Obituary: Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mufti Saʿīd Aḥmad Pālanpūrī (1359/1940 – 1441/2020)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
As we awoke this morning, it was extremely saddening to receive the news of the demise of the Shaykh al-Ḥadīth and Ṣadr al-Mudarrisīn (the lead of teachers) of Darul Uloom Deoband, Ḥaḍrat Mufti Saʿīd Aḥmad Pālanpūrī Raḥimahullāh who passed away in Mumbai, India earlier today on 25 Ramaḍān 1441 (19 May 2020). This is undoubtedly a great loss for Darul Uloom Deoband where Mufti Ṣāḥib taught for 48 years, and for the entire Ummah.
Upon receiving the news, my respected father Mufti Shabbir Ahmad (b. 1376/1957) said:
“Mufti Ṣāḥib was an ocean of knowledge and a great intellectual. It will be difficult to replace him. He made a significant contribution to Islamic academia. There is probably no Darul Uloom in the world with Urdu as the medium, where his works are not benefited from. We have lost two great personalities over the past few days. Mufti Ṣāḥib had understood Shāh Walī Allah Muḥaddith Dehlawī [d. 1176/1762] and simplified his complex work Ḥujjat Allah al-Bālighah. I had a personal relationship with Mufti Ṣāḥib for over 40 years, since my days of study in Saharanpur. At that time, Mufti Ṣāḥib was teaching Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ in Darul Uloom Deoband. This shows his lofty status and acceptance among his teachers, peers and students from his early years of teaching.”
Given the status, contribution and life-long service of Mufti Ṣāḥib, I thought it would be useful, for our English readers, to pen a brief overview of his life and share some memories.
Early life and primary education
Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mufti Saʿīd Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf ibn ʿAlī Pālanpūrī was born in the Palanpur region, situated in North Gujarat, India in approximately 1359/1940. It was here that he acquired his primary (Maktab) education.
Subsequently, he enrolled at Darul Uloom Chhapi where he studied Persian by his maternal uncle Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Shīrā and other teachers. After six months, his uncle left the institute, so he also left with him and continued his Persian studies with him in his uncle’s village.
Thereafter, Mufti Ṣāḥib enrolled at a seminary in Palanpur city which was being managed by the great reformer Mawlānā Nadhīr Miyā Ṣāḥib. Here, Mufti Ṣāḥib studied the first four years of the ʿAlim programme until Sharḥ Jāmī. His teachers included Mufti Muḥammad Akbar Miyā Pālanpūrī and Mawlānā Hāshim Bukhārī, who was a graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband originally from Bukhārā, who is buried in the Baqīʿ cemetery in the blessed city of Madīnah.
Intermediate and advanced education
In 1377 (1958), Mufti Ṣāḥib travelled to Mazahirul Uloom, Saharanpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and studied various disciplines here for the next three years. His teachers here included: Mufti Yaḥyā Ṣāḥib (d. 1417/1996), Mawlānā ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Rāipūrī and the master of inheritance, Mawlānā Waqār Ṣāḥib.
Thereafter, in 1380 (1961), Mufti Ṣāḥib enrolled in Darul Uloom Deoband to complete his studies and successfully graduated in 1382 (1963). Mufti Ṣāḥib was extremely intelligent and hardworking, and as a result attained 1st position in his class. Some of his notable teachers during these two years and the books he studied with them are as follows:
- Mawlānā Fakhr al-Dīn Murādābādī (d. 1392/1972) taught him Ṣaḥīh al-Bukhārī.
- ʿAllāmah Ibrāhīm Balyāwī (d. 1387/1967) taught him Muqaddimah and Kitāb al-Īmān of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim along with the first volume of Sunan al-Tirmidhī.
- Mawlānā Bashīr Aḥmad Khān taught him the rest of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.
- Mawlānā Fakhr al-Ḥasan Murādābādī (d. 1393/1973) taught him Sunan Abī Dāwūd along with the second volume of Sunan al-Tirmidhī and Kitāb al-ʿIlal.
- Mawlānā Muḥammad Ẓuhūr taught him Sunan al-Nasāī.
- Mufti Sayyid Mahdī Ḥasan (d. 1396/1976) taught him Sharḥ Maʿānī al-Āthār.
- Ḥakīm al-Islām Qārī Muḥammad Ṭayyib (d. 1403/1983) taught him Muwaṭṭaʾ Mālik.
In 1382 (1963), Mufti Ṣāḥib enrolled on the Iftāʾ programme under the tutelage of Mufti Sayyid Mahdī Ḥasan Ṣāḥib. Given his abilities, his study period was extended for another year, and he was appointed in the final six months of the second year as Assistant Mufti, which was something unique at the time.
During this period, he also began to memorise the Quran. Mufti Ṣāḥib mentions that Mawlānā Fakhr al-Dīn Murādābādī Ṣāḥib would spend a lot of time on teaching the book of Tafsīr of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and it was then he realised that memorising the Quran is essential to fully understand the Quran.
First teaching post
After successfully graduating as a Mufti with invaluable practice, Mufti Ṣāḥib was appointed as a teacher in the famous seminary of Gujarat, Darul Uloom Ashrafia, Rander. Mufti Ṣāḥib taught here for nine years between 1384 (1965) and 1393 (1973) and his appointment from the outset was to teach the upper classes. Thus, during his time here, he taught the translation of the Quran, the four Sunan ḥadīth books, Jalālayn, Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ, the final half of Hidāyah and many other books. During this time, he also began to author some works including his famous book ‘Ḥurmat Muṣāharat’.
