Shaykhul Hadith, Moulana FadlurRahman A’zami (hafizahullah) is one of my senior Bukhari teachers. After I graduated from Madrasah Talimuddeen in Ispingo Beach, Durban, South Africa (1998), I attended Shaykh Fadlur Rahman saheb’s Hadith lessons in Madrasah ‘Arabiyyah Islamiyyah in Azaadville, South Africa (in the year: 2000).
Hereunder is a brief bio of Shaykh, that is extracted from: A Brief Biography of Shaykhul Hadith, Fazlur Rahman Azmi by Mufti Atiqur Rahman Azmi. Shaykh continues to teach in the above institute. May Allah Ta’ala preserve him with good health and ‘afiyah.
Birth, Name and Family
Shaykhul Hadith, Moulana Fadlur Rahman Azmi’s lineage is as follows: Fadlur Rahman, son of Hafizur Rahman, son of Muhammad Saʿid, son of Dawud son of Nur Muhammad. He was born on Safar 14, 1366 (January 7, 1947), in Maunath Bhanjan (more commonly known as Mau) in UP, India.
Shaykhul Hadith’s Respected Father
Shaykhul’s respected father, Shaykh Mufti Qari Hafizur Rahman Azmi (rahimahullah) is from amongst the famous scholars of Mau and is known as Qari Sahib. He is also one of the students of the illustrious scholar, Muhaddith Kabir Habibur Rahman Azmi (rahimahullah).
Shaykh’s respected father studied numerous books under Muhaddith Kabir Azmi, including ʿIlmus sigha, Sharhul Wiqaya, Diwanul Mutanabbi, Mishkatul Masabih, Jalalayn, Sahih Bukhari and Sunan Tirmidhi. From 1384–1388 (1965–1969) he remained the Head Qari at Jamia Dabhel and many people benefited from him.
When Muhaddith Kabir established Madrasa Mirqatul Ulum in Mau, Shaykh Hafizur Rahman Azmi also moved there with him. There, together with the responsibility of teaching in the Ifta (Specialized training in answering legal questions) program, Shaykh Hafizur Rahman also taught Mishkatul Masabih, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and he remained Shaykhul Hadith and Mufti there until his demise. The former head Mufti of Darul Ulum Deoband, Mufti Nizamud Din Azmi used to say that two individuals remained completed devoted to Muhaddith Kabir (rahimahullah). The first was Shaykh ‘Abdul Jabbar Azmi and the other was Shaykh Hafizur Rahman Azmi.
Shaykh Hafizur Rahman Azmi was a disciple (murid) of Shaykhul Islam Husayn Ahmad Madani (rahimahullah). He benefited greatly from him and his Shaykh had great love for him too and would like listening to his recitation of the Quran.
Some of Shaykh Hafizur Rahman Azmi’s works include:
- Ihya al-Sunan—Namaz parhne ka masnun tariqa (Reviving the Sunnahs— The Sunnah method of performing salah)
- Ba waqte iqamat muqtadi kab khare ho? (When should a muqtadi stand upon hearing the call to commence?)
- Iʿla al-Sunnah (Elevating the Sunnah), which answers objections raised by those who do not follow a school of Islamic law (ghayr muqallidin) regarding tarawih
- Taqlid awr ghayr muqallidin (Taqlid and those who do not do taqlid)
- Firqa ghayr muqallidin (The Ghayr Muqallid Sect). The last two works have been published together.
Shaykh Hafizur Rahman Azmi travelled a few times to South Africa and on one occasion made the completion of Sahih Bukhari there. In his native Mau he was widely accepted in both public and scholarly quarters and he often visited peoples’ homes and workplaces holding religious discussions. Discussions regarding the Salah were also accompanied by practical demonstrations, and on the appropriate occasions religious rulings (masaʾil) of Hajj and fasting were often explained.
Shaykh Hafizur Rahman Azmi passed away on 2 Shawwal, 1430 (September 22, 2009) at about noon. The funeral prayer was held after the ‘Asr Salah and approximately 20–25,000 people attended. Locals mentioned that there had not been such a large congregation for a funeral prayer since that of Muhaddith Kabir Habibur Rahman Azmi (rahimahullah).
