THE LIFE OF
HAZRAT MOULANA ASHRAF ALI THANWI
Only in ages does Allah Ta’ala
Send someone so intoxicated with Divine-Love
That he changes the deteriorated custom of the world
Munshi Abdur Rahman Khan (Rahmatullahi Alaih)
A Brief Word
Hakeemul Ummat Ashraful Ulama Hazrat Thanwi (Nawwarallahu Marqadahu) was, in this age, a sign of the Signs of Allah Ta’ala. He was on his own a torch of guidance, a lamp of the path and an embodiment of a number of external and spiritual excellences. There was a need for diverse and numerous biographies to be written about him and every aspect of his life to be brought to light.
Undoubtedly, Ashrafus Sawaanih with its completing volume is a kitaab par excellence; benefiting, reliable and worthy. However, modern day needs required something else. To fulfill this ‘something else’ the compiler of Seerat-e-Ashraf raised his pen and Allah Ta’ala conferred barkat to his courage.
The total worth and benefit of the kitaab can only be gauged after its publication and study. The writer of these lines has up to now viewed its beautiful and comprehensive table of contents and also its first published pages. On the whole it is praiseworthy. The whole pot can be judged by a few grains of rice. With this as a yardstick it can safely be said that the kitaab will, Insha Allah, be interesting, comprehensive and revealing.
[Hazrat Moulana] Abdul Maajid [Saheb Daryabadi Rahmatullahi alaih]
A Lesson on Life
The wholesome life, academic and practical excellences and comprehensiveness of the external and inner spiritual effulgence and blessings of Ashraful Awliya, Qutbul Irshaad, Shaikhul Mashaaikh, Mujaddidul Millat, Hakeemul Ummat, Hazrat Moulana Shah Ashraf Ali Saheb Thanwi, Chishti, Saabiri, Imdaadi (May Allah Ta’ala illuminate his resting place) enjoy a distinguished and unparalleled pedestal. Every statement and action of his was a pathway of light for humanity and hence the Prince of Khaanqa-e-Ashrafiyyah, Khaajah Azeezul Hasan Saheb Majzoob (Rahmatullahi alaih) would say:
کہیں نہ دیکھا کہیں نہ پایا جمال ایسا کمال ایسا
“Nowhere did I see, nowhere did I find such beauty, such perfection.”
دکھاۓ کوئی اگر ہو دعوی جمال ایسا کمال ایسا
“Let him who claims, show such beauty, such perfection.”
Apart from being a born poet and college graduate, Khaajah Saheb was a distinguished khaleefah and special khaadim of Hazrat Thanwi. In Hazrat’s very life he wrote his biography titled, Ashrafus Sawaanih which is all-encompassing of authentic details and endorsed personally by the celebrity portrayed. However, in view of its peculiar language, style and arrangement it proved to be more beneficial to the learned class than to the masses. The need, therefore, was for such a Seerat-e-Ashrafiyyah to be written which, in the light of historical facts and in a new style, can be of advantage and benefit to the ordinary learning class as well.
My respected and dear friend, Janab Munshi Abdur Rahmaan Khan Saheb Multani (May Allah Ta’ala keep him safe) perceived this need and he has compiled on the foundation of Ashrafus Sawaanih, together with additions, such a comprehensive and detailed yet authentic and authoritative Seerat-e-Ashraf which in the opinion of scholars, after Seeratun Nabi, its like in Urdu Literature is difficult to come by.
The beautiful lay-out has made it, together with a picture of life, a lesson of life. Reading it leaves one astounded and it becomes difficult to conclude whether this biography is that of a super-human being created of noor and shaped in the mould of holiness, or that of one composed of water and bouquets possessing a heart of a man and human feelings?
Not only did the author (May Allah Ta’ala keep him safe) fulfil an important need of the times in the compilation of Seerat-e-Ashraf, he has furthermore rendered a favour to the khuddaam of the Court of Ashraf in particular, and for all Muslims in general.
