About Us
Back Issues
Forthcoming Issues
Print Edition
Contact Us
IOS Minaret Vol-1, No.1 (March 2007)
Vol. 10    Issue 21   16-31 March 2016

Mawlana Anwarullah Faruqi

Professor A. R. MOMIN

The study of great historical personalities, whose lives and contributions left a deep and enduring imprint on their society, who played a pivotal role in changing the course of history and who continue to remain a source of inspiration for millions of people long after they have left this world, forms an interesting chapter in the history of ideas. Mawlana Anwarullah Faruqi was undoubtedly a great and towering figure in the Indian subcontinent in recent history. It is instructive to look at his life and his multi-faceted contributions in a wider historical, political, social and cultural perspective, particularly in the context of the Muslim minority in India and the erstwhile state of Hyderabad.

About three-fourths of the world’s Muslim population is concentrated in 49 Muslim-majority nations. The remaining one-fourth live as minorities in over a hundred non-Muslim countries around the world. Roughly 25 per cent of the world’s Muslim population live as minorities in non-Muslim countries. Since the current global Muslim population is estimated at around 1.85 billion, the number of Muslim minorities worldwide is approximately 450 million. About three quarters of Muslim minorities world-wide live in five countries: India (171 million), Ethiopia (38 million), China (22 million), Russia (20 million) and Tanzania (13 million).

Historically, the Muslims of India occupy a unique position among the world’s Muslim minorities on account of three factors. First, over the past thousand years or more, Muslims in India have steadfastly guarded their religious beliefs and rituals, cultural identity and the autonomy of their religious, legal and cultural institutions, often in the face of formidable challenges and impediments. Second, despite their meagre resources, they have played an exceptionally important role in the advancement and dissemination of Islamic learning through a country-wide network of madaris, awqaf, research academies and publication agencies.

The contribution of Indian ulama to Hadith literature is particularly note-worthy. India has produced a galaxy of scholars of Hadith, including Shaykh Abu Ma’shar Sindhi, Shaykh Raziuddin Hasan Saghani, Shaykh Tahir Sindhi, Shaykh Ali Muttaqi, Shaykh Abdul Wahhab Muttaqi, Shaykh Muhammad Tahir Patni, Shaykh Abul Hasan Sindhi, Shah Abdul Haqq Muhaddis Dehlavi, Shah Waliullah Muhaddis Dehlavi, Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddis Dehlavi, Mawlana Abdul Hai Firangimahli, Hazrat Abdullah Shah Naqshbandi, Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri and Mawlana Habibur Rahman al-Azami. A number of invaluable and rare books on Uloom al-Hadith, such as Musannaf Abd al-Razzaq, Musnad Humaydi, Sunan Sa’id ibn Mansur al-Khurasani, Musannaf ibn abi Shaybah, Abdullah ibn Mubarak’s Kitab al-Zuhd war-Raqaiq and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s Al-Matalib al-aliyah, were published for the first time through the dedication and painstaking efforts of Muslim scholars in India.

Indian Muslims played a highly important role in the global spread of Islamic movements, particularly Sufism and Tablighi Jama’at. In the 19th century, some of the disciples of Shah Ghulam Ali, a prominent Naqshbandi Sufi shaykh of Delhi (d. 1824), such as Muhammad Jan al-Makki, Ahmad Sa’id and Muhammad Mazhar, played an important role in the spread of the Naqshbandiya order in the Hejaz. Muhammad Jan al-Makki initiated many Turkish pilgrims into the order, who subsequently established branches of the Naqshbandiya order in Ottoman Turkey. Ahmad Sai’d and Muhammad Mazhar initiated people from Turkey, Daghestan, Kazan, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Malaysia into the Naqshbandiya order. Tablighi Jamaat, one of the most prominent and influential transnational Islamic movements, was founded by Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (1885-1944) in northern India in 1926. Today it has branches in nearly 100 countries around the world.

The third distinctive feature of the presence of Muslims in India is their active participation in the formation of India’s composite, hybrid civilizational legacy, which has been the bedrock of Indian society for centuries, and in the nationalist movement.

