Strengthening of the Faith

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  • Strengthening of the Faith


    Shah Muhammad Ismail {May Allah have mercy on him} the author of Taqwiyat-ul-.Iman was the solitary son of Shah Abdul-Ghani {May Allah have mercy on him}, the grandson of Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlawi {May Allah have mercy on him}, and the nephew of Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddith {May Allah have mercy on him}, Shah Rafiuddin Muhaddith {May Allah have mercy on him} and Shah Abdul-Qadir Muhaddith {May Allah have mercy on him}.In the vast Indian subcontinent, no one else other than Shah Ismail perhaps enjoys such a high and respectable pedigree in terms of knowledge and grace, teaching and instructing, writing and compiling, lecturing and prompting guidance, reinvigorating and renewing the teachings of religion, reviving Islam and reforming the Ummah. Very few people may have had a privilege of getting such a rich and spectacular heritage. Shah Ismail Shaheed {May Allah have mercy on him} not only lived up to the great reputation and enormity of his legacy, but he practically furthered its splendor manifold times and added luster to it.

    According to an authentic source, Shah Ismail {May Allah have mercy on him} was born on 12th Rabi'ul-Awwal 1193 H (corresponding to 26th April 1779 G). It means that he was almost seven years older than his religious preceptor and mentor, the Amir-ul-Muminin (the head of the believers) Saiyid Ahmad Barailawi {May Allah have mercy on him}. The name of his mother was Bibi Fatimah {May Allah have mercy on her}.[1]



    Education & training:

    Shah Sahib attained his preliminary education from his esteemed father. At the tender age of eight, he had memorized the Noble Qur'an. On 16th of Rajab 1203 H (12th April 1789 G), Shah Abdul Ghani {May Allah have mercy upon him} passed away while Shah Shaheed was only 10 years old. Each of his three paternal uncles (Shah Abdul-Aziz {May Allah have mercy upon him} Shah Rafiuddin {May Allah have mercy on him} and Shah Abdul-Qadir{May Allah have mercy on him} were equally keen to affectionately take charge of upbringing their bereaved nephew, but this responsibility was formally shouldered by Shah Abdul-Qadir {May Allah have mercy on him} who himself had only one daughter. He is the one who taught the text books to Shah Ismail {May Allah have mercy on him.He attained a degree of proficiency in all the prescribed subjects which were then in vogue and which were considered to be the highest standard of education one could possibly secure those days. He secured a degree of completion in the studies of Ahadith from Shah Abdul-Aziz {May Allah have mercy on him} and thus he completed his education while he was about 15 or 16 years old.


    According to Sir Saiyid Ahmad Khan, he was so much over­confident in the very beginning stage of his studies that he would never remember as to where the lesson would really start. Sometimes he would start reading the text which immediately followed his present lesson. Whenever Shah Abdul-Qadir interrupted him such as to remind him of his actual lesson, he would answer that he avoided it since it was too easy for him, and whenever Shah Abdul-Qadir would ask him any question concerning the portion which he had skipped, he would start delivering such an eloquent lecture about it that the people around him would be taken aback by surprise. Sometimes he would start his lesson proceeding the one which he is supposed to read and when Shah Abdul-Qadir brought his attention to it, he would express such doubts that even an accomplished instructor like him would have to pay a special attention in responding to his querries.

    His extraordinary intelligence became renowned far and wide. After he had completed his formal studies, people would put direct querries to him even while he was walking on the road simply to examine him, keeping in mind the fact that so long as he did not have a book in his hand, he would not be able to give satisfactory answers to their querries. But Shah Ismail 'Nould unhesitatingly start lecturing them and provide such a detailed answer to their querries that they would be ultimately put to shame on their boldness.

    Maulana Muhammad Khan Alam Madrasi has written on the authority of Maulana Saiyid Muhammad Ali Rampuri's statement that Shah Shaheed was a scholar of a very deep, profound, and authentic knowledge and had memorized the Noble Qur'an by heart. He had thirty thousand Ahadith on the tip of his tongue.