In addition to educating a useless and wrongdoer like me, he has conferred me the good fortune of studying [the kitaab] word for word and he even accepted my suggestions in matters where advice was sought. This brought comfort to my heart and du’aas emanated from the heart that, may Haq Ta’ala bestow taufeeq to his esteemed Munshi Saheb for more Deeni service. May He make all his Deeni books and compilations accepted and beneficial and may He grant him Divine Pleasure and Proximity by changing his words to experience. Aameen, thumma Aameen.
Servant of the Students and Destitute
Khair Muhammad Jaalandhari (May Allah Ta’ala pardon him)
Khairul Madaaris, City of Multan
26th Ramadhaanul Mubaarak 1374 A.H.
[Hazrat Moulana Khair Muhammad Saheb was the founder and principal of Khairul Madaaris, the second largest madrasah in Pakistan.]
A Blessed Biography
What must this fortunate soul say about how much happiness and how much du’aas emanate from the heart for your compilation of Hazrat Hakeemul Ummat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s (Rahmatullahi alaih) biography. I have read with fervour and enthusiasm the few parts of the biography which you have graciously sent. Masha Allah, the style of speech and the layout, both are very good.
Under the caption The First Vision of Pakistan whatever Janab wrote, was written with exceptional balance. To write on this topic was quite testing, because the facts are to be revealed without exaggeration, there is to be no disparagement of past figures and whatever is written is to be backed by proof.
No matter how rare and precious scattered pearls may be, they do not individually possess that attraction and nor are they so captivating as they appear orderly, stringed together; priceless and beautiful. The toil and effort with which you are completing this blessed biography is truly your lot. May Allah Ta’ala increase the power of your pen.
It pleases me that you are employing total honesty in this work and the khuddaam of Hazrat Thanwi are satisfied and happy that Baari Ta’ala has taken the work of compiling and authoring The Life of Ashraf from such a bandah of his who is in all regards fully competent for rendering this very important service.
You are a blessed being, for Allah Ta’ala has taken such a lofty work from you. The like of this cannot be found with respect to the dunya and Aakhirat. All the devotees of Hazrat Wala are thankful to you that you have timeously taken the responsibility of this task. May Allah Ta’ala grant a grand reward and may He accept this Deeni khidmat of yours. Aameen, thumma Aameen!
In need, Jamshed
Baghpat, District Meerath
18th July 1955 AD
Model of the Character of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
It pleased me immensely to learn that you are almost complete with the compilation of the life of Moulana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alaih).
My first meeting with Moulana Maghfoor [Hazrat Thanwi] was in Thanabawan during the initial campaign of the Muslim League. I presented myself in his service along with my friend, Nawab Jamshed Ali Khan as he gave me the assurance that Hazrat Moulana is sympathetic to the objectives of the Muslim League and he wishes to acquire detailed information regarding the campaign.
The first meeting was after Zuhr Namaaz in the Masjid where Moulana Thanwi was seated in an assembly. Upon seeing us he stood up and dismissed those that were there. Till Asr Namaaz our conversation continued. Thereafter he promised that he will announce his sympathetic feelings of the League in the papers.
At night he hosted us for meals. Here we experienced an enthralling company. What I wish to put forward is that the mere sight of Moulana left a deep impression of his greatness on my heart and all my reservations [about Moulana Thanwi] were dispelled; the reservations which settled on my heart during the Muslim League campaign arising from the tales of Thanabawan.
The second occasion Moulana himself called me to Thanabawan. He also invited me that day and night to have meals at his home. When I reached there with my associates Moulana was adamant to wash my hands himself [i.e. pour the water], which we could never bear. Then he spread the dastarkhan with his own hands and brought the food. His venerable wife would bring warm rotis, at intervals, from behind a screen. When all the food was set then Moulana said: “Come let us do something heavenly”. Upon my query: “What?” he said:
“Eat and Drink!”
He embodied the Prophetic Character fully. Only on one other occasion did I have the impression as the impression left on my heart by his meeting. That was when I first had the honour of meeting Shaikhul Hind Moulana Mahmoodul Hasan.
