By: Bilaal Abdul Hayy Hasani Nadvi
Translated By: M. Afzal Hoosen Elias
Revered Muhaddith Hadhrat Maulana Abdur Rasheed Nomani l is among the great and exceptional Muhadditheen who are a source of pride to the nation of Islam. Along with depth and profundity in knowledge, his abstinence and piety are among those qualities which made him an image of our pious predecessors. His deep insight into the classification of books and narrators granted him an illustrious position among scholars. Through his writings and teachings, he imparted immense benefit to the Ummat. Staying in his company had a profound effect, those who took part in his lessons or discourses took immense benefit from this. For more than half a century his spiritual and scholarly discourses continued.
Homeland and education
Maulana was originally from Jaipur India. He was born in 1914 (1334 AH) more or less in October. He completed his primary and secondary education in Jaipur and chose Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama to complete his learning, where Hadhrat Maulana Haidar Hasan Khan who was from Maulana’s town also happened to be head of administration as well as an Ustaad for the final year students of Hadith.
Deep attachment to Maulana Haider Hassan Khan
Maulana Nomani stayed in the Darul Uloom for four years to complete his education. He took benefit from a number of Ustaads in seeking proficiency in Arabic grammar but Maulana’s sight was fixed upon Maulana Haidar Hasan Khan who at that time was also the Sheikhul Hadith of the Darul Uloom and among the illustrious students of Imamul Muhadditheen Allamah Hussein bin Muhsin Ansari Yemeni.
Maulana Nomani took immense benefit from Maulana Haidar Hasan Khan and remained with him night and day. He Spent time informally with Maulana Haidar in seclusion as well as in public, when occupied as well as when resting. Maulana Haidar’s virtues, merits, and abstinent nature were before him like an open book which he integrated so perfectly into his life that he became a carbon copy of Maulana. It was from here that he acquired the taste for Hadith which placed him in the ranks of the forerunners of the Muhadditheen and it was from here that he learned Zuhd (Abstinence) which is a part of the heritage of our pious predecessors.
On seeing the desire and determination of Maulana, Maulana Haidar (with whom he already shared a relationship of being from the same town) gave him special attention and along with his education took special care in his self-reformation. This granted Maulana a unique luster, along with profundity in Hadith and depth in the knowledge his practical life was also distinctive. Maulana Haidar Hasan Khan was among the Khulafaa of Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah. Maulana Haidar’s priceless and perceptive gaze identified this distinctive quality of Maulana and along with presenting him his certificate of graduation granted him permission for ‘Beit’.
After completion in Nadwa, Maulana remained for some time in his hometown. During this time he continued to take benefit from Maulana Haidar Khan. Thereafter on the request of “Nadwatul Musanifeen’ he moved to Delhi and attached himself to this institution. During this time he wrote a detailed review on Imam Hakim Nishapuri’s famous book on the principals of Hadeeth ‘Al-Madkhal. This was probably the first treatise written by Maulana which is a masterpiece of his research and study. This treatise was also printed under the name ‘Al-Madkhal’. Allamah Shabbier Ahmed Uthmani once came to “Nadwatul Musanifeen’ for some function. He had already read this treatise and when Maulana was introduced to him he expressed his pleasure in these words, “O so you are the author of ‘Al-Madkhal” and praised Maulana. While Maulana was residing here, on the request of some friends, he began writing ‘Lughaatul Quran’ in four volumes but could not complete it and for certain reasons migrated to Pakistan. Maulana Abdul Daaim Jalali wrote two more volumes and completed the book which is published by Nadwatul Musanifeen’.
Maulana was a great aid of ‘Nadwatul Musanifeen’ and a leading member of ‘Majlis Ihyaa-ul Ma’arif Nu’maniyah’. Maulana had a close connection with Maulana Abul Wafa Afghani as they both had a similar standpoint and routine.
Last destination: Jamia Banuri Town Karachi
After Maulana migrated to Pakistan Maulana began teaching in Darul Uloom Ashrafabad Tandwalayaar. Thereafter he remained the head of Islamiyat for some time in Jamia Islamia Bahawalpur. Finally, he joined the Jamia Uloom Islamiyyah Allamah Banuri Town erected by Maulana Yusuf Banuri on his request and excluding the last years of his life, when he was ill, it can be said that the rest of his life was spent here in teaching, writing and research.
