HADHRAT SHEIKH ZAKARIYYAH (rahmatullahi alaih)
Hadhrat Shaikh was born in the town of Kandhlah, district Muzaffarnagar on 11th Ramadhaanul Mubaarak 1315 Hijri, Thursday 11 p.m. On the seventh day his father, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yahya came to Kandhlah. Standing at the door of the house he expressed the wish to have a quick look at the new-born baby. This desire was in conflict with the customary practice of shame and honour in vogue in that age. Since this was unheard of and in violation of custom, most inmates of the house were surprised. However, some womenfolk said:
“After all, he is the father and desires to see his child. What is wrong in this?”
The baby was sent to him. Hadhrat Maulana Yahya had brought along the barber. At a sign, the barber shaved off the baby’s hair. He sent the hair inside with the message:
“I have attended to the hair. You can slaughter the goats and give in Sadqah silver equal to the weight of the hair.”
In this way Hadhrat Maulana Yahya managed to terminate a customary practice for which elaborate arrangements and plans were instituted. He accomplished this with such simplicity.
(The custom referred to here is the practice of organising a feast for naming the child, etc. Many un-Islamic activities occur at such customary functions – Translator)
Hadhrat Shaikh lived in Kandhlah until he was two and a half years old. In about the year 1318 he was moved to Gangoh where Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yahya until this time lived with Hadhrat Gangohi.
Hadhrat Shaikh Zakariyyah said that during his early childhood he would climb onto Hadhrat Gangohi while he was sitting under a tree and hug him much. When Hadhrat Shaikh was older, he says, he would stand in the road waiting for Hadhrat Gangohi to come. When he would arrive, Hadhrat Zakariyyah would sing “Assalaamu Alaikum” loudly in the form of a qiraat. Hadhrat Gangohi too would respond with great affection in the same way.
After reaching Gangoh, Hadhrat Shaikh commenced his primary education by a pious doctor, Abdur Rahman Sahib. Qaidah Baghdadi was also learnt under him. Thereafter he began Hifz of the Qur’aan Majeed by his father, Hadhrat Maulana Yahya who ordered that his daily new Hifz lesson be recited 100 times. After Hifz of the Qur’aan, the other kitaabs studied while in Gangoh were Beheshti Zewer, Farsi and Urdu Deeni kitaabs. Most of the Farsi books were taught to him by his paternal uncle, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas. Only the primary text books of Nahw (Arabic grammar) were taught to him by his father.
In Rajab 1328 Hadhrat came to Sahaaranpْr at the age of 13 while his father had already settled there two or three years earlier. Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yahya had come to Sahaaranpْr to teach Hadith on the insistence of Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad. In Sahaaranpْr, Hadhrat Shaikh Zakariyyah was taught a few primary Arabic text books by his father. His Ustaads in the philosophical sciences were Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Latief and Maulana Abdul Wahid Sambhali.
In 1333 Hadhrat Shaikh was doing his final year, Dôre Hadith. Besides Ibn Majah, he studied all the Hadith Kitaabs by his father. Since Ibn Majah was being taught for a number of years by Maulana Thabit Ali Sahib, Hadhrat Shaikh studied it by him. Bukhari and Tirmizi Shareef were pursued a second time by Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad on his return from Hijaaz. Hadhrat expended great effort and concentration in the pursuit of his study in Hadith. He observed two things rigidly: Never would he miss a lesson and never would he study without wudhu. In this regard, Hadhrat Shaikh write in his biography, Aap Beti:
“Marhoom Ahmad Hasan was my class-mate. During the course of the lessons in class if any of us (Ahmad Hasan or I) required to take wudhu, he would nudge the other with his elbow and leave immediately (to make wudhu). Meanwhile the other one would simultaneously raise a query with my father (i.e. Ustaad, to keep him occupied until the other one came back). However, this method had to be resorted to seldom – maybe once in two months. My father had grasped from our actions what was happening. This, in fact, gave him pleasure. Once on one such occasion when Hasan Ahmad left after nudging me, I said to my father:
‘Hadhrat, in Fathul Qadeer it is said… I had spoken without thinking and did not know what was written in Fathul Qadeer.’
