Shaykh al Muhaddithin Allama Wasi Ahmad Muhaddith Naqshbandi Surati (1252-1334 A.H / 1836-1915 C.E )
SHAYKH AL MUHADDITHIN
ALLAMA WASI AHMAD MUHADDITH SURATI
(1252-1334 A.H / 1836-1915 C.E )
Wasi Ahmad bin Mawlana Muhammad Tayyab bin Muhammad Tahir al Hanafi as Surati, the grand Hadith Master and tutor of Indian scholars, often remembered among the Ahl us Sunnah as Shaykh al Muhaddithin was born at Surat, in the western state of India in 1252 A.H / 1836 C.E.
The family of Shaykh al Muhaddithin had migrated from Madinah al Munawwarah to Surat, India during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shahabuddin Muhammad Shahjahan during the year 1650 C.E.
In1857 C.E the first war of Indian Independence took place. The scholars of Ahl us Sunnah declared Jihad on the British Colonial Government mostly under the initiatives and leadership of Imam al Mantiq Fazl al Haq Chishti Khayrabadi (1212-1278 A.H / 1797-1861 C.E). The family of Shaykh al Muhaddithin fought against the British forces and two brothers of the young Shaykh got martyred. The flourishing cloth business and property of his grandfather was seized by the British and was set on fire. The family was forced to migrate to Iraq where the young Shaykh and his younger brother Shaykh Abdul Latif stayed for three years with their family. From Iraq the Shaykh’s family went to Hijaz al Muqaddas for Hajj and then decided to return to India, while returning Shaykh al Muhaddithin’s father passed away, the family accepted the hardship with patience and reached India sadly. Soon the family re-established its lost business at Surat, after which the mother of Shaykh ul Muhaddithin passed away; she was the maternal grand daughter of Mawlana Khayruddin Muhaddith Surati.
The Shaykh along with his younger brother Shaykh Abdul Latif went to study at Madrasa Husayn Baksh at Delhi. The Shaykh also studied under Mawlana Lutfullah Aligarhi (1244-1334 A.H / 1825-1915 C.E) at Aligarh. In 1865 C.E went to Saharanpur and studied Hadith under Mawlana Ahmad Ali Muhaddith Saharanpuri (d. 1297 A.H /1880 C.E) and received the Sanad (certificate of specialisation) and Ijazah (certificate of authorization) from him.
On the advice of Mawlana Lutfullah Aligarhi (1244-1334 A.H / 1809-1915 C.E) Shaykh al Muhaddithin went to Ganj Muradabad and gave the Baiyah ( Pledge of Allegiance ) to Shaykh Shah Fazl al Rahman Ganj Muradabadi Naqshbandi (1208-1313 A.H / 1793-1894 C.E) and was soon awarded the Khilafa in the Naqshbandi Tariqah of Tasawwuf along with the Sanad and Ijazah in Sihah Sittah and Mishkat al Masabih.
Shaykh Fazl al Rahman dispatched many deputations to various parts of India to reform the Muslim society which was being influenced by Western culture under the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah such as Shaykh al Muhaddithin , Shaykh Muhammad Ali Wayiz Dehlawi , Shaykh Shah Ahmad Hasan Kanpuri (d.1322 A.H / 1903 C.E) and Shaykh Muhammad Ali Kanpuri.
Shaykh Muhammad Ali Kanpuri left the Ahl us Sunnah and later joined the Nadwat al Ulama movement and supported the Wahhabiyah Deobandiyah movement until his death.
The following three months Shaykh al Muhaddithin travelled to Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittong and Kishan Ganj in Eastern India (present day Bangladesh). Shaykh al Muhaddithin met Shaykh Sayyid Abdul Hayy Islamabadi in Bengal and Shaykh al Islam Pir Sayyid Mehr Ali Shah Chishti Golravi ( 1275-1356 A.H / 1859-1937 C.E ) in north western India.
In 1867 C.E upon the order of Shaykh Fazl al Rahman Ganj Muradabadi and invitation of his friend Shaykh Hakeem Khalil al Rahman Pilibhiti he visited Pilibhit, in north central India between the cities of Muradabad and Bareily. In 1301 A.H / 1882 C.E, he established Madrasa al Hadith in Pilibhit, the Foundation ceremony was attended by the renowned Hadith masters and scholars of Ahl us Sunnah from Saharanpur, Lahore, Kanpur, Jaunpur, Rampur, Badayun, Punjab and Bareily. It was here and in this scholarly gathering that Imam al Huda Ahmad Raza Khan Muhaddith Bareilvi (1272-1340 A.H / 1856-1921 C.E) delivered a speech continuously for three hours on Ilm al Hadith (Sciences of Hadith), its fundamentals and its complex branches indicating his mastery in this field. The scholars were astounded by his meticulousness and deep insight in the matters of classification of Hadiths into Sahih (authentic), Hasan (fair), Mutawatir (mass transmitted), Gharib (rare), Zaeef (weak) and Mawdu (fabricated), Ilm al Rijal (Science related to the Biographies of Narrators), fluency in quoting Hadith texts from his memory along with their transmission and the sourcing of Hadiths to the great as well as rare Books of Hadith literature which ran into hundreds of volumes, his Heart rendering and Faith boosting tribute to those who excelled in this noble field and respected criticism of those who flawed in these sciences.