Since Maulana was more inclined to writing and compilation he did not travel much however he did perform Hajj on numerous occasions. Maulana had a burning desire to visit Turkey, the reason being that many ancient Islamic literary works can be found in its libraries which can not be found elsewhere, a large number of which are the works of Ulama from the Hanafi school of thought. This was the calling card for Maulana’s journey which Allah made possible. Maulana along with his son, Maulana Abdush Shaheed Nu’maani left for Turkey and stayed there for some time. He finally returned bringing with him many photocopies of these great literary works.
Travel to India after migrating to Pakistan
After migrating to Pakistan, Maulana visited India on three occasions. The first time was in 1402 A.H and he spent the entire Ramadan in the vicinity of Shah Ilmullaah. During his stay, many students and teachers took benefit from Maulana Nomani. The famous book “Uloomul Hadeeth’ remained the object of discussion, which was written by Allamah Ibn Salah and is famous by the name ‘Muqaddamah Ibn Salaah’. At the request of Hadhrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, he gave many lectures in the Masjid as well. Maulana Numani ‘s lecture was so heart rendering and effective that he became the epitome of the saying ‘From the heart through the heart’.
Bay’at and permission from Maulana Ali Mian
The purpose behind Maulana’s journey was actually to establish a relationship for self-reformation with Hadhrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi. This was Maulana’s humility, modesty, and deep concern for self-reformation otherwise Maulana himself was a saint and mystic. After a short while, Hadhrat Maulana granted Maulana permission for ‘Beit’ and entrusted all his followers in Pakistan to Maulana Nomani.
Hadhrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi greatly acknowledged and appreciated Maulana’s excellence and aptness. While discussing Hadhrat Maulana Haidar Hasan Khan, he writes about Maulana Nomani:
“However Maulana’s devoted student and the inheritor of his knowledge and talent is my respected friend Maulana Abdur Rasheed Nomani Jaipuri, who is currently the Sheikhul Hadith of Deniyaat University Bahawalpur. There is no need to elaborate the extent of his scholarly achievements, his ‘Lughaatul Quran’ in three volumes, and his great work, “Ma Tamasu Ilaihil Haajah” bear witness to his broad understanding and deep insight. He spent many years with Hadhrat Maulana even when traveling, during his stay in Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama and the period when he resided in Tonk, taking full benefit from Maulana and his research. Hadhrat Maulana also had a close relationship as well as complete reliance in him.”
Second trip to India
In 1409 A.H, Sheikhul Hadith of the Darul Uloom, Hadhrat Maulana Dhiya-ul-Hasan passed away. His death had left a void which could not be filled and many were of the opinion that Maulana should return for a short while, for the benefit of the students as well as fill the void that had been created by Hadhrat Maulana’s unexpected death. When Maulana Nomani was informed of this he could not refuse and arrived at the Darul Uloom. For some time the responsibility of teaching ‘Bukhari Shareef was given to Maulana. This is the final year of the course in which I was fortunate to be present. In this manner, I was privileged to take benefit directly from Maulana Nomani.
During Maulana’s prolonged stay students gained both scholarly and spiritual benefits from Maulana Nomani. There was a great blessing in Maulana’s lessons and just as much effect in his company. Like this, the link with Hadith was created as well as understanding the need for self-reformation. Some Ustaads of the Darul Uloom would also attend Maulana’s lessons and Maulana would award them their due respect. After three months Maulana left but memories of him have been firmly rooted in everyone’s hearts. Many Ustaads and students still continued to take benefit from him through correspondence.
Second trip to India
In 1412 AH Maulana Nomani came to India for the third time. In the short time that Maulana was here he went to Bhopal as well and presided over a conference of ‘Raabtah Adab Islami’ and throughout Maulana’s journey benefit was taken. During Maulana’s stay in the Daarul Uloom he had a lesson on the book ‘Sharah Nukhbah’, which was very scholarly and intellectual. This proved to be Maulana’s last journey and thereafter the journey to the Akhiraat-Hereafter came.
