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ARBAB-E-IHTEMAM

(VICE-CHANCELLORS)

 1. 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 Masnawi, 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.

2. HADHRAT MAULANA RAFIUDDDIN

    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).

3. HADHRAT HAJI SYED FAZLE HAQ

   Haji Sahib belonged to a Rizwi Syed family of Deoband. He had had the honor of vowing allegiance to Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi. He was a member of the Majlis-e Shura of Darul Uloom from the very inception.

   During Haji Muhammad Abid's vice-chancellor ship he served Darul Uloom for many years in the capacity of a manager. He was appointed as vice-chancellor when Haji Muhammad Abid resigned in 1310/1892. He resigned from this post after having served the institution for nearly one year.

   Haji Fazle Haq had written a biography of Hadhrat Nanautawi, which has not been published so far. Excerpts from this unpublished biography have been given at various places in the Sawanah-e Qasimi, compiled by Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilani, who has called his source Sawanh-e Makhtuta (Biography in Manuscript). From these excerpts it appears that it must be a very comprehensive and complete biography. His authorial capacities were combined with administrative ability in the highest degree; before his joining Darul Uloom he had served in the govern­ment educational department at Saharanpur for a long time.

4. HADHRAT MAULANA MUNIR NANAUTAWI

   He was a younger brother of the famous divine and author Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautawi and Maulana Muhammad Mazhar. He was born at Nanauta in 1247/1831. Primary education he received from his father, Hafiz Lutf Ali, and then entered the Delhi College, where he derived academic benefit from Maulana Mamluk Ali Nanautawi, Mufti Sadruddin Azurda and Hadhrat Shah Abdul Ghani Dehelwi. Maulana Muhammad Munir was a very active and ardent participant and fighter in the war of inde­pendence of 1857. He participated shoulder to shoulder with other elders in the battle of Shamli and fought very intrepidly. After this battle he went into hiding. After the declaration of general amnesty he went to his elder brother, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan, at Bareilly and in 1861/1278, got an employment in the Bareilly College. He stayed in Bareilly till he got pension. During this stay at Bareilly he also acted as manager of his brother, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan's press, Matba-e Siddique, Bareilly.

   Maulana M. Munir paid allegiance to the Naqshbandia order. He has translated Imam Ghazali's book, Minhajul A'bidin, into Urdu under the title, Sirajus Salikin, which was published in 1281/1864 from Matba-e Siddiq. His other work entitled Fawa'id-e Ghariba also consists of the problems of Tasawwuf.

    Maulana Munir held a very high rank in honesty and integrity. An event regarding him has been given in the Arwah-e Salasa that the Maulana took two hundred and fifty rupees and went to Delhi to get the Annual Report of Darul Uloom printed. By chance this amount was stolen there. Maulana Munir without informing anyone of this mishap came to his native-place Nanauta, collected money by selling his land, got the report printed and came back. When the members of the Majils-e Shura came to know of it, they inquired the proposition (mas'ala) regarding this from Hadhrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi. The reply came from there that "the vice-chancellor was a trustee and since the money was lost with­out any wrongdoing, he cannot be penalized for it". Showing Hadhrat Gangohi's fatwa to Maulana Munir the members of the Majlis requested him to take back his money, but he said: "It is not a matter of fatwa. Had such an incident befallen Maulana Rasheed Ahmed, would he have taken the money"? As such, despite insistence, he refused to take back the money.

 

5. HADHRAT MAULANA MUHAMMAD AHMED

   Hafiz Sahib was Hadhrat Nanautawi's well-guided son. He was born at Nanauta in 1279/1862. After his memorizing the Holy Quran, his august father sent him to Gulaothi (Dist. Buland Shahr) for his primary education in Madrasah Manbaul Uloom, which Hadhrat Nanautawi himself had established there. Maulana Abdullah Anbahtawi was a teacher in that Madrasah. There­after, for further studies, he was sent to Madrasa-e Shahi of Moradabad where Hadhrat Nanautawi's well-guided disciple, Maulana Ahmed Hasan Amrohi used to teach. After having studied different books of religious arts and sciences, he came to Deoband and became a pupil of Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind. He read some lessons of Tirmizi Sharif under the instruction of Maulana Muhammad Yaqub. Reaching Gangoh he completed the Daura-e Hadith in Hadhrat Gangohi's circle of teaching and studied Jalalayn and Baizavi also there.

   In 1303/1885, he was appointed as a teacher in Darul Uloom and thus he got a chance of teaching different arts and sciences. In 1310/1892 when Haji Muhammad Abid resigned from vice-chancellorship, two incumbents (Haji Fazle Haq Deobandi and Maulana Muhammad Munir Nanautawi) succeeded each other but could not run the management for more than a year each. As this yearly change was deranging the administra­tion, in 1313/1895, Hadhrat Gangohi selected Hafiz Sahib for this post. Being a very good administrator, influential and dignified, he very soon brought the administration under control and proved exceptionally worthy of all the hopes that had been cherished of him at the time of the appoint­ment. Hadhrat Shaikhul Hind who was principal, inspite of being his teacher, used to give more importance to Hafiz Sahib for being his own teacher's son.

   During the Hafiz Sahib's vice-chancellorship Darul Uloom made extraordinary progress. At the time he took the reins of administration into his hands, the average income was only file to six thousand rupees per annum during his tenure of office this average reached ninety thousand per annum. Similarly the average of students went up to nearly nine hundred. The number of books at that time was five thousand; it rose to forty thousand. In 1313/1895 the cost of the buildings of Darul Uloom Deoband was thirty-six thousand rupees; during his regime it spiraled to nearly four lakes.

