Life and Education
He was the eldest son of Maulana Fazlur Rahman. From the beginning to the end he prosecuted his studies in Darul Uloom. He was an erudite scholar and a great litterateur in the Arabic language. His foresight and administration is considered proverbial in the history of Darul Uloom his services and dowers have played a great role in the progress of the institution.
In 1325/1907, due to Hazrat Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Ahmad’s engagements, as also in connection with the development of Darul Uloom, there arose the need of an able and competent administrator who might lend a hand to Hafiz Sahib in the administrative affairs and schemes of development In the eyes of the Majlis-e Shura there was none more suitable than him for this job. Accordingly, in spite of his refusal, he was compelled and entrusted with the post of pro vice-chancellor. It is said that it was a piece of good luck for Darul Uloom that it acquired the services of a vigilant administrator and sincere man like Maulana Habibur Rahman Usmani. He was so much interested in the administrative works that major part of the day and night used to be spent in these works. He had so organized and streamlined the administrative department of Darul Uloom that when Nawab Sadre Yar Jung Bahadur came to Deoband on behalf of the Asifiyah government to audit the accounts of the Darul Uloom Deoband, he was surprised to see that vouchers and receipts of even as paltry a sum as one and two annals were present in the file in a regular order. Nawab Sadr Yar Jung’s statement is that there was no paper, which was asked for and was not immediately presented. The progress during Hafiz Sahib’s vice-chancellorship is in fact considered to be the result of Maulana Habibur Rahman’s comradeship; he always remained his right-hand man, confidant and lieutenant.
In 1344/1925, when Hafiz Sahib retired due to old age from the post of Chief Mufti of the Hyderabad State, Maulana Habibur Rahman was appointed in his place, but due to the appearance of internal dissensions in Darul Uloom Deoband he had to give up this job very soon. Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Mufti Azizur Rahman and Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, along with a large group of some other teachers and students, had severed their relations with Darul Uloom Deoband. This was a very delicate and critical occasion but Maulana Habibur Rahman’s resolution and firmness, courage and daring, and sagacity and foresight saved the boat of Darul Uloom Deoband from wobbling.
Maulana Habibur Rahman’s personality was considered past compare in his time in every respect. It is generally believed that had he had so much interest in the national politics as he had in Darul Uloom, he would have proved to be the greatest political leader of India. It was Hazrat Shaikhul Hind’s will that the members of the Jami’atul Ulama must never leave out two men the first name among these two was his, and as such he proved to be the best counselor of the Jami’atul Ulama. In a session of the Jami’atul Ulama held at Gaya (Bihar) in 1340/1921, he was elected president and his presidential address was not only generally appreciated but in the political circles of the country also its political significance was looked upon with approval.
Excessive reading had made him a man of vast knowledge, a polyhistor. Hazrat Anwar Shah Kashmiri used to remark: “If there is anyone whose knowledge impresses me, it is Maulana Habibur Rahman”.
He had a special liking for Arabic literature and history and his extensive knowledge in these subjects was far-famed at the time. The following books are his academic relics;
(1) Qasida Lamiatul-Mu’ajizat: This panegyric consists of nearly three hundred verses in praise of the Holy Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him!), describing one hundred prophetic miracles in a very eloquent and meaningful style. Maulana Muhammad Izaz Ali Amrohi (d. A H. 1374) has explained these Arabic verses in simple Urdu.
(2) Isha’at-e Islam: How did Islam spread in the world? In response to this question he has reproduced nearly five hundred pages those historical events, which due to their psychological attraction, became conducive to the spread of Islam.
(3). Ta’limat-e Islam: In this book the Islamic system of government has been described and it has been made explicit how much consultation is necessary for the leader of the party. In the course of this he has shown that if there is complete trust in the person of the leader there is then no need of counting the votes of the majority and the minority, but should the leader not have achieved such trust of the followers, then there is no other go for carrying on the business but to rely upon the majority.
(4). Rahmatul lil Alamin: It is a very valuable work on the biography of the Holy Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), but it is a pity that it is incomplete. However, whatever has been written is an addition of a monumental work to the list of prophetic biographies.
Maulana Habibur Rahman was of a very frail constitution; his intake of food was astonishingly low but in spite of emaciation and weakness he possessed unbounded courage. Exactly fourteen months after Hafiz Sahib’s death, he passed away from this mortal world on the night of 4th Rajab, A H. 1348/ AD. 1929/ leaving Darul Uloom as his eulogizer forever and ever. May Allah illuminate his grave!