Maulana Nomani’s research work & the views of scholars on him
Maulana Nomani did not write many works however whatever he wrote was written with complete research and trust. His prose was pure and cultured. He had mastered both the Urdu and Arabic languages equally. He exceeded his contemporaries in the desire for research as well as in possessing deep insight. He had a unique ability in extracting the finer details of a Hadeeth.
Maulana’s literary works are a small proof of his exceptionality, The first treatise written by Maulana was a research and study on the famous work of Imam Hakim Nishapuri , ‘Al- Madkhal Fie Usool Hadith’ (المدخل فی أصول الحدیث) in which he analyzed its conclusions. This treatise of Maulana’s was published in Nadwatul Musanifeen’s monthly magazine, “Burhan” in six volumes. Ulama greatly appreciated this work. Maulana Nomani’s age at that time was only twenty-five.
Maulana Shabbier Ahmed Uthmani’s opinion of the book has already been mentioned. In a letter written to Maulana Saeed Ahmed Akbar Abadi by the famed Aalim and author Maulana Muhammed Manzor Nomani, after reading this treatise, the following words are particularly worth reading, from which the depth of this treatise can be ascertained:
“Brother, this Maulana Abdur Rasheed Nomani has turned out to be an unknown genius. May Allah increase his knowledge and influence. Reading such deeply researched works gives me overwhelming contentment that even after our elders have left this world the heirs to their legacy will continue to live on ‘Insha-Allah’. This is why a treatise of this sort brings me great pleasure.”
These words of admiration were added, for the benefit of all, by the respected Doctor Abdur Rahman Ghaznafar to the Arabic book version of ‘Al-Madkhal’ (المدخل) which was printed in Karachi.
Maulana’s valuable and famous work, “Ma Tamasu ilaihil Hajah Limay Yutali’o Sunan Ibn Majah’ (ما تمس إلیہ الحاجۃ لمن یطالع سنن ابن ماجہ) is proof of Maulana’s deep insight and research and has a unique place among Maulana’s literary works. This book was also written by Maulana in his youth. It has gained acceptance in many circles of knowledge and many illustrious Ulama and Muhadditheen of this era have taken benefit from it. Sheikhul Hadeeth Hadhrat Maulana Muhammed Zakaria Khandhlawi has also quoted this book in some of his works. Hadhrat Maulana Muhammed Yusuf Khandhlawi has also taken significant benefit from this work in his book, “Amaniul Ahbar Fi Sharah Ma’aniul Aathar (أمانی الأحبار فی شرح معانی الآثار). A few years ago respected Muhaddith Sheikh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah published this book along with his own research and examination. We also learned that this book has been included in the syllabus of certain universities and institutions in Damascus.
When Maulana was requested to make an Urdu translation of this book, he completed the task making a few beneficial and valuable additions. This book has been printed under the name ‘Ibne Majah aur ilm e Hadith’. Maulana himself has said regarding this book:
“It has been said this is the biography of Imam Ibn Majah whereas in reality, it is the complete history of the compilation of Hadith and a collection of the devotion and sacrifices that Muslims showed in preserving every word said by Rasulullah So that there may be no obstruction in fulfilling the responsibility of preserving revelation which has been given to this Ummat and Allaah’s proof will be completed for the entire Ummat”.
The reality is that this book is an ocean of knowledge. It provides the definition of ‘Ilm Hadith’, the history of its compilation, an appropriate analysis of the ‘Sihaah Sittah’ as well as the classification of the categories of books of Hadith. The reality is that the name of the book is a guide for its actual contents and subject matter.
It was the practice of Hadhrat Maulana Sayyed Muhammed Yusuf Banuri, author of ‘Ma’arifus Sunan’, that before he began teaching at the start of the year he would first read a portion from this book or request one of the students to read. This book has been published in many editions in Pakistan and has gained acceptance in many institutions and circles.
