Back to
 Introduction Home



    From its very inception, Darul Uloom Deoband has been the greatest center of the science of Hadith and it is due to the attraction of this peculiarity that students from distant countries besides India resort to it in large numbers. On the Masnad (seat) of principal ship in Darul Uloom there have always been appointed such Ulema who, besides their knowledge and learning, particularly that of the science of Hadith, are considered peer legs at the time for their asceticism and piety, and spiritual wayfaring and gnosis. Along with the exoteric sciences, students derive the esoteric grace also from them.


    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, Hadhrat Maulana Mamlook Ali, and Hadhrat 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 Hadhrat 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 Anbahtavi, 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 Maulawi-ism".

   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 Hadhrat Maulana Nanautawi, Hadhrat 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 Hadhrat 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 Anbahtawi, 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. Hadhrat 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.


    The lauded Maulana was one of the most glorious Ulema. Besides the traditional sciences, he was considered a leading authority in poetics; in the science of mathematics and astronomy particularly his fame had reached Europe. Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim used to say: "The Beneficent Lord has endowed Maulawi Syed Ahmed with such ability in and affinity with the mathematical sciences that the inventors of these sciences too perhaps had this much only".

   In the third year of the establishment of the Darul Uloom, 1285/1868, he was invited as a second teacher. After Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yaqub's death, he was appointed on the post of principal in which capacity he worked for six years. During this brief period 28 students completed the Daura-e-Hadith under his instruction. During his tenure of principal ship he went for Hajj in A.H. 1305.

   Having resigned from Darul Uloom in 1307/1885, he went to Bhopal and died there (after some time).

   Maulana Syed Ahmed Dehelwi owed allegiance to Hadhrat Nanautawi. Hadhrat Thanwi writes in the margin of his Masnawi Zer-o-Bum: - "Janab Maulana (Syed Ahmed) commanded exceptional skill particularly in the science of mathematics; his consummate, expertise in these sciences was well-known and famous".

   The periphrastic translation of' the couplets on which the said margi­nal note has been written is as follows; ­

    "Secondly, the wayfarer of the path of the Prophet is Maulawi Syed Ahmed Dehelwi.

   If I put into writing the worth of his geist, it will not be over and hundreds of pens will have broken.

   He is the seal of noetics and the science of philosophy, as also of mathematics and other difficult sciences.

   He is virtuous and pious, short-spoken, clement, as well as generous and liberal and bountiful"

    It is a pity that details of Maulana Syed Ahmed's life could not be found.



   Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind was the first ever pupil in Darul Uloom. It is about him that it has been said that the student who first of all opened the book before the teacher, it was Mahmood. Shaikhul Hind was born in 1268/1851 at Bareilly where his august father, Maulana Zulfiqar Ali, was attached to the government education department. Primary education he acquired from his uncle, Maulana Mehtab Ali, who was a famous divine. While he was reading Qaduri and Sharh-e-Tehzib, Darul Uloom came to be established, and he entered it. After completing the course of Darul Uloom in A.H. 1286, he lived in attendance on Hadhrat Nanautawi and acquired the science of Hadith. Thereafter he studied certain higher books of different sciences under the instruction of his august father; and in 1290/1873, he received the "turban of proficiency" at the auspicious hands of Hadhrat Nanautawi. During his student career itself he was counted amongst the distinguished pupils of Hadhrat Nanautawi, who used to show special affection to him. As such, in view of his high academic and mental capacities, the elders choice fell upon him for the teacher ship in the Darul Uloom, and in 1291/1874, he was appointed as the fourth teacher from which post he gradually progressed and got promoted to the post of the principal in .1308/1890.

    Like his external knowledge and learning his interior was also rich. In 1294/1877, he acquired the honor of performing the Hajj in the company of his revered teacher Hadhrat Nanautawi. In the holy Mecca he also received the honor of vowing allegiance to Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah (may his secret be sanctified). A big caravan of Ulema had been formed in this pilgrimage journey in which, besides Hadhrat Nanautawi, preeminent Ulema like Hadhrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Nanautawi, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Mazhar Nanautawi, Maulana Muhammad Munir Nanautawi, Hakim Ziauddin Rampuri and Maulana Ahmed Hasan Kanpuri were in the company. Totally there were nearly one hundred men in the caravan. Shaikhul Hind had also had khilafat from Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah Mahajir-e-Makki. The salary of the principal in those days in Darul Uloom was Rs. 75/- but he never took more than Rs. 50/= the remaining Rs. 25/= he used to contribute to the fund of the Darul Uloom. Due to his great academic personality the number of students had gone up from 200 to 600. During his tenure 860 students completed the course of Hadith. The Shaikhul-Hinds educa­tional grace prepared a group of famous and illustrious Ulema like Hadhrat Maulana Syed Muhammad Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Maulana Ubaydullah Sindhi, Maulana Mansoor Ansari, Hadhrat Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani, Maulana Mufti Kifayatullah Dehelwi, Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, Hadhrat Maulana Syed Asghar Hussain Deobandi, Maulana Syed Fakhruddin Ahmed, Maulana Muhammad Izaz Ali Amrohi, Maulana Muhammad Ibrahim Ballyawi and Maulana Syed Manazir Ahsan Gilani (may Allah have mercy on all of them).

