Mawlānā Manāzir Aḥsan Gīlānī

By Sayyid Mahbub Rizwi
Translated by Prof. Murtaz Husayn F. Qurayshi

Maulana Gilani was a royal pearl from the land of Bihar which is famous for producing men of talent. He was born on 9th Rabi al-Awwal, A.H. 1310, at Asthanwa, his mother’s native-place. Primary education he received at his ancestral native-place Gilani, from his paternal uncle, Hakim Sayyid Abu al-Nasr. The rationalistic colour was dominant in the elders of his family. In A.H. 1324 he was sent to Tonk to read under the instruction of Maulana Barakat Ahmed for further education. Maulana Barakat Ahmed was an illustrious scholar in the rational sciences. Under him he read big and small books of rational sciences for seven years.

From the details Maulana Gilani has written about his education it appears that after having received education in the rational sciences at Tonk he felt that the world of knowledge and reality was not only that much which he saw around him, but it was something more than that and it was necessary for him to have access to that also. So he insisted upon the elders of his family that he wanted to go to Deoband but since they were under the domination of rationalism, he was permitted, after great difficulty and insistence, at last to go to Deoband. When he stepped into the Dar al-Ulum, Deoband, he had had a deep impress on his thought and intellect of the rationalism of his teacher Maulana Barakat Ahmed Tonki.

In A.H. 1331 he took admission for the Daura-e Hadith and while still in it he obtained the sanad of the Books of Hadith from the Dar al-Ulum. In the Dar al-Ulum, due to the academic and spiritual grace and training of Hazrat Shaikh al-Hind, Hazrat Shah Sahib, Hazrat Allamah Usmani (Allah’s mercy be on them!) and other teachers, the direction of his life changed from the rational sciences to Tafsir and Hadith, mystical wayfaring and knowledge, and all those foundations of thought and view which his family, education and environment had laid toppled down.

After graduation, Maulana Gilani, for some time, served as assistant editor of journals entitled Al-Qasim and Al-Rasheed. During this time he had carved a prominent niche in the academic circles by his academic and disquisitional articles and emotional style of writing. Sawanh-e Abu Zer Ghifari and Ka’inat-e Insani, both these books were written by him during the same period.

At Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Ahmed’s recommendation Maulana Gilani was appointed in the Osmania University, Hyderabad, where he at last became Dean of the Faculty of Theology. He rendered academic services in Hyderabad for nearly 25 years. His inspiring teaching and training had created religiosity in many students of the university. Some of his students became renowned writers.

Al-Nabi al-Khatim, Al-Din al-Qayyam, Tadveen-e Hadith, Hazar sal Pehle, and Nizam-e Ta’lim wa Tarbiat1 are his famous books. Besides these hundreds of dissertations and articles were produced by his pen and were published in the top-most journals and magazines in the country. The same impassioned style which is found in his writings characterised his speech also. In respect of knowledge and learning, extensive information, vast reading, sagacity, discernment and minuteness, he was an unrivalled scholar of the time. His book entitled Hindustan Men Musalmano Ka Nizam-e Ta’lim wa Tarbiat is a valuable treasure of information on this topic. What has been the system of education and training of the Muslims in India from Sultan Qutb al-Din Aibak’s regime to the present period has been shown in details and with disquisition. Which arts and sciences did the curriculum consist of? What was the method of teaching? What used to be the arrangements for the students’ boarding and lodging? Of what standard used to be the arrangement of moral training and self-purgation along with education? In short, there is no aspect of this topic on which there may not be detailed discussion. The book is impressive and interesting. In the end, having retired on pension from the Osmania University, he settled down in his native-place, Gilani, where, after a long illness, he died on 25th Shawwal, A.H. 1375 (June 5, 1956).

Rizvi, Sayyid Mahboob (1981). History of the Dar al-’Ulum Deoband, Volume 2. Deoband: Idara-e Ihtemam. p. 84-6.

