History itself stands evident to the fact that whenever Islam was in danger, by any agency or enemy, it was saved by such personalities who through their spiritual power not only saved it but also gave it a new life. The movement of Shah Wali Ullah was the first in the Subcontinent that aimed at socio-economic and politico – religious reformation of the degenerated Muslim society.
Hazrat Shah waliullah was born on 21st February 1703 in Delhi. He was born during the reign of Aurangzeb. He worked for the revival of Islamic rule and intellectual learning in South Asia, during a time of waning Muslim power.The original name of Shah Waliullah was Qutbuddin and his father’s name was Shah Abdul Raheem. Shah Waliullah had a son and 5 daughters from his first wife. His second wife bore him four sons:Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddis Dehlvi, Shah Rafiuddin, Shah Abdul Qadir, and Shah Abdul Ghani. Shah Waliullah was, perhaps, the only Muslim scholar of Mediaeval India who realized the importance of economics in a social and political set-up.
He advocated the maintenance of economic equilibrium in the society and strongly criticized the accumulation of wealth which leads to all sorts of evils in the world. He had visualized a social order based on economic equality, fraternity and brotherhood which are the principles governing Islamic socialist practices during the time of the pious Caliphs. Shah Waliullah visualized an ideal state of the days of the Pious Caliphs and strove to it. 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.”
* Early Education
Shah Waliullah received his education at Madrasa Rahimiyya. His father was his teacher and source of spiritual guidance.He was a man of letters. He commenced his studies at the age of five and completed the recitation and memorization of the Qur’an by the age of seven. Thereafter, he commenced primary lessons in Persian and Arabic, which were completed in a year. Then, he studied the grammar and syntax of Persian and Arabic. He completed his studies in philosophy and theologyat the age of fifteen and then commenced his studies in mantiq, fiqh, hadith, tibb, algebra,mathematics, kalaam, spirituality, mysticism, oratory and metaphysics under his father.
Thereafter, he was inducted into the tradition of bay’at by his father and, by the age of seventeen, he was permitted to provide spiritual guidance to and reform his fellow [[Muslims, he became a mudarris (teacher) atMadrasa Rahimiyya. He held this position for twelve years. Then, in 1731, Shah Waliullah performed Hajj. He reached Makkah on May 21 and performed Hajj, after which he proceeded to Medina. There, he attended Shaikh Abu Tahir Muhammad bin Ibrahim Kurdi Madani’s discourses on hadith. Shah Waliullah studied Sihah Sitta, Mu’atta Imam Malik, Masnad Da’armi, and Imam Muhammad’s Al A’saarunder him.
Thereafter, he returned to Makkah, performed another Hajj, studied Al-Muwatta Imam Malikfor a second time under Shaikh Wafadullah Maliki Makki, and attended the discourses of ShaikhTajuddin Hanafi Qala’i Makki on Sihah Sitta. Then, he was permitted to teach all of the kitabs of hadithby Shaikh Tajuddin. Thereafter, Shah Waliullah returned to India. His journey back to India lasted six months and he reached Delhi on January 1, 1733.
* Achievements and Services
After he had performed his second hajj, he returned to Delhi. He started his work in earnest. This was in a period when Muslims in India were passing through the most critical phase of their history and their entire social, political, economic and spiritual fabric was torn to pieces. On his arrival in Delhi, he started to train his pupils in diverse branches of Islam and entrusted them with the mission of enlightening people with the true nature of Islam. He embarked upon the task of authoring standard works on Islam and was able to complete a number of works on Islam. Shah Waliullah rose to be an eminent scholar of Islamic studies.
He was a prominent intellectual figure whose mission was to reform the Muslims he saw as misguided. His activities were not confined to spiritual and intellectual spheres only. He lived in troubled times and witnessed a number of rulers occupying the throne of Delhi. With his keen political insight, he observed the deterioration of Muslim rule in India and wrote to a number of political dignitaries to attempt to bolster the political life of Muslims in India. He established several branches of Madrasa Rahimiyya in Delhi in order to effectively disseminate his knowledge.
