Ḥujjat al-Islam Moulānā Muḥammad Qāsim Nānotwī – Short Biography

One of the most esteemed personalities in the History of Islam

[By Muftī Sa’īd Aḥmad Pālanpūrī]

Name and lineage 

His name was Muḥammad Qāsim. His historic name was Khurshīd Ḥusayn. His father’s name was As’ad ‘Alī and his grandfather’s name was Shaykh Ghulām Shāh. His entire lineage is as follows:

Muḥammad Qāsim, who was the son of As’ad ‘Alī, who was the son of Ghulām Shāh, who was the son of Muḥammad Bakhsh, who was the son of ‘Alā’ al-Dīn, who was the son of Muḥammad Fattāḥ, who was the son of Muḥammad Muftī, who was the son of ‘Abd al-Samī’, who was the son of Moulānā Muḥammad Hāshim.

His lineage links up to Qāsim bin Muḥammad bin Abī Bakr (Radhiyallahu Anhu)

Birth and demise

He was born in 1248 A.H (1832) in the town of Nānotah. He passed away on Thursday 4 Jamādal Ūlā 1297 A.H (1879) after Ẓuhr ṣalāh. To Allah do we belong and unto Him shall we return.

Hometown

His hometown was Nānotah, which is a marginally populated town. It is situated twelve miles east of Deoband, fifteen miles south of Sahāranpūr, nine miles west of Gangoh and seven miles north of Delhi.

His ancestral grandfather-  Moulānā Muḥammad Hāshim (rahimahullah), was very close to the Mughal Emperor Shāh Jaḥān. Moulānā Muḥammad Ḥāshim (rahimahullah) settled in Nānotah and in so doing transformed it into an Islamic town. It was in this town that his progeny flourished and it was from this very town that the radiant star – Moulānā Muḥammad Qāsim Nānotwī (rahimahullah), shone forth.

Childhood

During his childhood, he saw a dream that he was sitting in the lap of Allah Ta’ālā, which his grandfather interpreted to mean that Allah Ta’ālā will grant him abundant knowledge and he will become a well-known personality. His intelligence, prowess, courage, quick thinking, broad mindedness and diligence stood out from his childhood days and he always took first position in his class. He had an affinity for poetry from an early age and would write his stories and games in rhyming form.

Education

His primary education began in the Madrasa of Nanotah. He then studied Arabic under Molana Muhtab ‘Ali (rahimahullah) in Deoband. Impressed by Molana’s wisdom and deep insight, Molana Muhtab ‘Ali (rahimahullah) gave him the title of “‘ilm ki Bakri” (goat of knowledge), a reflection of his constant pursuit of knowledge. He then studied for a short while under Molana Muhammad Nawaz in Saharanpur. He then went to Delhi in the company of Molana Mamluk ‘Ali (rahimahullah) in 1259 A.H, where he began studying Kafiyyah (an intricate book on Arabic grammar) and completed his studies in five years. He studied hadith under Molana Shah ‘Abd al Ghani Mujadidi[1]  (rahimahullah). After arriving in Delhi, he began excelling at such a rapid pace that none could keep up with him; he could read intricate books of philosophy just as a hafiz can recite a portion of the Qur’an.

While residing in Delhi, he also sought spiritual reform from Molana Haji Imdad Allah al Thanwi al Makki (rahimahullah) and began his efforts of self-purification.

Personality and character

Allah Ta’ala had made Molana an awe-inspiring personality because of which many people lacked the courage to address him, even though he was a light-hearted person with exceptional character. He preferred to be alone and from an early age and would prefer remaining silent. This is another reason why people would think twice before engaging in a conversation with him. He was extremely generous and a big-hearted, who took pleasure in entertaining guests and acts of hospitality. His wife was the same as him and even more so, such that she was the one who inspired his generosity. He would say: “My generosity is the result of Ahmed’s mother (i.e. his wife).”

Dislike for status

His condition for many years was such that if any person addressed him as “Molwi” then he would not reply, but if he was addressed by his name then he would be pleased. He disliked being praised and was uncomfortable with it. He was informal with everyone and kept a relationship more of friendship than as a teacher with his students. He disliked being referred to as ‘Molana’ and would say: “This title has spoilt everything, if there had not been a necessity, I would have remained hidden, such that no one would have known of my existence.”