In between the campaigns of Khilaafat and the League there were many occasions of meeting with many Ulama. However, none left such an impression on me as Hazrat Thanwi’s meeting.
His letters would come to me. They are presently with my son. I am writing to him to send the letters to you.
Muhammad Isma’eel Khan
Mustafa Kasal, Meerath
10th June 1955 AD
Lamp of the Road
I am very pleased that you are writing a biography of Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali (Rahmatullahi alaih). This is a very important work because by knowing the life sketch of such people, individual members of the population are greatly aided in moulding their lives. The biographies of such illustrious personalities serve as lamps on the road of the existence of the nation. In the light of the life and works of such illustrious souls people become discerning of good and bad and they gain strength in inclination towards good acts and abstention from evil things.
Not only have I had the honour of personally serving Hazrat Hakeemul Ummat (Rahmatullahi alaih), in fact, family-wise my ancestors and I have had the honour of serving all those illustrious personalities with whom Hakeemul Ummat was attached to; the likes of Moulana Muhammad Qaasim Saheb Nanotwi (Rahmatullahi alaih) and Moulana Rasheed Ahmad Saheb Gangohi (Rahmatullahi alaih).
Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Saheb, marhoom and maghfoor, was Hakeemul Ummat in the true sense of the word. He would lecture on the Ahkaam of the Shariat with the spirit which was seen in the Islamic World during the age of the Taabi’een and Tab’e Taabi’een. As an illustration I will mention one anecdote.
A person came to Moulana marhoom, maghfoor and expressed his idea of going for Haj. Hazrat enquired: “You don’t perhaps have some debt on your shoulders?” He replied in the negative. Then Hazrat asked: “You don’t perhaps have an adolescent daughter still to marry?” He replied: “Yes, one daughter.” Hazrat said: “First see to your daughter’s marriage, and then go for Haj.”
Now where will you find such illustrious personalities who understand the real necessities of Islam and bear in mind the aim of the Shaari’ [Law Maker, Allah Ta’ala] appropriately?
It is my hope that the biography of Hazrat (Rahmatullahi alaih) will be a torch of guidance for Muslims.
Raahat Manzil, Aligarh
16th May 1955 AD
Portrait of the Biography
Allah Ta’ala, Jalla Shaanuhu, has stated in His Kalaam-e-Paak one objective of the Qur’aan to be:
نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ اَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَآ اَوْحَيْنَآ اِلَيْكَ هٰذَا الْقُرْاٰنَ
وَاِنْ كُنْتَ مِنْ قَبْلِه لَمِنَ الْغٰفِلِيْنَ
(Surah Yousuf, 3)
“We relate to you a wonderful story, by means of the Qur’aan which We have revealed to you.
Prior to this you were unaware (of it).”
Thus, apart from being a code of life, the Qur’aan-e-Kareem is also a history of previous nations presenting their life and actions for the sake of insight, lesson and guidance — these also being the primary purpose of historical writings.
Although the general trend is that the life-sketcher or biographical writer presents the amazing feats of revolutionary figures merely to show what part they played in bringing progress to the world; however, this principle serves little benefit in the presentation of Islam’s celebrated personalities because the History of Islam is entirely different to the history of the kufr world.
The most glorious epoch of Islam commenced from the advent of the Leader of the universe, the Pride of all existence, Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and it ended with the Khilaafat-e-Raashidah. The Qur’aan-e-Kareem illustrates all past history to endorse and show the merit of this period, and it offers an invitation to prepare all future events in the light of this period. Therefore, when presenting the celebrated and laudable personalities of Islam it is futile to endeavour to show what records they have set in the progress of the world. What has to be shown, rather, is the part they played in conveying the Light of Nubuwwat [that is, the teachings of Nabi Sallallahu alaihi wasallam] to the world through their academic and practical efforts and strivings.
