Ashraf Ali Thanwi

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Muhammad Ashraf 'Ali
Ashraf Ali Thanwi.jpg
TitleHakīm al-Ummah
Born(1863-08-19)19 August 1863[1]
Died20 July 1943(1943-07-20) (aged 79)[2]
Resting placeThana Bhawan[2]
EraModern era
DenominationSunni islam
Main interest(s)Fiqh, Sufism
Notable idea(s)Reformation, Moderation, and Islamisation of every aspect of life, creation of Pakistan, Two-nation theory
Notable work(s)Jamaalu-l-Qur'aan, Bayaanu-l-Qur'aan, Ahkaamu-l-Qur'aan, I'laa as-Sunan, Islaahi Nisaab, Al-Heelatu-nn-Naajizah, Bahishti Zewar, Tarbiyat-s-Saalik, Kaleed-e-Masnavi, etc
Alma materDarul Uloom Deoband
OccupationIslamic scholar
Senior posting
Disciple ofHaji Imdadullah

Muhammad Ashraf 'Ali Thanawi (August 19, 1863 [05 Rabi' al-Thani 1280 AH]) – July 4, 1943 [17 Rajab 1362 AH]) (Urdu: مولانا اشرف علی تھانوی) was an [[Indian] Islamic scholar of the Deobandi school of Islamic thought.

Early life and career[edit]


He lost his mother at the age of 5 and was raised by his father with special care and attention. His father taught him and his younger brother, Akbar 'Ali, discipline and good character.[2]


After his graduation, Thanawi taught high level books of religious sciences in Faiz-e-Aam Madrasa, Kanpur.[2] Over a short period of time, he acquired a reputable position as a religious scholar of Sufism among other subjects.[3][2][4] 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 usually became 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.[2]

Eventually, Thanwi retired from teaching and devoted himself to reestablishing the spiritual centre (khānqāh) of his shaikh in Thāna Bhāwan.[2]

Fatwa and its refutation[edit]

In 1906, Ahmad Raza Khan issued a fatwa against Thanwi and other Deobandi leaders entitled Husam ul-Haramain (Urdu: Sword of Mecca and Medina‎), decrying them as unbelievers and Satanists. The fatwa was also signed by other scholars including from Hijaz.[5][6][7][8] But after the inquiry, the muftis of makkah issued a book in which they clear that it was a blame that put on them.

The founding scholars of Deoband used to change their names while travelling on trains and other transportation because of threats to their lives due to the fact that their interpretations of Islam had detractors.[9][10]

Political ideology[edit]

Ashraf Ali Thanvi was a strong supporter of the Muslim League.[11] He and his pupils gave their entire support to the demand for the creation of Pakistan.[12] During the 1940s, most Deobandi ulama supported the Congress in contrast to the Barelvi who largely and only supported the Muslim league, although Ashraf Ali Thanvi and some other leading Deobandi scholars including Muhammad Shafi and Shabbir Ahmad Usmani were in favour of the Muslim League.[13][14] Thanvi resigned from Deoband's management committee due to its pro-Congress stance.[15]


He authored 345 books and booklets. Collections of his speeches exceed 300.[16] Some of his publications in English include:

  • The wisdom behind the commands of Islam
  • Perfecting women
  • The principles and codes of law in Hanafi Fiqh
  • Answer to modernism
  • Remedies from the Holy Qurʼaan : an abridged translation of Aʼmaale Qurʼaani
  • Maulana Thanwi's stories of saints : translation, Qisasul akbir
  • Philosophy of Islam
  • The objective distinction between the desirable and the dreadful
  • Deed & retribution : an Islamic approach to the question
  • Islam the whole truth
  • Desire for the Aa-khirah
  • A Remedy for droughts and calamaties

See also[edit]


  1. ^, 'Islamic Years Converted to AD years' on the Conversion Chart on website, Retrieved 25 March 2017
  2. ^ a b c d e f g, Profile of Ashraf Ali Thanwi on website, Published 9 November 2014, Retrieved 25 March 2017
  3. ^ Ali Abbasi, Shahid. (2008, January–March)
  4. ^ 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.)
  5. ^, 'Arabic Fatwa against Deobandis', Sufi Manzil website, Published 3 May 2010, Retrieved 25 March 2017
  6. ^ Ahmad Raza Khan. Hussam-ul-Harmain
  7. ^ Fatawa Hussam-ul-Hermayn by Khan, Ahmad Raza Qadri
  8. ^ As-samare-ul-Hindiya by Khan, Hashmat Ali
  9. ^ Madsen, Stig Toft; Nielsen, Kenneth Bo; Skoda, Uwe (2011-01-01). Trysts with Democracy: Political Practice in South Asia. Anthem Press. ISBN 9780857287731.
  10. ^ Riaz, Ali (2008-01-01). Faithful Education: Madrassahs in South Asia. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813543451.
  11. ^, 'What's wrong with Pakistan?', Dawn newspaper, Published 13 September 2013, Retrieved 25 March 2017
  12. ^ Shafique Ali Khan (1988). The Lahore resolution: arguments for and against : history and criticism. Royal Book Co.
  13. ^ Ingvar Svanberg; David Westerlund (6 December 2012). Islam Outside the Arab World. Routledge. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-136-11322-2.
  14. ^ Rajshree Jetly (27 April 2012). Pakistan in Regional and Global Politics. Taylor & Francis. pp. 156–. ISBN 978-1-136-51696-2.
  15. ^ Francis Robinson (2000). "Islam and Muslim separatism.". In John Hutchinson (ed.). Nationalism: Critical Concepts in Political Science. Anthony D. Smith. Taylor & Francis. pp. 929–930. ISBN 978-0-415-20112-4.
  16. ^ Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, The Islamic Renaissance in South Asia (1707-1867): The Role of Shah Waliallah and His Successors, Adam Publishers & Distributors (2004), p. 251

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]