Glad tidings

During his days as a student, he saw a dream that he was standing on the Ka’bah and thousands of rivers were flowing from it. His teacher, Molana Mamluk ‘Ali (rahimahullah) interpreted this to mean: “Knowledge will spread from you abundantly.”

On one occasion, his mother complained to Molana Haji Imdad Allah (rahimahullah) about his unemployment and lack of income, on which Haji Imdad Allah (rahimahullah) laughed and said:

This man is about to become such that he will have hundreds of attendants. He will attain such fame that his name will be known across the world. You complain of poverty when Allah Ta’ala is going to grant him a thousand fold more, such that he will be better than those who are employed.

His mother lived to see this prediction come true.

Haji Imdad Allah (rahimahullah) also said about him:

People of his caliber used to be found in the early years of Islam, now for years to come, we will not see another.

Life history

After completing his studies, he took on the responsibility of editing at the Ahmedi publications company in Delhi. During this time, Molana Ahmed ‘Ali Saharanpuri (who added the footnotes to Sahih al Bukhari) tasked Molana with adding the footnotes to the last five or six chapters of Sahih al Bukhari, which he fulfilled to perfection- each footnote taken from reliable books and nothing from his own opinion.

Later Jihad was declared against the British but due to difficulties faced at that time, the Muslims were not victorious. As soon as the British had gained complete control of the country, they issued a warrant for his arrest. He remained hidden for a few days and then departed for hajj and by the time he returned an official pardon had been announced.

After returning from hajj, he began acting as editor for Munshi Mumtaz ‘Ali in Mirat, while at the same time teaching. It was during this time that the foundation for Dar al ’Ulum Deoband was laid. After a little while, he went to Deoband and saw to every aspect of the Madrasa. He taught all the books with no reservation and would render such a commentary that none had ever heard nor seen. He expounded amazing facts in each subject; reconciling differences of opinion and explaining each law in detail. The effects of his teachings remain to this day.

He performed his first hajj in 1277 A.H and during the journey, in the month of Ramadan, he memorised the entire Qur’an and recited it in Tarawih salah. He performed his second hajj in 1285 A.H and the third in 1294 A.H and it was when returning from this hajj that his illness began, which proved to be fatal.

Children

He had two sons: Molana Muhammad Ahmed rahimahullah (former principal of Dar al ’Ulum Deoband) and Muhammad Hashim (rahimahullah). He also had three daughters.

Students

He had numerous students but the most famous are:

Sheikh al Hind Molana Mahmud Hassan Deobandi (rahimahullah). He studied the majority of his books in Dar al ’Ulum Deoband and studied hadith under Molana Qasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah). The first graduation ceremony of the Dar al ’Ulum was held for him.

Molana Fakhr al Hassan Gangohi (rahimahullah), who added the footnotes to Abu Dawud. His personality was exactly the same as Molana Ashraf ‘Ali al Thanwi (rahimahullah) and was a very capable scholar too at that. He also acquired his knowledge from Dar al ’Ulum Deoband.

Molana Ahmed Hassan Amrohawi (rahimahullah). Molana Qasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah) had great affection for him and he also loved Molana dearly. He was very intelligent and a proficient scholar.[2]

Aside from these three illustrious personalities, Molana rahimahu Llah had many more students, however the sacrifices and services of his other disciples and students have not been recorded, even though he treated them all equally.[3]

Accomplishments

The accomplishments for which he is most famous are three:

Establishing Madaris- more so Dar al ’Ulum Deoband.

Calling for Jihad against the British.

Services to Islamic knowledge.

We will now highlight his achievements in each of these fields.

Establishing Madaris

In 1274 A.H (1857) when the British had taken control of the entire country and the Mughal dynasty came to an end, Islam and Muslims became a target, and it was the Muslims who suffered the pain of the piercing claws of the British most. The reason for this is that the entire aspect of conqueror and conquered, usurper and usurped, victory and defeat, existed between the Muslims and the British. Those ‘ulama who were rendering services to din during the rule of the Mughal dynasty, did so either receiving a wage or assistance from the royal court and as such lived in relative ease. A few ‘ulama also rendered services in their own private capacity; teaching, tutoring and lecturing in their own localities. However after the British took over, there no longer remained any assistance from the government- wages or financial assistance. Poverty and impoverishment created an entirely new challenge and slowly the traces of the glory of Islam began to dwindle, as the ‘ulama now became occupied with their own livelihood. What was to happen to the future of Islam? This was a vital question.

