Hafizul Qur’aan wal Hadith Hadhrat Aqdas Maulana Khalil Ahmad Bin Shah Majid Ali Bin Shah Ahmad Ali Ayyْbi Ansari, was born towards the end of Safar in the year 1269 Hijri, (December 1852) in Ambheta, District Sahaaranpْr. His mother, Bi Mubarakun Nisa’, was the sister of Maulana Muhammad Yaqْb, the Sadr Mudarris of Daarul Uloom Deoband. She was the daughter of Hadhrat Maulana Mamlْk Ali.
In his fifth year he was admitted to the Maktab. For the sake of barkat, Hadhrat Maulana Mamlْk Ali initiated the Bismillah of his primary learning in the Maktab. In view of his natural intelligence and brilliance he completed the Qur’aan Majeed very quickly. He studied the primary Urdu and Farsi text books in Ambheta by several Ulama. Thereafter he accompanied his paternal uncle, Maulana Ansar Ali to Gawaliyaar where he commenced the study of the primary text books of Arabic grammar.
After a short while his father, Shah Majid Ali resigned from his work and returned home. He recalled Hadhrat Saharanpْri from Gawaaliyar. His education was assigned to Maulana Sakhawat Ali Ambhetwi. During this time some relatives insisted that he be admitted to English school. He had no affinity with secular education and absolutely abhorred it, believing it to be a great calamity imposed on him. Nevertheless, he commenced this secular pursuit in obedience to his seniors. But, his heart was wholly attached to the knowledge of the Deen. He always prayed and hoped for freedom from the fetters of this imposed English education. His prayers were answered by the opening of Daarul Uloom Deoband in Muharram 1283. His maternal uncle Maulana Muhammad Yaqْb was appointed the chief Mudarris. Hadhrat Saharanpْri then bid farewell to English education. Taking the permission of his parents, he went to Deoband where he commenced studies from Kaafiyah.
Six months later the foundation stone of Mazaahirul Uloom was laid in Rajab 1283. Here too a maternal uncle of Hadhrat Aqdas, viz. Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Mazhar who was the Khalifah of Hadhrat Gangohi, was appointed the Sadr Mudarris. Since Allah Ta’ala had willed that Hadhrat become one of the trained products of Mazaaharul Uloom, the circumstances were created for his transference to Mazaaharul Uloom. Here he entered the class of Mukhtasarul Ma’ani. He completed his entire academic career at Mazaaharul Uloom.
After accomplishment of his academic studies, he was employed by the Madrasah at a monthly wage of three rupees. This was the year 1288 Hijri (1871) when Hadhrat Aqdas was 19 years. Thereafter he proceeded to Lahore to pursue further Uloom-e-Adabiyyah (Arabic Literature and Eloquence). In this regard Hadhrat Aqdas himself says:
“I went to Lahore and stayed there a few months. After studying Maqaamaat and Mutanabbi by Maulana Faidhul Hasan (rahmatullah alayh), I returned to Deoband. Hadhrat Maulana Yaqْb (rahmatullah alayh) arranged for me to be employed to translate Qaamoos into Urdu. The wage was ten rupees per month. I was sent to a mountain to execute this duty. After about two months I returned.”
Thereafter he was sent as the Sadr Mudarris to the Madrasah of Hadhrat Manglore (Tadhkaratur Rashid, Vol. 1).
Since Allah Ta’ala had destined Wilaayaat-e-Khaassah (Special rank of Sainthood) for Hadhrat Aqdas, it was during his stay in Manglore that he urge and yearning for the acquisition of the true Noor (Divine Love) developed in his heart. This was only natural for one destined to be the Shaikh of the age. In this regard Hadhrat Aqdas himself explains in Tazkaratur Rashid.
“Prior to entering into the holy relationship (Bay’t), I had no special connection with Hadhrat Gangohi nor were there any close family ties between us. During my student days I had a slight acquaintance with Hadhrat. I would only regard him as a holy Aalim. One day my paternal uncle, Molvi Ansar Ali Sahib under whom I was studying said:
‘After your studies, you should acquire Tasawwuf from Molvi Sahib (i.e. Hadhrat Gangohi).’
Once during Ramadhaan I went to Gangoh and at night went to the khaanqah to listen to his (Hadhrat Gangohi’s) Qur’aan. I was standing under a Neem tree listening to his recitation. At the time he was conducting the Taraaweeh Salaat. He was a Hafiz with an exceptionally beautiful voice. He was reciting with such beauty that its sweetness is in my heart to this day. He was reciting Surah Ahzaab at the time.
My marriage took place in Gangoh during my student days, hence I had greater occasion of studying in Gangoh. During my stay in Gangoh I would spend the time in the blessed company of Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh). I remember well that at that time I had the feeling of the sun’s presence and a celestial light in that mubaarak confine (the khaanqah). I experienced peace and serenity in my heart despite the fact that I was not his mureed nor a devoted follower. Secondly, those who were present for spiritual and moral reformation, viz. Hafiz Abdur Rahman Sahib, Molvi Altafur Rahman Sahib, etc., had become embodiments of simplicity and virtue. Their moral character shorn of all evil attributes and adorned with lofty angelic qualities coupled with their love for the Sunnat and dislike for bid’at, made them replicas of the Sahaabah. Nevertheless, the thought of requesting Hadhrat for bay’t did not occur to me.
After termination of my studies when I was sent as a Mudarris (teacher) to Madrasah Manglore in the district of Sahaaranpْr, there developed in me a peculiar condition and inclination towards ibaadat. At that time the Halqah (gathering) of Janaab Qadhi Muhammad Islam was in great prominence. The thought of joining his gathering occurred to me. However, I also felt that I should first consult my seniors and seek their permission. Thus, I consulted with Maulana Muhammad Yaqْb (rahmatullah alayh) who wrote to me in reply:
‘The paths towards Allah are according to the souls of people. Reaching Allah is not confined to the way you have adopted. Although it is also a way of reaching Allah, presently it is not appropriate for you to join the Halqah.’
