Dr Abdullah Abbas Nadwi and His Works

Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi

Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi was an outstanding and prolific writer and scholar of Arabic Language and literature. He was a distinguished scholar, philosopher, a great writer, translator and an eminent critic of Arabic language and theology. He made valuable contributions in the field of Arabic language, literature, criticism, Quranic studies, Islamic theology etc.

Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi was born at Phulwari Sharif (Patna, Bihar) on 25 December 1925 in a Syed family (in the lineage of the Prophet – peace be upon him).

His father, Abdullah was a great Islamic scholar and expert of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) who used to teach the advocates in Patna. Also, taught in Madrasa Shamsl Huda, Patna. Later, he joined Imarat Shari’iya of Bihar and worked as Mufti also. He died on 24 November 1943 when Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi was only 19 and studying in Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow.

His Education and Academic Career

Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi received his primary education in his house under his father. Later in 1938 at the age of 13, he left for Lucknow where he was enrolled in Madrasa Qadeema Firangi Mahal. He stayed there for three years and studied under Maulana Samiul Haq, Mufti Muhamamd Ateeq. His elder brother, Maulana Nemat Imam, was also one of his teachers at this madrasa.

In 1939, he got admission in Nadwatul Ulama in 5th Arabic class. At Nadwatul Ulama, he studied under Maulana Ali Miyan Nadwi, Maulana Nazim Nadwi, Maulana Muhammad Zaman Khan, Maulana Abdus Salam Qidwai, Maulana Shah Haleem Ata, Maulana Hameedudin Faizabadi and others. He completed his education from Nadwatul Ulama in 1943 and became an erudite scholar of Arabic and Islamic Studies.

Having completed his graduation from Nadwah, he joined Idara Talimat-e-Islam Lucknow and then in a madrasa in Rahimabad, Lucknow. In 1950, he was employed by Nadwatul Ulama as teacher where he taught the books of Arabic literature, Tafseer, Hadith, Fiqh, History etc.

In 1950, he visited Saudi Arabia with Maulana Ali Miyan Nadwi and stayed there for one year. He contributed articles to various newspapers and magazines and established contacts with the scholars and men of letters. Then, he returned to India in 1951 and was appointed as Adib Awwal in Nadwatul Ulama. He held the post for four years during which he wrote different books and treatises in Urdu and Arabic.

During 1956-1962, he shifted to Saudi Arabia and joined Saudi Radio’s eastern broadcastings. In 1962 when the World Muslim League (Rabitah) was established, the then Secretary General Shaykh Muhammad Suroor al-Saban asked his to join Rabita. Here he spend five years as head of three departments; minority, organizations and translations departments. During his stay in Saudi Arabia, he was in close contacts with the Arab Ulama and scholars, especially with Shaykh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz.

In the year1963, he left for England. He stayed mostly in London, but travelled across the length and breadth of Europe from Italy to France, Holland and Germany. In 1964, he took admission in Leeds University. He took second Master’s degree in Arabic and was registered as Ph.D. research scholar. Dr Abdullah Abbas Nadwi was awarded Ph.D. degree in 1967 on his work ‘Philosophy of Linguistics’. He returned from London in 1968 to Jeddah and then sent on a religious mission to Korea, Philippine and Singapore.

The Secretary General of World Muslim League (Rabitah), Shaykh Salih al-Qazzaz appointed Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi Editor of English mouthpiece of WML ‘Rabitah’ from Makkah in 1972. Meanwhile, he served as lecturer at King Abdul Aziz University Jeddah and later in Ummul Qura University Makkah. He was an advisor of World Muslim League and a member of Linguistic Society of Cambridge, England. In 1976, he was honoured with Saudi nationality.

He was appointed as Mu’tamad Talim of Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow after the demise of Maulana Abdus Salam Qidwai in 1980. He held this post for twenty five yearsand played key role in the administrative and academic activities of Nadwah.

He was on the editorial board of monthly ‘Zikr w Fikr’ published from New Delhi in 1986 with Prof Khaliq Ahmad Nizami and Syed Sabahuddin. In 1997, he convened an international and historic Conference against Qadiyanis in Nadwatul Ulama which was attended by the Imams of the Holy Mosque of Makkah and other senior Arab Ulama.

Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi was mostly ill and bedridden during 2001-2006. He died after long illness in Jeddah on 1 January 2006. The funeral prayer was performed in the Holy Mosque of Makkah on first day of Dhu al-Hijjah 1426 AH during the prime time of Hajj. He was buried in the blessed Jannat al-Mu’alla graveyard.

Dimensions of His Stalwart Personality

Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi was not only a scholar, master of different international languages, but he was a skilled teacher, prolific writer, proficient translator and thoughtful philosopher.

He was the most outstanding figure from Nadwatul Ulama after his teacher Maulana Ali Miyan al-Nadwi. He was deputed by Maulana Nadwi to receive the prestigious Faisal Award in Riyadh in 1980 and later he represented Maulana Nadwi in the Mumbai Conference of All India Muslim Personal Law Board in 1999. In 2000, he received another posthumous award ‘Wisam’ to Maulana Nadwi in Morocco.

Spiritually, Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi was attached to Maulana Abdul Qadir Raipuri and Shaikhul Hadith Maulana Zakariya. He was impressed by Maulana Ilyas Kandhlawi, Maulana Ahmad Ali Lahori, Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani and Maulana Yusuf Kandhlawi.

He served at Nadwatul Ulama as teacher of Arabic and Islamic Sciences, Adib Awwal and Mu’tamad Talim. He spent a good part of his life in Saudi Arabia as Director of Eastern Broadcastings in Saudi Radio, Director of Islamic Organizations and Minorities in World Muslim League and Editor of English monthly ‘Rabitah’ of WML. Meanwhile he served as Lecturer of Arabic language and literature at Ummur Qura University Makkah. Also, he was a member of Linguistic Society of Cambridge (England).

Dr Abdullah Abbas Nadwi and His Works on Quran

He wrote nearly two dozen important books in Arabic, Urdu and English languages. His all works are hereunder:

1.        Nizam al-Lughat al-Urdiyah                            Arabic
2.        Asas al-Lughat al-Arabia                                 Arabic
3.        Duroos al-Atfal                                                Arabic
4.        Chand din Dyar Ghair mein                             Urdu
5.        Asan Fiqh                                                         Urdu
6.        Arabi mein Natiya Kalam                                Urdu
7.        Tafhim al-Mantiq                                            Urdu
8.        Paighambar Akhlaq w Insaniyat                      Urdu
9.        Tarikh Tadwin Sirat                                         Urdu
10.    Aftab Nubuwwa ki Kirnain                               Urdu
11.    Mir Karwan                                                      Urdu
12.    NIgarishat  (collection of articles)                  Urdu
13.    Rida-e-Rahmat                                                Urdu
14.    NIzam Mu’asharat                                           Urdu
15.    Rooh Kayinat w Fazail Durood                        Urdu
16.    Tabsira wa Jayiza                                            Urdu
17.    Kulliyat ‘Arif (collection of poetry)                  Urdu
18.    Safar Nama-e-Hayat                                        Urdu
19.    Mushahadat w Waridat                                  Urdu
20.    Mashahir w Mu’asirin                                     Urdu
21.    Safarname

His outstanding books on Quran and Quranic sciences are the most precious assets of his academic life. He wrote numerous books on Quranic sciences. They are:

  1. Al-Mazahib al-Mukhtalifa fi al-Tafsir                         Arabic
  2. Tarjmat Ma’ani al-Quran wa Tawaturu Fahmihi…                  Arabic
  3. Sharh Kitab al-Nukat fi A’jaz al-Quran                                    Arabic
  4. Ta’allum Lughat al-Quran al-Karim                                        Arabic
  5. Qamus Alfaz al-Quran al-Karim                                              Arabic & English
  6. Asas al-Takrar fi al-Quran                                                      Arabic
  7. Quran Karim: Tarikh Insaniyat ka sab se bada Mujizah         Urdu

Moreover, he translated several works of Maulana Ali Miyan al-Nadwi and others from into Urdu language. The renowned book of Maulana Nadwi ‘Ma za Khasir al-Alam bi Inhitat al-Muslimin’ was translated into Urdu by Dr Abdullah Abbas al-Nadwi and was repeatedly with the title: ‘Insani Duniya par Musalmanon ke Urooj w Zawal ka Asar.’ Likewise, he translated ‘al-Mutuza’ and ‘Dawat w Tabligh ka Mu’jizana Usloob’. He translated countless articles mostly from Arabic to Urdu which were published in monthlies and periodicals.

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