Category Archives: History

Al-Nanawtawi’s Political Ideology

Al-Nanawtawi’s Islamic Political Ideology: Paradigms from Rudad, Sawanh Qasimi and other Selected Writings

Author: Dr. Atif Suhail Siddiqui*


Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi’s intellectual height is not limited to only Islamic religious sciences. At the one hand he is known as the most towering figure who revived Islam’s intellectual heritage in the Indian-subcontinent, on the other hand, he was also aware about the political and diplomatic loss of Muslims. He defended political and diplomatic affairs of the Muslims from Islam’s point of view. Al-Nanawtawi addressed not only the common people but also the Ulama and convinced them to raise concrete steps for defending the political hegemony of Muslims in their respective regions against the aggressive forces. This paper studies the religio-political arguments of Al-Nanawtawi, which he produced in the defense of his opinion and was successful to mobilize the larger section of elite and common Muslims in one political direction. This paper also gives a direction to develop ideas about the religio-political impacts of Al-Nanawtawi’s thoughts, which even until the modern period are most significant factor for different political movements among the present Muslim communities.


The most important factor in the development of Al-Nanawtawi’s personality is his balanced thought. As a political leader, he was actively engaged in war against British imperialism and wanted to liberate his home country from external aggression and occupation. Secondly, as a social reformist he initiated several social reform movements, and thirdly as a neo-philosopher, thinker and polemicist, he served knowledge and Islamic religious sciences. Thus, Al-Nanawtawi’s entire life was focused on three dimensions[1]. While his thoughts in religious, political and social reforms were single-dimensional and they were premised upon Islam’s fundamental teachings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad. The exceptionality of Al-Nanawtawi’s thought is its functionality in the practical fields of human life. Instead of merely philosophical ambiguity and gnomic, Al-Nanawtawi’s thoughts are pragmatic in social, religious and political arenas. His thoughts are erected upon the paradigms from the character (sIrah) of the Messenger of God and his pious companions.[2]

In the Battle of Shamli

In 1857 during mutiny of sepoys against British colonial regime in India Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi actively participated in an armed struggle. Armed participation against British imperialism is an important chapter of his life and movements.[3] The epicenter of the mutiny was Meerut Cantonment, where several sepoys raised weapons against their officers and killed them. This mutiny spread in different parts of North India and thus, Al-Nanawtawi did not remain uninfluenced.[4]

After the news of munity reached to Thana Bhawan,[5] Al-Nanawtawi’s spiritual mentor Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir al-Makki was elected Amir al-Mu’minin (the leader of the believers), while Al-Nanawtawi was elected Commander-in-Chief for leading the armed struggle against the British colonial forces.[6]

During famous battle of Shamli,[7]Al-Nanawtawi was injured[8], while one of his famous companions Hafiz Muhammad Zamin was killed.[9] Eventually, the Muslim empire of India came to an end, Delhi fell to the British. Also the battle of Shamli came to an end with loss of lives to both sides. Imdad Allah left permanently to Makkah, Al-Nanawtawi was declared a rebel and sought for trial in British court, which was feared into a death penalty. On the behest of his relatives, Al-Nanawtawi went to hiding, he spent three days in hiding. After three days, he came out from the hiding and said, “I cannot spend more than three days in hiding, because the sunnah of the hiding[10] is only three days.[11]” This statement of Al-Nanawtawi is an evidence of his religio-political aphorism, which he developed from the example of the life of the Messenger of God.

The Shamli battle did not bring desired results. Al-Nanawtawi changed his modus operandi; he alienated from direct political movement and avoided confrontation with the government, and he and his colleagues launched the movement of educational uplift of the Muslim society. Dar al-Uloom Deoband and other similar institutions were developed for protecting the religious ideologies of Muslims in India. Al-Nanawtawi though excluded politics from the curriculum of these institutions but the succinct mottoes of these institutes have broad explanations; according to the beliefs of Islam, he and his colleagues kept alive the spirit of struggle of independence and religious-political persuasions.[12]

Explanation for participation in the Battle of Shamli

Before the battle of Shamli, the Ulama were discussing the possible strategy against British forces but amid these talks influential scholar Shaykh Muhammad Thanwi disagreed with this formula that the Muslims should go in direct and armed confrontation with the British forces. He was of this opinion that in such pathetic and weak conditions, Muslims will only suffer from severe losses. This disagreement from such influential person was evidently affecting the opinion of a large section of community. Other leading Ulama tried to convince him privately and publicly but they were unable to force him to change his opinion. At the end in the presence of Imdad Allah Thanwi Al-Nanawtawi put his arguments, which Shaykh Muhammad Thanwi simply rejected. Shaykh Muhammad Thanwi said,

“In case all your arguments in favor of an armed struggle against British forces are accepted, but the major condition for jihad is to have an Imam. Where is an Imam, under whose guidance we fight?”[13]

Without thinking even a single moment Al-Nanawtawi immediately responded his question, he pointed out towards Imdad Allah Thanwi[14], because of his fame in Tadhkiyah and Suluk  Imdad Allah was the most revered personality of his time. Hundreds of Ulama and common Muslims already had paid their allegiance to him. Al-Nanawtawi said to Imdad Allah Thanwi that he was their leader in the affairs of religion, so he requested him also to take the responsibility of worldly administrative affairs and by holding the office of the Chief of the believers to settle their differences.[15]

Ashiq Ilahi further writes that Imdad Allah had to accept their offer.[16]At the end, Al-Nanawtawi questioned, “Are we weaker than the mujahidin of Badr?”[17] It made Muhammad Thanwi speechless. One single sentence of Al-Nanawtawi ended the confusion and disagreement.[18]

Al-Nanawtawi further suggested that all the important offices, which shall work under the Chief (AmIr), should be accordingly set. In the words of Al-Nanawtawi’s biographer,

Imdad Allah Thanwi was receiving the allegiance from the mujahidin as the Chief of the Believers (Amir al-Mu’minin). Muhammad Zamin was the flag bearer of the jihad, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was the preacher, who was motivating the mujahidin, while Al-Nanawtawi was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.”[19]

At the home, Al-Nanawtawi feared that he could also face opposition from his mother. He did not directly inform his mother about his participation in armed struggle against British colonial forces. At the first stage, Al-Nanawtawi explained the importance of jihad against the oppressors, he explained the importance of jihad from Qur’anic perspectives and the traditions of the Messenger of God, Muhammad (Peace be upon him and mercy of God) and the Sahabah. He motivated his mother and explained about the rewards to the parents who sacrifice their wealth and children in the path of Allah.[20]

After these explanations, Al-Nanawtawi informed his mother about his intention. He also included that, “Creatures’ opposition has no value in following the instruction of the Creator.”[21] The purpose was to make his mother aware that while neither they (Al-Nanawtawi’s parents) required him for personal services nor were they in need of his services,[22] in such a condition, if they try to stop him from jihad, it shall not be mandatory upon him to follow their instruction. Thus, he requested his mother, “I wish, you allow me to participate in jihad gladly and get full reward from Allah.”[23] His mother, who was a very pious and learned lady, said, “You are from Allah and I give you to Allah gladly.”[24]

A Review of Rudad: Support to Turks

In 1874 CE (1294 AH), Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi wrote a religious decree for supporting Ottomans against Russian Empire. A report (Rudad)was compiled regarding the efforts of the Ulama for collecting funds to support the Mujahidin in Balkan. These Mujahidin were the part of the Ottoman Empire and were fighting war against Russian aggression on the Balkan territories of Ottoman Empire. This report has great importance for understanding the religio-political philosophy of Al-Nanawtawi. In 1294 A.H., Al-Nanawtawi has written a detailed treatise in Farsi (Persian), in which he had explained the importance of this war including supporting the Turk-Ottoman army and especially to provide them financial support. This treatise was translated in different languages and was published in numerous newspapers and magazines.[25] It got vibrant support from the Ottoman Empire.[26]

In the first step, this report mentioned Russian attempts on Turkish-Ottoman territories and its negative impacts including the killings of Muslim men, women and children. Later, this report mentioned the importance of the Caliph’s authority, which is very important for the safety and dignity of the two Holy Shrines of Islam in Makkah and Madinah. This report forecasted the global harm of the Muslim community if the Muslim community decentralized; this centrality exists due to the Caliph’s regime.[27]Thus to support the Caliphate is must and compulsory. It is a religious obligation and duty, which every Muslim must fulfill. If the centrality of the Muslims is decentralized, the entire Islamic world will face the severe consequences.[28]

The Rudad (report) explained motivating factors with special reference to Islam’s teachings. This Rudad is a fine example of Al-Nanawtawi and his colleagues’ Islamic religious political ideology. It depicts their political perceptions strictly confined within the fold of religion; they did not allow any outside, secular or non-religious factor to pollute it.  The first factor is counted as Islam’s urge to support the oppressed. It portrays the Turk troops as the oppressed ones who were guarded for the protection of the Holy Shrines of Islam and a war has been imposed upon them. Now their lives are under serious threat and the Muslims should firmly stand to support them in dire needs.[29] Secondly, Muslim sensitivity on any issue related to Islam is one of the major factors behind the call to support the Turk forces.[30]Thirdly, it motivates Muslims to pay other Muslim brothers and fellows from the bounties of God, which they are enjoying without any hindrance. At the time of hardship of other Muslims, it becomes incumbent to support them from these favors.[31]Fourthly, it explains a hierarchy in actions, during the time of jihad the priorities are shifted. It is important to be aware about the priorities; thus, some actions become compulsorily primary and others become secondary. For instance, building mosques and serving the pilgrims can never be equal to fighting and spending in the way of God.[32] Fifthly, the Rudad explains from the worldly and Godly point of view. In case the Turks are fighting for mere worldly and political benefits even their support is compulsory. It strictly condemns the conjectures regarding intentions of Turk troops. It belongs to God only. Even they fight for worldly political gains, their victory would be better than the victory of the infidels in all circumstances.[33] Finally, from the then political circumstances in India this Rudad motivates Muslims to support Turks. During this war, the British regime was in support of Turks against Russia. It was a good opportunity to provide maximum support to the Turk forces.[34]

In the opinion of Al-Nanawtawi, his disciples and colleagues at that time, the most important task was to support Turk forces against Russian aggression and this task was more important than building the mosques and supporting the educational institutions. Even according to them, any other religious obligation became secondary against the support of Turks. Initiatives like building mosques and supporting educational institutions were not considered as important as to support Turkish forces, because they were seen as the catalysts that could help to maintain Islamic centrality and unity.[35]

Al-Nanawtawi decided to raise two steps in support of Turk forces and the regional Muslims in the fighting zones of the Turkish Empire. First was to provide financial support to the Mujahidin and the armed forces of Turkish Empire including the widows and orphans of the army personnel and common Muslims in Eastern Europe. This support, according to Al-Nanawtawi, would boost them on moral grounds and they will not feel themselves alone in their struggle and hardship. They should realize that their Muslim brothers in India are with them in their hardship and time of sorrow[36].[37]

Al-Nanawtawi was the first person who donated the first amount for the Turk forces. He donated the jewelry of his wife. This donation was given immediately after his marriage with the fair consent of his wife.[38]

The biographer of Al-Nanawtawi Manazir Ahsan Gīlānī describes this event as:

“At the first night after his marriage, he (Al-Nanawtawi) persuaded his wife for donating all her jewelerywith the noble purpose to support Turkish forces. His wife donated all her ornaments immidiately at that night. When his wife went to her father’s home and her father saw her without even a single peice of ornament, he questioned about the matter. When he knew about the fact, he purchased new jewelry for the daughter. But Al-Nanawtawi did the same with new ones.”[39]

The other people who were involved in collecting funds were Ahmad Ali Muhaddith of Saharanpur, Mazhar Nanawtawi and great jurist and friend of Al-Nanawtawi Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. These learned scholars of Islam have done their best efforts for collecting the funds. The collected amount was delivered to the Consulate of the Ottoman Empire in Bombay. This amount was sent in several installments.[40]

This collection was not limited to Deoband or local vicinities, on the behest of Al-Nanawtawi, it had become a national movement. Muslims, rich or poor, from each part of the country were collecting funds with zeal and enthusiasm, which was filled in them. This zealous effort was for saving and protecting the dignity of the Muslim centrality, which was associated with the centrality of the Ottoman Caliph. The total amount, which was collected and delivered to the Ottoman Consulate in Bombay, reached 1.2 million rupees[41]. During that period, which was of severe financial scarcity and economic anarchy in India, this amount was outstanding and historic.[42]According to the financial circumstances at that period, collection of this amount was unimaginable, even today this amount is believed to be a huge financial support to any cause.

After the amounts were received at the Ottoman Consulate, the receipts were delivered to the donors with this commitment that this outstanding donation will be published in Al-Jawa’ib[43]. Later on the amounts were received at Bab-i Aali; the then Prime Minister of Ottoman Empire Ibrahim Adaham sent a letter of thanks to Al-Nanawtawi and other elders of Madrasah Islamiyah ArabiyahDeoband (Dar al-Uloom, Deoband)on May 23, 1877 corresponding to Jamadi al-Awal 9, 1294 AH.[44]

After the success of the first step Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi motivated his disciples and colleagues for raising the second step and this was to join the Mujahidin and Turkish forces in Balkan. However, in contrast to the public call of financial support by everyone and by each individual the call to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Turk forces was not made public. Al-Nanawtawi knew that each individual is not capable to join the armed jihad, this service needs specific training and energy, thus, even having the enthusiasm for an armed jihad everybody is not capable to join the Turk troops at the fronts of the war.