About this time – 1288 or 1289 – the idea of bay’t occurred to me. Coincidentally, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi (rahmatullah alayh) happened to come to Roorki. On my invitation he stayed at Manglore on his return. At night, in privacy I said:
‘I have the thought of bay’t. In our surroundings are several buzrugs. Yourself, Maulana Rashid Ahmad Sahib, Maulana Shaikh Muhammad Sahib and Qadhi Muhammad Ismail Sahib. I do not know what is best for me. If you feel that it is best for me to enter into the association of your khuddaam (i.e. mureedeen), then do accept me. Alternatively, whatever you feel best for me, do instruct me.’
In reply, Hadhrat Maulana (rahmatullah alayh) made a long speech, the essence of which is this: There is none better than Maulana Rashid Ahmad Sahib at this time. I said:
‘He is extremely reluctant regarding bay’t. If you intercede on my behalf then this matter will be finalised.’
‘Good, when I come to Gangoh, then be there.’
I thus waited anxiously for the opportunity. When I was informed a few days later that Hadhrat Maulana was going to Gangoh, I immediately went and said (i.e. to Hadhrat Nanotwi):
‘When a gracious man promises he fulfils (i.e. honours his promise).’
He smiled and said: ‘Well and good.’
During the morning after he had discussed with Hadhrat, he called me. I entered, made salaam and sat down. Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim Sahib (rahmatullah alayh) was silent. Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) with a slight smile on his countenance said:
‘Humble and lowly people become my mureeds. You are the son of a Peer and a selected one. Why do you want to enter into bay’t with me?’
I was already awe-struck when I had entered his august presence. This statement further incapacitated my senses. I could only stammer:
‘Hadhrat, I am worse, more contemptible and useless than them (the humble folk).’
He responded: ‘Enough! Enough! Make Istikhaarah. I am coming to the Musjid.’
I proceeded immediately to the Musjid, made wudhu, performed two raka’ts and recited the Masnoon Istikhaarah Dua. On Hadhrat’s arrival he asked:
‘What is your opinion?’
I said: ‘My opinion is the same. Accept me in your subjection (ghulaami).’
Incidentally, Molvi Muhammad Ishaaq Ambetwi who was the son of Brother Hameed Ali who was studying by Hadhrat, was also present, waiting for the initiation. Hadhrat (rahmatullah alayh) instructed us both to repent. Thereafter he initiated us into the System of Subjection (i.e. accepted them as his mureeds). All praise is for Allah for that bounty.”
During the same time an offer of employment from Bhopal came for Hadhrat Maulana Yaqْb (rahmatullah alayh) for a salary of 300 rupees a month. Much pressure was put on him to accept this offer. However, inspite of him earning at that time 30 rupees per month, he declined the offer. He was then pressed to send another reliable person to take up the post. Hadhrat Maulana Yaqْb (rahmatullah alayh) sent his nephew, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh). Thus, by the choice of his honourable uncle and on the approval of Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh), he left during the year 1293 Hijri to take up the post in Bhopal at the salary of 50 rupees per month.
His residence was in the mansion of Madaarul Mahaam and every arrangement was made for his comfort and wants. However, the spiritual effulgence which he had experienced in the former place (viz. Sahaaranpْr/Deoband) was lacking here in Bhopal. Furthermore, the weather did not agree with him. Maulana Khalil Saharanpْri (rahmatullah alayh), therefore handed in his resignation to his Shaikh, Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) and requested permission to return. The reply which Hadhrat Maulana Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) wrote is recorded in Tadhkiratul Khalil. It is reproduced here.
“Brother Molvi Khalil Ahmad Sahib! May your fuyoodh (spiritual grace and benefit) endure for a long time. Your letter was received today. In view of the weather there not agreeing with you, your return is necessary. Relocating on account of the weather is confirmed by the Hadith. However, since it involves livelihood, the matter is somewhat delicate. Therefore, until alternative arrangements are not made, leaving is not appropriate. It is, therefore, advisable to stay there for a while. You were much in demand in Muraadabaad. However, Molvi Abdul Haq Pْri has now taken up the post there, but he is unable to fulfil his duties as are required. If it becomes advisable, I shall endeavour (to acquire a post for you) there or elsewhere. I shall inform you after arrangements are made, Insha’Allah.
18th Rabiul Awwal, 1293 Hijri.”
In accordance with the instructions of Hadhrat Maulana Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh), he (Maulana Khalil) stayed on in Bhopal until the Hajj season dawned. The urge to go for Hajj became over-powering. Hadhrat Maulana Khalil was granted leave. He also received a few months salary in advance. Although this money was not sufficient, his enthusiasm impelled him to proceed. This episode is described in detail in Tadhkiratul Khalil.
On reaching Makkah Mukarramah, he presented himself at the home of Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah (rahmatullah alayh). The pleasure of Anwaar-e-Baatiniyyah (spiritual light) there was most wonderful. This was the first Hajj of Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh). It has been discussed in great detail in Tadhkiratul Khalil.
After completing Hajj, his intention was to proceed to Madinah Munawwarah. However, the road to Madinah was dangerous. Even those people who had already commenced the journey to Madinah were returning because of the danger. Anarchy, strife and killing were rampant. Hadhrat Haji Sahib said:
“Molvi Khalil Ahmad, what is your intention? I have heard the Hujjaaj are returning home in large numbers on account of the danger and unsafety of the road to Madinah.”
Maulana Khalil Ahmad replied:
“Hadhrat, I have resolved to go to Madinah Tayyibah. The appointed time of maut cannot be delayed anywhere. If it comes in this Road (to Madinah), what greater fortune does a man wish for? It is by the grace of Allah Ta’ala that he has brought me thus far. If now, I abandon the journey to Madinah on account of the fear for death, then who can be more unfortunate than me?”
Hadhrat Haji Sahib’s face brightened up with pleasure, and he commented:
“Enough! Enough! For you the advice is that you should certainly go. Insha’Allah, you will reach.”