Final teaching post
In 1393 (1973), Mufti Ṣāḥib was appointed to teach in Darul Uloom Deoband, which he successfully did for 48 years until his demise. Thousands of students from across the world benefited from him. I met some of his students in Uzbekistan. His students attest that from the very beginning, Mufti Ṣāḥib’s lessons were very popular. Along with his profound knowledge, wit and method of deduction, his ability to simplify difficult concepts and instil them within the minds of the students was second to none. This is also evident from his publications.
As mentioned above, Mufti Ṣāḥib was tasked from very early on to teach the upper classes. Throughout his 48 years at Deoband, Mufti Ṣāḥib taught many books. They include: the 6 famous ḥadīth collections, Muwaṭṭāʾ Mālik, Muwaṭṭāʾ Muḥammad, Mishkāt, Sharḥ Maʿānī al-Āthār, Hidāyah, Sullam al-ʿUlūm, Hadyah Saʿīdiyyah, Mullā Ḥasan, Jalālayn, al-Fawz al-Kabīr, Musallam al-Thubūt, Sharḥ al-Āqāid, Dīwān Mutanabbī, Meybdhī, Tafsīr Bayḍāwī, Nukhbat al-Fikr, Ḥusāmī, Mullā Ḥasan, al-Sabʿ al-Muʿallaqāt, Sirājī, Tafsīr Maẓharī, Muqaddimah Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ and Ḥujjat Allah al-Bāligah.
In 1429 (2008), Mufti Ṣāḥib was appointed as the Shaykh al-Ḥadīth, a role Mufti Ṣāḥib continued to fulfil until his demise. Although the Darul Iftāʾ would consult him on important matters, Mufti Ṣāḥib generally stayed away from Iftāʾ matters and focused on his teaching and publications. There were some brief periods when he was tasked to supervise and manage the Darul Iftāʾ based on need.
Mufti Ṣāḥib has thousands of students across the world. Some of his notable students include:
- Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mufti Aḥmad Khānpūrī Ṣāḥib (b. 1365/1946) (India).
- Mawlānā Muḥammad Sufyān Qāsmī (b. 1374/1954) (India).
- Mufti Shabbīr Aḥmad Qāsmī (India).
- Mufti Muḥammad Salmān Manṣūrpūrī (b. 1386/1967) (India).
- Mawlānā Sayyid Mahmūd Madani (b. 1383/1964) (India).
- Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Shafīq al-Islām Ṣāḥib (Bangladesh).
- Mufti Maḥmūd Bārdolī (India).
- Shaykh Taha Karaan (South Africa).
- Mufti Abdul Mannan (Uzbekistan).
Along with the thousands of students who studied under him, Mufti Ṣāḥib’s legacy lies in his publications. Mufti Ṣāḥib was a prolific writer in the Urdu language. He authored more than 40 books of various sizes. They include:
- Tafsīr Hidāyat al-Qurān – Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿUthmān Kāshif Ilāhī started this Urdu commentary and completed the Tafsīr of Juz 1-9 and 30. Mufti Ṣāḥib completed this and also began to cover the parts authored by Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿUthmān. This was fully completed. The beauty of this tafsīr is that it focuses on conveying the meaning of the text and the actual message of the Quran without branching off into related discussions.
- Tuḥfat al-Qārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī – This is a complete commentary of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, published in 12 volumes. The commentary is consistent from the beginning to end. From the published complete Urdu commentaries on the Ṣaḥīḥ, it is undoubtedly the best. It does not merely regurgitate what is in the earlier commentaries. Mufti Ṣāḥib has his own perspective in many places on the commentary of the ḥadīths and also in some of the chapter headings. The style and some personal anecdotes and stories make it an interesting read. It must be remembered that this, along with the next work, is primarily based on durus (lessons).
- Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī Sharḥ Sunan al-Tirmidhī – This is a complete commentary of Sunan al-Tirmidhī, Shamāil and Kitab al-ʿIlal, published in eight volumes. Like the commentary of Sunan al-Bukhārī, this commentary is very popular and students from across the world benefit from it. In the Urdu language, this is the best complete commentary of Sunan al-Tirmidhī to date. Like the previous commentary, it is consistent throughout, unlike many commentaries which focus on the first few chapters or some others which are selective. Naturally, the commentary’s focus is more on the Fiqh and meanings (dirāyat) of the Ḥadīths as is the norm in the sub-continent. The beauty of this commentary is ḥall (solving) of the book with every sentence addressed, which is somewhat similar to the Arabic commentary Tuḥfat al-Ahwadhī.
- Raḥmat Allah al-Wāsiʿah – This is a detailed commentary in Urdu of Ḥujjat Allah al-Bālighah, authored by Shāh Walī Allah Muḥaddith Dehlawī (d. 1176/1762). I have benefited a lot from this work. Without it, it is difficult to understand many parts of the book. The Ummah is indebted to Mufti Ṣāḥib for this amazing work and simplifying every line of it. The book is published in five large volumes and is a must for all scholars especially in contemporary times.
- Ḥujjat Allah al-Bālighah with Arabic footnotes – This is useful for teachers.