   In short, during the period of his vice-chancellorship, Darul Uloom made unprecedented progress, both internally and externally. Before his administration there was no clean and regular set-up of departments and offices and though Darul Uloom had essentially developed into a "Darul Uloom" (university), in respect of its buildings and outward shape and form it changed from a Madrasah into a university during his regime only. Different departments and offices were organized and made systematic, and there was an unusual increase in the gamut of influence as well. In short, Darul Uloom kept advancing towards progress from day to day. As such, his tenure of vice-chancellorship is considered a very brilliant and golden chapter in the history of Darul Uloom.

   The magnificent building of the Darul Hadith, which is the first of its kind in India, was raised during his administration. The beginning of the construction of the new hostel, which is known as Jadid Darul Iqama, and the buildings of the mosque and the library too are the monuments of his time. The memory of that great convocation, held (during his regime) in 1328/1910, in which more than one thousand graduates were awarded the "turban of proficiency", is still fresh in the mind of the people.

   In connection with the development of Darul Uloom, Hafiz Sahib toured several cities in the country and got fixed many permanent dona­tions for Darul Uloom, his journeys to the former Bhopal, Bhawalpur and Hyderabad states particularly will always remain memorable. The amount of monthly help from Hyderabad was fixed at Rs. 100/-. Hafiz Sahib went to Hyderabad and through his influence got it raised to Rs. 250/- p.m., in the second journey of his it was made Rs.500/- p.m. and in the third it went up to Rs.1,000/- p.m., which continued till the merger of the state.

   Then British government had awarded the title of Shamsul Ulema to him, but on account of the liberty loving tack of Darul Uloom he did not approve of being a titled person of the (alien) govern­ment and therefore returned the said title after some time. This is also a peculiarity of his tenure of office that the governors of the United Provinces came to visit Darul Uloom twice. At the proposed site of the Darul Hadith there used to flow a sewer of the town which was not only obstructing the construction of the Darul Hadith but was also, by its proximity, polluting the climate of Darul Uloom. Inspite of the constant efforts of the elders of Darul Uloom the local petty officials were not willing to remove this sewer. By inviting the governor Hafiz Sahib brought about a solution of this difficulty and the said sewer was removed from the site at government expense. It was Hafiz Sahib's greatest characteristic quality that he used to solve the most difficult task of Darul Uloom easily.

    While he kept an eye on the minutest particulars of the students and kept them under check and control with warning and admonition, he was also equally extremely kind and affectionate to them. Patronizingly looking after the students ordinary needs, he used to pay special attention to the treatment of sick students. His awe over the teachers and the taught was proverbial. His dinner cloth was very wide: with extreme large mindedness he used to bear the burden of the guests of Darul Uloom personally.

   His preoccupation with teaching did not cease even during his func­tioning as vice-chancellor; he used to teach Mishkatul Masabih, Jalalayn Sharif, Sahih-e Muslim, Ibn Maja, Mukhtasarul Ma'ani, Risala Mir Zahid, etc. very zestfully. His lectures used to be very clear, coherent and uncomplicated. He had great mastery over his august father's sciences and subjects.

   The Nizam of the Deccan had appointed Hafiz Sahib on the post of Chief Mufti in the Hyderabad state. On this highest religious post of the Asafiyah state he worked from 1341/1922 to 1344/1925. During the course of his stay in Hyderabad he had invited the Nizam to pay a visit to Darul Uloom and this invitation had been accepted. The programme was such that when the Nizam went to Delhi, he would also visit Darul­ Uloom. He was expected to come to Delhi in 1347/1928. So Hafiz Sahib went to Hyderabad to remind the Nizam of his promise. At the time he was intending to go to Hyderabad he was indisposed; the weakness of old age and chronic illness had made him very weak, but not caring for his own health in the interest of the Darul Uloom, he started for Hyderabad. On reaching there he became more ill. At first it was awaited that if there was some relief he should meet the Nizam but when the ill­ness continued to increase day by day, the adherents and companions of the journey decided to take him back to Deoband. So they started from Hyderabad with the intention of returning but while the train was still within the our skirts of Hyderabad, Hafiz Sahib breathed his last at the Nizamabad railway station and entered the circle of those martyrs who die in journey (lit, "He who died in journey is a martyr"). This incident occurred on 3rd Jamadil Ula, A. H. 1347/A. D. 1928. Before death his tongue was reciting Allah's name the fingers had been folded on the figure of 29 when the soul left the body.

    The dead body was taken out of the train at the Nizamabad railway station and the bier was prepared. Relatives and the Nizam were informed telegraphically. In his reply the Nizam asked the bier to be taken to Hyderabad. Funeral services were held a number of times in Nizamabad and Hyderabad. Next day, on 4th Jamadil Ula, at govern­ment expense, he was laid to rest in a special graveyard, which is known as Khitta-e Salihin ("the Yard of the Pious"). The Nizam, while giving condolences, mournfully uttered this effective sentence: "He had come to take me, but alas! he himself remained here".

   In view of the valuable services Hafiz Sahib rendered to Islam and the Muslims through the Darul Uloom, his demise was considered a stupendous loss of the Darul Uloom and the Muslims, and throughout the length and breadth of India innumerable condolence meetings and concelebrating for remitting recompense to his departed soul were held among both Deobandi and non-Deobandi groups of Muslims.

   Hafiz Sahib served Darul Uloom for 45 years, the initial 10 years in teaching and 35 years in functioning as vice-chancellor.

 


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