By Mawlānā Mahbūb ʾAhmad Qamruz Zamān Nadwī ʾIlāhābādī
Translated by Mawlānā Sulaymān al-Kindī
He was born in Phūlpūr, District Partābgadh, Uttar Pradesh in 1317 Hijrī (1899). His father’s name was Ghulām Muḥammad. His relationship of spiritual rectification was with the ʾUways of the era, Hazrat Mawlānā Faḍl Raḥmān Ṣāḥib Ganj Murādʾābādī . He constantly presented himself in his blessed company. He benefited from his blessed being. After taking his duʿāʾ, he returned home.
Through the duʿāʾ and attention of Hazrat Mawlānā Faḍl Raḥmān Ṣāḥib , the childhood of Hazrat Mawlānā Shāh Muḥammad ʿAḥmad Ṣāḥib Partābgadhī was one of righteousness and rectitude. He paid special attention to the performance of good deeds and avoiding evil. He was punctual with his Ṣalāh and fasting and had a special inclination for recitation of the Qurʾān. He never used to play like normal children do.
When Allāh intends a special relationship with one of His slaves; and showers His affection and help on that slave; and grants His great bounty of Nisbah, closeness, love and recognition; then He also sets into motion the means and implementation for such. Thus when Hazrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿAḥmad Partābgadhī reached the age of understanding, he went to Lahore to acquire these treasures from Hazrat Mawlānā Wārith Ḥasan Ṣāḥib . He stayed in the Telah Wālī Masjid, which was on the banks of a stream with a wandering course. As part of his education, he also engaged in Ẓikr, purification of the self and rectification of the heart. He remained under the supervision of Hazrat Mawlānā Wārith Ḥasan Ṣāḥib for a long period of time. He was honoured with ʾIjāzah and Khilāfah from Hazrat.
With Hazrat Mawlānā Shāh Badr ʿAlī Ṣāḥib
In order to increase his inner progress and relation with Allāh even further, he established a reformatory relationship with Hazrat Mawlānā Shāh Badr ʿAlī Ṣāḥib . Hazrat Shāh Ṣāḥib paid great attention to him and showered him with much affection. He considered him as one of his own children. Sometimes he would remark, “I have four children, but they are of this world. One son is for the hereafter and he is ʾAḥmad Muḥammad.” Sometimes he would say, “Have you people seen anyone else like ʾAḥmad Muḥammad who has annihilated himself?” Hazrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿAḥmad Partābgadhī received ʾIjāzah and Khilāfah from Hazrat Mawlānā Shāh Badr ʿAlī Ṣāḥib as well.
ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ
That is the bounty of Allāh, He bestows it upon whom He wishes. [al-Jumuʿah]
Work of Daʿwah and Tablīgh
After receiving ʾIjāzah and Khilāfah from Hazrat Mawlānā Shāh Badr ʿAlī Ṣāḥib , Hazrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿAḥmad Partābgadhī engaged in the work of guiding people, rectifying the ʾUmmah, and Daʿwah (calling towards Allāh) and Tablīgh (conveying the message). He walked from village to village, together with some sincere ones. They took lentils, molasses, bread, etc. with them from which they ate. There he would advise and deliver lectures according to his schedule. In this manner, an atmosphere of his reformatory talk permeated the outlying regions. People started coming from far off to attend his gatherings. His effective talk on reform awakened a desire within people for religion and rectifying themselves. His Taṣawwuf and heart-rending poems benefited the people as well. Every worried and distressed person found peace in his gatherings.
Settling in ʾIlāhabād
A few years before his demise, Hazrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿAḥmad Partābgadhī began staying mostly in ʾIlāhabād. Before that he used to stay in Partābgadh and sometimes in his village, Phūlpūr. During his blessed stay in ʾIlāhābād, Allāh took much work from him. ʿUlamāʾ and Mashāʾikh came from far and wide to ʾIlāhābād, benefiting from his talks and special focus. The locals also attended and benefited from his spiritual talks. For the benefit of that place’s people and in order to shed light on Hazrat’s disposition and the type of work he used to do, I reproduce below a topic from Kamālāt-e-Nubūwwat. It was written by Hazrat’s Khalīfah, my esteemed father, Janāb Mawlānā Qamruz Zamān, may his blessings perpetuate, [originally] during Hazrat’s life:
My guide, Hazrat ʿĀrif billāh, Mawlānā Muḥammad ʾAḥmad Ṣāḥib was a shining lamp during this era when Islām is so forlorn and darkness has spread everywhere. By that light the seekers found the path to guidance. He was a sweet spring from which seekers of Allāh quenched their thirst. His private and public life were full of Ẓikr and concern. He tolerated no complaints against others or speaking against others. His tongue kept repeating this Persian poem :
Love for religion and the religious was his distinguishing feature. In fact, the Ḥadīth, “The creation is Allāh’s family,” made him love people as his second nature. Thus in addition to Allāh’s rights, he paid attention to the fulfilment of people’s rights as well. He in fact took care of the most common person’s rights. Everyone came as Hazrat’s lovers and admirers and the numbers kept increasing. When he saw how both the elite and the masses were flocking towards him, he involuntarily recited the following poem:
Where the sweet spring gushes, crowds of people and locusts swarm.
