By Sayyid Mahbub Rizwi
Translated by Prof. Murtaz Husayn F. Qurayshi
His chronogrammatic name is Ghulam Kibria. He was born in A.H. 1304 in a learned family of Ballia town in eastern U.P. His family had come from Jhang district of the Punjab to Jaunpur and had settled down in Ballia after some time. In Jaunpur he acquired the primary knowledge of Persian and Arabic from the famous physician, Maulana Hakim Jameel al-Din Naginvi and studied books of the rational sciences under instruction of Maulana Farouq Ahmed Chiryakoti and Maulana Hedayat Allah Khan (disciple of Maulana Fazl Haq Khairabadi). For learning Theology he became a disciple of Maulana Abd al-Ghaffar who was one of the most well-guided pupils of Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi. In the late A.H. 1325 he, entering the Dar al-Ulum, Deoband, first studied books like Hedaya, Jalalayn, etc, and then graduated from it in A.H. 1327.
In the very year of his graduation he was appointed as second teacher in Madrasa-e A’liya, Fatehpuri (Delhi). Then he remained engaged in teaching for some time in the madrasah of Umri, Dist. Moradabad. In A.H. 1331 he was called to serve in the Dar al-Ulum. From A.H. 1340 to A.H. 1344 he served as Dean in Madrasa-e Dar al-Ulum, Mau, Dist. Azamgarh, and Madrasa-e Imdadiya, Darbhanga (Bihar). In A.H. 1344 he was again called back to the Dar al-Ulum. In the report for A.H. 1333 he has been mentioned in the following words :-
“Maulavi Muhammad Ibrahim Sahib is fully qualified in all the sciences. He teaches all the books of the rational subjects and philosophy excellently; besides the terminal lessons of philosophy, logic and scholastic theology from Sadra, Shams-e Bazigha, Qazi Mubarak, Hamd Allah, Umoor-e A’mmah, he teaches lessons from Sharh-e Matal’e, Sharh-e Isharat, etc. also. The students remain very much inclined towards him. He is a very good lecturer. In short, he is a teacher worthy to be appreciated and valued, one who is destined to earn name and fame”.
In A.H. 1362 he again sought separation from the Dar al-Ulum. Firstly he graced the dean’s masnad at Jamia-e Islamia, Dabhel; thereafter he served Madrasa-e A’liya, Fatehpuri, for sometime in the same capacity and then became dean in the madrasah at Haat Hazari, Dist. Chitagong, Bengal. At last, in A.H. 1366, at Maulana Muhammad Tayyib’s recommendation and by approval of the Majlis-e Shura, he came back to the Dar al-Ulum, Deoband, and in A.H. 1377, after Hazrat Madani’s death, he was appointed as principal in the Dar al-Ulum on which post he remained till his last breath. The number of his disciples exceeds thousands who, besides the subcontinent, have fanned out to many countries of Asia and Africa.
Allamah Balliavi was a matchless don of the time in every art and science, particularly in scholastic theology and the science of beliefs. The outstanding services he rendered to Quranic Exegesis (Tafsir) and Hadith, Beliefs and Scholastic Theology, and other sciences, are sui generis. The period of his teaching work extends from A.H. 1327 to A.H. 1387 — that is, over six decades. Students used to attend his lectures with great eagerness and absorption, and they used to long to be benefitted from his lofty instructions. Along with brevity there was a quality of conciseness in his lecturing. The style of lecturing used to be very dignified, but at the same time he had had a special knack and mastery in enlivening his lectures with wit and humour and in tackling delicate points and solving important questions with mature skill. He used to make stories and anecdotes so coincide with the propositions (masa’il) that all the aspects of a proposition would become clear and determined. This was also a peculiarity of his lectures that the pupils used to develop a deep affinity with the subject and the paths of knowledge and wisdom used to open up for them. In his time he had had no rival in his knowledge of Beliefs, Scholastic Theology, Logic and Philosophy. In Hadith he used to employ reasoning more than tradition. He had a deep insight into Hazrat Nanautavj’s sciences. Besides being the pupil of Hazrat Shaikh al-Hind he had also had the honour of vowing allegiance to him.
Amongst Allamah Balliavi’s works Risala-e Musafaha and Risala-e Taraveeh are in Urdu; and one treatise entitled Anwar al-Hikmat in Persian comprises articles on logic and philosophy. His scholium in Arabic on Sallam al-Ulum is entitled Zia al-Nujum. He had written scholia on Mebazi and Khiyali also but unfortunately they were lost. In the end he was writing marginal notes on Jam’e Tirmizi but could not complete them. His health had deteriorated for a long time and on 24th Ramazan, A.H. 1387, he responded to the call of death in the afternoon at the ripe old age of 84 years and lies buried in the Qasimi cemetry.
Rizvi, Sayyid Mahboob (1981). History of the Dar al-’Ulum Deoband, Volume 2. Deoband: Idara-e Ihtemam. p. 72-4.