Imam al-Shāfiʻī, Mālikīs and Egypt: Refuting derogatory remarks

By Mufti Zameelur Rahman

Recently, Nahiem Ajmal (Mufti Abu Layth) has put forward the claim that the great imām, Muḥammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfi‘ī (raḥimahullāh), a founder of one of the four accepted madhhabs of fiqh, developed his ideas of juristic reasoning based on an emotional detachment from his initial allegiance to the school of his great teacher, Imām Mālik, another of the founders of one of the four accepted madhhabs of fiqh. He claims that although al-Shāfi‘ī was valued as a student of Imām Mālik during his time spent in ‘Irāq and Makkah, when he eventually settled in Egypt, he was eclipsed by Mālik’s more prominent students who had spent a longer time with him, and thus no longer held any authority as a representative of Mālik. As a result of being devalued in this way, al-Shāfi‘ī left his allegiance to Mālik, and developed his own juristic theory, in order to become independent of him and his school. Some of Abu Layth’s claims in order to support this idea are as follows:

  • When al-Shāfi‘ī arrived in Egypt, such prominent and long-time students of Mālik as Ibn al-Qāsim and Ibn Wahb were present
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī was a “little boy” when he went to study with Imām Mālik, probably “around 10 or 11”
  • To the Egyptian students of Mālik, al-Shāfi‘ī was a “nobody”
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī said “Layth ibn Sa‘d is more learned than Mālik” in order to provoke the Mālikīs who had “annoyed him”
  • In Egypt, al-Shāfi‘ī didn’t have “many friends”
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī “couldn’t stand Ashhab” because “Ashhab couldn’t stand him”
  • The isnād-centred theory of jurisprudence outlined by al-Shafi‘ī started with him, and he had no precedent

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The Birthdate of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah

By Mawlana Zeeshan Chaudri

He was born in the year 80AH which was during the time of the young companions.[1] Other scholars like Zāhid al-Kawtharī have argued for an earlier date, which would have made it more acceptable for him to have narrated and learnt from the companions.[2] He presents the narration from Tarīkh Bahgdād, where Muzāḥim Ibn Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah[3] narrates from his father (or possibly someone else) that Abū Ḥanīfah was born in the year 61AH[4]. Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī follows this narration up with the words ‘I do not know of any support for the person holding this opinion’[5].

The problem with the narration is apparent, and that is we are not sure who the actual narrator is. Is it Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah or someone else?[6] If the narrator is Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah, then he has been weakened by many Ḥadīth scholars[7] and if it is other than him, then an unknown authority narrates the date. This would then hold no weight.

As for al-Kawtharī’s evidences for an earlier date, he begins by citing from Abū Ḥātim Ibn Ḥibbān’s (d.354/965)[8] biography of Abū Ḥanīfah in his ‘al-Majrūḥīn min al-Muḥaddithīn wa al-Dhu’afā’ wa al-Matrūkīn’[9], which mentions the birthdate of Abū Ḥanīfah as 70AH, without mentioning any other date. This was read by al-Kawtharī in al-Azhar Library, Egypt. Although he does mention that there has been a correction in the margin of the manuscript which places the date at 80AH.[10]

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Ḥafiẓ Patel, the saint of Dewsbury: An Obituary

By Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel

As Dewsbury Markaz was my local mosque growing up, seeing him was a routine occurrence in my daily life. Knowing he is no longer either at Markaz or on a Dawah journey somewhere in the world will take a long time to sink in.

Although no single post can do his life justice, I feel compelled to share some experiences to my connections here and elsewhere, who may not have known him as well but happen to read some of my musings. He was, after all, ultimately responsible for creating hundreds of accomplished graduates in Islamic studies, thousands of people active in the field of Dawah, and hundreds of thousands rectifying their religious lives. I can confidently say that I personally would not be anywhere near what I am today had it not been for his efforts during my life – and, in fact, for his efforts decades before I was even born.

Everybody who knew him – student, teacher, the local layman, and those regularly engaged in Jama`at ‘l-Tabligh – will have their personal experiences and stories about him. I was a student at Markaz during the 98-03 period. I was not present when he really hard-grafted himself into who he eventually became, during the 60s, 70s and 80s. I only hear stories, like how he was advised – for fear of life and limb – not to go out to invite people to the mosque in Johannesburg after nightfall, only to do the exact opposite.

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Conduct of the Salaf with their contemporaries: Respect and honour

By Mawlānā Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān Khān Sherwānī
Translated by Mawlānā Muammad Mahomedy

Mawlānā Muammad Qamaruz Zamān Allāhābādī in his biography of his shaykh, Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh entitled Tadhkirah Muli al-ʼUmmah has included an entire part on the relationship and bond that existed between Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh and his contemporary ‛ulamā’ and mashāykh. In the introduction to this part Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh writes concerning the benefits of writing on this:

The first benefit of this is that the merits and achievements of our elders will come to the fore. Secondly, there is a famous saying which goes:

اَلْمُعَاصَرَةُ سَبَبُ الْمُنَافَرَةِ

Contemporariness is a cause of mutual dissent.