- Al-ʿAwn al-Kabīr – This is an Arabic commentary on al-Fawz al-Kabīr.
- Sharḥ ʿIlal al-Tirmidhī – This is a short Arabic commentary on Kitāb al-ʿIlal.
- Tahdhīb al-Mugnī – This is an Arabic commentary on ʿAllāmah Ṭāhir Pattanī’s (d. 986/1578-9) book on transmitters, ‘al-Mugnī’.
- Fayḍ al-Munʿīm – This is an Urdu commentary on the Muqaddimah of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.
- Tashīl Adillah Kāmilah – This is an Urdu commentary on Shaykh al-Hind Mawlānā Maḥmūd Ḥasan Deobandī’s (d. 1339/1920) renowned book ‘Adillah Kāmilah’ which contains the 10 common issues where the non-Muqallids of India had an objection.
- Āp Fatwā keysey dey – This is an Urdu commentary of Sharḥ ʿUqūd Rasm al-Muftī.
- Ḥayāt Imam Abū Dāwūd – This features the biography of Imam Abū Dāwūd.
- Ḥayāt Imam Ṭaḥāwī – This features the biography of Imam Ṭaḥāwī. I recall our respected teacher Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Yūnus Jownpūrī (d. 1438/2017) making reference to this book in some of his early writings.
- Āsān Naḥw, Āsān Ṣarf, Āsān Manṭiq – These are three separate series which are popular in the curriculum of many seminaries.
- Dārī awr Anbiyā kī Sunnatey – A short booklet on the beard and hygiene of the body.
- Ḥurmat Muṣāharat – A famous book pertaining to the Maḥram relationship established via lawful or unlawful relationships and touching with lust.
- Ḥawāshī Bāqiyāt Fatāwā Rashidiyyah – These are footnotes on this addendum to the Fatwa collection of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (d. 1323/1905).
- Ḥawāshī Imdād al-Fatāwā – These are footnotes on this Fatwa collection of Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī (d. 1362/1943).
- ʿIlmī Khuṭubāt – This is a two-volume collection in Urdu featuring some of Mufti Ṣāḥib’s speeches.
- Hādiyah Sharḥ Kāfiyah – This is an Urdu commentary on the famous Grammar book, ‘Kāfiyah’. Mufti Ṣāḥib also has an Arabic work ‘Wāfiyah Sharḥ Kāfiyah’ on the same book.
The wide range of books authored by Mufti Ṣāḥib demonstrate his profound knowledge, intellectual acumen and grasp of the Islamic sciences as well as related sciences such as Grammar and Manṭiq (logic). The first four books mentioned above are probably the most famous books authored by Mufti Ṣāḥib. Today, in India, his commentaries on Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Sunan al-Tirmidhī are the most commonly used from all the Urdu commentaries. All his books share a similar feature in that they are an easy read and difficult concepts are simplified for the reader. May Allah Almighty make all these works Ṣadaqah Jāriyah for him and accept all his efforts.
Travels and speeches
Along with his teaching and writing, Mufti Ṣāḥib was a public orator and would travel throughout India and the world to deliver speeches and share Islamic knowledge. His speeches were clear, structured and easy to understand for the laymen. Mufti Ṣāḥib spoke with full confidence and authority. His speeches would contain many academic and intellectual points, and he would not shy away from touching controversial subjects.
During his life, Mufti Ṣāḥib visited many countries. From 1990, he spent his Ramadan out of India more or less every year. Based on my knowledge (and this list will be updated as necessary), the countries he visited include the following:
- Canada (Mufti Ṣāḥib’s lectures at Masjid Darul Salam from 1997 onward are available on: http://talksofdeen.com/saeed.html).
- Saudi Arabia – Mufti Ṣāḥib visited Saudi Arabia for Hajj for the first time in 1400 (1980) via sea travel.
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
Mufti Ṣāḥib visited the UK, USA and Canada many times. There are two Masjids in the UK that deserve a special mention in this regard: Tayyibah Masjid, Bolton and Masjid Quba, Stamford Hill, London. These two Masjids regularly hosted Mufti Ṣāḥib during the month of Ramadan. May Allah Almighty reward Qārī Yakub Nanji, Mawlānā Ismail Sidyot, Hafiz Abdurrahim Mulla, Farook Bhai Bham and all the others who hosted Mufti Ṣāḥib in the UK. Qari Yakub Ṣāḥib was the first one to invite Mufti Ṣāḥib to the UK in 1985 or 1986.
Along with Mufti Ṣāḥib’s profound knowledge, it is important to highlight some of his qualities. When examining or judging personalities, it is important to consider their lives as a whole including their contribution and knowledge, along with their piety, qualities and characteristics. Many times, personalities are judged based on just one aspect of their lives, for example, their controversial views or some of their personality traits. This does not provide an accurate reflection and leads to gross injustice.
A unique quality of Mufti Ṣāḥib that deserves a special mention is his Taqwā and cautiousness. Two examples are sufficed with here:
First, Mufti Ṣāḥib was given the responsibility of managing the Majlis Taḥaffuẓ Khatm Nubuwwat which he continued until his demise. In 1419 (1998-9), Mufti Ṣāḥib requested the Shūrā (Governing Council) to appoint someone else. The Shūrā refused to accept this request and fixed an additional monthly allowance of 1000 rupees for him. However, Mufti Ṣāḥib refused to accept the allowance whilst agreeing to continue in this role.
