Shāh Walīullāh was born in 1703, four years before the death of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. His genealogy can be traced back to the family of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. He received a structured education and spiritual instruction at the madrasa (religious school) established by his father, Shah ‘Abd al-Rahim, at Delhi. Along with the Qur’an, he studied Arabic and Persian grammar and literature and the higher philosophical, theological, metaphysical, mystical and juridical texts. He graduated from the school when he was barely fifteen years old; in the same year, his father initiated him into the famous Naqshbandi order. He began his career as a teacher at the Madrasa-e-Rahimia under the tutelage of his father; after the death of the latter in 1719,
Shah Waliullah became the head of the madrasa, teaching all the current sciences at the school for about twelve years. During the same period he continued his own studies, growing in stature as a teacher and attracting students to his circle. In 1731 he went to the Hijaz on a pilgrimage (Hajj) and stayed there for fourteen months studying Hadith and Fiqh under such distinguished scholars as Abu Tahir al-Kurdi al-Madani, Wafd Allah al-Makki, and Taj al-Din al-Qali. During this period he came into contact with people from all parts of the Muslim world and, thus, obtained first-hand information about the conditions then prevailing in the various Muslim countries. During this time, he also saw the forty-seven spiritual visions which form the subject matter of his famous mystical work Fuyud al-haramayn (Emanations or Spiritual Visions of Mecca and Medina).
He returned to Delhi in 1733, where he spent the rest of his life in producing numerous works till his death in 1763 during the reign of Shah Alam II. The most important of Shah Waliullah’s works is his Ḥujjat Allāh al-Bāligha in which he made an attempt to present the teachings of Islam in a spirit of scientific objectivity. The range of his works include: economic, political, social, meta-physical, as well as purely theological aspects. Shah Waliullah married twice in his lifetime, first when he was 14 years old. He had a son and a daughter from his first marriage. He concluded the second marriage sometime after his return to India. He had four sons and a daughter from his second marriage. His historically significant contribution is that, when Marathas were expanding their area of control towards the Northwest of India, Shah Waliullah and some other Muslim leaders of India kept writing letters to Ahmad Shah Durrani,the Muslim ruler of Afghanistan, to keep him informed of the developments in India. Ahmad Shah Durrani was finally persuaded to return to India to confront the Marathas. Consequently, in 1761, in the decisive Battle of Panipat, Marathas were defeated by Ahmad Shah Durrani and his allied forces.
Al-Irshad ila-Muhimmat-I-Ilm-al-Isnad (Arabic)- is about the scholars of Hejaz who taught Shah Waliullah. Izalat al-Khafa ‘an Khilafat al- Khulfa (Persian) Al-Fauzul Kabir Fi Usoolu-Tafseer (Arabics) Atayyab al-naghm fi Madh-I-Saiyid al- Arab wal-Ajam (Arabic)- A collection of odes eulogizing the holy Prophet which speak of Shah’s poetic talent and love towards Prophet. Altaf al-Quds (Persian) – Deals with esoteric principles of mysticism. Al-Imdad-o-fi Ma’athir al-Ajdad (Persian)- A brochure giving Shah Waliullah’s genealogical table and containing brief notices about some of his ancestors. Al-Intibah-o-fi Salasil-il-Aulia Allah (Persian)- Gives the history and brief introduction of different mystic orders. Insan al-ain fi
Mashikh al-Haeamyn (Persian) Al insaf-o-fi Bayan-I-Asbab al-Ikhtalaf (Arabic) Anfas aal Arifin (Persian) Al-Budur al-Bazigha (Arabic)- This work on theology employs philosophical terminology in discussing human nature and social behavior.
