HADHRAT MAULANA MUHAMMAD YAQUB NANAUTAWI
On this great post in Darul Uloom it was Maulana Muhammad Yaqub NANAUTAWI who was appointed first of all. He had acquired the knowledge of sciences from his august father, Hazrat Maulana Mamlook Ali, and Hazrat Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi Dehelwi.
Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Nanautawi was born in Nanauta on 13th Safar, A. H. 1249. Manzoor Ahmed, Ghulam Husain and Shamsul Dhuha are his chronogrammatic names.
He memorized the Holy Quran in Nanauta. In Muharram, A. H. 1260, when he was eleven years old, his august father took him to Delhi. His education began with Mizan, Munsha'ib and Gulistan. He acquired all the then current sciences from his august father but the science of Hadith he completed under the instruction of Hazrat Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi. In the traditional and the rational sciences, he was like his father. He had been endowed with a very nimble mind.
Maulana Mamlook Ali died in Zil-hijja, A. H. 1267/1851. Thereafter he stayed in Delhi for one year and then was appointed in Government College, Ajmer. It is stated in Maktubat-e-Yaqubi:
"He went to Ajmer employed on Rs. 30/= At that time, he was very young. On seeing him the principal of Ajmer College remarked: 'The Maulawi is good but he is much too young, a teenager'. At the principal's recommendation he was given the Deputy Collector's post but he did not accept it. Thereafter he was sent to Benares on Rs. 100/= per month. From there he was appointed on Rs. 150/= as Deputy Inspector at Saharanpur. It was here that he witnessed the event of Mutiny".
During that period he stayed at Nanauta. He became relieved of responsibility by resigning from government service, and joined service in Munshi Mumtaz Ali's press at Meerut. He himself writes in Sawanh-e-Qasimi:
"Munshi Mumtaz Ali established a press at Meerut. He called Maulawi (Muhammad Qasim) Sahib for old friendship's sake and gave him the work of emendation. This work was nominal; his purpose was to keep Maulawi Sahib with himself. This humble self, after visiting Bareilly and Lucknow, got employed in the same press at Meerut".
In 1283/1866 he (Maulana Yaqub) came to Deoband and was appointed on the post of principal. He was the first Professor of Hadith of Darul Uloom. The grace of his education and training produced many distinguished Ulema who shone like sun and moon on the firmament of knowledge and learning. In the brief span of 19 years 77 students acquired the prophetic sciences from him. Among them were the celebrated and matchless Ulema of their time like Maulana Abdul Haq Pur Qazwi, Maulana Abdullah Anbahtawi, Maulana Fateh Muhammad Thanwi, Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan Deobandi, Maulana Khalil Ahmed Anbahtawi, Maulana Ahmed Hasan Amrohi, Maulana Fakhrul Hasan Gangohi, Maulana Hakim Mansoor Ali Khan Moradabadi, Maulana Mufti Azizur Rahman Deobandi, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Ahmed and Maulana Habibur Rahman (Allah's mercy be on all of them).
Looking to Maulana Muhammad Yaqub and the educational benefaction of his disciples it would be no exaggeration to say that the majority of the Ulema who are in existence at present in India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Afghanistan and Central Asia have mostly feasted at this very table of knowledge.
Although there was domination of power (jalal) in his disposition, he used to behave with all and sundry with great affability and condescension. As was the case with his elders, there was great independence in his nature which can be estimated from this event that once a gentleman who had great influence over his temperament said to him: "It is an earnest wish of such and such a Nawab Sahib that once you condescend to go to his place". The Maulana said: "We have heard that any Maulawi who goes to the place of that Nawab Sahib, the latter gives him one hundred rupees. Since he is himself calling us, he may perhaps give us two hundred rupees. But for how many days will these hundred or two hundred suffice us? By going there we will not smirch the reputation of Maulawiism".
The preface-writer of the Maktubat-e Yaqubi, Hakim Amir Ahmed Ishrati, writes:
"Hundreds of his pupils and proselytes and pupils of his pupils are present in the cities of India, Kabul and Bukhara, etc. He is skilled both in the rational and the traditional sciences. And even as he was a spiritual physician, he used to treat external (physical) ailments also. He was very well mannered, well behaved, well conditioned, well toned and well spoken.