Second, in 1423 (2002), Mufti Ṣāḥib stopped taking a salary from Darul Uloom Deoband and started teaching on a voluntary basis and did so until his demise. What is remarkable is that shortly thereafter, Mufti Ṣāḥib also returned all his salary of 30 years (949,804.75 Rupees). Mufti Ṣāḥib explained that Allah Almighty had granted him sufficient income from the sale of his books that not only was he able to stop taking a salary, he was able to return all his salary from the very beginning to Darul Uloom’s treasury. Likewise, Mufti Ṣāḥib returned the salary of 9 years (23,250 rupees) to Darul Uloom Ashrafia, Rander. This was not necessary upon Mufti Ṣāḥib. However, this illustrates his Taqwā, Zuhd (abstinence) and caution in such matters. Such examples are rare nowadays.
In reality, Mufti Ṣāḥib had inherited this Taqwā from his father. Mufti Ṣāḥib’s brother Mufti Amīn Ṣāḥib, also a lecturer in Darul Uloom Deoband, mentions that his father was a student in Dabhel in the era of ʿAllāmah Shabbīr Aḥmad ʿUthmānī (d. 1369/1949), Mawlānā Badr ʿĀlam Mīrtī (d. 1385/1965) and Shaykh Muḥammad Yūsuf Binorī (d. 1397/1977). He was unable to complete his studies, however, Mawlānā Badr ʿĀlam Mīrtī who was a very pious person (read his profile on this link) advised him:
“Yūsuf, if you want your sons to become good scholars, then abstain from unlawful wealth, and also protect your children from unlawful wealth, because knowledge is nūr, which does not enter a body nourished with the unlawful.”
The reason for this specific advice was that usury was prevalent in Mufti Ṣāḥib’s father’s village, and this was the reason why Mufti Ṣāḥib’s father had to leave his studies to earn a livelihood to protect Mufti Ṣāḥib’s grandfather from usury.
As my respected father Mufti Shabbir Ahmad always mentions:
“The fruits of the sacrifices of forefathers materialise in subsequent generations. Allah Almighty creates scholars in their families.”
My father also informed me that Mufti Saʿīd Ṣāḥib’s father was poor and Mufti Ṣāḥib grew up in poverty. This is same person who, decades on, returns his salary of 39 years to his employers.
(2) Love of Sunnah and rejection of innovations
Mufti Ṣāḥib was renowned for his love of the Sunnah and dislike of innovations. He would highlight repeatedly that the reason Darul Uloom Deoband was established was to revive the Sunnah and eradicate innovations. He would also complain that not much difference is now left between Deobandis and the Barelwis. Whenever Mufti Ṣāḥib felt an innovation is creeping in, he would not hesitate in highlighting it. Most recently, it was his view that communal Taʿziyat programs are an innovation. He highlighted this in many speeches and also a wrote a booklet on this subject.
Likewise, Mufti Ṣāḥib explains in Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī (5:552) that people started to take blessing from the pomegranate tree which was where the humble origins of Darul Uloom Deoband lie. Mufti Ṣāḥib comments:
“Some servant of Allah cut it, Allah reward him, he did a very good thing. Such self-declared blessed things become a Fitnah (problem) for people, and when exaggeration begins in beliefs, then people’s faith is spoiled.”
Mufti Ismail Kotwal of Canada mentioned to me that Mufti Ṣāḥib would not allow the Imams of the Masjids in Canada in which he would perform Ṣalāh to massage him. Mufti Ṣāḥib would remark,
“This is against the iḥtirām (respect) of your position.”
Mufti Ismail added that Mufti Ṣāḥib was very punctual with congregational Ṣalāh. In the mid-90s, Ramadan was in the winter and the owner of the house where Mufti Ṣāḥib was residing was not at home. Mufti Ṣāḥib walked from the house alone in the extreme cold and said:
“My Allah will take me.”
(3) Say the truth without fear
Mufti Ṣāḥib was very principled and had a strong character, notwithstanding his humour and affection. He would not hesitate in the slightest to speak the truth as he saw it. Many examples can be cited. On the issue of moon-sighting in the UK, his position is well known. He made this clear in various speeches across the UK. In 2019, he visited our Darul Uloom Bury and also mentioned this in his Dars (lesson) despite knowing that the Darul Uloom’s position on the matter is contrary to his.
Another example is his position on the 80 Durūd after ʿAṣr Ṣalāh narration. Mufti Ṣāḥib made it clear in public that the ḥadīth is not established. His position is correct in this regard. This was also the view of our respected teacher Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Yūnus Jownpūrī (d. 1438/2017), as outlined in an Urdu treatise of mine.
(4) Effort and sacrifice
Mufti Ṣāḥib was a very hard-working individual who would spend a lot of time on preparing for his lessons and meticulously writing, proofreading and publishing his works.
Mufti Ismail Kotwal narrates that a teacher of Sunan al-Nasāī once asked Mufti Ṣāḥib about the commentaries he should use. Mufti Ṣāḥib said, “Fatḥ al-Bārī”. The teacher replied, “I do not have the time to look at Fatḥ al-Bārī.” Mufti Ṣāḥib replied:
“Then, you should not be teaching Sunan al-Nasāī.”
