Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi

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Ahmed Raza Khan
  • Aala Hazrat,
  • Imam-e-Ahle Sunnat
Born14 June 1856[1]
Died28 October 1921(1921-10-28) (aged 65)
Resting placeBareilly Sharif Dargah, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh
EraModern era
RegionSouth Asia
Main interest(s)Islamic theology, Hanafi jurisprudence, Urdu poetry, Tasawwuf
TariqaQadri, Chishti, Soharwardi, Naqshbandi
Muslim leader
SuccessorHamid Raza Khan

Ahmed Raza Khan, commonly known as Ahmed Rida Khan in Arabic, or simply as "Ala-Hazrat" (14 June 1856 CE or 10 Shawwal 1272 AH – 28 October 1921 CE or 25 Safar 1340 AH), was an Islamic scholar, jurist, theologian, ascetic, Sufi, Urdu poet, and reformer in British India,[3] and the founder of the Barelvi movement.[4][5][6] Raza Khan wrote on law, religion, philosophy and the sciences.


Early life and family[edit]

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi's father, Naqi Ali Khan, was the son of Raza Ali Khan.[7][8][9] Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi belonged to the Barech tribe of Pushtuns.[8] The Barech formed a tribal grouping among the Rohilla Pushtuns of North India who founded the state of Rohilkhand. Khan's ancestors migrated from Qandahar during the Mughal rule and settled in Lahore.[7][8]

Khan was born on 14 June 1856 in Mohallah Jasoli, Bareilly, the North-Western Provinces. The name corresponding to the year of his birth was "Al Mukhtaar". His birth name was Muhammad.[10] Khan used the appellation "Abdul Mustafa" ("servant of the chosen one") prior to signing his name in correspondence.[11]

At the age of four he completed the recitation of the Quran[citation needed]. At the age of 13, he completed his Islamic Education as well as reached puberty after which he began issuing Fatwas[citation needed].


Khan died on 28 October 1921 (25 Safar 1340 AH) at the age of 65, in his home at Bareilly.[12] He was buried in the Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat which marks the site for the annual commemoration of his death. 24 October 2019 marked the 101th anniversary.[citation needed]

His teachers[edit]

According to Masud Ahmad, Khan’s teachers were:[13]

  • Shah AI-i-Rasul (d. 1297/1879)
  • Naqi Ali Khan (d. 1297/1880)
  • Ahmad Zayni Dahlan Makki (d. 1299/1881)
  • Abd al-Rahman Siraj Makki (d. 1301/1883)
  • Hussayn bin Saleh (d. 1302/1884)
  • Abul-Hussayn Ahmad Al-Nuri (d. 1324/1906)
  • 'Abd al-Ali Rampuri (d. 1303/1885)

Bay’at and Khilafat[edit]

In the year 1294 A.H. (1877), at the age of 22 years, Imam Ahmed Raza became the Mureed (disciple) of Imam-ul-Asfiya, Shah Aale Rasool Marehrawi. His Murshid bestowed him with Khilafat in the several Sufi Silsilas. Number of Islamic scholars received permission from him to work under his guidance.[14][15]


Khan wrote books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, including the thirty-volume fatwa compilation Fatawa Razaviyya, and Kanzul Iman (Translation & Explanation of the Qur'an). Several of his books have been translated into European and South Asian languages.[16][17]

Kanzul Iman (translation of the Qur'an)[edit]

Kanzul Iman (Urdu and Arabic: کنزالایمان) is a 1910 Urdu paraphrase translation of the Qur'an by Khan. It is not associated with the Hanafi jurisprudence within Sunni Islam,[16] and is a widely read version of translation in the Indian Subcontinent. It has been translated into English, Hindi, Bengali, Dutch, Turkish, Sindhi, Gujarati and Pashto.[17]

Husamul Haramain[edit]

Husamul Haramain or Husam al Harmain Ala Munhir kufr wal myvan (The Sword of the Haramayn at the throat of unbelief and falsehood) 1906, is a treatise which declared infidels the founders of the Deobandi, Ahle Hadith and Ahmadiyya movements on the basis that they did not have the proper veneration of the Prophet Muhammad and finality of Prophethood in their writings.[18][19][20][page needed][21] In defense of his verdict he obtained confirmatory signatures from 268 scholars in South Asia,[citation needed] and some from scholars in Mecca and Medina. The treatise is published in Arabic, Urdu, English, Turkish and Hindi.[22]