However, Allah Ta’ala says in the Noble Qur’an:

وَالَّذِیْنَ جَاهَدُوْا فِیْنَا لَنَهْدِیَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَاۚ

We shall definitely show our avenues (of guidance and insight) to those who exert themselves in Our cause.[4]

Allah Ta’ala inspired all the saints at the same time with the idea that the only way of protecting din and Islam is to now establish Madaris using public funds. This meant that those ‘ulama who until this point in time were rendering services to din in their own private capacity will now have to join together and work collectively. One of the benefits of this would be that the institute would see to their basic needs and as a result they would be able to serve din with no worry of having to earn a livelihood. Another benefit of this would be that if any ‘alim, out of necessity or for any other reason, were to abandon his responsibilities then another would take his place. The garden would continue being watered even if the gardener were to change. “Public funds” is general and not from a particular person- work would continue relying upon the funds of the general public. They would not depend upon the wealth or donations of the government, wealthy or those in authority; which would mean that the madrasa would suffer no harm if a select few refused to assist the madrasa; as the loss suffered on account of them would be borne by another. In addition, the general public who will assist the madrasa will not try to influence the madrasa in any way. If funds are taken from a particular individual then the life and death of the madrasa is dependent upon that very one person. Another harm of this is that true reliance in Allah will not be gained, as opposed to when a person has no one else to rely upon except Allah. The third most harmful aspect of relying upon the funds of a particular individual is that he will have the ability to influence madrasa policy and what is taught therein.

On account of this inspiration, ‘ulama began opening madaris across India but there still remained a few who did not understand this inspiration or the true reality of it. Thus, they continued their efforts of din on their own and just as a roof cannot stand without a pillar, their services too did not last very long and slowly they became preoccupied with earning a living and their services to din came to an end. A few of them did indeed build madaris but disliked asking from the general public and so remained dependent upon specific individuals or the government. As a result, these madaris either had to close due to lack of finance or inevitably became government institutions.

It is a great favour of Allah that not only did these ‘ulama understand the meaning of this inspiration but also understood its importance and true reality. It is without a doubt that Molana Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah understood its importance more than all and in fact wrote it out for us, which is preserved to this day. He wrote:

The principles on which this madrasa (Dar al ’Ulum Deoband) and others like it will operate.

This makes it clear that these principles are not only stipulated for Dar al ’Ulum Deoband but for every madrasa relying on public funds. Let us examine numbers 6, 7, and 8 of these principles.

6) As long as this madrasa will not have any fixed income then, Allah willing, it will be run with attention turned towards Allah. If it will attain a fixed income, such as rental, trade or government grants then the attention will be turned away from Allah and reliance upon Allah will fade. In this way divine assistance will stop, infighting will begin and we will find ourselves becoming dependent.

7) Assistance from the government and influential people is harmful.

8) There is more blessing in the funds attained from the general public, who do not seek any favour in return. In essence it is the general public whose intentions are nobler.

These principles should be read over and over again and pondered over deeply, one will then see how true this inspiration was. Nevertheless, as a result of this inspiration the ‘ulama began to establish madaris based upon these principles and now almost a century later, we are forced to admit that if they had not done so then Islam would have faded into non-existence in India.

Molana Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah used his influence to establish the building of various madaris and in his short life managed to build four.

Dar al ’Ulum Deoband

Madrasa Qasimiyyah Shahi Muradabad

Madrasa Manbaʼ al ’Ulum Galawati

Madrasa Jami’ Masjid Amrohah

All of these Madaris were founded by Molana but it is the good fortune of Dar al ’Ulum Deoband that Molana became its supervisor and maintained it, as Deoband was his second hometown. All the illustrious personalities from Deoband such as Molana Haji ‘Abid Hussain (rahimahullah) (first principal of Dar al ’Ulum Deoband), Molana Rafi’ al Din (rahimahullah) (second principal of Dar al ’Ulum Deoband), etc all had a close relationship with Molana Qasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah). After 1857, Deoband became his true home town, which had already been predestined, and he took up permanent residence in Deoband and saw to all the needs and requirements of the Dar al ’Ulum. The other madaris founded by Molana did not receive the same favour and as a result could not reach the same level as Dar al ’Ulum Deoband. Today this Madrasa has grown into a huge firm tree providing fruit to the entire world.