He went on pilgrimage (to Mecca) twice. The first Hajj he performed in 1277/1860, in the company of Maulana Muhammad Qasim (may his secret be sanctified). Maulana Muzaffar Husain Kandhlawi and Haji Muhammad Abid Deobandi were also with them. This journey was made 'en route' Punjab and Sind. He has himself written a detailed memorandum of this journey in his Bayaz-e Yaqubi. For the second Hajj he went in 1294/1877. This time also there was a large company of the Ulema, Besides Hazrat Maulana Nanautawi, Hazrat Maulana Gangohi, Maulana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautawi, Maulana Muhammad Munir Nanautawi, Maulana Hakim Ziauddin Rampuri, Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan Deobandi, etc. there were nearly one hundred men in this holy caravan'.
Maulawi Jamaluddin Bhopal was a pupil of Hazrat Maulana Mamlook Ali. On account of this connection he invited Maulana Muhammad Yaqub on a large salary to Bhopal but the Maulana, despite his meager pay at the Darul Uloom, did not like to sever his connection with it and instead sent his sister's son, Maulana Khalil Akhtar Anbahtavi, to Bhopal.
Maulana Muhammad Yaqub had a taste for versification and poetry. His non de plume was Gumnam. During his student days in Delhi he had seen the peerless poets of the time like Ghalib, Momin, Zauq, Sehbai and Azurda, and his ears were acquainted with the resounding furor of their poetical symposiums. In a letter to his proselyte, Munshi Muhammad Qasim Nayanagri, he has counseled him to read the poetical compositions of Dard, Sauda and Zauq as there is painfulness and effectiveness in them. The Maulana's poetical compositions in Persian and Urdu have been recorded in Bayaz-e-Yaqubi. Besides mastery of composition, pathos, touchingness and power of affecting are also found in them.
In authorial works he has left three treatises. Though Sawanh-e-Qasimi is a very brief biography, it is very valuable in respect of language and expression, and events and chronicles.
His second collection is entitled Muktubat-e-Yaqubi, which consists of 64 letters, These letters had been written in answer to queries, describing the solution of the difficulties of the mystic path, religio-Iegal propositions, and the modus operandi of the mystical path and system.
The third collectives are Bayaz-e-Yaqubi: it consists of the chronicles of the pilgrimage journey, chains of authorities of the tomes of Hadith, poems, devotional exercises, etc. containing some medical (tibbi) recipes at the end. Hazrat Maulana Ashraf AIi Thanwi has written marginal notes wherever necessary on both these collections.
A few days prior to his demise lie had gone to his native-place, Nanauta; there he died on 3rd Rabiul Awwal, AH. 1302/1884, of cholera.
It is stated in a note in the Muktubat-e-Yaqubi;
"On Saturday night, 1st Rabiul Awwal, AH. 1302, Maulawi Muhammad Yaqub Sahib (Allah's mercy be on him) was suddenly, soon after having finished the Isha Prayer, involved in cholera. He fainted. He passed away from this mortal world at about 1-00 a.m. on the night of Monday. His noble grave is situated at Nanauta, in the northern direction, near the road to Saharanpur, in the new garden that has been cultivated by Mo’eenuddin. 'We belong to Allah and unto Him is the retreat. This is a soul-crushing event".
The chronicles of his life are met with here and there in Maktubat-e-Yaqubi and Arwah-e Salasa.
2. HADHRAT MAULANA RAFIUDDIN
The lauded Maulana was born in 1252/1836. He was one of the famous khalifas of Hadhrat Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi. Though his academic ability was unexceptional, he had an exceptional knack for administrative affairs, possessing wonderful qualities in this regard. He was being counted amongst the perfect saints of his time. Twice he was appointd as the vice-chancellor of Darul Uloom, first time in 1284/1867 and 1285/ 1868, when Haji Muhammad Abid went for hajj, he officiated as vice-chancellor and then nearly three years later he was appointed permanently in 1288/1871 and served on this post till the beginning of 1306/1888. During his tenure of office Darul Uloom made much headway, which is considered to be the result of his efficient administration. It is axiomatic that administrative efficiency rarely combines with honesty and trustworthiness, but he possessed both these rare qualities in the highest degree. The total period of his administration is 19 years.
Most of the early buildings of Darul Uloom were constructed during his tenure of office. His architectural taste can be estimated from the buildings of that era, particularly the strength, solidity and beauty of construction of Nawdarah, etc. Amongst the buildings of Darul Uloom the Nawdarah has within it a conspicuous dignity. It is well-known that when the building of the Nawdarah (which was the earliest among the existing buildings) was being laid, he saw a dream that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) was standing at the proposed site and was telling him that "this area is very small" and saying this, drew the area and map of the building with his auspicious staff and said: "Build it on these marks". Next morning when the Maulana got up and inspected the site, he found the marks intact. Accordingly, the foundation of the building was dug on the same marks and the construction was started.
Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Azizur Rahman (d.1347/1928) had received khilafat from Maulana Rafiuddin. In 1306/1888, Maulana Rafiuddin went to the illuminated Madina with the intention of migration and went to glory there after two years, in 1308/1890, and was buried in the Jannatul-Baqee (name of a historical graveyard).
HADHRAT MAULANA ZULFIQAR ALI
Hadhrat Maulana Zulfiqar Ali was Maulana Mahmud Hasan's father. He had studies in Delhi College under Maulana Mamlook Ali Nanautawi (d. 1267/1851). After graduation, he was appointed as a professor in Bareilly College and a few years later he was appointed as Deputy Inspector in the Education Department. He had great mastery over the Arabic language and literature. He wrote Tashilud Darasa as commentary of Divan-e-Himasa, Tashilul-Bayan as the commentary of Diwan-e-Mutanabbi, AI-Ta'liqat ala assab'a al-Muallaqat as the commentary of the Sab'a Mu'allaqa, Irshad as the commentary of Qasida Bint Su'ad, and 'Itrul-Wardah as the commentary of the Qasida-e-Burda, in Urdu. He has translated the unfamiliar and difficult words and idioms of Arabic in such lucid and idiomatic language and the explanation is so agreeable that these tough books of Arabic literature have become very easy and intelligible for the Indian students. In Rhetoric’s he left behind Tazkiratul-Balaghat, and in mathematics, Tashilul-Hisab.
In A. H. 1307 he wrote a brief treatise in Arabic, entitled AI-Hadyatus-Sinya fi Zikril-Madrasatil-Islamiya al-Deobandiya, in which he has reviewed in a very subtle and literary style the attributes and accomplishments of the elders of Darul Uloom and the peculiarities of Deoband.
Regarding Maulana Zulfiqar Ali, the famous author of France, Garcin de Tassy writes:
"He was an alumnus of Delhi College. After some years, he becomes a professor in Bareilly College. In 1857, he was a deputy inspector of schools in Meerut. Mr. Taylor who was acquainted with him says about him that Zulfiqar Ali, besides being intelligent and quick-wilted, was conversant with Persian and western sciences also. He has written a book. Tashilul Hisab (Arithmetic Made Easy) in Urdu, which has been published in Bareilly in 1852"
After receiving pension (on retirement) he served as an Honorary Magistrate in Deoband. He was amongst the earliest founders of Darul Uloom Deoband. He died at the age of 85 years, in 1322/1904. His grave is situated to the east, near Hazrat Nanautawi’s. On his left lies buried Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautawi, of which an interesting indication is given by the following Urdu verse composed by Maulana Fazalur-Rahman Usmani:
"Yes, sleep more comfortably between your own two friends: Qasim of the banquet of affection and the suave Ahsan”.
HADHRAT MAULANA FAZLUR RAHMAN USMANI
Maulana Fazlur Rahman Usmani had also studied under Maulana Mamlook Ali in Delhi College. He was one of the founders of Darul Uloom and remained a member of the Majlis-e-Shura till the end. He was a high-ranking poet of Persian and Urdu; many poems, panegyrics, elegies etc. reflect his high poetical taste. In 1301/1883, a terrific plague had burst out in Deoband. He has versified the devastations of this plague in Persian language. The chronogrammatic name of this descriptive poem is "Qissa-e Gham-e Diban" (A.H.1301), which is a historical document on the conditions of Deoband. Maulana Fazlur Rahman had great expertise in composing chronograms also. Many of his poems and chronogrammatic fragments have been quoted in the reports of Darul Uloom. He held the post of Deputy Inspector of Schools in the Education Department. He was posted as such at Bareilly, Bijnore, Saharanpur and other districts. In 1857 he was deputy inspector of schools at Bareilly. During this tumultuous event when Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautawi was constrained to leave Bareilly, he had entrusted some of his matters to him only.
Maulana Fazalur Rahman passed away in 1325/1907. He left behind amongst his sons such reputed and matchless Ulama like Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Azizur Rahman Usmani, Mufti-e Azam, Darul Uoolm Deoband; Hadhrat Maulana Habibur Rahman Usmani, Vice-Chancellor, Darul Uloom Deoband; and Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, Chancellor, Darul Uloom Deoband. The chief administrator of Nadwatul Musannafeen Delhi, Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Atiqur Rahman Usmani, is his grandson. Hadhrat Maulana Fazlur Rahman's sons and successors have rendered great academic and religious services, which thank Allah, still continue.
