Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi

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Not to be confused with revolutionary Islamist Syed Ahmad Barelvi
Ahmed Raza Khan Bareilvi
ا رضا خان بریلوی
Title Ala Hazrat

14 June 1856

Bareilly, North-Western Provinces, British Indian Empire
Died 28 October 1921(1921-10-28) (aged 65)
Muhallah Sodagraan, Bareilly, UP, British Indian Empire
Nationality British India
Era Modern era
Region South Asia
Religion Islam
Jurisprudence Hanafi[2]
Creed Sunni[2]
Main interest(s) Aqeedah, Fiqh, Tasawwuf
Website http://imamahmadraza.net/, http://www.raza.org.za, http://www.alahazrat.net
Part of a series on
The Barelvi movement
Tomb of Ahmed Raza Khan
Founders & Central figures

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi
Hamid Raza Khan
Mustafa Raza Khan Qadri

Notable Scholars

Maulana Abdul Hamid Qadri Badayuni
Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari
Muhammad Muslehuddin Siddiqui
Qamaruzzaman Azmi
Ameen Mian Qaudri
Syed Shujaat Ali Qadri
Akhtar Raza Khan


Jamia Naeemia Lahore
Jamia Al-Karam, Jamia Amjadia Rizvia
Manchester Central Mosque
Jamiatur Raza, Manzar-e-Islam
Al Jamiatul Ashrafia, Al-Jame-atul-Islamia

Literature & Notable Works

Kanzul Iman, Fatawa-e-Razvia
Bahar-e-Shariat, Husamul Haramain


Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Jamaat Ahle Sunnat
Sunni Tehreek, Sunni Ittehad Council
Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatme Nabuwwat
All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board
Muslim Students Organisation of India

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi (Urdu: احمد رضاخان بریلوی‎, Hindi: अहमद रज़ा खान, 14 June 1856 CE or 10 Shawwal 1272 AH - 28 October 1921 CE or 25 Safar 1340 AH), also known as Ala'Hazarat, was a Muslim scholar, Sufi, and reformer in British India. The Barelvi movement within Sunni Islam is attributed to him.[3][4][5] Raza Khan wrote on numerous topics, including law, religion, philosophy and the sciences. He was a prolific writer, Mufti (jurist) producing nearly 1,000 works in his lifetime.[4]

Early life and family[edit]

Family background[edit]

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi belonged to the Barech[6] tribe of Durrani Pushtuns. The Barech formed a tribal grouping among the Rohilla Pushtuns of North India who founded the state of Rohilkhand. The ancestors of Ahmed Raza Khan migrated from Qandahar during the Mughal rule and settled in Lahore.[6][7]


Ahmad Raza Khan was born on 14 June 1856 in Muhallah Jasoli, Bareilly Sharif, British India. His birth name is Muhammad.[8] Khan used the appellation "Abdul Mustafa" (slave [or servant] of Mustafa) prior to signing his name in correspondence.[9]

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi's father Naqi Ali Khan was the son of Raza Ali Khan.[6][7] Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, Naqi Ali Khan (Father),[10] and Raza Ali Khan (Paternal grandfather).[10]

Barelvi movement[edit]

Ahmed Raza Khan Qadri, by his writings and fatwas, defended Sufi practices and traditional Islam.[11] His writings, work of his students and their organizations gave birth to a movement among south Asian Muslims which came to known as Barelvi movement or Ahle Sunnat movement.[12] Ahmed Raza Khan is regarded by his followers as Imam-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat (Leader of the Ahl-e-Sunnat) and Ala'hazrat.

This movement was founded when Ahmed Raza Khan Qadri saw an intellectual and moral decline of Indian Muslims.[13] It was a mass movement, defending popular Sufism, which grew in response to the influence of Deobandi and Wahabi movement.[14]

Today the Barelvi movement is spread across the globe with a huge number of followers in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, US, UK and other countries. The movement now has followers over 200 million[15] Muslims. Many religious schools, organizations and research institutions have been established that work on the teachings of Ahmed Raza Khan.[12]

The Barelvis consider themselves South Asia's heirs and representatives of the earliest Muslim community. The movement of Ahmed Raza Khan emphasizes primacy of Islamic law over adherence to Sufi practices and personal devotion to the Prophet Muhammad. Since partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, has addressed leading political issues for Muslims. The movement was largely a rural phenomenon when begun, but currently popular among urban, educated Pakistanis and Indians.[16]