Bawariq al-Wilayah (Persian)- The tract forms part of the Anfas al-Arifin in which the Shah has described the life and spiritual attainments of his father Shah Abdur Rahim. Tawil al-ahadith (Arabic)- It recount the stories of different prophets mentioned in the Quran in order to draw out lessons and rules of Shariah from the Quranic describtion. Tuhfatul Muwahhidin- It is a Persian tract explaining the creed of tauhid. Tarajim-o-Abwab al-Bukhari (Arabic)- It expounds the principles which would be found helpful in understanding certain difficult portions of the Bukhari. At-Tafhimat al-Ilahiyah (Arabic and Persian)- It’s a mystical work, partly in Arabic and partly in Persian, giving the mystical experiences of Shah. Al-Juz al-Latif fi- Tarjumata al-Abd al- Dhayif(Persian) Hujjat Allah al-Baligha (Arabic)- The magnum opus of Shah has been discussed in the seventh section of this work. Husn al- Aqidah (Arabic)- The fundamental creed of Islam as accepted by the Ahli-I-Sunnat sect, has been expounded in this work in the light of Quran and Hadith. Al-Khair al-Kathir(Arabic)- This work on philosophy of religion elucidates the concept of m’arifat and wisdom of Divine Names, revelation etc. Ad-durrus Thamain fi-Mubashshiratil Nabi al-Amin (Arabic)- It is a collection of glad tidings the Shah and his ancestors had had from the holy Prophet. Diwan-o-Ashar (Arabic)- A collection of the Arabic verses of the Shah. Risalah- was written in reply to certain mystical issues raised by Shaikh ‘Abdullah bin Abdul Baqi. Risalah Danishmandi (Persian) – A valuable tract containing detailed directions in regard to methodology of teaching. Zahrawayn- A commentary on the Surat-ul-Baqarah and Imran. Surur al- Mahzun (Persia)- It is a concise Persian rendering of the Kitab Nur al-Uyun il-Amin al-Mamun a well-known biography of the holy Prophet. Sharh-o-Tarajim-I-Abwab-I-Sahih al-Bukhari (Arabic)- is an annotation on certain chapters of the Sahih of Bukhari. Shifa al-Qulub (Persian)- is a tract of mysticism. Shawariq al-Marifat (Persian)- a biography of the Shah’s Uncle Shaikh Abdul Raza. Al-Atiyatus Samadiyah Fi Anfas Al-Muhammadiyah (Persian)- this small brochure contains a biographical sketch of the Shah’s maternal grandfather Shaikh Muhammad Phulti. Iqd Al-Jid Fi-Aakham Al-Ijtihad Wat-Tajdid (Arabic) Fath-ur-Rahman
(Persian)-a translation of the Quran. Fath-al-Kabir (Arabic)- A glossary of the intricate words of the Quran.
In the 18th century, Islam in the Sub-continent was faced with menacing problems. Sectarian conflict, low moral tone of the society, poor understanding of the Holy Quran, and general ignorance of Islam were just some of the issues which gave rise to fear that political collapse would be accompanied by religious disintegration. This did not happen; rather an era of religious regeneration was inaugurated, which was due more than anything else to the activities of one man, Shah Wali Ullah.
Early ages of Shah wali Ullah
Shah Waliullah was born in the 21st of February. 1703 CE, in the town of Phulat in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. His father, Shah Abdur Rahman was a great scholar and a mystic. he named his boy Qutubuddin Ahmad. The name Shah Waliullah is given to him by people because Waliulla means “close to God”. So his complete name was Shah Waliullah Qutubuddin Ahmad.
Education & Training
His father took special pain in the education and the training of his son. Shah Waliullah was introduced to Islamic education at the age of five and completed the recitation of the Qura’an by the age of sevenAt the special age of 15, Hazrat Shah Waliullah had completed his education and then became a disciple (mureed) of his father who gave him spiritual training. When he was 17, his father died, for 12 years he taught in the fashion of his father.
Pilgrimage to Makkah
In 1143 H.E. the 23 year old Shah Waliullah decided to perform the pilgrimage to Makkah. Despite the perils(Dangerous Journey) that lay on the journey; he reached the Mecca on 14 Dhul Qadha 1143 H.E. and performed the Hajj and then proceeded to Medina. There, he attended the discourses on Sahih Al Bukhari from Sheikh Abu Tahir Muhammad Bin Ibraheem Kurdi Madani. The Sheikh
directed him in the study of the six Sahihs (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood, Nasa’ai, Ibn Ma’ajah), He returned to Makkah, performed the hajj again and learned the Muwatta Imam Maalik from Sheikh Wafadullah Maliki Makki, attended the discourses on Sahih Al Bukhari from Sheikh Tajuddin Hanafi Qalaei Makki for a few days and learned the six Sahihs from him. He was granted permission to teach all the books of hadith by Sheikh Tajuddin.