——————————————-

Footnotes:

1. His last work is Sawanh-e Qasimi which he compiled at the request of Maulana Qari Muhammad Tayyib, vice-chancellor of the Dar al-Ulum. The later sent all the relevant data to him and during the course of compiling the book Maulana Gilani kept corresponding constantly with Qari Sahib. He compiled Sawah-e Qasimi in three volumes and thereafter he used to remark: “My writing career began with Al-Qasim and it seems the end too will come with Al-Qasim (Sawanh-e Qasimi)”. And it happened like that only. After the three volumes had been compiled, Maulana Muhammad Tayyib wrote him with compliments and congratulations: “You compiled three volumes of the Sawanh-e Qasimi which was indeed your work only, but you have not so far touched the real events of his life. The real biography of his is not this as to where and when he was born and what great works he accomplished; the real events consist in this that he presented the Qasimid philosophy before the world which is the dialectics of the present era. To explain and elucidate it and present its abstruse questions and postulated principles before the world, in other words, to comment upon it and show as to how he has brought out in full relief the philosophies and mysteries of the Book and the Sunnah in a demonstrative style, will be the spirit of this biography. So now kindly turn your attention to it”. At this Maulana Gilani’s letter reached Qari Sahib to the effect that “you have truly enlightened me as regards the real point of biography and now I’m beginning it”. But the Maulana had hardly written a few pages of its fourth volume when the ‘promised hour’ arrived and his premonition about beginning with Al-Qasim and ending with Al-Qasim proved true.


By Syed Mohammad Bahauddin Gilani

Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilaani (ra) is often referred to as Muhaqqiq al-Islam (the researcher of Islam), Sultan al-Qalam (King of the Pen), and Mutakallim al-Millah (The Philosopher of the Nation).He was born on the 9th of Rabiul Awal 1310 H (September 1892) in a village called Gilaan in Bihar (present-day India). His father’s name was Abul Khair. Their Arab [ancestors] reached the Indian subcontinent about three centuries ago via Iran and finally settled in a village which came to be known as Gilaan. His elementary education was at home and then he stayed in Tonk for six years studying under the revered Maulana Syed Hakeem Barakaat Ahmad. Thereafter, he was admitted in Darul Uloom Deoband (1331-1332 AH) and studied Bukhari and Tirmidhi from Shaikh al-Hind Maulana Mahmood al-Hasan (ra) and also accepted Shaikh al-Hind as his spiritual mentor. He also studied Muslim from ‘Allamah Maulana Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri (ra). His other teachers at Darul Uloom Deoband include: Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani (ra), Mufti Aziz ar-Rahman Usmani (ra), Maulana Habib ar-Rahman Usmani (ra), and Maulana Syed Ashghar Hussain ad-Deobandi. While at Darul Uloom Deoband, he was noticed by his teachers to have special qualities which [made him outshine] from the rest of the students.

After graduating from Darul Uloom Deoband in 1332 AH, he stayed in Deoband until 1338 AH working for the monthly organ Al-Qasim of the Darul Uloom. During this time his literary works such as Savanih-e-Abu Zar Ghifari and Kynaat-e-Roohaani made him famous amongst the academic and literary circles of the Ulama of the Indian subcontinent. The next twenty-five years of Maulana Gilaani’s life were spent in Hyderabad, where he was the head of the religious department in Osmania University. During this time, thousands of people benefited from his precious personality and matchless knowledge. In 1368 AH, he retired from Osmania University and returned to his homeland of Gilaan, where he devoted most of his time to writing.

Maulana Gilaani was a master of the Urdu language and a talented and prolific writer. He enlightened the hearts and minds of thousands with his unique style of writing and speech. After reading his first book Savanih-e-Abu Zar Ghifari, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (ra) said: “The writer of this book will prove to be a great researcher of Islam.”

