observe how the pious spent Ramadan and what I saw then still elicits a sweet taste in my mouth today. I saw a man who ate and slept little, just the bare minimum. Though he had a profound interest in the hadith sciences, Ramadan was dedicated to the Qur’an. He would spend his day constantly and consistently in its recitation from memory. How much he read was anyone’s guess, but I am sure it was no less than the entire Qur’an during the whole day if not more. His attachment to the Qur’an really stuck out. In those days, his children were young and he would often be flanked by them. He would recite his own Qur’an and then listen to his children’s hifz.

Mufti Shabbir had his own way of reciting. His voice was solemn, heart touching and emotional. Anyone who has had the fortune of listening to his recitation will testify to that. On the verses of punishment his voice would tremble and on the verses relating to Allah’s mercy and the bounties He has in store for the pious there would be a freshness in his voice that reflected the subject being recited. One would never bore of listening to his Qur’an and even now, decades later, I relish those invaluable moments.

He was always full of energy and I saw this increase during the holy month. I recall one Ramadan some 25 years ago, when it fell in winter and the nights were long. That year Mufti Shabbir’s daily routine was to lead a portion of the Tarawih at the Sajidin Mosque in Blackburn and then head to the Markaz al-‘Ulum madrasah (also in Blackburn) where the Tarawih began a little later. He would lead a number of rak‘ahs there and then midway head for Dar al-‘Ulum Bury (some 12 miles away) where the prayer began even later. He would join the Dar al-‘Ulum congregation in between their Tarawih and lead a large portion of the prayer and end with witr. His memory was excellent and recitation steady and flawless. I also observed that he would be reciting the Qur’an from memory while he travelled from one venue to another. In fact, every time I ever travelled with him by car, rather than frivolous talk, his time would be spent reciting the Qur’an in a quiet but audible voice.

Despite being a senior lecturer in hadith and a teacher of individuals who themselves are senior scholars and hadith lecturers, I often recall Mufti Shabbir during the i’tikaf helping us pick up the dastarkhwan and tidying up after the iftar meal. And as my years at Dar al-‘Ulum passed I often saw Mufti Shabbir spending long days and weekends supervising and organising the cleaning of the madrasah, especially in preparation for official visits or annual gatherings such as the graduation ceremony of the final year students studying Sahih al-Bukhari. He was not hands off but got in with the students, and using the art of coaxing and persuasion led from the front and commanded the respect of students to deliver what needed to be done.

On one occasion, I remember the Dar al-‘Ulum cook not being able to prepare lunch for some reason and so Mufti Shabbir himself rolled his sleeves up and, in between lessons, prepared lunch on that day for the madrasah’s 400 students and teaching staff. A mammoth task indeed. If my memory serves me right, he said he had cooked Lucknowi Biryani. As someone who has never tasted Lucknowi Biryani I’m unsure whether this was the case, but I can certify it was a tasty meal and I ate to my fill.

On graduation from Dar al-‘Ulum, I became busy with university and employment in Saudi Arabia and perhaps became distant from our respected teacher. Just a few days before last Ramadan, I was visiting my mother’s home and ventured outside to take a call due to poor reception when a car pulled up next to me. Engrossed in the conversation I initially failed to recognise who it was and then when the window came down realised it was Mufti Shabbir. We met and seeing him unexpectedly made me extremely happy. He then handed me a box of Madinah dates and said this is a gift for you for Ramadan and went on his way. That memory remains with me and I cherished every date in that box. It also then dawned on me that I had taken so much from Mufti Shabbir but given nothing in return.

Maktubat-i-Mashayikh is an interesting read. The letters from Shaykh Yunus Jawnpuri are particularly noteworthy and exemplify the attachment between the two. They also contain a wealth of information on the science of hadith and its commentary. Perhaps the most interesting letter in the collection is the one on page 171 in which Mawlana Yusuf Motala grants Mufti Shabbir khilafah in Tasawwuf and provides some unique and useful advice that would be relevant to any salik. We pray Allah Most High grants Mufti Shabbir a long life, that He accepts his services for the faith and enables us to value this gem who is still among us. Amin.

This review was written at the request of Mawlana Khalil Ahmed Kazi of Madina Academy, Dewsbury, UK.

Taken from basair.net.

A Short Arabic Biography of ʿAllāmah Dr. ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm al-Nuʿmānī Chishtī by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Zāhidānī

I am posting a file of an Arabic biography of our shaykh. This is a more detailed biography than the one I wrote many years ago as a preface to one of his works. The work never got published and its title that I suggested but wasn’t completely approved. In fact, I would like to clarify that this piece also lists the title al-Imām al-Bukhārī bayna al-Ifrāṭ wa al-Tafrīṭ, which was my initial suggestion for the piece because I couldn’t think of anything better. Chishtī Ṣāḥib (and I know some of my colleagues) didn’t seem to approve of the title and didn’t feel it represented the purpose of the book, but it stuck and since the book was never published, it remained on the cover of the file. I have worked on several of the discussions of that unfinished work and published some of the research in English for a paper that should be out shortly in Turkey.

This biography, written by one of Haḍrat’s Irani students from Zahedan, does a wonderful job of capturing elements of his character and his thoughts despite its relative brevity.