HADHRAT MAULANA RASHEED AHMED GANGOHI
Hadhrat Gangohi was born on Monday, 6th Ziqa'da, A.H. 1242, at Gangoh. His august father, Maulana Hidayat Ahmed, was an excellent religious divine of his time and a majaz (a disciple authorized by the murshid to receive bai'ah ---spiritual allegiance--- and give spiritual guidance), of Hadhrat Shah Ghulam Ali Mujaddidi of Delhi.
Hadhrat Gangohi, having read the holy Quran at his native-place, went to kernel to live with his maternal-uncle and under him he studied books of Persian. Then he studied grammar and syntax under Maulawi Muhammad Bakhsh Rampuri. In A. H. 1261, he went to Delhi and became a pupil of Maulana Mamlook Ali Nanautawi. It was here that he cultivated attachment with Hadhrat Nanautawi, which was maintained till the end. In Delhi he read some books of the rational sciences under the instruction of Mufti Sadruddin Azurdah also. At the end he lived in the company of Hadhrat Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi and acquired the science of Hadith from him.
After having completed his education, he waited upon Shaikhul Masha'ikh Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah and attained the honor of bai'ah. Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Nanautawi has stated in Sawaneh-e Qasimi:
“There has been class-fellowship and friendship between Maulawi Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi and Maulawi Muhammad Qasim from this time onwards. In the end he read Hadith under Shah Abdul Ghani and during the same period both of them vowed allegiance to Hadhrat Haji Imdadulluh (may his shadow last long!) and started the Suluk (traversing of the Sun way)". Maulana Rasheed Ahmed traversed the path very quickly; accordingly, within the short span of 40 days, he was awarded khilafat and, returning to Gangoh, he made his abode in Hadhrat Shaikh Abdul Quddus Gangohi's cloister. During this period the means of livelihood was medical practice"
Intrepidly he stirred out from the Quddusian hospice in 1857 to stand up in battle array against the English and, participating in the jihad at Shamli in the company of his murshid, Haji Sahib, and other companions, fought valiantly. When Hafiz Zamin Shaheed fell on the battle ground, he picked up his corpse, took it to a mosque nearby, and sitting near it, started reading the Quran.
After the re-counter of Shamli a warrant of arrest was issued against him. He was arrested and sent to Saharanpur jail from where he was shifted to Muzaffarnagar. Six months were passed in jail. There many prisoners became his adherents with the result that they all began to say prayers congregationally in the prison.
After his release from jail, he started teaching. In A.H. 1299, after his third Hajj he made it an obligation for himself that he would complete the entire Sihah Sitta within one year. The regular practice was that he used to teach the students from morning till 12-00 noon. Hearing about the fame of his teaching, students of Hadith used to come to him from distant places, their number sometimes reaching to seventy and eighty and included students from outside India as well. His behavior with the students used to be very kind and affectionate. The lecture used to be so lucid that even an average man could understand it, and a special quality of his teaching of Hadith was that after listening to the content of a Hadith one used to be infused with the eagerness to act upon it. His lecture on Jama'e Tirmizi has been published under the title AI-Kaukabuddurri, which despite its brevity is a very comprehensive commentary on the Tirmizi. His teaching-work continued till AH. 1314. More than three hundred gentlemen completed the course of Hadith, the last pupil amongst them being Hadhrat Shaikhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariya's august father, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yahya Kandhlawi. In the end, the lectures stopped due to the ailment of cataract in the eyes but the practice of spiritual instruction and inculcation and fatwa issuing continued regularly. Great attention was paid to inducing and persuading the audience and visitors for zikr (remembrance of Allah). Those who came to wait upon him necessarily used to take along with them at least some inclination for the things of the Hereafter. He used to be very anxious about conforming to the Sunnah in every matter.
In A. H. 1297, after Hadhrat Nanautawi's death, he was made patron of Darul Uloom. The unraveling of knotty problems of the Darul Uloom in times of difficulty was one of his great peculiarities. From A. H. 1314 he agreed to be the patron of Madrasah Mazahirl Uloom Saharanpur also. On Fiqh and Tasawwuf he wrote nearly 14 books.
With some variance in report, he died at the age of 78 years on Friday, 8th or 9th Jamadius-Sani, 1323/1905, after the prayer-call for the Friday prayer. Of his pupils, there is a vast circle, which includes great and illustrious Ulama. Similarly, the list of his khalifas (spiritual successors) too is quite long. The details of his life are available in Tazkiratur Rasheed, a book compiled in two volumes by Maulana Ashiq Ilahi Meeruthi.