Al-Nanawtawi further explains that an action becomes obligatory when there is a need of this action. Thus, joining troops for each individual Muslim neither is practical nor is mandatory. And in such case that the untrained individuals would bring damages more than the benefit, more important is they provide moral and financial support to the Mujahidin. In this decree, Al-Nanawtawi writes that motivating unarmed and untrained individuals for joining the troops at the fronts of war is not so important. More important is to provide the Ottoman troops with financial support. He was of this opinion that the numbers of the trained and official troops at the fronts of war is sufficient but for war expenditures financial support is obligatory. Al-Nanawtawi wrote that it is not possible that everybody can join the war and fight against the infidel forces but it is very possible that everybody can provide financial support according to his or her capacity. By quoting the Qur’an[45] Al-Nanawtawi wrote that Allah commands for both kinds of the jihad—with arms and with finance, and do not destroy yourself by hoarding the money while your brothers are in need.[46] In dire conditions, spending money for the cause of Allah is compulsory and there is no maximum and minimum limit of this support, and those who still are not willing to spend the money they could face harms in both of the lives.[47]

The ‘ulama decided to travel to Hijaz for getting better glimpse of the situation in Balkan. A huge number of ‘Ulama began traveling for Hajj. Sayyid Asghar Husayn writes that in Shawwal 1294 AH the elders of the ‘Ulama decided to travel for holy journey to Makkah. The leaders of the caravan were Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi and Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. Due to this famous leadership, a huge number of common people and ‘Ulama gathered. Hundreds of poor and rich religious Muslims planned their journey to Makkah.[48]He further writes,

“From India such a sacred group of people and popular caravan journeyed (to Makkah) that there is neither any example in the entire history nor is there any hope in the future.”[49]

Though during the Russia-Turk war, the British Government was in support of Turkey against Russia but it was also not easy to announce openly to travel for the purpose of jihad. The ‘Ulama were aware about the sensitivity of this journey from political and social point of view. Therefore, no direct announcement was done of this purpose that the ‘Ulama along with the common citizens ultimately aim to travel to Balkan after performing Hajj. Ashiq Ilahi gives an account of this fact,

“When common Muslims of India saw that all of a sudden a community of elite is moving towards Hejaz, so whoever could be able, they immediately agreed to join this caravan. Itself a belief developed in the mind of people that these people, for religious support but as a pretext to Hejaz, are actually travelling to Rome. For the side of Turkish Empire they will join voluntarily Mujahidin, and in whose fate is a martyrdom he will receive an eternal life.”[50]

In the Context of Religion Al-Nanawtawi’s Arguments to Support Turks against Russian Forces

Al-Nanawtawi’s original decree related to this war was published in several magazines and booklets at that time.[51] The original manuscript is preserved at Mufti Allah Bakhsh Academy, Kandhla, Muzaffarnagar. This decree was conceived as a motivating factor for collecting financial and moral support to the Turkish army against Russians. Al-Nanawtawi has written this letter to Maulana Ahmad SaÑId. In this letter, he explained the importance of this jihad, need to support the Turks and especially financial support by collecting the money. All his arguments are from the point of Qur’an’s view and prophetic traditions. He commences his decree with the support of the Qur’anic verse[52] and says that in situation of the aggression from the enemies jihad becomes eminent and according to the Qur’anic[53] measurements it becomes compulsory to provide support to the mujahidin.[54]

Al-Nanawtawi wrote a very brief annotation in this epistle and described the verse[55] of the Qur’an. Al-Nanawtawi explains in the light of the verse that despite necessity the people who do not emigrate from a state, which is a Dar al-Harb, they fall in the class of the infidels. Al-Nanawtawi gives further support to this argument from al-Tawbah[56] and explains that such people who are no more in state of consociation, they are no more firm believers (mu’min).Furthermore, in desperate situation support of downtrodden people becomes deontic and obligatory. For fulfilling this deontological duty to follow the fundamentals of Iman and maintaining the state of consociation is compulsory. So in such a condition support to the mujahidin becomes deontological and obligatory.[57] In case solidarity between infidels[58]against Islam, a consociation amongst Muslims is compulsory. It is also obligatory upon Muslims to stand firmly for protecting the sanctity[59] of the holy shrines in Makkah and Madinah.

Al-Nanawtawi counts three reasons for supporting Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman caliph. First reason is infidels’ expeditions against Muslims and the Qur’an[60] advocates this support against the invaders, secondly, because Muslims seek support from other Muslims[61] and thirdly, for protecting the sanctity of the Holy Shrines in Makkah and Madinah.

Some of the opponents have questioned the nature of this war. Some people believed that this war was not a religious one (jihad Fi sabil Allah), it was merely a political war. Al-Nanawtawi answered their doubt. Other than Allah none knows the intentions of any one. If someone blames us that our prayers and fasts (Salat wa sawm) are for show (riya), how would we justify it? Similarly, none has the right to question the Jihad of Turk forces. If prayer (Salat)means to face towards qiblah and performing the actions of the prayers, thus, jihad means Muslims fight against infidels. If for jihad a sound intention is required similarly for Salat a good intention is also required. If the intentions of the Turks are not good, how is good your intentions? What is proof of the bad intentions of the Turks and how would you prove good intentions of yours?[62]Furthermore, there is a hope of good reward from Allah on the payment to a non-Muslim architect of a mosque, so why will there not be a reward on the financial support to a mujahid, even suppose in his intention he is fighting for worldly benefits? By the efforts of an architect, the religion is served and the house of Allah is built. Similarly, a mujahid protects the religion and implications of his efforts remain long lasting which help protect the religion (din).[63]

Further to support his decree, Al-Nanawtawi wrote a comparison between few verses of the Holy Qur’an.[64] Elaborating these verses, Al-Nanawtawi wrote that the most important compulsion upon a Muslim is to sacrifice his life, if it is not so, a Muslim must sacrifice his wealth and as per the least action a Muslim should donate some of his wealth to please his God. Al-Nanawtawi ends his decree by explaining that our life and wealth both are already of God. The verse, “they fight in the path of God”[65]absolutely indicates the compulsion of fighting in the cause of Allah and avoiding it is just like denying a King on his public call for a special kind of support even the King is fully capable to protect his sovereignty without any outside support, but those who will defy King’s call will face the wrathof the King.[66]

Impact of Al-Nanawtawi’s Religio-political Thoughts upon the Later Generations of the Ulama

Al-Nanawtawi’s political thinking brought massive and most significant impact on his most distinguished disciple Shaykh al-Hind Mahmoud Hasan. At the time of Sepoy’s Mutiny in 1857 Hasan was not in the contact of Al-Nanawtawi. But during the Russia-Turk war he closely watched and observed the activities of his teacher and other eminent Ulama. At that time Hasan was a young man, who was fully aware about the sentiments of his teacher. Later he could trace the roots of the political ideas of his teacher and contemporary Ulama, they were striving for independent cultural, political and social identities of Muslims not only in India but everywhere in the world.[67] These thoughts, which were developing Hasan’s personality, played very important role in the future, they helped him to develop as an Islamic political leader and freedom fighter for India’s independence. In original sense Mahmoud Hasan did not inherit Al-Nanawtawi’s intellectual legacy only, but in true sense he was the original and the only interpreter of Al-Nanawtawi’s religio-political ideology.

In the later age, India’s prime political leaders and freedom fighters got ideological strength from Mahmoud Hasan. The very prominent leaders like Ansari, Ajmal Khan, Muhammad Ali, and Abul Kalam Azad were influenced by Mahmoud Hasan. Among these political leaders, Ansari paid allegiance to him.[68]

The growing political tussle between the British regime and the Muslims in India and the Balkan war of 1912 provided an opportunity of the establishment of Nazarah al Ma’rif. This was an ideological training center with the aim of keeping alive the spirit of religious political ideas among Muslim youths.[69]

An impression of Al-Nanawtawi’s training is evidently witnessed upon his most distinguished disciple and student Mahmoud Hasan. Mahmoud Hasan was detained by the British government. In Feb 1917, he was sent to Malta because of his anti-British government campaign in India and his rapidly growing influence.[70] He was released from Malta jail in March 1920.[71]After his arrival back to Dar al-Uloom Deoband a decree (fatwa) about Non-cooperation Movement was asked from him. Mahmoud Hasan asked his three distinguished disciples Mufti Kifayat Allah, Husayn Ahmad and Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani to write this decree. His disciples hesitated and requested that in his presence it is not possible for them to write a decree. Shaykh al-Hind Mahmoud Hasan replied,

“Sentimentally, I am filled with full hatred against the English people. Therefore, I am not confident that I shall do justice and it would be against Qur’an’s instruction—[72]“Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice.”[73]

Al-Nanawtawi left such paradigms, which helped his successors to reinstate the political influence of Muslims in the later stage. It included rebuilding the confidence of Muslim community.  After the fall of Delhi and failed mutiny of 1857, the aggressive British rulers got all kinds of superiority and advantages upon the conquered Muslim community. It has also changed the direction of British politics and diplomacy.[74]

According to the new policy of the new and colonial government, the last aggression was intellectual. It was decided now to defeat the Muslim community at intellectual level by raising questions on Islam’s viability and relevance.[75]Al-Nanawtawi was proved the most significant pillar in the defense of Islam’s intellectual heritage. He also changed his strategy, instead of fighting with sword, he designed new policy and it was to counter the intellectual aggression of British forces against Islam and Muslims. In the new policy of Al-Nanawtawi and his colleagues, they suspended entirely political ambitions. They were of this opinion that any political effort now would bring more serious disaster to the Muslim intellectualism. For them it was now the most important priority to protect the Islamic faith and Muslim beliefs from the new policy of the Imperial British Government.


In fact, Al-Nanawtawi was the last bearer of the legacy of Shah Wali Allah of Delhi. Al-Nanawtawi picked the essence of Shah Wali Allah’s cultural, social, political and religious thoughts and believed that Muslims cannot give up their right to rule the land of God. But the module of the governance of Muslims needs appropriate strategy and it is not merely diplomatic and political. He also observed that in the time of political suppression intellectual superiority, governed by a sublime Islamic ideology, should be maintained. At any rate, Muslims should never lose their link with their intellectual heritage; community’s connection with intellectual heritage is the best fight against social, political and cultural anomalies.

According to Al-Nanawtawi’s belief political suppression is timely, while intellectual loss is most disastrous and dangerous; its impacts are long lasting. Al-Nanawtawi insisted on the changing nature of strategy and policy. He himself produced the paradigms of changes. His life is categorized with three different phases. The first phase of his life is full of political struggle, while in the second phase, he changed his policies and engaged in polemics with Christian and Hindu missionaries and in addition continued several revival movements. The third and the most successful phase of his life is the intellectual and academic revolution, for which he became most famous. But in all three phases of his life, Al-Nanawtawi always was struggling for Muslim political and intellectual superiority.

Thus, the paradigms left by Al-Nanawtawi became footprints for his successors; they sporadically and permanently were engaged in different political movements. But none of his successors ever differed from the main maxim, which Al-Nanawtawi has set for them in the last stage of his life and it was Muslim inclination and absolute reversion towards religio-cultural heritage and it was preserved in the intellectual heritage of Islam.


* Dr. Atif Suhail Siddiqui is the founder president of Deoband Institute of Islamic Thoguht.

[1] Akhtar Imam Adil, Tahaffuz-e Din ke Masa’i-e Jamilah- Mawlana Nanawtawi—Ahad awr Khidmat, in Hujjat al-Islam Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi: Hayat, Afkar, Khidmat, (New Delhi: Tanzim Abna-e Qadim Dar al-Ulum Deoband, 2005), 114-115.

[2] Shams Tabriz Khan, Fikr-i Qasmi ke Chand Asasi Rujhanat, in Hujjat al-IslAm Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi: Hayat, Afkar, Khidmat, 125.

[3] For detailed biography of Muhammad Qāsim Al-Nānawtawī see, Manazir Ahsan Gīlānī, Sawānh-i Qāsmī, (Deoband: Maktabah Dārul Ulum, 1383AH); Muhammad Ya’qub Nānawtawī, Hālāt Janāb-i Tayyab Mawlvī Muhammad Qāsim Sahab (Bhawalpur: Matba’ Sādiqul Anwār, AH 1297); Muhammad Anwrul Hasan Qāsmi, Anwār-i-Qāsmī(Pakistan: Idārah Sa’diyah Mujaddadiyah, 1969) and Nur al-Hasan Rāshid Kāndhalwi, Qāsim al-Ulum HaÌrat Mawlānā Qāsim Nānawtawī: AÍwāl wa Óthār wa Bāqiyāt wa Muta’lliqāt, (Muzaffarnagar: Maktaba-E Noor, 2000).

[4] Nadim al-Wajidi, “Hazrat Mawlana Qāsim Nānawtawī ki fikri Basirat awr Dawr-i Hazir men uski Ma’nwiyat”, in Hujjat al-Islam Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi: Hayat, Afkar, Khidmat, 135-136.

[5]Thana Bhawan is a small town in Muzaffarnagar District in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh around 120 km from Delhi. During 1857 war of independence Thana Bhawan became the center of strategy against British colonial forces which ultimately turned in the famous Battle of Shamli, which took place between the forces of Haji ImdAd Allah and Britain. See, Shaykh Muhammad Ikram, Tarikh-e Hindustan Mawj-e Kawthar, (Delhi: Adabi Dunya, n. d.), 196, Husayn Ahmad Madani, Naqsh-i Hayat,(Deoband), 43, Sayyid Muhammad Miyan, Ulema-I Hind ka Shandar Mazi, v. 4, (Karachi: Maktabah Rashidiyah, 1986), 281.

[6] Husayn, 43.

[7] Shamli is a city and district headquarters in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, it became the battle ground between the forces of Mujahidin, led by Haji Imdad Allah and Al-Nanawtawi against British colonial forces in 1857. The battle of Shamli is one of the important chapters in India’s freedom struggle. See Manazir, v. 2, 121-204

[8] A bullet hurt him, but the injury was not serious. It was recovered very soon. See, Muhammad Ya’qub Nānawtawī, Hālāt Janāb-i Ùayyab Mawlvī Muhammad Qāsim Sahab (Bhawalpur: MaÏbaÑ Øādiqul Anwār, AH 1297), in Nur, 202.

[9] Ikram,196.

[10] Al-Nanawtawi here refers to the Messenger of God Muhammad (peace be upon him and mercy of God). The Holy Prophet went on hiding for three days in Thawr Cave enroute from Makkah to Madinah. See Manazir, v. 2, 173.

[11] ManāÐir, v. 2, 49. The arrest warrant remained effective until the British Government announced clemency against those who were declared rebels throughout the country. But Al-Nanawtawi’s name remained in the record of the British police, which always affected his activities. During the period of warrant, there were several police raids on possible hideouts. But Al-Nanawtawi could never be arrested. See, Muhammad Ya’qub Nānawtawī, in Nur, 202. Also his biographers, Manazir,  Ya’qub and others have given accounts of the events how always Al-Nanawtawiescaped from the arrests despite sudden raids on his possible hideouts. There is an interesting and famous account mentioned about his escape from arrest in Masjid Chattah by his biographers, Al-Nanawtawi was standing in the mosque, suddenly one police officer entered the mosque who did not know Al-Nanawtawi by face. The police officer asked Al-Nanawtawi “Did you see Muhammad Qasim?” Al-Nanawtawi moved two-three steps behind from his place and replied to the police officer, “Yes, Muhammad Qasim was standing here and pointed out the place from where he moved a few steps.” The police officer did not ask any further question and left the mosque quickly. His biographers write that he never spoke lie and God saved him due to his piety and pious intentions. See, Ashiq Ilahi, Tadhkirah Al-Rashid,v. 1, (Saharanpur: Kutub Khanah Isha’at al-Ulum, 2014), 120, Manazir, v. 2, 176-177. Al-Nanawtawi’s colleague Rashid Ahmad Gangohi writes that, “I was arrested because before the battle of Shamli I was confused and Al-Nanawtawi was never arrested because he was fully confident before the battle, God helped him because he was fully relying on the support from Allah.” See, Akhtar,116.

[12] Sayyid Muhammad Miyan, Ulema-e- Hind kA Shandar Mazi, v. 4, 287

[13] Manazir, 123.