Shaykh Khalil al Rahman Sharanpuri, the son of Shaykh ul Muhaddithin’s teacher in Hadith Mawlana Ahmad Ali Muhaddith Saharanpuri, ultimately kissed the blessed hands of Imam Ahmad Raza and praised him with these words:
“Had my father been alive today, he would have whole heartedly attested to your mastery in Hadith and he had the right to do so”.
Shaykh al Muhaddithin Wasi Ahmad and Mawlana Muhammad Ali Mongeri (1262-1364 A.H / 1846-1944 C.E), (the first Rector of Nadwat ul Ulama when it was founded in 1310 A.H / 1892 C.E at Lukhnow), accredited this reality. In the presence of hundreds of Ahl us Sunnah Scholars from around the subcontinent Imam al Akbar Ahmad Raza Khan laid the Foundation stone of the Madrasa al Hadith at Pilibhit.
Shaykh al Muhaddithin gave lessons in Hadith for more than 40 years. He was among the famous and highest respected authorities in the field of Hadith in the subcontinent. His fame spread far and wide especially in the cities of Saharanpur, Jaunpur, Rampur, Kanpur, Muradabad, Aligarh, Patna and Lahore. Shaykh al Muhaddithin used to teach Hadith continuously from Fajr in the morning to late midnight, except for prayer timings and little leisurely intervals.
Shaykh Ahmad Ali Muhaddith Saharanpuri used to regard him as his successor in Hadith tutorship. Hafiz al Millat Shaykh Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Quadri Ashrafi Mubarakpuri (1313-1396 A.H / 1894-1976 C.E ), the founder of Jamiyah al Ashrafiya, Mubarakpur, India narrates that Shaykh al Muhaddithin had complete command over Sahih al Bukhari to an extant that he used to narrate and teach it from memory. It is widely and authentically accepted among the scholars of Ahl us Sunnah that he was a complete Hafiz (memoriser) of Sahih al Bukhari including the Hadith text (matn) and its chains of narrators (isnad) .
The famous Wahhabi scholar and historian Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi (d.1999 C.E) writes in Nuzhat ul Khawatir, volume 7, page 517:
“His Marginalia (hashiya) and notes on Sunan Nisai and Sharh Ma'ni al Athar are presently known, from which his weak (poor) insight in Ilm al Hadith can be felt.”
The only reason for this false allegation is that Shaykh al Muhaddithin was a close friend and aide of Imam al Huda Ahmad Raza who was at the forefront of those scholars who refuted the Wahhabiya in India.
His Hashiya Sharh Ma'ni al Athar and contributions to Hadith sciences has been praised by every Sunni scholar of the subcontinent except the Wahhabiya who try their level best to hide the great contributions of Ahl us Sunnah scholars in the field of Quranic sciences, Hadith and Fiqh and disparage the status of Sunni scholars. In a similar fashion Shaykh Ali Nadvi attacks the status of Imam al Huda in Tafsir and Hadith in his biographical note on him in Nuzhat ul Khawatir.
Misbah al Ummah Shaykh Misbah ul Hasan Quadri (1304-1384 A.H / 1885-1964 C.E) narrates that it was the wish of Shaykh ul Muhaddithin to die while teaching the noble Hadith. Allah accepted this noble wish and Shaykh al Muhaddithin Wasi Ahmad Muhaddith Surati died in 1334 A.H / 1915 C.E with the Mishkat al Masabih resting upon his chest. Hujjat al Islam Hamid Raza Khan Quadri Bareilvi led the Funeral prayer and Shaykh Hafiz Muhammad Ismail Mahmudabadi buried him near Masjid Madrasah al Hadith, Pilibhit. Imam al Huda Ahmad Raza Khan Quadri Muhaddith Bareilvi sourced the chronological year of death from the Ayah of the Holy Quran which states:
"There shall be passed around them silver vessels and goblets" ( 76:15 ).= 1334 A.H.
It is important to note that this same Ayah also holds and informs the year of death of Imam al Huda when "And" is prefixed to the Ayah which results in = 1340 A.H.
