Raees al Muhaqiqeen
HADRAT SHAYKH AL ISLAM W'AL MUSLIMEEN
Hadrat Allama Mufti Pir Sayyad Muhammad Madani Miya Ashrafi al Jilani
Sajjada Nasheen Makhdoom al Millat Muhaddith al A'zam al Hind Rahm.
A great Sufi has stated "A holy man is not recognised by his lofty words or by his actions; but by the atmosphere that his presence creates". When one is seeking a murshid the following has to be taken into account:
"And (we have sent thee) as one who invites to Allah's (Grace) by His leave, and as a lamp spreading light"
(al Qur'an 33 .46)
HADRAT'S BLESSED PARENTS
DEATH OF (FATHER) MUHADDITH AL A'ZAM AL HIND
LITERATURE / BOOKS
PILGRIMAGE & ZIYARAT
HOW TITLES WERE RECEIVED
CHARACTER & PERSONALITY
URS OF MUHADDITH AL A'ZAM AL HIND
NEW ARABIC COLLEGE
VISIT TO EUROPE
"It is inward glow that makes the Sufi, not the religious habit."
We would like to thank Imtiaz Ali Ameen Ashrafi, Dewsbury U.K.for his tireless work and effort, as most of the content is taken from his book on Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam.
Hadrat went to 'Jamia Ashraf' in Kicchocha Shareef and obtained his early Islamic education there. Hadrat also attended school in Kicchocha Shareef where he was regarded as an outstanding model pupil. This Education continued until Hadrat reached the age of fourteen year's and three month's when Hadrat's noble father Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih admitted him to Darul Uloom Ashrafiya, Mubarakpur on 10 Shawwal 1371 A.H under the tutelage of Hafiz e Millat Mawlana Shah Abdul Aziz Rahmatullahi alaih. At that particular time the University at Mubarakpur was regarded as the pre-eminent place of study and excellence for those wanting to become Islamic scholars and teachers in the sub-continent.
Hadrat diligently studied the Dars e Nizami and read all the available Persian - Farsi, Urdu and Arabic books as well as literature not part of his course to gain additional knowledge. Hadrat's time spent studying was exemplary and relentless in every aspect. So much research would be done that after attending lectures, Hadrat would teach his fellow students the same lectures in case they had not fully understood them. Hadrat spent ten years at Mubarakpur with the same integrity that had been a distinguishing feature of his childhood. Even after reading his curriculum set texts and studying hundreds of other Islamic books, Hadrats thirst for knowledge remained insatiable.
After studying the science's it was imperative for Hadrat that he completed studying Islamic Philosophy. Therefore, after being chosen as the successor to Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih, Hadrat returned to Mubarakpur to complete his studies, thus showing the importance Hadrat attached to his continuing education. After spending a further year at Mubarakpur, Hadrat's graduation took place at the hands of Hafiz e Millat Mawlana Shah Abd 'al Aziz Rahmatullahi alaih on 10 Shawaal 1382 (Jan 1963).
At the age of twenty-five years, one month and ten days Hadrat had finally completed his extensive further education, after spending over ten years at Darul Uloom Ashrafiya. Hadrat's intellect and thirst for further knowledge enabled him to cover all known fields of Islamic Sacred Law and Fiqh (Jurisprudence), science, philosophy, mathematics and all known fields of legal requirements of writing Fatwa's as well as numerous other areas. Hadrat's teachers included, among others :
Hadrat's initial education was commenced by his mother Sayyada Fatima Makhdooma and thereafter by Mawlana Nabi Hasan Khan, Mawlana Imam Ali, Hafiz Dargahi and Hafiz Ilahi Buksh.
