Shah Waliullah

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Islamic scholar
Shāh Walīullāh
Born (1703-02-21)21 February 1703 (1114 Hijri)
Delhi, Mughal Empire
Died 20 August 1762(1762-08-20) (aged 59) (1176 Hijri)
Delhi, Hindustan
Jurisprudence Hanafi
Creed Sunni Islam
Notable work(s) Hujjat Allah al-baligha (The Conclusive Argument from God)

Qutb-ud-Dīn Ahmad ibn 'Abdul Rahīm (Arabic: قطب الدین احمد ابن عبدالرحیم‎), also known as Shāh Walīullāh and Shāh Walī Allāh (1703–1762 CE / 1114–1176 AH) was an Islamic scholar, reformer and founder of modern Islamic thought who attempted to reassess Islamic theology in the light of modern changes.[1][2]


Early life[edit]

Shāh Walīullāh was born on 21 February 1703, four years before the death of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. His genealogy can be traced back to the family of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab.[3] He received his education and his spiritual instruction at the Madrasa-e-Rahimya established by his father, Shah 'Abd al-Rahim, at Delhi. Along with the Qur'an, he studied Arabic and Persian grammar and literature and the higher philosophical, theological, metaphysical, mystical and juridical texts. He graduated from the school when he was barely fifteen years old; in the same year, his father initiated him into the famous Naqshbandi order.


He began his career as a teacher at the Madrasa-e-Rahimya under the tutelage of his father; after the death of the latter in 1718, Shah Waliullah became the head of the madrasa, teaching all the sciences at the school for about twelve years. During the same period he continued his own studies, growing in stature as a teacher and attracting students to his circle.[4][5]

In 1724 he went to the Hijaz on a pilgrimage (Hajj) and stayed there for eight years studying Hadith and Fiqh under such distinguished scholars as Abu Tahir bin ibrahim al-Kurdi al-Madani, Wafd Allah al-Makki, and Taj al-Din al-Qali. During this period he came into contact with people from all parts of the Muslim world and, thus, obtained first-hand information about the conditions then prevailing in the various Muslim countries.[3] During this time, he also saw the 47 spiritual visions which form the subject matter of his famous mystical work Fuyud al-haramayn (Emanations or Spiritual Visions of Makkah and Madina).[6]

The most important of Shah Waliullah's works is his Ḥujjat Allāh al-Bāligha in which he made an attempt to present the teachings of Islam in a spirit of scientific objectivity. The range of his works include: economic, political, social, meta-physical, as well as purely theological aspects.He presented what he considered pure and pristine Islam to the people.

Later years and death[edit]

He returned to Delhi in 1732, where he spent the rest of his life producing numerous works until his death in 1762 during the reign of Shah Alam II. He wrote a letter to Ahmad Shah Durrani asking him to come and conquer India in response to the rising Maratha domination.[7][neutrality is disputed][better source needed]


His sons Shah Abdul Qader and Shah Rafi following his translation of the Quran from Arabic to Farsi, translated the Quran into Urdu, which meant it was now accessible to more Muslims. His daughters were one of the few women in the Indian subcontinent who excelled in the field of hadith.[8]

Notable Works[edit]

Shah Wali Ullah’s main focus was on the Qur'an, Hadith, Kalam, socio-political and ethical philosophy and spiritual sciences. He wrote extensively in Islamic studies, including Tafsir (Qur'anic exegesis), Hadith (traditions of the Prophet), Fiqh (law), usulal' Fiqh, (principles of jurisprudence), 'Aqa'id (beliefs), Kalam (scholastics), philosophy, Tasawwuf (spiritual sciences), history, biography, Arabic poetry, and grammar. He also wrote in the areas of sociology, politics, psychology and ethical philosophy.

Studies on the Qur'an[edit]

  • Fath al-Rahman al Tarjamat al-Qur'an, Reprint: Karachi, 1984. It is among the first popular renderings of the Qur'an into simple Persian language. It was completed by the author in Ramadan 1151 A.H.
  • Al-Fawz al-Kabir, Reprint: Lahore, 1951, 52 pp. It is a concise, but extremely valuable treatise on the principles of Qur'anic exegesis. It is among the most popular works of Shah Wali Ullah, which has made an outstanding contribution to the study and understanding of the Qur'an. Originally written in Persian, it has been translated into Arabic, Urdu, Turkish, and English languages. It was first published in Delhi in 1898 A.H.
  • Al-Fath al-Kabir (Arabic), Reprint: Lucknow, 1314 A.H. It deals with the explanation of the difficult words used in the Qur'an, with terms that are usually called ghara'ib, i.e. words that are not quite familiar in the common diction.