Calling for Jihad against British

In the latter half of the nineteenth century a time of difficulty began for all Muslims in India when it became a battleground for the British. The rule of the Mughal Empire ended and the Muslims were now faced with many threats, both internal and external. However Allah Ta’ala sent such individuals who fought these threats and succeeded in keeping the pillars of din standing. Molana Qasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah) is the leader of this group of illustrious individuals. Just as he began the establishment of Madaris so too did he begin fighting all external and internal threats. When the British decided to take control of India by force of the sword, Molana fought them back at Shamili. When the British began attacking all religions in India, specifically the din of Islam, it was Molana who combated them, earning the gratitude of not only the Muslims but the Hindus as well. In the fair of Chandapur (in the district of Shah Jahanpur) the Hindus were singing his praises. They too acknowledged Molana’s intelligence, prowess, and ability to debate, and would flock to gather around him from afar, as the threats posed by the British affected all Indians.

The British then changed their game plan and tried to attack the Muslims from the rear, preparing a small group of Hindus to oppose the Muslims and Islam. Molana fought back this threat head on as well.

The British then adopted a new plan, establishing schools appearing to teach Islam but in actual fact were enforcing British teaching. This was a cunning plan and a well placed web, but Molana saw its true nature and saved the Muslims from its snares.

The British then thought of another plan and created a small group from among the Muslims to oppose the majority. Molana thwarted their plans in this as well. In essence, Molana fought whatever plot the British could devise, setting the standard for all future ‘ulama that it is compulsory upon them to fight against all forms of mischief and threats to Islam.

Services to Islam in the field of knowledge

With the arrival of western education in India, Molana saw the change in the mindset of the people; people were no longer satisfied with narration alone but wished to know the wisdom and secret behind each law. This is why Molana began substantiating each law of din and his books comprise more of logical reasoning than narration. This change in the mindset of the people was first perceived by Molana Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Delhwi (rahimahullah 1114 A.H-1174 A.H), which is the reason for his authorship of his famous book- Hujjat Allah al Balighah, in which he presented the wisdoms behind each tenet of din.

After Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah), it was Molana Qasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah)  who rendered services in this direction. The services of Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) differed from that of Shah Waliullah  (rahimahullah) in three aspects:

Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) did not debate matters pertaining to belief separately, whereas Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) discussed it as a separate subject explaining its law and principles. This is one of the great achievements of his life.

Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) would explain the wisdom behind the laws of din in general or only regarding specific acts mentioned in hadith and not each and every act, whereas Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) explained the wisdom behind even the most trivial of acts and at times also highlighted the wisdom behind what the fuqaha describe as Khilaf al Qiyas (acts contrary to reasoning) proving them to be in accordance with reason after all. However, it is unfortunate that more could not be done in this line but whatever has been serves as a guide and proof for us. The senior scholars who came later took this effort further. Al Masalih al ’Aqaliyyah li Ahkam al Naqliyah of Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) as well as of other scholars is worth reading in this regard.

The substantiations of Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) were based more upon reasoning and logic whereas Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) was able to make even the most intricate and purely logical reasoning perceivable. This was unique to his literary works which cannot be found anywhere else.

The same can be said for both Molana Nanotwi rahimahu Llah and Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) that their knowledge was more inspired than derived only from books. Allah Ta’ala had granted both of them a great share of inspired knowledge.

Whatever the case, Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) wrote thirty-six books to guide this Ummah, which can be divided into three categories:

easy

difficult

intricate

Easy books

Qiblah Numa– This is in Urdu, which explains that the Ka’bah is not an object of worship but the direction one faces during worship. Only the first quarter is easy.

Hadiyyat al Shia- This is in Urdu, which debates matters of difference with the Shia. This is the easiest of all his books.

Tuhfah Lahmiyyah- This is in Urdu, which explains that consumption of meat is the natural inclination of man. This was jointly written by Molana and one of his close friends.

Ajwibah Arba’in- This is in Urdu and in two volumes. It provides answers to forty questions posed by the Shia. The first volume was jointly written by Molana (rahimahullah) and Molana ‘Abdullah Anbitawi rahimahu Llah. The second volume was written by Molana (rahimahullah) alone.