His most famous works are :

– An-Nabiul Khatim
– Musalmano ka Nizame Taleem-o-Tarbiat
– Islami Muashiyaat
– Imam Abu Hanifa ki Siasi Zindagi
– Tadween-e-Hadith
– Ad-deenul Qayyim
– Tadween-e-Quran
– Tadween-e-Fiqh
– Muqalaat-e-Ahsani
– Tafseer-e-Soorah Kahf
– Tazkara-e-Shah Waliullah
– Musalmano ki Firqabandio ka Afsanaa
– Rahmatulil Alameen

His last book was the biography of the founder of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi (ra), called Savanihe Qasmi.

Maulana Qari Muhammad Tayyib Saheb (ra) says:

“When I requested him (Maulana Gilaani) to write the biography of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi, he accepted it very happily and he replied to me: ‘My academic career began with Al-Qasim (the monthly organ of Darul Uloom Deoband) and looks like my academic career will end on Al-Qasim (meaning Maulana Qasim Nanotwi).’ Indeed this is what happened, [as] he had only written five pages of the fourth volume of this book when his temporary life ended on Al-Qasim.”

Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali an-Nadwi (ra) says:

“Maulana Gilaani was an organization in himself. He was the scholar of scholars, writer of writers, historian of historians, jurist of jurists, Muhaddith (Hadith Scholar) of Muhadditheen, Mufassir (Scholar of Qur’anic Interpretation) of Mufassireen, and researcher of researchers.”

Indeed Allah Ta’ala had blessed him with all these qualities. He belonged to that group of Muslim elites who revolutionized the Muslim thought and upheld the truths of Islam in the Indian subcontinent in such a time when both the British and the Hindus were against Islam and Muslims. His writings are a proof of his unrivaled scholarship and knowledge. The Ulama of Islam gave the masses knowledge of the revelation and the Sunnah through their writings and speeches and this knowledge would strengthen their faith and conviction and would serve as their most powerful weapon against the internal (nafs [ego] and shaytan [devil]) and external enemies of Islam.

Shaykh Abdul Hasan Ali an-Nadwi (ra) further says:

“It can be said without exaggeration that finding a like of him (Maulana Gilaani) in the present-day Muslim World in respect to his broadmindedness, enormity of study and depth and vastness of knowledge and piety is very hard.”

Ulama of Islam meet the challenges posed by the demurrers of Islam by their heavenly knowledge. They are the inheritors of the Prophets of Allah, who used to respond to the challenges of people by means of miracles; likewise the Ulama defend Islam by means of their knowledge, which they inherited from the Prophets. Knowledge is the Karamah, or miracle, of the Ulama. Ulama have always fortified Islam and did Jihad against all innovations and misconceptions with their pens and moving speeches, which illuminated the hearts of the Muslim masses and safeguarded them from falling in the traps set by the enemies of Islam.

One of the misconceptions that the strayed tried to create in the minds of the Muslims was to create doubt in the authenticity of the Ahadith of Rasulullah (S). They are called “Munkareen al-Hadith” (those who deny the Ahadith or their authenticity). This chaos not only confused the common Muslims but also posed a threat to the devoted Muslims. The Ulama of Deoband combated this fitna with full force and opposition. Maulana Gilaani’s book Tadween al-Hadith (the Compilation of Hadith) has defended the Ahadith of Rasulullah (S) to such an extent that after a Muslim studies this book, not only his misconceptions will be erased but he will have plenty proof to establish the legitimacy of the sanctified sayings of Rasulullah (S).

Imam Syed Ataullah Shah Bukhari (ra) says about this book:

“When I studied Tadween al-Hadith of Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilaani, condition of wajd and jazb came over me. When Hazrat Gilaani was writing this book, I thought as if all curtains between him and Rasulullah (S) were lifted and as if he was writing the words of Rasulullah (S) himself. Tadween al-Hadith is the last complete and successful thing against the fitna of Inkar al-Hadith (denial of the Hadith).”

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (ra) says about Maulana Gilaani:
“All of the Manazir (academic arguments) of Manazir Ahsan are Ahsan (excellent)”.

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