Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi

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A'lahazrat

Ahmed Raza Khan
Imamahmedrazakhan.png
Personal
Born14 June 1856[1]
Died28 October 1921(1921-10-28) (aged 65)
Resting placeBareilly Sharif Dargah, Uttar Pradesh, India
ReligionIslam
NationalityIndian
SpouseIrshad Begum
Children
Parents
CitizenshipBritish Indian
EraModern era
RegionSouth Asia
DenominationSunni
JurisprudenceHanafi[2]
CreedMaturidi
MovementBarelvi
Main interest(s)Islamic theology, Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh jurisprudence, Urdu poetry, Tasawwuf, Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Astronomy
TariqaQadri
RelationsNaqi Ali Khan (Father)
Hassan Raza Khan (Brother)
Hamid Raza Khan (Elder Son)
Mustafa Raza Khan Qadri (Younger Son)
Muhammad Ibrahim Raza Khan Qadri Razvi (Grandson)
Akhtar Raza Khan (Great-Grandson)
Subhan Raza Khan (Great-Great-Grandson)
Asjad Raza Khan (Great- Great-Grandson)
Tauqeer Raza Khan (Great- Great-Grandson)
Muslim leader
SuccessorHamid Raza Khan

Ahmed Raza Khan, commonly known as Aala Hazrat, Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, or Ahmed Rida Khan in Arabic, (14 June 1856 CE or 10 Shawwal 1272 AH – 28 October 1921 CE or 25 Safar 1340 AH), was an Islamic scholar, jurist, mufti, philosopher, theologian, ascetic, Sufi, poet, and mujaddid in British India.

Khan wrote on law, religion, philosophy and the sciences, and because he mastered many subjects in both rational and religious sciences, Francis Robinson, one of the leading Western scholars of South Asian Islam, considers him to be a polymath.[3]

He became the leader of the Barelvi movement in South Asia and influenced millions of people, today the Barelvis numbering around 200 million in the region.[4]

Biography[edit]

Family[edit]

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi's father, Naqi Ali Khan, was the son of Raza Ali Khan.[5][6][7] Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi belonged to the Barech tribe of Pushtuns.[6] 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.[5][6]

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.[8] Khan used the appellation "Abdul Mustafa" ("servant of the chosen one") prior to signing his name in correspondence.[9]

Teachers[edit]

According to Masud Ahmad, Khan's teachers were:[10]

  • 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)

Spiritual order[edit]

In the year 1294 A.H. (1877), at the age of 22 years, Ahmed Raza became the Mureed (disciple) of , Shah Aale Rasool Marehrawi. His Murshid bestowed him with Khilafat in the several Sufi Silsilas. Some Islamic scholars received permission from him to work under his guidance.[11][12]

Revival movement[edit]

Imam Ahmed Raza wrote extensively in defense of his views, countered the Wahabism and Deobandi movements, and, by his writing and activity, became the leader of Ahle Sunnat movement.[13]The movement is spread across the globe with followers in Pakistan, India, South Africa[4] and Bangladesh.[14] The movement now has over 200 million followers globally.[4] 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.[15]

The efforts of Khan and his associate scholars to establish a movement to counter the Deobandi and Ahl-i Hadith movements resulted to in the institutionalization of diverse Sufi movements and their allies in various parts of the world.[16]

Death[edit]

Ahmed Raza Khan died on 28 October 1921 (25 Safar 1340 AH) at the age of 65, in his home at Bareilly due to complications related to his diabetes.[17] He is buried in his hometown of Bareilly.

Imam Ahmed Raza Khan wrote several hundred 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.[18][19]

Kanz ul 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 associated with the Hanafi jurisprudence within Sunni Islam,[18] and is a widely read version of translation in the Indian Subcontinent. It has been translated into English, Hindi, Bengali, Dutch, Turkish, Sindhi, Gujarati, Pashto and also recently translated in Gojri language by Mufti Nazir Ahmed Qadri.[19]

Husam ul Haramain[edit]

Husamul Haramain or Husam al Harmain Ala Munhir kufr wal mayn (The Sword of the Haramayn at the throat of unbelief and falsehood) 1906, is a treatise which declared infidels the founders of the Deobandi, Ahl-i Hadith and Ahmadiyya movements on the basis that they did not have the proper veneration of Muhammad and finality of prophethood in their writings.[20][21][22][page needed][23] 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.[24]

Fatawa Razawiyyah[edit]

Fatawa-e-Razvia or the full name Al Ataya fi-Nabaviah Fatwa Razaviah (translates to Verdicts of Imam Ahmed Raza by the blessings of the prophet) is the main fatwa (Islamic verdicts on various issues) book of his movement.[25][26] 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.[27][28]

Hadaiq-e-Bakhshish[edit]

He wrote na'at (devotional poetry in praise of Muhammad) and always discussed him in the present tense.[29] His main book of poetry is Hadaiq-e-Bakhshish.[30] His poems, which deal for the most part with the qualities of Muhammad, often have a simplicity and directness.[31] His Urdu couplets, entitled Mustafa jaane rahmat pe lakhon salaam (Millions of salutations on Mustafa, the Paragon of mercy), are recited in the mosques globally. They contain praise of Muhammad, 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).[32][33]

Al Daulatul Makkiya Bil Madatul Ghaibiya[edit]

Other notable works[edit]

His other works include:[34][19]