Unlike the prevalent trend today, Mufti Ṣāḥib would not speak much of his ijāzah and his spiritual connections. Mufti Ṣāḥib initially had a spiritual connection with Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā Kāndhelwī (d. 1402/1982) from his study days in Saharanpur. He would also attend the gatherings of Mawlānā Shāh ʿAbd al-Qādir Rāipūrī (d. 1382/1962). Ḥaḍrat Mufti Muẓaffar Ḥusayn Ṣāḥib (d. 1424/2003), who was a very pious person, granted him ijāzah in Taṣawwuf. There may also be others who granted him Ijāzah, and Allah knows best.
It is worth noting that Mufti Ṣāḥib would stress the importance of Sunnah and highlight that some practices in some circles are contrary to the Shariah. An example of this is Murāqabah (meditation) and loud Dhikr at the graves. Mufti Ṣāḥib has strongly rejected this and deemed it an innovation (Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī, 3:462). Mufti Ṣāḥīb would also mention that many un-Islamic practices entered into Taṣawwuf after the first few centuries.
(1) June 2015
My first recollection of meeting Mufti Ṣāḥib is June 2015 when he visited Darul Uloom Blackburn and delivered a lesson. At the time, I wrote some notes on Facebook which are presented here with some revisions. It is important to contextualise the points and note that a difference of opinion or perspective can exist in relation to some of the points.
‘Important points from Ḥaḍrat Mufti Saʿīd Pālanpūrī’s speech and subsequent discussions at Darul Uloom Blackburn
- There is no example in Islamic history of males teaching mature females as has become common now. There are examples of males narrating Ḥadīths from females. This is an exception based on necessity.
- There is no example in Islamic history of females travelling for Tablīgh as they do now. Females would teach the females within their areas.
- The recitation of Ḥadīths should be clear, audible and not fast. Every word should be clear. Teachers should ensure students read in such a way that every student understands what is being read.
- When the name of the Prophet ﷺ is mentioned, the durūd should be read clearly with pleasure. Each letter of the durūd should be clear.
- The recitation of ḥadīth (ʿIbārah) in a class should not be the responsibility of one or two students. The teacher should choose a different person every day randomly so that all students prepare and make the effort to prepare before the class.
- Do not blame and misuse the name of the Akābir (elders) for leaving large chunks of the books until the end of the year and then completing them by mere recitation. This is not the method of the Akābir. The Akābir would comment on the Ḥadīths throughout the books. This is clear from the Ḥadīth commentaries of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, ʿAllāmah Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī, Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī and others. There are two aspects: (a) Understanding a book (b) Detailed discussions. If the first is regarded as the priority with some detailed discussions where required, the books can be completed from beginning to end without any problem. The problem is that many people conduct detailed discussions, often unrelated, at the beginning of the year which wastes time.
- Tip for Students: Knowledge is acquired through studying, not merely residing in an institute.
- Another tip: There are three signs of a successful student: (a) Prior reading of the lesson to be delivered. (b) Listening attentively during the lesson and understanding the entire lesson. (c) Memorising what has been taught.
- A successful student undertakes prior reading of the lesson, listens attentively during the lesson and memorises the lesson.
- Another tip: Purify your hearts before you study, so that you acquire the Nūr of the knowledge.
- Tip for Teachers: Knowledge is not acquired through mere teaching, but through reading extensively.
- There are three signs of a successful teacher: (a) Learn and memorise the lesson yourself. (b) Master the subject matter, not just by reading the commentaries. For example, if you are teaching Mukhtaṣar al-Qudūrī, then along with the commentaries, read the lower books such as Taʿlīm al-Islām, Bahishtī Zeywar as well as Hidāyah, Kanz, al-Durr al-Mukhtār and other books. (c) Summarise all that you have read and make your own notes as you will be unable to repeat this exercise and you will be unable to remember everything in the future.
- A successful teacher memorises the lesson, masters the subject matter and summarises all his readings into notes.
- We do not have a uniform in Deoband. The concept of a uniform does not exist in Islam. Any form of dress that conforms to Islam is accepted
- Property and Medical Insurance as well as extended warranties on products is permissible according to me. The Darul Iftāʾ of Deoband prohibits this. [Tr.Note: refer to this link for our position on medical insurance].
- Mina is not part of Makkah. This is the Fatwa of Deoband and Saharanpur and this is because the boundaries of certain specified places are fixed similar to the Masʿā. [Tr. Note: refer to this link for the alternative view].
- There are two views regarding ear drops nullifying the fast or not. Take the cautious opinion and refrain from using.
- Regarding the use of Kohl and the passage of substances through the eyes whilst fasting, it will not break the fast, irrespective of the scientific research on this.
- Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī’s 95th lesson of the 100 lessons is that there are four schools of thought in Fiqh (Ḥanafī, Shāfiʿī, Mālikī, Ḥanbalī) and three schools of thought in ʿAqīdah (Ashāʿirah and Māturīdiyyah who did Tanzīh and Tawīl, and the Salaf who did Tanzīh as well as Tafwīḍ). Anything besides cannot be adopted.
- It is preferable to start supplications with Ḥamd (praising Almighty Allah) and then Durūd.