During the British colonial period, about a fourth of the Indian subcontinent was under the control of Hindu and Muslim rulers. Hyderabad was one of the largest princely states. The Nizam dynasty was established by Nizamul Mulk Asif Jah I, Nawab Mir Qamruddin Khan, in 1724. During his reign Hyderabad attained unprecedented heights of glory. It became a hub of highly creative scholarly, educational and cultural activities. Muslims accounted for about 13 per cent of the population of Hyderabad. It represented, like medieval Spain, a Muslim polity with a non-Muslim majority population. Though Muslims occupied most of the administrative positions, Hindus also held important positions as officials, commissioners and minsters in the Nizam’s government. Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad was prime minister of Hyderabad state from 1901 to 1912 and again from 1926 to 1937. Hyderabad’s ruling dynasty guaranteed the protection of the beliefs and rituals and social, legal and cultural institutions of their Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Zoroastrian subjects. Hindu and Jain temples, Sikh gurudwaras, Christian churches and the fire temples of the Zoroastrians regularly received grants from the state. During the reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan, jagirs admeasuring over 200,000 acres together with an annual grant of 97,000 rupees were given to Hindu temples. Necklaces made from gold and precious stones and other gifts were sent by the Nizam to the temple at Bhadrachalam during the Ramnavmi feast. Special court sessions were held to celebrate Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian feasts. In 1927 Mir Osman Ali Khan gave a donation of 200,000 rupees to Tagore’s Shanti Niketan and 20,00,000 to Banaras Hindu University. Grants were given to Hindu schools named after Shivaji in Marathwada. The state also gave grants for the publication of the Mahabharata. Muslim employees of the Nizam government were given a special six months leave and advance salary for the leave period for the performance of the Hajj. Similar concessions were extended to Hindus, Christians, Jews and other religious communities for pilgrimage to their sacred shrines.

One of the distinctive features of Indian civilization is its syncretic, hybrid character. The fabric of Indian civilization has been woven from strands and hues drawn from a variety of sources. The efflorescence of this composite cultural ethos was witnessed across large parts of the country, especially in Delhi, Bengal, Gujarat and Hyderabad. In Hyderabad state, this syncretic cultural tradition was fostered by the enlightened policies of the Nizams and was conspicuously reflected in social interaction, language and literature, customs and manners and cuisines and dress patterns.

Hyderabad has had a long tradition of patronage of education and art by the ruling class. It is note-worthy that some women from the royal households evinced a keen interest in the promotion of education. Queen Hayat Bakhshi Begum from the Qutbshahi dynasty set up a school which had 125 residential rooms for teachers and students. The Nizams were great patrons of learning and arts. Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, one of the major works in Hadith literature, was published for the first time in Egypt, and the publication was made possible by a generous grant from the Nizam of Hyderabad. Hyderabad had the distinction of having the largest number of valuable and rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts in South Asia. Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah has written that Hyderabad ranked third in the world, after Istanbul and Cairo, in respect of the number of Islamic manuscripts. An estimated 50,000 Arabic and Persian manuscripts were in possession of the family of Qazi Badruddawlah. This collection has some extremely rare Arabic manuscripts. One of them is a rare manuscript of ibn al-Qayyim’s book Ahkam ahl al-dhimmah, written in 869 AH. The manuscript, which was discovered and identified by Dr. Hamidullah, was edited and published by Dr Sabhi Salih, a distinguished scholar of Beirut. Another rare manuscript is Tuhfah al-ashraf bi ma’rifah al-atraf by Jamaluddin al-Mizzi. The book was published in several volumes from Bombay in 1965. Some 30 rare Arabic manuscripts from Kutubkhana Sai’diya were published by Dairatul Ma’arif al-Uthsmaniyah. UNESCO has taken microfilms of some 20 Arabic manuscripts and the Arab League has taken microfilms of 25 Arabic manuscripts from Kutubkhana Saidiyah. The Dubai-based Juma’ al-Majid Centre for Culture and Islamic Legacy has taken microfilms of dozens of Arabic manuscripts in Kutubkhana Khaliliyah.

The idea of Islamization of knowledge, which is aimed at the restructuring of all forms of knowledge, particularly the social sciences and the humanities, in an Islamic normative and epistemological framework, was first conceived and enunciated by AbdulHamid AbuSulayman in the early 1980s. The idea was conceived in the context of the intellectual decline of the Muslim ummah in recent decades. It was subsequently taken up and expanded by Ismail Raji al-Faruqi (1922-86), and is now the flagship project of the international institute of Islamic Thought, Virginia, USA.

Al-Faruqi believed that the root cause of the intellectual decline of the Muslim ummah was the unfortunate duality and dichotomy between the traditional system of Islamic learning and modern Western education. He emphasized the need for integrating the two systems. It is instructive to note that a pioneering and fruitful initiative in this direction was taken at Osmania University in the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad in undivided India almost a century ago. Osmania University was established by the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1918 for the purpose of integrating the traditional Islamic system of education and the Western education system and for bridging the gap between the ulama and the Western-educated Muslim intelligentsia. The medium of instruction at the university for all subjects, including the natural sciences, medicine and engineering, was Urdu, the official language and lingua franca of the state. English was made a compulsory part of the curriculum. In order to facilitate the teaching of modern subjects in Urdu, a Translation Bureau was established, which was tasked with the translation of major works in philosophy, history, law, medicine and mathematics from English, French, German and other European languages into Urdu. The teaching faculty at the university included qualified ulama as well as teachers who were trained in modern disciplines at reputed universities in India and abroad. Several new and innovative subjects such as Islamic economics and Islamic international law were introduced. This innovative experiment was greatly appreciated by some of the leading thinkers and scientists of the 20th century, including the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, Sir Muhammad Iqbal and Sir C. V. Raman. The university produced some well-known and internationally-renowned scholars like Muhammad Hamidullah. Unfortunately, this glorious chapter in the history of education came to a tragic end with the disintegration of the state of Hyderabad and its incorporation into the Indian Union in 1948.