Shaykhul Hadith, Moulana Fadlur Rahman Azmi’s entire education was undertaken in Mau. He studied basic Arabic and Urdu under the stewardship of his father. Upon completion, to facilitate the educational needs of Shaykh and two other students a new maktab called Taʿlim al-Din was established. The three, as a blessing, read the Quran to a famous personality of that time, Qari Mustafa Azmi who was the Shaykh of Tajweed at Darul Ulum Mau.
Nevertheless, Shaykh’s first teacher was his father, Shaykh Hafizur Rahman Azmi, with whom he completed the initial recitation (nazira) and subsequently commenced the memorization of the Quran (hifz). In this same maktab another teacher, namely Munshi Muʿinud Din taught him the first three levels of elementary Urdu. After that, he completed levels four and five in two years at Miftahul ʿUlum, Mau.
Shaykh completed the memorization of the Quran whilst teaching at Jami’a Dabhel.
Persian and Arabic Education
In the next two years, Shaykh learned Persian and thereafter exerted himself in the Arabic aspect of the course, to the extent that he came top of the class in his final year which he completed in 1386/1966. He also committed some books to memory, such as the text (matn) of Sharhut Tahdhib, called Tahdhibul Mantiq.
Munshi and ‘Alim Examinations
In the final two years of his studies, Shaykh took the ‘alim examination. He made preparations from the fifth year for his final year exams which he wrote in 1386/1966 in Allahabad. He attained a first-class certification from the Allahabad Examination Board. Similarly, in six or seven months he prepared for the Munshi Examination (This refers to the art of writing and calligraphy), which he wrote in 1388/1968 and in which he gained a first-class certification.
Tajweed and Hadr
During his Arabic studies he would also learn the laws of reciting the Quran (tajweed) and practically demonstrate its application through recitation (hadr). He completed this recitation with Qari ‘Abdul Mannan who was one of the senior teachers of tajweed and qirat at Madrasa Miftahul Ulum and attained expertise in it. At that time many of Shaykh’s classmates had quickly completed their recitation, however his teacher would listen to his recitation conscientiously, small portions at a time, because his intonation was good. On a few occasions, his teacher praised him, and it was in the fourth year of Arabic class that he completed his recitation.
After graduating from his Arabic studies Shaykh exerted himself in different fields. This included advanced recitation classes involving the sab’a (seven) and ‘ashara (ten) modes of Quranic recitation (qirat). He completed this by Qari Mustafa Azmi, who was Shaykh of Tajweed at Darul Ulum Mau and the student of Qari Riyasat Ali Bahrabadi (rahimahullah).
Shaykh then studied the book Taysir with Qari Riyasat Ali and once this was complete he moved on to Shatbiyya where he would often be asked to translate and read for the class. Where the need arose, Qari Riyasat Ali would interject, otherwise Shaykh would prepare and decipher the text before coming to class. He completed the book in one and a half months.
During the completion of the seven modes of Quranic recitation (qirah sab’a) which was overseen by Qari Riyasat Ali, Shaykh was reading when the teacher corrected a mistake. Shaykh hesitated, suggesting that he had not in fact erred. When other books were consulted, it became apparent that Shaykh was in fact correct and his teacher was mistaken. His teachers were greatly impressed and news of this incident soon spread, to the extent that the Madrasah in which Qari Mustafa (rahimahullah) was working (Darul Ulum Mau), offered Shaykh the post of teaching qirat, however his family refused on account of his ill health at that time. ‘This is the grace of Allah which He bestows upon whom He wishes’ (Qurʾan 5:54).
Authorisation (Ijaza) for Transmitting Modes of Quranic Recitation (Qiraat)
Shaykhul Hadith, Moulana Fadlur Rahman Azmi completed studies in the laws of reciting the Quran (tajweed) and the recitation (qirah) of Hafs with Qari ‘Abdul Mannan Maui (rahimahullah), teacher at Miftahul ‘Ulum, Mau. Shaykh was then authorized in transmitting the sabʿa (seven) and ‘ashara (ten) modes of Quranic recitation by Qari Mustafa Azmi (rahimahullah), who was authorized (along with Qari ‘Abdul Mannan Maui) by Qari Riyasat Ali Bahrabadi (rahimahullah). Shaykh also has direct authorization from Qari Riyasat Ali Bahrabadi. Qari Riyasat Ali Bahrabadi studied tajweed and the qirat of Hafs with Qari Muhammad Siddiq (rahimahullah), and was authorized in the sabʿa and ʿashara qiraat by Qari Zia al-Din Ahmad (rahimahullah). Qari Muhammad Siddiq studied tajweed and the qirat of Hafs with Qari Muhammad ‘Abdullah (brother of Qari ‘Abdur Rahman, author of Fawaid Makkiyya), and was authorized in the sabʿa qirat by Qari Zia al-Din Ahmad and ʿashara qirat by Qari Abdur Rahman (on the paths of Durra and Tayyiba).
