The Most Prominent Six Figures of Deobandi Sunni School of Islam.

1. Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi

2. Rashid Ahmad Gangohi

3. Mahmud Hasan Deobandi

4. Ashraf Ali Thanawi

5. Anwar Shah Kashmiri

6. Muhammad Tayyib


2. Imam al-Rabbani Rashid Ahmad Gangohi…

One of the most renowned scholars of Hadith and FiqahHanafit, most influential jurist in the arena of Darul Uloom Deoband, teachers of eminent Deobandi Ulama and Spiritual Guide, among his writings is most popular Fatawa E Rashidiyah… 

Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was born on Monday, 6th Ziqa'da, A.H. 1242, at Gangoh, Dist Saharanpur, UP, India. In A. H. 1261, he went to Delhi and became a pupil of Mawlana Mamluk Ali Nanawtawi. It was here that he cultivated attachment with Hujjat al-Islam Imam Mohammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi, 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 Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi and acquired the science of Hadith from him.
Though there is no historical evidence that he had actively played any role in the establishment of Darul Uloom Deoband but he was attached with Imam Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi since the time of their studentship. Therefore, the historians believe that he was not unaware about the establishment of Darul Uloom Deoband in 1283A.H/1866CE. His official link with Darul Uloom Deoband is traced back in the year of 1285A.H two years after the establishment of ‘Madrasa ArabiIslami Deoband.’ He became second patron of Darul Uloom Deoband after the demise of Al-Nanawtawi, founder of Darul Uloom Deoband. He played crucial role in the establishment of DarulUloom’s curriculum. Therefore, along with Al-Nanawtawi Gangohi’s disposition is also the backbone of the tack of Darul Uloom Deoband. With some variance in report, he died at the age of 78 years on Friday, 8th or 9th Jamadi al-Thani, 1323/1905, after the prayer-call for the Friday prayer. The details of his life are available in Tazkirah al-Rasheed, a book compiled in two volumes by AshiqIlahi Meeruthi.

3. Shaykh al-Hind Mahmud Hasan…

First Disciple of Al-Nanawtawi, teacher of eminent Ulama of Deoband, authority over the four Mazahib, great freedom fighter for India’s Independence, father of Khilafat Movement, founder of India’s biggest Muslim organization Jamiat Ulama E Hind, founder of Delhi’s modern university Jamia Millia Islamia…

Mahmud Hasan, later entitled Shaykh al Hind, was born in 1268/1851 at Bareilly. He was the first student of Madarsa Arabi Islami Deoband whose teacher was another Mahmud. (Mullah Mahmud was first teacher of Darul Uloom Deoband; he was appointed and sent by Al-Nanawtawi from Meerut in 1866).
In 1290/1873, he received the "turban of proficiency" at the auspicious hands of Al-Nanawtawi. During his student career itself he was counted amongst the distinguished pupils of Imam Mohammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi, he was appointed as the fourth teacher from this post he gradually progressed and got promoted to the post of the principal in1308/1890. In 1877 in the holy city of Makkah he also received the honor of vowing allegiance to Hadhrat  Haji Imdadullah, he performed Hajj this year with his teacher and mentor Al-Nanawtawi.
In open questions he used to describe the practical methods (Mazahib) of the Three Imams (Allah's mercy be on them) 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 Mahmud Hasan’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 Mazhab. He had had a special attachment to Imam Bukhari amongst the traditionalists and to the Great Imam Abu Hanifah amongst the Mujtahid Imams.
Hasan was politically active too. Famous silken letters movement, Khilafat Movement and his imprisonment in Malta by British regime are very much popular in Indian history and freedom struggle.
Besides innumerable divines and scholars amongst his disciples, the Urdu translation of the Holy Quran, Adilla-e Kamila, IzahulAdilla, Ahsanul-Qura, Jahdul-Maqal, AI-Abwabwal-Tarajim, various fatawa and political addresses are his authorial remains. 
He died on Nov 30, 1920 in Delhi and was buried in Deoband near the grave of Al-Nanawtawi.