Thus, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil took leave and set out for Madinah Munawwarah. He said:
“Only I know of the great peace and comfort I experienced along the journey. I stayed about two weeks in the sacred precincts and reached home safely.”
In this journey, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) received authorisation in Hadith from Shaikhul Haram Maulana Shaikh Ahmad Dahlan and from Shaikhul Masha-ikh Hadhrat Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddid Naqhshabandi Dehlawi who had taken up residence in Madinah. This is recorded in detail in the beginning of Musalsalaat. The authorisation from Shaikh Ahmad Dahlan was acquired in Makkah Mukarramah while that of Hadhrat Shah Abdul Ghani was obtained in Madinah Munawwarah after Hajj in the year 1294.
After returning from Hajj, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) had no intention of returning to Bhopal because the weather conditions there were not favourable. After staying a few days in his hometown, Ambheta, he left in Jamaadil Ula, 1294, for Sikanderaabaad in the district of Balandshahr where he took up a post as Mudarris in Madrasah Arabiya Jaami’ Musjid.
However, here the people of Bid’ah vehemently opposed him. They left no stone unturned to harm him, hence he sought permission from Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) to return. However, Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) refused permission and wrote the following letter:
“Molvi Khalil Ahmad Sahib, Assalaamu Alaikum warahmatullah wa barakatuhu!
Your letter has been received and contents noted. Do not permit the latest developments to alarm you. In this world occur events which please and displease. Continue with your mission. If the opponent is bent on harming you, then know that the Supporter is protecting you.
As far as possible, do not resort to abandonment. … It is better to keep all happy. Perhaps it will prove beneficial. Allah Ta’ala said:
“Thus, because of the mercy of Allah, you are affectionate towards them.”
However, there is no hope that this sect (viz. Ahl-e-Bid’ah) will become pleased, especially when they are exhorted by their lecturers (to oppose you).
Friday, 16 Jamadith Thaani 1294”
However, despite the affection and affability shown by Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Sahib, the intransigence of the people there went on increasing, hence with the permission of Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh), he handed in his resignation and returned.
In that very year, 1294, in the month of Shawwaal an august group consisting of the Akaabir of Hindustan departed for Hajj. In this group were the illustrious stars of Knowledge and Piety, viz. Hadhrat Gangohi, Hadhrat Nanotwi, Hadhrat Maulana Mazhar, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yaqْb (Chief Mudarris of Daarul Uloom Deoband) as well as other senior Ulama. Although Hadhrat Saharanpْri (Maulana Khalil – rahmatullah alayh) had a great desire and wish to accompany this august caravan of seniors, Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) did not consent on account of some difficulties regarding travelling arrangements. Moreover, because Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Sahib had just returned from Hajj. This illustrious group returned from Hajj in the month of Rabiul Awwal 1295.
On their return, a letter from Molvi Shamsuddin, Chief Justice of Bhawalpْr, was awaiting Maulana Muhammad Yaqْb Sahib. The letter was a request for a very highly qualified Ustaad. Many qualities were stipulated in the letter. The Ustaad had to be a young man, extremely intelligent, an expert in all branches of Knowledge, an embodiment of virtue and character, who could be an exemplar for students, etc. Hadhrat Maulana Yaqْb (rahmatullah alayh) selected Maulana Khalil Ahmad for this post.
Hadhrat would often say that he had declined the offer, saying that he was not adequately qualified. However, Maulana Muhammad Yaqْb (rahmatullah alayh) said:
“The Ahl-e-Ilm (the Ulama) usually consider themselves in this way (i.e. that they are not adequately qualified). You consider yourself unqualified because you still have your seniors above you. However, when you go outside you will not find anyone as qualified as yourself.”
Finally, by the unanimous opinion of Hadhrat Maulana Yaqْb (rahmatullah alayh) and Hadhrat Maulana Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh), Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) took up the post in Bhawalpْr for a monthly salary of 30 rupees.
While he was in Bhawalpْr, he undertook a second Hajj journey which he, himself describes in his Biyaadh. This journey is also described in Tadhkaratul Khalil. It took place in the month of Shawwaal 1297. The year 1296 mentioned in Tadhkaratur Rashid is a printing error.
It was on this blessed journey that Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah (rahmatullah alayh) bestowed the mantle of Khilaafate to Hadhrat Saharanpْri (rahmatullah alayh) and presented his mubarak amaamah (turban). This is mentioned in the second volume of Tadhkaratur Rashid as follows:
“When the honourable Maulana went on Hajj the second time to Makkah Muazzamah, Imaam-e-Rabbani (Maulana Gangohi) wrote to Haji Sahib (Haji Imdadullah) requesting him to confer the mantle of Khilaafat to Molvi Khalil Ahmad Sahib.
On seeing Maulana, Hadhrat Haji Sahib became extremely happy. During Muharram 1297 he presented the document of Khilaafat adorned with his seal and in a state of elation he removed his blessed turban from his head and placed it on Maulana’s head.
The honourable Maulana presented both gifts to Imaam-e-Rabbani and said:
‘I am not deserving of these. This is only your affection and grace for me.’
Hadhrat Gangohi replied:
‘May these be blessed for you. He then signed the Khilaafat Naamah (Document of Khilaafat) and handed it together with the turban to Maulana Sahib.
The respect of Maulana Khalil was such that whenever he would initiate (make bay’t of) a Mureed, he would instruct him (the Mureed), after having made taubah for past sins, to say:
‘I have made bay’t to Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Sahib on the hands of Khalil Ahmad.’ ”
In this narrative, the date Muharram 1297 is a printing error. Hadhrat’s departure for Hajj was in Shawwaal 1297.
The turban mentioned above, is the same blessed turban which Hadhrat Saharanpْri (rahmatullah alayh) presented to my father, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yahya Sahib (rahmatullah alayh) on the occasion of the bestowal of the mantle of Khilaafat to him. This episode is narrated by Maulana shiq Ilahi Sahib in Tadhkaratul Khalil. He writes:
“Molvi Muhammad Yahya Sahib marhoom was my benefactor and sincere friend. His hidden excellencies and auspicious states require a separate volume. After all, he must have been a somebody for Imaam-e-Rabbani to love more than his own offspring. Hadhrat Rabbani (i.e. Maulana Gangohi) often said that he was the staff of old age and the eyes of the blind.