Completion in Other Fields
In the same year Shaykh studied Tafsir Baydawi with Shaykh ‘Abdul Latif Numani (rahimahullah) and a portion of Tafsir Nasafi (Madarikut tanzil).
At that time, with the encouragement of Muhaddith Kabir (rahimahullah) a faculty of takhassus (specialization) in Hadith was established at Miftahul ‘Ulum, Mau. Shaykh enrolled with one other individual who soon had to leave due to illness. Interestingly, no other student joined this department thereafter, suggesting that this department had been established especially for Shaykh by divine decree. He studied there for two and a half years, during which he was given the responsibility of teaching a few elementary Arabic and Persian books. In his spare time Shaykh completed the study of the voluminous Raddul muhtarud durrul mukhtar (more commonly known in the Indian Subcontinent as Shami), as well as a few other books. Under the supervision of Muhaddith Kabir, Shaykh also practised the art of fatwa writing. Muhaddith Kabir would give him questions and he would search for answers. He was also instructed to write two books: (1) Siratul Imam Abu Yusuf and (2) A response to a ghayr muqallid work entitled Anhar majmua, written as a critique of Muhaddith Kabir’s two books entitled Alam marfua and Azhar marbua.
Authorisation for Transmitting Hadith
In 1393/1973 Shaykh read Risalah al-awail with Muhaddith Kabir (rahimahullah) and attained authorization from him. Muhaddith Kabir (rahimahullah) had authorization from his teacher Shaykh ‘Abdul Ghaffar Iraqi Mauwi, who studied the Sihah Sitta (the six authentic books of Hadith) under Shaykh Gangohi (rahimahullah) and had attained authorization from Shaykh ‘Abdul Haq Ilahabadi (rahimahullah).
The details of this chain (isnad) can be found in Risalatul awail and brief biographies of these personalities in Shaykh’s work Muqaddima-e Bukhari (Urdu).
Whilst Shaykh was at Dabhel, Qari Tayyib (rahimahullah) visited one day and taught a class on Shah Wali Allah’s (rahimahullah) Musalsalah bil awwaliyya, in which Shaykh was also present. Therefore, he also received authorization for it. Qari Tayyib (rahimahullah) had studied this under Moulana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri (rahimahullah) and been authorized by him.
These special authorizations (ijazas) are aside from the Madrasa’s general authorization provided to graduates, in which all current books are included.
The teachers under whom Shaykh al-Hadith studied in his home town include:
- Muhaddith Kabir Shaykh Habibur Rahman Azmi (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh ‘Abdul Latif Numani Azmi (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh ‘Abdul Bari Qasmi (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh Irshadul Haq (hafizahullah)
- Qari Ahmad Allah Qasmi (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh ‘Abdul Jabbar Azmi (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh ‘Abdur Rashid Husayni Maui (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh Shams al-Din Azmi (rahimahullah)
- Qari Mustafa Azmi (rahimahullah)
- Qari ‘Abdul Mannan (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh Shafi Ahmad (rahimahullah)
- Shaykh Hafizur Rahman (rahimahullah) (Shaykh’s father).
- Mufti Akhtar Hasan (rahimahullah)
After specialising in Hadith, Shaykh taught for a while at Miftahul ‘Ulum, Mau. Then, on the advice of Muhaddith Kabir (rahimahullah) he went to Mazharul ‘Ulum, Varanasi (Banaras) where he taught for approximately four years.
At first Shaykh taught Kafiya Ibnul Hajib, Sharhul Jami’ and Diwanul Mutanabbi at Mazharul ‘Ulum. Not only was he very talented but he also enjoyed a good relationship with Muhaddith Kabir (rahimahullah) and was his special student, sent personally by him with his du’as to this Madrasa. The students were enthused by his style of teaching and were so thrilled that on the very first day they went to the principal and sung his praises. The principal was naturally delighted and appointed him to also teach Mishkatul Masabih the following year. He also had the opportunity to deliver a lesson on Sunan Nasai.