My father burst out laughing and said:
‘Until the return of Hasan Ahmad I shall narrate you a story. What can I do fighting with your Fathul Qadeer.’ ”
After completing his academic studies when Hadhrat was 32 years, he was appointed on 1st Muharram 1335 as a teacher in the primary level at Mazaaharal Uloom. The monthly wage was 15 rupees. Kitaabs such as Usْlush Shaashi, Ilmus Sigha, etc. were assigned to him. These two kitaabs were transferred to Hadhrat Shaikh from other senior Ustaads. Usْlush Shaashi was formerly taught by Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas and Ilmus Sighaa by Hadhrat Maulana Zafar Ahmad Thanwi. Besides these, he taught another five kitaabs, viz. Miat-e-Aamil Manzoom, Sharh-e-Miak, Khulaasah Nohmir, Nafhatul Yaman and Munyatul Musalli.
In the next year, 1335, he taught the following kitaabs: Mirqaat, Qudْri, Sharah Tahzib, Kaafiyah, Nْrul Iedhaah, Usْlush Shaashi, Sharah Jaami and Beheth Fel-Beheth Ism. In 1336 there was further promotion. Higher kitaabs such as Maqaamaat, Sab’ah Muallaqah, Mir Qutbu, Kanzud Daqaa-iq, etc., were assigned to Hadhrat Shaikh.
In view of the commencement of writing the kitab, Bazlul Majhood in 1336, most lessons during 1337 were imparted after hours. Thus, Hamaasah was taught after Isha and some other lessons after Asr.
In 1338 Hadhrat accompanied his Shaikh, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad to Hijaaz. They returned in Muharram 1339. The search for the subject matter for Bazlul Majhood and recording it were the responsibility solely of Hadhrat Shaikh. In consequence thereof, it became difficult to accomplish the prescribed syllabus assigned to him. Therefore, from Muharram 1340 he was released during the mornings from his teaching, to devote to Bazlul Majhood.
In Rajab 1341, three chapters of Bukhari Shareef were transferred from Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Latief to Hadhrat Shaikh. From Shawwaal 1341 to Sha’baan 1344, teaching Mishkaat Shareef was his responsibility.
In Shawwaal 1344 Hadhrat again accompanied Hadhrat Shaikh Maulana Khalil Ahmad for Hajj. After spending a year in Hijaaz, they returned on the 18th Safar 1346. On the very same day Abu Dawood Shareef was transferred from Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Latief to Hadhrat Shaikh. In this year he also taught Nisaai, Muatta Imaam Muhammad and from the 12th to the 16th Para of Bukhari Shareef.
In 1246 the authorities of the Madrasah resolved to assign Tirmizi Shareef to Hadhrat Maulana Abdur Rahman and Bukhari Shareef to Hadhrat Shaikh because the administrative duties of the Madrasah’s Nazim, Maulana Abdul Latief had multiplied considerably. This plan greatly saddened Hadhrat Nazim Sahib because of the loss of his occupation of teaching Hadith. Hadhrat Shaikh’s sensitive and honourable disposition perceived the adverse affect this plan had on Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Latief. He therefore submitted an alternative plan to the Madrasah authorities. His plan envisaged that Tirmizi Shareef should always remain by Hadhrat Maulana Abdur Rahman. The opening of Bukhari Shareef should be by Hadhrat Nazim Sahib and after Baqri Eid the first volume of Bukhari Shareef should be assigned to him (i.e. Shaikh Zakariyyah). The second volume should be taught by Hadhrat Nazim Sahib after Maghrib. This plan was gladly accepted and Hadhrat Nazim Sahib’s displeasure dissipated.
The Madrasah had also assigned Abu Dawood Shareef to Hadhrat Shaikh. This remained the position until 1375 on account of Hadhrat Nazim’s journey to Rangoon in 1373. In 1374, on account of Hadhrat Nazim Sahib’s prolonged indisposition, Abu Dawood Shareef and both volumes of Bukhari Shareef were assigned to Hadhrat Shaikh. When Nazim Sahib passed away, Abu Dawood Shareef was transferred to Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad As’adullah while Bukhari Shareef was assigned to Hadhrat Shaikh. During this period of teaching a very large number of students and other’s sat in front of Hadhrat Shaikh acquiring the knowledge of Hadith.
However, in 1388 his eyesight began failing. In consequence he was compelled to terminate that auspicious occupation of his life, viz. teaching Hadith, which was for him the light of life. This, in fact, was a divinely bestowed favour. The commentator and disseminator of Uloom-e-Rashidiyyah (the knowledge of Imaam Rabbani Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi) had to abandon his post (of teaching Hadith) for the very same reason which obliged Imaam Rabbani in the beginning of 1314 to give up his post of teaching. (Imaam Rabbani also lost his eye-sight). But Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah! After the termination of Dars-e-Zaahiri (teaching kitaabs of Zaahiri Uloom) commenced the engrossment in Dars-e-Baatini (instructing the mureedeen in moral and spiritual upliftment). The number of the participants in these moral lessons increased by the day. The time which was formerly confined to the four walls of Daarul Hadith, was now devoted to the tarbiyat (moral training) and tasfiyah-e-qalb (purification of the heart) of countless people.
Mazaaharal Uloom had always enjoyed a special characteristic which sustained its lofty ruhaaniyat (spirituality), viz., the presence of a Sahib-e-Nisbaat whose roohaani fuyْdh always rained onto the Madrasah. Innumerable people quenched their spiritual thirst from these rains of roohaaniyat. From the auspicious zaat (being) of Qutb-e-lam Hadhrat Imaam Rabbani to the august personality of Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad Muhajire Madani is a long chain of such pure souls who were the Akhyaar (noblest) and Sulahaa (pious or saints) of the Ummah and whose shadows shaded the Madrasah.
If Destiny (Taqdeer) had not delivered Hadhrat Shaikh to Hadhrat Khalil Ahmad Saharanpْri, the latter would have been the last link of this speciality enjoyed by the Madrasah. In 1333 Hijri when Hadhrat Saharanpْri was leaving with the intention of a long stay in Hijaaz, numerous people became bay’t to him. Seeing this, Hadhrat Shaikh decided to also become bay’t. When he requested to be accepted, Hadhrat Saharanpْri said: “After completing the Nawaafil of Maghrib, come.” Maulana Abdullah Gangohi who was Hadhrat Saharanpْri’s khalifah had requested for renewal of bay’t. Both of them became bay’t to Hadhrat after Maghrib at the appointed time.
Hadhrat’s honourable father, Maulana Muhammad Yahya and Hadhrat Shah Abdur Rahim Raipْri were viewing with much surprise this scene (i.e. the abundance of people becoming bay’t). Hadhrat Raipْri expressing his approval made much dua.
Thereafter Hadhrat Shaikh wholly submitted himself to his Shaikh. He devoted and sacrificed the entire stock of his mental and academic abilities for the sake of his Shaikh. One such sample is in the form of the kitaab, Bazlul Majhood consisting of thousands of pages for which Hadhrat Shaikh had to devote all his capabilities and time. Hadhrat Saharanpْri himself had time and again acknowledged this yeomen service and sacrifice of Hadhrat Shaikh. He had expressed his gratitude to Hadhrat Shaikh (Zakariyyah) for the present form of Bazlul Majhood.
Hadhrat Saharanpْri had in fact claimed that Hadhrat Zakariyyah’s bond of love with him was stronger than that of a son. Once someone asked whether Molvi Zakariyyah was Hadhrat’s son. In response Hadhrat Saharanpْri said:
“Yes! Even more than a son.”
Some anecdotes regarding the mutual love and concern between this Shaikh and his Mureed will now be narrated.
1) Hadhrat Shaikh’s first marriage took place in his hometown, Kandhlah. Hadhrat Saharanpْri and Hadhrat Maulana Shah Muhammad Ilyas went to Kandhlah to attend the marriage. On returning to Sahaaranpْr, Hadhrat Shaikh had refused to take his wife with, saying:
“Kandhlah is our home. I will stay here a few days before going to Sahaaranpْr. It is difficult to take her to Sahaaranpْr.”
Hearing this, Hadhrat Saharanpْri said: “Who is he to refuse? I have come as the father to arrange this marriage.”
2) Once Hadhrat Saharanpْri had resolved to expel a student from the Madrasah. Hadhrat Shaikh opposed the idea of expulsion, saying that this move was fraught with certain danger. However, Hadhrat Nazim Sahib rejected this view and Hadhrat Saharanpْri expelled the student. The fear which Hadhrat Shaikh had voiced immediately materialized. Hadhrat Saharanpْri became very worried and Hadhrat Nazim Sahib was full of regret. Hadhrat Saharanpْri said:
“My Qalandar (Sufi) had opposed this idea from the beginning, but we did not heed.”
Hadhrat Shaikh said:
“Hadhrat, do not worry. Make dua and tawajjuh. Insha’Allah, the problem will be solved”
With Hadhrat Saharanpْri’s dua and tawajjuh the difficulty was immediately overcome.
3) “On numerous occasions in Hindustan as well as in Madinah Tayyibah when I would join Hadhrat for meals, he (Hadhrat Saharanpْri) would present some delicacy to me with utmost affection. I never took notice of anything in this regard because Hadhrat’s affection in other respects was much greater. However Hadhrat Raipْri said to me:
‘I really envy you. When Hadhrat presents something to you for eating, he first stares at it intensely, then gives it to you. I wish he would do this for me too.’
Thereafter, I too observed that Hadhrat Raipْri had spoken correctly.” (Aap Beti)
4) Hadhrat Shaikh said:
“My father would frequently say:
‘Zakariyyah respects me for fear of the shoe (i.e. getting a paternal hiding) while he respects his Hadhrat with his heart.’ ”
5) In 1344 Hadhrat Saharanpْri had gone to Hijaaz. Hadhrat Shaikh too had accompanied him. Every time that Hadhrat Saharanpْri went on the journey to Hijaaz he expressed the yearning and hope of being assigned to the sand of Jannatul Baqi’. Thus, the journey of 1344 was his last. In 1346 he was buried in the sand at Jannatul Baqi’.
Hadhrat Shaikh had returned to Hindustan while Hadhrat Saharanpْri was still alive. Before Hadhrat Shaikh left Madinah Tayyibah to return, Hadhrat Saharanpْri conferred on him the mantle of Khilaafate in all four Silsilahs in elaborate style. Hadhrat Saharanpْri removed his amaamah (turban) from his head. Handing it to Maulana Sayyid Ahmad, the elder brother of Hadhrat Aqdas Madani, Hadhrat Saharanpْri requested him to tie it on Hadhrat Zakariyyah’s head. At that moment people were loudly sobbing on account of Hadhrat Saharanpْri’s profuse crying. Hadhrat Shaikh also shed tears.
Hadhrat Shah Abdul Qadir Raipْri was present on this occasion. For fear of this episode being publicised in Hindustan, Hadhrat Shaikh fell at the feet of Hadhrat Raipْri imploring him not to inform anyone in Hindustan. But, Hadhrat Raipْri was not prepared to conceal this episode. He publicised the appointment and its method in Hindustan. Then too, Hadhrat Shaikh refused to accept anyone in bay’t for a long time. He would refer those who came with the intention of bay’t, to other Masha-ikh. Finally, on the instruction of Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas, he initiated the process of bay’t which occurred in the following way:
Once Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas and Hadhrat Shaikh went to Kandhlah to visit relatives and friends. On reaching Kandhlah, the womenfolk of the house insisted in Hadhrat Maulana Ilyas to instruct Hadhrat Shaikh to accept them all in his bay’t. He sent someone to the neighbourhood Musjid to call Hadhrat Shaikh. When he reached home, he sensed the anger of Hadhrat Maulana Ilyas. He also observed the womenfolk of the home had assembled. Hadhrat Maulana was sitting on a bed while the other bed was vacant. Hadhrat Maulana removed his amaamah and gave one end into Hadhrat Shaikh’s hand and the other end he passed to the ladies. Then very sharply he commanded: “Take them into your bay’t.” When Hadhrat Shaikh mumbled some excuse, Hadhrat Maulana scolded him and ordered him for the second time: “Quickly initiate them.” This, then was the commencement of Hadhrat Shaikh’s process of initiating mureeds.
6) Hadhrat Maulana Shah Abdul Qadir had on a number of times pointed to Hadhrat Shaikh and Maulana Muhammad Yusuf and said:
“Where it was our end, from there is your beginning.”
Frequently he said:
“The matter of this uncle and nephew (i.e. Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas and Hadhrat Shaikh) is something different.”
Once he observed:
“Hadhrat Gangohi’s Nisbaat has been transferred to Hadhrat Shaikh.”
(Nisbaat means Qurb-e-Ilaahi or the relationship of closeness with Allah Ta’ala – Translator)