Occasionally if he (Maulana Muhammad Yahya) would disappear for a few minutes for some work, Imaam-e-Rabbani would become perturbed and restless. He spent twelve years in such love and affection which cannot be explained. This endured until the demise of Hadhrat Imaam-e-Rabbani.
Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) whose foresight had discerned the worth and value of Maulana Muhammad Yahya twelve years ago, went specially to Gangoh to present the turban which Murshidul Arab wal Ajam (i.e. Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah) had presented to him. On this occasion while placing the mubaarak amaamah on Maulana Muhammad Yahya’s head with his blessed hands, he said:
‘You are deserving of this. Until this day I was its protector and trustee. Alhamdulillah! Today, I have handed the haq (right) to the rightful one and am now relieved of the responsibility of this amaanat (trust). I authorise you to initiate any seeker into the four Silsilahs and to show him the Name of Allah.’”
The third and all subsequent Hajj journeyes of Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) were undertaken from Sahaaranpْr. The third Hajj was after the heart-rending demise of Hadhrat Qutub-e-lam Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh). Consolation for the immense grief which he suffered as a result of this event could be obtained only from his presence at the Holy Grave of Rasulullah (صلى الله عايه وسالم).
His fourth Hajj was in 1328. In this year Hadhrat Aqdas Shah Abdur Raheem (rahmatullah alayh) went for Hajj accompanied by a large group of his khuddaam (mureeds) and companions. Hadhrat Saharanpْri accompanied Hadhrat Aqdas Raipuri (i.e. Hadhrat Abdur Raheem) as far as Delhi. On his return from Delhi, Janab Shah Zahid Husain Sahib of Bahat prevailed on Hadhrat Saharanpْri to also proceed for Hajj. He said that he too would accompany Hadhrat. Perhaps this insistence was the effect of the yearning and enthusiasm which over-whelmed the heart of Hadhrat Saharanpْri as a consequence of the departure of Hadhrat Raipْri (rahmatullah alayh). Hence, he accepted the offer after much pressure was brought on him to do so by Shah Zahid Husain. Thus, he departed from Sahaaranpْr during the middle of Thil Qa’dh and reached Makkah Mukarramah on 6th Thil Hajj.
After Hajj he went to Madinah Munawwarah via the route of Yamboo’. He stayed 22 days there. He returned to Sahaaranpْr at the end of Safar 1329.
The fifth Hajj was a momentous occasion which took place in Shawwaal 1332 in the company of Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind (rahmatullah alayh). However, he did not obtain the companionship of Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind (rahmatullah alayh) from the beginning of the journey. However, a week before the journey, four illustrious personalities gathered for top-secret discussions in the library of Mazaahirul Uloom. These august personalities were Hadhrat Saharanpْri, Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind, Hadhrat Aqdas Shah Abdur Raheem Raipْri and Maulana Al-Haj Hakeem Ahmad Rampْri (rahmatullah alayhim). No one else besides these four was allowed to participate in the talks
For a full week these discussions continued in privacy. Daily after Ishraaq Salaat, they would go into privacy. At midday word would repeatedly come from the home of Hadhrat Saharanpْri to announce that meals were ready.
They would reply: “We are coming.” They would descend from upstairs just before Zuhr Athaan and after quickly having their meals, perform Zuhr Salaat, then immediately seclude themselves to continue their talks until after the Athaan of Asr. After Asr there would be no majlis (gathering at which Deeni instructions was imparted). However, sometimes after Maghrib there would be a majlis.
Everyone was curious to know what transpired at such lengthy and secret talks which lasted for a whole week, but no one had any inkling.
At the time, I was a child. I would ask every senior about these talks. My father had some idea what these discussions were about. He, therefore, made some allusions which would satisfy my curiosity.
During the absence of Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind (rahmatullah alayh), the responsibility of his duties was assumed by Hadhrat Raipْri (rahmatullah alayh).
Although these personalities held high aspirations (this is a reference to their Jihaad Plan for unshackling India from British imperialism – Translator), Allah’s Decree did not permit their attainment.
In Makkah, on account of the excesses and oppression of Shareef Husain (the Turkish governor of Hijaaz), Hadhrat Saharanpْri was compelled to return before Hajj during Shawwaal 1334, while Hadhrat Aqdas Shaikhul Hind (rahmatullah alayh) was imprisoned and exiled to Malta (by the British government).
Although in Tadhkaratul Khalil it is mentioned that Hadhrat Saharanpْri returned from this journey in Shawwaal, he in fact departed from Makkah Mukarramah at the end of Shawwaal and his ship reached Bombay on the 8th Thil Qa’dh. As he disembarked from the ship he was handed the telegram announcing the demise of my honourable father, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yahya (rahmatullah alayh). This news aggravated the grief he suffered as a result of the difficult events which transpired in the year of his residency in Makkah Mukarramah.
To compound all this, as he alighted from the ship, he along with his wife and brother, Haji Maqbool Ahmad Sahib who was Hadhrat’s right-hand man, were taken into custody. The three together with their luggage were taken to Nanitaal. The episode of their prolonged interrogation which lasted several days is quite lengthy. Finally, by the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala, they were released.
His sixth Hajj took place in 1338. He left from Sahaaranpْr on 2nd Sha’baan. I too accompanied him on this journey. There was some delay in Bombay regarding embarkation because the retinue of Hadhrat’s companions was approximately 300 and Hadhrat disliked to embark without all his companions. Two ships sailed without them since passage for the entire group was not available on any one of these. Tickets for the entire group were purchased well in advance on a third ship.
Those were very difficult days in Bombay where it was extremely difficult for Deobandis to live publicly. Some sincere friends had, therefore, arranged accommodation for the group in a tent pitched in the veld on the outskirts. Finally, they reached Makkah Mukarramah on the 11th of Ramadhaanul Mubarak.
