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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Rankings of Mujtahids versus types of Ijtihād: Cutting through the confusion

By Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel[1]

Many people keep on talking about various rankings of Mujtahid scholars. This has caused a lot of confusion, as people then feel the need to see which scholar is of what rank. The following discussion is based on simple logic, which everyone should be able to appreciate and agree to. Hopefully by this way, the cloud of confusion can removed and solid facts can be distilled from arbitrary assumptions.

Laying down the foundations: Doing Ijtihad is not the same as being a Mujtahid

There are two separate discussions which many people conflate and confuse with each other. They are separate discussions:

  • The discussion of Ijtihad and Taqlid
  • The discussion of Mujtahids and Muqallids (and Talib if you want to add, see previous note)

The first discussion is in relation to practice, whereas the second is a label attached to the person. This means that:

  • A person worthy of the Mujtahid label may be doing Taqlid in one issue because he hasn’t researched it yet
  • A person who does not carry the title of Mujtahid may have researched an issue well enough to warrant himself Ijtihad in that matter, like is the case with advanced students of knowledge
  • A person who does Ijtihad may not necessarily be worthy of the Mujtahid title – like advanced students of Fiqh who do Ijtihad in a few issues
  • A person who does Taqlid in an issue may well be a Mujtahid scholar but only did Taqlid because he hasn’t researched it properly, or doesn’t have the time to research it, or it’s a niche area out of his area of expertise

The above proves that doing Ijtihad and Taqlid do not automatically make you a Mujtahid or a Muqallid. This also proves that the prerequisites of Ijtihad are different from the characteristics of a Mujtahid, and the prerequisites of Taqlid are different from the characteristics of a Muqallid. Unfortunately, some people these days think if a person does Ijtihad in one issue, he would be implicitly claiming to be a Mujtahid, and would be smeared with the label of neo-Mujtahid. This is totally wrong.

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The Issue of the Ambiguous Attributes of Allāh

By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Translated by Zameelur Rahman

Zuhayr ibn Harb and Ibn Numayr narrated to me: both of them from al-Muqri’. Zuhayr said: from ‘Abdullah ibn Yazid al-Muqri’: he said: Haywah narrated to us: Abu Hani informed me: that he heard Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Hubuli: that he said: ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-’As (Allah be pleased with him) says: that he heard Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say:

“Verily all the hearts of the children of Adam are between two fingers of the fingers of the Most Merciful like one heart. He disposes of them however He wills.” Then Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “O Allah! Disposer of Hearts, dispose our hearts to Your obedience.” (Sahih Muslim)

His statement “two fingers of the fingers of the Most Merciful”: al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “This is one of the hadiths of attributes and there are two views in regards to them which have just preceded:

“One of them is to believe in them without venturing into ta’wil (interpretation) or trying to understand its meaning. Rather, one believes it is the truth and that its outward purport is not intended. Allah Most High said: ‘Naught is as His likeness’ (42:11).

“And the second is to interpret them in a manner that is befitting. According to this, the intended meaning is figurative. This is just as is said, ‘such and such a person is in my grasp and in my palm’; it is not intended by it that he took up residence in his palm, rather the intent is: he is under my power. It is said, ‘such and such a person is between my two fingers, I turn him however I wish’ i.e. that he is under my control and I will dispose of him how I wish. Thus, the meaning of the hadith is that He (Glorified and High is He) disposes of the hearts of His servants and other hearts besides them however He wills. None of them are thwarted from him, and what He intends does not escape Him, just as what is between the two fingers of man is not thwarted from him. Thus, He addresses the Arabs [in a manner] by which they will understand it and the like of it by [making use of] sensual meanings that give assurance to their souls. If it is said: Allah’s Power is one, and ‘two fingers’ (isba’an) is for duality, the response is that it has preceded that this is figurative and metaphorical, so the simile (tamthil) occurred in accordance to what they are used to without intending thereby duality or plurality. And Allah knows best.”

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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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Muftī Khānpūrī: Clarity on the issue of photography

By Mufti Ahmad Khanpuri
Translated By: Mufti Saleem Khan

A great and terrible fitna of this time is picture taking. Nowadays the sickness of taking photos is very common in social gatherings, conferences and even in the Haramain Sharifayn. This fitna has become so common that no matter how much one tries to save himself from it, he cannot. This sin has become so common that people do not even consider it a sin anymore. This time of fitna has made the bad appear as good.

In Islam, aside from a dire need, photography is prohibited. In the hadith shareef, those that take photos have been severely condemned and upon such people is Allah’s curse. Such people will be severely punished on the Day of Judgment [Qiyamah]

Some people have a certain soft spot for pictures of the elders and pious people. Some also keep them close as a source of tabarruk. استغفر الله ، لاحول ولا قوة الا بالله

Remember! It is haram to take and possess photos regardless of whose photos they are and what tool was used to take them. Nowadays using mobile phone cameras has become extremely common. People use their phones to take pictures (of animate things) then send then to one another via WhatsApp. This is a major sin.

Now reverting to the issue at hand.

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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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Opinion: Which country, geography and race has the best Scholars?

By Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel


No body of Muslim scholars deserves elevation over others along the lines of geography or race. It should be every Muslim’s policy to keep scholars of all racial and geographical orientations on one equal pedestal, and respect each as much as the other. That especially includes scholars one has not studied under – students may feel biased to their teachers but that shouldn’t be the norm.

I personally haven’t studied under the scholarly bodies of North Africa, Turkey, Yemen, Levant, Central Asia – the list goes on – but I’ve made it my aim never to let my feelings dictate to me that they are inferior to the Indians or the Hijazis, under whom I have studied for short periods. (And with Allah is Tawfiq)

Apart from one’s own racial bias, and alma mater bias, there can be two scenarios that can lead to the development a superiority complex for certain scholars:

1. One might feel some scholars are closer to the Sunnah than others.

The reality is that scholars from every geography have faults that others do not possess, so the superiority complex shouldn’t ever apply.

So if one feels Egyptians not having beards is deeply obnoxious, then the Indo-Paks aren’t any better when it comes to consuming/allowing paan. And if one finds the Turks’ indifference to certain dodgy Sufi practices to be objectionable, then the Saudis are not in a better position when it comes to their affairs with the rulers. Generally speaking.

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