It is remarkable that the first successful experiment in imparting higher education, including science, medicine and engineering, in an Indian language was carried out at Osmania University nearly a century ago. Together with Urdu, the teaching of Telugu, Marathi and Kannada, which were spoken by sizeable sections of the population in the state of Hyderabad, were also made a compulsory part of the curriculum.

I would like to briefly focus on the contribution of Hyderabad state to the resolution of a baffling problem related to fasting in abnormal time zones. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is observed according to the lunar calendar. In most parts of the Muslim world, the duration of fasting days in Ramadan is generally between 14 and 16 hours. However, in the Northern Hemisphere (above 48 degrees latitude) days are extremely long in summer and nights extremely short in winter. Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Alaska (USA), St Petersburg (Russian Federation) and northern Canada experience extreme variations in the length of days and nights in summer and winter. Regions to the north of the Arctic Circle experience what is known as the ‘midnight sun’ in summer. From June 12 to July 1 the sun stays up around the clock and does not set. In some parts of Norway and Sweden the sun never goes down for nearly two months in summer and there is broad daylight around the clock. In winter the Northern Hemisphere experiences what is known as ‘polar nights.’ From November 25 to January 21 the sun does not rise above the horizon. In Norway’s capital Oslo, for example, nights are extremely long in winter, lasting for 16 hours while days are short, lasting for 8 or 9 hours.

The extremely long days in summer and long nights in winter in the Arctic Circle raise questions about the timings of prayer and fasting. The historian Masudi (d. 345 AH) and the astronomer Albiruni (d. 440 AH) have mentioned that days and nights in the regions located near the poles are unusually long. An eminent Turkish scholar Haji Khalifa (d. 1658 CE) raised the question about determining the timings of prayers and fasting in the regions near the poles.

The question of determining the timings of prayer and fasting in the Northern Hemisphere is no longer a hypothetical one. Since the early 1980s, thousands of Muslims, mainly immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, have settled in northern Europe. Kiruna, the northernmost part of Sweden located 145 km north of the Arctic Circle, is home to approximately 700 Muslims. Over 1,000 Muslims are living in Tromso in Norway, 350 km north of the Arctic Circle. The population of Muslims in Iceland exceeds 1,200. More than 42,000 Muslims are living in St Petersburg. Finland has a Muslim population of approximately 60,000.

In the Quran and Hadith, the timings of prayer and fasting are stipulated on the basis of such natural signs as dawn, sunrise, sunset and the disappearance of twilight. Since these signs are markedly different in the Northern Hemisphere in summer and winter, Muslims living in the region are faced with a dilemma. In Makkah, for example, the variations in the duration of fasting days throughout the year are within 2 hours and 44 minutes. In Oslo, there is a variation of 12 hours in the length of days in summer and winter. In Lulea, a city in the north of Sweden, the dawn time in June is 00:51 a. m. and the sunset time is 11:43 p. m. If one observes the fast according to local timings, the fasting day will last for 21 to 23 hours, leaving just about one or two hours for breaking the fast, suhur for the following day and maghrib, isha and tarawih prayers.

Muslims living in the Northern Hemisphere follow different patterns and time schedules for beginning and breaking the fast. In Kiruna, Sweden, the majority of Muslims follow the timings of the Swedish capital Stockholm, 1,240 km further south, where there are days and nights in summer, unlike in Kiruna, and where fasting days in summer last for about 20 hours. This is according to the advice given by the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR). Some of them follow the timings of Makkah and Madinah for beginning and breaking the fast while others follow the timetable of Istanbul, the closet Muslim city from Kiruna. A few of them follow the local timings. In Tromso, Norway, Muslims generally follow the timings of Makkah and Madinah for prayer and fasting.

There is a good deal of confusion, contestation and uncertainty about fasting times in many parts of northern Europe, mainly due to an absence of consensus among scholars and jurists about prayer and fasting timings in the Northern Hemisphere. Broadly, one can identify three distinct legal opinions or fatwas in respect of prayer and fasting timings in those regions of the Northern Hemisphere which have extremely long days in summer and long nights in winter. One of the earliest views on the subject was expressed by Muhammad Abduh. He argued that the timings for prayer and fasting, which are stipulated in the Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah and which are based on such natural phenomena as dawn, sunrise, sunset and the disappearance of twilight, are applicable to regions that have normal or moderate days and nights. He suggested that in the Northern Hemisphere, where days are extremely long in summer and nights extremely long in winter, the timings for prayer and fasting should be estimated or calculated in accordance with the timings of those regions which have normal or moderate days and nights.

