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FAIR FOR GOD-CONSCIOUSNESS AT SHAHJAHANPUR

    A dangerous conspiracy hatched by the English government was that it set the Hindus against the Muslims. The Muslims had once had Political importance and supremacy in India. The English now, under their policy, pushed up the Hindus and brought down the Muslims. When the Hindus advanced in the economic and political fields, the English prompted them towards the path of religious superiority and prepared them to break lance with the Muslims, and provided the opportuni­ties for this that the Hindus pole Mize with the Muslims openly.

    Then, on May 8, 1876, a "Fair for God-Consciousness" was held at Chandapur village, near Shahjahanpur (U.P.), under the auspices of the local Zamindar, Piyare Lal Kabir-panthi, under the management of Padre Knowles, and with the support and permission of the collector of Shahjahanpur, Mr. Robert George. Representatives of all the three religions, Christian, Hindu and Muslim, were invited through posters to attend and prove the truthfulness of their respective religions. At the suggestion of Maulana Muhammad Munir Nanautawi and Maulawi Ilahi Bakhsh Rangin Bareillwi, Hadhrat Nanautawi, accompanied by Maulana Mahmud Hasan, Maulana Raheemullah Bijnori and Maulana Fakhrul-Hasan, reached the fair. Besides Hadhrat Nanautawi, Maulana Abul Mansoor Dehlawi, Mirza Mujid Jullunduri, Maulawi Ahmed Ali Dehlawi, Mir Haider Dehlawi, Maulawi Nau'man bin Luqman and Maulana Rangin Bareillwi also parti­cipated. All these Ulama delivered speeches at this fair, causing the desired effect. In repudiation of the Doctrine of Trinity and Polytheism, and on affirmation of Divine Unity (Monotheism), Hadhrat Nanautawi spoke so well that the audience, both those who were against and those who were for him, were convinced.

    One newspaper writes: ­

    "In the gathering of 8th May of the current year (1876), Maulana Muhammad Qasim gave a lecture and stated the merits of Islam. The Padre Sahib explained the Trinity in a strange manner, saying that in a line are found three attributes: length, breadth and depth, and thus Trinity is proven in every way. The said Maulawi Sahib confuted it promptly. Then, while the Padre Sahib and the Maulawi Sahib were debating regarding the speech, the meeting broke up, and in the vicinity and on all sides arose the outcry that the Muslims had won. Wherever a religious divine of Islam stood, thousands of men would gather around him. In the meeting of the first day the Christians did not reply to the objections raised by the followers of Islam, while the Muslims replied the Christians word by word and won”

    Next year this "fair" was held again in March, 1877. This time Munshi Indraman Moradabodi and Pandit Dayanand (d. 1882/1301), the founder of the Arya Samaj, also participated. Dayanandji spoke in San­stritized Hindi. Padre Knowles had called one Padre Scot also. Hadhrat Nanautawi's speeches were delivered on Theism, Monotheism, and inter­polation in Religion, and proved very successful.

    The duties of providing board and lodging to the Ulama of Islam were discharged this time by Muhammad Tahir Moti Mian.

    Hadhrat Nanautawi, participating both the years in the said fair, frustrated the Christians conspiracy. On this occasion, Prof. Muhammad Ayyub Qadiri, writing in Maulana Ahmed Hasan Nanautawi's biography, says that:

    "One thing specially deserves deliberation here that the fair for God consciousness at Shahjahanpur was held consecutively for two years with announcement and publicity, throwing in a way. A challenge to the religion of Islam and yet one does not find a clue to any interest the Ulama of Bareilly and Badaun, the two districts so near, almost conti­guous to Shahjahanpur, may have evinced in this fair."