Ahmed Raza Khan wrote several books on various topics in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, including Fatawa Radawiyyah (30 volumes), which is a compilation of fatwas, and Kanzul Iman (translation of the Qur'an). Several of his books have been translated in other European and South Asian languages.[17][18] His main works include:

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 the Imam of Sunni Muslims Ahmad Raza Khan. It is associated with the Hanafi jurisprudence within Sunni Islam[19] and is considered widely read version of translation in the Subcontinent. It has been subsequently translated into other European and South Asian languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Dutch, Turkish, Sindhi, Gujarati and Pashto.[18]

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 written by Ahmad Raza Khan (1856- 1921) which declared infidels the founders of Deobandi, Ahle Hadith and Ahmadiyya movement on basis of what he considered to be the proper veneration of the Prophet Muhammad and finality of Prophethood in their writings and various book.[20][21][22][23] In defense of his verdict Imam Ahmad Raza Khan obtain confirmatory signatures from 268 traditional Sunni scholars in the South Asia,[24] and also got agreement from a number of ulama in Mecca and Medina. The treatise is published in Arabic, Urdu, English, Turkish and in Hindi language.[25]

Fatawa Radawiyyah[edit]

Fatawa-e-Razvia or Fatawa-e-Radaviyyah is the main fatwa (Islamic verdicts on various issues) book of his movement.[26][27] 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.[28][29]

Hadayake Bakhshish[edit]

He wrote devotional poetry in praise of Prophet and always discussed him in present tense.[30] His Naat (Islamic poetry) is compiled in the book named Hidayake Bakhshish.[31] It includes the poems, which deal for the most part with the qualities of the Prophet, often have a simplicity and directness.[32] His emphasis on the spiritual life of the Prophet created a favorable climate for na'at writing.[33] His Urdu couplets titled, Mustafa jaane rahmat pe lakhon salaam (Millions of salutations on Mustafa, the Paragon of mercy) is read in movements mosques. It contains 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).[34][35]

His other works includes.[36][18]

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


Ahmed Raza Khan was a Muslim scholar, belonging to Sunni Sufi traditions. He supported Tawassul, Mawlid, Knowledge of Unseen for Prophet and other Sufi practices which were opposed by Wahabi and Deobandis.[30] [37] [38]

In this context he supported the following beliefs:

  • Muhammad, although insan-e-kamil (perfect human), possessed a nūr or "light" that predates creation. This contrasts with the Deobandi view that Muhammad, was only a insan-e-kamil ("complete man"), a respected but physically typical human.[39][40]
  • Muhammad is haazir naazir (can be present in many places at the same time by the power given by Allah, :[41]

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 passed following judgements with regard to certain practices and faith in his book Fatawa-e-Razvia.[42][43] [44]

  • Islamic Law Shari'ah is the ultimate law and following it is obligatory for all Muslims;
  • To refrain from Bid'ah is of utmost importance;
  • 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.
  • It is polytheism Shirk to prostrate to any other than Allah Ta'ala with the intention of worship. If such a prostration is out of reverence [Sajdah at-Tahiyyah], it is Haraam.
  • The iconography of the Shi'ah [ta'aziyah], Qawwali [sama'a] with musical, to make pictures of living things are forbidden.
  • It is not permissible for women to travel to visit graves or shrines of Awliya.

His work and Fatwas against other sects[edit]

Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Muhaddith (1856- 1921) declared infidels the founders of Deobandi, Ahle Hadith, Wahabi and Ahmadiyya sects on the basis of what he considered to be the proper veneration of the Prophet Muhammad and finality of Prophethood in their writings and various book.[20][21][22][23][45] In defense of his verdict Imam Ahmad Raza Khan obtain confirmatory signatures from 268 traditional Sunni scholars in the South Asia,[24] and also got agreement from a number of leading ulama in Mecca and Medina.[22]

  • Ahmadiyya

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian claimed to be the Promised 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 practised by Muhammad and early Sahaba.[46][47] Ahmed Raza Khan branded Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani a heretic and apostate and called him and his followers kuffar.[48]