Fatawa Razawiyyah[edit]

Fatawa-e-Razvia or Fatawa-e-Radaviyyah is the main fatwa (Islamic verdicts on various issues) book of his movement.[23][24] It has been published in 30 volumes and in approx. 22,000 pages. It contains solution to daily problems from religion to business and from war to marriage.[25][26]


He wrote devotional poetry in praise of the Prophet Muhammad and always discussed him in the present tense.[27] His main book of poetry is Hadaikh-e-Bakhshish.[28] His poems, which deal for the most part with the qualities of the Prophet, often have a simplicity and directness.[29] They reportedly created a favorable climate for na'at writing.[30][page needed] His Urdu couplets, entitled Mustafa jaane rahmat pe lakhon salaam (Millions of salutations on Mustafa, the Paragon of mercy), are read in movements mosques. They contain praise of the Prophet, his physical appearance (verses 33 to 80), his life and times, praise of his family and companions, praise of the awliya and saleheen (the saints and the pious).[31][32]

Other notable works[edit]

His other works include:[5][17]

  • Al Daulatul Makkiya Bil Madatul Ghaibiya
  • Al Mu'tamadul Mustanad
  • Al Amn o wal Ula
  • Alkaukabatush Shahabiya
  • Al Istimdaad
  • Al Fuyoozul Makkiyah
  • Al Meeladun Nabawiyyah
  • Fauze Mubeen Dar Radd-E-Harkate Zameen
  • Subhaanus Subooh
  • Sallus Say yaaful Hindiya
  • Ahkaam-e-Shariat
  • Az Zubdatuz Zakkiya
  • Abna ul Mustafa
  • Tamheed-e-Imaan
  • Angotthe Choomne ka Masla


Khan saw an intellectual and moral decline of Muslims in British India.[33] His movement was a mass movement, defending popular Sufism, which grew in response to the influence of the Deobandi movement in South Asia and the Wahhabi movement elsewhere.[34]

Khan supported Tawassul, Mawlid, the prophet Muhammad's awareness of complete knowledge of the unseen, and other practices which were opposed by Salafis and Deobandis.[27][35][36]

In this context he supported the following beliefs:

  • Prophet Muhammad, although is insan-e-kamil (the perfect human), possessed a nūr (light) that predates creation. This contrasts with the Deobandi view that Muhammad, was only a insan-e-kamil, a respected but physically typical human just like other humans.[37][38][page needed]
  • Prophet Muhammad is haazir naazir (Haazir-o-Naazir on the deeds of his Ummah) which means that prophet views and witnesses actions of his people.[39]

This concept was interpreted by Shah Abdul Aziz in Tafsir Azizi in these words: The Prophet is observing everybody, knows their good and bad deeds, and knows the strength of faith (Imaan) of every individual Muslim and what has hindered his spiritual progress.[40]

We do not hold that anyone can equal the knowledge of Allah Most High, or possess it independently, nor do we assert that Allah's giving of knowledge to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is anything but a part. But what a patent and tremendous difference between one part [the Prophet's] and another [anyone else's]: like the difference between the sky and the earth, or rather even greater and more immense.

— Ahmed Raza Khan, al-Dawla al-Makkiyya (c00), 291.

He reached judgments with regard to certain practices and faith in his book Fatawa-e-Razvia, including:[12][page needed][41] [42]

  • Islamic Law is the ultimate law and following it is obligatory for all Muslims;
  • To refrain from Bid'ah is essential;
  • A Sufi without knowledge or a Shaykh without actions is a tool in the hands of the devil;
  • It is impermissible to imitate the Kuffar, to mingle with the misguided [and heretics] and to participate in their festivals.

Permissibility of currency notes[edit]

In 1905, Khan, on the request of contemporaries from Hijaz, wrote a verdict on the permissibility of using paper as form of currency, entitled Kifl-ul-Faqeehil fehim Fe Ahkam-e-Kirtas Drahim.[43]


Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian claimed to be the Messiah and Mahdi awaited by some Muslims as well as a Ummati Nabi, a subordinate prophet to Muhammad who came to restore Islam to the pristine form as practiced by Muhammad and early Sahaba.[44][45] Khan declared Mirza Ghulam Ahmad a heretic and apostate and called him and his followers disbelievers (kuffar).[46]


The theological difference with Deobandi school begun when Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Qadri objected in writing to some of the following beliefs of Deobandi scholars.