After 14 months of stay in Arabia, two hajj pilgrimages and learning the books of hadith from the scholars of the holy cities, Shah Waliullah finally returned to India in early 1145 H.E. the journey home lasted six months and he reached Delhi on Friday 14 Rajab 1145 H.E. on reaching home, he started teaching again and writing until his death three decades later.
Twice he performed the Hajj pilgrimage. He attained a certificate of Proficiency in Hadith from the famous scholar, Shaikh Abu Tahir Bin Ibrahim of Madina, when he was in Arabia, the marhatta turmoid was at its height and his friends advised Hazrat Shah Waliullah to stay in Arabia. As such he left Arabia in 1145 AH and reached Delhi on 14 Rajab 1145 AH.
Work of Shah Wali Ullah
On reaching Delhi, he devoted most of his time in writing books and to preaching in public meetings. The teaching activity was limited to the lessons of Hadith. The political and the moral degeneration of the Muslims had tremendous effects on the sensitive thinking mind of Hazrat Shah Waliullah. His famous book “Al-Tafheematul llahia” minutely pen points all the various defects, shortcomings and vices, which had taken roots in various sections of the Muslims. His aim, metaphorically speaking, was to destroy the rotten moral buildings and to reconstruct a new mansion over it. He bluntly wrote in one of his writings “I have arrived to destroy every old in region at present.
Quran Translation into PersiAN LANGUAGE
The most monumental task he performed was to translate the Quran from Arabic to Persian which was the language spoken by the Muslims at that time in India. His aim was that educated Muslims may have access to the Quran without depending on the scholars who had opposed his reformatory measures. The short sighted ullama gathered and wanted to kill him for his sin of translating the Quran from Arabic to Persian but he continued with his task till he completed it. This task was appreciated by Allah so much so that the Quran is translated to many languages.
Hujatul Baligdh (Popular Book)
Apart from the Holy Quran, Shah Waliullah also wrote authentic books on Hadith, the principles of Hadith, Tafseer and on mystical subjects. But the most popular book of “Hujatul Baligdh”. This book explains how Islam was found suitable for all races, cultures and people of the world and how successfully it solves social, moral, economic and political problems of human beings.
Al Fauzul Kabeer Fee Usool
.Al Fauzul Kabeer Fee Usool at Tafseer, a booklet in Persian that follows his Persian translation of the Qur’an. It contains the nucleus of the Qur’an, the rules for interpretation, and interpretations of the Qur’an by other famous scholars
Analyzing his political thought, Iqbal states:
“The Prophetic method of teaching, according to Shah Waliullah is that, generally speaking, the law revealed by a prophet takes especial notice of the habits, ways and peculiarities of the people to whom he is specifically sent. The Prophet who aims at all-embracing principles, however, can neither reveal different peoples nor leave them to work out their own rules of conduct. His method is to train one particular people and to use it as a nucleus for the build up of a universal `Shariah’. In doing so, he
accentuates the principles underlying the social life of all mankind and applies them to concrete cases in the light of the specific habits of the people immediately before him.” (“Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”)
Letters By Shah Wali Ullah
He wrote open letters to:
· Mughal rulers, to give up their corrupt and inefficient practices.
· Soldiers, for forgetting to inculcate within themselves the spirit of Jihad.
· Artisans, workers and peasants, reminded them that on their labors the economic prosperity of the state depends.
· The Emperor, to teach a lesson to the Jats threatening the Mughal Empire and also wrote to him not to give jagirs to mansabdars, who were not loyal to the state.
· Masses, to be conscious of their duties and not to indulge in the accumulation of wealth.
He wrote to Ahmad Shah Abdali to give up the life of ease, draw the sword and not to sheath it till the distinction is established between true faith and infidelity. His efforts resulted in Maratha debacle at the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali and Najibud Daula in the third battle of Panipat in 1761 A.D.
The times of Shah Waliullah
Shah Waliullah lived during the times that can best be described as disastrous for the mughal dynasty in India. The descendants of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb are alleged to have squandered the wealth amassed by their forefathers on entertainment, dance, music and wasteful constructions. The Shiites exercised significant influence on the court. The kingdom was
reeling under the severe spells of droughts, poverty, hunger, hopelessness and purported indifference and cruelty at the hands of their rulers. The character of the people were alleged to have fallen to the lowest levels of “civilised” behavior.