Religious Reforms a) Translation of the Holy Quran Shah Wali Ullah was the first in the subcontinent who translated the Holy Quran into Persian language for better understanding of the holy book. b) Explanation of Muatta • The life and traditions of prophets were the second source of Islamic teachings. • He established schools for the study of Hadith. • He selected “Imam Maliki’s Muatta” as the most authentic collection of the Hadith. c) Synthesis of different schools of thought He wrote “Al-Insaf-fi-Bayan Sahab al Ikhtalaf,” in order to create a balance between the four schools of thought. His object was to alleviate the deteriorating condition of the Muslim society and to defend it from external threats. d) Emphasis on Ijtehad Shah Wali Ullah was the first person to emphasize the importance of Ijtehad for the solution of intricate problems in every day life. e) Efforts for the Revival of Islam He was against the limited universality of the applications of the injunctions of the Quran.
He tried to resolve the controversies among various schools of thoughts and gave a new life to the spirit of Islam. Promotion of Madarras Rahimiya He rendered great services to Islam by the promotion of Madarrasah Rahimiya. Economic Reforms In his famous book “Hijjat-ul-Balagh,” he pointed out that social and economic factors were responsible for the problems in human society. The working and poor class was being exploited but the noble, ulema and rulers were being fed on the public treasury without performing their corresponding duties. Shah Wali Ullah raised his voice for: • Economic equilibrium • Removal of inequalities • Equitable distribution of resources He appealed to the classes concerned responsible to realize their responsibilities and duties towards the people.
Political Reforms Shah Wali Ullah wrote many letters to “Ahmad Shah Abdali” and encouraged Najib-ud-Daula of Bengal to help him save the Muslim Community from the Marhattas. He gave a crushing defeat to the Marhattas at Panipat. The occasion was the culmination of Shah Wali Ullah’s political efforts. Social Reforms He emphasized on all basic rights such as free dispensation of justice, equality, brotherhood, etc. * Shah waliullah’s 4 basic principles of economics
Shah Waliullah has discussed about the four basic principles of economics; such as Production of wealth, consumption of wealth, distribution of wealth, exchange of wealth. The whole nation is participant in the production of wealth, so it should be distributed in the whole nation. He established the principles for distribution of wealth among people as well as the values that how the wealth should be consumed. That economic system is successful which establishes the principles for these four branches. * The first principle is that people living in specific geographic boundaries has the right over the resourcesof that area.
That economic system in which all the people are equal no single person or specific class can get hold of the resources. He has narrated Hazrat Abu Bakkar Siddique in Aizaalatul Khifa “Equality is better in economics than giving priority to one group over other. * Second principle is that everybody has the right to have limited owner ship as the abilities of every individual are different. Not that the whole nation should have same clothing, food and houses. * Third principle is that any practice which concentrates wealth in certain hands will not be tolerated and the system will oppose it. * Fourth principle is that such a balance should be maintained in these factors that society develop as a whole. Shah waliullah stressed on the creation of a party on such principles which will end the outmoded system and built a new system which ensures the development of society as a whole
* Literary career
Shah Waliullah was a prolific writer. In the realm of Islam, he produced a number of memorable literary works and, within a period of thirty years, he wrote a total of fifty-one works of merit, twenty-eight inArabic and twenty-three in Persian. Some of these are still unsurpassed in the domain of Islamic literature. His most valuable service to Islam was that he codified the vast store of Islam under separate heads. Both in thought and prediction, his works occupy an outstanding position. His works can be classified into six categories. The first deals with the Qur’an. It includes his translation of the Qur’an into Persian. According to him, the object of studying the Qur’an is to reform human nature and correct wrong beliefs and injurious actions.