    Saiyid Sahib's {May Allah have mercy on him} Bai'a (pledge):

    Even though Shah Shaheed's fame in terms of his learning and wisdom had traveled far and wide, but he was a man of a rather carefree disposition, which means that he had not adopted an occupation on a permanent basis, the reason of which could possibly be that the activities which were practiced by his family members, might have been inadequately suited for the reforming purpose according to his viewpoint, while he had no other new activity in his frame of mind. Or it could be that he would have had set his heart on a certain course of action and was only waiting in search of companions and fellows.

    In. 1234 H (1819 G) Amirul-Muminin (the head of the believers) Saiyid Ahmad Barailawy {May Allah have mercy on him} abandoned the company of Nawab Amir Khan, the ruler of Tounk proceeded to Delhi from Rajputana and took residence in Akbar Abadi Mosque. The first to take a pledge of allegiance on his hand was Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Phulti, who was presumably a grandson of Shah Ahlullah, a brother of Shah Waliullah {May Allah have mercy on him}.The second person to take such a pledge on his blessed hand was Maulana Abdul-Hai {May Allah have mercy on him} (the son-in-law of Shah Abdul-Aziz {May Allah have mercy on him}and finally it was Shah Shaheed who took a pledge on his hand. Once he did it, his life underwent a total transformation. He became obsessed with the task of reformation and guidance day and night. On every Tuesday and Friday, he regularly delivered a religious lecture in Shahi Masjid (Royal Mosque). Sir Saiyid says in one of his writings that the people came to the Friday prayers in such a huge number, as if they throng the mosques for the 'Eidprayers in the form of a massive and thundering crowd. Their number was phenomenal and innumerable. The method of his sermonizing was so pleasing that whatever he said, got ingratiated in the hearts of the people and they imbibed it to the core. Even if it involved a snag or a controversial point the same was cleared away during the course of his sermon. Revival of Sunnah and deterring Shirk (polytheism) and Bid'ah (innovations) were the special subjects of his religious lectures. This was the time when the mission of the revival of religion commenced in full swing with all its might. This was the era about which Maulana Abul-Kalam Azad {May Allah have mercy on him}notes the following remarks in his book Tadhkirah:

    "The secrets of (the mission of) Da'wah (i.e. call to Islam) and reformation of Ummah that were buried in the ruins of Old Delhi and the hovels and shanties of Kotla, were now being revived thanks to the involvement of the reigning sovereign, which caused a wave of consternation in the markets of Shahjahanabad and an uproar on the stairs of JamiMasjid by this great and distinguished person. Not only that, the news transcended the boundaries of the Indian subcontinent but had it's repercussions far and wide. The things which the great and renowned personalities of their time would not dare to express even inside the closed rooms, were now being said, heard and practiced in the open without reserve and the blood of martyrdom was indenting its indelible imprints and inscribing its redoubtable saga in the annals of the world history."

    The pilgrimage journey:

    In Shawwal 1236 (July 1821 G), Saiyid Ahmad {May Allah have mercy on him}intended to perform Hajj. Taking into account the possibility of death during a sea-journey, many scholars had pronounced their judgments to the effect that the performance of Hajj is no longer to be considered of an obligatory nature. Some people even went to the extent of saying that according to the commandment of the Qur'anic verse:

    {And not throw yourselves into destruction}

    The purpose of Hajj is nothing but the disobedience of Allah (May Allah forbid!). One of the methods which could be employed to checkmate this evil trend was through one's writings, verbal preachings, and therefore Saiyid Sahib, Shah Ismail{May Allah have mercy on him}, Maulana Abdul-Hai {May Allah have mercy on him}Shah Abdul-Aziz {May Allah have mercy on him} and the righteous scholars did not leave any stone unturned in regard to this obligation of theirs. Another method was to subject the atmosphere of this vast country to the barrage of a positive publicity in regard to the performance of Hajj by taking a practical course of action in order to awaken and revive the public fervor interest and enthusiasm in it. Saiyid Ahmad {May Allah have mercy on him} was a man of determination and courage, who undoubtedly acted upon the second method also, the most surprising part of it being that he directed an open invitation for Hajj to all the Muslims of the country. He made a common declaration to the effect that everybody should be prepared to perform the pilgrimage whether or not he has sufficient funds available with him for the journey. He took it upon himself to shoulder a comprehensive responsibility for everybody's Hajj. He not only preserved the obligatory nature of Hajj in its original form in the minds of people but also practically demonstrated to them that this obligation may be performed at ease, provided one should be determined to perform it as a Divine commandment with the intention of a true and sincere Muslim.


    Therefore, it followed that Saiyid Ahmad proceeded to perform Hajj with a caravan consisting of seven hundred and fifty Muslims. He was also accompanied by Shah Shaheed, his esteemed mother, and his sister. They rented ten ships, assigned an Amir to each ship to look after the affairs of the pilgrims traveling aboard them and commenced their journey from Calcutta. After the completion of their Hajj and having visited all the sacred places, they came back in Sha'ban 1239 H (April 1824 G). During this journey, Shah Ismail {May Allah have mercy on him} was appointed as an Amir over a group of people traveling aboard one of the ships.

    Invitation to Jihad:

    Upon his return from the pilgrimage, Shah Shaheed {May Allah have mercy on him} dedicated himself wholeheartedly for the sole purpose of inviting people to Jihad as per the instructions of his religious preceptor. Sir Saiyid in one of his writings says:

    "According to the instructions of his chief, leader of the virtuous ones and preceptor of the path of guidance, he adopted such a style of speech and sermonizing that it mainly elaborated on the details and explanations concerning Jihad in Allah's course to such an extent that the burnishing effect of his speeches made the inner conscience of Muslims clean and immaculate like a mirror. He became so much involved and dedicated to this cause of righteousness that everybody was involuntarily intrigued with a longing that his life be sacrificed for this esteemed cause of virtuosity and his whole self be exerted for the upliftment of religion of Prophet Muhammad {Peace be upon Him}.


    He spent more or less one year and nine months in the task of his invitations to Jihad. When different groups of Mujahidin were formed at different places, it was decided after due exchange of thoughts and deliberations that Jihad should be commenced starting from the frontier region where the Sikh government of the Punjab had started committing aggressions. On 7th Jumada-al-Ukhra 1241 H (17th January 1826 G), Shah Shaheed {May Allah have mercy on him} commenced his migration on his way to Jihad. Then he was accompanied by only 500 or 600 people. It was decided that once they reached the prescribed centre, they would first run an appraisal on the prevalent circumstances and then the remaining groups would be called in. During this journey, Shah Shaheed was bearing a special responsibility of the administrative matters in general as well as being a flag-bearer of the targets concerning the mission of propagating Islam.

    This group commenced its journey from Rai Baraili and went all the way to Peshawar via Bundhail Khand, Gwallior, Tonk, Ajmer, the desert of Marwar, Umar Kot, Hyderabad (Sind), Shikarpur, Quetta, Qandhar, Ghazni and Kabul. It was about three thousand miles journey comprising searing deserts where there was no trace of water for miles and miles, big and mighty rivers, intractable mountains as well as frosty landscape. It took ten months to cover all this distance.