Fuyud-e Qasimiyyah- This is in Urdu and Farsi. This book discusses various topics. The discussion on Jumu’ah in villages was translated and published separately under the title: Laws of Jumu’ah, which is why we have not mentioned it as a separate book.

Waqi’ah Mehlah Khuda Shanasi- This is in Urdu. It is a discussion of the truth of din which took place in his first debate in Shah Jahanpur 1293 A.H. Munshi Muhammad Hashim, owner of Hashimi publications and Molana Muhammad Hayat, owner of Dhiya’i publications, printed and published this jointly. The entire debate of Molana Nanotwi  (rahimahullah) has been related in it.

Mubahathah Shah Jahanpur- This is in Urdu and also discusses the truth of din and a refutation of Christianity. This is the second debate that took place in Shah Jahanpur in 1295 A.H. It was compiled by Molana Fakhr al Hassan Gangohi (rahimahullah) and Sheikh al-Hind (rahimahullah).

Lataif-e Qasimiyyah- This is in Farsi. It discusses various topics and is a compilation of nine treatises, the last of which is regarding Jumu’ah in villages. Also in this book is Al Haqq al Sarih fi Ithbat al Tarawih which comprises of the treatise of Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) and Molana Gangohi (rahimahullah). This is why Al Haqq al Sarih has not been mentioned separately.

Tasfiyyat al ’Aqaʼid- This is in Urdu and debates the principles and beliefs of din. It is a reply to the letter of Sir Sayed.

Intisar al Islam- This is in Urdu. It is a reply to ten objections raised against Islam’s teachings. The Majlis Ma’arif al Qur’an edition surpasses all previous editions.

Hujjat al Islam- This is in Urdu and discusses matters pertaining to din and belief, and is a must-read for every Muslim. The Majlis Ma’arif al Qur’an edition surpasses all previous editions.

Qasaʼid-e Qasimi- This is in Urdu, Farsi and Arabic. It is a collection of poetic renditions on various topics.

Makatib-e Qasimi- This is in Farsi and is a compilation of the letters written by Molana Nanotwi rahimahu Llah.

Al Ajwibah al Kamilah fi Aswilah al Khamilah- This is in Urdu and is a reply to five baseless objections by a Shia.

Hashiyyah al Bukhari- This is in Arabic. The sub-notes of Sahih al Bukhari written by Molana Ahmed ‘Ali Saharanpuri (rahimahullah), which is generally found in all copies of Sahih al Bukhari ; the final five chapters were written by Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah).

All of these books were easy, even though the subject matter extremely weighty. The method of elucidation was not just simple and easy but extremely so, such that any person is able to derive benefit from it.

Difficult books

1. Masabih al Tarawih- This is in Farsi and the subject matter is apparent from the title. In addition, other amazing and intricate facts have also been discussed relating to the topic. This book was translated by Molana Ishtiyaq Ahmed Deobandi (rahimahullah), which has been published under the name Anwar al Masabih. However, this book has not been analysed as it should have been and work still remains to be done on it.

2. Taqrir Dil Pazir- This is in Urdu and debates many issues. It was not completed and comprises of only what was written.

3. Barahin-e Qasimiyyah- This is in Urdu and debates several issues pertaining to din and belief. It was jointly written by Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah)  and his student- Molana ‘Abd al ’Ali (rahimahullah).

4. Tahdhir al Nas min Inkar Athar Ibn ‘Abbas- This is in Urdu. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) states that there are seven earths and on each earth prophets’ were sent. This book is a detailed discussion of this report. In addition a detailed discussion on the finality of nubuwwah was also included. This book became extremely popular and widely accepted during Molana’s (rahimahullah) lifetime. Many individuals raised objections to this book and their objections were replied by Molana (rahimahullah) himself.

5. Jawabat Ma’durat al ’Ashar- This is in Urdu. This comprises of ten objections raised by Molana ‘Abdul ‘Aziz (rahimahullah) on the book Tahdhir al Nas min Inkari Athar Ibn ‘Abbas and the replies given to it by Molana. These objections were not raised in refutation but rather in search of knowledge, such that Molana ‘Abdul ‘Aziz (rahimahullah) later agreed with the opinions of Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) after hearing his replies. In addition, Molana ‘Abd al Qadir al Badayuni (rahimahullah) also objected to this book and published a refutation of it under the name-Fasih al din Badayuni. Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) replied to this book. The original as well a copy of it can be found in the library of Molana ‘Abd al Ghani (rahimahullah). Another copy of it can be found in the personal library of Molana Qari Muhammad Tayyab  (rahimahullah).

