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Old Saturday, January 13, 2007
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Default Shah Waliullah

Shah Waliullah Dehlavi (Arabic/Persian/Urdu: شاہ ولی اللہ دھلوی) also known as Shah Waliullah of Delhi (1703–1762)
was an important Islamic reformer who worked for the revival of Muslim rule and intellectual learning in the South Asia, hoping to restore the ulama's former power and influence. He despised the divisions and deviations within Islam and its practice in the subcontinent and hoped to 'purify' the religion and unify all Indian Muslims under the banner of the 'truth' (Haq).


Shah Waliullah was born in 1703 AD four years before the death of Aurangzeb. His grandfather, Sheikh Wajihuddin, was an important officer in the army of Shah Jahan who supported Prince Aurangzeb in the war of succession. Forefathers of Shah Waliullah, Shaikh Shamsuddin Mufti came to the subcontinent and settled in Rothak during the initial period of Islamic rule. Although the mark of identification of this family was their command over religious sciences of Islam, one of his family members, Shaikh Mehmood, adopted the profession of a soldier after which tales of remarkable bravery remained associated with this family for a long time.

Although his grandfather was a proper Islamic Scholar, he is known more for his bravery on the battle field than Islamic Scholarship. Primary education of Shah Waliullah was completed under the guidance and supervision of his grandfather. His grandfather Shakih Wajiuddin was a Commander in the army of Auranzeb. Shakih Wajiuddin was distinctive among the solders who faced the "must" elephat of Shuja in the battle of Khaqja fought between Aurangzeb and Shuja/Shah Abdur Rahim, father of Shah Waliullah, abandoning sword catch pen. Although the position of Shah Abdurahim was important, he could not obtain the position that his son Shah Waliullah got. The son, like his father, also adopted the way of the shariyat and tareeqa.

After completing his basic education, Shah Waliullah began to attend school and at just 7 years old he completed the recitation of the Qur'an and also became deeply religious and spritual and offered prayers 5 times daily. He studied Persian books at the age of 10. He acquired the knowledge of Logic, Fiqah, Hadith, specially Tib (Eastern medicine) and ma-an (meaning), Algebra, Mathematics, and oratory from his father.

At the age of 17, after his father passed away, he began the teachings of Islam, offered Hajj twice and began staying in Medina. He had also learned the the Marathas were constantly attacking within India and their looting was a curse for the Muslims. He continued to stay in Medina and acquired a degree of Hadith. During his stay in Medina, he had a dream that the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was telling him: "It has been decided for you to lead one of the groups of Muslim nation" After this he could not possibly decide to stay in Medina, so he traveled back to India and noticed that not only the Maratha but also Nadir Shah, Sheikhs, and Hindus were enemies of Muslims. He pretended that friendly foes were more dangerous then an open enemy.

One of his main desires was to intellectually revive Islamic learning and he did so by emphasising studies in madrassas (Islamic schools), especially his own, Madrassa-i Rahimiyya. Waliullah advocated the strenuous study of the Islamic "sciences of revelation", which comprised studies of the Hadith (the oral tradition of the sayings of the Prophet) and the Qur'an (the Islamic holy scripture). Shah Waliullah attempted to simplify the texts in order to spread their message to Muslims of every educated class. In addition, Waliullah was a powerful advocate of the establishment of Urdu as a mainstream literary and liturgical language, citing it as the lingual link among all Indian Muslims. Shah Waliullah's approach to learning and his Muslim revivalist agenda inspired the Deobandi movement, who claim their scholastic heritage and lineage back to Shah Waliullah).

Shah Waliullah was also a key protagonist in initiating the spiritual revival of Muslims through tasawwaf and Sufism (Islamic spirituality). He spread the message of Islamic spiritualism to the Indian masses and emphasised Da'wah and Tableegh (Islamic propagation) to his students and he supported the well-established tradition of the Sufis in the South Asia, while at the same time condemning external influences and innovations (bid'a) in Sufi practices, advocating the idea of a pure Islam devoid of such influences on the basis that Muslims should assert an independent identity free from the influence of Hindu polytheists. In this respect as well as others, Shah Waliullah was a follower of the Ghazalian tradition of Imam Al-Ghazali.

It is interesting to note that Shah Waliullah is respected and revered greatly by all Muslims in the South Asia and beyond, including the Barelvi, Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadeeth groups and movements of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, who include both Sufis and Salafis. The Deoband movement as well as the Ahl-e-Hadeeth both claim to espouse the ideology and thought of Shah Waliullah and the Barelvi movement follow his spiritual tradition. Shah Waliullah belongs to a noble family.

Shah Waliullah was a prolific writer who wrote extensively on several Islamic topics. His works include an instrumental and one of the earliest translations of the Qur'an from Arabic into Persian, namely Fath-Ur-Rehman ,contrary to the will of many of his Muslim contemporaries who opined that the Qur'an should be left in its original language. Later Indian Islamic scholars, however, accepted such efforts and rather than criticise this, they welcomed it. Other famous works include Hujjat al-Balagha and Al-Tafheemat al-Ilahia.



A partial list [1]:

Arbain (Arabic)- A collection of 40 ahadith which are brief yet of inclusive character.
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.
Fath al-Wadud-li-Marifata-al-Junud(Arabic)- it pertains to the ethics and mysticism.
Al fadhl Al-Mubin Fi Al-Musalsal Min Hadithin Nabi Al-Amin (Arabic)- It is about Hadith.
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