There is some difference of opinion among Muslim scholars and jurists about the lands which have normal days and nights and which could be used as a yardstick for the estimation of timings for prayer and fasting in the Northern Sphere. Some jurists have suggested that the timings for prayer and fasting in Makkah and Madinah should be followed in the Northern Hemisphere. Others are of the view that the timings of the nearest regions with normal or moderate days and nights should be adopted for the purpose. Muhammad Abduh held that both opinions are valid and legitimate. Abduh’s views have been endorsed by Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah as well as several eminent Muslim scholars, including Shaykh Mustafa al-Zarqa, Mahmud Shaltut, former Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Juma’a, former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Jadd al-Haqq, former Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Shaykh Muhammad Abu Hashim, former Grand Mufti of Jordan.

In 1930 a committee comprising some ulama and scientists was constituted in the erstwhile Hyderabad state for the purpose of offering suggestions, in the light of Islamic law as well as scientific observations, about the determination of the timings of prayers and fasting in the regions near the poles. After much deliberation the committee suggested that the world’s regions should be classified into normal and abnormal zones, and that this classification should be based on the length of days. The two zones should be divided by drawing a line at 45 degrees latitude. The normal zone would comprise the regions that lie at 45 degrees latitude, and the timings for prayers and fasting that prevail in the normal zone should be made applicable to the regions that lie in the abnormal zone above or below 45 degrees latitude. In other words, the timings for prayers and fasting in the abnormal zone should be determined not according to the movement of the sun but the movement of the clock. The timings for prayer and fasting in Paris, for example, would be applicable to Sweden and Norway. This suggestion was later approved by the ulama of Makkah, Madinah and Cairo.

A conference of Muslims jurists and astronomers was held in Istanbul about three or four decades ago. All the jurists gathered there agreed that the areas above 64 degrees latitude in the north and below 64 degrees latitude in the south should be considered 'abnormal zones' wherein people should not follow the movement of the sun but the movement of the clock for their daily prayers and fasting. They can pray and fast according to the timings of the cities that are nearest to them in the normal time zone, i.e. below 64 degrees north or above 64 degrees south.

Muhammad Hamidullah (1908-2002), a renowned Islamic scholar and a product of Jamia Nizamia, proposed that regions that are above 45 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere and those below 45 degrees latitude in the Southern Hemisphere should be considered abnormal for the purpose of determining the timings for prayers and fasting and that these regions should follow the timings of normal zones at 45 degrees latitude. He suggested that if one takes the latitude of 45 degrees North or South as the limit of a normal zone, the maximum duration of fasting days in the northern region would be 16 hours and the minimum 8 hours. Dr. Jasser Auda, Director of Maqasid Institute, London, basically agrees with Professor Hamidullah’s suggestion.

Mawlana Anwarullah Faruqi

Mawlana Faruqi’s ancestors came to India from Afghanistan. His father, Qazi Abu Muhammad Shujauddin, who was an eminent scholar and jurist, was a magistrate in the town of Nirmal, which is now in Telegana. Mawlana Faruqi was born in 1847 in Nanded, which was then a part of the state of Hyderabad and is now in the state of Maharashtra. From his early years he showed signs of exceptional precocity and intellectual abilities. He memorised the whole text of the Quran at the age of eleven.

As an aside, I would like to mention that a Tabi’i scholar, Qatadah ibn Di’mah, has observed that Allah has bestowed on the Muslim ummah an extraordinary ability of memorization and recollection. A striking manifestation of this ability is in the tradition of memorizing the Holy Quran, which has continued uninterrupted during the past 14 centuries of the Islamic era. Even today, thousands of young Muslim children of 12 or 13 years of age across the world, including those whose mother tongue is not Arabic, memorize the entire text of the Quran in three or four years. There is no parallel to this amazing phenomenon in any other society or civilization, past or present.

Mawlana Faruqi was tutored in Islamic disciplines by his father as well as some distinguished ulama of his time, such as Mawlana Abdul Haleem Firangimahli, Mawlana Abdul Hai Firangimahli and Shaykh Abdullah, a Yemeni scholar. Mawlana Faruqi’s father had a deep interest in Sufism. Mawlana Faruqi imbibed this influence quite early in his life and was initiated by his father into the Chishtiyah, Qadiriyah and Naqshbandiyah orders of Sufism.