 

THE POLEMIC AT ROORKEE

   In Shawwal, 1294/1877, Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi, with a party of eminent Ulama went for hajj and returned from there in Rabiul Awwal, 1295/1877. On his way back, he fell ill at Jeddah. After reaching his native-place, he recovered somewhat but the disease was not fully cured. The same year, in Sha'ban AH. 1295, he received infor­mation from Roorke that Pandit Dayanandji had reached there and was leveling objections against Islam. Maulana Nanautawi, despite his weakness and illness, went to Roorkee and however much he wished to have a debate with Panditji in a public gathering, the latter did not agree and left Roorkee, Then, at Hadhrat Nanautawi's instance, Maulana Fakharul Hasan Gangohi and Maulana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi deli­vered lectures in public meetings and threw a challenge to Panditji. Hadhrat Maulana Nanautawi gave replies to his objections in public meetings and, thereafter, wrote a treatise on "Istaqbal-e Qibla" (the direction of the holy Ka'ba towards which the Muslims turn their faces in prayer but do not actually worship it).

    Thereafter Panditji reached Meerut and there too he adopted the same manner. At the request of the Muslims of Meerut, Hadhrat Nanautawi went to Meerut. There also Panditji did not agree to have a debate, So, Hadhrat Nanautawi, gave replies to his objections in a forceful speech he delivered in a public meeting at Meerut. 

REFORMATIVE MOVEMENT FOR WIDOW RE-MARRIAGE

   Bringing into currency the re-marriage of widows is also a glorious social and reformative achievement of his. Until the end of the thirteenth century Hijri the re-marriage of widows was considered very reproachful. People used to feel its disgracefulness but no one had the courage to put an end to it. By the laudable efforts of Syed Ahmed Shaheed, Mau­Iana Muhammad IsmaiI Shahead Dehlawi, Maulana Mamlook Ali Nanautawi, Maulana Muzaffar Husain Kandhlawi, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautawi and Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi, the re­marriage of widows came very much into vogue. Hadhrat Nanautawi, making his widowed sister, who was much older than himself and had become quite old, prepared for re-marriage, broke up this disgraceful custom in such a way that now no one knows that such a custom once prevailed here,

PARTICIPATION IN THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

    Taking manly part in the battle for independence in 1857, he captured the tehsil of Shamli in Muzaffarnagar district but the corrupted political atmosphere prevailing he did not let him advance further from Shamli. This incident of re-counter at Shamli is so well-known that it need not be repeated here.

    Hadhrat Nanautawi has left behind more than two-dozen books to perpetuate his memory. In his time he set his pen to paper on those questions which were mostly on the tapes then. All his books have been written in response to one query or the other. Munshi Mumtaz Ali, pro­prietor of Matba-e Mujtabai, Delhi, in 1292/1875, had chalked out a programme to publish all of Hadhrat Nanautawi's works. In the advertisement of this programme printed by him, he had stated:­

   "Many gentlemen must know Maulawi Muhammad Qasim Sahib. He avoids contention and disputation and passes an independent life in a condition of detachment. If some one sent him a query regarding some difficult proposition from distant land, he would write its answer, otherwise he has not anything to do with anyone. Moreover, why should he have, for he has no trace of carnality in him? This slave is enamored of his independent way of life and fond of his disquisitional writ­ings. For a long time I was contemplating to secure his writings some­ how and having printed them, show the Tamasha of divine omnipo­tence to the high-minded people of the time. He had a prodig­ious talent in proving the religio-legal propositions with rational argu­ments and in refuting the philosopher’s propositions also with the same rational arguments".

DEATH

    Hadhrat Nanautawi passed away on Thursday, 4th Jamadil Ula, 1297/1880, at the age of 49 years. His sacred grave is to the north of the Darul-Uloom, clay-built according to the Sunnah practice. This place is known as Qabrastan-e-Qasimi, where countless Ulama, students, pious men and other people are lying buried.

