Part One: Early Life

ذرہ ذرہ میں ہے پنہاں ایک دنیاۓ عمل
In every single atom is hidden a deed for the world.
خواب سمجھاہے جسے تو ، ہے وہی تعبیر خواب
What you have understood to be the dream, it is precisely the interpretation of the dream.
(Rushd)

1. Thanabawan

1.1 Background to the Name
In Aaein-e-Akbari the name of this town is recorded as Thana-Bheem which during the period of Rajah Bheem was attributed to him. Although in papers of the Moghul Empire its name appears as Muhammadpur which the local Muslim inhabitants called it after a son of theirs ‘Fatah Muhammad’, however, it did not enjoy approval and its name remained Thanabawan.

In the Imperial Gazette, Volume 23, 1908AD another reason is given for its name. In it is written that in some period of its history there was a temple here, Bhawaani Mandir, which was quite famous. In relation to it the name ‘Thanabawan’ came into vogue. Rationally also, it would appear that from Bhawaani it became Bhawan, not Bhawan from Bheem.

1.2 Location
This town is situated in the constituency of Keranah in the district of Muzaffar Nagar in the Union of Agra Owdh states [known today as Uttar Pradesh or U.P.]. It lays 18 miles [28,9km] north-west of Muzaffar Nagar on a tarred road. [To get to Thanabawan by road these days, one could take a taxi or bus on the Delhi—Saharanpur route. On this national road Thanabawan lies between the towns of Shamli and Jalalabad.]

Surrounding it are the famous towns of Deoband, Gangoh, Kandlah, Keranah, Jhinjanah and Panipat which have produced illustrious personalities and are locations of important historical sites. [The closest towns to Thanabawan are Jalalabad which is approximately 5km north of Thanabawan, and Shamli which is approximately 15km south of Thanabawan. Jalalabad was the home of Hazrat Thanwi’s Khaleefah-e-Arshad Hazrat Moulana Maseehullah Khan Saheb, popularly known as Hazrat Jee whilst Shamli is the site of the famous Battle of Shamli between Muslims and the British.]

1.3 Historical Importance
In the 1857AD war of independence this town served as a base for the Mujaahideen. The inhabitants there joined the war of independence under the leadership of Qaadhi Mahboob Ali Khan and his paternal nephew Qaadhi Inaayat Ali Khan. Very daringly they took control of the constituency and then Shamli [from the British]. The one hundred and thirteen regimental troops guarding it were killed. However, Sikhs and Ghurkhas thereafter launched a sustained seven hour attack and captured it under the command of a certain magistrate. They razed the town to the ground.

Historically, this entire area is recorded to be the home of illustrious personalities. In this town [of Thanabawan] and the nearby towns major Deeni educational institutions are situated. The abundance of Ulama, Fuzala [Graduates] and Mashaaikh who were raised in this area is unparalleled in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Accordingly, a British supervising officer praising the intellectual skills of the natives of this area called the people of Thanabawan in his report Aaqilaan-e-Thana or Intellectuals of Thanabawan.

This is corroborated by these words of the pious Buzrug and anthropologist, the noble Shaikh Ma’shooq Ali of Qanooj, which he stated on one occasion to Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi:
“People around here are ahead of people by us in everything. Thus, the Aalim here is better than the Aalim there, the jaahil here is better than the jaahil there and even the kaafir here is better than the kaafir there.”

1.4 The Railway Line
Earlier, no railway line passed by this town. It was Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s great desire that the railway passes through his town so that there is no inconvenience for people coming there. Since Haq Ta’ala wishes to see His obedient servants happy, the du’aa was accepted and a railway track was laid there coming from Saharanpur.

The station that was built, however, was some two miles 3,2km] from the actual town, whether a person was coming from Delhi or from Saharanpur. The visitor was required to then travel by some means a further two to three miles [3-5km] on a desolate and uninhabited field road to reach the town. [This station lies on the outskirts of Jalalabad, although it is designated ‘Thanabawan Station’]. This was also cause for inconvenience and difficulty which was not accepted by Haq Ta’ala.

In consequence a second thought occurred to Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi that the station should be built alongside the town so that people coming and going do not experience inconveniences. Insaan can never wish for anything until his Owner and Master (Maalik wa Maula) does not wish. The beauty is that only that transpires which He [Haq Ta’ala] wishes, but He creates the wish in the heart of man, grants it the pedestal of acceptance and makes the means for contentment towards this end.

تو چنیں خواہی خدا خواہد  چنیں
What you want, Allah Ta’ala grants that desire
می دہد  یزدان مراد متقین
Allah Ta’ala gives the Muttaqeen what they require

1.5 The New Station
With the entry of this thought in his heart he fore mostly tapped at the Door of the Master [Allah Ta’ala] for the new station to be built and then he formerly requested the medium of the du’aas of the Zaakireen and Shaaghileen at the Khaanqah.

After lodging the petition to Musabbibul Asbaab [the Creator of Causes] he sought the attention of the managers of the asbaab [causes] by sending letters to the Traffic Manager. The letters were signed by him in person.

In this manner, for the comfort and ease of those coming to the Portals of Ashraf he employed the Sunnat method of du’aa and dawa [medication and means]. The fruits were borne when on the 18th November 1928AD the new station opened opposite to the Khanqah. A mureed of Hazrat proposed the name Thanabawan Shareef. However, with a smile Hazrat begged to differ and rather settled for Thanabawan Town. It carries this name today.

1.6 Population
In the first war of independence of 1857AD the population here was close to forty-eight thousand. Thereafter it decreased to approximately thirty-six thousand. A further decrease brought the figure down to a mere six or seven thousand. However, of late it has started to rise.1.7 Renewed Importance

Although earlier on, together with being the centre of academic professionals it remained the centre of business and political professionals, however, the changing times did not maintain its wonder and prestige. In view of being the birthplace and home of Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi it gradually regained its honour. The Khanqah-e-Imdaadiyyah has assured for it a distinct place in History.