The second category deals with hadith, in which he has left behind several works such as commentaries on Al-Muwatta Imam Malik in bothArabic and Persian. Shah Waliullah also wrote a number of works and pamphlets on hadith. The third category deals with fiqah or Islamic jurisprudence, which includes lnsaaf fi Bayaan-e-Sahoobul Ikhtilaf, a brief yet informative history of Islamic jurisprudence over the five centuries before his life. The fourth category deals with mysticism. The fifth category pertains to his works on Muslim philosophy andkalaam. He also wrote a pamphlet on the principles of ijtihad (independent interpretation) and taqlid(conformity). In his principles of ijtihad, he clarifies whether it is obligatory for a Muslim to adhere to one of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence or whether he can exercise his own judgment.
Shah Waliullah’s greatest work is Hujjatullahil Baligha, which deals with such aspects of Islam that are common among all of the Muslim countries. The sixth category deals with his works on the problems between Shias and Sunnis. His theories pertaining to economics and socialism are of revolutionary nature. The miserable condition of Indian Muslims inspired him to improve their character, raise their morale, and inculcate a feeling of selflessness and love for their fellows in them. He overhauled the educational system and separated faith from unlawful invented traditions and unnecessary and unwanted suspicions regarding Islam. He presented what he considered pure and pristine Islam to people. extensively on several Islamic topics. His literary masterpieces are as follows: 1. Fathur Rahman fi Tarjumatul Qur’an: A translation of the Qur’an into Persian. A collection of 40ahadith which are brief yet of inclusive character.
* Al Irshad ila Muhim
2. Al Faudhul Kabir fi Usoolut Tafsir: A booklet in Persian that follows his Persian translation of the Qur’an. It contains the nucleus of the Qur’an, the rules of interpretation, and interpretations of the Qur’an by various eminent scholars. 3. Hujjatullahil Baligha: Shah Waliullah’s greatest literary work. Its title is derived from the Qur’an (Suratul An’aam:149). It is a two-volume Arabic manuscript and elaborates about the jurisprudence from the hadith and necessities of the Shari’a. A partial list of the rest of his works is as follows:
1. Arba’een (Arabic): matul Ilmul Isnad (Arabic): This work is about the scholars of Hijaz who taught Shah Waliullah. 2. Izalatul Khafa’an Khilafatul Khulafa . The book is in persian and has been translated in Urdu as well.It endeavors to prove the soundness of the Islamic governance of the Khulfa-e- Rashideen (First four Islamic Caliphs) and also illuminates the salient features of an Islamic state 3. At Tayyabul Naghm fi Madh-e-Sayyidul Arab wal Ajam (Arabic): A collection of odes eulogizing Muhammad, which display Shah Waliullah’s poetic talent and love towards Muhammad. 4. Altaaful Quds: This woark deals with esoteric principles of mysticism. 5. Al Imdad fi Ma’athirul Ajdaad. A brochure outlining Shah Waliullah’s genealogical table and containing brief notices about some of his ancestors. 6. Al Intibah fi Salaasil ul Auliaullah .: A book which details the history of and a brief introduction to various mystic orders.
7. Insanul ‘Ain fi Mashaaikhul Haramayn
8. Al Insaf fi Bayaanul Asbabul Ikhtilaf . This book discusses the sectarianism in Islam. It condemns the sectarian strife in Islamic societies and supports a moderate approach in dealing with sectarian issues. The movement of political as well as spiritual regeneration of Muslim India did not die with Shah Waliullah. His talented son, Shah Abdul Aziz, and his worthy disciples and successors, strove for the realization of his mission. The torch of Islamic revival kindled by Shah Waliullah was kept aloft by his worthy successors. The echo of the third battle of Panipat was heard in the battle of Balakot. Both form the landmarks of the same struggle.
Shah Waliullah possessed a many-sided and versatile personality. His real greatness lies in the cumulative effect produced by his writings, by the contribution of persons trained by him and by the achievements of the school of thought founded by him. In religious matters, he struck a mean between extremes; in social affairs he strove to introduce in the Muslim society the simplicity and purity of early Islam; in the sphere of economics he
advocated the revolutionary Islamic socialism and in the political field he forged a united Muslim front against the non-Muslim forces which were threatening to storm Muslim India.