[14] Imdad was the most revered personality of his time. His fame was due to his piety, which attracted thousands of common people and hundreds of contemporary eminent Ulema. They all paid allegiance to him. According to Al-Nanawtawi’s biographer, nobody could dare to oppose his name as the Chief, because he was fulfilling all the conditions, which a person requires for appointing as a Chief of the Believers. Thus, without any opposition all opponents of the battle of Shamli agreed to pay the allegiance to Imdad and agreed upon his leadership. See, Manazir, v. 2, 125-126.

[15] Ashiq, Tadhkirah Al-Rashid, v. 1, 114.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Muhammad Salim Qasmi, “Al-Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi ki Shakhsiyat ke imtiyazi pahlu”, in Hujjat al-IslAm Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi: Hayat, Afkar, Khidmat,71-72.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Manazir, v. 2, 127.

[20] Ibid, 129.

[21] Ibid. Also see the Qur’an, upon which Al-Nanawtawi made the premise of his  arguments, (Qur’an, 31:15)

[22] During the battle of Shamli Al-Nanawtawi was the young man of 25, his parents had not also reached to this age that they needed his services. His parents also not crossed age of 45, their health was absolutely fine, and his parents used to work themselves without any support and help.

[23] Manazir, v. 2, 129.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Nur, 146.

[26] In this report the letters from Al-Nanawtawi and the officials including Prime Minister of Ottoman Empire are described. This report is a fine example of how Al-Nanawtawi, his disciples and his colleagues were engaged in a conversation with the high officials of Ottoman Empire and in what manner the Ottoman Empire acknowledged this support. See, Rudad Chandah-i Balqan, (Meerut: Matba’ Hashmi, 1294 A. H.), 1-5.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Nur, 99-100.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Manazir, v. 1, 511.

[39] Ibid, 513.

[40] Through Rashid Ahmad Gangohi three installments of amount comprising of 784 Rupees, 87.5 Rupees and 200.25 Rupees were delivered to the Consulate of Ottoman Empire in Bombay, while Ahmad Ali of Saharanpur delivered total amount of 4230 Rupees in five installments. This receipt of amount was published in a report by the Consulate of Ottoman Empire, See, Daftar A’anat-i Hindiyah, (Bombay: Consulate of Turkish Empire in India, n. d.), 1-161; See also Nur, 103.

[41] The comparative value of the currency in the 80s of 19th century and first decade of 21st century is highly different. Now this amount is equal to more than 100 million rupees. See, Nur, 104.

[42] Nur, 103.

[43]Al-JawA’Ib was the official weekly mouthpiece of Ottoman Empire, which used to be published from Bab-i Aali (the administrative town or block of the Ottoman Empire). The first publication began in 1860.  Few copies of Al-Jawa’ib are preserved in the library of Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow, India.

[44]Rudad, 10-11.

[45] Qur’an, (2: 195).

[46] Al-Nanawtawi, Makateb, op. cit.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Sayyid Asghar Husayn, HayAt-i Shaykh al-Hind, (Lahore: Idarah Islamiyit, 1977), 22.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ashiq, Tadhkirah al-Rashid, v. 1, (Deoband), 229.

[51] Nur, 146.

[52] Qur’an, (2: 38).

[53] Qur’an, (8: 72; 9: 38).

[54] Al-Nanawtawi, Maktub ba silsilah-i Jang Rus wa Turki, (1294 AH),see in Nur, 149-150.

[55] Qur’an, (8:72).

[56] Qur’an, (9:71).

[57]Al-Nanawtawi, Maktub, opcit.

[58] Qur’an, (8:73).

[59] Qur’an, (9:28).

[60] Qur’an, (9:38).

[61] Qur’an, (8: 72, 8:73).

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Qur’an (9: 19-22, 9:111).

[65] Qur’an, (9:111).

[66]Al-Nanawtawi, Maktub, op. cit.

[67] Nur, 93.

[68] Sayyid Muhammad Miyan, Ulema-i Haq awr unke Mujahidanah Karname, v. 1, (Deoand: Faisal Publications, 2003), 93.

[69] Miyan, 93.

[70] Miyan, Safarnamah Asiran-e Malta, (Deoband: Kutub Khanah Na’imiyah, 2002), 73.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Manazir, 84.

[73] Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, (5:8).

[74] Akhtar, 118.

[75] Punjab and Sind, Miss NSS, 249, see in Nasim Ahmad Qasmi, “Hujjat al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi, Khidmat awr Karnamay”in Hujjat al-IslAm Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi: Hayat, AfkAr, Khidmat,107.


By Firas al-Khateeb

Few regions in the Muslim world have seen as much warfare in modern times as Afghanistan. Foreign interventions and invasions have been an almost constant threat to the nation since the early 1800s. The Soviet Union in the 1980s and the United States in the 2000s experienced what it means to fight in Afghanistan’s unforgiving environment, but the first Western power to foray into the region was Britain. Back in the 1800s, when Britain was just solidifying its control over India, it looked to the northwest, to Afghanistan, to serve as a buffer to the growing Russian Empire. The result was the First Anglo-Afghan War, which lasted from 1839 to 1842.


Ethnic groups of Afghanistan. The Pashtuns dominate the South and East and have traditionally provided the bulk of support to Kabuli governments.

Throughout history, Afghanistan and the surrounding region has been marked by ethnic and tribal divisions. Pashtuns dominate the East and South of the country, the center is mostly Hazara, and the Turkmen, Uzbeks, and Tajiks can be found throughout the North. Each group has historically had their own identity, culture, language, and loyalties, and thus any kind of national unity among the numerous ethnic groups has been hard to come by. Furthermore, since the rise of the gunpowder empires in the sixteenth century, Afghanistan has served as a point of contention between Safavid Persia to the west and Mughal India to the east.

Despite the ethnic divisions and the almost constant state of imperial war, the first Afghan state began to take shape in the late 1700s under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Durrani (r. 1747-1772), who established a kingdom based in Kandahar that managed to survive between the Mughal and Safavid realms. He relied mostly on the Pashtuns for support, but he also included the other ethnic groups of the region in his administration, thus preventing his kingdom from falling into ethnic civil war.

But the Afghan state founded by Ahmad Shah soon had to deal with the rise of the British and Russian Empires in the 1800s. The British East India Company had managed to use a combination of patronage, bribery, and outright warfare to bring large tracts of India under its control in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Meanwhile, the Russian Empire slowly annexed large portions of Central Asia’s Turkic khanates that bordered Afghanistan to the north.

To the British, the growth of Russia was a threat. They worried that if the Russians continued to expand southward, they could use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack British India. With the Himalaya Mountains providing a secure northern border to India, the only way for an overland invasion was through mountain passes high in the Afghan-controlled Hindu Kush Mountains. Indeed, this had been the main entry point for numerous invasions into India throughout history.

The British thus tried to use Afghanistan as a buffer against Russian expansion in the 1830s. The emir (equivalent to king) of Afghanistan at the time was Dost Mohammad Khan, who ruled from the city of Kabul in the east of Afghanistan, close to the passes that lead to India. If Dost Mohammad could keep the Russians from invading Afghanistan, the British would feel more secure in India, thus they hoped for peaceful relations between the Afghans and the Russians and no warfare.

Dost Mohammad’s diplomatic skills were lacking, however, and in the late 1830s, the Russians allied with the Persians against the Afghans under the pretext of regaining the city of Herat for Persia. At this point, the British decided that any hopes of diplomacy holding the Russians back were fading. Instead, they favored a new approach which involved a full scale invasion of Afghanistan, the overthrow of Dost Mohammad Khan, and the establishment of a new emir, Shah Shujah Durrani, who would be staunchly pro-British.

The Invasion

In late 1838, the British mobilized over 20,000 soldiers for the invasion of Afghanistan, most of them being Indians who served as sepoys in the British East India Company’s private army. The British army was a modern, disciplined, and well-trained force. The Afghans, however, did not have the latest technology on the battlefield, and did not conform to European modes of warfare. Instead of the neat and steady lines of infantry and musket volleys that European generals preferred, Afghan warriors operated as an irregular fighting force. And although Dost Mohammad had almost 40,000 cavalry at his disposal and could call up tens of thousands of Ghilzai warriors from the regions around Kabul, discipline and loyalty were rare among his soldiers. Furthermore, rivalries and competing interests between different tribes that made up the armed forces prevented the entire army from operating as a single unit. Despite this, the Ghilzais in particular had the potential to be a very effective fighting force based on their tenacity and ability to ambush. They were not full time soldiers and were thus very difficult to track and pursue in battle, since they could abandon the battle and blend in with the local population. Their ability in battle would later prove to be decisive after the initial invasion.

When the British invaded early in 1839, they came through the Bolan Pass, south of Afghanistan, instead of the expected invasion route that ran through the Khyber Pass. By the time Dost Mohammad realized it, it was too late for him to defend Kandahar, his southernmost city, which fell to the British in April of 1839. Dost Mohammad hoped that his entrenched forces at Ghazni, a fortress on the road to Kabul, would hold up the British long enough for him to mobilize his forces, especially the Ghilzais.

But Ghazni proved to be no obstacle for the British. Modern artillery coupled with their disciplined forces managed to rout the fortress. Between 500 and 1200 Afghans were killed while the British only lost 17 men in the siege. Dost Mohammad knew that the British would arrive in Kabul soon and attempted to make a final stand on the outskirts of his capital. But news of the British ability in war spread quick, and the emir had trouble rallying soldiers to defend the city. Only 3000 men offered their services. Most of his army disbanded and diffused into local villages and rural areas.

Dost Mohammad was thus forced to escape to Central Asia where he hoped to recruit an army in exile that would push the British out. The British, meanwhile, entered Kabul in August, where they helped Shah Shujah Durrani claim the throne as emir of Afghanistan. Shah Shujah was not a popular figure in the capital, and was widely seen as nothing more than an agent of the invaders. His administration was weak and had trouble managing Afghanistan, but the British achieved their goal of securing the northern approaches to India from a possible Russian invasion. It was mission accomplished.

The Insurgency

The eventual expulsion of British troops did not come from the exiled emir. Dost Mohammad’s attempt to invade Afghanistan in 1840 ended in failure as he surrendered and was exiled to Calcutta, India. Instead, popular opposition to the British came from the people living under the foreign occupation.

The British occupation, centered on Kabul, brought huge changes to the lives of ordinary Afghans. Based on their experiences in India, the British believed that in order to make their occupation of Afghanistan worthwhile, they had to reform the government and military of the country to resemble those of European nations. Thus, the traditional payments doled out by Kabul to tribal chiefs for their loyalty were cut, in some cases by 50%. This weakened the already low level of loyalty to Shah Shujah outside of Kabul, and hampered the ability of rural tribes to live in Afghanistan’s harsh environment due to lack of food and supplies.

Furthermore, inflation caused by the British occupation made life very difficult in the cities, particularly Kabul and Kandahar. As the British and their supporters settled in the cities, they brought huge amounts of currency with them, which reduced the value of money overall. The urban populations thus suffered as they saw their relative incomes and purchasing power go down, just as inflation and high demand drove the price of food up. The religious scholars, the ulema, in particular suffered, as they relied on fixed stipends which were now almost worthless. Furthermore, many of the charitable institutions they managed were seized by Shah Shujah’s government to provide more tax revenue, a move they saw as contrary to Islamic law.

It was in this environment of disaffection and frustration that the first big protest against the British occupation occurred in November of 1841. Angry demonstrators, led by tribal elders and the ulema, spread out throughout the city to protest signs of British influence in the capital. In the mayhem, a British official was killed. And when the British did nothing to avenge the death in the days after the protest, the Afghans took the opportunity to continue to build momentum.

Tribal elders and ulema fanned out into the surrounding countryside, rallying men to come to Kabul and expel the British. Around 15,000 responded and assembled in Kabul. It’s important to note that the irregular nature of Afghanistan’s warriors proved to be an advantage, as civilians could pick up weapons and fight when needed and then go back to the villages and disperse into civilian life when threatened. This fact prevented the British from being able to stop the growth of the resistance, which quickly spread throughout the country.

Since the British were based in numerous cities and fortresses throughout Afghanistan, groups of British soldiers could easily be surrounded and pinned down by Afghan warriors. Even in Kabul, the center of British control, the foreign troops were unable to do much outside of their own bases as Afghan warriors captured British supply stores. The commander of the British forces in Kabul, General William Elphinstone, recognized that his forces were outnumbered and outmatched, especially when Mohammad Akbar, the son of Dost Mohammad arrived in Kabul to command the resistance forces. Elphinstone thus managed to secure an agreement allowing for a British retreat to Jalalabad, about 150 kilometers to the east.

Elphinstone’s army of 4,500 along with around 12,000 camp followers thus left Kabul in January 1842 and began the march out of Afghanistan. As is bound to happen in a tribal society like Afghanistan, treaties and agreements made by the central government meant nothing to the Ghilzai tribes that lined the road to Jalalabad. Throughout the march, Elphinstone’s army was harassed by waves of Ghilzai warriors who would regularly rush out of the hills to ambush the British in narrow mountain passes. Adding to their problems, the winter climate of mountainous Afghanistan made the march even slower and more dangerous and hundreds of British and Indian troops died just from the environment.

After four days of marching, only about 150 soldiers and 4,000 camp followers were still alive and marching to Jalalabad. Within two more days, after continued Ghilzai attacks and harsh weather, about 20 were left. By the time Jalalabad was reached, there was just one lone survivor, Dr. William Brydon, an assistant surgeon. From a force of almost 20,000, only one man managed to avoid being killed or captured during the retreat from Afghanistan’s capital. Just as quickly as the British had invaded and captured Kabul, they had been defeated and forced out of Afghanistan’s heartland.


The complete destruction of Elphinstone’s army was a major victory for the Afghans. Despite tribal and ethnic disunity, they had managed to unite long enough to decisively defeat the world’s greatest superpower. The British puppet government in Kabul quickly collapsed and Shah Shujah was assassinated in April of 1842. Dost Mohammad Khan was released from captivity by the British and returned to Afghanistan to retake the position of emir later that year.

The defeat of the British helped foster a sense of national unity in Afghanistan, although tribal affiliations still generally meant more to the average Afghan. Throughout the country, an acute sense of xenophobia developed in response to the punishing British occupation. This would continue as Afghanistan was invaded by Britain again in the 1870s and 1910s and by the Soviets and Americans over 100 years later. From the British perspective, the defeat meant the absolute end of any possible friendly relations between the two nations. The Afghans were caricatured as barbaric, uncouth, and treacherous, and any attempt to engaged Afghanistan afterwards was colored by this mindset. More importantly, however, the defeat meant the loss of respect among Indians living under British rule in the subcontinent, which would play a role in the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 in India.

The First Anglo-Afghan War helped Afghanistan gain a reputation as the “graveyard of empires”. A mystique developed around the country that it was unconquerable and persists until today. And while these characterizations of Afghanistan may not be entirely true, they continue to play a major role in the national consciousness of Afghanistan, and the way it is viewed by outsiders.


Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

Johnson, Robert. The Afghan Way of War: Culture and Pragmatism: A Critical History. London: Hurst &, 2011.