Another person, who most probably resided in Rampur, also raised objection to Tahdhir al Nas. Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) also replied to his objections and a written copy of this can be found in Palawaddah. The student of Molana- Molana Ahmed Hassan Amrohawirahimahu Llah, also wrote a reply to his objections. A written copy of it can also be found in Palawaddah. It was this very book which Ahmed Radha Khan Barelwi misquoted and misinterpreted, in his propaganda against Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah). However as the saying goes:

Whoever tries to blow out the flame ignited by Allah

Will burn his beard but the flame will not be extinguished

6. Asrar-e Qur’ani- This is in Farsi and is a substantiated reply to all questions relating to the Qur’an. The commentary of Mu’owadhatayn– (Surah al Falaq and Surah al Nas) is also included in this book.

7. Intibah al Muʼminin- This is in Farsi. This is a commentary of a hadith reported in al Mishkat al Masabih (under the chapter of the virtues of the ‘Asharah Mubasharah in the third section), narrated by ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) regarding the khalifas of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam).

8. Jamal e Qasimi- This is in Urdu and discusses the aspects of Sima’a al Mowta,Wahdat al Wujud and Hayat al Nabi. This is a compilation of two books.

9. Towthiq al Kalam fi al Insat Khalf al Imam- Also called Al Dalil al Muhkam fi al Insat Khalf al Imam and is in Urdu. It discusses the reason why one following the imam should not recite Qira’ah behind the imam. Both names refer to the same book but in Towthiq there are a few additional lines.

10. Makatib-e Qasim al ’Ulum- This is in four volumes comprising of eleven letters, ten of which are Molana Nanotwi’s rahimahu Llah: a discussion on Fadak, a commentary on hadith al ’Umma, a discussion on what has been slaughtered in the name of others besides Allah, the ‘ismah (infallibility) of the prophets’, a solution to ahadith that seem to contradict each other regarding a Makatab[5], a reply to a letter by the Ahl al Hadith ‘Alim- Molana Muhammad Hussain al Batalawi, a reply to those who deny nubuwwah and the miracles of the prophets’, the ruling regarding taking of interest in India and the income received from a land left in trust, the martyrdom of Hussainradiya Llahu ‘anhu and a discussion on the issue of Imamah and a reply to the substantiation of Al Tusi and a commentary of the two ahadith. The eleventh is a commentary on the hadith: “He who does not recognise the imam of his time”.

All these are in Farsi. The letters- one to seven, have been translated by Molana Qari Tayyab rahimahu Llah, which have been published in the twelfth volume of Al Qasim. It has been presently edited and simplified by Professor Anwar al Hassan Sherkoti, now Pakistani, and published under the title of Anwar al Nujum. Unfortunately I have not been able to read this as yet.[6]

11. Al Haz al Maqsum min Qasim al ’Ulum- This is in Arabic and is a discussion on Al Juz al ladhi la Yatajazzi and a research into poetic rendition and music. It comprises of two letters of Molana Rahimullah Bijonwari (rahimahullah)- student of Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah), written in eloquent Arabic. It concludes with mention of two miraculous feats of Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah).

These were the difficult books of Molana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) and how true was the statement of Molana Qari Tayyib (rahimahullah) regarding them:

The wisdom of these books is like a huge and fertile country, which contain all the necessities of life, having no shortage of provisions or treasures. It has all the required modes of transport but the road to this country is hidden and very difficult to travel. There are no signs which make traversing this road easier nor any indications through which one can perceive the fertility of the land and take benefit from it. Apart from a select few, none possess any knowledge of this country or know of the road to it. Without a doubt the wisdom and knowledge of Molana Qasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah) is like this country and because of the lack of signs, hints, necessary directions, footnotes, tables of contents and translations, even the general ‘ulama cannot benefit from it, let alone the common masses.[7]

Intricate books

Qiblah Numa- The Ka’bah is not an object of worship but rather the direction faced during salah. The final three quarters of this book are extremely difficult. Molana Ishtiyaq Ahmed rahimahullah has rendered great service to it but still it cannot be understood appropriately. Qari Tayyab (rahimahullah) has also written a detailed commentary on it but sadly it has been lost.