    Jihad with sword (i.e. the armed struggle) commenced on the 20th of Jumada-al-ula 1242 H (20th December 1826 G). The following is a brief account of his most specific and salient accomplishments:

    1. It is only due to his efforts that the people of the frontier region gave the pledge of allegiance on the hands of Saiyid Sahib concerning Jihad. Most of the deliberations which were conducted with the religious scholars and the elderly in the frontier region were initiated by Shah Shaheed.
    2. He is the one who organized the matters concerning Jihad in the district of Hazara. Even though he had only ten or eleven Mujahidin in the battle of Shankiyari at his command, yet he convincingly vanquished over a fairly huge legion of Sikh army by displaying a feat of extraordinary perseverance and steadfastness. During the course of this battle, Shah Shaheed's robe got perforated with bullets and one of his fingers got bruised by a gun­shot. Later he would point to his finger in a good humor and jocularly remark (by playing a pun on words) "This is my finger of martyrdom." (This very expression, with a twist of the linguistic pun, would also mean, "This is my finger of witnessing that there is no one worthy of being worshipped except Allah and Muhammad{Peace be upon Him})
    3. It is only due to his efforts that the people were prepared to take an oath of allegiance in regard to the observance of Shari'ah in their day-to-day lives and the people of the frontier region enjoyed the blessings and bounties of a government based on the principles of Islamic law.
    4. It was under his leadership that the prominent victories were achieved in the battles of Amb, Ashrah, Mardan and Mayar. After the conquest of Peshawar, Saiyid Sahib nominated none other than him to conduct negotiations with Sultan Muhammad Khan Barak Zai. Due to the recalcitrance of the opportunistic elements in the frontier region, the circumstances therein got extremely deteriorated and threateningly adverse and when Saiyid Sahib took a decision to abandon this centre and proceeded to Kashmir through the intractable and difficult route traversing and winding through the mountainous landscape, he was also accompanied by Shah Shaheed in this journey.
    5. During their journey to Kashmir, a battle at Balakot on 24th Dhil-Qa'dah 1246 H (6th May 1831 G) took place wherein Saiyid Sahib, Shah Shaheed and the majority of Mujdhidin attained their martyrdom.


    A glimpse of his biography:

    As far as we could understand by looking at his biography, Shah Shaheed never liked formalities in the matters of his day-to-day living. Upon being accompanied with Saiyid Ahmad, he became so much gleeful and carefree within his lowest standard of living as if he was seated on the throne of an emperor. When he reached Calcutta while being emote to his pilgrimage, the agent of East India Company, Munshi Aminuddin Ahmad came to visit him. During his time, he was considered to be one of the rich and famous personalities of Calcutta. After meeting Saiyid Ahmad, he enquired of him concerning the whereabouts of Shah Ismail {May Allah have mercy on him}. At that very moment, he was walking towards Saiyid Ahmad after having alighted from the ship. His clothes were all besmeared with dirt. When the people beaconed in his direction, Munshi Aminuddin was under the impression that he would have been some other Ismail. In order to clarify himself further, he reiterated his question saying, "The person I am enquiring about is Shah Ismail {May Allah have mercy on him} who is the nephew of Shah Abdul-Aziz {May Allah have mercy on him}. When he was told that this very person is the one he was looking for, he was so much moved to observe his simplicity in disposition and informality in manners that he involuntarily turned emotional and burst into tears.

    Saiyid Ahmad gave a horse to Shah Ismail so that he may use it as a means of transport, but whenever he went out to run an errand for himself, he made one of his colleagues mount on it while he himself preferred to walk on foot on the plea that so long as we are out on a religious mission, the more we bear the hardships, the more virtues we shall accrue to our credit.

    His faithful attachment to Saiyid Ahmad is a renowned fact. People have spun many a yam in regard to his attachment with him. Regardless whether these stories are true or false, there is no denying the fact that Shah Ismail had a very deep and extraordinary attachment with Saiyid Ahmad. In spite of all this, his faith in him never had any bearing on his truthfulness as he never hesitated to say the right thing. On one occasion, the Amb Fort, which sheltered Saiyid Ahmad's family and the other ladies, was threatened with an imminent danger. Saiyid Ahmad wrote a letter to Shah Ismail instructing him to convey the ladies out to a safe place so that the Mujdhidin do not have to come across any possible difficulty during the course of their battle. Shah Ismail had a notion that the ouster of ladies from there would have an adverse effect on the morals of the people ~round them as the same shall be interpreted by them to be a presentiment of a lurking disaster. Therefore, it was conveyed to Saiyid Ahmad that this action at this juncture would be untimely and hence inadvisable. When Saiyid Ahmad reiterated his instructions, Shah Ismail wrote to him in no uncertain terms that the compliance with his instructions shall only harm Muslims and therefore he alone shall be answerable about it on the Day of Judgment. Upon hearing this Saiyid Ahmad took his orders back.