Inspite of Hadhrat’s weakness and dizziness as a result of the ship’s rocking, he himself conducted the Taraaweeh Salaat while standing. He would recite half Juz in 8 raka’ts and another quarter Juz in the remaining 12 raka’ts was recited by me. On reaching Makkah Mukarramah, Hadhrat performed Taraaweeh behind a highly qualified Qaari who recited two Juz nightly. This recitation was from the beginning. In addition, Hadhrat would recite his own Qur’aan in Nafl Salaat.
When Hadhrat reached Makkah Mukarramah, Hadhrat Maulana Muhibbuddin Muhajir-e-Makki who was among the Khulafaa of Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah (rahmatullah alayh), and who was a great Saahib-e-Kashf (one who receives divine inspiration), while embracing him (Hadhrat Saharanpْri) said:
“Maulana, why have you come here? The greater Qiyaamah is about to be enacted here. Return immediately to Hindustan after Ramadhaan.”
Hadhrat said to us (his companions):
“It was my intention to take up residence in Madinah Tayyibah, but Maulana Muhibbuddin Sahib vehemently forbids it. I have already visited Madinah Tayyibah several times. Since this is your first Hajj and it is not known if you will again get this opportunity, therefore, proceed to Madinah.”
The times were so unsafe and dangerous that before Hajj some people would hazard the trip to Madinah and after Hajj a very few would venture to Madinah. Neither life nor property was safe.
The government of Shareef Husain had no control beyond the confines of Makkah. Killing and plundering were rampant. Only three-day visas were granted to stay in Madinah Tayyibah. If anyone wished to stay more than three days, a daily fee of one guinea (gold coin) had to be paid to the Bedouin in charge of the caravan. But this extended stay was possible only with the consent of the Bedouin.
A few of us khuddaam (servants/companions), with the blessings of Hadhrat and the mercy and grace of Allah, finally reached Madinah Tayyibah, travelling clandestinely, initially along the coast, then through the valleys of Mount Ghaa-ir. The story of this journey is indeed long and interesting.
One of the manifestations of the innumerable bounties and grace of Allah Ta’ala, which have always been with this humble one (Hadhrat Shaikh Zakariyyah – Translator), was that instead of three days, I was able to stay 40 days in Madinah Tayyibah. This is truly an example of the bounties stated in the Qur’aanic aayat:
“And, if you count the bounties of Allah, never will you be able to enumerate them.”
On reaching Madinah, one of the camels of our caravan died on account of sheer exhaustion. Neither did the jammaal (owners of the camel) have sufficient funds to purchase another mount, nor did we possess enough money to advance a loan with which another camel could be purchased. Hadhrat Saharanpْri had calculated our expenses for the journey and for a three-day stay in Madinah. Thus, we were given sufficient money only for this. The rest of our funds were left in the safe custody of the trader, Haji Ali Jan.
Whenever the jammaal would ask us for a loan to enable him to purchase a camel, we would ask him for a loan to buy food, saying that we had made arrangements for only three days. May Allah Ta’ala grant him a good reward. The poor man repeatedly presented excuses for the delay. When one of our associates would sometimes complain to the Ameer of Madinah, he too would apologise and instruct us to be patient. He would also threaten the Bedouin (in charge of our caravan).
The stay of this journey is very interesting and wonderful. But, it is not my intention to write my autobiography here. I have simply digressed from my topic and wrote these few lines.
After Hajj we returned with Hadhrat Saharanpْri. Hadhrat reached Sahaaranpْr during Safar 1339.
The seventh Hajj was the journey in which Hadhrat bid a final farewell to Hindustan. On the insistence of the Khuddam of Hyderabaad, it was arranged for Hadhrat to stay over, one week in Hyderabaad. The departure from Sahaaranpْr for Hyderabaad was on 16th Shawwaal 1344.
It was also agreed that I accompany Hadhrat as far as Hyderabaad. However, at the station, precisely at the moment of departure after taking up seats, it was discovered that Hadhrat’s main item of luggage was left behind in his room. This suitcase contained all his amaanaat (items of trust) as well as the funds for the journey. I, therefore, had to return as the train departed. I reached Hyderabaad the next day with Hadhrat’s suitcase.
After staying about a week in Hyderabaad, Hadhrat left for Bombay. According to plan, the rest of the companions together with Ammajee (his wife) left from Sahaaranpْr directly for Bombay on the 23rd Shawwaal while Hadhrat departed from Hyderabaad at 9 a.m. on Saturday 25th Shawwaal. He reached Bombay on Sunday morning.
From Bombay, the ship sailed on the 7th Thil Qa’dh. The ship docked on the 17th at Kamraan, and sailed from there on the 18th, reaching Jiddah on the 21st. From Jiddah the journey to Makkah Mukarramah was by camels. The party reached Makkah Mukarramah on the 25th.
Hadhrat had rented a house in a narrow street opposite Baab-e-Ibrahim. Hadhrat together with three or four Khaadims stayed in this house.
On the 8th we left for Mina. Hadhrat and Ammajee were on one camel. Some other close companions were nearby on other camels. Some of us, Khuddaam, walked on foot alongside Hadhrat’s camel. In Mina we stayed in the tent of the Mutawwif. One tent was for the ladies, in which Ammajee and a khaadimah (female companion) stayed. In another tent, Hadhrat and we, the khuddaam stayed. After completing the Hajj, the stay in Makkah Mukarramah was for a few days. It was then decided to proceed to Madinah. On the 22nd Thil Hajj, Tabrez started. A few camels at a time would leave and stop over at Jarwal.
Tabrez is a well-known practice associated with travel by camel-caravan. The caravan halts for a night about a mile or two outside Makkah. The purpose for this halt is to enable people to return to Makkah to bring any goods or persons left behind. The actual journey commences after this halt at Tabrez. Nowadays, in view of modern transport, people are no longer aware of the practice of Tabrez.