The following year he was given Sunan Tirmidhi to teach and was also made responsible for issuing fatwas. He would write the fatwa and the head mufti, Mufti ‘Abdul Hamid Makki (rahimahullah) would approve it and sign on it. Shaykh worked in the fatwa department for a few years. Since his family were still in Mau he lived there alone for four years and would travel to Mau to visit them sometimes during the weekly holidays.
Dawah and Tabligh
Besides his lecturing commitments Shaykh built a strong rapport with the general public through his effort in the field of daʿwah and tabligh.
Shaykh had a relationship with the work of dawah and tabligh from before and would visit the Tablighi Markaz in Varanasi. He had also built up a relationship with those involved in the work. He attended some Jamat-e-Islami programs, but noticed a major deficiency in spirituality in their work. Despite the fact that they were well organized and their talks were good, Shaykh says: ‘These were words spoken by the tongue, not the heart, therefore it had no effect on the heart, and only benefited the ears. On the contrary the tablighi talks had a profound effect on the heart as they were concerned with self-rectification and rectification of the Ummah. They evoked remembrance of the grave and the Hereafter and this was a clear distinction that immediately became apparent.’
After that, with the advice of the Tablighi Markaz, Shaykh began leading groups of students in tabligh jama’h. Most of the time they would leave on a Friday to one of the masjids in town where other tablighi brothers would join. Gasht and talks would take place as well as tashkil. They would not have the opportunity to stay overnight and would return to the Madrasah by the evening. Through this, the minds of many of the students began to slowly change. This pattern continued and soon some capable brothers had established themselves in the effort of daʿwah and tabligh.
Whilst residing in Varanasi, Shaykh wrote some articles refuting Mawdudism which were published in Deoband’s monthly Tajalli magazine. He was also the sole imam of the mosque in the Madrasah. Due to his talks in the nearby locality and surrounding areas and because of the tablighi jamaʿh work and gatherings (jalsas) in the local mosques, the locals were familiar with Shaykh and they had a good relationship.
On the advice of Muhaddith Kabir (rahimahullah), Shaykh moved to Jamiʿa Islamiyya Dabhel in Dhul Hijjah 1394 (January 1975), where he remained for approximately twelve years.
For the first three years he lived alone in one of the rooms of the Madrasah. Later, his entire family arrived and he moved into a residence outside the Madrasah, near the Jami Masjid. He worked determinedly in the public domain and the locals continue to remember him fondly to this day. Whether he was delivering speeches, offering advice, helping and assisting in community affairs, writing taweez or performing dam (blowing over a person or into water after reciting some Quranic verses or supplications), in all respects he worked tirelessly and was accepted by one and all.
Teaching the Sabʿa and ʿAshara Qiraats
Shaykh also taught the seven qirats (sabʿa) and the ten qirats (ʿashara) in his spare time. The circumstance behind this is noteworthy. The head qari of Jamiʿa Dabhel, Qari Ahmad Allah Bhagalpuri (hafizahullah) went to Deoband in 1403 AH and so the students of the Jamiʿa expressed their desire to study the Shatbiyya and the seven qirats under Shaykh. The Madrasah had approved the idea and the books were also available so Shaykh taught the Shatbiyya that year and dictated Muqaddima ʿilmul qirat (Introduction to the science of Quranic recitation) and Tadhkira qurraʾ-e ʿashara awr inke ruwat (Biographies of the ten major imams -of qirat- and their narrators). The following year, though Qari Ahmad Allah (hafizahullah) returned, the overwhelming majority of students wanted to continue their practice (ijraʾ) of the seven qirats with Shaykh. Hence, Shaykh was appointed this task and he taught wholeheartedly, devoting a great deal of time and energy to it.
It was said that once in a single night he conducted the practice (ijraʾ) of nine to ten portions (ajzaʾ) of the Qurʾan. In 1405 AH he taught the Durra, ʿAqila and Tayyiba texts in qirat and in 1406 AH he supervised the recitation of the additional three completing qirats (thalatha mutammima). Successful students were granted authorisation (isnad) from the seminary as well as a personal authorisation from Shaykh. To this day students in India and England (Dewsbury Markaz) still study the seven and ten qirats through his chain of transmission.
Responsibility of the Assembly (Anjuman)
In order to facilitate the practice of public speaking for students, Jamiʿa Dabhel organised weekly assemblies. Shaykh was appointed as the supervisor, a duty which he performed admirably throughout. Students would hold an annual conference (jalsa) on a relevant theme and the task of overseeing and organising this was also given to Shaykh.