4. Hakimul-Ummah al-Mujaddid Ashraf Ali Thanawi…

Al-Ghazali of Indian Subcontinent, fourth amongst the Great Mujaddideen—Mujaddid Alf Thani, Wali Allah of Delhi, Muhammad Qasim Al-Nanawtawi; greatest spiritual healer of his time, revivalist of Sunnah and destroyer of Bid’ah, writer of around 1000 books, epistles and treatises on Quran, Hadith and Tasawwuf, amongst them most famous voluminous Tafsir Bayan al Quran, Imdad al-Fatawa, Al-Tabligh and encyclopedic BehashtiZewar for Muslim women… 

Ashraf Ali Thanwai was born in the village of Thana Bhawan on the fifth of Rabi‘ al-Awwal, 1280 ah (August 19, 1863 CE). One of the greatest scholars of Quran, Hadith and Tasawwuf ever the land of Indian-subcontinent produced. In Indian subcontinent Ashraf Ali Thanawi stands equal to al-Ghazali in the same capacity Hujjat al Islam Al-Ghazali stood during the medieval Islamic civilization. Ashraf Ali Thanawi produced around 1000 literary work and eminent disciples. Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi, referred to by many South Asian Muslims as Hakim al-Ummat (“Spiritual Physician of the Muslim Ummah”) and Mujaddid al-Millat (“Reformer of the Nation”), is a towering figure of Islamic revival and reawakening of South Asia in the twentieth century. Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi was the “most eminent religious figure of his time, a prolific author, and believed to be the greatest Sufi of modern India.”

In 1295AH Ashraf Ali Thanwi was enrolled at the prestigious Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband; he graduated in 1301. Among his teachers were Al-Nanawtwi, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Muhammad Ya‘qub Nanawtawi and Mahmud Hasan. Thanawi paid allegiance to Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki. Thanwi visited Haji Imdadullah during his first hajj in 1301AH (1884 CE). In 1310AH, Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi left for the pilgrimage a second time and, after performing the hajj, stayed with his Shaykh for six months. A master of Islamic spirituality, Ashraf Ali Thanwi is “widely considered the preeminent Sufi of modern India”. His approach to tasawwuf was in complete harmony with the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Mujaddid Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s students and disciples constitute a generation of leading scholars of South Asia. Muhammad Tayyib (grandson of Al-Nanawtawi, Rector of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband for over fifty years, from the early 1930s to the early 1980s), Muhammad Masihullah Khan (founder of Madrasa Miftah al- ‘Ulum in Jalalabad, India, and a leading spiritual figure of the past century), Mufti Muhammad Shafi ‘ (head mufti of Dar al-Ulum Deoband before partition and, after migrating to Pakistan, founder of Dar al-Ulum Karachi, one of the largest academies of religious sciences today in Pakistan, and, also the former Grand Mufti of Pakistan), Mufti Muhammad Hasan of Amritsar (founder of Jami ‘a Ashrafiyya, Lahore, Pakistan), Khayr Muhammad Jalandhary (founder of Jamia Khayr al-Madaris, Multan, Pakistan), Abd al-Bari Nadwi (renowned theologian and philosopher in India who taught modern philosophy at Osmania University in Hyderabad and translated the books of Western philosophers, such as Descartes, into Urdu and left behind many valuable literary tracts), Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi (great researcher and the outstanding student of Shibli Nu ‘mani who turned to Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi for spiritual reformation), Muhammad Ilyas (founder of the Tabligh Movement), Abd al-Majid Daryabadi, Aziz al-HasanMajdhub (great poet and mystic, author of Ashraf al-sawanih, a four volume biography of al-Mujaddid Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi), Muhammad Idris Kandhlawi (author of Ma‘arif al-Qur’an, a commentary of the Qur’an, and Al-Ta‘liq al- sabih, a commentary of Tabrizi’s hadith collection Mishkat al-Masabih), Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani (author of the twenty-two volume compendium in Hanafi Law, I‘la’ al-Sunan), Muhammad Yusuf Binnori (author of Ma‘arif al-Sunan, a commentary on the Sunan of Imam Tirmidhi, founder of Jamia Binnoria, Pakistan), etc. are the eminent disciples of Ashraf Ali Thanawi.
Thanawi died in 1362 AH (1943CE) and is buried in his hometown Thana Bhavan.