The departure was planned for the 24th, but the government confiscated 23 camels. This resulted in a delay of two days. Therefore, we left two days later after Asr Salaat at 9 o’ clock Arabic time from Jarwal. Some had left and performed Asr Salaat in Tan’eem. At 6 o’ clock, Arabic time, we reached Waadi Faatimah where there were many orchards of very tall date trees. There was also a small stream of very sweet water. We bathed in the stream and ate of the dates.
From here we left at Zuhr on Thursday and reached Asfaan on Friday morning at 12 o’ clock, Arabic time. The camels of the caravan trailed in until 2 o’ clock, Arabic time. Here was a well. It is said that the saliva of Rasulullah (صلى الله عايه وسالم) had mingled in the water of this well. Here were many scattered date trees. There were no orchards. There were also several wells, the water of which was very sweet. Dates, fowls, goats and sheep were in abundance and very cheap.
We left Asfaan at 8 o’ clock Arabic time. We accomplished the long and arduous mountain climb before Maghrib and reached Daf at 6 o’ clock Arabic time on Saturday night. However, on account of the steep mountain climb, the camels trailed in until 9 o’ clock at night. Here too, dates were in abundance. Delicious bread was being sold very cheaply. Milk too, was available in abundance.
We departed from here after Asr Salaat and reached Qadeemah on Sunday morning at 9 o’ clock Arabic time. Qadeemah was a big town where government offices, officials and police were much in view. The different routes from Makkah converged here. Also, those coming from Jiddah would converge here.
There was a shortage of water and the available water was brack.
After Zuhr Salaat at 6 o’ clock, we left and reached Raabigh at 2 o’ clock Arabic time in the morning on Monday. Raabigh was quite a big city. However, on account of war between the Najdis and Shareef, the city was destroyed and desolate. Nevertheless, there was a market-place catering for needs. Some traders here performed a postal service. For a fee would they deliver letters for Yamboo and Jiddah to the post office. All caravans stopped here compulsorily for one night.
We departed from Raabigh Tuesday evening after Asr at 9 o’ clock Arabic time and reached Mastْrah on Wednesday morning at 12 o’ clock. Generally, all the wells were very brack. Whatever was cooked with this well-water also became bitter. However, with the barkat of Hadhrat we located very sweet water. It was learnt that the government had just recently dug a few wells from which sweet water was obtainable by the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala. This water was sweeter than the water of even Raabigh and Qadeemah.
Wednesday evening at 9 o’ clock after Asr we departed and reached Bir-e-Shaikh on Thursday morning at 11 o’ clock Arabic time. Although there existed a market-place, milk was not available.
After Asr we left and reached Bir-e-Banil Hassaan on Friday at the time of Sahri. This place was also called Bir-e-Shaikh Abdullah at the time. It is said that Hasaan was a famous chief who had seven children. He was very wealthy. This settlement is named after him. Several roads from here lead to Madinah Tayyibah. Some caravans accomplish this journey in three manzils (halts), while others do it in four manzils.
The caravan of Hadhrat left Bir-e-Hassaan on Friday after Zuhr Salaat and reached Ghals on Saturday morning, leaving again after Zuhr Salaat. On Sunday morning the caravan reached Fareesh. The various caravans had all gathered here.
From Fareesh we left during the evening of Sunday and reached Madinah Munawwarah (May Allah increase it in dignity and honour) on Monday at the time of Chaasht. If Thil Qa’dh had 30 days, then the date on this day would have been the 8th Muharram and if Thil Qa’dh had 29 days, the date would be the 9th Muharram. Azeezul Hasan Kandhalwi Marhoom whose camel had separated from our caravan, halting at other places, writes in his Biyaadh that the date of arrival in Madinah Tayyibah was the 19th July, Monday morning. In Taqweemul Aam, the date of arrival is said to be the 19th July corresponding with the 8th Muharram on Tuesday. However, in Arabia a difference of a day in the dates is common, hence the 19th July corresponds with the 8th Muharram (Tuesday) in Arabia.
Hadhrat Aqdas Maulana Al-Haj Sayyid Ahmad (the elder brother of Shaikhul Islam Hadhrat Maulana Sayyid Husain Ahmad Madani (rahmatullah alayh) had rented a house in Madrasah Shariyyah Qadeem. Qadeem is mentioned here in relation to the present new building which was erected as a consequence of the great changes and re-development schemes during the Saudi regime. The old (qadeem) Madrasah building was a very simple and appealing structure. Its main portal was located on the main road facing Baabun Nisaa. The small door was on the southern side opening into a narrow street.
The ground floor of this house was taken up by Hadhrat Maulana Sayyid Ahmad Sahib. Hadhrat Saharanpْri occupied the second floor where he wrote the kitaab, Bazlul Majhood. The third floor was occupied by the females of Hadhrat Maulana Sayyid Ahmad. Adjacent to this, towards the side of Baabun Nisaa was the residence of the Hadhrat Saharanpْri’s females.
After Ishraaq Salaat, Hadhrat Saharanpْri (rahmatullah alayh) would go to the room where he would write his kitaab and remain there for a few hours in complete solitude engrossed in writing Bazlul Majhood. He would thereafter have his meals in the same room. The food of Hadhrat would come from his home and from upstairs would come the food of Hadhrat Maulana Sayyid Ahmad Sahib. I was regarded as their guest by both these seniors, hence I would participate in their meals. This became apparent when once during my year-long stay I could not join them for meals due to a severe fever. Meals would be sent to me by both seniors separately, after Zuhr, on a regular basis. Throughout the duration of the year’s stay, I did not have to make my own arrangements for food.
After meals, Hadhrat would go to the zanaanah (the quarters occupied by his females). After a short nap (qailْlah), he would leave for Musjid-e-Nabawi before Zawwaal (midday). The Zuhr Athaan would be announced soon after Zawwaal. Hadhrat would engage in tilaawat of the Qur’aan Shareef for about an hour from a few minutes after Zuhr Salaat. Thereafter, he would be occupied studying (the book) Wafaa-ul Wafaa. After Asr Salaat, he would proceed to the home of Maulana Sayyid Ahmad Sahib (rahmatullah alayh) on the ground floor and remain there until Maghrib.