Once a Quranic recitation competition was held and Shaykh together with Qari Anis Faydabadi (rahimahullah), the former head Qari at Madrasah Falahud Darayn, Tarkeshwar were appointed as judges. Shaykh would also be called on a regular basis to examine students at Jamiʿa Dabhel and other Madrasahs too. All praise is due to Allah that in the field of tajweed and qirat, Shaykh has rendered great service.
Compiling Tarikhul Jamiʿa (A History of Jamiʿa Dabhel)
Shaykh compiled a history of Jamiʿa Dabhel. When the board of Jamiʿa Dabhel decided such a task should be undertaken, their choice fell on Shaykh and this task was assigned to him. Despite his other academic commitments, Shaykh put a great deal of time and effort into this challenging task. His meticulous research included sifting through Madrasah reports and historical records and this was coupled with the collection and collation of oral accounts of relevant elderly individuals in the community. After gathering a plethora of information, Shaykh prepared a concise history of the institute. The various chapters, once prepared, would be sent for approval to the principal, Shaykh Saʿid Ahmad Buzrug (rahimahullah). The book was first published in Deoband in 1406 AH and was republished some time later in Pakistan.
Whilst at Dabhel, students from all corners of the world derived great benefit from Shaykh. His unique style of teaching was so inspiring that perhaps no student could fail to be amazed or be left profoundly moved by his lessons. Nevertheless, the acceptance that Allah had bestowed him within the hearts of the people was manifest in the numerous invitations he received from England and South Africa. After much deliberation he accepted the invitation of the people of South Africa and in Shawwal 1406 (June 1986) he left for South Africa. This was a very sad occasion for the people of Dabhel. After arriving in South Africa, Shaykh lived alone for two years. At that time, the final year of the course had not yet been started, so Shaykh taught the Mishkatul Masabih, Hidaya, Hayatus Sahabah, Usulus Shashi and other books. After two years his entire family joined him and in the very same year (1408 AH) classes for the final year were initiated. He has since then been teaching the whole of Sahih Bukhari and Sunan Tirmidhi for many years.
Shaykh also has the responsibility of teaching a number of other books which vary from time to time. These include Tafsirul Baydawi, Sharhul ‘Aqa’id and Tahawi’s Sharhul Ma’ani. Initially, due to the large number of books Shaykh had been assigned, the sacrifice he had to make was immense and he worked very hard to teach them all as they deserved to be taught. This cannot be more obvious than from the responsibility he assumed during the first year of Dawrah Hadith. In that year, Shaykh taught Sahih Bukhari, Sunan Tirmidhi, Hidaya, Sharhul ‘Aqa’id and Tafsirul Baydawi. Later, he was assigned various other books. He also taught Risalatul awail and the Musalsalah every year. Sometimes, whilst travelling, the local scholars would come and read Risalatul awail and obtain his authorisation.
Unique Features of His Teaching
Shaykh’s lessons are always well researched and interesting. His talent is such that no matter the subject or book with which he is entrusted, he is able to teach it. His lessons on Tafsirul Baydawi in particular (Those who have studied this text by him will testify to his mastery of it and often comment that the rights of such a book can only be fulfilled by him) have led to the likes of Mufti Rashid Ahmad Faridi to say: ‘We as students used to refer to Shaykhul Hadith as ‘Shaykhul kul fil kul’ (The Shaykh of all in all).’ He goes on to say, ‘Shaykh’s style of teaching was so unique that when he would teach the Shatbiyya, for example, he would teach in such a way that we would inadvertently end up memorizing many of the poems in it. During one particular lesson of Shatbiyya, he highlighted in a single poem the application of laws from several different disciplines including Arabic grammar (nahw), morphology (sarf) and rhetoric (balagha).’
Shaykh Marghub Ahmad Lajpuri writes: ‘I have been and continue to be astounded of his depth of knowledge and unquestionable God gifted talent and expertise in every field’ (Muqaddima sharh Safinat al-bulaghaʾ). When Shaykh Faruq Makki (hafizahullah) visited South Africa in 1422/2001 he took time out of his busy schedule to attend Shaykh’s lesson, after which he commented:
‘Such a well-researched and fascinating lecture is of the type that Shaykh Binnory (rahimahullah) used to deliver. To find a lesson of such quality nowadays is most rare. His mere presence is a great bounty for the people of South Africa. If he was not here then perhaps the religious environment would not be as it is. May Allah grant the people of South Africa an appreciation for him. Amin.’
