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Shaykh Zaynullāh Kawndauw (d.1390H/1975) – An Open, Unsheathed Sword Against Jamāʿat Islāmī

Compiled, Translated and Annotated
Abu Khuzaimah Ansari

It is important to acknowledge the efforts of our Scholars. Many a time, scholars who exerted considerable effort in clarifying the truth and defended the views of Ahl al-Sunnah are not only ignored but sometimes, on the odd occasion they are totally lost in history. They are also lost in the pages of history, because people concentrate on those who are well documented and easily accessible. In this regard, it is important from time to time to share the biographies of those who are not well known.

From the scholars who stood out was Shaykh Zaynullāh, for his incredible bravery, courage praiseworthy characteristics and in defence of the Sunni methodology.   He was the father of the diligent and meticulous Hadith researcher, Shaykh Dr. Maḥfūẓ al-Raḥmān Zaynullāh al-Salafī (d.1418/1998), In-Shāʾ-Allāh, we will share his biography at some stage. He narrates his father’s biography as [transmitted in Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda]:

Shaykh Zaynullāh Kawndauw (Gonda) was born and raised in Kawndauw. He began his elementary education in Bhundiyār with Shaykh Yāsīn and Shaykh Muḥammad Yūnus. It has also been mentioned that he studied in Madrassah Miftāḥ al-ʿUlūm in Bhatpura in Bastī and it is possible that he went there with Shaykh Muḥammad Yāsīn. He completed his studies in Deoband, where he remained one of the top students. (Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda, no.17, 36; Tazkirrah al-Munāzirīn, 2:131) [Gonda is a city of Gonda District in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh]

[It should be noted, studying in other theological or methodological schools was the accepted norm due to a number of reasons. The main reason being the Scholars left their old ways and adopted the path of the Ahl al-Ḥadīth, so their past was a part of their history. Sometimes their parents or families would enrol them into these into these schools. Resources were limited and finances were not readily available. Therefore, the reader should not jump to the hazardous view of the permissibility of seeking knowledge from the people of deviation.]  

Muḥammad, the son of Shaykh Maḥfūẓ al-Raḥmān mentions they moved to Domariyaganj, which was 15km from Gonda. (Sīrah al-Shaykh al-Daktūr Maḥfūz al-Rahmān Zaynallāh Hayātuhu Wa Ātharuhu al-ʿIlmiyyah, 9)

After he completing his studies he first became a teacher at Madrassah Sirāj al-ʿUlūm in Bhundiyār. Then after 1947 when Madrassah Reḥmāniyyah was established in Kolkata, he moved there with Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Ārawī and taught Ḥadīth and Tafsīr for a little while. While in Kolkata, sometimes he would also teach some books in his house. (Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda, 36; Tazkirrah al-Munāzirīn, 2:131)

Throughout his tenure of teaching, he didn’t take a salary or any money. In fact, he opened an oil business in Kolkata, which remained his work and source of income for the rest of his life. While working he continued to engage in his daʿwah activities. (Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda, no.17, 36; Tazkirrah al-Munāzirīn, 2:131)

An Unsheathed Sword Against Jamaʿāt Islāmī

He debated Jamaʿāt Islāmī in Purnia and with the Qādiyānīs in Orissa. He battled some deviants in Kolkata and established honour and respect for the Ahl al-Ḥadīth.


(Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda, 36; Tazkirrah al-Munāzirīn, 2:131)

He was knowledgeable in Ḥadīth. His lectures were clear, concise and effective. His speech had impact and resonated with people. His sermons were filled with passion and meticulous with deep insight.  (Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda, 36; Sīrah al-Shaykh al-Daktūr Maḥfūz al-Raḥmān Zaynallāh Hayātuhu Wa Ātharuhu al-ʿIlmiyyah, 10; Tazkirrah al-Munāzirīn, 2:131).

His lectures were so detailed that if they were transcribed, they would easily become a treatise. Allah’s Magnificence is great and vast; despite his powerful speeches he was unable to write. He had a particular feature that was unique to him, he would talk with knowledge in the midst of people knowledge and on the contrary, he would deal with strength and courage with the ignorant ones while giving daʿwah. He played a significant role in stopping various customary practices and the religious lamenting (of the various sects) in Kawndauw and Bhundiyār.

Another unique characteristic he possessed was to speak the truth fearlessly which he was highly praised for. Another example of good manners he possessed, was to initiate the Salām and it was unheard of that anyone initiated the Salām before him.  Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd Reḥmānī mentions, once in Kolkata he gave Salām to the Shaykh from a distance and the Shaykh said, ‘Glory be to Allāh, only an Ahl al-Ḥadīth could surpass me.’ He was astute, a righteous caller and an intelligent scholar.

Muḥammad b. Shaykh Maḥfūẓ ur-Raḥmān describes the Shaykh as being from the well known Mashaykh of his time. He was an illustrious scholar who called to Allāh with insight. Sīrah al-Shaykh al-Daktūr Maḥfūz al-Raḥmān Zaynallāh Hayātuhu Wa Ātharuhu al-ʿIlmiyyah, 9).

He died in 1975 corresponding to 1390H. From his notable children are Shaykh Dr. Maḥfūẓ al-Raḥmān, who completed hid PhD on Ḥadīth from Madīnah University in 1403H. The Shaykh had 8 sons and 1 daughter, all of whom died in childhood except Shaykh Dr. Maḥfūz al-Raḥmān and a brother Muʿīn al-Dīn, who was 8 years older. (Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda, 37; Sīrah al-Shaykh al-Daktūr Maḥfūz al-Raḥmān Zaynallāh Hayātuhu Wa Ātharuhu al-ʿIlmiyyah, 10).


1- Badr al-Zamān Nepālī, Ulamāʾ Ahl-Ḥadīth Bastī Wa Gonda. (Pakistan: Nadwah al-Muḥadithīn, 1990)

2 – Muḥammad Maḥfūz al-Raḥmān Zaynallāh, Sīrah al-Shaykh al-Daktūr Maḥfūz al-Raḥmān Zaynallāh Hayātuhu Wa Ātharuhu al-ʿIlmiyyah. (unknown, 1420/1999)

3 – Muḥammad Muqtadā Atharī ʿUmarī, Tazkirrah al-Munāzirīn. (India: Idārah Taḥqīqāt Islāmī Jāmʿī Athariyyah Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1424/2004)

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