1.. Sadr al Shariyah Mufit Amjad Ali A’zami Quadri Razvi . (1296-1367 A.H / 1878-1948 C.E)
2.. Malik al Ulama Mufti Sayyid Zafaruddin Muhaddith Quadri Razvi. (1303-1382 A.H / 1886-1962 C.E)
3.. Qutb al Madinah Ziauddin Ahmad Madani Quadri. (1294-1401 A.H / 1877-1881 C.E)
4.. Misbah al Ummah Shaykh Misbah al Hasan Quadri (1304-1384 A.H / 1885-1964 C.E)
5.. Muhaddith al A’zam Sayyid Muhammad Ashrafi al Jilani.(1311-1381 A.H / 1892-1961 C.E)
6.. Rayis al Ulama Shaykh Sulayman Ashraf Quadri Bihari. (1295-1358 A.H / 1878-1939 C.E)
7.. Shaykh al Muhaddithin’s own son Sultan al Wayizin Abdul Ahad Muhaddith Quadri Razvi.(1302-1352 A.H / 1883-1933 C.E)
The two sons of Shaykh Ahmad Hasan Kanpuri.(d.1322 A.H / 1903 C.E) - the Khalifa of Shaykh ul Mashaikh Haji Imdadullah Chishti Sabri Muhajir Makki (1233-1317 A.H / 1817-1899 C.E) and Shaykh Shah Fazl al Rahman Ganj Muradabadi Naqshbandi (1208-1313 A.H / 1793-1894 C.E).
8.. Shaykh Mushtaq Ahmad Quadri Kanpuri.(d.1360 A.H / 1941C.E)
9.. Shaykh Nisar Ahmad Quadri Kanpuri. (1299-1350 A.H / 1880-1931 C.E)
10. Shaykh Sayyid Khadim Husayn bin Shaykh Sayyid Jamaat Ali Shah Muhaddith
Alipuri.(1257-1370 A.H / 1886-1962 C.E)
11.Shaykh Mufti Abdul Qadir Lahori.
12.Shaykh Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Bijnori.
Shaykh al Muhaddithin had very close and intimate relations with Imam al Huda Ahmad Raza Khan. He used to send most of his students to study Hadith under Imam al Huda and give the Pledge of Allegiance (baiyah) to him in the Quadriya Barkatiya tariqah. Therefore, Sadr al Shariyah Amjad Ali A’zami, Malik al Ulama Sayyid Zafaruddin Bihari, Qutb al Madinah Ziauddin Ahmad Madani, Sultan ul Wayizin Abdul Ahad Pilibhiti Quadri all took the Pledge of Allegiance (baiyah) at the hands of Imam al Akbar Ahmad Raza Khan and received the Khilafa in the same Tariqah from Imam al Akbar. Muhaddith al A’zam Hind Sayyid Muhammad Ashrafi, Shaykh Mushtaq Ahmad Quadri Kanpuri, Shaykh Nisar Ahmad Quadri Kanpuri also received the Khilafah of Quadriya Barkatiya Tariqah from Imam al Akbar Ahmad Raza Khan Quadri Hanafi Bareilvi.
Shaykh al Muhaddithin was the one who requested Imam al Huda to write a commentary on the Arabic Aqidah work titled 'Mu'taqad ul Muntaqad' of Shaykh Fazl al Rasul Quadri Badayuni (1213-1289 A.H / 1797-1872 C.E) which contains the verifications and endorsements of Imam al Mantiq Fazl al Haq Chishti Khayrabadi (1212-1278 A.H / 1797-1861 C.E), Shaykh Mufti Sadruddin Arzu Dehlavi (1204-1280 A.H / 1789-1863 C.E), Shaykh al Tariqah Ahmad Saeed Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Dehlavi (1217-1277 / 1802-1860 C.E) and Shaykh Hyder Ali Fayzabadi on the Fatwa of Kufr on the first Wahhabi scholar of Indian subcontinent Shah Ismail Dehlavi (1193-1246 / 1779-1831 C.E).
Imam al Akbar Ahmad Raza wrote a marginalia and commentary on this book titled 'Mu'tamad ul Mustamad' which resulted in the collection and publication of Fatawa of Kufr by the Makkan and Madinian scholars on the Four Wahhabi Deobandi scholars and their by-product Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani titled 'Hussam al Haramayn ala Munhir al Kufr wal Mayn' .
Bibliography of Shaykh ul Muhaddithin’s Works
1>Hashiya Sunan Nisai.
2>Hashiya Ma’ani al Athar of Imam Tahawi, which was published from Cairo, Egypt.