Maulana Nomani’s other research work
The Sindhi Adabi’ board (presently in Hyderabad Sindh) has published many works of the Ulama of Sindh which contain amendments and research of Maulana, an introduction by him, even footnotes or cross-references. A few of these books are,
1) “Dirasatul Labeeb fil Uswatil Hasanah bil Habeeb (دراسات اللبیب فی الأسوۃ الحسنۃ بالحبیب). This is the work of Mulla Muhammed Mu’een Sindhi in which he strayed from the doctrines and tact of the “Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat’, putting forward certain irregularities. Maulana criticized him and this book was published along with the criticisms of Maulana. Maulana Sayyid Ahmed Radha Bijonwri has included these footnotes in his introduction of ‘Anwarul Bari’ under the name ‘Ata’aqubaat alal Dirasaat’ (التعقبات علی الدراسات).
2) “Dhabbu Dhubaabil Dirasat anil Madhabil Arabatil Mutanaasibaat’ (ذب ذباب الدراسات عن المذھب الأربعۃ المتناسبات) This is the work of Mulla Abdul Lateef Sindhi which was written in refutation to ‘Dirasatul Labeeb’. This has been printed in two volumes along with Maulana’s beneficial footnotes and introduction.
3) “Muqadamatu Kitabit Ta’aleem (مقدمۃ کتاب التعلیم) This is the work of Allamah Mas’ood bin Shaibah Sindhi which contain an introduction by Maulana as well as his footnotes. This book was also published by the Sindhi board.
Hanafi Madhab and Maulana Nomani
Maulana just as his mentor and Sheikh Hadhrat Maulana Haidar Hasan Khan had great love and admiration for Imam Abu Hanifah. Sometimes when talking about Imam Abu Hanifah he would begin to weep. The same was also apparent in Maulana’s literary works. However, this defense, or rather a concern was with complete conviction and sincerity. Maulana has defended the Hanafi school of thought from many criticisms and has given it his full service. It was through the concern and efforts of Maulana that certain of Imam Abu Hanifah’s Masaneed were published and those famous books of the Hanafi Scholars which had already been published became more prominent through with the addition of Maulana’s detailed and comprehensive introduction. These introductions alone are based on profound knowledge and research, among them are ‘Muwatta Imam Muhammed’, Kitabul Aathaar’, and ‘Jaami’ul Masaneed. In the introduction, Maulana pointed out the importance, authenticity of Ahadith as well as the various prints of these books. A few of Maulana’s notes have been included in ‘Kitabul Aathaar.’
Lastly, Maulana compiled a book by the name of ‘Makanatu Abi Hanifah fie Ilmil Hadith’ (مکانۃ الإمام أبی حنیفۃ فی علم الحدیث) in which he discussed the rank of Imam Abu Hanifah in the subject if Hadith as well as the criticisms of the scholars of Hadith. Even before this Ulama have written books regarding the virtues and qualities of Imam Abu Hanifah of whom Imam Ibn Abdul Bar Maliki, Imam Dhahabi, Imam Suyooti, and Imam Ibn Hajar Makki are worth mentioning. One should keep in mind that the last three are all of the Shafi school of thought. This book of Maulana’s surpasses others in being distinctive in this topic as well as being comprehensive. Allamah Abdul Fattah Abul Ghuddah has published this book along with his introduction and research, acknowledging Maulana’s excellence and merit.
Maulana’s comprehensive knowledge of the classes of books and narrators was probably unmatched by any of his contemporaries. Maulana also had a sound understanding of its principles. His discourse on the famous accepted work of Hafiz Ibn Hajar, ‘Sharah Nukhbah’ was very intellectual. The ‘Sharah Nukhbah’ printed in Karachi with the footnotes of Mufti Muhammed Abdullah Tonki also contains some of Maulana’s beneficial notes.