    As regards the Shaikhul Hinds circle of teaching and its peculiarities, Maulana Mian Asghar Hussain has stated: ­

    "Seeing his circle of teaching, the circle of Hadith of the pious ancestors and great traditionists used to come before the eyes. The Quran and Hadith were on his tongue and the practical methods (Mazahib) of the four Imams he had by heart, and the statements of the Companions and Followers (Tabe'in), and Mujtahids were safe in his memory. While lecturing neither the veins of his neck swelled nor did the mouth foam, nor he would make his lecture obtuse and incomprehensible by the use of abstruse words. He would use such light and easy words in idiomatic Urdu and speak with such fluency and fervor that it would seem as if a river was overflowing. It is no hyperbole. Thousands of those who had seen him are present (to testify) that the same man of spare frame, unassuming, skeletal, frail man of God who looked an ordinary, meek student in the rows of prayer, used to appear on the seat of teaching while lecturing as if he was a lion of God who was proclaiming truth with all the force and grandeur at his command. There was no hoarse high-pitch in his tone but intelli­gible, audible voice easily reached up to the door of the Madrasah. There was not a scintilla of pretence and affectation in his tone but God Most High had endowed his speech with effect and his talk used to be cogent so that the hearer would rise up after being convinced that what he was saying was true.

    "Many talented, intelligent and shrewd students who, after having attended upon and deriving benefit from different teachers, used to come to Hadhrat Maulana's presence, and, on getting satisfactory answers to the searching of their hearts and hearing the imports and lofty topics of the Quranic verses and the prophetic Hadiths, would bow their head in submission and admit that no other person had such knowledge and such a research scholar was not there in the world.

   "In open questions he used to describe the practical methods (Mazahib) of the three Imams (Allah's mercy be on them 0, rather of other Mujtahids also and used to quote arguments also briefly, but when Imam Abu Hanifa's turn came, there used to appear expansion in Maulana's heart, liveliness on his face, fluency in his speech and fervency in his tone. He would go on stating argument after argument, witness after witness, and context after context; there would be no pause in speech and he would give preference to the great Imam's Mazahib in such a way that the right-minded and the just would rock with admiration. Presenting corner and far-fetched Hadiths of different topics he would prove the purport thereof in such a way that it would sink into the heart and the audience's heart would bear testimony and would see with their eyes that he was right.

   "Inspite of all the respect and reverence to the Imams of Islam and admission of their accomplishments had become an inseparable part of his teachings. He would himself lecture in such a manner and would clearly instill that all the practical methods of the Mujtahid Imams are true, reasoned through and ratified by the Book and the Sunnah, that to find fault with them is the cause of misfortune and rudeness towards them is the cause of loss.

    "He had had a special attachment to Imam Bukhari amongst the traditionists and to the great Imam amongst the Mujtahid Imams".

   Maulana Ubaydullah Sindhi writes: "1 read Maulana Muhammad Qasim's Hujjatul-Islam under the instruction of Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind. Sometimes, while reading the book, I used to feel as if knowledge and faith (Iman) were descending upon my heart from on high".


    The First World War had not begun yet but its portents had begun to appear. The British Government had begun a cold war against the Ottoman Empire and day by day the situation was growing more and more delicate, so much so that the dreadful flame of war blazed up in 1914/1333. This was a period of great restlessness and anxiety for the Shaikhul Hind. The ideal of the Indian National Congress till then had not proceeded beyond the demanding of rights. Such were the circumstances that compelled Shaikhul Hind to launch a revolutio­nary movement; he prepared a plan to overthrow the British Government through an armed revolution. As you proceed further it will be known that it was a very well organized plan.

   The period of 1330/1911 was a very calamitous period for the world of Islam. The European powers had decided through a secret pact to make a short work of the Turkish Empire. The implementation of this pact began with Italy’s invasion on Tripoli, which was then a part of Turkish territory; France usurped Morocco and the Christian states of Balkan began a series of attack upon the Turks. It was wholly British politics that was working behind the scene. These events were very disquieting for every sympathetic Muslim. The way the English and other European nations were up in arms and at war with the Turks and had resolved to obliterate them from existence, had extremely provoked the Muslims sentiments, and as such Anglophobia was on the increase. At this time great ferment and frenzy were prevalent among the Indian Muslims. The Muslims of the whole world used to consider the Ottoman caliphate as the bulwark of Islam and they used to look upon it with respect and reverence. Its monarchs were called with, the titles of Khalifatul Muslimin (the Muslims Caliph) and Khadimul Harmayn al-Sharifayn (the Servant of the Holy Sanctuaries).

    During this time Shaikhul Hind had prepared a plan on a large scale to finish off the English paramount power in India through an armed revolution for which he had chalked out a well-organized programme. A large group of his disciples and colleagues who had fanned out in India and abroad was striving ardently and with temerity to put into action his prepared plan. From amongst his disciples, Maulana Ubaydullah Sindhi, Maulana Muhammad Mian Mansoor Ansari and many other disciples were participating, having devoted all their lives to implement the Shaikhul Hind's political and revolutionary programme. It was a very organized movement, which made the atmosphere in the whole of India favorable for future freedom. This work had been started at two fronts, one inside the country and the other outside; preparation for an armed struggle was going on at both the fronts.

   The general idea prevalent then was that it was not possible to eject the English from India without might, and since weapons had been seized from the Indians, it was thought necessary to obtain foreign help and assistance in the supply of arms and soldiers to make the war of independence. In this connection Shaikhul Hind first of all looked at Afghanistan; the borders of India and Afghanistan touching each other, it was easiest to get help and weapons from there. Along with this help could also be taken from the free trips inhabiting the border of India, and hence the free territory of Yaghistan had been made the center for the soldiers.

   Shaikhul Hind established rapport with those Ulema of the North West Frontier Province who had been students in the Darul Uloom. The plan was to spread a network against the English from Afghanistan to India and then, at an opportune time, the united and organized might of India and the free tribe was to launch an attack upon British India and, on the other hand, a war of independence was to be started in the whole country. It was his belief that it would be such a situation, which the English would not be able to face.


Back to
 Introduction Home