Most certainly his sight reminded one of Allāh, his words brought about tranquillity, his speech was replete with his abundant knowledge. His talks were treasures of knowledge and wisdom. His character was an excellent sample of implementing that of the best paragon, Rasūlullāh . His riyāḍah and hastening to good deeds even during illness and old age, would make the heart testify that indeed this is someone who intensely loves Allāh and has acquired a strong nisbah. In every matter he kept great regard of Taqwā and sincerity. Despite all of this, he was so overwhelmed by fear of the hereafter, that if you saw him, you would see a true manifestation of:
Indeed His friends are those who have Taqwā.
With this in mind, read his following poem:
If you accept then understand that we too are sincere; let it be said that we have offered heart and life.
The Confidence ʿUlamāʾ and Mashāʾikh Placed in Him
The ʿUlamāʾ and Mashāʾikh loved him intensely and had immense confidence in him. They mentioned him with high titles in their speeches and their writings. For example, one of them said, “His personality is one of those who are a great blessing unto us.” Someone else said, “He is amongst Allāh’s bounties.” Someone titled him, “The remainder of the pious predecessors.” In short, many ʿUlamāʾ and Mashāʾīkh acknowledged his sainthood and nisbah with Allāh.
Following the Sunnah and Avoiding Innovation
Hazrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿAḥmad Partābgadhī placed much emphasis on following the Sunnah. Whether big or small, he attempted to implement every deed according to the Sunnah. On the other hand, I can still picture how he objected against and abstained from customs and innovations. Because customs and innovations dominated the public occasions during that time, he made a point of never participating in public events. If however one of his admirers asked him to merely be present at an event, and if Hazrat was convinced that there would be no customs and traditions, then he would attend. If he then saw or heard anything contrary to Sharīʿah, then he would leave the gathering and make his displeasure known.
A Lesson in Sense of Honour for Islām
Hazrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿAḥmad Partābgadhī was once delivering a discourse by a wealthy person. I too was present. After the speech, some people wanted to engage in an activity contrary to the view of the people of truth. Hazrat immediately departed and without fear of censure, condemned the act and said, “If this is what you intended to do, then why invite me?” He then added, “I cannot tolerate breaking anyone’s heart, but at the same time, at no price can Allāh be displeased simply for the sake of pleasing the creation.” His methodology in rectifying people was to be soft, but it was “be soft, not wrong”. He was stern when necessary. This sternness was for the sake of Allāh and for the benefit of the creation of Allāh. As opposed to the trials and tribulations, the heat of his faith refreshed the tree of religion and made the gardens of the hearts verdant.
His humility was such that he had no vanity or arrogance to his personality. His distinguishing feature was that he met everyone as a low slave, associated with all. He sometimes said, “People have good thoughts about me. They love me and come to me. It may be that Allāh forgives me through this, for there is no worse person than myself on the face of the earth.” Yet clearly the inner ways of Rasūlullāh , of annihilating his ego to the will of Allāh and being a complete slave, were completely imbued in Hazrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ʾAḥmad Partābgadhī . The extent to which one follows Rasūlullāh in outer aspects, inner aspects and conditions, will be the extent to which Allāh will grant His friendship and love. In addition, Allāh will spread his fame amongst people, which results in people loving him and having confidence in him. This is what Hazrat described in his poem:
He who has annihilated himself, name and trace;
Becomes the king of seven continents.
Service and Hospitality
He was suffering from severe weakness for some time, yet he would not see someone in need turned away without fulfilling his need. He met everyone cheerfully and considered it his duty to relieve people of their distress and to cheer them. If any of us attendants did not feel well, then we learnt that Hazrat felt greater distress at our condition than we ourselves, and he ignored his own difficulty. It was as if he kept two ʾAhādīth constantly in mind, “Have mercy upon he who is on earth, He who is in the heaven will have mercy upon you,” and, “The creation is Allāh’s family.”
If an honoured guest arrived, he honoured him to the extreme, even when he was weak and ill, and served him and showed warm hospitality. He personally brought his food and fed him most lovingly. He became extremely overjoyed at the arrival of ʿUlamāʾ and Mashāʾikh, wholeheartedly dedicating himself to their hospitality and relaxation. He sat for hours in their company, and was deeply saddened when they left, which he expressed in this poem:
Your coming makes me feel delight in my very soul;
But your departure is an injustice, sorrow, regret, the end of the world.
Lectures and Advice
Despite his illness and weakness, he gave every visitor advice and guidance appropriate to him. He mentioned extremely beneficial matters on Ṭarīqah and Ṣulūk in special gatherings. He read the Qurʾān with great delight. When he happened to speak in a public gathering, then as opposed to what was expected, he spoke in a very strong voice, his effective and fluent lecture benefiting the people. When you saw Hazrat in that state, then you would be convinced that Allāh grants His slaves spiritual power through which they accomplish immense tasks easily.
On the 3rd Rabīʿuth Thānī 1412 Hijrī (22nd October 1991), Hazrat left behind thousands of lovers and admirers, departing for the abode of the hereafter.
Verily we belong to Allāh and indeed we shall return unto Him!
The amount of well-wishers who attended his funeral were so many, they were like a gushing flood. His son, Mawlānā ʾIshtiyāq ʾAḥmad Ṣāḥib, led the prayers in Manṣūr Park. He was buried in ʾAkelā ʾĀm Graveyard in the suburb of Rām Bāgh. May Allāh fill his resting place with light and cool his grave.
Biographies of the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Mashāʾikh, p. 143 – 149