(2) May 2017
It was then in May 2017, Mufti Ṣāḥib visited Blackburn once again. Prior to visiting Blackburn, Mufti Ṣāḥib visited Batley, where he was hosted by my dear colleague Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Kazi. Shaykh Khalil informed me that Mufti Ṣāḥib was enquiring about me. There were, I think, several reasons for this. First, I had sent Mufti Ṣāḥib a copy of my work, Tansḥīṭ al-Ādhān min Kitāb al-Arbaʿīn fi al-Adhān. Second, I had sent Mufti Ṣāḥib a copy of my treatise on 80 Durūd after ʿAṣr Ṣalāh, which agreed with his stance. Third, I had sent a treatise accompanied with a question to Darul Iftāʾ at Deoband on the issue of the Injīl and other books being the Kalām (direct speech) of Allah Almighty. Although Mufti Ṣāḥib was not directly involved in Darul Iftāʾ, this was shared with him given the complexity of the issue. Shaykh Khalil informed me that Mufti Ṣāḥib made reference to this.
Mufti Ṣāḥib then visited Darul Uloom Blackburn. Whilst sat in Mufti ʿAbduṣṣamad Ṣāḥib’s office, he asked my father about me and also asked Mufti ʿAbduṣṣamad Ṣāḥib about Mawlānā Muʿāwiyah due to his works. I recall Mufti Ṣāḥib informing my father that he read the Arabic book on Adhān and that it is written very well. He then mentioned that apart from a few works, he has not authored books in Arabic, because he is unable to articulate himself in Arabic in the way that he can in Urdu. He suggested that to master Arabic, he would need to reside in an Arab country for a period of time. In Urdu, he explained, I can explain any difficult concept without any problem. My respected father thanked Mufti Ṣāḥib for his comments and noted that elders reading the books of the young ones provides encouragement.
During his lesson, Mufti Ṣāḥib’s advice included:
“Along with Fiqh and Quran, a Mufti must study and remain attached with the Ḥadīths.”
(3) June 2019
My final meeting with Mufti Ṣāḥib was on Tuesday 11 June 2019 when he visited Darul Uloom Blackburn and delivered the opening lesson of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī. Our respected Mufti Ahmad Khanpuri (b. 1365/1946), who is a student of Mufti Ṣāḥib, was also present. On the same day, our respected Shaykh al-Islam Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (b. 1362/1943) was also in Blackburn. I was therefore unable to partake in the full speech. However, I participated for a few minutes and sat next to my dear respected Mufti Maḥmūd Bardolī at the back. Mufti Saʿid Ṣāḥib was discussing the issue of Waḥy (revelation) and he then said, which I recollect and translate from the recording (at 79 mins), “In the UK here, I have a friend, Ḥaḍrat Mawlāna (Mufti) Shabbir Ahmad Ṣāḥib, he has a very learned son, Mufti Yūsuf, he sent a question to Darul Iftāʾ, Darul Uloom Deoband, and sent references of 50 books that the previous books were the Kalām (speech) of Allah, and Mufti Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān replied and I am clarifying this issue [that it is not Kalām of Allah].” The specific of the issue aside, for Mufti Ṣāḥib to mention a young insignificant person like me in a public speech was not only a great honour for me, but also illustrative of Mufti Ṣāḥib’s humility, acknowledgement and encouragement.
However, the highlight of the day was the afternoon lunch at the residence of my respected father Mufti Shabbir Ahmad where some of the great luminaries of the sub-continent and the UK came together in one room. They included:
- Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mufti Saʿīd Aḥmad Pālanpūrī (India)
- Shaykh al-Islam Mufti Muḥammad Taqī Usmani (Pakistan)
- Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mufti Aḥmad Khanpūrī (India)
- Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Ibrāhīm Pāndor (South Africa)
- Mufti Shabbīr Aḥmad (UK)
- Mufti ʿAbdussamad Aḥmad (UK)
- Mufti Ikrām al-Ḥaq (UK)
- Mufti Maḥmūd Bārdolī (India)
- Mawlana Ṣalīḥ (India)
- Mawlana Ismail Sidyot (UK)
- Mufti Ibrahim Raja (UK)
- Mufti Abdul Hamid (UK)
It was a memorable occasion. Mufti Saʿīd Ṣāḥib arrived first in my colleague Mawlānā Rafiq Sufi’s car. I greeted him and held his arms and took him inside the house. A short while later, my other colleague Mawlānā Hanif Dudhwala arrived with Mufti Muḥammad Taqi Usmani.
After both luminaries met, Mufti Muḥammad Taqī Ṣāḥib took permission from Mufti Saʿīd Ṣāḥib to sit on the sofa to eat lunch. During lunch, he said to him,
“I have benefited from your commentary on Ḥujjat Allah al-Bāligah”, referring to Raḥmat Allah al-Wāsiʿah.
Prior to this, Mufti Muḥammad Taqī Ṣāḥib had mentioned to my father in Uzbekistan that he was very moved by Mufti Saʿīd Ṣāḥib’s letter to him following the assassination attempt on him three months before and in particular the line, “May 1000 lives be sacrificed for you”. During lunch, my respected father reminded both respected Muftis about the letter and this line, however, Mufti Muḥammad Taqī Ṣāḥib said out of humility, “leave it” meaning there is no need to repeat the words (A copy of the letter is on this link).
