After receiving his primary education in his locality, Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī went to Delhi to continue further studies in Arabic. Although Delhi had lost its prestige, there were still a few madrasas running. Shaykh Qāsim Nanotwī was his fellow classmate there.
Upon returning home to Gangoh after graduation, he thought to himself that he had completed his acquisition of exoteric knowledge and that he should now focus on rectification of the inner-self. Whilst he was still preoccupied with this concern, he had to travel from Gangoh to Thānabhawan with regard to another issue.
THE THREE SAINTS
As I previously mentioned, there were three saints in one masjid of Thānabhawan at one time: Hājī Imdādullāh occupied one corner, Shaykh Muhammad Thānawī occupied another, and Shaykh D’āmin Shahīd would be on a bed at the entrance of the masjid. When someone would enter and offer greetings, Shaykh D’āmin Shahīd would ask, due to his humorous nature, “What is the purpose of your visit?” Thereafter, he himself would say, “If you have come to seek a religious ruling, go to the shaykh over there (pointing towards Shaykh Muhammad Thānawī). If you have come to pledge allegiance to a shaykh, go to the saint in that corner (pointing towards Hājī Imdādullāh). If you would like to smoke hookah, then sit with us friends.
Shaykh D’āmin Shahīd probably smoked hookah. The three saints would eat, drink and sit together. There was a plate of currants and dried fruit which they would consume whilst sitting together, as you occasionally sit casually with your friends snatching and taking from them jokily. This was how they sat together informally, and ate and drank.
When Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī reached Thānbhawan to discuss a religious ruling with Shaykh Muhammad Thānawī, Hājī Imdādullāh forbade him from discussing such religious rulings with his seniors in this manner.
Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī was already considering pledging allegiance to someone. Now that he had an opportunity to carefully observe Hājī Imdādullāh and speak to him in person, although he had gone to discuss a religious ruling, his intention totally changed. Hence, he said to Hājī Imdādullāh that he wished to pledge allegiance to him. Hājī Imdādullāh instructed him to make his way to the masjid, offer two raka’āts of salāt al-istikhāra, and thereafter come back and inform him further.
He then pledged allegiance to Hājī Imdādullāh and thought it wise to learn dhikr and other spiritual exercises from him during the few days he was going to spend there. Thus, Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī began his dhikr and spiritual exercises whilst in the company of Hājī Imdādullāh.
His desire intensified day by day and he ended up completing a period of forty days. His journey was not made with the intention of pledging allegiance, but rather for a religious ruling, but look how the wisdom of Allāh Most High came into play. Upon completing his forty days, Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī returned back to Gangoh. To bid him farewell, Hājī Imdādullāh walked a fair distance with Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī along the route to Gangoh, and he also authorised him with khilāfa.
THE JIHĀD OF SHĀMLĪ
Immediately after receiving khilāfa, he had not yet begun any work when the jihād of Shāmlī took place in 1857. Once Delhi was seized from Muslim control, looting and massacres began happening in the surrounding areas in order to gain control of them too.
MARTYRDOM OF HĀFIZ D’ĀMIN SHAHĪD
Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī and Shaykh Qāsim Nanotwī, both young at the time, were on either side of Hāfiz D’āmin Shahīd at Shāmlī. When he was shot by a bullet, Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī took the fellow disciple of his spiritual mentor [i.e. Hāfiz ‘āmin Shahīd] to a nearby masjid. Following his demise, he was buried in Thānabhawan. There are many incidents regarding Hāfiz ‘āmin Shahīd.
Motala, Yūsuf (-). Manifestations Of Prophet Muhammad’s Beauty (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): The Hearts of Allah’s Saints. London: Azhar Publications. 591 – 594.