Mawlana Faruqi’s life and personality can be regarded as truly exemplary. He was deeply inspired and influenced by the life and teachings of the Prophet, his companions and the scholars, jurists and savants of the early centuries of the Islamic era. He led an extremely simple and frugal life and used to spend much of his time in teaching, reading, reflection, writing, prayers and dhikr. He was extremely courteous and affectionate in his interaction with people and was exceptionally generous. He had great affection and concern for students and took care of their needs. It seems to me that Mawlana Faruqi was inspired by the example of Imam Abu Hanifah. Though Imam Abu Hanifah was a prosperous trader and businessman, his life’s mission was the codification of Islamic law. The Imam devoted much of his time to teaching and discussing the intricacies of Islamic law with his students. At the same time, he took care of the material needs of his students. One of his brilliant students was Abu Yusuf, who came from a poor family. Abu Yusuf, who later became one of the central figures in Hanafi jurisprudence and was appointed the chief justice of the Abbasid Empire by Harun al-Rashid, used to say that Imam Abu Hanifah took care of his family’s expenses for over 20 years.

In spite of his multiple responsibilities and engagements, Mawlana Faruqi devoted considerable time to reading and writing. He wrote nearly 50 books in Urdu and Arabic on a wide range of subjects, including Hadith, Fiqh, biography of the prophet and Sufism. A notable quality of Mawlana Faruqi’s writings is the combination of erudition and lucidity of expression. They are accessible and useful for scholars and students as well as the general reader. Mawlana Faruqi passed away in 1918.

Mawlana Faruqi led a highly productive and eventful life. He was a scholar of repute, a dedicated and inspiring teacher, a passionate collector of rare Islamic manuscripts, an institution-builder and a social reformer. He attached great importance to learning and education. He emphasized that one of the fundamental qualities that differentiate humans from animals is the capacity for reasoning and acquiring knowledge. Mawlana Faruqi was deeply conscious of the role and responsibility of the ulama. The Prophet declared that the ulama are heir to the legacy of the prophets. He also said that the ulama of the Muslim ummah are like the prophets of the Jews. This suggests that the ulama have been entrusted with the formidable responsibility of carrying on the prophetic mission.

Muslim societies around the world are characterised by an enormous amount of diversity, which is conspicuously reflected in languages, customs and traditions, food habits and dress patterns. At the same time, an unmistakable thread of unity binds all Muslim communities together. Muslims speak hundreds of different languages, but they all read the Quran in the Arabic language and script and offer prayers in Arabic. Islamic Shariah continues to remain a foundational source of guidance for Muslims all over the world. Ernest Gellner, a perceptive observer of Muslim societies, has remarked that “for all the indisputable diversity, the remarkable thing is the extent to which Muslim societies resemble each other.” This uniformity is all the more puzzling, Gellner adds, in the theoretical absence of a Church and hence of a central authority. An eminent scholar, T. B. Irving, says that “one great characteristic of Islam has been its universal appeal to widely divergent peoples living all over the globe.”

The ulama have played a central role in ensuring the continuity and transmission of Islamic beliefs and rituals, moral principles and precepts, legal prescriptions and educational and cultural institutions from generation to generation.

Mawlana Faruqi’s life exemplifies the mission, role and responsibility of Muslim ulama as envisioned and emphasized by the Prophet. He made a pioneering contribution to the advancement and dissemination of Islamic learning through the establishment of a network of madaris, libraries, research academies and a publication bureau. The most outstanding among these institutions is Jamia Nizamia. Mawlana Farqui had a long association with Jamia Nizamia as its founder, as a teacher and head and as its chancellor. He donated his rich personal collection of Arabic and Persian books, including many rare Arabic manuscripts, to the library of Jamia Nizamia. Mawlana Faruqi served as Shaykhul Jamia or Chancellor of Jamia Nizamia for 44 years. Under his stewardship, Jamia Nizamia emerged as a premier institution of Islamic learning in the Indian subcontinent. The competence of teachers and the quality of education at Jamia Nizamia can be illustrated with an interesting incident. Professor D. S. Margoliouth, a renowned British Orientalist and scholar of Arabic, came to India in the early 1920s. Margoliouth had taught Arabic language and literature at the University of London for nearly half a century. He had edited and translated a number of rare Arabic manuscripts, including Yaqut’s Mu’jam al-udaba (in 7 volumes), al-Sam’ani’s Kitab al-ansab and Rasail Abul ‘Ula al-Muarri. In the course of his visit to India, Margoliouth delivered lectures in Hyderabad, Calcutta, Bombay and Lahore. He gave a lecture in chaste Arabic at Jamia Nizamia. After his lecture, Mawlana Ibrahim Adeeb Rizvi, who taught Arabic at Jamia Nizamia, rose to thank the distinguished speaker. He spoke extempore in Arabic verse. Margoliouth was astounded and taken aback at Mawlana Rizvi’s extraordinary proficiency in Arabic. Mawlana Rizvi wrote about 20 books in Arabic and Urdu, including Lamiyah al-Dakan, a rejoinder to Lamiyah al-Arab, which is regarded as a masterpiece of Arabic literature.

Mawlana Faruqi believed that the most potent institution for the dissemination of Islamic learning and its transmission from generation to generation is the madrasa. Through his initiative and efforts, a wide network of madaris were established in parts of Hyderabad, Khuldabad, Bidar and Ajmer.

