[Biography] – The Allamah and Muhaddith of this Era, Shaykh Hafiz Muhammad Ghondalwi (d.1405H/1985) – Some Memories; Some Observations Part 2 – Shaykh Irshad ul-Haq al-Athari

Compiled, Translated and Annotated

Abu Khuzaimah Ansari


(This biography from is Maqalat Irshad ul-Haq al-Athari, 4:369-403, which I have very slightly adapted)

Under Kitab al-Ilm, in the chapter to fix duties in rotation for learning knowledge Imam al-Bukhari cites the hadith of Umar RadhiAllahu Anhu that briefly talks about the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam divorcing his wives. The Shaykh went onto say that Allamah Shibli Nu’mani expressed the view the hadith indicates the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam had divorced his wives but this was only a false rumour and that Hafiz ibn Hajr said this false rumour was perhaps spread by a hypocrite, Shibli Nu’mani thus concludes, that narrations in that period were fabricated based on the analogical reasoning (qiyas) of the narrator and therefore the narrations must be scrutinised to see how much of he narration was based on the qiyas of the narrator.[1]

While discussing this Shaykh Muhammad Ghondalwi said this was a historical event during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam and irrespective of the type of rumours, everything must be investigated. Allah says: “When a fasiq comes to you then verify.” (Surah al-Hujurat:6)

The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam had exemplary interactions with his wives but despite this he separated from them for a month. It is also possible that a hypocrite may have spread this rumour, however this has no connection whatsoever with the Ahadith of the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam but just one incident. The same incident was investigated by Umar RadhiAllahu Anhu and the reality of the issue became clear. The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam separating from his wives for a month, is something which is established. Qiyas or the rumour is only connected to the understanding of the narrator that the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam divorced his wives and then to form a principle that there is analogical reasoning in the Prophetic Ahadith by a narrator is totally incorrect.

Then the Shaykh went onto discuss (the issues with) Allamah Shibli’s interpretation and understanding of narrations.[2] The Shaykh also said Shibli also rejects the hadith of Qartas (i.e. the hadith of the paper and inkwell during the last days of the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam), he claims it was only narrated by Abdullah b. Abbas RadhiAllahu Anhuma when he was young.[3] Shaykh Muhammad Ghondalwi explained, this view of Allamah Shibli is incorrect because Abdullah b. Abbas RadhiAllahu Anhuma narrated the incident during the era of the companions and numerous students narrated it from him and when it was not denied or rejected by a single one of them is a reality of its authenticity and just because only one companion transmits a narration does not cause it to be spurious. Abdullah b. Abbas RadhiAllahu Anhuma also narrated the hadith of talaq and likewise Umar RadhiAllahu Anhu narrated the hadith, actions are by intentions and no other companion narrates this hadith.

The summary of these points is that Shaykh Muhammad Ghondalwi did not only rely on the books explaining al-Bukhari and other books of hadith but that he was also aware of the disease of the hadith rejectionists in the subcontinent. He also authored two specific books against the hadith rejectionists.

While discussing a mutual issue between a hadith transmitted by Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim Shaykh Muhammad Ghondalwi said:

There are five types of kissing:

1) The kissing of Rahmah, when a parent kisses their child, like the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam kissed Hasan, Hussayn and Fatimah RadhiAllahu Anhum

2) The kissing of greeting, like when Muslims meet each other which is the practice in the Arab lands

3) The kissing of compassion, when children kiss their parents

4) The kissing of desires, when a husband and wife kiss.

5) The kissing of love i.e. family, when a brother kisses his brother.

In the chapter of writing Ahadith the first hadith Imam al-Bukhari mentions is the hadith of Ali RadhiAllahu Anhu which mentions his sahifah, which contains the hadith: “A Muslim must not be killed for disbeliever.” Shaykh Muhammad Ghondalwi said while discussing this hadith that the 3 Imams, Malik al-Shafi’i and Ahmad issued their legal edicts in conformation to this hadith. However, Imam Abu Hanifah was of the view that if a Muslims kills a dhimmi then the Muslim shall be killed in retaliation. Allamah Kashmiri has defended the Imam and after a long discussion he presents the following four answers.

1) In the hadith the disbeliever that is referred to is a combatant.

2) This hadith is in relation to stopping the blood spilt in the days of ignorance.

3) The ruling concerning the life of a dhimmi is the same as a Muslims.

4) During the sermon of the conquest of Makkah the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam announced the laws of retribution for the killing of a Muslim and the dhimmi.

These four points that are provided in answer are far fetched and incorrect.

1) Explaining that the disbeliever in the hadith is a war combatant is an extremely superficial point because the blood of a combatant is permissible irrespective anyway. In fact this understanding is in relation to an attribute and Allamah Shawkani has explained that this understanding is also unreliable according to the hanafi scholars themselves.[4] 

2) Restricting the hadith to the blood of the people of ignorance is a claim that is without evidence and specifying or restricting something without evidence or proof is impermissible.

3) The dhimmi is terms of his life is not equal to that of a Muslim, Allah says: “The people of the fire and the people of Jannah are not equal.” (Surah al-Hashr:20) he also said: and never will Allah give the disbelievers over the believers a way” (Surah al-Nisa:141)[5] and what has been transmitted by Ali RadhiAllahu Anhu: “The Muslims are equal in their retribution of blood.” Therefore, saying the dhimmi is equal to the Muslim in terms of the sanctity of life is incorrect.

4) During the conquest of Makkah thinking the Muslims and the dhimmis were being addressed in wrong in the first place because the disbelievers are not permitted to enter Makkah and Mr Kashmiri himself, the incident he refers to he says the person was not a dhimmi but rather a someone who fell into the ruling of a dhimmi.

The point being, the Shaykh was mindful of the various explanations of Bukhari from Fath al-Bari, Umdah al-Qari as well as Allamah Kashmiri’s notes, Faydh al-Bari and at times he would vehemently express his views when needed. Sometimes he would answer Mr Kashmiri and the Shafiyyah.

Once I asked the Shaykh:

“Did you meet ever Allamah Kashmiri and have a discussion with him? He replied no, “I never met him, however, once he came to a conference organized by Mawlana Abdul Wahid and in those days an Arab student of knowledge used to study with me. So the student visited Mawlana Kashmiri and discussed some issues of aqidah with him. After his discussion with the Mawlana, any issues the student didn’t understand, he would come and ask me (and I would clarify them to him). So, this coming and going to Mawlana Kashmiri continued for a few days. In the end while leaving him, the student said to him (i.e. Mawlana Kashmiri):

لولا الشيخ محمد جوندلوي لأضللتني

“If it were not for al-Shaykh Muhammad Ghondalwi, you would have misguided me.”

The Shaykh as a Mufassir

I also benefitted from the Shaykh while he explained and translated the meaning of the Qur’an. First the Shaykh would begin with discussion the issue of the Qur’an being the speech of Allah which would be followed by explaining the difference between the Quran and Hadith, defining the knowledge of tafsir, the methodology of tafsir, tafsir via transmitted reports and tafsir through opinion as well as other sciences like reason for revelation etc. Once I asked which tafsir was better, he replied if Mawlana Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Dehlawi had completed his tafsir it would have been unrivalled.

Our Hafiz and Shaykh was also expert exegetist of the Quran in addition to being a great Muhaddith. I heard from some of the teachers in al-Jamia al-Salafiyyah that when the Shaykh was teaching there, he would deliver lessons on the Quran after the morning prayer and he took 10 months just on Surah al-Fatihah. While at al-Jamia Islamiyyah in Gujranwala, the Shaykh would deliver the Khutbah in Masjid of the Jamia. Shaykh Isma’il al-Salafi was also alive at the time and his sermons were also extraordinary on a range of issues and also include guidance on the socio-political issues which would also be published in al-Ei’tisam magazine. However, despite this I would pray behind Shaykh Muhammad Ghondalwi and I would be eager to know what the subject of the khutbah would be each week. The reader will be astonished to know, as I was, that the Shaykh spent almost a whole year explaining the ayah “He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself And mentions the name of his Lord and prays.” (Surah al-A’la: 14-15) in his Friday sermons every week.

The Shaykh would say while detailing the requirements of the person who explains the Quran that: “It is necessary for an explainer of the Quran to have the following requirements, to have the correct belief accompanied with the correct intention, having knowledge of hadith and its sciences, the language of the Quran and that he should have comprehensive understanding of Imam Raghib’s Mufradat al-Quran. He must know Sarf, Nahw, the meanings, the knowledge of fiqh and its principles, speculative rhetoric and the knowledge of the variant methods in recitation, so that Allah’s aids him in his explanation.”

It can be said without any hesitation that Shaykh Hafiz Muhammad Ghondalwi possessed all these qualities and requirements. He would explain the ayah, “You Alone we worship and you alone we ask for help” (Surah al-Fatihah: 4) in a way that the listeners would be astounded. He would explain in detail the meaning of worship, the difference between worship and habitual norms or customs, why and how Allah should be worshipped and the reasons for worship. In this regard he would explain the difference between worship and obedience and refute the ideas of Allamah Mashriqi and Mawlana Mawdudi, who would say that establishing Allah’s law (on earth) was in essence and in reality worship and that the prayer, fasting and zikr were merely part of a training course.

The Shaykh also clarified the difference between worship and obedience and also refuted the ideology and principles of Mawlana Mawdudi in a specific book titled, Tanqid al-Masa’il which is printed. The book does not have the publication date, but it seems to be around 1957ce, this was when Mawlana Mawdudi deviated from his methodology of da’wah all of a sudden, and he would describe the first method of da’wah as the way of the Prophets. Thereafter, contrary to the first method, when he adopted the scientific method of da’wah, aiming for success and reformation with elections and leadership as a policy, which he declared to be prohibited and impermissible before.