According to Hazrath Salman Nadwi:
The sway of the Moghal Empire was only namesake, Muslims were engulfed in wrongful and unnecessary traditions, frauds and scoundrels had kidnapped the graves of the pious and became their custodians, the seminaries were disputing on the topics of philosophy and wisdom, religious edicts were being literally interpreted by jurists. Leave alone the common men; even scholars were ignorant of the meanings and teachings of the Qura’an, hadith and theology
Service to Mankind
After returning from Mecca and Medina, the miserable condition of Indian Muslims inspired him to improve their character, buck up their morale, inculcate the feeling of selflessness and love for their fellows. He overhauled the existing education system, separated the faith from unlawful invented traditions (bidaat), unnecessary and unwanted suspicions regarding Islam and its holy books. He presented what he considered pure and pristine Islam to the people
Death of Shah Sahab
He died in Delhi on the year 1176 AH corresponding to 1762 AD, behind the central jail. There is a vast ground and a graveyard known popularly as “Mehindin Kakhitta” which contains in it the grave of Shah Waliullah and his progeny
His Final Will“The final will of this humble servant of Allah is that always hold tightly to the Qura’an and Sunnath in your beliefs and acts. Regularly evaluate yourself against them. Read them regularly and if you can’t, then
find someone who can and listen to at least a couple of pages everyday
Children of Shah Wali Ullah
Shah Abdul Aziz
Hazrat Shah Waliullah was fortunate of having children who were great scholars and god-fearing men like himself. His eldest son Shah Abdul Aziz was born in 1159 AH and died in 1238 AH corresponding to 1823 AD. At the age of 17 he had become an accomplished scholar and began teaching like his father. For 60 years, he continued teaching and preaching Islam. The blessing of his knowledge reached every corner of the Indian sub-continent. Because of his versatile genius he was giving the title “Ayatullah”, a sign of God.
The second of Shah Waliullah Rafi-uddin. He was born in 1163 AH and died in 1233 AH. His scholarly qualities may well be judged from the fact that when Shah Abdul Aziz had become to teach he passed on his responsibilities to Shah Rafi. Among the work of Shah Rafi his urdu translation of the Holy Quran
Shah Abdul Qadir
The third son of Shah Sahib was Shah Abdul Qadir who was born in 1162 AH and died in 1230 AH. He was also a big scholar by his nature, he loved solitude, and he spent his whole life in a secluded room of Akbar Badi mosque. He did not much attend to literary writings, however, his urdu translation under the title of “Mozih ul Quran” was his monumental achievement which is recognised by scholarly circles.
His fourth son was Abdul Ghani. He was a saintly person. His son Shah Ismail Shaheed was a unique personality who had combined in himself all virtues of
scholarly and mystical personalities.
In short, due to sincere and dedicated efforts of Shah Waliullah and his family the illustrious banner of Islam kept flying over the Indian sub continent despite the decline and fall of the Mughal empire. In Spain, the faith of Islam disappeared with disappearance of the Muslim rule. Many Muslims were killed and many were converted to Christianity. In India however the intention of the British Government did not realize and Muslim India did not convert to the faith of the ruling people despite missionary efforts of the British Government who spent millions of pounds on missionary activities and arranged lectures, debates and seminars to propagate their faith. The failure of the British Government in converting Muslim India was due to the dedicated efforts of Hazrat Shah Waliullah and his noble family.
Shah Wali Ullah
Shah Wall Ullah was born on 21 February 1703 during reign of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. His real name was Qutub-ud-Din, but he later became known Shah Wali Ullah because of his piety. His father was Shah Abdul Rahim, who founded the Madrassa Rahimiya in Delhi. When his father died in 1718 Shah Wali Ullah began teaching at the Madrassa.
In 1724 Shah Wali Ullah went to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj and to further his studies. He studied under the famous Sheikh Abu Tahir bin Ibrahim,before returning to Delhi in 1732.
