By Mufti Sajjad Husain Qasmi
The sole objective of the present study is to elucidate the remarkable contributions and luminous achievements of Deobandi scholars in an auspicious field of glorious Ahadith. As a matter of fact, there had been different schools of thought who have greatly paid full attention on the teachings of the Prophet ﷺ but the laudable work which Deobandi scholars have rendered are amazingly unparalleled and matchless in its type. They enriched the Islamic literature with their thoughtful and unique explanations of the prophetic traditions with the inference of new emerging issues in the light of the eloquent words of the Prophet ﷺ. Their handsome work made them dignified and majestic figures in their respective fields. Their excellent effort in pondering on Prophet’s ﷺ sayings is their characteristic feature which is rarely seen elsewhere. Their accomplishments and services in this regard are the focus of this present study.
There is no denying the fact that the art of Hadith has enormous weight and great value in Islamic firmament as being a reliable source to guide all human beings to the straight path of success, peace and tranquility of soul and heart. It is undoubtedly believed to be second most significant source of the heavenly religion of Islam. In other words, it can be certainly said that if the teachings of the heavenly revelation is the heart in Islamic arts then the sacred Hadith is the jugular vein which circulates the fresh and energetic blood to the entire trunks and branches of Islamic science and keeps the religious orchard green, blooming and laden with ripe fruits all the time. It is Hadith that discloses the circumstances of the revelation, explanation and interpretation of the verses, exposition of ambiguity and generalization in the meaning of the words which are more confined to its sense. All the discourse, morals, and character as well as the sayings of the prophet would be in darkest layers of obscurity, if we were deprived of the blessed Ahadith that are considered to be beacons of light in intertwined occurrences of day-to-day life. The Muslim nation holds high reverence and love for what the beloved messenger has said, acted upon and approved since it possesses worthwhile significance in formulating Islamic law and being proved by the actual words of the heavenly book: “And he (the Prophet ﷺ) does not speak out of his own desire. It is not but a revelation revealed (to him)” (Qur’an 53:3). Therefore the Prophet’s ﷺ saying has been accepted as an authentic and reliable source of Islamic law and it remained unchallenged and undisputed throughout the centuries.
There have been many differences among Muslims in their juristic opinions, but the authority of Hadith was never denied by any jurist. It is Allah’s irrevocable custom to choose the intellectuals, pious and notable figures to nurture and safeguard both the words and meanings of the revelation for all the humanity till doomsday. On account of Deobandi scholars’ sincerity and inclination towards religious works, Allah Almighty has chosen them for this great and everlasting work which won them eternal name and fame and left their names engraved in the shining pages of the history. [Barre Sagheer Pak Wa Hind Mein Ilme Hadith, P.29]
Their multifarious services in Hadith:
Their immortal and exemplary services in the field of Hadith may be classified in the following points:
(1) Deobandi scholars’ contribution to prove the authority of Hadith
(2) Linguistic services of Deobandi scholars in regard to the meaning of Hadith
(3) Explanatory works of Ahadith (4) Deductions of hidden jurisprudential issues from Hadith (5) Reconciliation between conflicting traditions
(6) Books, lectures and dictations of Deobandi Scholars on Hadith (7) Acknowledgement of foreign scholars for their works.
The contribution of Deobandi scholars to prove the authority of Hadith:
Before going into the depth of the subject, one should have the idea in the mind that Deobandi Ulama lived in a time when the political power of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent had been impoverished and their hegemony was thoroughly impaired from its roots. On the other hand, Muslims fell prey to the brutal attacks which orientalists waged against Islamic teachings and religious practices to extinguish the candle of love installed in the hearts of the believers with regard to the Prophet ﷺ and they attempted to plunder the legacy of worthwhile Hadith. The Islamic scholars and intellectuals of Deoband were disheartened over the decay of Islamic education and Islamic scholarly tradition. Firstly, they lit the candle of prophetic traditions by preaching and delivering speeches in the public gatherings throughout India to acquaint the Mulim community with the rich assets of Islam, inculcating the love of Prophet ﷺ, his saying and actions approved by him. They delivered pithy sermons in the gloomy society to infuse the spirit of faith and make them inclined towards the heavenly deeds, inspired by the instructive wordings and orders of the Prophet . [Abdurrahamn Al-Barni, Ulama-o- Deoband Wa Khadamt-u-Hum fi Ilm al-Hadith, p.336]
Compilations on the authority of Hadith by the Deobandi scholars
As it is earlier brought to the light that western writers, authors and men of literature have raised stern objections against the authenticity and reliability of the prophetic traditions to mislead all adherents of Islam and create falsehood and misconception regarding the legal status of Hadith in the mind of ordinary people and let them fall prey to their prosaic and dull allegations fabricated against Islam.
• Hujjiyyat al-Hadith by Idris Kandhlawi and Muhammad Tayyib al-Qasimi
• Nusrat al-Hadith by Habib al-Rahman al-A’zami in Urdu. This was translated into Arabic by Mas’ud al-A’zami with a forward by Muhammad Awwamah.