    Even though he was not that old, but a study of the events covering his last days reveals that his physique had grown extremely weak and emaciated as a result of his being constantly subjected to the rigorous and laborious work which he kept rendering for the sake of religion. On one occasion, he insistently made a small cannon mounted on his shoulders in order to awaken the spirit of determination among the people, but his feet started shaking and staggering about due to the burden. While climbing a mountain, he would start panting profusely just after clambering his way up a few steps, but despite having been in this enfeebled condition, it never happened till the last moment that he would ever lag behind anyone in taking an active part in a battle or in the matter of undertaking a journey. He would never even slacken to cover up two days journey in one day whenever the same was required of him, keeping in view the realization of the desired objectives of the war. On several occasions, in the frontier region, he had to come to grips with the religious, martial and political problems of a crucial nature and Shah Ismail kept resolving them with an effortless ease. A famous chronicle had it that while he was once busy in curry-combing a horse, some people enquired of him concerning some religious matters. He kept curry-combing his horse while responding to the queries of his interlocutors to the fullest.

    Saiyid Jafar Ali Naqwi writes that once he had an opportunity to be led by him in one of his prayers. In a prayer consisting of two Rak'a, he recited the complete 'Surah Bani Israel' in such a mystifying and spiritually enlightening manner that he never ever derived such a blissful and heart-felt pleasure behind any Imam till the moment of writing. He writes that he will never ever forget that particular prayer in his lifetime.

    Is there any who will remember (or receive admonition):

    It was Shah Ismail {May Allah have mercy on him}who exerted every moment of his life in upholding the word of truth and the revival of Islam. He is the one who sacrificed all his worldly pleasures in the service of religion without the least hesitation and demonstrated the sincerity of his mission by the blood of his martyrdom. In case we are courageous enough to gauge the ratings of our Faith in Allah and run an unbiased appraisal on the quality of our religious integrity, where shall we all stand? How unfortunate it is that hundreds of the so-called and self-proclaimed 'saints' occupying their seats and sanctum sanctorums inside the shrines of the erstwhile saints in the name of religion, have been heaping curses, on this great scholar and Mujahid, constantly for a period of hundred and twenty-five years. They did not only eye his love of Islam with suspicion, but doubted his Islam itself. We are listened to these curses and abuses with such a great interest and enthusiasm, as if it was a unique heroic deed and requisite to preserve and safeguard one's religion and piety.


    Shah Abdul-Qadir conducted Shah Shaheed's matrimony with his grand-daughter Bibi Kulthum. He sired only one child whose name was Shah Muhammad Umar, who spent all his life in an absorbed state (as if lost in meditation).

    His works:

    Shah Ismail Shaheed has several works to his credit. Here are some of them to name a few:

