Ashraf Ali Thanwi
|Hakimul Ummat, Mujaddid-e-Millat
Ashraf Ali Thanvi
اشرف علی تھانوی
|Born||19 August 1863|
|Died||4 July 1943(aged 79)|
|Resting place||Thana Bhawan|
|Main interest(s)||Fiqh, Hadith, Tassawuf|
|Notable idea(s)||islamic fiqah|
|Alma mater||Darul Uloom Deoband|
|Sufi order||Chishtiya, Sabiriya,Imdadiya|
|Disciple of||Haji Imdadullah|
Darul Uloom Deoband, India
Ashraf 'Ali Thanwi (August 19, 1863 – July 4, 1943) (Urdu: اشرف علی تھانوی) was a prominent Indian scholar of the Deobandi school. Ashraf Ali was from the first wedlock of Abdul Haq Sahib. From his first wife, Abdul Haq had three children. The eldest one was Ashraf Ali Thanvi himself, followed by Akber Ali Sahib Thanvi (who later became father of Shabbir Ali Sahib Thanvi) and a daughter (who later became mother of Zafar Ahmed Usmani). From the second wife Abdul Haq had three sons and a daughter (who later became mother of Ehtasham Ul Haq). Thus Thanvi had two immediate siblings and four step siblings.
Ashraf Ali Thanvi himself wed twice. From the first wife he had no children. However, he took his nephew Maulana Shabbir Ali Sahib Thanvi from his brother and took responsibility of his upbringing. Many few know that Shabbir Ali Thanvi served as secretary to Thanvi and was most closest associate of Thanvi in his private and official matters .It was Maulana Shabbir Ali Sahib Thanvi who used to meet Mr. Jinnah during Pakistan movement on behalf of Thanvi when there was a need be. The (late) Maulana Shabbir Ali later migrated to Pakistan where he died in 1968 and laid to rest in Karachi, leaving two sons Mushir Ali and Munir Ali, both of whom have now died.
Thanvi married second time with a widow who brought with herself a daughter. Hence Thanvi had no biological son or real daughter of his own. Thanvi died few years[when?] before creation of Pakistan. His religious contribution are still an asset specially for Deoband Clerics.
Thanwi graduated from the Darul Uloom Deoband in 1884. It is claimed[by whom?] that when Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, one of the founders of the institution, arrived for the graduation ceremony, Maulana Mehmud Hasan informed him Thanwi, an especially intelligent student was about to graduate. Gangohi wanted to test this student by asking the most difficult questions that he could think of. Thanwi's answers reportedly amazed and pleased Gangohi, who himself conducted the Dastārbandī Jalsa, the turban-tying ceremony marking graduation.
After his graduation, Thanwi taught religious sciences in Kanpur for fourteen years. Over a short period of time, he acquired a reputable position as a religious scholar, of Sufism among other subjects. His teaching attracted numerous students and his research and publications became well known in Islamic institutions. During these years, he traveled to various cities and villages, delivering lectures in the hope of reforming people. Printed versions of his lectures and discourses would usually become available shortly after these tours. Until then, few Islamic scholars had had their lectures printed and widely circulated in their own lifetimes. The desire to reform the masses intensified in him during his stay at Kanpur.
Eventually, Thanwi retired from teaching and devoted himself to reestablishing the spiritual centre (khānqāh) of his shaikh in Thāna Bhāwan. Upon this transition, Imdadullah remarked, "It is good that you have arrived in Thāna Bhāwan. It is hoped that people will benefit from you spiritually and physically. You should engage yourself in revitalizing our madrasah and khānqāh once more in Thāna Bhāwan. As for myself, I am always praying for you and attentive towards you."
Students and disciples
Thanwi’s students and disciples settled in all parts of South Asia. They include:
- Abdul Hai Arifi
- Qari Muhammad Tayyib Qasimi, grandson of the founder of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi, and head principal of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband for over 50 years, from the early 1930s to the early 1980s
- Maseehullah Khan Sherwani (founder of Madrasa Miftah al- ‘Ulum in Jalalabad, India, and a leading spiritual figure of the past century)
- Muhammad Shafi Usmani, head mufti of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband and later founder of Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi
- Abdul Bari Nadvi (renowned theologian and philosopher in India who taught modern philosophy at Osmania University in Hyderabad and translated the books of Western philosophers such as Descartes, into Urdu and left behind many literary tracts)
- Sulaiman Nadvi, researcher and student of Shibli Nu ‘mani who turned to Thanwi for spiritual reformation
- Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi, founder of Tablighi Jamaat
- Ahmed Khan Khalifa Majaz Molana Muhammed Masihulah Khan, Hyderabad, Pakistan
Fatwa of kufr and its refutation
In 1906 Ahmad Raza Khan issued a fatwa of kufr against Thanwi and other Deobandi leaders entitled Husam ul-Haramain (Urdu: Sword of Mecca and Medina), decrying them as unbelievers (kufr) and Satanists. The fatwa was countersigned by many other ulama, including some from Hijaz. Deobandi scholars refuted this allegation in the book al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad ("The Sword against the Disproved"), authored by hadith scholar Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri.
Views on politics
Thanwi argued, mainly using verses of the Quran, that political rule is only a means of instituting Islam in people's lives and not the purpose of life itself. All modern political notions that contradict the Quran and Hadith would have to be forsaken, and the "pure" political thought reflected in Quranic sources should guide Muslims in organizing and structuring their governments.
Thanwi died in Thāna Bhāwan on July 4, 1943. His funeral prayer was led by his nephew, Zafar Ahmad Uthmānī, and he was buried in the graveyard of 'Ishq-e-Bāzān.
- Ali Abbasi, Shahid. (2008, January–March). Rethinking in Islam: Mawlana Ashraf 'Ali Thanawi on Way and Way-faring. Hamdard Islamic-us, 21(1), 7–23. (Article on Ashraf 'Ali's teachings on Sufism.)
- Fatwa of Kufr (originally issued 1900 C.E.), posted at SufiManzil.org
- Ahmad Raza Khan. Hussam-ul-Harmain
- Fatawa Hussam-ul-Hermayn by Khan,Ahmad Raza Qadri
- As-samare-ul-Hindiya by Khan,Hashmat Ali
- Al-Mufannad translation at TheMajlis.co.za
- Sword on the Disproved at Marifah.net
- Zaman, Muhammad Qasim, Ashraf `Ali Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia (Makers of the Muslim World), Oneworld, 2007.
- A Short Bio on Ashraf Ali Thanwi at Haqislam.org
- Collection of Ashraf Ali Thanwi in PDF-format
-  themajlis.co.za Muhannad