Here (at the home of Maulana Sayyid Ahmad Sahib), Hadhrat would keep his majlis which would be open to the public. Both local residents and foreigners coming for Ziyaarat attended the majlis. On these occasions Hadhrat Maulana Sayyid Sahib took great delight serving green tea to all present.
During Rabiul Awwal 1345, Hadhrat Abdul Qadir Raipْri (rahmatullah alayh) arrived in Madinah Tayyibah with a few of his close associates. Despite his illness, he would regularly attend Hadhrat Saharanpْri’s majlis after Asr. However, some of Hadhrat Raipْri’s associates would not attend. In this regard Hadhrat Raipْri one day complained to Hadhrat Saharanpْri:
“Hadhrat, insensitivity is predominating. Firstly, these people (referring to his associates) should have realised that when I am attending regularly, they too should ensure their attendance. Secondly, I have even reprimanded them for their absence.”
Hadhrat Saharanpْri (rahmatullah alayh) responded forcefully:
“Hadhrat, never! I feel highly embarrassed in this (i.e. in any attempt to canvass others to attend his bayaan). I never exhorted anyone to become bay’t to my Shaikh (Hadhrat Qutb-e-lam Gangohi). I consider my Shaikh to be the Sun (of spiritual guidance and illumination). Whoever is not keen to derive celestial illumination from him, is the loser himself.”
Hadhrat then pointing to me said:
“It is the habit of this father and son (referring to myself and my father) to cling to the person who offers even the slightest attention to them.”
In fact, I had for several days repeatedly requested Hadhrat:
“Hadhrat, a certain person is very sincere. Although he is devoted to Hadhrat, he completely abstains from thikr and shaghl. Hadhrat should write instructing him to observe thikr.”
Each time Hadhrat’s response would be:
“When he asks, I will instruct. Why should I show him when he does not enquire?”
A day before the episode of Hadhrat Raipْri, I said to Hadhrat Saharanpْri (rahmatullah alayh):
“If you permit, I shall myself write to that person (i.e. the sincere devotee referred to above).”
“Don’t write anything on my behalf. You may write whatever you wish.”
As mentioned earlier, on arrival in Madinah Tayyibah, Hadhrat engrossed himself in the completion of his Kitaab, Bazlul Majhood which had reached the forth volume prior to arrival in Madinah Tayyibah. On reaching Madinah Tayyibah, Hadhrat commenced with Kitaabul Janaa-iz. In the beginning of the manuscript of Bazlul Majhood written in Madinah Tayyibah, the following is recorded:
“13th Muharram 1345 Hijri, Saturday in Madinah Munawwarah.”
The solitude which Hadhrat experienced, coupled to the barakaat of Madinah Tayyibah enabled him to complete one and a half volumes in 7½ months. Three and a half volumes of Bazlul Majhood were completed in approximately 9½ years while one and a half volumes were accomplished in 7½ months. The work was written in Maulana Sayyid Ahmad’s room as mentioned earlier. But for the acquisition of barkat, its completion was rendered in Musjidun Nabawi in the blessed place known as Raudhatum min Riyaadhil Jannat (a Garden from the Gardens of Jannat). Thus, at the end of Bazlul Majhood Hadhrat wrote:
“With the taufeeq and strength granted by Allah Ta’ala, it has been accomplished in Madinah Munawwarah, in Raudhatum min Riyaadhil Jannat near to the Grave of the Leader of the progeny of dam, the Leader of creation and the universe, on the 21st Sha’baan 1345 from the migration of Nabiyyul Ameen. O Allah! Accept it from us as you accept from Your close and pious servants. Make it purely for your Gracious Sake and forgive us for our sins, errors and acts which are not pleasing to you. Verily, You are most forgiving and gracious. You are the Rabb Who is oft-forgiving and merciful.”
Hadhrat was overwhelmed with happiness on the completion of Bazlul Majhood. On the accomplishment of his work, Hadhrat entertained the Ulama of Madinah to a lavish feast. The invitation was printed in Arabic. The original invitation is together with the manuscript of Bazlul Majhood in the Madrasah library. It is reproduced hereunder:
Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem
All Praise is due unto Allah, The One. Salaat and Salaam be upon him after whom there will be no Nabi.
Honourable Hadhrat Shaikh ………
May your fuyoodh endure.
Assalaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
Allah Ta’ala has favoured the one who in extending this invitation, with the compilation of Bazlul Majhood which is the Sharah (commentary and elucidation) of Abu Dawood. He has granted its completion in the Holy City of Saahibul Mu’jizaat (the Performer of Miracles). May the choicest blessing be on him and his family. May Allah Ta’ala accept it for His Gracious Sake and may He permit Islam and the Muslimeen to derive benefit therefrom, Aameen.
Your presence is desired after Salaatul Juma’ on the 23rd Sha’baan 1345 at Madrasatul Uloomish Shariyyah to participate in meals in conclusion of my happiness. Your presence is being anticipated. Shukr unto Allah. Was-salaam.
Khaadim of the Talabah
The dotted lines are the space where the name of the invited person was written.
After the completion of Bazlul Majhood, the morning part which was formerly devoted to writing this Kitaab, as was explained earlier, was now utilized also for studying Wafaa-ul Wafaa and other books which had accumulated during Hadhrat’s stay in Madinah Tayyibah.
A few days later, the mubarak month of Ramadhaan commenced. During the holy month, Hadhrat would engage in tilawat after Ishraaq for a considerable time. Then after a short nap would he return to the Musjid before Zawwaal. He would return home after Zuhr. Ammajee, as well as myself would listen to Hadhrat’s Qur’aan. After Zuhr, I would present myself at Hadhrat’s place of residence at the appointed time.