Brief History of the Shi’ite Safawid Dynasty

[By Hadhrat Muhammad Ishaq Sindhelwi (Rahimahullah)]

It is an established fact that Iran was a Sunni nation until the tenth century of the Hijri calendar. During this period, Iran produced thousands of scholars in every discipline; the most salient of these facts is that the six most authentic Hadith books (i.e. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Nasai, Ibn Majah & Tirmidhi) were written by scholars from Iran, or scholars who received their education in Iran.

However, when the Safawid Shi’ites took control, they established their government on the skulls of the Sunni scholars and jurists. This was one of the reasons for the evacuation of the large cities that were the foremost centres of the Islamic sciences, such as Tabriz, Isfahan, Ray and Tus. Many Sunni Muslims were murdered, forced into Shi’ism and compelled to flee to the mountains, leaving Iran as a centre for conspiracies against Islam and the Muslims.

Ferdinand, the ambassador to the Austrian King, remarked, “Had it not been for the Safawids in Iran, we would have been reading the Qur’an this day like the Algerians,” meaning that his nation would have been introduced to Islam by the Ottomans. However, the Safawids conspired with the crusaders and the imperialists to halt the Islamic expansion into France and Vienna.

The rise of the Safawid dynasty started in 905 A.H in Iran and Khurasan. While under the rule of the Mongols, in the 1200s (596 A.H), the Persians had given up on politics and militarism and had submerged themselves in ibaadah. During this time, Iran was constantly visited by Mongol and Turkish immigrants who adopted the Persian language and Persian customs. In the 1300s (699 A.H), a dynasty founded by a grandson of Genghis Khan, Halaku Khan, ruled in Iran. Meanwhile a heretical Shi’ite order, the Safawids, appeared with their homebase at Ardebil – west of the Caspian Sea.

By 1500 C.E (905 A.H), the Safawids had implemented the Dogmas of the Ithna Ashari Shi’ite sect. Safawid males wore red headgear for identification (representing their beliefs in the twelve Imams), and they were eager to advance Shi’ism by any possible means.

In the year 1500 C.E (905 A.H), the thirteen-year old son of a recently deceased Safawid leader set out to conquer territory. By 1501 C.E (906 A.H), the Safawids seized Tabriz and made it their capital. They also butchered their way into Armenia, Azerbaijan & Khorasan. The Safawids became the strongest force in Iran, and their leader, Isma’il (905 A.H – 930 A.H) now fifteen, was declared “Shah” (King).

Shah Isma’il descends from the lineage of Shaykh Safiuddin 1334 C.E (734 A.H), the student and son-in-law of Shaykh Zaahid Gilani 1300 C.E (699 A.H). Amongst the primary teachings of Shaikh Saifuddin was the notion of fanatical love for the ‘Ahlul Bayt’. They believed that the Ummahatul Mu’mineen, the noble wives of Nabi are not included in the ‘Ahlul Bayt’. On the other hand, the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah firmly believe that respect and love for all the family members of Nabi  is an integral part of Imaan.

In the Shi’ite terminology love for the ‘Ahlul Bayt’ is termed as ‘Tawalla’ and hatred for the Ummahatul Mu’mineen and the Sahaaba (whom the Shi’ite consider the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt) is termed as ‘Tabarra’.

It was this very spark of ‘pretentious love for the Ahlul Bayt’ that established the foundation of Shi’ism. There were also seven Turkish tribes (Istaajilo, Turklo, Biharlo, Dhul Qadr, Shaamilo, Qaachar and Afshaar) who assisted the Safawids in their ascent to kingship. These tribes were influenced and brainwashed by the Safawid fake Sufis, who indoctrinated their beliefs with Shi’ism.

When the Safawids established their rule, they realised that their own beliefs with regards to the hidden Imam will become an unnecessary impediment. They needed to find a ruse to allow their governors to rule upon the masses as the Imams would have as the Shi’ites believed that only the Imams were innocent and were lawmakers.

Once, Isma’il went out of Tabriz with his ministers and friends. Upon reaching a stream he ordered his companions to wait for him whilst he entered the cave. A few hours later he emerged from the cave and announced that he met with the hidden Imam of the Shi’ites who had granted him permission to become his representative on earth and the time for his (the hidden Imam) appearance is near.

Thereafter, he declared that he saw Sayyidina Ali bin Abi’ Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) in a dream who ordered to gather his followers in the Grand Masjid of Tabriz. They should all be armed  and ready to oppose those who are against Shi’ite ideologies and the establishment of a Shi’ite state. After these declaration he began oppressing the Sunnis, forcing the to accept Shi’ism.

In 1510 C.E (915 A.H), Isma’il Safawi waged war against Shaybani Khan who was a sunni ruler. A bloodbath ensued at Merv where unfortunately Shaybani Khan was defeated. Isma’il Safawi severed his head and filled it with jewels.

Thereafter, Isma’il Safawi began to instigate his followers to crush the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, Sultan Selim I responded to this mischief. A great war ensued near Tabriz where by the grace of Allah Ta’ala, Isma’il Safawi was defeated. It is mentioned no one ever saw Isma’il Safawi smiling after his disgraceful defeat by Sultan Selim I.

Evil Habits and Traits of the Safawids

⚫ The Safawids believed that the Persians were the chosen people of Allah 7000 years prior to Islam. The basis for them believing that they were the most noble of people is because, Sayyidina Hussain ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu Anhu) married the daughter of Yazdgerd (a Persian), from whom Sayyidina Zainul Abideen (rahimahullah) whom the Shi’ites regard as one of their Imams was born. This is why, Isma’il Safawi declared himself as the representative of Allah, the Khalifah of the twelve Imams and the representative of the hidden Imam on earth.

⚫ The grandfather of Isma’il Safawi had married his daughter to Zaahid Kasaani, an individual who had claimed prophethood.

⚫ The Safawid kings consumed alcohol, punished whomsoever they wanted whenever they wanted and were involved in all sorts of wrongdoings.

⚫ Isma’il Safawi enforced the ritual and compulsory cursing of the first three Khulafah, Sayyidina Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu Anhu), Sayyidina ‘Umar (radhiyallahu Anhu) and Sayyidina Uthman (radhiyallahu Anhu) as usurpers, from all the Masajid, disbanded Sunni groupsand seized their assets, used state patronage to develop Shia shrines, institutions and arts and imported Shia scholars to replace Sunni scholars.

⚫ They introduced the statement Ashhadu Anna Aliyyan Waliyallah (I bear witness that Ali is the delegate of Allah) in the Adhan.

⚫ The Safawis shed Sunni blood and destroyed and desecrated the graves and Masajid of the Sunnis. The Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II advised and asked Isma’il Safawi to stop the anti-Sunni actions. However, Isma’il was strongly anti-Sunni, ignored the Sultans warning and continued to spread the Shia faith by the sword.

⚫ In 1512 C.E (917 A.H) all the Sunni scholars of Iran who opposed the imposed dogmas of the Safawids were slained and butchered. Two-thirds of the population of Tabriz was forced into Shi’ism. Over one million Sunnis were slained and butchered. Streams of blood ran along the streets of Tabriz.

⚫ As soon as Isma’il Safawi has established his kingdom he ordered his clerics to educate the masses with one belief only, and that is Ashhadu Anna Aliyyan Waliyallah, whilst every other important beliefs of Islam should be discarded.

⚫ No Sunni scholar was allowed to lecture or deliver a Khutbah on the day of Jumu’ah. The Ulama’ of the Ahlus Sunnah were slaughtered, so much so that the bones of great scholars who had passed away (such as Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah), Qadhi Hamdani (rahimahullah and Allamah Nasruddeen Baydawi (rahimahullah), were dug from their graves and burnt in public.

⚫ Islamic literature, books and manuscripts with authentic Islamic sciences were seized and burnt.

⚫ The Safawid dynasty destroyed all existing Islamic literature and encouraged the propagation of Shi’ism forcefully because prior to the rise of the Safawid dynasty the majority in Iran were Hanafi Sunni Muslims.

⚫ With the establishment of the Safawid rule, there was a raucous and colourful, almost carnival-like holiday on the 26th of Dhul-Hijjah exhibiting their happiness for the martyrdom of Sayyidina Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhu). The highlight of the day was making an effigy to be cursed, insulted and finally burned.

⚫ In 1501 C.E (906 A.H), Isma’il invited all Shi’ite adherents livinh outside Iran to settle in Iran and be assured of protection from the Sunni majority.

⚫ The early Safawid rulers took a number of steps against the Sunni Ulama’ of Iran. These steps included giving the Ulama the choice of conversion, death or exile.

Coalition of the Safawid Dynasty and the Imperialists against the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire had established a true Islamic Nation. Sultan Muhammad Fatih had conquered Constantinople. His conquest and valour had overawed the hearts of the Europeans. Upon his demise, the grand pope declared that the Roman Catholics should celebrate thanksgiving for three continous days. 

The Safawi Shi’ites were known for conspiring against the Ottoman Empire, with the aim of hindering the progress and expansion of Islam. The Shi’ites had signed an agreement with the disbelievers that they will assist them against the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah, that is the Ottoman Empire.

A German historian, Brookman writes: “From 1588 C.E to 1619 C.E (996 A.H – 1038 A.H) the Safawid dynasty was expanding exponentially. Shah Abbas Safawi had received all the assistance he needed from the British to expand his tyrannical conquest. The British fervently assisted the Safawids in their efforts to destroy the Ottoman Empire; and the Safawids returned the favour by comimg to their aid against the Austrians.

A coalition between the Safawids and the Crusaders was created during the lifetime of Isma’il Safawi. Isma’il met with Leo, Maximillan and King Charles the fifth and made an agreement to assist them against the Ottoman Empire.

Innovations and Mischief of the Safawids

⚫ Isma’il Safawi declared that he is sinless and that there is no difference between him and Hadhrat Mahdi (alayhis salaam)

⚫ He claimed that Sayyidina Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was a Nabi and he would prostrate to Sayyidina Ali

⚫ Sultan Tehmasep Safawi was a drunkard whose son was in love with a young lad. He passed away in the house of the same lad.

⚫ It was compulsory to celebrate the martyrdom of Sayyidina Hussain bin Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)

⚫ Christian rituals were introducted it their religious gatherings

⚫ They introduced the sentence ‘Hayya Alaa Khayril Amal’ in the Adhan

⚫ Performing Sajdah on tablets of sand (dedicated to the land of martyrdom of Sayyidina Hussain radhiyallahu anhu)

⚫ Performing Sajdah to their leaders and clerics

⚫ Changing the Qiblah of the Masjid in Iran

⚫ Burying their dead in coffins and caskets

⚫ The Safawid Shi’ite clerics toom possession of the Awqaf system. They believe that they have the right to make that which is haraam, as halal whenever it suited them. For example, when the Moghul king Khudabanda issued three divorces to his wife, Ibn Mutahhir Halli (a Safawid Shi’ite cleric) stated that such a divorce is baseless.

⚫ The Safawid clerics went to the extent of stating that only Sayyidatuna Fatima (radhiyallahu anha) was the daughter of Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The other daughters of Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) from Sayyidatuna Khadijah (radhiyallahu anha) were from her previous marriage.

⚫ They also negated Sayyidatuna Aisha and Hafsa (radhiyallahu anhuma) as being the noble wuves of the Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam.

⚫ The Safawids would celebrate the 10th of Muharram as a day of mourning for Sayyidina Hussain (radhiyallahu anhu). Abbas Safawi would wear black clothing only and he would apply mud on his face to express his grief.

⚫ The Shi’ites would lash and cut themselves with daggers on the day of Ashurah. Such actions have no basis in Islam. Even their British and Western allies have commentated that they have not seen such animosity and ignorance anyone else.

Mulla Baqir Majlisi

Muhammad Baqir Ibn Muhammad Taqi Ibn Mansur al-Majlisi, also known as Mulla Baqir Majlisi is considered as the most renown and reliable scholar of the Shi’ite faith. He was the grand cleric of the Safawid Dynasty.

He is the same person who invented and promoted the beliefs regarding Mut’ah, Raj’at and reincarnation. He has fabricated numerous accusations against the first three Khulafah, the Sahabah and the Umaahatul Mu’mineen and he promoted these fabrications as authentic Ahadith. An example of his heresy as he writes in his book ‘Jila al-Uyun’:

Ali (alayhis salaam) narrates that Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “There is a coffin in Jahannum in which twelve individuals are imprisoned. Six of them are from the previous nations and six are from my nation. This coffin is at the bottom of a well filled with lave and fire. It has been closed with a huge boulder. When Allah will intend to set Jahannum ablaze, he will order the Angels to remove this huge boulder and the lava and fire of this well will consume Jahannum.

The narrator then asked Sayyidina Ali (alayhis salaam) ‘who are these twelve individuals?’ And he answered, “the six accursed individuals from the previous nations are:

1. Qabil
2. Namrud
3. Fir’awn
4. The person who killed the Camel of Nabi Salih (alayhis salaam)
5. The two individuals who misguided the Bani Isra’eel after the demise of Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam)

And the six individuals from this Ummah are:

1. Dajjal
2. Abu Bakr
3. Umar
4. Abu Ubaidah al-Jarrah
5. Saalim Mawla Hudhaifah
6. Sa’d al-‘Aas

May Allah Ta’ala protect us from such utterances.

In another narration, he states that Iblis said, “When Allah cursed me and I was driven out of Jannah, I asked Allah if there is anyone more accursed than me. The angel in-charge of Jahannum was ordered to take me to the farthest section of Jahannum where I was shown those who are more accursed than me. The fire and punishment of that place was of such an extent that I thought I would die. I saw two individuals who were shackled and were being punished. I asked the angel, “Who are they?” He replied, “Didn’t you read what was written on the Arsh 2000 years ago before the creation of Adam. Iblis said, “It is written “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger and I (Allah) assisted Muhammad through Ali”. These two, who ae shackled in flames are the enemies of Ali, they are Abu Bakr & Umar.”

These are the some of the beliefs and teachings that were promoted by the Safawid Shi’ite clerics. Even the Shi’ite scholars have attested that the Safawids have drifted against humanity, reason and Islam.

Today, the same ideologies have been implemented by the stooges of Khomeini who regard every Sunni to be a disbeliever. These sons of the Safawids have picked up exactly where their forefathers left off. Chastising the Ummahatul Mu’mineen and noble Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) is a part of their religion.

Did you Know?

⚫ Although there are around 2 million Sunnis living in Tehran, there is not a single Masjid where they can perform their Jumu’ah but Tehran is home to 40 Christian Churches and a cemetry for the Baha’is.

⚫ The publication of Sunni books are illegal in Iran.

⚫ A third of the population of Iran are being deprieved of their most basic rights.

⚫ Sunnis living in Iran are not allowed to name their children as they like. There is a book of permitted names at civil registers, and no one can pick up a name that is not in this book. For instance, Iranian authorities do not allow people to name their children Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman or Aisha. Civil registers will not put these names on ID cards.