Maulana Nomani’s research work against Naasbiyat
Just as in certain parts of the Islamic world there has been an increase in the movements of the Shias, which Ulama of the truth have made tireless efforts to counter, in certain areas the Nawasib have gained momentum, specifically in certain parts of Pakistan. Therefore the need was felt that on behalf of the Ulama of the truth the pen should be lifted in opposition to them. Even though Maulana was an illustrious Aalim who had pure inclination only for Hadith with this concern in mind he wrote many booklets on this topic. A few of them are:
- 1) ‘Yazeed kie shakhsiyat Ahle Sunnat ki Nazar me’
- 2) ‘Shuhada e Karbala par iftira’
- 3) ‘Akaabir Sahabah par buhtan’
- 4) ‘Nasibiyat Tahqeeq ki bhais me’
Lastly Maulana wrote a detailed booklet on Hadhrat Ali and the Qisas of Hadhrat Uthman which has been published.
Sometimes Maulana would say, with his eyes full of tears and his hoarse voice: “I have defended Hadhrat Hussein and Imam Abu Hanifah from many accusations. I hope that they will intercede for me on the Day of Resurrection.”
The result of Maulana’s virtuous qualities and merits, specifically his immense knowledge and comprehension of Hadith, was that his contemporaries openly acknowledged and accepted him. This has already been mentioned in various places.
Other Features and Perfections of Maulana Nomani
Along with perfection and excellence in knowledge, Maulana was also unique in his practical life. Endowed with such qualities such as simplicity, humility, excellent manners, patience, satisfaction, abstinence, and contentment, he was a replica of our pious predecessors. He despised conceit and disliked presiding over any gathering. He was a staunch follower of the Sunnat and advised others to do the same. He was extremely antagonistic towards custom such that when he was informed of the customary circulation of some of his books he disapproved. His personality was such that along with his magnitude of knowledge he was extremely witty, the benefit of which was that students were not nervous around him, it created familiarity, and taking benefit from him became easier.
In Maulana’s last visit to India when he reached Kanpur he preferred to stay in the room of the smallest Masjid which was so tiny that it was difficult to even stretch one’s feet. It was only on the persistence of a few closer acquaintances that Maulana stayed in the guest house. This writer along with one of his classmates, who also happens to be a student of Maulana, met up with Maulana in Kanpur. Even during this journey we saw the same simplicity and informal nature of Maulana. He did not approve of any preferential and special treatment at any juncture.
During Maulana’s lifetime his youngest daughter, who was also a Hafizah of the Quran and whose marriage was performed by Maulana just a few years previously, leaving behind her young children, passed away. Maulana’s beloved wife also soon passed away after suffering from a long illness. Maulana however on each instance remained patient and thankful not complaining even once.
Maulana’s attitude with regards to his writing was also out of the ordinary. Many of his books were distributed by various publishers in different editions. Sometimes when Maulana was in need of a particular book he would have to purchase it. Maulana gained no monetary benefit from them. Once this point was raised with Maulana to which he replied that the actual purpose is distribution.
Maulana paid special attention to the upbringing of his children. His son, Maulana Abdush Shaheed Nomani has inherited Maulana’s flair for research. May Allaah make him Maulana’s worthy successor.
Concern of the Muslim Ummah
Even though Maulana would be purely occupied with scholarly duties he was well-informed about the current conditions of the Islamic world. When Muslims were facing any difficulty in any part of the world Maulana’s heart would be saddened.
In one of his letters, Maulana writes: “The current onslaught that is being carried out on the Muslim world breaks one’s heart.”
In another letter, appalled by the decline and deterioration of the Muslims, Maulana writes: “Current conditions are unspeakable. Everyone is chasing this world as if he is not going to die tomorrow. Our leaders are usurping the wealth, bribery is common and killing is widespread, Allah has mercy. O Allah has mercy on the Ummah of Muhammed.”
Last few years of life
The last three or four years of Maulana’s life were spent mostly in ill-health and sickness. His sickness began towards the end of 1416 A.H. already some years previously Maulana had retired from his teaching post in Jamia Banuri Town Karachi. On the insistence of a certain girl’s madrasah (Madrasah Ayesha Siddiqa Karachi) Maulana taught ‘Bukhari’ and “Tahawie’ but this too was eventually stopped. Maulana stayed in the house of his son, Maulana Abdush Shaheed. At first, he still continued with his research and study but then Maulana grew so weak then this too could no longer continue. This radiant sun finally set on the night of 29 Rabiuth Thaani 1420 A.H. and the vast treasures of Hadeeth were now left deserted.