During his time in Saudi Arabia, Shah Wali Ullah thought deeply about the problems faced by Muslims in the Mughal Empire. The Empire was in decline and Muslims were disunited and vulnerable to attacks on their religion. Shah
Wall Ullah realised that reform could not come from the weak leadership in Delhi and that it had to come from within the Muslim community itself.
He believed that many of the problems of the Muslims resulted from their incomplete knowledge of Quran and about Islam in general — and that what was needed was for Quranic teachings to become more accessible to the people.
A major problem for the Muslim community was the way that it was divided into sectarian groups, such as Sunnis and Shias. Shah Wall Ullah wanted them to concentrate on the fundamental principles of Islam and put aside their differences, believing that this would create a more united community.
It was essential to follow the moral and spiritual principles of Islam in order to create a good society. Un-Islamic principles were not acceptable in any area of society, whether politics, economics or just the day-to-day lives of the individual Muslims.
-Shah Wall Ullah worked hard to ensure that he was a role model for other Muslims. His deep understanding of the Quran, Hadith, Fiqah and Tasawuf made him a highly knowledgeable scholar at an early age.
-Since he believed that an emphasis on Quranic teachings was vital to Muslims, he translated the Quran into Persian. Few Muslims spoke Arabic and so the Quran had not been widely studied previously. Now it could be understood by a larger number of Muslims. The ulema criticised Shah Wall Ullah, but his work proved very popular. Later his two sons, Shah Abdul Qader and Shah Rafi, translated the Quran into Urdu, which meant that many more people could study it.
-In addition to translating the Quran, Shah Wall Ullah wrote fifty-one books. He wrote in both Persian and Arabic. Amongst the most famous were Hujjatullah-ul-Baligha and Izalat-Akhfa. He also wrote an account of the first four caliphs of Islam in a way that was acceptable to both Shias and
Sunnis. He hoped that this would help to heal the division between them.
– His writings brought him great fame and prestige and enabled him to have influence in other areas too. For example, in economics he emphasized the need for social justice and for peasants and craftsmen to be truly valued for their contribution to the economy.
-One of Shah Wali Ullah’s most important contributions to the Muslim community was his organisation of opposition to the Marathas, who were threatening to over-run the Mughal Empire from the south. He realised that the Muslims had to unite to deal with this threat, and that of the Sikhs who were attacking in the north. Shah Wall Ullah wrote to all the Muslim nobles calling on them to join together to save the Mughal Empire. It was partly his influence which helped to persuade Ahmed Shah Abdall of Persia to intervene. He joined forces with local Muslim leaders and defeated the Marathas at the Battle of Panipat in 1761. However, despite encouragement from Shah Wall Ullah, the Muslim leaders did not unite to take advantage of the defeat of the Marathas. Perhaps if they had done so, the Muslims would not have soon found themselves under non-Muslim rule.
Shah Wall Ullah’s contribution towards Islamic revival was extremely important for a number of reasons:
-He was one of the first Muslim thinkers to state that the decline of the Mughal Empire and the vulnerable position of the Muslims were due to neglect of the principles of Islam. He believed that if the decline in the position of the Muslims was to be stopped, there had to be spiritual and moral regeneration.
-He showed how this regeneration might take place. The Madrassa Rahimiya continued to play a vital role in teaching Islamic principles and researching Islamic thought.
-His writing in Persian made Islamic teaching available to large numbers of Muslims who had not been able to understand Arabic. He believed that Muslims could only prosper if they followed proper Islamic customs and did not indulge in social evils. Shah Wali Ullah provided the inspiration for Muslims to lead a pure life, based on a belief that anti-social attitudes incurred the displeasure of God.
-He also showed that a Muslim revival could only take place if there was an acceptance that sectarian division was to stop. Muslims had to concentrate more on the basic principles of Islam, and not allow the differences between them to lead to conflict.He tried to build bridges between the different Muslim sects and to unite the community. He tried to do this by organising opposition to the Marathas and uniting Muslims by emphasising the importance of Jihad against a common enemy.
-He trained his sons to continue his work and had such a huge following that his work remained famous for many generations. Like all great reformers, Shah Wali Ullah’s influence continued long after his death. Not only did his writings survive and translated in many languages, but the Madrassa Rahimaya continued to flourish. Many future Islamic leaders were inspired by him to fight for the good of the Muslim community.