    1. A treatise on the principles of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) which has been published.
    2. A treatise on logic which has been referred to, by Sir Saiyid Ahmad Khan.
    3. A book titled "Clarifying the evident truth about the rulings concerning the dead and the shrines." Experts observe that no book, the like of, has ever been written in any language which brings into limelight the reality of Bid'ah (inventing new things in religion). Regrettably, this work could not have been completed. This has been published twice or thrice along with its Urdu translation.
    4. "The Status and Dignity of an Imam." This too is an excellent book. The Persian manuscripts are very rare now, however Urdu versions are available.
    5. "Illuminating the two eyes in regard to the raising of hands." This is the collection of those Ahadith which prove that the raising of hands (as prescribed during a prayer) is an act of Sunnah (supererogatory). This book has been published many times with its Urdu version. Its Arabic edition has recently been published along with the explanatory notes by Jamiat-e-Ahle-Hadith, Pakistan (The Department for the Propagation of Sunnah) in an extremely elegant style.[2]
    6. "The Straight Path." This book has four chapters. Only the first chapter has been written by Shah Shaheed. The contents of it all have originally been written by Saiyid Sahib, whereas the expressions and the style of writing belong to Shah Sahib. Its Urdu version has also been published. Its Persian version was only published once and is now very rarely available.[3]
    7. "Taqwiyat-ul-Iman" (the strengthening of Faith), the details of which follow further ahead.
    8. Yak-Rozi (One dayer), is a short treatise in which Moulvi Fadl Haq Khairabadi's objections on his book Taqwiyat-ul­-Iman have been answered. While Shah Sahib was on his way to the mosque to perform his prayer, he received the letter of Moulvi Fadl Haq. Immediately after offering his prayer, he sat down to write an answer to it and finished it in one stroke. This is why it has been named Yak Rozi.
    9.  Makateeb (The written notes), is one of his very big collections. Some of them became quite well-known in his name. He wrote most of them on the instigation of Saiyid Sahib.
    10.  His verified works which are as follows
      • A Persian Qaseedah (panegyric) in praise of the Prophet{Peace be upon Him}
      • A Persian “Qaseedah”' (panegyric) praising Saiyid Sahib.
      • A Persian Mathnawi (long narrative poem) known as Silk­-e-Noor (a thread of light) on the subject of Tauhid (The Oneness of Allah).
      • An Urdu Mathnawi (long narrative poem) also on the subject of Tauhid.
      • A Persian Mathnawi (long narrative poem) in explanation of a Hadith.

    The history of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman:

    Taqwiyat-ul-Iman was first published in 1242 (1826-27 G) at the time when Shah Saheed, Saiyid Ahmad Barailawi {May Allah have mercy on him} had migrated along with a group of Mujahidin from their beloved native land and an armed struggle (Jihad) was about to take place for the liberation and purification of India. Within a period of last 170 years, we can not say with any degree of certainty as to how many times it has so far been published. However, we presume by employing a rough guess that the same must have been published at least four or five million copies! Trillions of people have been enlightened by reading it. This is such a dignity which perhaps no other book of Urdu language other than Taqwiyat-ul-Iman has the honor of achieving so far. A blizzard of misgivings and a string of diatribe which was unleashed against this book has been seldom witnessed by any other book. If we look at the history of

    Taqwiyat-ul-Iman today, a strange spectacle materialises in our imagination, as if it is an ocean being rocked by the fury of a hurricane, it's surface being constantly lashed by the tumult, anguish, friction and tempestuousness of its broken waves, thereby giving it a great resemblance with the Day of Judgment. Dejection is writ large on the faces of the captains of all the colossal and Herculean ships and they are all anchored firmly sticking on to the sea-shore. However, there is only one courageous navigator who, despite the fragility of his ship, is still keeping his ship continuously asail. He is a person of such an unflinching Faith and solidity that all the ravages and depredations fail to produce a single favoring grimace of fidgeting on his eyebrow. All those atrocities and redouble furies of the hurricane who had forced all the sea stalwarts and the old salts to dock their ships by the sea-shore the equally forbidding and threatening in intimidating this very daunting navigator, but he, for the sake of his sense of duty and compliance, braves and defies them. This navigator kept advancing further ahead thwarting and frustrating all the forces who are at work in his opposition and thus becomes entitled to such a position of honor which only fall to the lot of the ones exhibiting forbearance and patience.

    The salient features of this book:

    The subject matter of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman is Tauhid (the Oneness of Allah), which is the foundation and the basis of religion. Innumerable books and treatises have so far been written on this topic, but the style of Shah Shaheed and his technique of the subject treatment is the most outstanding and unique one and is purely reformatory. He made only Qur'an and Sunnah the orbit of his discussion just like the righteous scholars. He proffers and refers to the Qur'anic verses and Ahadith and interprets them in a very simple and comprehensible style and brings to light the  true status of all the unlawful customs and rituals, which are commonly practiced in the society and are detrimental to the faith of Tauhid (Islamic Monotheism) in a very pleasant and impressive style.

