By Sayyid Mahbub Rizwi
Translated by Prof. Murtaz Husayn F. Qurayshi
He belonged to the celebrated family of Rizvi Sayyids of Amroha; amongst his ancestors, Hazrat Shah Abban was one of the Shaikhs of the Mughal emperor Akbar’s period. He was born in 1267/1850. The primary education of Persian and Arabic he acquired from the high-ranking religious divine of Amroha, Maulana Sayyid Rafat Ali, Maulana Karim Bakhsh and Maulana Muhammad Husain Ja’fri. The books of the Unani system of medicine (tibb) he studied under the instruction of the celebrated physician of Amroha, Hakim Amjad Ali Khan. Thereafter, waiting in attendance upon Hazrat Nanautavi, he completed the study of Hadith and other arts and sciences and graduated in A.H. 1294. He secured permission for Hadith from Maulana Ahmed Ali Muhaddith Saharanpun and Maulana Abd al-Qayyum Bhopali also and at last he went to the illuminated Madina and attained the honour of acquiring a sanad of Hadith. He had made a vow of allegiance to Shaikh al-Masha’ikh Hazrat Haji Imdad Allah Mahajir-e Makki and had also received khilafat from him.
After graduation he first of all taught at the madrasah of Khurja and then served as head-teacher in different madrasahs of Sanbhal and Delhi. When the Madrasa-e Shahi was established at Moradabad in A.H. 1296 at the proposal of Hazrat Nanautavi, he was made its head-teacher. In A.H. 1303 he resigned from this madrasah and re-organised an old madrasah in the Jam’e Masjid of his native place Amroha. This madrasah was in an ordinary condition formerly. He set it up in a regular manner and started the teaching of all the arts and sciences. Due to Maulana Amrohi’s personality the madrasah was soon full with students from far and near. He built more buildings in the Jam’e Masjid for the madrasah; constructed a Dar al-Hadith, auditoriums, and rooms for teachers and the students, and thus he brought about the renaissance of the academic traditions of the old Amroha. One of his peculiarities inter alia was that along with the science of religions he also used to teach the science of physiology. Many people acquired the education of Tibb from him and later on became competent physicians. As such, the reputed physician, Hakim Farid Ahmed Abbasi was one of his students.
Maulana Amrohi’s lecture used to be very comprehensive, fluent and pithy, which used to satisfy the students fully. In the art of lecturing he was a perfect specimen of his teacher and by virtue of his characteristic abilities, he was a depository and picture incarnate of the Qasimi sciences. All through his life he kept himself engaged in giving currency to the Qasimi sciences. His academic benefaction reached far and wide and hundreds of students became scholars through his lectures. The author of Tazkirat al-Karam, discussing about his method of teaching and the benefit of his lectures, writes :-
“He used to teach all those sciences which are included in the educational system of the Nizami Curriculum but he had had more engrossment in the teaching of Hadith, Tafsir and Fiqh. It was heard from his pupils that his lecture used to be so perspicuous and powerful that even the subtlest problems the students used to comprehend easily and the greatness of the subject used to instil into their minds”. (Tazkirat al-Karam, with ref. to Mujalla-e Dar al-Ulum, Deoband; Jamadi al Awwal, A.H. 1373, p. 44.)
Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, discussing Maulana Amrohi’s versatility, has written :-
“Every man who may have even a little experience knows that there have been very few ulema who may have ability in each one of the branches of knowledge. For instance, those gentlemen who have proficiency in sermonising are not fully capable in teaching and those who are engaged in teaching find it difficult to deliver a sermon or lecture in a gathering; those engrossed in theology are often unacquainted with the rational sciences and philosophy and the experts in the noetics are usually unaware of the religious sciences. But Divine Power, through its munificence, has combined all these qualities in a high degree in our Maulana. Maulana’s speech, writing, perspicacity, erudition, morals and consummate skill in the rational and the traditional sciences were proverbial; the most appreciable and remarkable accomplishment of his was that he used to lecture upon Hazrat Qasim al-Ulum wal-Khairat’s subtle and abstruse sciences in his very tone and style of expression with perspicuity and clarity”. (Mujalla Al-Qasim, Rabi al-Sani, A.H. 1330.)
In the polemic at Nagina in 1322/1904 in which Maulana Sana Allah Amritsari had broken lance with the opponent, Maulana Amrohi had also delivered a speech which has been published under the caption Da’wat-e Islam in Ifadat-e Ahmediya. Divine Unity, Prophethood, Aim of Life and the characters of the Holy Prophet and his Companions have been discussed in detail in this speech, in which the style of Hazrat Nanautavi’s speeches is apparent. The effect of this speech was such that some neophyte Muslims in the gathering, after hearing this speech, remarked that if one should embrace the Islamic faith at any speech, it was this speech.
In A.H. 1329 it was under his chairmanship that the first meeting of the Mutamar al-Ansar was held at Moradabad. He passed his whole life in teaching and lecturing, sermonising and advising, in enjoining the right conduct and forbidding indecency. To maintain the dignity of knowledge and the glory of religion, he used to live with great self-respect. A collection of his articles has been published under the title, Ifadat-e Ahmediya. He died during the night between 28th and 29th Rabi al-Awwal, A.H. 1330; of plague. Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Ahmed led the funeral service, and he was laid to rest in the southern corner of the courtyard of the Jam’e Masjid of Amroha. Just a little before breathing his last, he delivered a sermon lying down. When the soul took to flight from the elemental cage, his tongue was uttering the following words :-
“Subhan Allah-e wa be-Hamdihe Subhan Allahil Azeem”.
The madrasah which Maulana Amrohi had re-established in the Jam’e Masjid of Amroha is still functioning.
Rizvi, Sayyid Mahboob (1981). History of the Dar al-’Ulum Deoband, Volume 2. Deoband: Idara-e Ihtemam. p. 23-6.