⚫ On the day of the martyrdom of Sayyidina Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), the Shi’ites hold a ceremony called Jashn-e-Umar Koshan (the celebration of the killing of Umar). An effigy is erected. Dirt and other filthy things are thrown on it. This ceremony is still held in the south of Tehran and other parts of the country.

⚫ Schools in predominantly Muslim regions teach Shi’ite beliefs.

Today, Muslims in Iran number approximately 15 million. The above facts clearly prove that in the past centuries and currently there is ongoing oppressive Shi’ite sectarian discrimination in Iran against the Muslims.

May Allah Ta’ala guide us all and protect the Ummah from the scrouge of Shi’ism and other mischiefs. May Allah Ta’ala elevate the status of the Sahabah in this world and the hereafter.

Brief History of the West’s Hate Propaganda of the Prophet ﷺ & Islam

History of Europe’s Islam hate writing and publishing material for distorting the image of Muhammed ﷺ and Islam.

It was Nicetas of Byzantium around 860 A.D who first wrote “Refutation of Quran” to mislead people to believe that Quran is made up book[1] ﻧَﻌُﻮْﺫُﺑِﺎﻟﻠﻪ He wrote it at the request of Michael III who was the Byzantine Emperor of Amorian dynasty
By this time Muslims have destroyed entire Persian Empire and took Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine), North Africa from Roman Empire, Spain was under the rule of Muslims and Muslims fought battle of Tours in Western France. Roman Empire was shaken by all of this conquest and feared that it’s days are numbered, so in all this hysteria “Refutation of Quran” was written to stop and belittle Muslims.

Then there was a long pause as Muslims were a dominant force on the horizon and masses were contend with Muslims rule and there was no Popular uprising in Islamic history with the exception to Ummayyad dynasty which was violently overthrown by the Abbasids [2]. Other than that Islamic history have not witnessed violent popular uprisings until after Colonialism.

But after the Conquest of Constantinople in 1453 Muslims have reached the peak and downfall started from west with the Spanish inquisition. Muslims lost Spain. By now Printing technology was available and anything can be printed in Mass, so now in 1537 Venetian printers Paganino and Alessandro Paganini produced printed Blasphemous, misleading edition of Quran to distribute to Muslims under Ottomon Empire [3] and this was the reason why there was a ban in Ottomon Empire on printing anything in Arabic to prevent the above. Unlike the Secular Liberal westernized Muslims with deep inferiority complex who claim this Ottomon empire ban is the reason of our falling back in Technology and Science and our eventual downfall.[4][5] Under Ottomon Empire Printing was allowed for anything in non-Arabic. Books in Arabic were hand written under the supervision of learned scholars and Muslims with deep understanding of Islam. By 1727 even this Arabic ban was also lifted.

Anyway going back to the subject of Blasphemous publication by Europe. So after 1537 a series of Blasphemic material was published about Prophet Muhammed ﷺ and Islam and most notable is the Chronicles of Theophanes which was first written back in 817-818 A.D and was Printed centuries later and taught at universities in the west and Secular liberal misguided Muslims use it as a references for their “Research.” So in our time this whole Jyllands Posten and Geert Wilders Blasphemous cartoons are the continuation of that hate. But this Cancellation of Cartoons by Geert wilders in Netherland is the first retreat by the west.







Tipu Sultan’s Contributions Towards Development of Unani Medicine

[By Mohd A. ALİ, Mohd A. BAKAR, Mohammad ASLAM, Mohd KHALID, Abdul A. FARIS, Hamiduddin]

Tipu Sultan (1750–1799), also known as the  Tiger of Mysore[1], was a man of intelligence and courage, a man of strong belief, a great warrior, a great scholar, a great scientist, and a great planner[2]. He was one of the most powerful rulers of a well-administered kingdom[3]. According to Mohibbul Hasan (b. 1909), Tipu was an “enlightened and tolerant ruler.”[4] B. Sheik Ali (b. 1925) regarded Tipu Sultan as the “flair for modernization”[5] in the 18th century in India. He was a great man. Tipu often said that “it was far better to live like a lion for a day than to live like a jackal for hundred years.”[6,7].

He was born on November 10, 1750[8] in Devanahalli,[9] also known as Yusufabad, a village 33 km far from the city of Bengaluru in South India. His father Haidar Ali (1722–1782),[10] although an illiterate, appointed talented teachers to give Tipu the usual scholastic education along with military training. According to Mohibbul Hasan (b. 1909), Tipu showed interest in science, medicine, and engineering, but calligraphy, theology, and Sufism served his favorite subjects. Moreover, he was ambitious of being an author and wrote more than 45 books himself or translated from other languages under his supervision and patronage on the subjects of medicine, military science, Sufism, history, law, and Hadith[11].

He was a great patron of scholars and poets. Hence, after coming to the power (1782), he established a university in Srirangapatna named as Dar-ul-Umur, also called Jami-ul-Umur or Jami-ul-Uloom, serving to the cause of education and research[12]. He named this university Dar-ul-Umur for the purpose of advancement in arts, science, and technology.  Therefore, all subjects of arts and science were in the syllabus[13].

Tipu evinced keen interest in collecting books in various languages, including Arabic, Indian, Persian, and European. He had an excellent library consisting of 2000 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, and Hindi languages dealing with medicine, military science, Hadith, law, Sufism, history, philosophy, grammar, astrology, poetry, and mathematics and was regarded as the sign of excellence in the East [14]. A librarian was appointed for maintaining and managing the library. A descriptive catalogue of the oriental library of the late  Tipu Sultan of Mysore (SCRR ED80.29/9330) was published by Charles Stewart (1764–1837) in 1809, which contained 364 pages with a detailed description of the library of Tipu Sultan with its specifications[15]. Charles Stewart listed 1090 manuscripts in different languages, but he mentioned more than 2000 manuscripts, some of them gifted to the Oxford and Cambridge Universities and to the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Molvi Amjad Ali Ashhari, in his book Savaneh Tipu Sultan (A Biography on Tipu Sultan), mentioned a catalog of the library of Tipu Sultan consisting of 1889 rare books and manuscripts, which were bounded by gold and precious stones. Many of them were gifted to the treasury of library by several governments and Islamic scholars, of which 62  books were on the subject of medicine.

After the fall of the kingdom of  Tipu Sultan, the plunder and loot of his great library with literary treasures was the greatest loss to the nation. A person bought a manuscript for Rs. 5, which he sold later for Rs. 2000. Still, later it fetched £ 250, and the hand-written Quran by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1618–1707 AD) valued at Rs. 90,000 finally found its way to the Windsor Palace. The entire Library of Tipu Sultan first was shifted to the Fort William College, Calcutta, in 1800, and subsequently to England.


It shows the great interest and affection of Tipu Sultan toward Unani medicine that 62 books were related to medicine in his library. He also had good experience in treating various diseases, which is described in his personal letters and writings[16]. He was also a writer of repute and fame. He not only preserved Unani manuscripts and their principles but also wrote about 45 books by himself or translated from other languages under his supervision and patronage on various subjects,[17] such as Tuzak-i-Tipu, Zabarjad, and a treatise on the preparation of perfumes and the art of dyeing and cleaning.

Some books preserved in the library of Tipu Sultan on the subject of medicine are mentioned below:

1. Khulasat-ut-Tibb: a short treatise on medicine, art of dyeing, and paper making written by Muhammad bin Masood[18].

2. Asrar-e-Attiba: essays on the virtues of amulets, medicine, and charm for averting diseases authored by Shihab ad-Din.

3. Shifa ar-Rijal: a poetical treatise on medicine by Shihab ad-Din (11,18).

4. Bahr-ul-Manafe’: the book, written by Maulood Muhammad in 1794 on the order of Tipu Sultan and dedicated to him, discusses embryology, with a special focus on the birth and care of the child; the book also contains a chapter on hygiene.

5. Qanun-dar-Ilm-e-Tibb: A compendium (complete pharmacopeia of London Hospital) of reputed European physicians on medicine translated from English to Persian by order of Tipu Sultan.

6. Tarjuma Kitab-i-Farang: A translation of Dr. Cook Burn’s treatise on a twist of the intestines.

7. Mufradat dar-Ilm-e-Tibb: It is a book on medical science and natural history translated by  order of Tipu Sultan from French and English into Persian, in which various herbs and roots of plants of medicinal properties are described. It contains diagrams and pictures of plants, with the references from English and French sources. Charles Stewart adds a note that Tipu Sultan used English prisoners for translating and compiling this book.

8. Tibb-e-Darajan: This book was compiled by order of Tipu Sultan on the subject of medicine; one manuscript of the book is preserved in the Oriental Research Library, Mysore, with many signatures of Tipu Sultan on its initial pages.

9. Barqi wa Tibbi Tajurbat: The book discusses experiments on electricity and medical treatments; this book was translated from English to Persian under the patronage of Tipu, taken from “Cockburn’s  Twist of Intestines.”

10. Tohfa-e-Muhammadi: This book was written by Muhammad Naseer Ifshar Turk on behest of  Tipu Sultan on pharmacology dealing with different drugs with details of the treatments of various diseases, dedicated to the Sultan, arranged in Arabic alphabetical order.

11. Hukm Namah: This book was written under the patronage of Tipu Sultan on rules and regulations of the Kingdom; one chapter was especially for illustration of tobacco prohibition for public as well as military and description of its harmful effects on health[19].

Snake Bite:  1) Ankola roots [Alangium salviifolium (L. f.)] in powder form; one hawen (a unit of weight) to be taken orally with water and applied on the wound locally.

2) The extract of shaali (Oryza sativa L.) root (dry or wet) should be used orally [one Kaddah (a unit of volume)]; more than one Kaddah may be poisonous to the body.

3) Samandar phal (an Indian-origin drug such as chebulic myrobalan in square shape); one hawen (a unit of weight), ground and mixed with cold water, should be taken orally and applied on the wound topically.  

Dog Bite: Small black acacia, which bears beans and yellow flowers; the beans, bark, and root of this acacia should be ground in curd of cow milk and taken orally for 5 days in the morning. Moreover, this preparation may be served as a diet to the patient; only curd should be given to the patients for drinking instead of water.

Scorpion Bite: The three leaves of coffee senna (Kasondi, Cassia occidentalis Linn.) should be taken orally, and the same in the powdered form may be used topically on the affected site.

If someone is bitten by a rat, the  body develops nodules and pustules. It should be treated with one or two films of snake shedding along  with  jaggery four  times  a  day  internally. This prescription is also beneficial in other skin diseases.

According to Mahmud Bangalori (1887–1958 AD), this book indicates that the systems and regulations of the kingdom of  Tipu were well developed.

The book is in Persian language, and its Urdu translation was rendered by Dr. Mahmud Husain Khan (1907–1975) and published from Pakistan in 1950. A single Persian manuscript of this book (manuscript No. 1250) is also available in the Asiatic Society Bengal, Calcutta[20]. According to Maktoob-e-Sultani, some more  European books on pharmacopeia and colicky pain were translated by order of Tipu the King.


Tipu Sultan was a capable ruler and administrator. He did much to  strengthen Mysore with contemporary science and  improve the conditions of the peasantry. He did not stick to the old regulations but introduced a new system through all his dominions[21]. A greatest contribution of Tipu Sultan was spreading awareness and consciousness among his people. His reforming zeal touched almost every strata of society.  The health care system in the kingdom of Tipu was well established, developed, and popular. Although  Tipu Sultan  propagated and promoted  Unani  (Greeco-Arabian) medicine on preferential ground in his territory, he was never unaware of the advancement of  Western medicine. Hence, one can always find a  Western physician or surgeon beside Unani Hakeems. All Hakeems (physicians) were grown on the concept of temperament and humors, the core philosophy of Unani medicine[22]. The kingdom of  Tipu had many hospitals. Groups of Hindu, Muslim, and French physicians and surgeons were appointed for treating patients and providing health care facilities[23]. The wound was washed three to four times a day with simple warm water by a boy attendant. The surgery was done by Jarrah (surgeon) if required.

In 1793, Tipu Sultan established Piadah Askar (foot soldiers) and Sawar Askar (Cavalry) in his army.  Twenty-seven Cushoon (a battalion of foot soldiers) were established, and for every Cushoon, one Hakeem (physician) and one surgeon were appointed. In Sawar Ashkar (rider soldiers), especially veterinary surgeons were appointed along with Hakeems (physicians) and surgeons. In all departments (revenue, military, and so forth), health-related quality facilities were available and a group of physicians and surgeons was  appointed. The salary of a Hakeem was five Pagodas (currency of Saltanat-e-Khudadad) per month, more than that of a surgeon who got three Pagodas per month.

According to the British assessment of Tipu Sultan’s Hill Fort, Chiltaldrug had more military and garrison buildings. It also had some hospitals; the two larger hospitals located in the town were designated for the sepoys. It measured 200 ft (61 m) in square and 12ft (3.6m) in height, having mud walls with a roof. The inventory adds the note that it  “was built in a square.”  Given its dimensions and roof type, it was likely a series of rooms built around an open courtyard. It too was judged to be in unserviceable condition. The survey report describes it as a 56 × 44 ft (17 × 13 m) mud-walled structure with a tiled roof[24]. It is assumed that these hospitals were well established with all facilities. A series of rooms consisted of special and general wards. Some rooms were allocated especially for outdoor patients, and some were for specific treatment. Male wards were separate from female wards. More attention was given to wounded patients, called as emergency medical services. Skilled physicians and surgeons, pharmacists, and other hospital staff were appointed for smooth functioning of the hospital. This hospital was also mentioned in the archeological report of Mysore for the year 1935[25].

According to Anwar Harun (b.1942), buildings of military magazine and the hospital were of main importance in Srirangapatnam[26].

Special rules and regulations were compiled for all departments including hospitals and health care officers for betterment of humanity and proper restoration of health. The book Hukm Namah, consisting of 14 volumes, was compiled under the immediate inspection of Tipu Sultan[27]. Once chicken pox broken out in the camps of rebels. Tipu Sultan immediately ordered Badruzzaman Khan Naita to transfer the rebels to a place suitable for their health. Tipu often said that “I have been born to soothe the wounds with ointment; hence I easily get horrified with murder and plunder of the mass.”

Tipu Sultan showed his concern for disabled subjects in his regulations of 1786. He proposed to employ the lame and blind “for blowing the Bellows of Iron  Works”  and the Amildar or Amil was ordered to give them  “something for their traveling expenses too.”

Tipu Sultan gave great attention toward health education in his territory. The Dar-ul-Umur University was quite renowned for all the prevalent subjects, but Unani Tibb got a dignified position among the other subjects under the supervision of renowned physician of his time Hakeem Mohammad Baig, who also served as the royal physician of Saltanat-e-Khudadad (kingdom of Tipu); another Hakeem was Ghulam Husain Munajjim Aasi. The university was equipped with a well-established pharmacy and chemical laboratory for preparation, analysis, and experimentation of Unani drugs. According to Mahmud Khan Bangalori (1887-1958), a famous chemical laboratory in Srirangapatna was established for analysis and experimentation of drugs and other chemicals.