  • Deobandi

When Ahmed Raza visited Mecca and Medina for pilgrimage in 1905, he prepared a draft document entitled Al Motamad Al Mustanad "The Reliable Proofs" for presentation to the scholars there. Ahmed Raza Khan collected opinions of some ulama of Hejaz and compiled them in an compendium with the title "Sword of the Two Sanctuaries" (Urdu: حسام الحرمین‎), a work containing 34 verdicts from 33 ulama, 20 Meccan and 13 Medinese. In that work, which was to inspire a reciprocal series of fatwas between Barelvis and Deobandis continuing to the present, Ahmad Raza Khan denounced as kuffar the Deobandi leaders Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, and Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi.[49]

  • Wahabis

Ahmed Raza Khan declared Wahabis as 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.[50]

  • Shias

Imam Ahmed Raza wrote various books against beliefs and faith of Shia community and declared various practices of Shia as Kufr (Infidelity).[51] According to Imam Ahmad Raza, most Shiites of his day were apostates because they, according to him, repudiated necessities of religion.[52][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]

Imam Ahmed Raza Khan declared that India is darul Islam and here Muslims enjoys religious freedom, they are free to practice Islam. He said that Government has not imposed restrictions and prohibitions to follow Islam. 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 Jehad or perform Hijrat.[55] Therefore, he opposed labeling British India to be Dar al-Harb ("land of war"), which meant that waging holy war jehad and migration from India Hijrat were inadmissible as they would cause disaster to the community. The Fatawa of Deobandi Ulema on the other hand were ambiguous and contrary. Qasim Nanotwi declared India darul harab for the obligation of hijrat but darul Islam for the purpose of usury transactions. Rashid Ahmed Gangohi's decree are also confusing and non committal. This stand of Imam Ahmed Raza Qadri was similar to another reformer Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Ubaidullah Ubaidi Suharwardy.[56]

Until just before the colonial period[clarification needed] the Muslim League mobilized the Sufis and Muslim masses to campaign for Pakistan[57] and many of Ahmed Raza Khan's followers played a significant and active role in the Pakistan Movement at educational and political fronts.[58]


On June 21, 2010, Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, a leading 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.[59]

Muhammad Iqbal said: "I have carefully studied the decrees of Imam Ahmed Raza and thereby formed this opinion; and his Fatawa bear testimony to his acumen, intellectual caliber, the quality of his creative thinking, his excellent jurisdiction and his ocean-like Islamic knowledge. Once Imam Ahmed Raza forms an opinion he stays firm on it; he expresses his opinion after a sober reflection. Therefore, the need never arises to withdraw any of his religious decrees and judgements. With all this, by nature he was hot tempered, and if this was not in the way, then Shah Ahmed Raza would have been the Imam Abu Hanifa of his age."[60] In another place he says, "Such a genius and intelligent jurist did not emerge."[61]

Shaykh Yusuf an-Nabhani, Mufti of Lebanon when read judgments of Imam Ahmed Raza Khan, he declared that Imam Ahmed Raza Khan is a giant Imam and well learned man who is an expert in the sciences. Shaykh Ismail Makki, Librarian of Makkah Haram Library said that Imam Ahmed Raza is the absolute Shaykh of all teachers" While Shaykh ‘Ali bin Hassan Maliki, Mufti of Makkah city called Ahmed Raza Qadri, The encyclopaedia of all sciences.[44]


The Barelvi movement was a movement which did not accept the views of the Deoband Ulama, the Ahl-eHadith and some others.[62] Deobandis and Wahabis criticized Ahmed Raza Khan and his beliefs.


Ahmed Raza Khan died on 28 October 1921 CE (25th Safar 1340h) at the age of 65, in his home at Bareilly city on Friday.[44]

His spiritual successors and students[edit]

There were many Mureeds (Disciples) and Khulafa (successors) of A'la Hadrat. They are 35 are in the other parts of the world and 30 in Indo-Pak Sub-Continent. These are the leading ones.[63]


Research institutes[edit]


See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b Rahman, Tariq. "Munāẓarah Literature in Urdu: An Extra-Curricular Educational Input in Pakistan's Religious Education." Islamic Studies (2008): 197-220.
  3. ^ See: He denied and condemned Taziah, Qawwali, tawaf of mazar, sada except Allah SWT, women visit at Shrines of Sufis.
  4. ^ a b Usha Sanyal (1998). "Generational Changes in the Leadership of the Ahl-e Sunnat Movement in North India during the Twentieth Century". Modern Asian Studies 32 (3): 635. doi:10.1017/S0026749X98003059. 
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  66. ^ Commemorative Stamps, India.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]