    Many people wrote chronogrammatic quatrains on Hadhrat Nanautawi's death. The one composed in Urdu by Maulana Fazlur-Rahman Usmani is still hanging in the Vice-chancellor's office. Just to give an idea of the thoughts expressed in it, the English translation of the verses is given below: ­

   "Such is the sorrow caused by the passing away of the Qasim of the assembly of guidance that every heart (lit., interior) is sipping the draught of grief. Such is the sorrow that thereby the cup of the assem­bly of spiritual knowledge is inverted like the cask of the sky. Not only is the earth pallid due to this sorrow; the attire of the sky too is bluish in this mourning. Though the supporters of the Shari'ah have had boundless sorrow, the wayfarers of the Path are suffering it doubly. Where's the true supporter of the Madrasah of religion that without him the realm of knowledge and action is desolate? Don't ask about the condition of the sad hearts of the thirsty seekers of knowledge, as to how their life is in your separation. If the flame of separation has grilled the liver, the fire of the grief of separation has roasted the heart. However, from your sacred grave, O good-natured one, your devotees do have a patience of sorts. Out of anguish wrote Fazl this year of death: “Wafat-e Sarwar-e Alam ka yeh namoona hai” (i.e., this is a specimen of the death of the Chief of the World). (The numerical value of the Urdu letters of the last half-verse totals up to AH. 1297).

 HADHRAT HAJI SYED MUHAMMAD ABID

     Haji Sahib was a very pious, abstemious and competent saintly man of Deoband. He was far famed in the art of amulet-writing and spiritual recitations. He was one of the pious founders of Darul Uloom. The post for managing Darul Uloom had been firstly entrusted to him only. Hadhrat Thanwi says in his Masnavi, Zer-o-Bum

    “A consummate Amil (spiritual theurgist), saint, man of God, closely following in the footsteps of the "Pride of the Prophets" (i.e., Prophet Muhammad) j majestic as well as elegant was his dignity, he who was a mine of clemency and a repository of affability.

    His mystic squares and amulets were like a writing of destiny his grace over the high and the low was like that of the moon”.

    Haji Sahib's year of birth was 1250/1834. After having read the Holy Quran and learned Persian he went to study the religious sciences at Delhi, but during this period of education, the zest for Tasawwuf seized him so strongly that he could not complete his studies. He acquired khilafat from several saintly persons; he had received the honor of khilafat from Mianji Karim Bakhsh Rampuri and Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah Mahajir-e Makki (may his secret be sanctified!) also.

    Hadhrat Haji Sahib lived in the Chhatta Mosque for sixty years. It is well known among the people that for thirty years he never missed the Takbir-e Ula. He had taken upon himself to saying the Tahajjud prayer so regularly that he never missed a single prayer (to be made good after the scheduled time) for sixty years. He was a master of mystical revelation and a wonder working saint. Besides giving spiritual instruction and guidance, 'remembrance' and purification of heart, he had prodigious mastery in "the art of amalyat" (spiritual theory). People used to come to him for amulets and spiritual practices and used to return well satisfied. Despite the excess of different works, punctuality for him was extremely binding and every work used to be performed at its scheduled time.

   He used to get up in the last part of the night and, after finishing the Tahajjud (post-midnight) prayer and the daily offices and recitations, he used to say the Fajr (pre-dawn) prayer in the Chhatta Mosque. After this prayer he would read the Quran and then come out of his cloister to accept allegiance from those who came to vow allegiance to him and give amulets to those who came seeking amulets; this work continued till after­noon. After Zuhr prayer would come the adherents of the path for whom there used to be Zikr and Shaghl ('recollection' and 'engagement' ­spiritual exercises designed to render Allah's presence throughout one's being by rhythmical repetitive invocation of Allah's names; methods employed to attain spiritual concentration. Translator), which continued till As'r prayer. After the Maghrib prayer "Khatm-e Khwajagan" was a daily practice. He used to retire to bed soon after the Isha prayer.

    Those who needed amulets sometimes used to cause him much embarrassment, but the state of his affability and graciousness was such that no one ever saw him sour faced. He was extremely careful about conforming to the Sunnah. It is his maxim that "an inactive dervish is like a weaponless soldier; a dervish, in order to hide his condition, should express himself to be an a'mil". He was a saint of the Chishtiya, Sabiriya order and, a personification of asceticism and self-discipline.