According to Mir Hussain Ali Khan Kirmani (d.1864), Tipu Sultan established schools and colleges in his treaty for Islamic and technical knowledge along with health education[28].

Francis Buchanan-Hamilton (1762–1829), a traveler to Madras through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar in 1800 AD, mentioned in his book A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar about various colleges, hospitals, apothecary shops, physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, and cultivation and trading of medicinal plants, and awareness of people about health and many other facilities related to medicine. These indicated a well-established health care system in that time[29].

Tipu also appointed Saidalani (pharmacists) and established apothecary shops under his government supervision. He developed a prosperous health care system equipped with the facilities and technologies of his time.



The kingdom of Tipu had a provision for balanced diet with special menu according to the need of the physical activities especially for military personnel. All the officers, including Hakeem (physician) and Jarrah (surgeon), had to eat together. The rations were to be served to all officers on a daily basis (Table 1). The rations provided to the Musqueteers (Navy commander) and gunners were distributed with some differences in their quantities, especially meat (Table 2).

Tipu knew well about the harmful substances for health and society. So, he began to restrict and regulate the conduct of the shops for the sale of spirituous liquor, and finally and effectually abolished the whole in 1784 along with the sale of all intoxicating and destructive substances such as poppy flowers (Papaver somniferum Linn.), and the Bhang (hemp plant, Cannabis sativa Linn.) even in the private gardens (21,22). According to Lewin Bentham Bowring (1824–1910), “Tipu’s prohibition of intoxicating  drug is an act of reformer.”[30]

Tipu mentioned prohibition in the first chapter of the book Tuhfah tul-Mujahideen. He prohibited the cultivation of red pepper and vine due to cutaneous eruptions and alcohol intoxication in the maritime districts. The growth of pepper was permitted later for purposes of its medical regimen and trading with the Arab World. Some items such as tobacco, sandalwood, pepper, and precious metals were bought under state permit only. Colonel Mark Wilks FRS (1759–1831), writer of History of Mysore, stated “I could not determine whether the prohibition of growing red pepper or chili, was to be considered as a commercial regulation to increase the growth of black pepper or as a medical regimen or as a compound of both motives.”

Tipu propagated the production of silkworm and other agricultural products for medicinal and economical purposes[31]. In another letter, he spoke about the cultivation of saffron[32]. According to Mark Wilks (1759–1831), Jaiphal (Myristica fragrans Houtt.) is also imported from Travancore and cultivated in Lal Bagh for spices ad medicinal purpose. Now Mysore is a good exporter of nutmeg in India.

According to Francis Buchanan-Hamilton (1762–1829), the cultivation and production of medicinal plants and herbs were common in large scale. Especially sandalwood and cardamom were items of external commerce. The trade between the dominions mostly comprised salt, sulfur, tin, lead, zinc, copper, indigo, nutmeg, cloves, camphor, a hot root used in medicine, China root, and so forth. The cultivation of crops, medicinal herbs, and other plants was allowed in dry lands given at a fixed rent.

Whenever Tipu heard of something new, he wanted it for Mysore. He stood for a change. He had deep interest in a revolutionary change in every sector of life. He set up, within the span of few years, truly astonishing factories in Srirangapatna, Chiltaldrug, Bangalore, and Bendur for manufacturing items related to the health care system and other departments, such as scissors, scientific instruments, watches, cutlery, hour glasses, paper mill, glassware unit, and military-related equipment. Hundreds of foreign technicians were brought in, including Frenchmen, Germans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese, bringing with them their technical know-how and the vision of a modern world. 

Tipu Sultan had keen interest in trading of some mineral drugs used in Unani medicine, such as sulfur, lead, copper, and so forth, from Muscat. He established pearl industry, and training was done in several places for procurement. All types of oil extraction, medicinal and nonmedicinal, especially sandalwood oil, were common. Tipu Sultan also established a sugar factory at Channapatna in which white sugar was prepared in good quality that was assumed to be better for the health in that time. These examples indicated strong relation and great affection of Tipu Sultan toward Unani medicine. On the contrary, he had innovative ideas in medicine and war technology. He enriched Unani medicine with other systems of medicine such as French medicine, and for the same, he sent a delegation of physicians to France in 1787 to get acquainted with new experimental and observational research. Moreover, he invited a skillful physician, technicians, a dyer, and a pharmacologist thoroughly acquainted with, and capable of, preparing every kind of medicine known in Europe, and, lastly, an able surgeon from France, which set the best example of being a modernist at a time when his contemporary rulers were in slumber. He also sent Meer Ghulam Ali to Turkey for alliance and ordered to bring up two experts of sulfur mineralogy and some experts of gold and silver mineralogy.

Hence, when Tipu Sultan came to know about a newly invented instrument that could measure body temperature accurately, he wrote to Francis, governor of Pondicherry, to provide the instrument to him and also send an instruction book in Persian for its accurate utilization.

Two herbal gardens for experimental purpose at Srirangapatna and Bangalore, named as Lal Bagh, were established having nurseries in which seeds and saplings from different countries of the world were obtained and planted. A special plot was allotted for separate kind of fruits, trees, and herbs. The Lal Bagh of Srirangapatna disappeared with the fall of the kingdom of Tipu, but Lal Bagh of Bangalore is still present, which reflects great affection of Tipu toward advancement, development, research strategies in medicine, botany, and other sciences. The Lal Bagh was also used as bonsai. Therefore, numerous plants from all over the world were imported and experimented under different atmospheric conditions.

Tipu Sultan made special rules and regulations for health and hygiene. He ordered his officers for plantation in urban as well as rural areas that could consume polluted air. Occupations that caused pollution, for example laundry and dyeing, were transferred to outside the city.

Tipu Sultan established government orphanage in various places of the kingdom where the orphans availed all types of health care and other facilities for proper mental and educational development. A special health facility was available for prisoners also[33].

Tipu Sultan established animal husbandry named as Amrit Mahal. A group of talented veterinary doctors were appointed; in this department, cows, oxen, horses, mules, and elephants were hybridized and bred. Good resources were available for health care facilities for the animals.

He personally supervised every department of the Government. Colin Mackenzie (1754–1821) records that Tipu invigorated the whole system by principles of good government and an economic management of resources to which those of any neighboring power bore no comparison”. In the kingdom of  Tipu, the people were happy because everything was available including patient care facilities and social welfare[34]. It is said in Authentic Memoirs of Tippoo Sultan about the kingdom of Tipu “the men in general were healthy and robust; the women were more delicate, but strong and well made.”[35].


The personal letters of Tipu Sultan show that he possessed the potential to make precise diagnosis and good prescriptions. On various occasions, he advised prescriptions along with preventive measures of the diseases. He strictly followed health care rules and also ordered his officers for the same. He used to wake up early in the morning and go for morning walk regularly. He usually took fruits and milk in breakfast. He had restricted himself to only two meals in a day whole life. Tipu Sultan was quite caring toward his officers. The letters that he wrote to them contained affectionate words; he was solicitous for their health, and in case of their illness, he himself used to prescribe medicines for them.

In a letter to Meer Qamruddeen and Burhanuddeen, he said “you should consult the physician for your ill health.”. In another letter to Mahommad Ghyas, he advised regimens for faster healing and gave valuable suggestions, which shows his affection toward his officers. These facts inferred that Tipu was bonded with Unani medicine through his sound knowledge on its principles such as Mizaj and Akhlat. He wrote in context of disease management that the first thing to be done was to draw all the Fasid Akhlat (morbific humors) by wet cupping, leading to faster improvement due to restoration of the normal Mizaj of the patient; the remnant morbific matter should be expelled out of the body with the judicious administration of drugs in view of the temperament of that patient.

In a special discourse with his military physician on a dog biting case, he directed the physician on duty to administer proper medicines without stopping the discharge from the lesion, and the wound to be kept open for 6 months. According to William James Kirkpatrick (1838–1921), the translator of Tipu Sultan’s letters, this was not the only letter in which the Sultan exhibited himself in the character of a physician; still more curious instances of the same kind would appear hereafter. It would be judicious to dedicate his active indulgence in such issues to the welfare of the patients. This attribute might, at least, be credited to his soul of humanity, but humanity or sympathy in the sufferings of others is not found among the virtues of other rulers.

Addressing his ambassador to Pune territory, he quotes “you have mentioned in your communications about the environmental changes there, in this particular case, the designated physician should at first evacuate the morbific matters out of the body through wet cupping as it helps in restoration of health to its normalcy.“

It should be taken as a clinical case as Tipu the King advised camphor oil for the treatment of sciatica (irqun-nasa), as Mr Gulam Ali Khan, a military designate, was suffering from the same. He also provided two bottles of pure camphor oil, which was heavily cultivated in his territory.

Tipu was highly experienced and skilled in Nuskha Navesi (method of prescription). According to William Kirkpatrick with reference to the letter number 346, Sultan sent one Nuskha (prescription) of Sanoon (tooth powder) to the head of the police station Toshak Khana of Shrangapatnam and ordered that this prescription should be prepared and sent to Mahal Sarai and also to him”. Tipu Sultan proposed many prescriptions from his own intelligence. The physicians of that time were amazed after experiencing that prescription.

Tipu Sultan prescribed the treatment of vesicle stone to Chisti Yaar Khan with details of its ingredients, doses, duration, dosage form, method of preparation, and route of administration. This prescription illustrated the intellectuality, proficiency, ability, and expertise of Tipu Sultan in the field of Unani medicine. Tipu also sent by post an emetic drug to be taken on the first day, followed by other medicines for the seven subsequent days.

He further mentioned that during the course of treatment, the patient should avoid eating black and red pepper, and other hot and flatulent edibles. The diet should be curry of radish and boiled rice, and drink should be a solution of muskmelon seeds, cucumber seeds, and dry thorn. The stone would be flushed out in this way.

In fact, after the fall of Srirangapatna, the valuable documents and important experimental records of  Tipu Palace on medicine, especially  Tajurbat-e-Sultani and Bustanul Aqaqeer, were lost. If these books were present today, they might have been helpful on the subject of medicine (12).  The letters of  Tipu Sultan are an important source of information on health care system in his era. William James Kirkpatrick (1838–1921), in-charge of the library of Tipu Sultan after the fall of his kingdom, published about 435 letters in 1811 AD from London, but these letters were far less than those made available by Prof. B. Sheik Ali (b.1925) from London to Vidhan Sudha Arcade, Bangalore, for preservation and research purposes.


It is a notable point that most historians have not mentioned health care system of the kingdom of  Tipu, whereas they have discussed other departments in elaborative and illustrative manners. It seems  quite bizarre that the health care  system was in dilapidated conditions where technological, warfare, and other developments were quite steady. On the contrary, the Madras Presidency under the British government had a highly developed health care system with medical education and laws. A great historical lacuna exists on the subject of health care system in Tipu’s era, which should be critically quested for. Tipu Sultan was instrumental in the development of Unani medicine by appointing Unani physicians and pharmacists and establishing apothecary shops and Unani pharmacy for the preparation of drugs. In brief, he dedicated his entire life serving his subjects with utmost sincerity by promoting indigenous health care system in his territory. His valuable services and patronage toward Unani medicine proved to be highly potential in its promotion and advancement.


Co-authors; Prof. B Sheik Ali, a legend historian and Founder Vice-Chancellor of two new universities, Mangalore and Goa; Dar-Ul-Umoor (Tipu Sultan Advanced Study & Research Center) Srirangapatna and its staff; National Institute of Unani medicine library staff; State Central Library, Cubbon Park; ad State Central Library, South Zone, Bangalore.


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ٹیپو سلطان – دین میں سختی خاندان رائے بریلی سے روحانی تعلق کا اثر

[مولانا الیاس ندوی]

دنیا کی مختلف زبانوں میں اب تک سلطان ٹیپو پر متعدد کتابیں مختلس انداز اور پہلووں سے لکھی گیئ ہیں ہندوستان کی تمام تاریخی شخصیات میں تنہا ٹیپو سلطان کی ذات ایسی ہے کہ اس کے متعلق لکھنے والوں کی اکثریت اس کی ہم مذہب نہیں ہے اس لی ذاتی زندگی و سیرت کا جائزہ لینے والے مصنفین و مؤرخین اس بات پر متفق پیں کہ سلطان اپنی غیر معمولی مذہبی رواداری کے باوجود اپنے مذہب سے بڑی عقیدت و محبت رکھتا تھا اور وہ اس کا ایک سچا و مخلص پیرو تھا اسلامہ تعلیمات پر عمل کے سلسلہ میں وہ اپنی ذات کے علاوہ عام مسلمانوں کے لئے بھی کسی رعایت تخفیف یا نرمی کا قائل نہیں تھا لیکن افسوس اس بات کا ہے کہ کسی بھی مصنف یا مؤرخ نے اب تک باقعدہ اس بات کا پتہ لگانے کی کوشش نہیں کی کہ سلطان ٹیبو کے اندر اس قدر دینداری و طقوی اسلام پسندی اور مذہبی سختی کہاں سے آئی کے اپنی رعایا کہ ایک بڑے طبقہ کی ناراضگی کے بوجود اس نے جاہلی خرافات و بدعات کے سلسلہ میں کسی چھوٹ سے ساف انکار کیا حالانکہ مذہب کہ معاملہ میں اس لے والد حیدر علی ذاتی طور پر زیادہ سخت نہیں تھے اس کا خاندان صحیح روایات کے متابق عرب کے قبیلہ قریش سے تعلق رکھنے کے بوجود سالوں سے ہندؤوں کے ساتھ اس ملک ہیں رہنے کی ہجہ سے کسی بڑے دینی مزاج یا اسلامی اسپرٹ کا حامل نہیں رہ گیا تھا خود اسکی جائے پیدائش دیون ہلی میں جہاں اس نے اپنا بچپن گزارا کوئی ایسا دینی ماحول یا اسلامی معاشرہ نہیں پایا جاتا تھا جس کی بناء پر ہم کہ سکیں کہ شاید اس ماحول کا اس پر اثر ہوا ہو تلاش بسیار کے بعد راقم الحروف کو مقدومی حضرت مولانا سید ابوالحسن علی ندوی دامت برکاتہم کے اشارہ پر کتب خانہ شبلی ندوةا لعماء لکھنو میں موجود رائے بریلی کے حسنی خاندان کے ذاتی خاندانی ذخیرہ کتب میں جس میں سر فہرست سید حیدر علی ٹونکی کا مخطوطہ وقائعاحمدی تھا اسکا سرا مل گیا اور وہ یہ کہ بر صغیر کی سبسے بڑی عظیم تحریک جہادو احیاء خلافت کے بانی امیر الؤ منین فی الہند حضرت سید احمد شہید کے حقیقی نانا شاہ ابو سعید صاحب اور انکے فرزند شاہ ابو اللیث صاحب سے ٹیپو کا روحانی تعلق قائم تھا اور ان دونوں بزرگوں کو اس خاندان میں روحانی مرشد و سرپرست  کی حیثیت حاصل تھی یہ پورہ خاندان سلسلہ نقشبندیہ میں شاہ ابو اللیث صاحب سے بعیت تھا اور اس خدار سیدہ خاندان کے روحانی اثرات اور انکی آرزوں و تمناؤں کی روح سلطان ٹیپو کے جسم و جان میں کام کر رہی تھی سلطنت میں محرم کی رسومات کے سلسلہ میں ٹیپو کی سختی تجارتی و روایتی پیری مریدی پر اسکی روک بھی ان ہی بزرگوں کی صحبت کئ اثر سے تھی جن کا پورا خاندان اس سلسلہ میں اس وقت پورے ملک ہیں شہرت رکھتا تھا ورنہ ملک کے اس زمانہ کے عام حالات اور مسلم عوام کے جاہلی رسومات و بدعات کی طرف گیر معمولی رحجان کو دیکھتے ہوئے ٹیپو کلیئے اسپر روک لگانا اتنا آسان نہیں تھا شاہ ابو سعید صاحب مع اپنے بیٹے شاہ ابو للیث صاحب کے تبلیغ و اصلاح کی نیت سے شمالی ہند سے ہزاروں میل کا فاصلہ طے کرکے جنوب مغرب میں نواب حیدر علی کے زمانہ میں سلطنت خداداد میسور تشریف لائے تھے جھاں  ان کے ہاتھوں ہزاروں مسلمانوں نے بعیت کی تھی شاہ ابو للیث صاحب جب فریضہ حج کی ادائیگی کے بعد اپنے وطن رائے بریلی تشریف لائے تو اس کے بعد انہوں نے مستقل سلطنت خداداد ہی میں قیام کیا اور وہیں رہ کر آپ نے سلطانی خاندان کی دینی و روحانی رہنمائی کی- آپ کا قیام مغربی ساہلی شہر منگلور میں تھا جس کا اس وقت نام کوڑیال بندر تھا وہیں 1208 ہجری مطابق 1793 عیسوی مہں سلطان کی شہادت سے چھ سال قبل آپ کی وفات بھی ہویئ البتہ شاہ ابو سعید کا انتقال 1193 ہجری میں اپنے وطن رائے بریلی میں ہی ہوا-