5. Imam al-Muhaddithin Anwar Shah Kashmiri…

The one stands equal to Ibn Taymiyyah with extraordinary memory, the greatest Jurist and the greatest Muhaddith of Indian subcontinent surpasses Abdul Haq Muhaddith of Delhi, most famous of his four-volume Faizul Bari- the lecture on Sahih Bukhari…

Anwar Shah Kashmiri was a native of Kashmir. He was born in 1292/1875. In 1311/1893 he came to Darul Uloom Deoband. Shaykh al-­Hind Mahmud Hasan was then gracing the Darul Uloom.  in 1314/1896, obtaining the academic mastery over the higher books of Hadith, Tafsir and other arts, he went to attend upon Imam Rabbani Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and besides obtaining a Sanad (certificate) of Hadith, he also acquired esoteric knowledge. 

In the science of Hadith he was a matchless traditionalist; in jurisprudential sciences, the greatest jurisprudent; if in conformance to the Shari'ah, he was a specimen of the ancient virtuous men, then in esoteric knowledge he was the Junaid of his time and the Shibli of the period. If his existence was the cause .of strength for the Shari'ah, it was a source of pride for the Mystic Path also. He had acquired the honor of khilafat Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. His disciples have fanned out in legions in undivided India, Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, South Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia. During his stay in Darul Uloom, 809 students completed the Hadith Course. Anwar Shah’s memory was prodigious. Ibn Humam's famous book, Fath al-Qadeer, in eight bulky volumes, Anwar Shah had perused in such a way in twenty days that along with reading he was also summarizing its Kitab al-Hajj in black and white and simultaneously was also writing answers to the objections Ibn Humam has raised against the author of the Hidayah.
The comprehensiveness of the series of his lectures on Hadith can be estimated from the Faiz al-Bari, which is a long lecture on SahihBukhari and has been published in four bulky volumes. 
When the most famous Egyptian divine of the time, Syed RasheedRadha, came to Deoband and listened Anwar Shah’s lecture, he would spontaneously exclaim again and again: "I have never seen any religious divine like this glorious professor"!

The interest the late Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal had developed in the Islamic teachings owed much to the grace of Anwar Shah’s company. The learned Dr. Iqbal had learnt much of Islamic knowledge from Anwar Shah and hence he used to revere him very much.

After the demise of Anwar Shah in 1932 Shaykh al-Islam Shabbir Ahmed Usmani had said in his condolatory speech that:

"Had any man of Egypt and Syria asked me if I had seen Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani, Shaikh Taqiuddin bin Daqiqul Id and Sultan al-Ulama Azzuddin bin Abdus Salam, then I could have said metaphorically: 'Yes, I have seen, because there is only precedence and subsequence of the period. Had Anwar Shah too been in the sixth or seventh century (hijri), he also would have been of their rank for being the owner of those peculiarities".

6. Hakim al-Islam Muhammad Tayyib (d. 1983)…

The “Second Architect” of Darul Uloom Deoband, grandson of Founder Al-Nanawtawi, longest serving Rector in the history of DarulUloom Deoband (1929-1983), founder-president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, most famous of his voluminous Khutbat Hakim al- Islam and Maslak Ulama-e Deoband
Mohammad Tayyib was born in Deoband as an illustrious son of Hafiz Muhammad Ahmad in 1897. He started studying Arabic and syllabus of Islamic Sciences, which he completed in 1918 and secured the certificate of graduation. During his education he was especially trained by Anwar Shah Kashmiri and later by Ashraf Ali Thanawi. Anwar Shah Kashmiri was his special teacher in the Science of Hadith. In 1931 he received Khilafah from Ashraf Ali Thanawi. In 1929 after Habibur Rahman’s demise, he was appointed Rector of Darul Uloom Deoband. He toured foreign countries, all countries in Arabia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Reunion, Rhodesia, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA, Zanzibar etc.  His lectures from All India Radio, New Delhi let the world know that what really Darul Uloom Deoband and its Ulama are doing to serve the causes of Islam and Muslims. During his tenure as the rector folk of the students began to come from all parts of the globe to Deoband to learn Islamic Sciences.  He organized Darul Uloom’s centenary celebration in 1980 which was attended by two million strong gathering of Muslims, head of states and dignitaries of Muslim governments from throughout the world, he was titled as Hakim al-Islam, Muhammad Tayyib was excellent public orator and speaker ever Indian subcontinent produced, he interpreted and defined Maslak of Ulama of Deoband.
Muhammad Tayyib died in July 1983 in Deoband and was buried near to the grave of his august grandfather Al-Nanawtawi. Hundreds of thousands Muslims attended his funeral and several Muslim governments throughout the world mourned his demise.