Hadith Sciences[edit]

• Al-Musawwa min Ahadlth al-Muwatta', It is a highly technical commentary in Arabic on this early collection of traditions compiled by Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 A.H.). It was first published in Delhi in 1293 A.H.

• Musaffa Sharh-i Muwatta'. It is a commentary in Persian on the Muwatta'. It represents Shah Wali Ullah's methodology in the teaching of Hadith. It was first published in 1293 A.H. in Delhi in two volumes. It has been translated into Urdu by Sayyid 'Abd Ullah and was published from Calcutta in 1294 A.H.

• Sharh Tarajim Ba'dAbwab al-Bukhan (Arabic), Hyderabad, 1949. In this treatise, Shah Wali Ullah has discussed the wisdom of the topical headings adopted by Imam Bukhari for different chapters of ahadith of this important compendium of traditions compiled by Imam Bukhari (d. 256 A.H.). It was first published in Hyderabad (India) in 1323 A.H.

Law and Jurisprudence[edit]

• Al-lnsaffl Bayan Sabab al-lkhtilaf (Arabic), Beirut, 1977, 114 pp. It is a juridical discourse on the compilation of the early compendia of ahadith, and the evolution of different schools of jurisprudence. It also discusses the nature of disagreement among the jurists and the principles of resolving various conflicting opinions so as to arrive at a synthetic view within the broad framework of Islamic jurisprudence. It was first published in Delhi in 1308 A.H. It was also translated into Urdu. • Iqd al-Jld ft Bayan Ahkam al-ljtihad wa al-Taqlid (Arabic), Delhi, 1925. This treatise discusses various dimensions of the issues involved in ijtihad and taqlid and presents a balanced view on this oft-discussed and much-debated question. It was also translated into Urdu.

Philosophy and Scholastics[edit]

• Hujjat Allah al-Balighah (Arabic), Cairo, 1933. It is the magnum opus of the author and constitutes a highly significant exposition of the Islamic worldview. We shall separately present an introduction to this work in some detail. It was first published in Bareily (India) in 1286 A.H. A number of Urdu translations of this work have appeared. It has also been recently translated into English under the title: The Conclusive Argument from God by Marcia Hermansen, and the first part of the translation has been published by E.J. Brill at Leiden in 1996. • Al-Budur al-BQzighah (Arabic), Hyderabad, 1970. It is the second most important contribution of the author to a philosophical and rational interpretation of Islam after Hujjat Allah al-Balighah. It has also been translated into English by J.M.S. Baijon. • Al-Khayr al-Kathir (Arabic), Bijnaur, India, 1325 A.H. It is a brief work in which he attempts to explain the fundamentals of faith with an approach combining rational and traditional arguments. • Maktub-i Madam (Persian), Lahore, 1965. It is a long letter addressed by Shah Wali Allah to one Isma'il ibn 'Abd Allah Rumi. It deals with the metaphysical dimensions of the concept of existence. The work explains the position of the author on the problem of existence which syntheses the views of Ibn 'Arabi and Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi. This letter has also been included in al-TafhTmat al-Ilahiyyah. • Al- 'Aqidah al-Hasanah (Arabic), Lucknow, 1962, 72 pp. It is a plain and rational presentation of the fundamentals of belief in Islam. It has also been translated into Urdu. • Al-Muqaddimah al-Saniyyah fi Intisar al-Firqah al-Sunniyyah (Persian), Delhi, (n.d.). This work attempts a rational expose of the Sunni theological doctrines in comparison with the doctrines of the Shi'ah. This is in fact Shah Wali Allah's introduction to the Persian translation of a treatise by Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi entitled Radd-i-Rawafii.