A thorough study of the Qur’aan-e-Kareem brings to the fore the pattern that has come down from the beginning of creation, that Allah Ta’ala, on the basis of وَلِكُلِّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ [for every nation there is a guide] sends to each nation a guide and leader who oversees the guidance of his people. As long as the Agency of Nubuwwat was open, Ambiya would come. When this was closed then from time to time such reformers and thinkers would be sent who would strive to bring back the nation of Islam to this Path of Deen – the Path of the Ambiya – which they [Muslims] have strayed from thus landing themselves in the pits of innovation, customs and nonsensical practices.
History forever repeats itself. As long as a reformer (Muslih) remained in the midst of a people they energetically pursued Siraat-e-Mustaqeem. However, as soon as he completes his mission and passes on [to the Aakhirat] then in a short time the effects of his teachings and reformation start to dwindle and people retrogress to the point whence they were brought to the path of hidaayat. This can best be illustrated by the first epoch of Islam itself.
The adherents of that Deen which came to efface the influence of the Caesar and the Khosrau [that is, to break the power of the kufr empires of Byzantine and Persia], after forty years slowly became inclined to the lifestyle of the Caesar and the Khosrau, to such an extent that its leaders and governors boasted of being the heirs of Kaiser and Kisra instead of priding themselves with being the successors of the Khulafa-e-Raashideen. That same lifestyle of indulgence in luxury, gold, silver, silk, brocade, peacock feathers and music [of the Byzantine and Persian Emperors] became the goal of life for Muslim leaders and governors. The Baitul Maal [Public Treasury] became their private safe and the government became their inherited property. Instead of property and land-ownership under Islamic Principles the law of the Caesar and Khosrau was implemented.” (Jaami’ul Mujaddideen, p. 29)
In consequence, Islamic History saw ages when reformers and guides were born to reform and correct. In recent history famous personalities as Hazrat Shaikh Ahmad Sarhandi, Hazrat Moulana Shah Waliyyullah Muhaddith-e-Dehlwi, Hazrat Moulana Shah Isma’eel Shaheed and Hazrat Moulana Sa’eed Ahmad Bareilwi (Rahimahumullahu Ta’ala) were important figures in this line. According to the dictates of the times they fulfilled the duty of service to Deen and creation by keeping alive the Sunan [Traditions of Rasoolullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam] and rebutting bid’aat [innovations in the Deen]. History deservedly praises their efforts.
After them, however, a period of secular education dawned which made western civilization appear to be respectable in the eyes of Muslims and which made Islam appear to be low in the eyes of the very adherents of Islam. As a result, they have abandoned the principles and fundamentals of Deen and they have commenced to restructure the mansion of their lives on European plans. In everything, western style of life and politics began to be emulated. The nakedness and immorality of London and Paris began to appear everywhere. Innovations and futilities began to be thought of as Deen. Dancing and music, singing and musical instruments started to lead their lives and almost from the heart and mind of every Muslim the picture of Islam started to fade.
When the Deeni [religious] and Akhlaaqi [moral] condition of Muslims dropped to that level, Allah Ta’ala, according to His Eternal Way, sent such a sage and reformer who pointed out to the world that Deen is not just Salaat, Saum, Haj, Zakaat, Nawaafil and Awraad [devotional practices of zikr, etc.]. Character, social-behaviour and dealings are in fact also integral measures of it. Keeping in sight all the chapters and portions of the Perfect Deen, he [the sage sent by Allah] began to reconstruct the Creed of Islam and he reminded the world of that forgotten lesson which one Ummi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) gave, that:
“In reality, progress, which is being clamoured for nowadays, is not lofty mansions, packed safes, expensive garments, exquisite household items, big companies, eminent professions, huge wages, royal honours, rewards and titles. No! As a matter of fact, it [progress] is lofty character, noble ways and a pure and clean heart carrying out the Ahkaam [Law] of Allah Ta’ala. It is not attached to comfort and luxury. Progress is not the lot of a seeker of the transitory or one obsessed with wealth and enamoured with fame. It [true progress] is the passion of serving creation sincerely for the pleasure of the Creator.” (Jaami’ul Mujaddideen, p. 29)
That reformer and sage was Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alaih).
Insha Allah to be continued…