Another pioneering contribution of Mawlana Faruqi is the establishment of Dairah al-Ma’arif al-Uthmaniyah in 1891 for the publication of rare Arabic manuscripts. Since its inception, this unique academy has published over 160 rare and extremely valuable Arabic manuscripts. Some of these books include Ibn Habib’s Kitab al-muhabbar, Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s Tahzib al-tahzib (in 12 volumes) Taqrib al-tahzib and Al-durar al-kaminah, Ibn Abd al-Barr’s Al-Istia’b fi ma’rifah al-ashab, Dhahabi’s Tadhkirah al-huffaz, Ibn al-Jawzi’s Al-Muntazam, Yafi’i’s Miratul jinan and Shaykh Ali Muttaqi’s Kanz al-ummal (in 9 volumes).

The editing and publication of rare Arabic manuscripts by Dairah al-Ma’arif al-Uthmaniyah has been greatly appreciated by Muslim as well as European scholars from all over the world. When the eminent Egyptian scholar Sayyid Rashid Rida (d. 1935) visited Hyderabad in 1912 and came to know of the books that were published by Daira, he expressed his deep appreciation and said, “If our Muslim brothers in India had not devoted their efforts to the teaching and dissemination of the disciplines that deal with Hadith, the discipline of Hadith would have disappeared from the world. This is so because the discipline of Hadith had reached the high point of decline in its original centres, such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Hijaz.”

Mawlana Faruqi established an academy called Majlish Isha’atul Uloom, for the publication of Islamic books in 1330 AH. The academy, which is a part of Jamia Nizamia, has published more than 125 books on Islamic subjects. Mawlana Faruqi was instrumental in the creation of a public Islamic library, known as Kutubkhana Asifiyah, in 1308.

An eminent Sufi Shaykh, Hamdun Qassar, who lived in the third century of the Islamic era, has perceptively observed that high intelligence often produces vanity and conceit. Khwaja Nizamuddin Awliya once remarked that when a person acquires a mastery over Islamic learning and practices according to the principles of Islamic Shariah, he tends to become vulnerable to self-complacency and haughtiness. At this critical moment he needs a spiritual guide or mentor who can save him from falling into such a trap. Khwaja Nizamuddin added that the mentor (pir) is like a professional woman who decorates the bride and enhances her beauty.

I mentioned earlier that Mawlana Faruqi was profoundly influenced by Sufism and that he was initiated into the major orders of Sufism by his father. Later, when he went on the Hajj pilgrimage in 1294, he met with Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki, a highly respected Sufi Shaykh of Indian origin who had settled in Makkah, and became his disciple.

In recent years Sufism has come to be surrounded by a good deal of controversy and contestation. On the one hand, some extremist followers of Sufi saints consider the Shariah and Tariqah (Sufism) as separate domains and indulge, out of reverence towards the Sufi saints, in ritual practices, particularly during the urs celebrations at Sufi shrines, which are antithetical to the tenets of Shariah. On the other hand, another extremist group dismisses Sufism as an un-Islamic innovation and accretion (bida’) that has crept into Muslim society.

One needs to steer clear of both the extremes and take a reasoned and balanced view of Sufism. The essence of Sufism, which is derived from the Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah and the precepts of his companions and the Sufi masters from the early centuries of the Islamic era, is the cultivation of an intense consciousness of divine presence and omnipotence, the establishment of a personal, intimate communion between God and man, the purification of the mind and heart from moral and psychological impurities and the cultivation of moral qualities of a sublime order, and selfless service to mankind. Shaykh Ali Hujwiri, in his classic work on Sufism, Kashf al-Mahjub, points out that though the word Sufi and Tasawwuf did not exist during the time of the Prophet and his companions, its quintessential features were conspicuously present. The essence of Sufism is described as Ihsan in a Hadith: “Ihsan is that you worship Allah as though you see Him; if you are not able to do so, imagine that Allah is seeing you.”

Mawlana Faruqi sought to clear the misconceptions about Sufism by pointing out that there is no incompatibility or conflict between Shariah and Tasawwuf and that the two are inseparable and complementary. This view is espoused by all prominent Sufi masters, including Junayd al-Baghdadi, Abu Sulayman Darani, Abu Abdullah Maghribi, Abul Qasim Nasrabadi, Abu Talib Makki, Abul Hasan Shadhili, Abu Sai’s Abul Khayr, Abd al-Wahhab al-Shi’rani, Abul Qasim Quashayri, Imam Ghazali, Abdul Qadir Jilani, Shihabuddin Suharwardi and Ali Hujwiri. Junayd al-Baghdadi, one of the most prominent Sufi masters of the early period, has said, “He who has not memorized the Holy Quran and has not written Hadith will not be followed in this field (Sufism) because this discipline of ours (Tasawwuf) is fundamentally bound by the Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah.” One can clearly see in Mawlana Faruqi’s writings as well as in his life and personality a finely crafted balance between scholarship, strict adherence to the principles and tenets of Shariah and spiritual and moral refinement of a high order, which is the hallmark of Sufism.