1822 عیسوی میں جب حضرت سید احمد شہید رحمااللہ یعنی شاہ ابو اللیث صاحب کے بھانجے مع اپنے قافلہ کے حج کے ارادہ سے مکہ جاتے ہوئے کلکتہ ہیں تین ماہ رکے وہ اس وقت کلکتہ کے ٹالیگنج محلہ میں مقیم سلطان ٹیپو کے جلا وطن شہزادوں اور انکی والدہ کو اس کی اطلاع ہوئی بیگم ٹیپو کو اسکا علم تھا کہ انکے شوہر ٹیپو اور خسر نواب حیدر علی کا رائے بریلی کے حسنی خاندان کے بزرگوں شاہ ابو سعید صاحب و شاہ ابو اللیث صاحب سے روحانی تعلق تھا اور یہ دونوں ان سے سلسلہ نقشبندیہ میں مرید تھے اس نے اپنے ایک آدمی محمد قاسم کو سید صاحب کی خدمت میں دریافت حال کیلئے بھیجا کہ وہ معلوم کرے کہ یہ سید صاحب کس کی اولاد میں سے ہیں اگر انکا شاہ ابو سعید صاحب و شاہ ابو اللیث صاحب کے خاندان ہی سے تعلق ہو تو ہم بھی اسے قدم بوسی کریں سید صاحب نے کہلوایا کہ حضرت شاہ ابو سعید صاحب تو ہمارے حقیقی نانا اور شاہ ابو اللیث صاحب ہمارے ماموں تھے اس کے پعد سید صاحب نے بیگم ٹیپو کی درخواست پر تمام شہزادوں سے بعیت لی خود بیگم ٹیپو اور سلطان لی ایک لوتی بیٹی بھی دیگر شاہی خواتین کے ساتھ بعیت لےنے والوں میں شامل تھیں بیگم ٹیپو بڑہ ہی ذاکرہ و متقیہ خاتون تھی سید صاحب کی توجہ و فیض سے اس کو مزید روحانی کمال حاصل ہو گیا تھا سلطان کے بعض شہزادوں کے عقائد میں ان کے ایک دہریہ استاذ مولوی عبد الرحیم کی صحبت سے بڑی تبدیلی پیدا ہوکئی تھی لیکن سید صاحب کے حکم سے بیگم ٹیپو نے شہزادوں کو آئندہ پڑھانے سے مولوی عبد الرحیم کو روک دیا تھا-   

Islamic Medical Science: 1,000 Years Ahead of its Times

From: Ink of Scholars

Within a century after the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the Muslims not only conquered new lands, but also became scientific innovators with originality and productivity. They hit the source ball of knowledge over the fence to Europe. By the ninth century, Islamic medical practice had advanced from talisman and theology to hospitals with wards, doctors who had to pass tests, and the use of technical terminology. The then Baghdad General Hospital incorporated innovations which sound amazingly modern. The fountains cooled the air near the wards of those afflicted with fever; the insane were treated with gentleness; and at night the pain of the restless was soothed by soft music and storytelling. The prince and pauper received identical attention; the destitute upon discharge received five gold pieces to sustain them during convalescence. While Paris and London were places of mud streets and hovels, Baghdad, Cairo and Cardboard had hospitals open to both male and female patients; staffed by attendants of both sexes. These medical centers contained libraries pharmacies, the system of interns, externs, and nurses. There were mobile clinics to reach the totally disabled, the disadvantaged and those in remote areas. There were regulations to maintain quality control on drugs. Pharmacists became licensed professionals and were pledged to follow the physician’s prescriptions. Legal measures were taken to prevent doctors from owning or holding stock. in a pharmacy. The extent to which Islamic medicine advanced in the fields of medical education, hospitals, bacteriology, medicine, anesthesia, surgery, pharmacy, ophthalmology, psychotherapy and psychosomatic diseases are presented briefly.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is ranked number one by Michael Hart, a Jewish scholar, in his book The 100: The Most Influential Persons in History, was able to unite the Arab tribes who had been torn by revenge, rivalry, and internal fights, and produced a strong nation acquired and ruled simultaneously, the two known empires at that time, namely the Persian and Byzantine Empires. The Islamic Empire extended from the Atlantic Ocean on the West to the borders of China on the East. Only 80 years after the death of their Prophet, the Muslims crossed to Europe to rule Spain for more than 700 years. The Muslims preserved the cultures of the conquered lands. However when the Islamic Empire became weak, most of the Islamic contributions in science were destroyed. The Mongols burnt Baghdad (1258 A.D.) out of barbarism, and the Spaniards demolished most of the Islamic heritage in Spain out of hatred.

The Islamic Empire for more than 1000 years remained the most advanced and civilized nation in the world. This is because Islam stressed the importance and respect of learning, forbade destruction, developed in Muslims the respect for authority and discipline, and tolerance for other religions. The Muslims recognized excellence and hungering intellectually, were avid for the wisdom of the world of Galen, Hippocrates, Rufus of Ephesus, Oribasius, Discorides and Paul of Aegina. By the tenth century their zeal and enthusiasm for learning resulted in all essential Greek medical writings being translated into Arabic in Damascus, Cairo, and Baghdad. Arabic became the International Language of learning and diplomacy. The center of scientific knowledge and activity shifted eastward, and Baghdad emerged as the capital of the scientific world. The Muslims became scientific innovators with originality and productivity. Islamic medicine is one of the most famous and best known facets of Islamic civilization, and in which the Muslims most excelled. The Muslims were the great torchbearers of international scientific research. They hit the source ball of knowledge over the fence to Europe. In the words of Campbell’ “The European medical system is Arabian not only in origin but also in its structure. The Arabs are the intellectual forebearers of the Europeans.”

The aim of this paper is to prove that the Islamic Medicine was 1,000 years ahead of its times. The paper covers areas such as medical education, hospitals, bacteriology, medicine, anesthesia, surgery, ophthalmology, pharmacy, and psychotherapy.

In 636 A.D., the Persian City of Jundi-Shapur, which originally meant beautiful garden, was conquered by the Muslims with its great university and hospital intact. Later the Islamic medical schools developed on the Jundi-Shapur pattern. Medical education was serious and systematic. Lectures and clinical sessions included in teaching were based on the apprentice system. The advice given by Ali ibnul-Abbas (Haly Abbas: -994 -A.D.) to medical students is as timely today as it was then’. “And of those things which were incumbent on the student of this art (medicine) are that he should constantly attend the hospitals and sick houses; pay unremitting attention to the conditions and circumstances of their intimates, in company with the most astute professors of medicine, and inquire frequently as to the state of the patients and symptoms apparent in them, bearing in mind what he has read about these variations, and what they indicate of good or evil.”

Razi (Rhazes: 841-926 A.D.) advised the medical students while they were seeing a patient to bear in mind the classic symptoms of a disease as given in text books and compare them with what they found.

The ablest physicians such as Razi (Al-Rhazes), Ibn-Sina (Avicenna: 980-1037 A.D.) and Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar: 116 A.D.) performed the duties of both hospital directors and deans of medical schools at the same time. They studied patients and prepared them for student presentation. Clinical reports of cases were written and preserved for teaching’. Registers were maintained.

Training in Basic Sciences 
Only Jundi-Shapur or Baghdad had separate schools for studying basic sciences. Candidates for medical study received basic preparation from private tutors through private lectures and self study. In Baghdad anatomy was taught by dissecting the apes, skeletal studies, and didactics. Other medical schools taught anatomy through lectures and illustrations. Alchemy was once of the pre-requisites for admission to medical school. The study of medicinal herbs and pharmacognosy rounded out the basic training. A number of hospitals maintained barbel gardens as a source of drugs for the patients and a means of instruction for the students.

Once the basic training was completed the candidate was admitted as an apprentice to a hospital where, at the beginning, he was assigned in a large group to a young physician for indoctrination, preliminary lectures, and familiarization with library procedures and uses. During this pre-clinical period, most of the lectures were on pharmacology and toxicology and the use of antidotes.

Clinical training: The next step was to give the student full clinical training. During this period students were assigned in small groups to famous physicians and experienced instructors, forward rounds, discussions, lectures, and reviews. Early in this period therapeutics and pathology were taught. There was a strong emphasis on clinical instruction and some Muslim physicians contributed brilliant observations that have stood the test of time. As the students progressed in their studies they were exposed more and more to the subjects of diagnosis and judgment. Clinical observation and physical examination were stressed. Students (clinical clerks) were asked to examine a patient and make a diagnosis of the ailment. Only after an had failed would the professor make the diagnosis himself. While performing physical examination, the students were asked to examine and report six major factors: the patients’ actions, excreta, the nature and location of pain, and swelling and effuvia of the body. Also noted was color and feel of the skin – whether hot, cool, moist, dry, flabby. Yellowness in the whites of the eye (jaundice) and whether or not the patient could bend his back (lung disease) was also considered important.

After a period of ward instructions, students, were assigned to outpatient areas. After examining the patients they reported their findings to the instructors. After discussion, treatment was decided on and prescribed. Patients who were too ill were admitted as inpatients. The keeping of records for every patient was the responsibility of the students.

Curriculum: There was a difference in the clinical curriculum of different medical schools in their courses; however the mainstay was usually internal medicine. Emphasis was placed on clarity and brevity in describing a disease and the separation of each entity. Until the time of Ibn Sina the description of meningitis was confused with acute infection accompanied by delirium. Ibn Sina described the symptoms of meningitis with such clarity and brevity that there is very little that can be added after 1,000 years. Surgery was also included in the curriculum. After completing courses, some students specialized under famous specialists. Some others specialized while in clinical training. According to Elgood many surgical procedures such as amputation, excision of varicose veins and hemorrhoids were required knowledge. Orthopedics was widely taught, and the use of plaster of Paris for casts after reduction of fractures was routinely shown to students. This method of treating fractures was re-discovered in the West in 1852. Although ophthalmology was practiced widely, it was not taught regularly in medical schools. Apprenticeship to an eye doctor was the preferred way of specializing in ophthalmology. Surgical treatment of cataract was very common. Obstetrics was left to midwives. Medical practitioners consulted among themselves and with specialists. Ibn Sina and Hazi both widely practiced and taught psychotherapy. After completing the training, the medical graduate was not ready to enter practice, until he passed the licensure examination. It is important to note that there existed a Scientific Association which had been formed in the hospital of Mayyafariqin to discuss the conditions and diseases of the patients.

Licensing of Physicians: In Baghdad in 931 A.D. Caliph Al-Muqtadir learned that a patient had died as the result of a physician’s error. There upon he ordered his chief physician, Sinan ibn Thabit bin Qurrah to examine all those who practiced the art of healing. In the first year of the decree more than 860 were examined in Baghdad alone. From that time on, licensing examinations were required and administered in various places. Licensing Boards were set up under a government official called Muhtasib or inspector general. The Muhtasib also inspected weights and measures of traders and pharmacists. Pharmacists were employed as inspectors to inspect drugs and maintain quality control of drugs sold in a pharmacy or apothecary. What the present Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is doing in America today was done in Islamic medicine 1,000 years ago. The chief physician gave oral and practical examinations, and if the young physician was successful, the Muhtasib administered the Hippocratic oath and issued a license. After 1,000 years licensing of physicians has been implemented in the West, particularly in America by the State Licensing Board in Medicine. For specialists we have American Board of Medical Specialties such as in Medicine, Surgery, Radiology, etc. European medical schools followed the pattern set by the Islamic medical schools and even in the early nineteenth century, students at the Sorbonne could not graduate without reading Ibn Sina’s Qanun (Cannon). According to Razi a physician had to satisfy two condition for selection: firstly, he was to be fully conversant with the new and the old medical literature and secondly, he must have worked in a hospital as house physician.

The development of efficient hospitals was an outstanding contribution of Islamic medicine. Hospitals served all citizens free without any regard to their color, religion, sex, age or social status. The hospitals were run by government and the directors of hospitals were physicians.

Hospitals had separate wards for male patients and female patients. Each ward was furnished with a nursing staff and porters of the sex of the patients to be treated therein. Different diseases such as fever, wounds, infections, mania, eye conditions, cold diseases, diarrhea, and female disorders were allocated different wards. Convalescents had separate sections within them. Hospitals provided patients with unlimited water supply and with bathing facilities. Only qualified and licensed physicians were allowed by law to practice medicine. The hospitals were teaching hospitals educating medical students. They had housing for students and house-staff. They contained pharmacies dispensing free drugs to patients. Hospitals had their own conference room and expensive libraries containing the most up-to-date books. According to Haddad, the library of the Tulum Hospital which was founded in Cairo in 872 A.D. (1,100 years ago) had 100,000 books. Universities, cities and hospitals acquired large libraries (Mustansiriyya University in Baghdad contained 80,000 volumes; the library of Cordova 600,000 volumes; that of Cairo 2,000,000 and that of Tripoli 3,000,000 books), physicians had their own extensive personal book collections, at a time when printing was unknown and book editing was done by skilled and specialized scribes putting in long hours of manual labour.