    Once it came to his knowledge that from amongst his proselytes one Haji Muhammad Anwar Deobandi had given up eating and drinking completely by way of self-repression. So he wrote to him with insist­ence: "This thing is against the Sunnah; one must eat and drink in the traditional (masnun) manner, though less".

    It is stated in Anwar-e Qasmi with reference to Sawanh-e Makhtuta that "Haji Sahib was a dignified, influential, devout and ascetic personage in Deoband. The impress of his saintliness was there on the hearts of all the great and small, men and women and the old and the young of Deoband; his spiritual grace had ravished the hearts not only of the people of Deoband and its vicinity but also of other provinces. Besides being a devotee and an ascetic, he was also a very great a'mil (expert in spiritual practices and writing amulets); the spiritual grace of his amulets used to act as an antidote on the sick. His face used to remind one of the existences of God.

    "His consistency, resoluteness and resourcefulness were famous. Though he has renounced the world, if someone consults him, his opinion is usually as good as that of a worldly-wise man".

    It is stated in Sawanh-e Qasmi with reference to Sawanh-e Makhtuta that "the' inhabitants of Deoband have had very great faith in him; the people derive many kinds of benefit from his graceful person.

    "Followers of other religions too believe in his amulets. House and its equipments, land, garden, whatever was there in his property, he has given away all in the way of God and now lives with mere trust in God".

    He used to be very careful about the regularity of his daily schedule of works and practices. Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Nanautawi used to remark that "a knowledgeable man can always show that Haji Sahib at this time should be busy in such and such work; if someone goes and sees he would find him busy in the same work".

    A discourse of Hadhrat Thanwi has been reproduced in Ashrafus ­Sawaneh. It says in it "that I did take Haji Sahib to be a saintly person but I did not think that he was also a Shaikh (spiritual guide) and Murabbi (spiritual patron); but during the course of an esoteric difficulty of mine I came to know from his satisfactory reply that he was an accomplished Shaikh and Murabbi".

    He had started the movement for the public fund for Darul Uloom Deoband, only. Haji Fazle Haq had stated in Hadhrat Nanautawi's Sawanah-e Makhtuta as under: ­

    "One day at the time of Ishraq (which is 20 minutes after sunrise), Haji Syed Muhammad Abid, making a wallet of a white handkerchief and putting three rupees in it from his own pocket, went all alone from the Chhatta Mosque to call upon (the late) Maulawi Mehtab Ali, Maulawi Sahib donated six rupees most cheerfully and also gave his blessings. Maulawi Fazlur Rahman donated twelve rupees and this humble one (Haji Fazle Haq, author of the Sawanh-e Makhtuta), six. Rising up from there, he went to Maulawi Zulfiqar Ali (may Allah keep him safe!). Maulawi Sahib, as Allah willet, is a patron of knowledge; promptly he gave twelve rupees. By a lucky coincidence, Syed Zulfiqar Ali thani Deobandi was also present there; on his behalf too, the former donated twelve rupees. Getting up from there this kingly dervish reached Mohalla Abul Barakat. By this time two hundred rupees had been collected; by dusk fall, three hundred. Then gradually it became the talk of the town and took air, and it is well known the way it effloresced and fructified. This thing happened on Friday, 2nd Zi-qa'da, A. H. 1282".

   Besides membership of the Majils-e Shura of Darul Uloom Deoband, its management was entrusted to him thrice. First time from the day of establishment to 1284/1867; second time from 1286/1869 to 1288/1871 and third time from 1308/1890 to 1310/1892; totally this period comes to ten years.

    The construction of the Jame Masjid Deoband is also the result of his effort and endeavor only. In the end, due to excess of engagements, he resigned from the management. Darul Uloom gained many advantages from his influence and dignity and each step of it advanced towards progress.

    He died on Thursday, 27th Zil-hijja, A. H. 1331/ A. D. 1912, at the ripe old age of four score and one. The chronogram for the year of his death is "Madarul-Miham-e Bihisht-e Barin". Details of his life have been mentioned in Tazkiratul A'bidin.


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