Monday, 8 July 2013

Contributions of the Scholars of the Sub-continent to the Islamic learning


 Contributions of the Scholars of the 
Sub-continent to the Islamic Learning

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Knowing something is known the knowledge of that particular object, as for example, knowing an object ‘glass’ is the knowledge of that object ‘glass’. Similarly, Prophet peace be upon him said Allah the Almighty made five times prayer obligatory. So the knowing of this five times obligatory prayer is knowledge. But this knowing will turn into knowledge when it will be followed or when it will be acted upon. If one who has the knowledge of five times obligatory prayer and does not comply with or act upon it, then it means that knowledge is no knowledge at all.

Mufti Taqi Usmani was saying about knowledge while lecturing on the legacy of the scholars of the Sub-continent, particularly of Deoband. This reminds me of an incident. It was in late 50s of the last century. I would like to narrate that incident of a student of Deoband who graduated from that famous Islamic seminary. Just like this blessed month of Ramadan, that student, Maulana Ziaul Haque, my mother’s maternal grandfather, was praying Taraweeh behind a Hafez and then there was a lapse of a word in the recitation and Maulana Haque immediately corrected that. After the Taraweeh, the Hafez sahib asked Maulana Haque ‘you are not Hafez, how could you know a word was missing’. The Maulana replied, ‘I was following the meaning of what you were reciting.’ That was the depth of knowledge of a graduate from Deoband Islamic seminary.

Knowledge without action
Mufti Taqi Usmani argued that just having knowledge is not enough; it has to be in practice. He said, “Although I have knowledge, but because I am violating the principle that I know, I do not know. The knowledge of Shari’ah, the Fard, the Wajib, the Mustaheeb; this knowledge is not enough – try to observe, try to follow the Sunnah.”

After referring to Surah al-Baqarah where Allah has clearly pointed out the very important principle of knowledge referring to the Jews, Mufti Usmani argued, “Mere knowledge is not enough, unless it leads to some acts, attitudes and behaviour.”

Legacy of the Scholars of the Sub-continent
Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani came from Pakistan to the United Kingdom recently. He came to a conference and book launch at the Edmonton Islamic Centre, Edmonton, London, on Saturday, 15th of June, 2013.

Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani is one of the leading contemporary scholars of today. After studying at Darul Uloom Karachi, Pakistan, the renowned institute established by his late father, Mufti Shafi Usmani, he has been teaching at the same institute over the last four decades and currently teaches Sahih al-Bukhari. Alongside his expertise in Islamic Law, Economics and Hadith, he has authored forty books in Arabic, Urdu and English on various topics.

Deoband – the Al-Azhar of India
Mufti Taqi Usmani mainly spoke on knowledge. But he begun by saying that the previous speakers discussed and introduced the great scholars of the Sub-continent, their services and accomplishments, different aspects of their accomplishments. Mufti Usmani also said that you have been listening about the services and accomplishments of the scholars of the Sub-continent, particularly the scholars of Deoband. He pointed out that people used to call Deoband – the great university – ‘the Al-Azhar of India’ in promoting and teaching of Islam.

Let me quote him about the Deoband Scholars from the preface of his book, “The Great Scholars of the Deoband Islamic Seminary” launched on 15 June, 2013, “The scholars of Deoband were blessed with the exemplary characteristics of the Companions and Successors; not only in their speech and writings, but also in their deeds and behaviour. This fact becomes all the more significant when it is considered that the example set by these scholars arises from the recent, rather than the more distant, past.”

Mufti Taqi Usmani said, “We are just referring to them (scholars of Deoband); we are not following them because they have not invented a new brand of Islam or a new sect or a different brand. We are praising them because these great people have presented Islamic knowledge. It is not exaggeration to say that we are here it is only because of the efforts of the scholars of the Indian sub-continent.”