Hadrat's personal wish was to become a disciple of his illustrious father - Hadrat Muhaddith al A'zam al Hind Rahmatullahi alaih, however, on the occasion's that Hadrat approached his father on this subject he was rebuked and told that he would have to do what Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih himself had done i.e. become a disciple of his maternal uncle. After Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih passed away Hadrat became a disciple of Shaykh Al-Mashaykh Mufti Sayyad Muhammad Mukhtar Ashraf 'Sarkar-e-Kalan Rahmatullahi alaih ("Sayyad Mukhtar Ashraf") on 26th Shawwal 1381 A.H. The events leading upto Hadrat becoming a disciple are worthy of note.
Sayyad Mukhtar Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih bestowed upon Hadrat all his spiritual and personal attributes as well as countless other blessings including making Hadrat his Khalifa. The relationship between Hadrat and his Pir-o-Murshid reflected the relationship that had co-existed between Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih and his 'Shaykh' - Mawlana Ahmad Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih. Sayyad Mukhtar Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih adopted the same manner as Mawlana Ahmad Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih in passing on knowledge and spiritual attributes as well as countless other blessings including making Hadrat his Khalifa. The relationship between Hadrat and his Shaykh reflected the relationship that had existed between Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih and his Shaykh Mawlana Ahmad Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih. Sayyad Mukhtar Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih adopted the same manner as Mawlana Ahmad Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih in passing on knowledge and spiritual wisdom to Hadrat Muhaddith al-Azam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih and Hadrat adopted the same humility in accepting what his Shaykh gave him as had Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih. In short, the relationships between both sets of uncles and nephews were identical.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam has written extensively books in prose, which have been published at various times during the last thirty five years. Some of the books authored by Hadrat Shaykh al Islam are listed below :
Hadrat was also the architect in publishing Ma'ariful Qur'an ; which is the translation of the Qur'an al-kareem into Urdu by Hadrat Muhaddith al-Azam al-Hind Rehmatullahi alaih. This great translation was published along with notes in Gujerati and Hindi languages.
Hadrat is and has always been an outstanding poet writing numerous Naats, displaying how completely immersed he is in the love of the Beloved Prophet Sayyadina Muhammad Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam. When Hadrat first started writing naats he sent some of his work for perusal to the famous Indian poet Shafiq Jaonpuri who after reading Hadrat's work replied that ;
poetry this complete and comprehensive does not require rectification or amendment
Hadrat writes poetry under the pseudonym of Akhtar and a great compilation of his work was made and published in the sub-continent titled 'Guldasta '.
Hadrat's Shaykh al-Islam's first visit to perform 'Hajj' took place in 1973 with his blessed mother, wife, sister, younger brother Ghazi al-Millat Sayyad Muhammad Hashmi Miya Ashrafi al-Jilani, and nephew Sayyad Jahangir Ashraf. Hadrat performed the pilgrimage and went to Madinah Shareef where he obtained countless blessings at the shrine of the Most Beloved Prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Sallam.
Hadrat has also visited the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as well as shrines of the Ahl al Bayt, Sahaba-al-Kiram, Sufiya al-Kiram, Awliya Allah in Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Pakistan and India and throughout the middle east & Asia in order to pay his respect and to obtain their blessings.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam has recently just completed another Hajj (2004/2005) - one of many. A mureed has written a personal account of his journey to Makkah and Madinah ... read 'HAJJ WITH MY SHAYKH'.
Hadrat acquired the title of 'Shaykh al-Islam' circa 1974 when the Ulema of India started addressing him as such. Among the Ulema present at the time were Mufti-e-Azam al-Hind Mawlana Mustapha Raza Khan Rehmatullahi 'ta'ala alaih of Bareilly Shareef son of Ala'Hadrat Azeem al-Barkat Imam-e-Ahle Sunnat Mawlana Shah Ahmad Raza Khan Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu ; and Hadrat's Pir-o-Murshid - Shaykh al-Mashaykh, Mawlana Sayyad Mukhtar Ashraf 'Sarkar-e-Kalan' Rehmatullahi alaih.