All Sufis and Sufi orders agree on the fundamental objectives and goals of Sufism. However, there are some differences of a minor nature among the various Sufi orders in respect of emphasis and method. The Sufis emphasize that there are multiples ways in which one could reach Allah. The Chishti Sufis place an enormous amount of emphasis on cultivating the love of Allah, cleansing the mind and heart from undesirable qualities and traits and replacing them with noble qualities and keeping away from the company of the ruling class. They consider mystic music as a means of inducing mystic ecstasy. The Sufis of the Naqshbandiyah order emphasize strict adherence to the tenets of Islamic Shariah, espouse engagement with society and take an active stance in the face of wrong-doing and injustice. The Qadiriyah order emphasizes that the adept must strictly adhere to the practices that are mandated by the Shariah and must, at the same time, engage in dhikr. The Qadiriyah and Suharwardiyah Sufis do not approve of any form of music. Unlike the Chishti Sufis, the Sufis of the Suharwardiyah order do not consider it improper to interact with the ruling class. Many Sufis of the Suharwardiyah order acted as intermediaries between kings and the masses and used their influence on the ruling elite for easing their hardships.

Mawlana Faruqi imbibed the distinctive features and qualities of the Chishtiyah, Qadiriyah, Suharwardiyah and Naqshbandiya orders of Sufism through his father and Shaykh Imdadullah Muhajir Makki. His kindness and compassion, his self-effacing demeanour and his concern for the poor reflected the pervasive influence of the Chishtiyah order. His social engagement and his active role in social reform and reconstruction was inspired by the tenets of the Naqshbandiyah order. Inspired by the example of the Suharwardiyah Sufis, Mawlana Faruqi interacted with the ruling elite and used his influence on them for the public good. He was entrusted with the responsibility of tutoring the 6th Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, and the 7th Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. He was appointed the Director of the Department of Religious Affairs and in 1911 Mir Osman Ali Khan appointed him as a minister. However, despite official responsibilities and engagements, he continued to teach at Jamia Nizamia.

Though Mawlana Faruqi was a committed and practicing Sufi, he was against several pagan and un-Islamic social and ritual practices that had crept into Sufi circles. In the 19th century, professional dancing women used to perform during the urs celebrations of Sufi saints. Mawlana Faruqi ordered the closure of such practices and restored the dignity of Sufi shrines.

Mawlana Faruqi was a sincere and fearless social reformer. He raised his voice against many retrogressive and un-Islamic social and cultural practices that were prevalent in Hyderabad. He set up an organisation called Anjuman Islah-e- Musalmanan for the purpose of eradicating such practices. As Director of the Department of Religious Affairs, he put an end to immoral practices and stopped the sale of drugs and other illegal substances in the state. He ordered the inspection of weights and measurements and the replacement of faulty or dubious weights and measurements with correct ones. In the 19th century, marriages were surrounded by a number of irrational and wasteful customs and traditions. Mawlana Faruqi used his religious and moral influence and his official authority to curb such customs and traditions.

Mawlana Faruqi’s illustrious legacy was carried forward by some of his dedicated students and disciples and by the institutions he had established, particularly Jamia Nizamia, Dairah al-Ma’arif al-Uthmaniyah and Majlish Isha’atul Uloom.

Mawlana Abul Wafa Afghani

Mawlana Abul Wafa Afghani was born in 1310 AH in Qandhar in Afghanistan. He came to Hyderabad at a young age in pursuit of Islamic learning and enrolled as a student at Jamia Nizamia. After completing his education under the tutelage of Mawlana Faruqi and other eminent teachers, he was appointed as a teacher at Jamia Nizamia, where he taught Hadith, Fiqh and Arabic language and literature until his retirement. He remained celibate and devoted his whole life to teaching, reading and Islamic research. He passed away in 1395.

A monumental contribution of Mawlana Afghani is the establishment of a research and publication academy in memory of Imam Abu Hanifah, known as Ihya al-Ma’arif al-Nu’maniyah, in 1348. The objective of the academy was the identification, collection, collation, editing and publication of the rare books of Imam Abu Hanifah and his eminent disciples, particularly Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Shaybani. Mawlana Faruqi agreed to be the academy’s patron. Mawlana Afghani and his colleagues and students, especially Dr. Hamidullah, painstakingly searched for the rare books of the masters of Hanafi jurisprudence in the libraries of the Indian subcontinent, Istanbul and Cairo and discovered more than a dozen extremely rare and valuable manuscripts on the foundational sources on Hanafi jurisprudence. The major works published by the academy are the following:

Kitab al-Athar by Imam Abu Yusuf
Al-Radd ala siyar al-Awzai’ by Imam Abu Yusuf
Kitab al-Asl by Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Shaybani
Al-Jami’ al-Kabir by Imam Shaybani
Al-Hujjah ala ahl al-Madinah by Imam Shybani
Manaqib abi Hanifah al-Nu’man by Shamsuddin Dhahabi

Jamia Nizamia

The religious and intellectual legacy of Mawlana Faruqi has been continued and carried forward by Jamia Nizamia. It ranks as one of the most distinguished institutions of Islamic learning in India. The library of Jamia Nizamia, which was established at the initiative of Mawlana Faruqi, has more than 100,000 valuable books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, including thousands of rare Arabic manuscripts. Many of them were donated by Mawlana Faruqi. During the past 140 years, over 500,000 students have graduated from Jamia Nizamia and more than 1500,000 students have completed various courses conducted by the Jamia. Currently, over 30,000 students are enrolled at the Jamia, including some from the Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia. Jamia Nizamia has produced some outstanding scholars such as Mawlana Abul Wafa Afghani and Dr Muhammad Hamidullah. The alumni of Jamia Nizamia include not only Muslims but also some Hindus. Dr Ramakrishna Rao, a former chief minister of Hyderabad, was a student of Jamia Nizamia.

Jamia Nizamia is recognised as a deemed university by the University Grants Commission and as a centre for advanced Islamic research by Al-Azhar University, Jamia Madinah al-Munawwara and Aligarh Muslim University. In 1997 a women’s college was established. In addition to imparting instruction in Islamic learning, Jamia Nizamia also provides religious and moral guidance through its Dar al-Ifta. More than 2,000 fatwas are issued by Jamia’s Dar al-Ifta every year. The fatwas issued by Dar al-Ifta are recognised by Indian courts.

Modern information and communication technologies are the lifeline of globalization. In the past few years the Internet has emerged as an important source of information on Islam and Muslims. The entire text of the Quran, including recitation and translations and commentaries into English, French and other languages, several collections of Hadith and Islamic law and legal edicts (fatawa) are now available online. An important aspect of the digitization of Islam is the preparation of CD-ROM discs containing 7,500 Hadith from the seven authoritative collections of Hadith, with translations of selected texts in ten languages. In 2000, more than 14,000 fatwas could be found on the Internet. The US-based IslamiCity has published more than 5,000 fatwas on the Internet. One can get fatawa online from http:///www.sunnah.org/fatwa, efatwa.com, askimam.com and other sites. Online fatwas are available in English, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Urdu and Thai languages. Cairo’s famed Al-Azhar University runs an “Islamic Hotline,” where users can call or email a question, which is answered within 48 hours. Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi hosts a hugely popular Arabic programme Al-Shariah wal-hayat (Shariah and Life) on Al-Jazeera television, which is watched by tens of millions of viewers across the Arab world. He also runs a website called IslamOnline, which he founded in 1997, where he offers his opinions and fatawa on a variety of issues. Dr Al-Qaradawi has 269,741 followers on Facebook.

Jamia Nizamia has its own website (www.fatwa@jamianizamia.org), which issues online fatawa for the benefit of Muslims in general and the overseas Muslim diaspora in particular.

Contemporary Relevance of Mawlana Faruqi’s Legacy

Before I conclude, I would like to briefly speak about the relevance of Mawlana Faruqi’s magnificent legacy in the context of present times. Mawlana Faruqi’s exemplary life, his sincerity of purpose and single-minded devotion to the goals that he set for himself and his multi-faceted contributions remain a beacon of inspiration and guidance for scholars, Sufis, teachers, students and the Muslim elite. A remarkable feature of Mawlana Faruqi’s personality and character was that he led by example. He was a role model for his generation and will continue to be a role model for generations to come.

We are living in an age of extremes. There is a conspicuous absence of a sense of moderation and balance in religion, social interaction, politics and international relations. In the past few years there has been an alarming rise in intolerance, extremism and militancy in a section of Muslim youth, who are on the fringes of Muslim societies. This is manifested in the proliferation of global terrorist networks aimed at carrying out acts of violence and destruction, in the growing sectarian intolerance, in the tendency to denounce sections of Muslims as falling outside the fold of Islam and in the desecration of Sufi shrines in some parts of the Muslim world.

Mawlana Faruqi’s life and teachings are marked by a refreshing sense of balance, moderation, synthesis and accommodation, and harmony. This is reflected in his synthesis of scholarship, Shariah and Tasawwuf, in his belief in engagement with society, in his emphasis on the institutionalisation of learning and education, and in his concern with social reform and reconstruction.

(Parts of this article were presented as a key-note address at an international conference on Mawlana Anwarullah Faruqi, organised by the Department of Arabic, University College of Science, Osmania University, Hyderabad on March 5-6, 2016)

Name * :
E-mail * :
Add Your Comment :
Home About Us Announcement Forthcoming Features Feed Back Contact Us
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved.