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[Biography] – Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id Muhaddith Banarasi (d.1322/1904)

Compiled, Translated and Annotated

Abu Khuzaimah Ansari


(Taken from the series “10 Radiant Scholars of Ahl al-Hadith; Ahl al-Bid’ah Wished Were Never Born!” Detailed biography to be published in the near future In-Sha-Allah)

The Manhaj of the Elder Scholars Ahl al-Hadith

This is the Manhaj of the elders, yes the elder scholars of the Ahl al-Hadith Salafis and not the understanding of the newcomers, who get animated at the slightest information which is spun and twisted to give you nothing but useless information.

From the elders, the Akabirin, the Mutaharik scholars was Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id Banarasi, indeed one of the formidable scholar of the Ahl al-Hadith, he was born in 1270H/1853CE and died in 1322/1904.

The Shaykh Rahimahullah was born into a Hindu family and his name before accepting Islam was Mawal Singh. He belonged to an affluent family who had a lot of property and wealth, in fact some properties were on the Shaykhs name, all of which he rejected and turned away.

The Shaykh developed a liking for Islam from a young age but he had some doubts. One day he visited Lahore and met the well known author of Tuhfatul Hindh, Mawlana Ubaydullah Sindhi (d.1310H). Thereafter he accepted Islam in 1291/1874 at the age of 21 and took the name of Muhammad Sa’id.

His father, a hindu of rajput origin, when he found out the Shaykh and converted to Islam, he immediately went to meet him and began convincing and persuading him not to abandon the religion of his forefathers. His father took him to Hardawar, where the hindu priests began working on him. The Shaykh was made to bathe in the Ganga river, he was made to wear flowers ordained for the idols and was instructed to pasture cows. However, despite all of this the Shaykh was unable to give up the Nur of Iman.

The Shaykh handed the cows to his first cousin, Hari Singh and he would sit extoling Allah with Subhanallah wa Bihamdihi Subhanallahil Azim. At the first opportunity the Shaykh escaped with his younger brother, Gopal Singh. However, the Shaykh was recaptured and the hindu religion was forced on him once again. The essence of Tawhid had enveloped the Shaykh which was unshakable. Then one day an opportunity arose to escape, which the Shaykh fervently took and headed towards Lahore in 1291/1874 and reaccepted Islam (despite being forced to accept hindusim under extreme duress)

With the advice of his friends the Shaykh headed to Deoband in 1292/1875 and studied the basic sciences as well as primer texts like, Kunz, Sharh Waqayah, Quduri, Nahw, Sarf. When the Shaykh began studying the books on the science of hadith in depth while at Deoband, Allah opened up his chest and he began deviating from the Hanafi Madhhab and began acting on Hadith i.e. Amal Bil-Hadith. The people in charge and the management of Deoband had great difficulty in fathoming this and so they asked Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id to leave.  (Tarajim Ulama Hadith Hindh, 354)

At the time the fame and the teaching of hadith by Shaykh Nazir Hussain Muhaddith Dehlawi (d.1320H) was well known and so the Shaykh travelled to Delhi in 1295/1878 and studied the books of Tafsir and numerous books of Hadith with him. He also studied with Shaykh Abd Allah Ghazipuri (d.1337H) and Shaykh Sa’adat Hussayn Bihari (1360H). He also studied with the student of Imam Shawkani, Shaykh Abbas b. Abd al-Rahman Shihabi Yamani and attained ijazah from him. (al-Lulu wal-Marjan Fi Takallam al-Mir’ah Bi-Ayat al-Quran, Tarajim Ulama Hadith Hindh, 355

Thereafter, the Shaykh travelled to Banaras, where he began preaching and propagating the Madhhab of Ahl al-Hadith. He had numerous students and some amazing books that number approximately 36, some of which are:

Imarah al-Masajid Bihadam Asas Jame al-Shawahid

Hidayah al-Murtab Bi-Radd Ma fi Kashf al-Hijab

Iqbal al-Hayy Ala Radd Abd al-Hayy

Al-Shab’a Wal Rayy Bi-Radd Abd al-Hayy

Al-Burhan al-Jali fi Radd al-Dalil al-Qawi

Kayfiyat Munazirah Murshidabad

Sayf al-Abrar Ala Ras al-Ashrar Fi Jawab Fath al-Akhyar

Sakin Li-Qata Habal al-Matin

Sayf al-Muwahhidin Ala Unuq Radd al-Sakin

Radd al-Tartid Ila Ahl al-Taqlid Ma’a Qurrah al-Ayn Bi-Radd Ma Waq’a Fi Dhiya al-Ayn

Siyanah al-Muqtasidin Ann Talbisat Nusrah al-Mujtahidin

The Shaykh also published an amazing magazine under the name of Nusrah al-Sunnah in 1885/1302. (Tazkirrah Sa’id; Tarajim Ulama Hadith Hindh, 355)

The Shaykh also set up a publishing house through which he printed thousands of pages propagating Tawhid, The Quran and Sunnah, most of which was distributed Free.

The Shaykh also set up his well known Madrassah known as Madrassah Sa’idiyyah, which was initially known as Madrassah Islamiyyah in 1299H. (Nusrah al-Sunnah, Vol.2 issue:9, 1305H)

The Shaykh was a proficient expert in the science of hadith and rijal and was considered the Imam of Asma al-Rijal of his time and it would not be unbefitting to refer to him the Bayhaqi of his time. (al-Lulu wal-Marjan Fi Takallam al-Mir’ah Bi-Ayat al-Quran, 15)

His students include the likes of, his son, the outstanding scholar Shaykh Abul Qasim Sayf Banarasi, Shaykh Abd al-Kabir, Shaykh Muhammad Munir Khan, Shaykh Siraj al-Din Jawnpuri, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz and the defender of Sunnah and destroyer of Ahl al-Bidah, Shaykh Abd al-Rahim Ilabadi amongst many. (Tazkirrah Sa’id, 34-35)

Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id Muhaddith Banarasi (d.1322/1904), the father of the remarkable scholar of the Ahl al-Hadith, Shaykh Abu’l Qasim Sayf Banarasi, said as part of his will, eight (8) years before his death, meaning in 1896, almost 122 years ago and this is the Manhaj of the Akabirin of the Ahl al-Hadith:

“After my death, perform Ghusl over me according to the Sunnah and the shroud should consist of three pieces. Moulvi Abd al-Kabir or Muhammad should lead my funeral prayer and no INNOVATOR should be involved in my shrouding and burial. After my death my wife has the choice of either waiting her iddah period and marrying a pious Muwahhid (a person who upholds Tawhid) or to have patience while bringing up the children and then In-sha-Allah we shall be united on the Day of Qiyamah. I advise all of the people of Tawhid (Muwahhidin) of Banaras to uphold acting on the Sunnah (Amal bil-Sunnah) and wherever possible they should not let go of this principle of acting on the Sunnah. I advise my children, your father was a Muhammadi, Sunni and Ahl al-Hadith and therefore you should also remain upon the same path. They should support Amal bil-Hadith (acting the Hadith) as well as practicing it themselves and advising others of the same thing. My books, which I collated with great difficulty should not be wasted, and whoever of my sons is a scholar should take charge of them and hence I gift all of my books.”

(Tarajim Ulama Ahl al-Hadith Banaras, p.370-385)

Dear readers, we read the trials and struggles faced by Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id, the oppression of his family, leaving his family and having to runaway, being pushed and forced in hinduism. Learning from the Deobandi innovators and then being forced to leave, facing the trials and troubles he faced as part of his Da’wah and so on, however despite all this he stood firm on the Sunnah and was proud of his heritage of being a Sunni, Muhammadi and Ahl al-Hadith and advised his children with the same da’wah without compromising with the innovators and their deviance, as people in our time water and dilute the da’wah of the Ahlul Hadith

We also see his firm stance against the innovators, even during the time of his shrouding and burial and it is these times that most people fall short due to the emotional state they are in but not Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id. This was his will, 8 years before his death and we do not find that anything changed. We see this Manhaj, of defending the Sunnah and its people from the harms and evil of the innovators and their innovations and misguidance, one only needs to look at the life of Shaykh Abul Qasim Sayf Banarasi, who single handedly subdued and restrained the bigoted and partisan Hanafis of his time.

This is the legacy of the elders, the scholars of the Ahl al-Hadith. These scholars were the teachers of the teachers and those who were instrumental in building the Madhhab of the Ahl al-Hadith and Salafis not those who have no idea of the heritage and legacy of the Ahl al-Hadith

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