According to the usual practice, Hadhrat would proceed after Asr to the residence of Hadhrat Maulana Sayyid Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh). He would leave for Musjid-e-Nabawi a short while before Maghrib and make iftaar there with dates and Zam Zam water. After Maghrib, Hadhrat would recite two juz in Nafl Salaat on the roof of Madrasah Uloom-e-Shariyyah and I would listen to his recitation. He would sit and perform this Nafl.
After performing Isha Salaat in Musjid-e-Nabawi, Hadhrat would return to the Madrasah and perform Taraaweeh behind Qaari Muhammad Taufeeq Sahib who recited two juz with utmost reverence and tranquillity. The Taraaweeh would end at 5 o’ clock Arabic time or 12:30 a.m.
He would then retire for a rest at about 6 o’ clock Arabic time (1:30 a.m.). I was instructed to wake him at 8 o’ clock Arabic time (3:30 a.m.). Besides one or two occasions, I cannot remember finding Hadhrat sleeping.
Thereafter Hadhrat would listen to two juz of two students of Madrasah Shariyyah. He would listen to them separately, following each student (in Nafl Salaat). Hadhrat was enthusiastic about listening to the Qiraat of Naafi’. Both these students were Maalikis and recited according to the Qiraat of Naafi’.
Towards the end of the Holy Month Hadhrat became affected with paralysis, hence he moved about with difficulty. The paralysis had in fact begun after accomplishment of Bazlul Majhood when he was afflicted with severe fever, colds, etc. But, as the result of the barkat of the Holy Month, these illnesses disappeared with the dawn of Ramadhaan Mubaarak. However, the illness reappeared two or three days before Eid and then paralysis set in. Sometimes the sickness would disappear and sometimes reappear. This pattern remained until the time of his demise.
In reality, Hadhrat health and strength were in the accomplishment of Bazlul Majhood. At the end of the Holy Month he experienced the effects of partial paralysis. This too, would sometime disappear, only to reappear later. Even on Eidul Fitr, the effect of the paralysis was predominant. He was, therefore, unable to attend the Eid Salaat in the Haram Shareef. However, later (after all had left for the Eid Salaat), he regained some strength. With the aid of a stick he limped towards the Musjid Shareef.
After we had returned from Madinah Tayyibah, Hadhrat would continue attending the Haram Shareef, albeit with some difficulty. In the month of Rabiuth Thaani 1346, the severity of his illness intensified. Fever, colds and paralysis increased. Sometimes, the sickness would lessen. When the severity of his illness increased he could not go to Musjid-e-Nabawi. However, when he felt somewhat better, he would go to the Musjid with the support of a stick and an assistant.
In the first week of Rabiuth Thaani 1346 he experienced a pain in the chest, which would disappear by massaging.
In the second week, on the request of some Ulama of Madinah, he opened the dars (class) of Abu Dawood Shareef after Asr at the residence of Maulana Sayyid Ahmad. After imparting lessons for two days, Saturday and Sunday, while returning from Zuhr Salaat on Monday, he mentioned that he was again experiencing pain on the chest. He added that he had felt a similar pain three or four days earlier, which disappeared within two or three hours after massaging. On reaching the house, he was massaged. At the time of Asr although the pain had decreased, the weakness did not permit him to go to the Haram Shareef. He performed Asr Salaat at home behind Molvi Sayyid Ahmad Sahib. Inspite of his weakness, he stood and performed Salaat.
His weakness increased and instead of feeling feverish he started to feel cold and perspired. He could not perform Maghrib standing. Even while sitting, he requested Molvi Sayyid Ahmad Sahib to perform the Salaat short and quickly. His condition deteriorated and he performed Isha Salaat sitting on the bed. He spent the night in restlessness reciting the Kalimah, Istighfaar and Durood. He did not get a wink of sleep.
Tuesday morning he again performed Fajr Salaat sitting on the bed. His perspiration and coldness went on increasing. It was clear that this morning was his last morning. Medication carried on during the day.
At the time of Zuhr he was overcome with so much weakness that he was unable to make wudhu. With tayammum he performed Salaat sitting on the bed. Thereafter, movement became very difficult.
By Asr time his condition had further deteriorated greatly. He performed Asr with much difficulty. By Maghrib he no longer had any strength to lift himself. The khuddaam performed their Salaat separately and were waiting in anticipation for Hadhrat to slightly recover for Maghrib Salaat. But Hadhrat’s relationship with the world was completely severed. Besides Paas Anfaas (this is a method of thikr by breathing), nothing else was discernible. He did not respond to any talk nor ask anything.
Twenty four hours had passed in complete silence and on Thursday 16th Rabiuth Thaani 1346 in Arabia, and 15th Rabiuth Thaani 1346 in India, Hadhrat reached his final destination proclaiming aloud ‘Allah! Allah!’ And, suddenly he closed his eyes and was silent.
Inspite of the short time available, the arrangements for burial were quickly accomplished. Sayyid Ahmad Tawwab Sahib gave the ghusl while Abus Saud handed on water. Molvi Sayyid Ahmad and Molvi Abdul Kareem assisted. The Janaazah was quickly prepared and was brought outside the Musjid Shareef and placed near the Baab-e-Jibraeel for the Janaazah Salaat. After Maghrib Salaat, Maulana Shaikh Tayyib, the Rector of Madrasah Shariyyah conducted the Janaazah Salaat. The Janaazah was thereafter taken to Jannatul Baqi (the qabrustan in close proximity to Musjidun Nabawi).
Inspite of the fact that because of little time available, the news of Hadhrat’s demise could not be disseminated, the crowd was so large that numerous people could not gain the opportunity to apply their shoulder to the Janaazah as much as they endeavoured to do so. In fact, it was considered a great boon to be able to simply touch the Janaazah.
Finally his celestial body which had dissolved and was consumed by the fire of Divine Love was assigned to the grave before Ishaa. That night was the night of extreme happiness, for Hadhrat had repeatedly expressed in both word and writing:
“Would that my sand (body) be mingled with the holy sand of Baqi.”
Al-hamdulillah! His wish was fulfilled.