Makatib-e Qasim al ’Ulum- The letter which contains the commentary of Hadith al ’Umma is extremely difficult.

Ab Hayat- This is in Urdu and proves that the prophets’ are alive in their graves. This is understood to be the most difficult of all Molana’s books. Even though Molana Ya’qub Nanotwi  (rahimahullah) had a portion of it removed, as he was of the opinion that none would be able to understand it (these extracted portions of Ab Hayat are in Pilawaddah), there still remains a dire need for a commentary to be written on it. Perhaps Allah Ta’ala will grant me the ability to fulfill this service.

This is a total of thirty-six books, wherein the wisdom of Molana Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah glimmers like pearls. Molana Qari Tayyibrahimahu Llah writes in praise of this wisdom:

The introduction to his books comes naturally such that the most important points glare one in the face. Every discussion is substantiated and well-laid out such that it appeals to the mind and its intricacies easily understood. In addition, Molana’s step by step method of explanation removes all doubts and misgivings in a clear and manifest manner such that thousands of other similar aspects are resolved, even if it is related to a different chapter. All these aspects are solved by his systematic approach and in fact many doors of knowledge and understanding are opened to the heart. A person is forced to accept that this aspect of Shari’ah is so logical and within reason that it seems as if that is the only natural conclusion.

In the words of Molana Muhammad Ya’qub (rahimahullah, first principal of Dar al ’Ulum Deoband):

Molana Nanotwi rahimahullah had a philosophical mind, which is why such deep concepts came naturally to him and as a result when discussing various laws of Shari’ah, he would do so from a philosophical point of view, resulting in not only that one aspect being resolved but thousand others like it. In so doing the wisdom of his philosophical view became apparent.

Nevertheless bringing various laws of Shari’ah under one logical principle and extracting intricate laws from this principle or to gather various aspects and laws of Shari’ah and extract one principle that governs them all, was unique to the knowledge of Molana rahimahu Llah.[8]

What is even more astonishing is that generally logic and reasoning relates to the derivation of laws and not hadith. It can be said that this law is logical or within reason but it is very difficult to say the same regarding a hadith; that it is within reason and logic dictates that this be the ruling. However, according to Molana Qasim Nanotwi (rahimahullah) even the narrations in hadith were not beyond reason and logic. His deep insight saw the logic and reason within narration just as he saw the logic and reason within the various laws of din. For example, according to Molana the Ka’bah being situated where it is today, it being the first House of Allah, the building of al Masjid al Aqsa forty years after the Ka’bah, even the distance between the Ka’bah and al Masjid al Aqsa, which is approximately two hundred and fifty or three hundred miles, all fall within logical reasoning and are not mere historic facts or coincidences. The details of this can all be read in his book Qiblah Numa.[9]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Molana Shah ‘Abd al Ghani Mujadidi, was the son of Abu Sa’id, who was the son of ‘Aziz al Qadr, who was the son of Safiyy al Qadr, who was the son of Muhammad ‘Isa, who was the son of Sayf al Din, who was the son of Muhammad Ma’sum, who was the son of Ahmad (Mujadid Alf-e Thani). He is the author of Inhaj al Hajah fi Hal Sunan ibn Majah. He was born in Delhi (1235 A.H) and passed away in Madina (1296 A.H).

[2] They are known as Hassanayn-e Thalathah,i.e the three Hassans.

[3] This was all taken from Sawanikh-e Umariby Molana Muhammad Yaqub Nanotwi V, who was among the first teachers of Dar al ‘Ulum Deoband.

[4] Surah al ‘Ankabut: 69

[5] Makatab: A slave with whom an agreement has been reached upon dispensation of a fixed sum in exchange for his freedom.

[6] This was at the time that the book was written but now I have managed to obtain and read it. The author has made a splendid effort but this book has not been solved as yet and an intricate book such as this cannot be understood by mere translation. Thus, much work still remains to be done in this regard.

[7] The introduction of Anwar al Masabih, page 15, 16

[8] Hikmat-e Qasimi page 20-22

[9] Hikmat-e Qasimi page 22, 23

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