However, the attributes and qualities of our elders clearly demonstrate how they used to respect each other and how one would acknowledge the excellent qualities of the other.

Obviously, our immediate elders strictly followed the ways of our earlier elders. Based on their honesty and sincerity, they were very open-hearted and magnanimous in this regard. They would relate the merits of their contemporaries without hesitation and look up to them with approval.

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The teachers and students of Ḥadīth at Deoband: Method of teaching and learning

By Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Patel Kāpaudrī
Translated by Mawlānā Mahomed Mahomedy

Foreword: The following article is a section of a transcript of a speech delivered by the honourable Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Kāpaudrī at the Jāmi‛ah Riyād al-‛Ulūm, Leicester, on 5th April 2005, entitled: “The need to strive for acquiring knowledge”. Herein he mentions the method of teaching of the great hadith scholars of Dār al-‛Ulūm Deoband and how their teaching differed and changed over time as the calibre of learning of the students changed. At the end he provides pertinent advices to students which is extremely beneficial. With the introduction to these advices being the example of the pious and learned of the past we sincerely pray the Allah instills these qualities of studying and learning in us and every student of the sacred sciences ie. Qurʼān and Ḥadīth. Mawlānā Kāpaudrī begins by mentioning the manner of Shaykh al-Hind’s teaching:

Hadrat ‛Allāmah Balyāwī rahimahullāh said to me: “Maulwī Sāhib! Our Hadrat was not in the habit of lengthy explanations.” He then asked me: “Do you know who I am referring to when I say ‘Our Hadrat’?” I replied: “Hadrat, I do not know.” He said: “When I say ‘Our Hadrat’, I am referring to Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh.” Hadrat ‛Allāmah Ibrāhīm Balyāwī rahimahullāh studied under Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh. He continues: “Our Hadrat was not in the habit of lengthy explanations. He used to teach Tirmidhī Sharīf, Abū Dā’ūd Sharīf and Bukhārī Sharīf. He had very capable students, and they used to read the text (‛ibārat). Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh will have the book in front of him and listen to the student reading. One two pages would be read. This is why it is called daurah – to turn, to repeat. At times, Hadrat would say: ‘Bhāi! Hold on a bit. There can be an objection to this Hadīth because it is against the Hanafīs. But here is the reply to it. A conflicting Hadīth is found in such and such book. You must refer to that book, and whatever is written there is our proof. Okay, let us proceed.’”

If you were to look at the taqrīr of Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh which has been printed, you will find it to be very concise. When I first saw it, I could not understand why it was so concise. But when ‛Allāmah Balyāwī rahimahullāh related this to me, I understood the reason.

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Imam ‛Abū Yūsuf’s Powerful Memory & Profound Intellect

By Shaykh Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari
Translated by Abu Dawud Mahbub ibn ‘Abd al-Karim

Translator’s Preface: The following is an article on the memory of the Qadi, Imam Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ibrahim al-Ansari (d.182AH), the student of Imam Abu Hanifa (d.150AH). It is a translation of a chapter from Husn al-Taqadi fi Sirat Abi Yusuf al-Qadi (pp.14-17) by Shaykh Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari (d.1371AH). The Maktaba al-Azhariyya li al-Turath edition was utilised for this translation – which contains numerous typographical errors due to which the original Arabic quotes have been checked and typed up from their primary sources and have been referenced in the footnotes. This article was translated as a response to some people who have attacked Imam Abu Yusuf’s status in the field of hadith, and more broadly, they attack the Hanafi school of Law as well as the Imams of the madhab and its adherents, accusing them of being weak in hadith.

حافظته القوية وذكاؤه البالغ

Imam Abu Yusuf’s Powerful Memory & Profound Intellect

Abu al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi, in a work of his, mentions Abu Yusuf as one of the hundred extraordinary individuals among the huffaz (prolific memorisers) of this ummah and mentions him in a manner of all-round strength in retention without restricting him merely to memorisation of hadith. He says that Abu Yusuf would memorise fifty-sixty hadith by hearing them only once and would then narrate them [from memory] along with their chains of transmission. This work [by Ibn al-Jawzi] is entitled Akhbar al-Huffaz and [the manuscript] is located in the Zahiriyya Library in Damascus, [it is complete] except that it is missing its first page.

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The Pleasure and Enthusiasm of Seeking Knowledge

By Mawlānā Muhammad Salīm Dhorāt
Translated by Mawlānā Mahomed Mahomedy

‛Allāmah Zamakhsharī rahimahullāh says:

سَهَرِيْ لِتَنْقِيْحِ الْعُلُوْمِ أَلَذُّ لِيْ – مِنْ وَصْلِ غَانِيَةٍ وَطِيْبِ عِنَاقِ وَتَمَايُلِيْ طَرَبًا لحَِلِّ عُوَيْصَةٍ – أَشْهٰى وَأَحْلٰى مِنْ مُدَامَةِ سَاقِ

Remaining awake at night to research and investigate the different sciences is more enjoyable to me than meeting a beautiful singer and her sweet embrace. My swaying from side to side out of joy for having solved a difficulty is more desirable to me and sweeter than the drink which is offered by a waiter.

