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Indian Scholarship of the Past Two Centuries

By Muzzammil Husayn

Shah Wali Allah al-Dehlawi (d. 1762) revived the spirit of Islamic scholarship in India. In light of this revival below follows a comprehensive list of the Indian scholars over the last two centuries whose scholarship and authorship is recognised throughout the world e.g. in Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.

  1. Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dehlawi (d. 1823), for numerous works, including Bustan al-Muhaddithinand Tuhfat Ithna ‘Ashariyya (both translated into Arabic)
  2. Abid al-Sindhi (d. 1841) for numerous works on fiqh
  3. ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi (d. 1887), for numerous works on the science of hadith
  4. Nawab Siddiq Hasan al-Qinnawaji (d. 1890) for numerous works and for championing the Ahl al-Hadith cause
  5. Rahmatullah Kayranawi (d. 1891) for his response to Christian missionaries in an Arabic work called Izhar al-Haqq
  6. Muhammad ibn Ali al-Nimawi (d. 1904) for his work on hadith proofs for Hanafi fiqh of Salah called Athar al-Sunan
  7. Shams al-Haqq Azim Abadi (d. 1911) for his commentary on Sunan Abu Dawud called ‘Awn al-Ma‘bud, and other works
  8. Ahmad Rida Khan al-Barelwi (d. 1921) for numerous works, including al-Dawlat al-Makkiyya, and for championing the “Ahl-i-Sunnat” movement
  9. Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri (d. 1928) for his commentary on Sunan Abu Dawud called Badhl al-Majhud
  10. Anwar Shah Kashmiri (d. 1933) for numerous works including Fayd al-Bari (a commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari), al-‘Arf al-Shadhi (a commentary on Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi), Nayl al-Firqadayn (on the issue of raf‘ al-yadayn) and al-Tasrih bi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih
  11. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri (d. 1935) for his commentary on Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi called al-Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi
  12. Idris al-Kandehlewi (d. 1944) for his footnotes on Mishkat al-Masabih called al-Ta‘liq al-Sabih
  13. Shabbir Ahmad al-Uthmani (d. 1949) for his commentary on Sahih Muslim called Fath al-Mulhim which was completed by Mufti Taqi Uthmani (b. 1943)
  14. Sulayman Nadwi (d. 1953) for works on history
  15. Yusuf al-Kandehlewi (d. 1965) for his commentary on Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar called Amani al-Ahbar and his popular work on the lives of the Sahaba called Hayat al-Sahabah
  16. Zafar Ahmad al-Uthmani (d. 1974) for his work on Hanafi fiqh and hadith proofs for Hanafi fiqh in I‘la al-Sunanal-Qawa‘id fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith and Abu Hanifa wa Ashabuhu l-Muhaddithun which are written “in the light of what he acquired from” (‘ala daw’i ma afadahu) his teacher and uncle Ashraf Ali al-Thanawi (d. 1943) who is cited frequently in the works
  17. Habib Ahmad al-Kiranawi (d. ?) for his work on the principles of Hanafi fiqh called al-Qawa‘id fi ‘Ulum al-Fiqh
  18. Muhammad Yusuf Binnori (d. 1977) for his commentary on Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi called Ma‘arif al-Sunan
  19. Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandehlewi (d. 1982) for his commentary on the Muwatta of Imam Malik calledAwjaz al-Masalik which according to Abu l-Hasan Ali al-Nadwi is an encyclopaedic work on the science of hadith that connects the Arab world to the world of Indian scholarship, as al-Kandehlewi often refers to the comments of Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi (d. 1905) whose commentaries on Sahih al-Bukhari and Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi were collected by the latter’s student and the former’s father Yahya al-Kandehlewi as al-Lami‘ al-Dirari and al-Kawkab al-Durri respectively
  20. Ihsan Ilahi Zahir (d. 1987) who wrote many works, mostly of a polemical nature
  21. Badr al-Din al-Sindi (d. 1996) who wrote many works in favour of the Salafi movement
  22. Habib al-Rahman al-A‘zami (d. 1997) for his edition and verification of major hadith compilations including the Musannaf of ‘Abd al-Razzaq in 11 volumes, and his refutation of al-Albani in al-Albani: Shudhudhuhu wa Akhta’uhu
  23. Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi (d. 1999) for various works including Rijal al-Fikr wa l-Da‘wa and for popularising Indian scholarship throughout the world
  24. ‘Abd al-Rashid al-Nu‘mani (d. 1999) for his work on Abu Hanifa’s position in hadith called Abu Hanifa wa Makanatuhu fi l-Hadith
  25. Safi al-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri (d. 2006) for his well-known biography of the Prophet called al-Rahiq al-Makhtum

As it stands, half of the major scholars from India over the last two centuries, during which time Shah Wali Allah al-Dehlawi’s legacy revived the spirit of Islamic scholarship, were of a Deobandi background.

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