He then encouraged his assistants to see to Shaykh’s needs and emphasised the need to spread his knowledge. Many other scholars have highlighted their admiration for him, but the aforementioned comment suffices.
When teaching, Shaykh’s practise has always been to leave unnecessary discussions aside and deal with the important issues in detail. He always decodes the text regardless of the book. In any given lesson he does not restrict himself to the appointed text and if any important topic arises or he wishes to present additional research he cites references or sometimes reads directly from other sources. In the issue of raising of the hands in Salah (rafu’l yadayn), for example, he reads references from an extended number of books.
His teaching practise (especially in regard to the major books) includes recording dates (often in the margin) to ascertain the pace he needs to maintain by comparing it to previous years in order to complete the amount required by the curriculum comfortably. In this way, lessons at the end of the year are delivered in the same manner as those at the beginning, without compromising quality or content. If any lesson is missed due to travels or otherwise he devotes his spare time to the students in order to catch up. Shaykh is very particular with time and is always punctual. It is exceptionally rare that he arrives late or leaves later than scheduled. Even his teaching outside of normal hours is governed by a strict schedule eg. From Muharram he has two weekly lessons in the evening. From Jumaduth Thaniya he teaches for one hour (usually after ‘Isha) except on Thursdays and Fridays.
Besides teaching, Shaykh also displays concern for the spiritual well being and nurturing of the students. He places great emphasis on Salah, Fajr in particular. He always asks his students whether or not they have performed Fajr with congregation and if they missed any raka’hs. He sometimes says to his students, ‘Whoever finds it difficult to wake up for Fajr should sleep in the Masjid as his eyes will open when people arrive for Salah.’ In short, his talks often revolve around the importance of da’wah and Salah. He also speaks on the importance of education and the responsibilities of the scholars (‘UIama), quoting passages and extracts from various books. These include Tuhfatul muta ‘allimin, Fadailus sadaqat and Jami’ bayanul ‘ilm wa fadluhu, from which he discusses important and beneficial points.
Other Religious Services
In most of the fields of the religion, Shaykh has had, and continues to have an important role to play. In particular, his contributions in the field of Hadith and his efforts in the work of da’wah and tabligh are plain for all to see. On Fridays (his day off), he often travels with students in [tabligh] jama’h in the path of Allah. Sometimes, whilst travelling in jama’h, he teaches Sahih Bukhari and sets time aside for the teaching of other books such as Shaykhul Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya’s (rahimahullah) Tablighi jama’h par itiradah ke jawabat [which answers objections raised against the tablighi jama’h effort] and the sayings of the Physician of the Ummah Thanawi and ʿAllamah Binnory (rahimahullah).
For the effort of da’wah and tabligh, Allah has taken Shaykh to many parts of the world. Examples include, the two Holy Sanctuaries (Haramayn Sharifayn), either for Hajj or ‘Umrah during which Shaykh would be punctual with discourses, meeting fellow Muslims and performing gasht. During the Hajj of 1422/2002, Shaykh together with Hafiz Patel of England and others would go to the various camps, often delivering speeches twice or thrice a day. Shaykh would also be particular about performing gasht in Mina too.
Shaykh has also visited Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, France, India, Jordan, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestine, Reunion, Syria, Turkey, UK, USA, West Indies (Barbados, Trinidad and Grenada), Zambia and Zimbabwe. In all these countries numerous talks were held. Together with all these trips abroad, Shaykh has continued to strive on the domestic front, often travelling to the various regions of South Africa. There have also been numerous invitations from other places but due to Shaykh’s various commitments he has been unable to oblige. On one three-day trip to the Natal Province, South Africa in April, Shaykh delivered almost twenty talks. Similarly, in one trip to India in 2007 which lasted almost two weeks, Shaykh gave more than sixty talks. Such busy schedules are the norm for him. Shaykh is also currently patron of numerous Madrasahs and institutes in India, UK and Africa.
Shaykh established Darul ‘Ulum Nu’maniyya in Chatsworth, Durban in 2001 with just five students. Under his leadership and guidance the Darul ‘Ulum has flourished and now has almost 200 students, with full-time and part-time hifz courses (the latter for school-going children). The traditional Islamic curriculum is also offered up to the dawratul Hadith with time allocated to Quranic recitation (qirat) and da’wah and tabligh.