For the first time in history, these hospitals kept records of patients and their medical care.

From the point of view of treatment the hospital was divided into an out- patient department and an inpatient department. The system of the in-patient department differed only slightly from that of today. At Tulun hospital, on admission the patients were given special apparel while their clothes, money, and valuables were stored until the time of their discharge. On discharge, each patient – received five gold pieces to support himself until he could return to work.

The hospital and medical school at Damascus had elegant rooms and an extensive library. Healthy people are said to have feigned illness in order to enjoy its cuisine. There was a separate hospital in Damascus for lepers, while, in Europe, even six centuries later, condemned lepers were burned to death by royal decree.

The Qayrawan Hospital (built in 830 A.D. in Tunisia) was characterized by spacious separate wards, waiting rooms for visitors and patients, and female nurses from Sudan, an event representing the first use of nursing in Arabic history. The hospital also provided facilities for performing prayers.

The Al-Adudi hospital (built in 981 A.D. in Baghdad) was furnished with die best equipment and supplies known at the time. It had interns, residents, and 24 consultants attending its professional activities, An Abbasid minister, Ali ibn Isa, requested the court physician, Sinan ibn Thabit, to organize regular visiting of prisons by medical officers. At a time when paris and London were places of mud streets and hovels, Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordova had hospitals which incorporated innovations which sound amazingly modern. It was chiefly in the humaneness of patient care, however, that the hospitals of Islam excelled. Near the wards of those afflicted with fever, fountains cooled the air; the insane were treated with gentleness; and at night music and storytelling soothed the patients.

The Bimaristans (hospitals) were of two types – the fixed and the mobile. The mobile hospitals were transported upon beasts of burden and were erected from time to time as required. The physicians in the mobile clinics were of the same standing as those who served the fixed hospitals. Similar moving hospitals accompanied the armies in the field. The field hospitals were well equipped with medicaments, instruments, tents and a staff of doctors, nurses, and orderlies. The traveling clinics served the totally disabled, the disadvantaged and those in remote areas. These hospitals were also used by prisoners, and by the general public, particularly in times of epidemics.

Al-Razi was asked to choose a site for a new hospital when he came to Baghdad. First he deduced which was the most hygienic area by observing where the fresh pieces of meat he had hung in various parts of the city decomposed least quickly.

Ibn Sina stated explicitly that the bodily secretion is contaminated by foul foreign earthly body before getting the infection. Ibn Khatima stated that man is surrounded by minute bodies which enter the human system and cause disease.

In the middle of the fourteenth century “black death” was ravaging Europe and before which Christians stood helpless, considering it an act of God.

At that time Ibn al Khatib of Granada composed a treatise in the defense of the theory of infection in the following way: To those who say, “How can we admit the possibility of infection while the religious law denies it?” We reply that the existence of contagion is established by experience, investigation, the evidence of the senses and trustworthy reports. These facts constitute a sound argument. The fact of infection becomes clear to the investigator who notices how he who establishes contact with the afflicted gets the disease, whereas he who is not in contact remains safe, and how transmission is effected through garments, vessels and earrings.

Al-Razi wrote the first medical description of smallpox and measles – two important infectious diseases. He described the clinical difference between the two diseases so vividly that nothing since has been added. Ibn Sina suggested the communicable nature of tuberculosis. He is said to have been the first to describe the preparation and properties of sulphuric acid and alcohol. His recommendation of wine as the best dressing for wounds was very popular in medieval practice. However Razi was the first to use silk sutures and alcohol for hemostatis. He was the first to use alcohol as an antiseptic.

Ibn Sina originated the idea of the use of oral anesthetics. He recognized opium as the most powerful mukhadir (an intoxicant or drug). Less powerful anesthetics known were mandragora, poppy, hemlock, hyoscyamus, deadly nightshade (belladonna), lettuce seed, and snow or ice cold water. The Arabs invented the soporific sponge which was the precursor of modem anesthesia. It was a sponge soaked with aromatics and narcotics and held to the patient’s nostrils.

The use of anesthesia was one of the reasons for the rise of surgery in the Islamic world to the level of an honourable speciality, while in Europe, surgery was belittled and practiced by barbers and quacks. The Council of Tours in 1163 A.D. declared Surgery is to be abandoned by the schools of medicine and by all decent physicians.” Burton stated that “anesthetics have been used in surgery throughout the East for centuries before ether and chloroform became the fashion in civilized West.”

Al-Razi is attributed to be the first to use the seton in surgery and animal gut for sutures.

Abu al-Qasim Khalaf Ibn Abbas Al-Zahrawi (930-1013 A.D.) known to the West as Abulcasis, Bucasis or Alzahravius is considered to be the most famous surgeon in Islamic medicine. In his book Al-Tasrif, he described hemophilia for the first time in medical history. The book contains the description and illustration of about 200 surgical instruments many of which were devised by Zahrawi himself. In it Zahrawi stresses the importance of the study of Anatomy as a fundamental prerequisite to surgery. He advocates the re implantation of a fallen tooth and the use of dental prosthesis carved from cow’s bone, an improvement over the wooden dentures worn by the first President of America George Washington seven centuries later. Zahrawi appears to be the first surgeon in history to use cotton (Arabic word) in surgical dressings in the control of hemorrhage, as padding in the splinting of fractures, as a vaginal padding in fractures of the pubis and in dentistry. He introduced the method for the removal of kidney stones by cutting into the urinary bladder. He was the first to teach the lithotomy position for vaginal operations. He described tracheotomy, distinguished between goiter and cancer of the thyroid, and explained his invention of a cauterizing iron which he also used to control bleeding. His description of varicose veins stripping, even after ten centuries, is almost like modern surgery. In orthopedic surgery he introduced what is called today Kocher’s method of reduction of shoulder dislocation and patelectomy, 1,000 years before Brooke reintroduced it in 1937.

Ibn Sina’s description of the surgical treatment of cancer holds true even today after 1,000 years. He says the excision must be wide and bold; all veins running to the tumor must be included in the amputation. Even if this is not sufficient, then the area affected should be cauterized.

The surgeons of Islam practiced three types of surgery: vascular, general, and orthopedic, Ophthalmic surgery was a speciality which was quite distinct both from medicine and surgery. They freely opened the abdomen and drained the peritoneal cavity in the approved modern style. To an unnamed surgeon of Shiraz is attributed the first colostomy operation. Liver abscesses were treated by puncture and exploration.

Surgeons all over the world practice today unknowingly several surgical procedures that Zahrawi introduced 1,000 years ago .

The most brilliant contribution was made by Al-Razi who differentiated between smallpox and measles, two diseases that were hitherto thought to be one single disease. He is credited with many contributions, which include being the first to describe true distillation, glass retorts and luting, corrosive sublimate, arsenic, copper sulfate, iron sulphate, saltpeter, and borax in the treatment of disease . He introduced mercury compounds as purgatives (after testing them on monkeys); mercurial ointments and lead ointment.” His interest in urology focused on problems involving urination, venereal disease, renal abscess, and renal and vesical calculi. He described hay-fever or allergic rhinitis.

Some of the Arab contributions include the discovery of itch mite of scabies (Ibn Zuhr), anthrax, ankylostoma and the guinea worm by Ibn Sina and sleeping sickness by Qalqashandy. They described abscess of the mediastinum. They understood tuberculosis and pericarditis.

Al Ash’ath demonstrated gastric physiology by pouring water into the mouth of an anesthetized lion and showed the distensibility and movements of the stomach, preceding Beaumont by about 1,000 years” Abu Shal al- Masihi explained that the absorption of food takes place more through the intestines than the stomach. Ibn Zuhr introduced artificial feeding either by gastric tube or by nutrient enema. Using the stomach tube the Arab physicians performed gastric lavage in case of poisoning. Ibn Al-Nafis was the first to discover pulmonary circulation.

Ibn Sina in his masterpiece Al-Quanun (Canon), containing over a million words, described complete studies of physiology, patlhology and hygiene. He specifically discoursed upon breast cancer, poisons, diseases of the skin, rabies, insomnia, childbirth and the use of obstetrical forceps, meningitis, amnesia, stomach ulcers, tuberculosis as a contagious disease, facial tics, phlebotomy, tumors, kidney diseases and geriatric care. He defined love as a mental disease.

The doctors of Islam exhibited a high degree of proficiency and certainly were foremost in the treatment of eye diseases. Words such as retina and cataract are of Arabic origin. In ophthalmology and optics lbn al Haytham (965-1039 A.D.) known to the West as Alhazen wrote the Optical Thesaurus from which such worthies as Roger Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Kepler drew theories for their own writings. In his Thesaurus he showed that light falls on the retina in the same manner as it falls on a surface in a darkened room through a small aperture, thus conclusively proving that vision happens when light rays pass from objects towards the eye and not from the eye towards the objects as thought by the Greeks. He presents experiments for testing the angles of incidence and reflection, and a theoretical proposal for magnifying lens (made in Italy three centuries later). He also taught that the image made on the retina is conveyed along the optic nerve to the brain. Razi was the first to recognize the reaction of the pupil to light and Ibn Sina was the first to describe the exact number of extrinsic muscles of the eyeball, namely six. The greatest contribution of Islamic medicine in practical ophthalmology was in the matter of cataract. The most significant development in the extraction of cataract was developed by Ammar bin Ali of Mosul, who introduced a hollow metallic needle through the sclerotic and extracted the lens by suction. Europe rediscovered this in the nineteenth century.

Pharmacology took roots in Islam during the 9th century. Yuhanna bin Masawayh (777-857 A.D.) started scientific and systematic applications of therapeutics at the Abbasids capital. His students Hunayn bin Ishaq al-lbadi (809-874 A.D.) and his associates established solid foundations of Arabic medicine and therapeutics in the ninth century. In his book al-Masail Hunayn outlined methods for confirming the pharmacological effectiveness of drugs by experimenting with them on humans. He also explained the importance of prognosis and diagnosis of diseases for better and more effective treatment.

Pharmacy became an independent and separate profession from medicine and alchemy. With the wild sprouting of apothecary shops, regulations became necessary and imposed to maintain quality control.” The Arabian apothecary shops were regularly inspected by a syndic (Muhtasib) who threatened the merchants with humiliating corporal punishments if they adulterated drugs.” As early as the days of al-Mamun and al-Mutasim pharmacists had to pass examinations to become licensed professionals and were pledged to follow the physician’s prescriptions. Also by this decree, restrictive measures were legally placed upon doctors, preventing them from owning or holding stock in a pharmacy.

Methods of extracting and preparing medicines were brought to a high art, and their techniques of distillation, crystallization, solution, sublimation, reduction and calcination became the essential processes of pharmacy and chemistry. With the help of these techniques, the Saydalanis (pharmacists) introduced new drugs such as camphor, senna, sandalwood, rhubarb, musk, myrrh, cassia, tamarind, nutmeg, alum, aloes, cloves, coconut, nuxvomica, cubebs, aconite, ambergris and mercury. The important role of the Muslims in developing modern pharmacy and chemistry is memorialized in the significant number of current pharmaceutical and chemical terms derived from Arabic: drug, alkali, alcohol, aldehydes, alembic, and elixir among others, not to mention syrups and juleps. They invented flavorings extracts made of rose water, orange blossom water, orange and lemon peel, tragacanth and other attractive ingredients. Space does not permit me to list the contributions to pharmacology and therapeutics, made by Razi, Zahrawi, Biruni, Ibn Butlan, and Tamimi.

From freckle lotion to psychotherapy- such was the range of treatment practiced by the physicians of Islam. Though freckles continue to sprinkle the skin of 20th century man, in the realm of psychosomatic disorders both al-Razi and Ibn Sina achieved dramatic results, antedating Freud and Jung by a thousand years. When Razi was appointed physician-in-chief to the Baghdad Hospital, he made it the, first hospital to have a ward exclusively devoted to the mentally ill.”

Razi combined psychological methods and physiological explanations, and he used psychotherapy in a dynamic fashion, Razi was once called in to treat a famous caliph who had severe arthritis. He advised a hot bath, and while the caliph was bathing, Razi threatened him with a knife, proclaiming he was going to kill him. This deliberate provocation increased the natural caloric which thus gained sufficient strength to dissolve the already softened humours, as a result the caliph got up from is knees in the bath and ran after Razi. One woman who suffered from such severe cramps in her joints that she was unable to rise was cured by a physician who lifted her skirt, thus putting her to shame. “A flush of heat was produced within her which dissolved the rheumatic humour.”

The Arabs brought a refreshing spirit of dispassionate clarity into psychiatry. They were free from the demonological theories which swept over the Christian world and were therefore able to make clear cut clinical observations on the mentally ill.

Najab ud din Muhammad, a contemporary of Razi, left many excellent descriptions of various mental diseases. His carefully compiled observation on actual patients made up the most complete classification of mental diseases theretofore known.” Najab described agitated depression, obsessional types of neurosis, Nafkhae Malikholia (combined priapism and sexual impotence). Kutrib (a form of persecutory psychosis), Dual-Kulb (a form of mania) .

Ibn Sina recognized ‘physiological psychology’ in treating illnesses involving emotions. From the clinical perspective Ibn Sina developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings which has been viewed as anticipating the word association test of Jung. He is said to have treated a terribly ill patient by feeling the patient’s pulse and reciting aloud to him the names of provinces, districts, towns, streets, and people. By noticing how the patient’s pulse quickened when names were mentioned Ibn Sina deduced that the patient was in love with a girl whose home Ibn Sina was able to locate by the digital examination. The man took Ibn Sina’s advice , married the girl , and recovered from his illness.

It is not surprising to know that at Fez, Morocco, an asylum for the mentally ill had been built early in the 8th century, and insane, asylums were built by the Arabs also in Baghdad in 705 A.D., in Cairo in 800 A.D., and in Damascus and Aleppo in 1270 A.D. In addition to baths, drugs, kind and benevolent treatment given to the mentally ill, musico-therapy and occupational therapy were also employed. These therapies were highly developed.

1,000 years ago Islamic medicine was the most advanced in the world at that time. Even after ten centuries, the achievements of Islamic medicine look amazingly modern. 1,000 years ago the Muslims were the great torchbearers of international scientific research. Every student and professional from each country outside the Islamic Empire, aspired, yearned, a dreamed to go to the Islamic universities to learn, to work, to live and to lead a comfortable life in an affluent and most advanced and civilized society. Today, in this twentieth century, the United States of America has achieved such a position. The pendulum can swing back. Fortunately Allah has given a bounty to many Islamic countries – an income over 100 billion dollars per year. Hence Islamic countries have the opportunity and resources to make Islamic science and medicine number one in the world, once again. 

Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D is Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40292 and President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc, 7102 W. Shefford Lane, Louisville, KY 40242-6462

by Ibrahim B. Syed. Edited by Shahid Athar, M. D. 

Shahid Athar M.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis, Indiana, and a writer on Islam.

Providing Information about Various aspects of Islam