While elaborating what he meant by saying what he said, Mufti Usmani mentioned, “Allah created mankind. The basic objective to send the Prophet (peace be upon him) is this: ‘We have revealed the Qur’an to you so that you may explain to people and so that they may ponder.’ Allah expressed, identified the explanation of the revelation given to the Prophet (peace be upon him) through Jibrael. Holy Qur’an was revealed in Arabic. The Arabs knew Arabic. They were eloquent poets. When the Holy Qur’an was revealed to them, to the Arabs; they did know them. What kind of explanation was required for those people? All the Sahabis, Companions-they were knowledgeable. They did not need any literal explanation. Still, Allah sent Prophet.”

“Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to the people, to the Arabs, to explain more or above the literary meaning. The Prophet explained through his faith and through his Sunnah, the way, the path of the Prophet. The way the Prophet explained the Qur’an,” explained Mufti Usmani.

Shari’ah
Mufti Usmani then dealt with Shari’ah. Speaking about Shari’ah, he said, “Now Islamic Deen is composed of two things - Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet said: ‘There will be a time when my Ummah will be divided into as many sects as 72. The question will be who will be right among those sects. The Prophet mentioned the criteria: The way one which I am and the way on which my Companions. But he did not mention a particular group or a particular sect.”

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned the criteria. But the Companions did not write book, nor compile book nor did give lecture at great length. But every Sahabi, Companion used to narrate what they have learnt from the Prophet. Tabeyeen, the companion of the Companion of the Prophet used to narrate what they have learnt from the Companion of the Prophet. So the knowledge of Shari’ah is transferred from generation to generation,” explained Mufti Usmani.

Knowledge
The point which Mufti Taqi Usmani wanted to make is knowledge. He said, “There are two different ways to acquire knowledge; to read from books; study and read without consulting any teacher or professor. It cannot give you expertise, skill. You cannot achieve a status – knowledgeable person.”

Mufti Usmani maintained, “Allah says the knowledge through this proper channel. We refer to the Ulema of the Indian Sub-continent or to these scholars of Deoband. It was based on the tradition of learning – Prophet, Companions, Shaykh Ahmad Zahed Kaushiri.”

Centre of Islamic learning
Then Mufti Taqi Usmani mentioned how the centre of learning changed throughout the centuries. He said, “Centre of Islamic learning have been shifting from place to place. First centre of Islamic learning was Madinah, Hejaz; then the time came when this centre shifted from Madinah to Syria; then the centre was transferred to Iraq, then the centre of Islamic learning transferred to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and lastly now the centre has been transferred to the Sub-continent because the scholars of Indian Sub-continent have proved that no other country has parallel to them.”

Scholars of Deoband
“Scholars of Deoband had the very deep insight into the different aspects of Islamic learning. This is one of the reasons. Indian scholars have exalted in explaining the texts and the Sunnah,” argued Mufti Taqi Usmani and added, “The second reason, according to kausori, was that knowledge, although literary means to know; the real knowledge is when his action conformed to his knowledge.”

Knowledge without action
Mufti Taqi Usmani maintained that just having knowledge is not enough; it has to be in practice. He said, “Although I have knowledge, but because I am violating the principle that I know, I do not know. The knowledge of Shari’ah, the Fard, the Wajib, the Mustaheeb. This knowledge is not enough – try to observe, try to follow the Sunnah.”

After referring to Surah al-Baqarah where Allah has clearly pointed out the very important principle of knowledge referring to the Jews, Mufti Usmani argued, “Mere knowledge is not enough, unless it leads to some acts, attitudes and behaviour.”

Mufti Usmani said, “Majority of the scholars of the Indian sub-continent reflecting the true knowledge. They give full importance to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They had the deep knowledge of the discipline, they reflect their act.”

Official Book Launch
Great Scholars of the Deoband Islamic Seminary
Mufti Taqi Usmani gave the above lecture on the occasion of the official Book launch of “The Great Scholars of the Deoband Islamic Seminary” written by Mufti Taqi Usmani. The publisher, Taurah publishers & Ebrahim College, presented The Legacy of the Scholars of the Sub-continent incorporating the official Book launch.