  • 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
  • Angoothe Choomne ka Masla

Beliefs[edit]

Khan saw an intellectual and moral decline of Muslims in British India.[35] 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.[36]

Imam Ahmed Raza Khan supported Tawassul, Mawlid, Muhammad's awareness of complete knowledge of the unseen, and other practices which were opposed by Salafis and Deobandis.[29][37][38]

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.[39][40][page needed]
  • Prophet Muhammad is haazir naazir (Haazir-o-Naazir on the deeds of his Ummah) which means that Muhammad views and witnesses actions of his people.[41]

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.[42]

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:[17][page needed][43] [44]

  • Islamic Law is the ultimate law and following it is obligatory for all Muslims;
  • To refrain from Bid'ah is essential;
  • It is impermissible to imitate the Kuffar, to mingle with the misguided [and heretics] and to participate in their festivals.

Fatwas[edit]

Ahmadis[edit]

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian claimed to be the Messiah, Prophet 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.[45][46] Khan declared Mirza Ghulam Ahmad a heretic and apostate and called him and his followers disbelievers (kuffar).[47]

Deobandis[edit]

The theological difference with Deobandi school begun when Maulana 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.[48] This doctrine is called Imkan-i Kizb.[49][48] According to this doctrine, because God is omnipotent, God is capable of lying.[49] Gangohi supported the doctrine that God has the ability to make additional prophets after Muhammad (Imkan-i Nazir) and other prophets equal to Muhammad.[49][48]
  • He opposed the doctrine that Muhammad has knowledge of the unseen (Ilm e Ghaib).[48][49]

When 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, Hussam al Harmain ("The Sword of Two Sanctuaries"), a work containing 34 verdicts from 33 ulama (20 Meccan and 13 Medinese).[50]

Not only did Ahmad Raza Khan obtain confirmatory signatures from other scholars in the subcontinent, he managed to get agreement from a number of prominent ulama in Mecca. That occurred in the first years of the twentieth century—long before the Al-Saud and their Wahhabi allies got control of the Haramayn.[51] The feat was, nevertheless, stunning. The antipathy of the Deobandis toward the Ahl-i Sunnah on the emotional level becomes more comprehensible when Ahmad Riza's fatwa receives a full explication.[52]

This work initiated a reciprocal series of fatwas between Ahle Sunnat (Barelvis) and Deobandis lasting to the present.[50]

Shia[edit]

Ahmed Raza Khan wrote various books against beliefs and faith of Shia Muslims and declared various practices of Shia as kufr.[53] He considered most Shiites of his day apostates because, he believed, they repudiated necessities of religion.[54][55]

Wahabi Movement[edit]

Ahmed Raza Khan declared Wahabis as disbelievers (kuffar) and collected many fatwas of various scholars against the Wahhabi 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 Wahhabi and their beliefs.[56]

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 a form of currency, entitled Kifl-ul-Faqeehil fehim Fe Ahkam-e-Kirtas Drahim.[57]

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.[58]

Imam Ahmed Raza 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.[59] Therefore, he opposed labelling 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 Al Ubaidi Suhrawardy.[60]

The Muslim League mobilized the Muslim masses to campaign for Pakistan,[61] and many of Khan's followers played a significant and active role in the Pakistan Movement at educational and political fronts.[11]

Legacy[edit]

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 Muhammad.[62]

Recognition[edit]

  • 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.[63]
  • 'Ali bin Hassan Maliki, Mufti of Mecca, called Khan the encyclopedia of all religious sciences.[17]
  • Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), a poet, Sufi and philosopher, said: "I have carefully studied the decrees of 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 judgments.[64] In another place he says, "Such a genius and intelligent jurist did not emerge."[65]
  • It is rumored that Prof. Sir Ziauddin Ahmad, who was the head of department of Mathematics at Aligarh University, was once unable to find solutions to some mathematic algorithms, even after he took help from the mathematicians abroad. On the request of his friend who was also the mureed (disciple) of Ahmed Raza, Ziauddin visited Ahmed Raza on special visit to get answers to his difficult questions, and under guidance of Ahmed Raza he finally succeeded in getting solutions.[citation needed]
  • Justice Naeemud'deen, Supreme Court of Pakistan: "Maulana Ahmad Raza's grand personality, a representation of our most esteem ancestors, is history making, and a history uni-central in his self. ... You may estimate his high status from the fact that he spent all his lifetime in expressing the praise of the great and auspicious Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), in defending his veneration, in delivering speeches regarding his unique conduct, and in promoting and spreading the Law of Shariah which was revealed upon him for the entire humanity of all times. His renowned name is 'Muhammad' (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), the Prophet of Almighty Allah. ... The valuable books written by a encyclopedic scholar like Ahmed Raza, in my view, are the lamps of light which will keep enlightened and radiant the hearts and minds of the men of knowledge and insight for a long time."[66]

Societal influence[edit]

Spiritual successors[edit]

Imam Ahmed Raza Khan had two sons 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.[70] He had many disciples and successors, including 30 in the Indian subcontinent and 35 elsewhere.[71] The following scholars are his notable successors:[72]

Educational influence[edit]

  • Al Jamiatul Ashrafia is the main educational institute and learning centre that provides Islam education.
  • Raza Academy publishing house in Mumbai
  • Imam Ahmed Raza Academy Durban, South Africa

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]