After lunch, both respected Muftis moved from the back room into the front room and sat there for a short while. My respected father mentioned to Mufti Muḥammad Taqī Ṣāḥib that Allah Almighty has taken great work from Mufti Saʿīd Ṣāḥib, particularly in India. Then, gifts were exchanged. Mufti Aḥmad Ṣāḥib had left by then, so Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani gave his gift to Mufti Mahmood Bardoli to pass on to him and said, “You are his deputy”. Mufti Saʿīd gave a copy of his booklet on Taʿziyat gatherings to Mufti Muhammad Taqi Ṣāḥib.
It was during this visit that Mufti Muḥammad Taqi Usmani’s respected wife (Khala) ate lunch at my house which is adjacent to my father’s house. Following lunch, Mufti Muḥammad Taqi Ṣāḥib returned to his hotel and just before this, he gifted £20 to my small Faṭimah.
Mufti Saʿīd Ṣāḥib and we all returned to Darul Uloom Blackburn for Ṣalāh. In the office, Mufti Ṣāḥib asked me about the Kalām Allah issue. I promised to send him an appendix to the original treatise on the matter. My father also raised with him some inaccuracies in the Taʿziyat booklet of his and requested him to verify the information first. Mufti Ṣāḥib also asked me at some point if I had received the foreword he had written in Arabic for my book ‘al-ʿIqd al-Thamīn fī Ḥubb al-Nabī al-Amīn ﷺ’. I responded in the affirmative. Inshāʾ Allah, this 600-page book will be published soon by Dar al-Samman in Turkey (His foreword is on this link).
Later in the evening, Mufti Ṣāḥib had a programme in Manchester whilst a programme for scholars was convened at Darul Uloom Blackburn, where Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani and Mufti Ahmad Khanpuri delivered the keynote speeches (click here to read transcript). In Manchester, Mufti Ṣāḥib also met ʿAllāmah Khālid Maḥmūd Ṣāḥib (d. 1441/2020) who passed away a few days ago (refer to this link for his obituary).
Some further opinions
Mufti Ṣāḥib was an ocean of knowledge. It is therefore appropriate to further mention some of his discourses and views. As mentioned above, differences of opinion exist on many of these issues, so consult your local Muftis in the first instance. Our purpose is to provide a glimpse into some of Mufti Ṣāḥib’s views:
- Tasmiyah loudly between two Sūrahs: Mufti Ṣāḥib was of the view that Tasmiyah should be recited loudly in Ṣalāh between two Sūrahs (Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī, 2:492).
- Combining prayers: Mufti Ṣāḥib was against the combining of prayers and was of the view that where there is an urgent need, one will make up for the Ṣalāh later. [Note: refer to this link for more detail].
- Aʿdal al-Ayyām: Mufti Ṣāḥib disagreed with the Aʿdal al-Ayyām view for Fajr Ṣalāh during days of persistent twilight in the UK.
- Gold Niṣāb: Mufti Ṣāḥib was of the view that the Gold Niṣāb should be considered due to the low value of silver.
- Sadaqat al-Fiṭr: Mufti Ṣāhib advised that one should give one Ṣāʿ of wheat due to its low cost (Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī, 2:605).
- Moon-sighting in the UK: Mufti Ṣāḥib was extremely critical and opposed to Muslims in the UK following Saudi Arabia for moon-sighting.
- Iḥrām from Jeddah: Mufti Ṣāḥib was of the view that Iḥrām is permissible from Jeddah although his own practice was to enter into Iḥrām before arriving into Jeddah (Tuḥfāt al-Almaʿī, 3:228; also see Tuḥfat al-Qārī, 4:538) [Note: Mufti Rashīd Aḥmad Ludyānwī (d. 1422/2002) has discussed this in detail in Aḥsan al-Fatāwā (4:565) and concluded that Iḥrām cannot be entered into at Jeddah, this is the preferred view].
- Women attending Masjids: Mufti Ṣāḥib was of the view that women can attend the Masjids in western countries.
- Purpose of looking at prospective bride: The following is from an answer of mine: ‘Mufti Saīʿd Pālanpūrī Ṣāḥib explains in Raḥmat Allah al-Wāsiʿah (5:38) that there are two aspects of a person: firstly, the physical appearance and beauty (ṣūrat), and secondly, the character and lifestyle of a person (sīrat). The rationale for the permission to look at a prospective bride is to ascertain the former and not the latter, and the permission has been granted due to necessity. The purpose of the meeting is not to ascertain the character and lifestyle of the prospective bride; even several encounters may not achieve this. The most effective method of ascertaining this is through her peers, neighbours, relatives and other associates.’
- Ḥijāb from non-Maḥram family members in the same house: If there are non-Maḥram family members living in the same home, there will be slight flexibility in the rules pertaining to Ḥijāb although spending time alone is prohibited and caution must be exercised (Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī, 4:185).
- Female travel without maḥram: Mufti Ṣāḥib agreed with the position of ʿAllāmah Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī (d. 1352/1933) that it is permissible for a woman to travel without maḥram if there is no fear of fitnah. Thus, he explains that that it is permissible for a woman to travel to America on the plane with a group of trustworthy women if her Maḥram or husband is in America to receive her (Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī, 3:608; also see Tuḥfat al-Qārī, 3:420). [This is not the preferred view as I have outlined in several Arabic and English articles, however, where there is a compelling need, this can be considered in exceptional circumstances].