Spiritual Sciences[edit]

• Al-Tafhimat al-Ilahiyyah (Arabic and Persian) (Bijnaur India: 1936), 264 pp. This work is in two volumes and includes a number of stray writings of the author, in which he has explained subtle points of rational and spiritual import with regard to the teachings of the true faith. Some of these writings are in Arabic and others in Persian. • Altaf al-Quds (Persian) Delhi, n.d. It deals with the basic principles of the spiritual sciences. It has been translated into Urdu (Lahore; 1975), and also English under the title: The Sacred Knowledge of the Higher Functions of the Mind (Lahore: 1982). • Sata'at (Persian) (Hyderabad: 1970), 54 pp. It discusses various aspects and dimensions of Divine theophany and attempts to explain the nature of the abstract and material worlds and their respective characteristics. It has been translated into English and Urdu. • Fuyud al-Haramayn (Arabic) (Delhi: n.d.), 144 pp. Shah Wali Allah relates his spiritual experiences during his sojourn in Makkah and Madinah. It has also been translated into Urdu. The Urdu version was published in Lahore in 1947. • Anfas al- 'Arifin (Persian). It narrates the spiritual attainments of the author's forefathers and spiritual ancestors. It was first published in 1335 A.H. in Delhi.

List of works[edit]

  • "Hujjatullah Hil Baligha Arabic *"Hujjatullah Hil Baligha Urdu The magnum opus of Shah has been discussed in the seventh section of this work.
  • "Altaf al-quds" (The sacred knowledge of the higher functions of the mind: Altaf al-Quds)[9]
  • Al-Khayr al-kathir (The Abundant Good)[10]
  • Ḥujjat Allāh al-Bāligha[5]
  • Sata'at (Manifestations)
  • Lamahat (Flashes of Lightning)
  • "Seerat E Rasool SAW" Urdu
  • "Sharah Hijbul Bahar Ma Hamah" Urdu
  • "Fuyuz Ul Haramain" Arabic & Urdu Fuyud al-haramayn (Emanations or Spiritual Visions of Makkah and Madina)[6]
  • "Tafheemat E Ilahiya" Al-Tafhimat (Instructions or Clear Understanding)
  • Al-Budur al-bazighah (The Full Moons Rising in Splendor)
  • "AL fauz Ul Kabeer" Urdu Al-Fauz Al-Kabir Fi Usul Al-Tafsir
  • 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)
  • "Al qaul Ul Jameel" Urdu
  • Atayyab al-naghm fi Madh-I-Saiyid al- Arab wal-Ajam (Arabic)- A collection of odes eulogizing Muhammad which speak of Shah's poetic talent and love towards him.
  • 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 ul Arifeen" Urdu 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)-
  • "AL Aqeeda tul Hasana" Arbeci & Urdu 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 Muhammad.
  • 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 Muhammad.
  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jalbani, G.N. (2006). Life of Shah Wali Allah (1st ed.). New Delhi, India: Kitab Bhavan. ISBN 9788171513703. 
  2. ^ S.M. Ikram (1964). "XIX. A Century of Political Decline: 1707-1803". In Ainslie T. Embree. Muslim civilization in India. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231025805. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Sharif, M. M. (1963). A History of Muslim Philosophy: With short accounts of other Disciplines and the Modern Renaissance in the Muslim Lands. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 9788175361461. 
  4. ^ Husain, M Hidayat (1912). "Al-Juz' al-Latif fi Tarjamat al-'Abd al-Da'if (English translation from Persian text)". Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal 14: 161–175. 
  5. ^ a b Hermansen, transl. by Marcia K. (1996). The conclusive argument of God : Shāh Walī Allāh of Delhi's Ḥujjat Allāh al-Bāligha. Leiden [u.a.]: Brill. ISBN 9789004102989. 
  6. ^ a b Waliullah, Shah. Fuyud al-haramayn (Emanations or Spiritual Visions of Makkah and Madina). 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Nadwi, Mohammad Akram (2007). Al Muhaddithat: the women scholars in Islam. London: Interface Publishers. p. 272. 
  9. ^ Waliullah, Shah (1982). The sacred knowledge of the higher functions of the mind: Altaf al-Quds. London: Octagon Pr. ISBN 0900860936. 
  10. ^ Waliullah, Shah (1974). al-Khayr al-kathir. LCCN 75930338. 

External links[edit]