 



Other Prominent Figureheads of Darul Uloom Deoband

Sayyid Muhammad Abid alias AbidHusayn (d. 1912): Co-founder of Darul Uloom Deoband, on the instruction of Imam Al-Nanawtawi Abid Hysain was the one who raised first step for collecting funds for the establishment of Madarsa Arabi Islami Deoband. In 1866 he was appointed first rector of Madrasa Islami Arabi.

Muhammad Yaqub Nanawtawi (d. 1885): Co-founder of DarulUloom Deoband and the first Shaykh al-Hadith of DarulUloom Deoband. 

Muhammad Ahmad Nanawtawi (d. 1928): illustrious son of Al-Nanawtawi, second longest serving Rector of Darul Uloom Deoband (1895-1928) entitled Hafiz al-Din wa al-Millah, and titled by Royal Court of Nizam of Princely state of Hyderabad as Shams al-Ulama, architect of the University, his efforts during his rectory turned Madrasa Arabi Islami in prestigious Darul Uloom Deoband, iconic and illustrious buildings of DU are built during his rectory.

Mufti Aziz al-Rahman (d. 1928): Aziz was the first Mufti of Darul Uloom Deoband, his appointment as the grand Mufti inaugurated and established the Department of Fatawa in DU. He issued one hundred and eighteen thousand fatawa, which are published in 12 volumes by DU, still the publication of his Fatawais going on. 

Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalwi (d. 1944): A less known but one of the most prominent figures of Deoband’s graduates, Kandhalwi was born in Kandhala, near Deoband after graduation he established world’s largest religious organization popularly known as Jama’at al-Tabligh. This organization has members in millions and exists in each part of the world.

Shabbir Uthmani, (d. 1949): Co-founder of State of Pakistan and member of Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, born in Bijnor and studied under Shaykh al-Hind Mahmud Hasan in Deoband, Uthmani is titled as Shaykh al-Islam due to his mastery in Ilm al-Kalam, Tafsir and Hadith, he is also known as SharahUlum al Qasmi, (interpreter of Al-Nanawtawi’s sciences). Most famous of his writings is voluminous Fath al Mulhim, a commentary on Sahih Muslim and TafsirUthmani.

Husain Ahmad Madani (d. 1957): Husain Ahmad Madani was born in Tanda, India, he was Shaykh al-Hadith of DarulUloom Deoband; he was president of Jami’atUlama e Hind and was actively engaged in politics and freedom struggle for motherland India, he went to jail with his teacher Shaykh al-Hind Mahmud Hasan in Malta.He lectured Hadith for more than one decade in Madinah; therefore, surname Madani is included with his name.

Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (d. 1976): born in Deoband and studied in DarulUloom Deoband, he served as the Mufti at DarulUloom Deoband, from 1948 to 1976 he served as the Grand Mufti of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and in 1949 helped to develop Islamic constitution of Pakistan. He founded DarulUloom Karachi in 1951. Most famous of his is voluminous Ma’arif al-Quran, an Urdu tafsir of Quran.

Others are:                                                                                                                        
MullaMahmood, Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, Mufti Kifayatullah Shahjahanpuri, Mujahid Millat Hifzur Rahman, Ahmad SaeedDahlawi, Murtaza Hasan Chandpuri, Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalwi, Zafar Ahmad Thanawi, Aizaz Ali, Syed Fakhruddin Ahmad, Allamah Ibrahim Balyawi, Mohammad Idris Kandhalwi, Sharif Hassan Deobandi, Syed Fakhrul Hasan, Yususf Binnauri, Manzoor Ahmad Naumani, Rais al-Ahrar Habibur Rahman Ludhyanwi, Mufti Atiqur Rahman Uthmani, Abul Hasan al Nadawi, Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi, Muhammad Naeem Deobandi, Anzar Shah Kashmiri, Muhamamd Salim Qasmi, Asad Madani, Justice Taqi Uthmani etc.

 

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