Among the speakers at the Conference were Shaykh al-Islam Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Shaykh Shams Ad Duha spoke on ‘Lessons from India under the leadership of the Scholars of the Subcontinent”;  Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam al-Kawthari spoke on the ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Science of Jurisprudence/Fiqh’; Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf spoke on ‘Contributions of the Subcontinent Scholars to the Qur’anic Studies’; Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq spoke on ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Hadith Sciences;’ Shaykh Abdur Rahim Limbada spoke on the ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Sciences of heart/Tazkiya.

Shaykh Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf
Shaykh Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf spoke on the “Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Qur’an Sciences”.  He mentioned about Shah Waliullah and his three sons and said, “They have done translation, Tafsir and Tajweed. Qur’an was written by Osmani script, it was without dots. There was no dot, just the letter. The Sub-continental scholars were dealing with that,” he said.

Shaykh Ibn Yusuf mentioned about the seven scholars of the Subcontinent who worked on the Qur’an and said, “Scholars of the Sub-continent was able to preserve the Qur’an. Maulana Taqi Usmani has the translation of the Qur’an in Urdu as well in English.”

Then Shaykh Ibn Yusuf mentioned about the six most authentic books of Hadiths. Muslims view these six major Hadith collections as the most important. Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sahih Abo Dawood, Tirmidhi, An-nasai and Ibn Majah.

“We have at least 15 major Fiqh collections in the Sub-continent. That rich heritage has to be brought to this country, England, great heritage into English language,” he said.

Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq
Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq spoke on ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Hadith Sciences.’ Shaykh Riyadh ul-Haq said, “How do we understand the Qur’an? To learn the Qur’an; to know the Qur’an through the Prophet (peace be upon him). He teaches the Book – the sacred duty that we find in the Sunnah and that Sunnah is contained in the Hadiths. And what is Hadith? Hadith is his (Prophet) utterances, his explicit approval, his manners, his eating etc.”

“Muslims have devoted themselves to the study of the Prophet (peace be upon him). What was the Khuluq? It is Prophet’s character, manners, conduct and personality.  Ummehatul Mumeneen Hazrat Ayesha was asked about the Prophet, she said he is the Qur’an, the living embodiment of the Qur’an. One has to study the Qur’an, Hadith has that. To abandon the Hadith, one cannot understand the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). Hadith without the Prophet; impossible. That’s why, Hadith was always the focus of the Ulema,” he explained.

Shaykh Riyadh ul-Haq spoke at great length on the collection of the Hadiths. How the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) travelled a long distance in order to collect, listen and search one word of Hadith. He mentioned how scholars from Spain in the third century travelled to Baghdad. They travelled from Cordova to Baghdad on foot – the whole North Africa.

“Hadith was introduced in the very early days of the very beginning of Islam. Hadith is an integral part of Islam. Each century has unprecedented works on the commentary on Hadiths by the scholars of the Indian sub-continent. There are numerous commentaries,” said Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq and added, “Scholars of the Subcontinent have made a remarkable contribution to the Hadiths through learning, preserving, memorizing and teaching.”

Shaykh Abdur Rahim Limbada
Shaykh Abdur Rahim Limbada spoke on the ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Sciences of heart/Tazkiya/Spirituality.

Shaykh Abdur Rahim first defined Tasawwuf. According to him, “Tasawwuf is to turn away from the world and turn towards Allah. Tasawwuf is the name of highest Adab – good behaviour.”

Abdur Rahim said, “Tasawwuf is the name of excel in Adab; Tasawwuf is the preaching of Shari’ah in utmost throughout with sincerity. Tasawwuf is keeping lustful desires under control. Tasawwuf begins with correcting your intention; learn how to correct your intention; you should be sincere in your road to Tasawwuf; you are constantly remembering Allah, worship Allah as if you are seeing Him.

He enquired who is Sufi.  And said, “Sufi is he whose heart is clean from all dirtiness; who detaches himself from creation and turns towards the Creator, to Allah. He is not concerned with Dunya.


Speaking about the good side of Tasawwuf, Shaykh Abdur Rahim said, “Humbleness, generosity, denouncing the pleasure of this world; loving Hereafter, Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him). “

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