Hadrat was first addressed as 'Raees al-Muhaqiqin' by His Holiness 'Gazzali-e-Doaran' Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Sayyad Ahmad Saeed Kazmi Rehmatullahi ta'ala alaih of Pakistan after Hadrat had sent for his perusal a fatwa on the Islamic use of television & video. Gazzali-e-Doaran Sayyad Ahmad Saeed Kazmi Rehmatullahi ta'ala alaih was so pleased with Hadrat's ruling and the excellent way that he had dealt with such a difficult subject that he addressed Hadrat as 'Raees-ul Muhaqiqin'. A letter confirming this was published in the monthly journal 'Al-Ashraf ' in Karachi in 1986. It is testament to Hadrat's knowledge that Muslims around the world almost universally rely on this fatwa when recording religious programmes.
After Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih passed away there appeared to exist a huge chasm in Sunni Islam. Followers of Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam Rahmatullahi alaih were in a state of shock and needed re-assuring that they had a worthy successor to Hadrat Muhaddith al-Azam Rahmatullahi alaih. Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam was of a relatively young age and had not yet completed his studies. Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih was not only a great spiritual leader but also an outstanding scholar, Shaykh, debater, orator and writer ; and there was concern among the faithful as to how Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam, who as yet had not made one speech, could replace him. However, these concerns have proved to be unfounded. Hadrat has proven himself to be an equally competent scholar, spiritual leader, Shaykh, debater, orator and writer having inherited all the necessary skills and qualities from his Eminent father and from his Shaykh Sayyad Mukhtar Ashraf Rahmatullahi alaih.
Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam Rahmatullahi alaih had thousands of disciples throughout the sub-continent who needed spiritual guidance and Hadrat had an almost impossible task just visiting these disciples and satisfactorily providing them with spiritual supervision, yet Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam has not only fulfilled that role but taken Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam Rahmatullahi alaih's mission several steps further by converting non-Muslims to Islam and making thousands of disciples in India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America.
Those who had never met Hadrat chose to become disciples after listening to his speeches, whilst those who met Hadrat became his disciples after they had been spiritually enlightened by being in the exalted presence of Hadrat. Hadrat met disciples and non-disciples alike throughout the day and imparted unto them his vast knowledge and blessings, as well as dealing with any problems and difficulties that people came to see him with, by providing spiritual help and special prayers.
Hadrat is a noble, compassionate, generous and honourable person, and like all truly great men extremely humble and modest. Hadrat's characteristics and attributes are well in accordance with the Shariah, and those who have had the good fortune to sit in the presence of Hadrat will testify that each and every meeting is wholly Islamic and spiritual; and sitting in Hadrat's company reminds them of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala and his Most Beloved Prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam. Hadrat also refrains from unnecessary wordly discussions in his gatherings preferring to remain silent than engage in small talk. Those who ask Hadrat questions are provided with in-depth and knowledgeable answers with reference to the Qur'an al-Kareem and the traditions of the Most Beloved Prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Sallam ensuring the questioner is completely satisfied when he leaves.
In short Hadrat's character is irresistibly enchanting and a model for anyone wishing to follow the loftiest principles of Tasawwuf. Hadrat has undoubtedly captured the hearts, minds and souls of people with the sheer beauty and nobility of his character.
Each year on the 15th and 16th of Rajab the Urs (anniversary) of Hadrat Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind Rahmatullahi alaih takes place at the shrine of Muhaddith al-A'zam al Hind Rahmatullahi alaih in Kicchocha Shareef, India under the guardianship of Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam. Thousands of people attend not only from the sub-continent but from all over the world to obtain spiritual enlightenment and blessings at the shrine.
Over two days speeches are made by distinguished scholars, a Naat (poetry) programme takes place, a flag ceremony is held on the first day followed by prayers for the deceased, and DHIKR is performed in the Sufi tradition led by Hadrat. During the Urs Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam provides accomodation and continuous food for all his guests, even with the numbers increasing significantly year by year.
The school is privately funded through donations from the public and is efficiently managed by Hadrat. The foresight shown by Hadrat in opening the first institution of its kind in India has been quite remarkable. Pupils now leave the school to go onto further education equipped with superior Islamic knowledge or go onto Islamic Universities with a very thorough grounding in the traditional subjects, preserving the Sunni faith but also providing all the children with an excellent education.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam has also established a 'Darul Ifta' (place where Fatwas are issued) in Kicchocha Shareef where Muslims from all over the world send questions relating to aspects of Islamic Law and are given answers in accordance with the Qur'an al-Kareem and Hadith. The head of the 'Markazi Darul Ifta Muhaddith al-A'zam al-Hind' is Fakhrul Amasil Mawlana Hafiz Qari Mufti Muinuddin Ashrafi ; Khalifa of Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam.
Huzoor Shaykh al Islam took over the mantle of his eminent father Hadrat Muhaddith al A'zam al Hind Rehmatullahi ta'ala alaih, by spreading his spiritual teachings, in particular from 1963 onwards. Hadrat's travels took him all over Asia and in particular to South India. Hadrat visited and spoke at many villages, towns and cities of Southern India. It was during his very first visit to Karnataka state, that Hadrat Shaykh al Islam laid the foundations for the Muhaddith al A'zam Mission's branch at the town of Hubli for the benefit of the entire Karnataka state. Under the auspices of the aforementioned Hubli Mission Branch, so many learned Ulema and 'Khandaan ' family members of Ashrafiya have been visting Karnataka State. The many anniversaries "Urs" of the family members of the Ashrafiya Salasil is also celebrated. With the rapid spread of Hadrats character and personality many thousands of mureeds (disciples) were soon established.
Strenuous efforts were made in the early 70's by Sunni Muslims to get Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam to come on a preaching mission and eventually their wishes were granted when Hadrat arrived in England for the first time in April 1974.
Hadrat made approximately thirty speeches on his first visit travelling all over the United Kingdom in very difficult surroundings. Most speeches were held in small and cramped venues with poor public address facilities. However, this was overcome with the way Hadrat captured the hearts of the people with his words of wisdom. The enthusiasts recorded every speech and these recordings remain evidence of the way Hadrat sought to transform the anti-Sunni climate that existed in England at that time with the spread WAHHABISM.
At the time the Wahhabis had established several bases and were propagating their heretical brand of Islam that sought to dilute the true love of the Most Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Sallam and the Awliya-Allah. They attacked almost every Sunni belief associated with orthodox Sunni Islam that places the love of the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Sallam as fundamental to a Muslim's faith. The Ahl al-Sunnah W'al Jama'ah ("Sunnis ") were nonplussed. Sunni Ulema appeared to have no answers as to how to stem the tide of Wahhabism, and while the ideological arguments against the Wahhabis had been won by Sunni scholars years ago - most notably by Imam-e-Ahl as-Sunnah Mujaddid-e-Deen 'o Millat A'LA HADRAT IMAM AHMAD RIDA KHAN [d.1340H] Barelwi Radi Allahu anhu, the work being done by the Wahhabis on the ground appeared almost impossible to combat.
The majority of the Sunni Ulema in Britain did not appear to be openly critical of the Wahhabi movement, and those who were critical achieved minimal success. Though scholars of repute had arrived with the waves of migrants in the 1960's and 1970's, no one person appeared to stand out as the undisputed leader of the Sunni Muslims of Britain to whom everyone could turn to for guidance and a saviour who would be able to take on the Wahhabis and other heretical and non Islamic movements such as the Sh'ia and Qadianis. Those Ulema who had sufficient knowledge were not competent orators which at the time was necessity, while others simply refused to speak out against the Wahhabis for various reasons. Increasingly, Sunni Muslims started going to Wahhabi-controlled Mosques, the Sunnis that had just arrived from the Gujerat State of India. Sunnism was being corroded by the work of the heretical Tablighi Jamaat.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam spent the next thirty years in the true propagation of Islam through his speeches, spiritual gatherings, meetings with people and most notably by his impeccable behaviour and actions, exempliflying how a Muslim should conduct himself by harmonising the Shariah with Tariqat.
Hadrat made clear in his speeches why Sunni Muslims should refrain from following Wahhabi beliefs and why they were un-Islamic. Hadrat challenged the Wahhabis' to public debates to discuss his assertion that their beliefs were heretical and contrary to what is stated in the Qur'an al-Kareem and other religious books. This challenge was rarely accepted and on the occasions that it was, the Wahhabis would fail to show up. On the one occasion they did turn up, at Sutherland St Mosque in Leicester, they were comprehensively defeated by Hadrat who answered all the questions that the Wahhabis posed and when he asked a question in return, they could not answer and voluntarily left the Mosque in disgrace.
The leader that the Sunni Muslims of Britain had been yearning for was thus found in the shape of Hadrat. His speeches galvanised people into taking action ; hundreds if not thousands became his disciples immediately, Sunnis started building their own Mosques, and other scholars started speaking out against Wahhabism and other heretical movements that had been established in Britain.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam probably saved thousands of people from the Wahhabi menace and ensured future generations did not fall prey to them. Hadrat was invited to preach by different communities, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Indians alike. Those Ulema that had established Mosques and Islamic Centres sought Hadrat with enthusiasm and Hadrat was welcomed with open arms by the likes of Hadrat Pir Allauddin Siddiqui, Hadrat Pir Maruf Hussain Shah, Hadrat Allama Arif Ullah Siddiqui, Hadrat Pir Abdul Wahhab etc. However the Gujerati Sunni Muslim community owe a debt of graditude to Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam as he has bestowed particular blessings on them for the way they have attended him.
It wasnt long after Hadrat's name, speeches and character spread across many other countries as well as continents. Hadrat was sought and invited to other countries like Holland, Belgium and further afield.
After Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam arrived in Britain and achieved spiritual success in saving Sunni Muslims from the extremes of Wahhabism, other countries desired that Hadrat go on preaching missions to them. This led to Hadrat visiting Belgium, Holland, Canada and the United States of America as well as countries in the African Continent. Hadrat achieved similar success in those countries winning the hearts and minds of people with his intellect and by his humble nature. It is testament to Hadrat's stature that every country desires that Hadrat visit them every year, and it is a testament to Hadrat's spiritual strength that he manages to visit such a large number of countries as well as preaching all over the sub-continent (which is an impossible task given the size of the area). Hadrat also finds time to attend to family life and oversee the school he has founded in Kicchocha Shareef as well as numerous Islamic Universities under his guardianship around the world.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam is also the first member of the Ashrafiya dynasty to propagate Islam in the western world. There have been many illustrious personalities in the Ashrafi household in the six centuries after Sultan Sayyad Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Radi Allahu anhu ; but no Shaykh or Scholar has ventured to the West and beyond. Hadrat thus holds a unique place in the history of this great family as being the first to carry the mission of Hadrat Sultan Sayyad Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Semnani Radi Allahu anhu to these parts of the world.
Hadrat's stature is impossible to convey fully, and to recognise and understand who Hadrat is would require the help of someone who is at the very least on a par with Hadrat, and since no one is at that level, we will be unable to determine what Hadrat's status is. It is sufficient for us to know that Hadrat is a saint and when this period of Islamic history is looked back upon years from now, people will desire a personality such as Hadrat's in their time and will look back in bewilderment at Hadrat's achievements.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Islam has provided the Sunni Muslims of Great Britain with an invaluable service for over 30 years. Hadrat has made an outstanding contribution to the communities in keeping with Sufi traditions and following the ways of his father, grandfather and great grandfather. The Sunni Muslims all over the world are extremely fortunate to have such a pious saint that has done so much for them, to teach, guide and spiritually enlighten them. We shall be eternally grateful.