• Al-Intisar li Sunnat Sayyid al-Abrar Muhammad Tahir al-Murdani
• Nata’ij al-Inkar al-Hadith by Sarfaraz Khan Safdar
• Al-Madkhal ila Dirasat al-Hadith al-Nabawi al-Sharif and Dawr al-Hadith fi Takwin al-Munakh al-Islami by Abu al-Hasan al-Nadawi • Tadwin-e Hadith by Munazir Ahsan Gilani. This was later translated into Arabic by ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Iskandari and revised by Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf
• Hujjiyyat al-Hadith by Maulana Taqi Usmani
• Dirasat fi al-Ahadith al-Nabawiyyah by Mustafa Azami
• Al-Fawa’id al-Malakutiyyah fi ann al-Hadith Hujjah by Musa Ruhani Bazi [Muntasir Zaman, The Contribution of the Scholars of Deoband in the Field of Hadith].
Linguistic services regarding Hadith:
There is no iota of doubt that Deobandi scholars had marvelously paid their exhaustive contribution in as many aspects as they could to clearly reveal the wonders and latent secrets of the traditions literally, analytically and rationally. As far as the linguistic and grammatical matters are concerned, Deobandi Ulama laid great emphasis on it in a bid to defend the treasure of Hadith from being distorted or plundered by the mischief-mongers as it is predicted by the Prophet in the following sound and authentic tradition:
Prophet ﷺ said: “This Knowledge will be transmitted from every just successor who will negate the distortions of the deviated, the plagiarism of the people on falsehood and the false interpretations of the unlettered” [Mishkaatul Masaabeeh, 1/82].
The above description mentioned in the Hadith expounds to us the key attributes and principles of the true Islamic scholars and it makes their bounden duty to protect Islamic fort from the bunch of crooks or transgressors. Acting upon this tradition, they put their focus on linguistic aspects of the traditions to impart the hidden rubies and pearls to the worldwide Islamic nation. They thoroughly referred to the old and reliable pre-Islamic poems and literary texts to get the actual nuances of the meaning of the words delivered by the Prophet ﷺ. If any word of Hadith looks ambiguous and equivocal in its meaning then they ponder on the context to affirm its desired sense in order to fully keep the texts safe from fabrication or misrepresentation. This was done to fortify the ramparts of Islam for the sake of its protection from external attacks. Figurative language has been used in different ways in the Hadith e.g. use of metaphors, synecdoche, similes, proverbs and metonymy to communicate to the audience clearly. They concentrated on the figurative language used in some places of the traditions. They fully explained various figures of speech used in Hadith in such a way that can manifest the real objective of the Messenger ﷺ. Here I set one example from the most informative and thoughtful book called Attaliqussabih compiled by Maulana Idris Kandhlavi.
(Sawm (fasting) is shield; Dhamma on Meem and Tashdeed on Noon, means protection and security. And it is said that it strikes the lust and weakens it, further it is reported that the fasting is rein of the pious men, shield of the warriors and the garden of God-fearing figures. Ibn-e- Abdul Barr has averred that fasting means nothing else but to keep away from the lust and hell-fire).
So, let us deeply ponder in this text excerpted from the lengthy and pithy volume of the above mentioned book that shows how excellently he has solved the phonetic hurdles along with linguistic explanation. He then quoted different quotations from the various trustworthy books to make the meaning peculiarly clear to the readers. Moreover, when the reader reads the word shield the encyclopedic entries and the socio-cultural norms are triggered and the mind searches for all mental representations in order to understand the meaning encoded by the word shield. The following assumptions are made:
a) Tool used to protect oneself
b) The tool is strong / made of metal
c) It is used in places where there is war / chaos
The assumptions interact with the reader’s knowledge to yield the following contextual implications:
d) Fasting is used to protect oneself against evil
e) For fasting he / she must be strong
f) Fasting helps one to solve life’s problems (Al-taliqussabih, published in Hyderabad, :2/337)
Explanatory works of Ahadith rendered by Deobandi Ulama:
The explanatory books of Hadith penned by Deobandi scholars have gripped the attention of the entire Islamic world due to its authenticity, exhaustiveness, reliability and variety of information, and instruction which other books are lacking in. They have matchless exceptionality in opening up the vast window of thoughts and views for the Hadith learners. They write down the brief elucidations in a wonderful manner that helps the reader to easily and interestingly absorb the theme of traditions and remain stimulated to put what he has learnt in his day-to-day practical life. Likewise, they objectively took stock of the transitions related to Islamic tenets, doctrines, dealings and social and financial issues as much sincerely as the honest stewards and responsible trustees of wealthy legacies deal with their antique chattels to prevent them from possible loss or extinction, keeping away themselves from personal gains.