Similarly, Madrasah Rahmaniyya in Laudium runs under Shaykh’s guidance along with Madrasah Da’watul Haq in Azaadville (founded in 2002) which currently has male and female students gaining religious and secular knowledge. Many of these students are orphans or some whose parents (or one of them) are not Muslim. The Madrasah takes responsibility for their accommodation, education, food and clothing. Shaykh also helps and sponsors many other institutes.
Shaykh is often invited to inaugurate the study of major books of Hadith at Madrasahs around the world, and is frequently requested to deliver the final lecture of Sahih Bukhari. Numerous students and scholars have sought and continue to seek authorization (ijaza) to transmit from Shaykh; his lesson of Risalatul awail is famous in this regard.
Incidents with regard to Shaykh’s Taqwa and Wide-ranging knowledge
One of the gifts Allah has bestowed upon Shaykh includes his ability to draw from his wide-ranging knowledge at a moment’s notice. Examples of this have been included below:
- In his book ʿIlmul qirah awr qurra-e sab’a Qari Abu ʾl-Hasan Azmi (hafizahullah) states that Imam Ibn Kathir’s students (rahimahullah) include Imam Shafiʿi (rahimahullah). Shaykh has footnoted this as: ‘This is incorrect as Imam Shafiʿi (rahimahullah) was born in 150 AH and Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) passed away in 120 AH. This mistake is also found in Jami’ul qirah.’
- Shaykh delved into the issue of the importance of repose (itminan) and proper composure in the standing posture after ruku’ and in the sitting posture between the two sajdas in Salah, and also highlighted some du’as to help achieve the repose and proper composure in them. Many scholars raised objections to this and suggested that the du’a was for nafl Salah only. However, after the issue was raised before other highly regarded scholars, it soon became apparent that those scholars agreed with him. The authority and thoroughness of his research can be gauged from this.
- A teacher from Jami’a Islamiyya, Dabhel, wrote a critique of Safinatul bulagha in which he listed the flaws of the book, concluding that it was inappropriate and that Durusul balagha should be taught instead. The author also had reviews written by some senior scholars and after publication sent a copy to Shaykh to ascertain his opinion. After deep consideration Shaykh was unable to agree with the teacher’s research and made his point clear in a letter, a few extracts of which are mentioned here.
“All praise is due to Allah, I am well. Your letter with the accompanying booklet was received. I read your critique of Safinatul bulagha as well as the comments of the distinguished scholars and I also gave it to others to read. I am pleased that you have prepared this critical edition (tashih) and the marginalia (taʿliq) of Durusul balagha, together with the Urdu commentary. May Allah bring the work to fruition, and may the scholars and students of prophetic knowledge benefit from it. May it be a means of continuous charity for you. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with your critique of Safinatul bulagha and despite much thought and a second reading, I am unable to align myself to your position. As for those scholars who reviewed your book, they have done so on the basis of your work and not directly through personal experience. Therefore, they are not fully exposed to the pros and cons of the Safinatul bulagha itself.”
Shaykh went on to answer every objection in detail and finally concluded:
“It seems as though you have gone to great lengths to discourage people [from Safinatul bulagha] and have managed to influence those who have never studied the book, let alone teach it. Allah is most aware of what is in the hearts of His servants and their intentions. My purpose of writing this is to defend the older teachers of the Jamiʿa and other seminaries. I do not claim that this book [Safinatul bulagha] is the best or most beneficial or that it is completely free from flaws. However, it is undoubtedly a useful book with challenging exercises that require effort to solve—and effort reaps benefit. If one were to choose on the basis of ease alone then Durusul balagha may be more appropriate. I do not deny this fact; However, I do reserve my judgement regarding your suggestion that it would be more beneficial [in every way than Safinatul bulagha]. And Allah knows best. Your conclusions appear somewhat harsh and seem to suggest that the older teachers were in some way ignorant. Although I am very far from you but since you wrote to me I have made my opinion clear. This I have done while keeping with the maxim, “the one who is consulted has been placed in a position of trust” in front of me. If you agree with me, it would not be of any [personal] benefit to me, and if you disagree, then it will not cause me any harm. And peace be with you.”