The people of knowledge know, with this (new) decision and policy of his, 70 of his close allies left him, some of whom were considered the pivotal central core of Jamat Islami. It has been a few years his previous associates refuted him, i.e. Mawlana Mawdudi’s understanding of worship, which include the likes of Mawlana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi in his “Asr Hadhir Mein Din Ki Tafhim wa Tashrih” (The Understanding and Explanation of the Religion in Current Times) and Mawlana Manzur Ahmad Nu’mani’s “Mawlana Mawdudi Ke Sath Meri Rafaqat ki Sarghazisht Awr Ab Mera Mawqif” (The History of my Association with Mawlana Mawdudi and My Position on him Now) only when Mawlana Mawdudi’s book, “Quran Ki Char Bunyadi Istalahain” (Four Fundamental principles of the Quran) started to emerge in the market. However, our Shaykh Hafiz Muhammad Ghondalwi sensed the danger way earlier and comprehensively refuted him in his Tanqid al-Masa’il and warned the nation from the dangerous ideas of Mawlana Mawdudi. May Allah give him a great reward, Amin. I wish to expand on his more but this is not the place for this, however, the avid reader can refer to Tanqid al-Masa’il.

The Shaykh said regarding the reality of ghulu while explaining the ayah “do not commit excess in your religion” Surah al-Nisa:171 that Allah and his Messenger established the limits for the affairs of the Din and therefore exceeding that does not entail reward but rather it entails punishment. Exceeding the prescribed limits in the Din is ghulu and excessiveness. If this excessiveness is in belief, transactions, in places and situations it is considered ghulu, if it is in knowledge then it is considered to be implementation and if it is regarding mannerisms and worship then it is considered to be monasticism, if it is in customs or habits then it is considered compulsion. If it is it do with purification and to keep impurities away it is considered to be whisperings and if it is regarding the lack of preservation of the usul and furu then it is considered to be oppression.

He said in explanation of the ayah “O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely” (Surah al-Baqarah:208) this ayah commands complete submission and obedience to Islam and a warning against the path of the misguided nations which traversed the path of shaytan “So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part” Surah al-Baqarah:85. It is incorrect to take some aspects of Islam and reject the rest and one can only abstain from misguidance after research. It is taqlid that pushed fanaticism and partisanship in Islam. The dissension and discord between the Hanafi’s and Shafi’s was so intense that let alone praying behind one another, they would not marry each other. They issued legal edict that debating with one another was like jihad and it was permissible to break the fast in order to debate with much energy and such historical facts are very lengthy to discuss.

The straight path which was one was divided into quarters and this was why Allamah Sha’rani said doing taqlid of one Madhhab does not act on the complete shari’ah. This ayah also refutes the notions above because it advocates complete submission and obedience to Islam and to live in peace and harmony because in fis silmi the meaning of silmi is also harmony. Allah said “And if they incline to peace” (Surah al-Anfal:61), in this regard the meaning of the ayah would be oh honest people live with each other in complete harmony and peace and do not be disunited and differ while following the way of shaytan. The summary is that this ayah refutes the ideas bigoted taqlid and supports the concept of research and investigation.

He said in explanation of “Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans” (Surah al-Baqarah:62) he talked about the Sabiyyah and the condition of doing righteous deeds. He also mentioned that Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad made a mistake in understanding this ayah because he said that a jewish or christian person believes in Allah and the hereafter while doing righteous deeds, he will worthy of paradise and this is incorrect. This is because believing in Allah entails and obligates believing in the Messenger, who guides to the worship of the creator. So, therefore, if a person believes in Allah and not the Messenger he sent then this is synonymous in him rejecting Allah. In fact, a person has to believe in all of the Messengers and rejecting a single one is disbelief because the jews and Christians do not believe in Muhammad Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam as the Messenger of Allah so therefore it is incorrect to say they have faith. This ayah also has the wording “and did righteousness” which is restricted to obeying and following the Prophet. Allah says “Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me” (Surah Al-Imran:31)


[1] Allamah Shibli details this in his Sirah al-Nabi, 1:164, Printed by Quran Mahl in Karachi.

[2] Shaykh Abdus Salam Mubarakpuri in his Sirah al-Bukhari and Shaykh Abdul Rahim Rahimabadi in his Husn al-Bayan have discussed and critiqued this principle of Allamah Shibli in detail.

[3] Refer to al-Faruq, 108-110 (of Shibli Nu’mani). Printed by Madinah Publishing company

[4] For details refer to Nayl al-Awtar, 7:12.

[5] For further details about using this ayah as evidence refer to Nayl al-Awtar, 7:13.

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