When discussing any particular Hadith, the grand specialist in Hadith, Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri made a sterling effort to identify the narrators in the Isnad (chain of authorities reporting the Hadith) cited the names of the more unfamiliar narrators. For instance, the Isnad of the very first Hadith that appears in the most authentic book Bukhari, in the chapter entitled “The Disappearance of Religious Knowledge and the Appearance of Religious Ignorance” the name of Rabiah appears as one of the narrators. Shah Sahib explains that Rabi’ah was the teacher of Imam Abu Hanifa. Moreover, he also pointed out that Imam Malik Ibn Anas also studied Islamic jurisprudence under the same scholar, namely, Rabiah. [Faid-ul-Bari Vol. 1, p. 177]
Their commentaries give the different views of scholars from varied schools of thought but they have adopted a moderate and balanced method to fairly justify their views and deductions inferred from the two comprehensive and trustworthy sources, the Holy Qur’an and the sacred Hadith, in such remarkable way which does not reflect the least degree of bigotry and narrow-mindedness in evaluating the matter. Moreover they are inclined to bridge the ideological gap prevalent in the Muslim community. Here is one example from Fayd al-Bari, under the explanation of famous Hadith “Verily actions are judged according to the intentions” he says: “this Hadith has been interpreted by the jurists on the basis of their own particular school of thought. For example, inferring from this Hadith, the Shafi School holds the view that intention is compulsory at the time when one begins to perform the ablution whereas the view of the Hanafi School is that it is not compulsory for one to make the intention for performing the ablution. The great Shah Sahab then explains that since intention does not form part of the Qur’anic imperative that pertains to ablution, it would be in order to conclude that it is meritorious and not compulsory to make the intention for performing the ablution. There are many more instances which give clear indication of their extensive knowledge of prophetic teachings. [Faid-ul-Bari Vol. 1, p. 2]
Remarkable commentaries on Hadith books
Many of Deobandi scholars have written commentaries on al-Kutub al-Sittah (six most authentic books of Hadith), and other commonly available Hadith works which are in Arabic, Urdu, and other languages. The names of some books are mentioned hereunder:
⚫ Anwar al-Bari by Ahmad Rida al-Bijnori
⚫ Fadl al-Bari fi Fiqh al-Bukhari by ‘Abd al-Ra’uf al-Hazarawi
⚫ Tuhfat al-Qari fi Mushkilat al-Bukhari by Muhammad Idris Kandhlawi
⚫ Farhat al-Qari an Sahih al-Bukhari by Shayr Zaman al-Hazarawi
⚫ Al-Kawthar al-Jari fi Sharh al-Bukhari by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Murdani
⚫ Talkhis al-Bukhari by Shams al-Duha al-Zankuni
⚫ Is‘ad al-Bari by Siddiq Ahmad Bandawi
⚫ Al-Abwab wa al-Tarajim by Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi
Among works written on related aspects are the following:
⚫ Nibras al-Sari fi Atraf al-Bukhari by ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Punjabi
⚫ In‘am al-Bari fi Sharh Ash‘ar al-Bukhari by Muhammad Ashiq Ilahi
⚫ Izalat al-Qassas-e-Wajh Qal Ba‘d al-Nas by Mujib al-Rahman al-Bangladeshi
⚫ Ma Yanfa‘ al-Nas fi Sharh Qal Ba‘d al-Nas Muhammad Tahir al-Rahman
⚫ Fath al-Mulhim fi Sharh by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani, and Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani
⚫ Faid-al-Samai by Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi
⚫ Al-Muktafa bi Sharh al-Mujtaba by Ahmad Hasan al-Fattani
⚫ Al-Tib al-Shadhi by Ashfaq al-Rahman Kandhlawi
⚫ Hadiyyat al-Ahwadhi by Ibrahim Balyawi
⚫ Tanqih al-Shadhi by Shams al-Haqq al-Afghani
⚫ Ma‘arif al-Sunan by Muhammad Yusuf Banuri.
⚫ Khaza’in al-Sunan by Sarfaraz Khan Safdar
⚫ Badhl al-Majhud by Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri
⚫ Intibah al-Ruqud fi Hall-e-Sunan Abu Dawud by Shayr Zaman al-Hazarawi
⚫ Zubdat al-Maqsud fi Hall-e-Qal Abu Dawud by Muhammad Tahir al-Rahimi
⚫ Awjaz al-Masalik by Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi ⚫ Kashf al-Mughatta fi Rijal al-Muwatta’ by Ashfaq al-Rahman Kandhlawi in respect to the narrators of the book
Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar by al-Tahawi
⚫ Amani al-Ahbar by Yusuf Kandhlawi. He passed away before completing one-fourth of the book
⚫ Tabhij al-Rawi bi Takhrij Ahadith al-Tahawi by Ashiq Ilahi
⚫ Majani al-Athmar by the above author
⚫ Talkhis al-Tahawi by Husayn Ali Punjabi
⚫ Nathr al-Azhar by Muhammad Amin Aurakza’i
⚫ Al-Hawi ‘ala Mushkilat al-Tahawi by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Kamilpuri
⚫ Al-Ta’liq al-Sabih by Muhammad Idris Kandhlawi
⚫ Mishalul Masabeeh by Maulana Salman Nadwi