  • A founder of the Deobandi movement, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi stated that God has the ability to lie.[47] This doctrine is called Imkan-i Kizb.[48][47] According to this doctrine, because God is omnipotent, God is capable of lying.[48] Gangohi supported the doctrine that God has the ability to make additional prophets after Muhammad (Imkan-i Nazir) and other prophets equal to Muhammad.[48][47]
  • He opposed the doctrine that Muhammad has knowledge of the unseen (ilm e ghaib).[47][48]

When Imam Ahmed Raza Khan visited Mecca and Medina for pilgrimage in 1905, he prepared a draft document entitled Al Motamad Al Mustanad ("The Reliable Proofs"). In this work, Ahmad Raza branded Deobandi leaders such as Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, and Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi and those who followed them as kuffar. Khan collected scholarly opinions in the Hejaz and compiled them in an Arabic language compendium with the title, Husam al Harmain ("The Sword of Two Sanctuaries"), a work containing 34 verdicts from 33 ulama (20 Meccan and 13 Medinese). This work initiated a reciprocal series of fatwas between Barelvis and Deobandis lasting to the present.[49]


Khan wrote various books against beliefs and faith of Shia Muslims and declared various practices of Shia as kufr.[50] Most Shiites of his day were apostates because, he believed, they repudiated necessities of religion.[51][52]

Wahabi Movement[edit]

Khan declared Wahabis as disbelievers (kuffar) and collected many fatwas of various scholars against the Wahabbi movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who was predominant in the Arabian peninsula, just as he had done with the Ahmadis and Deobandis. Until this day, Khan's followers remain opposed to the Wahabi and their beliefs.[53]

Political views[edit]

Unlike other Muslim leaders in the region at the time, Khan and his movement opposed the Indian independence movement due to its leadership under Mahatma Gandhi, who was not a Muslim.[54]

Khan declared that India was Dar al-Islam and that Muslims enjoyed religious freedom there. According to him, those arguing the contrary merely wanted to take advantage of the provisions allowing Muslims living under non-Muslim rule to collect interest from commercial transactions and had no desire to fight Jihad or perform Hijra.[55] Therefore, he opposed labeling British India to be Dar al-Harb ("abode of war"), which meant that waging holy war against and migrating from India were inadmissible as they would cause disaster to the community. This view of Khan's was similar to other reformers Syed Ahmed Khan and Ubaidullah Ubaidi Suharwardy.[56]

The Muslim League mobilized the Muslim masses to campaign for Pakistan,[57] and many of Khan's followers played a significant and active role in the Pakistan Movement at educational and political fronts.[14]


Today the movement Khan founded is spread across the globe with followers in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey,[citation needed] Afghanistan,[citation needed] Iraq,[citation needed] Sri Lanka,[citation needed] South Africa,[citation needed] United States,[citation needed] Australia,[citation needed] Korea, Hong Kong,[citation needed] and UK,[citation needed] among other countries. The movement now has over 200 million followers.[58] The movement was largely a rural phenomenon when begun, but is currently popular among urban, educated Pakistanis and Indians as well as South Asian diaspora throughout the world.[59]

Many religious schools, organizations and research institutions teach Khan's ideas, which emphasize the primacy of Islamic law over adherence to Sufi practices and personal devotion to the prophet Muhammad.[60]


  • On 21 June 2010, Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, a cleric and Sufi from Syria, declared on Takbeer TV's programme Sunni Talk that the Mujaddid of the Indian subcontinent was Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, and said that a follower of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah can be identified by his love of Khan, and that those outside of that those outside the Ahlus Sunnah are identified by their attacks on him.[61]
  • 'Ali bin Hassan Maliki, Mufti of Mecca, called Khan the encyclopedia of all religious sciences.[12]

Societal influence[edit]

Spiritual successors[edit]

Khan had two son and five daughters. His sons Hamid Raza Khan and Mustafa Raza Khan Qadri are celebrated scholars of Islam. Hamid Raza Khan was his appointed successor. After him Mustafa Raza Khan succeeded his father, who then appointed Akhtar Raza Khan as his successor. His son, Mufti Asjad Raza Khan now succeeds him as the spiritual leader.[65]

He had many disciples and successors, including 30 in the Indian subcontinent and 35 elsewhere.[66] Following scholars are his notable Successor.[67]

Educational influence[edit]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]