- Watching sports: Watching Football, Cricket and similar sports is unlawful (Tuḥfat al-Almaʿī, 4:208).
- Digital images: Digital photography is prohibited according to Mufti Ṣāḥib.
- Stay away from management: Mufti Ṣāḥib advised my dear friend from Panama, Mawlānā Afẓal Patel Ṣāḥib that teach as many books, however, do not get involved in niẓāmat (management and administrative matters).
- Marriage tip for ʿAlimāt: Mufti Ṣāḥib would recommend fathers of female scholars to marry them to scholars so that their knowledge is preserved.
- Desire to train ʿAlimāt to tackle Fitnah: It was Mufti Ṣāḥib’s desire to train the female scholars of Canada over several days on how to tackle the challenge of Farhat Hashmi. Mufti Ṣāḥib said, “Our ʿAlimāt will need to learn to tackle the challenge using her method, mere refutations will not be effective.” This desire of Mufti Ṣāḥib was not realised.
Final moments and demise
On 25 March 2020, India announced a nationwide lockdown without any notice due to Covid-19. Mufti Ṣāḥib was in Mumbai at the time and was unable to return to Deoband as a result. The lockdown is still ongoing. He remained in Mumbai and during the month of Ramadan continued benefiting the Ummah through his lectures.
A few days ago, he fell ill and was hospitalised. Water entered into his lungs and his situation worsened. Eventually he passed away earlier today. The news shocked the many thousands of admirers and students of Mufti Ṣāḥib and Muslims in general. Condolences started to pour in from all quarters.
Mufti Ṣāḥib was buried in Jogeshwari West Islamic Cemetery in Mumbai at 5pm. He passed away at approximately 8.30am. His first Janāzah Ṣalāh was led in the Masjid area adjacent to the hospital by his son Mawlānā Waḥīd Aḥmad in which 60 people participated. The second Janāzah Ṣalāh took place at the cemetery led by his other son Mawlānā ʿAbdullāh in which 25 other people participated. This is due to lockdown restrictions, otherwise thousands would have attended.
May Allah Almighty grant Mufti Ṣāḥib an abode in Jannatul Firdaws and accept his life-long service. May Allah Almighty continue to benefit the Ummah through his works and make them a Ṣadaqah Jāriyah for him. Āmīn.
Mufti Ṣāḥib leaves behind 9 sons and 2 daughters: (1) Mawlānā Waḥīd Aḥmad (2) Mawlānā Ḥasan Aḥmad (3) Mufti Ḥusayn Aḥmad (4) Mawlānā Muḥammad Ibrāhīm (5) Mawlānā Muḥammad Qāsim (6) Ḥāfiẓah ʿĀʾishah (7) Mawlānā Muḥammad (8) Mawlānā Aḥmad (9) Ḥāfiẓah Fāṭimah (10) Mawlānā ʿAbdullāh (11) Ḥāfiẓ ʿUbaydullāh.
Prior to this, three children of Mufti Ṣāḥib passed away during his life: (12) Mufti Rashīd Aḥmad, passed away in 1415 (1995). (13) ʿĀʾisha, passed away when she was nearly two years old in 1393 (1973) (14) Ḥāfiẓ Saʿīd Aḥmad, passed away last year. Mufti Ṣāḥib’s wife passed away on 23 May 2011 (1432). What is remarkable is that Mufti Ṣāḥib first made his wife memorise the Quran, and thereafter both made all their children memorise the Quran. Mufti Ḥusayn Aḥmad established a Darul Iftāʾ in Deoband under the instruction of his father and assisted him with several of his works. May Allah Almighty bless the entire family and benefit the Ummah through them.
Mufti Mahmood Bardoli mentioned something very interesting. Mufti Ṣāḥib was very close Mawlānā Riyāsat ʿAlī Bijnorī (d. 1438/2017) as both taught in Darul Uloom Deoband for several decades. The news of his demise came when Mufti Ṣāḥib was in Blackburn in May 2017 and I recall Mufti Ṣāḥib saying he was a giant of Deoband. The interesting point is that Mufti Ṣāḥib and he married on the same day, and both their wives passed away on the same day, and they both had eye operations on the same day. May Allah Almighty grant them all Jannat al-Firdaws.
May Allah Almighty reward the following for providing some of the information in this obituary: Mufti Mahmood Bardoli (India), Mawlānā Dr Mohammad Shakaib Qasmi (India), Mufti Ismail Kotwal (Canada), Hafiz Abdurrahim Mulla (London) and Mawlānā Siraj (Barbados). Some of the information has also been sourced from the introduction to al-Khayr al-Kathīr (p.43).
26 Ramadan 1441/19 May 2020 (In India and also some parts of the UK, it is 25 Ramadan)
The article was updated and completed on 27 Ramadan 1441/20 May 2020
Note: We have just received information that Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Yūsuf Bodhāniyā Raḥimahullāh has passed away today (20 May 2020) in Canada. He was a student of Shaykh al-Islām Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (d. 1377/1957). Like Mufti Saʿīd Aḥmad Ṣaḥib, he taught Mufti Aḥmad Khanpūrī Ṣāḥib. May Allah Almighty grant him an abode in Jannah. Only one teacher of Mufti Aḥmad Ṣāḥib, Mufti Muṣliḥ al-Dīn Ṣāḥib (Dewsbury) remains alive, may Allah preserve and bless him. Āmīn.