- In the village of Dabhel an ‘Alim’s mother passed away. The scholar invited his teachers for a meal and extended his invitation to Shaykh too. Coincidentally, Shaykh was away at the time so he was unable to attend or meet with him in person. The scholar then invited Shaykh on the second and third day but Shaykh did not oblige, whereas other scholars did. On the third day the scholar brought some food to Shaykh’s house. Shaykh invited him inside and sat him down. He then opened various books and pointed out to him the ruling stating that feeding people at the home of the deceased is not from the Shari’ah. He then explained that it was for this reason that he had not accepted the invitation.
- One day when Shaykh was teaching Hidaya at Jami’a Dabhel a mischievous student decided to test him. The student came to class after copying out a long objection from one of the commentaries and posed the question in class. He began to read from his papers and got stuck in the middle. Shaykh immediately realised that something was amiss and said: ‘Come on! What’s wrong? Has your objection come to an end?’ When the student did not reply, Shaykh himself completed the objection and explained the answer in detail. The student was shocked and those present were amazed at Shaykh’s breadth of knowledge.
- Shaykh is of the opinion that invitation for food from the bride’s side of the family is not a Sunnah. Therefore, when his daughters’ nikahs took place he did not invite anybody nor did he pay much attention to informing everyone. For one of his daughters, his father Shaykh Hafizur Rahman (hafizahullah) performed the nikah after Maghrib in the Azaadville Masjid. After Salah, Shaykh turned to the audience and said: ‘See, my nose is where it was [i.e. I have not been put to shame] even though I did not invite anyone for a wedding reception.’ He then informed everyone, ‘I am off to shab guzari now’ (This refers to spending a night at a tablighi markaz, usually Friday night, which is the night that follows the day of Thursday. A talk about the importance of da’wah and related subjects is delivered with the view to increase the concern of people for the Ummah), and proceeded from there. Allah has protected Shaykh from such mundane and irreligious customs and rituals. On that very day, his father (hafizahullah) had an invitation elsewhere and so he went too after the nikah was over. Such simplicity was maintained in all his children’s weddings.
- In Dabhel’s central masjid the Imam once made a mistake in his recitation during the Salah. Shaykh corrected him. After the Salah another scholar objected and asked him why he had corrected the Imam as [in his opinion] there had not been any need to do so. Shaykh suggested that the matter should be put to the Madrasah’s fatwa department to be resolved. After researching the matter, they found that Shaykh had been correct.
- An individual from England mentioned that somebody in one of the masjids once mentioned a Hadith that others had not heard of before. Some of the listeners felt the desire to find a reference for this Hadith but were not able to get an answer after consulting many scholars. Coincidentally, Shaykh was visiting a nearby Masjid at the time and when the people asked, he was able to immediately inform them that it was in such and such a volume of Targhib wal tarhib.
- During Shaykh’s stay in England one Ramadan, he went with some brothers to meet some of the local Muslims after Maghrib. They went to meet a man who wasn’t in a very good spiritual state and this visit was deemed very important. They therefore decided to go at a time when he would be least busy, so there would be more chance for him to pay attention to what they had to say. They arrived as he was closing his shop. As soon as he saw them he inquired as to which Masjid they had come from. On reply he said: ‘I have already donated ten pounds for it.’ They replied that they had come for the sole purpose of speaking about the religion (din) with him and not to collect money for charity. They also introduced Shaykh and mentioned that he was a great Shaykh and a scholar of Hadith who has come from abroad. The person was a bit taken aback. He invited them in and sat them down with great respect. All praise is due to Allah that after they had spoken to him in detail, he became very much impressed. He has since changed and now has great enthusiasm for Islam.
- In 1998, Shaykh travelled to Maputo, Mozambique where he conducted many programs. He also gathered the local scholars and read from the works of the senior scholars, reminding them of the importance and benefits of da’wah and tabligh. He made particular reference to the Physician of the Ummah, Moulana Thanawi’s counsels (rahimahullah) from his book Da’wat wa tabligh ke usul wa ahkam and Shaykhul Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi’s (rahimahullah) book Tablighi jama’at par itiradat ke jawabat. The Imam of the famous Babus -Salam Masjid there had some objections with regards to the Tabligh Jama’h. Shaykh answered his objections so well that the Imam became convinced of the work and went to Pakistan (where he was originally from) and spent four months in tabligh.
(Extracted from: A Brief Biography of Shaykhul Hadith, Fazlur Rahman Azmi by Mufti Atiqur Rahman Azmi)
May Allah Ta’ala preserve Shaykh, with complete ‘afiyah for many more years. Amin.