3>Hashiya Tafsir al Jalalayn.
4>Hashiya Mishkat al Masabih.
5>Ta’liq al Mujalla Sharh Muniyat al Musalla.
6>Jami al Shawahid bi Khiraj il Wahhabayn anil Masajid: The first ever Fatwa in the form of book on the expulsion of Wahhabiya from Mosques (masajid).This work of Shaykh ul Muhaddithin was edited by Faqih al Millat Mufti Muhammad Jalaluddin Ahmad Razvi Amjadi (1352-1422 A.H / 1933-2001 C.E) in 1416 A.H / 1995 C.E for the first time. This Fatwa contains the verifications and authentications of Imam al Huda and the scholars of Hijaz such as Shaykh Sayyid Ahmad bin Dahlan (d.1299 A.H /1881 C.E), the Shafai Mufti and Shaykh Abdur Rahman Siraj (d.1301 A.H / 1883 C.E), the Hanafi Mufti of Makkah al Mukarramah.
Faith Boosting Incidents
1. Muhaddith al A’zam Hind Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Ashrafi al Jilani Quadri Kichochavi (1311-1381 A.H / 1892-1961 C.E) was one of the last students of Shaykh ul Muhaddithin .
Muhaddith al A’zam once asked his Hadith teacher:
“You have the honour of giving Baiyah to Mawlana Fazl al Rahman Ganj Muradabadi but I see that your fondness and love towards Ala Hazrat is too extreme than towards anybody else. The memory of Ala Hazrat, his memoirs, the sermons and orations of his grace, excellence and marvels hold the status of Soul for your Life. What is the reason?”
Shaykh al Muhaddithin replied: “Son, the greatest wealth is neither that knowledge which I got from Mawlvi Muhammad Ishaq Mahshi Bukhari nor is the Baiyah which I fortuned at Ganj Muradabad but rather it is that Iman ( faith ) which is the Axis of Salvation which I attained only from Ala Hazrat and Ala Hazrat is the one who settled Madinah (the status of Muhammad ) in my Heart with full magnificence and grandeur, this is the reason that his memoirs bring loftiness in my Spirit and I hold each word of his as a torchbearer of guidance for myself.”
2: Amir ul Muminin fil Hadith: Muhaddith al A’zam Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Ashrafi narrates that once he asked his respected teacher Muhaddith Surati:
“What is Ala Hazrat’s status in Ilm al Hadith”.
Shaykh ul Muhaddithin replied: “Ala Hazrat is the Amir ul Muminin fil Hadith of this Age”and then asked: “Son, did you understand its meaning?, that is if I become his (AlaHazrat) student the whole of my Life in this field (Ilm ul Hadith) then also I would never reach his weight (status). I said: “It is True, only a Wali can know the real status of Wali”.
Shaykh al Muhaddithin was 20 years elder to Imam al Akbar yet he used to respect and revere Imam al Akbar a lot for his knowledge and piety. Shaykh al Muhaddithin often used to send Questions to Imam al Akbar for answers, one such question is present apart from many others in 'Al Ataya al Nabwiya fi Fatawa al Razwiya' in relation with the Hadiths on the virtues and merits of praying Salah while a wearing a Turban. Imam al Akbar mentions in detail 20 Hadiths with their Isnad and a respectful criticism of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hajr Asqalani (773-852 A.H) regarding the mentioned Hadiths and their Isnad.
Sources: Tazkirah Akabir e Ahlus Sunnah by Shaykh Shafiq Ahmad Razvi Shareefi Allahabadi, Imam Ahmad Raza aur Tasawwuf by Sadr al Ulama Shaykh Muhammad Ahmad Quadri Misbahi and Imam Ahmad Raza ki Muhaddithana Azmat by Shaykh Yasin Akhtar Quadri Misbahi.
Note: This biography is concise and can not in any way summarise the immense contributions of Shaykh al Muhaddithin! It has been written just to provide glimpses of his noble life and works! Inshallah, in the near future, an attempt will be made to present the complete chronicles of this great scholar of Ahl us Sunnah wal Jamah.
1.>Nuzhat ul Khawatir is a non reliable biographical work as regards to the Biographies of Ahlus Sunnah scholars from the period of 1780's to late 1950's. It was written by Shaykh Sayyid Abdul Hayy and was extended later on by his son, the famous Wahhabi Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi.
2.> The contributions of Ahlus Sunnah scholars in the field of Tafsir and Hadith will be shortly posted under two titles "Tafsir Literature of Ahlus Sunnah in the Subcontinent" and "Indian Muhaddithin and their contributions to Hadith Literature".
Compiled and Edited by
Basharath Ali Siddiqui Ashrafi; email@example.com