Recommended Readings on the Ottoman Empire

In response to an informal enquiry about the Ottoman Empire, Sidi Firas Alkhateeb of Darul Qasim, provided the following brief response and permitted sharing it with our readers. Keep in mind, that this is not a formal write-up and was intended only to give some basic guidelines and resources. The question emerged from Sidi Firas’s wonderful series on the Ottoman Empire (linked here).


Question: (abbreviated)

I’ve been wanting to delve into Ottoman history for a while now, and the recent decision regarding the Ayasofya has really sparked my interest.
I’m wondering if there are any books you can recommend that provide an Islamic history of the Ottoman Empire. It is such a well-studied topic, with many books written on it, so I am hoping you can recommend whatever resources you have found beneficial. 


Answer (also abbreviated):

There is of course a ton of resources, both academic and otherwise on Ottoman history that are available. Navigating them is a bit of challenge, particularly keeping in mind the various shifts in historiography over the past 50 years or so.

Some general guidelines I would offer are:

  • Recognize that historical writing is entirely dependent on one’s framework. An economic historian will analyze his subject through the lens of economics and present it as the primary factor in answering why historical events occurred as they did. Similarly a social historian will prioritize social history, and same for intellectual, political, and military historians. Any book you read is only giving you a part of the picture.
  • Ottoman history is particularly problematic because of the languages necessary to study it. Ottoman Turkish was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic and most Ottoman historians don’t really do their due diligence in studying those languages, so their readings can suffer. Furthermore, in the realm of Ottoman intellectual history, almost everything written by Ottoman ulema was written in Arabic proper, which many historians are not proficient in.
  • Recognize the gap between popular history and academic history. Popular history is mostly what you will find on the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble or on Amazon. It’s usually written by non-specialists and exhibits a very rudimentary (and often plainly incorrect) understanding of historical events and processes. On the other hand, academic history is written by experts in the field but can be overly specialized, and aimed at other experts to the point that it is mostly nonsensical to those not in the field.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, you should never accept any conclusions about the religion of Islam itself from non-Muslim academics under any circumstances. Western academia has an entirely divergent framework that is directly at odds with our tradition and beliefs. It is designed to be secular and atheist. It should never inform your own beliefs. Unfortunately even many Muslims who work in academia are heavily influenced by this framework and their conclusions about Islam are not to be trusted. At the end of the day, you have to take your deen from the scholars of Islam whose job it is to preserve the religion.

With that as a length disclaimer and introduction, I believe the following books can serve as a good introduction:

  • Halil Inalcik’s The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age – Not a perfect book, and outdated in some regards (particularly his analysis of intellectual history), but it can be a good starting point
  • Caroline Finkle’s Osman’s Dream – A pretty length overview narrative of Ottoman history from beginning to end. Focus on the political administration and sultans.
  • Abdurrahman Atçıl’s Scholars and Sultans in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire – This is a more academic book and perhaps can be a bit much for a beginner, but he does a great job of illustrating the importance of ulama on the early Ottoman state.
  • Hüseyin Yılmaz’s Caliphate Redefined – Also academic, with an emphasis on the idea of Ottoman political sovereignty. I find it to be a useful tool in understanding how the Ottomans may have conceived of their political project as being pretty different from everything before them.

Insha’Allah, this serves as a good introduction. As always, more important than studying history is learning a proper academic understanding of Islam itself, which should be the framework through which you understand the past anyways.

Firas (Alkhateeb)

A Reading List on Deoband Studies

The following list was produced by Dr. Shoaib Rasheed on his blog, The Silent Admirer. I have reproduced the list here with the understanding that the list may grow over time and may need updating on this site. In any case, please do visit The Silent Admirer site and subscribe to his content:


Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Wa ‘l-Salatu wa ‘l-Salamu ‘Ala Sayyidina Muhammad

The following is a list of academic books and papers in English on various topics within Deoband Studies. I hope to keep updating this page from time to time as I myself learn more and read new things. Direct links to PDFs of the writings have been provided when possible. If the link does not work, it may mean that it was deleted, and if so, please bring it to my attention, and I will try to find a new link for the same resource.


Overview

  • Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900, Barbara D. Metcalf, Oxford University Press, 2004. Note: Studying the history and intellectual thought of Deoband can be intimidating. There are numerous figures, all with similar-sounding names to keep track of. Furthermore, studying Deoband without understanding the historical, political, and intellectual context in which it developed will most-likely cause confusion at best, and cynicism towards the ulama at worst. Therefore, I highly recommend this book for the reader who has minimal knowledge of Deoband and wants to acquire a preliminary yet comprehensive introduction. The book introduces the reader to the historical setting out of which Deoband grew, as well as some of the other ideologies with which it found itself in conversation with such as Nadwa, Ahl-i Hadis, and Barelwis. It orients the reader to the founding figures of the Deoband, as well as its approach to certain defining topics such as Sufism, Law, and its views on what constitutes an ideal Islamic worldview.
  • The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change, Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton University Press, 2002.

Intellectual Thought

Sufism

Outside the Subcontinent

Women’s Issues

Tablighi Jamat

Miscellaneous