وَصَرِيْرُ أَقْلَامِيْ عَلٰى أَوْرَاقِهَا – أَحْلٰى مِنَ الدَّوْكَاءِ وَالْعشَُّاقِ وَأَلَذُّ مِنْ نَقْرِ الْفَتَاةِ لِدُفِّهَا – نقَْرِيْ لِأَلْقَى الرَّمَلَ عَنْ أَوْرَاقِيْ(صفحات من صبر العلماء، ص ١٣)

The sound made by my pen as it writes across the page is sweeter to me than daukā’ and ‛ushshāq. The sound of dusting off the dust from the pages of my books is more enjoyable to me than the sound made by a young girl as she is playing her tambourine.

Hadrat Imām Muhammad rahimahullāh said:

لَذَّاتُ الْأَفْكَارِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ لَذَّاتِ الْأَبْكَارِ (حدائق الحنفية، ص ١٥)

To ponder and reflect over academic issues is more enjoyable than the pleasure which is provided by a virgin woman.

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The teachers of Hadith at Deoband and Saharanpur

By Maulana Muḥammad ʿĀshiq Ilāhī al-Barni al-Maẓāhiri
Translated by Shoaib A. Rasheed

Translation of an excerpt from the original Arabic book al-ʿAnāqīd al-Ghāliyah min al-Asānīd al-ʿĀliyah, Maktabat al-Shaykh: Karachi, 1987, Chapter 2


The Dār al-ʿUlūm college in Deoband was founded on the fifteenth of the sacred month of Muḥarram in the year 1283/1866. This occurred in the aftermath of the revolution of the Indians against the British in 1857. Playing a major role in that jihād was Quṭub al-ʿĀrifīn al-Ḥāj Imdādullāh al-Thānawi th. al-Muhājir al-Makki, along with his two beloved companions, Ḥujjat al-Islām Maulana Muḥammad Qāsim al-Nānautawi and the most-revered shaykh, Hadith scholar, and jurist, Maulana Rashīd Aḥmad al-Gangōhi. Ḥāfiẓ Ḍāmin al-Thānawi also participated and was martyred therein (May Allah sanctify their secrets). Their desire in participating was solely the pursuit of the pleasure of Allah (Glorified and Exalted Be He).

When the people of India were defeated in that revolution, these leaders (akābir) and their supporters saw that they did not have the strength that day to resist the British and oust them from India by military force. They also realized the need for a strong institution that could act as a sturdy fortress to protect the Muslims from the venom of deviation and heterodoxy – which the British agents were spewing forth – and to distance them from the tantalizations of Western culture that were drawing the Muslims towards admiration for the British and renunciation of the rulings of Islam.

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Brief analysis of the achievements of the Mughal Empire

By Abu Juwairiya Hamad Khan

It was in 1206, approximately eight hundred years ago, India produced its first major Muslim ruler for several generations. It was the beginning of the longest reign of any religion, empire, civilization, ethnic group, dynasty, political administration or government in the last millennium on the Indian subcontinent.

Muslim rule was to last six hundred and fifty one years, four empires and six strong and powerful rulers. Muslim rulers included Qutubudeen Aibak and Razia Sultana and were among the earliest monarchs before the Mughal Empire. Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb stand out as the most prominent Mughal kings.

The Indian- Ethiopian king Malik Ambar and the most successful Muslim adventurer of 18th century India, Haidar Ali and his son Tipu Sultan are among the possessors of smaller kingdoms that flourished in later years.

Famous monuments built during those seven centuries by Muslim rulers include Qutb Minar and the Taj Mahal.

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ʻAllāmah Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī on learning of English and secular sciences

By Mawlānā Dr. Yunus ʻUthmān

Foreword: The author, Mawlānā Dr. Yunus ʻUthmān, is a graduate of Dār al-Ulūm Karachi. He taught at at Dār al-Ulūm Newcastle (South Africa) for 12 years. During that time he also completed B.A and B.A (Hons) degrees (majoring in Arabic and Science of Religion) at the University of South Africa. In 1994, he was awarded an M.A degree in Islamic studies from the University of Durban-Westville. In 2002, he graduated with a D.Phil degree in Islamic studies at the same University. He continues to serve on various Islamic Trust Boards of a number of Muslim organisation and Islamic seminaries within South Africa. He is also an author of many articles and books. The following article is taken from his thesis, on the life and works of ʻAllāmah Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī, which was submitted in fulfillment of the D.Phil degree in 2001. We hope to publish more edited extracts from this thesis in the near future. This article also follows up on articles which we have published in the past concerning the teaching of secular education in 19th Century India (see “Related article(s)” below). Mawlānā Dr. Yunus ʻUthmān writes:

The influence of the western world was first felt in the Muslim world when the Europeans colonised their countries in the early 19th Century. Thus, prior to the arrival of the Colonialists, all aspects of Muslim life were governed by the Sharīʿah. The Colonialists subsequently imposed their own man-made laws upon the Muslims against their will.

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