    He gathered under different topics all the horrible blunders of Faith and practice which are contrary to teaching of Islamic Monotheism, for instance, committing an act of Shirk (associating partners to Allah) in terms of knowledge, regulating the affairs of the universe, habits and practices and Shirk in worshipping. Hence Taqwiyat-ul-Iman has become an authentic and unique book on the subject of Tauhid. In addition to the above, it also attempts to highlight the following:

    1. This book is an extremely surprising specimen, giving us an insight into the educational, practical and cultural patterns which were in vogue during the times of Shah Shaheed. If someone intends to have a background information as to what were the dogmatic, practiced and moral ailments which the Muslims were suffering from in this vast country before one hundred and thirty years, this book shall prove to be an excellent source of information for him.
    2. Shah Shaheed did not make himself contented with the task of merely elucidating the intricacies of the theoretical precepts of Tauhid but he rather assumed such a style of writing which makes reader mentally conjure up a picture of that society and its surrounding milieu in which that book had been written. This potentially enhances the efficacy and effectiveness of Da'wah (Call to Islam).
    3. Even though this book covers an extremely important subject, but Shah Shaheed adopted such a method of reasoning and deducing facts that both a slightly educated as well as an extremely educated person, according to their own intellectual standards of perception, may and have been benefiting from the said book.
    4. Even though this book was written during a period when the Urdu prose-writing was developing through its preliminary stages, but Shah Sahib's prose is so simple, breezy, fresh and pleasing that, except a few words and idioms, it is not simple even today to write such a fascinating book. This is an undemiable fact that even though the Urdu language has progressed through the additional phases of its development, it will always consider Taqwiyat-ul-Iman to be an invaluable treasure in terms of stylistics.


    The opposite attitudes of respect and neglect:

    It is an extremely amazing phenomenon that even though Taqwiyat-ul-Iman, is replete with a host of advantages, it has been subjected to an ambivalent attitude on the part of its devotees, as this book, on one hand was well taken care of, while on the other hand, it was thrown into neglect too at the same time. People paid such a tremendous attention to its publication and distribution that no other book in Urdu language could rival it. It has been the practice of many people and organizations that they used to publish thousands of its copies annually and distributed it either gratis or against a very nominal charge, while on the other hand, it was neglected to such an extent that no castigation or correction was ever effected in it. No one even cared about getting it serialized under different chapters or producing it in a more polished and presentable shape keeping in view the ever changing tastes and proclivities of the readers. It seems as if the devotees of this book have merely given it a sanctified status, limiting their association and attachment with this book to the extent of preserving it and handing it over in its original and unabridged form to the oncoming generations. According to my knowledge, there have been only two attempts so far in regard to the correction of the text and entering footnotes to it on two different occasions, but they two were not accomplished in a full-fledged manner.

    Essential tasks:


    There have been many essential tasks which may not be hidden from the eyes of the people who have a refined taste in compiling and publishing. A study of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman at once reveals that Shah Shaheed, just similar to his other works, also wrote it at once and in a single effort. Since he had devoted his life to the great cause of the Islamic revival whole-heartedly to the extent that he had hardly any time left for other activities, he did not have an opportunity to review his manuscript of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman either. The essential task concerning this book which Shah Shaheed could not undertake to accomplish by himself, his devotees were supposed to do the needful by themselves. For instance, they could have effected the following changes:

    1. They could have got the book properly synchronized and serialized under different titles and sub-titles to render it easier for the readers as well as to make it more fruitful and informative for them.
    2. Shah Sahib, according to his requirement, had only mentioned the texts of Ahadith. Now it was necessary to give an account of the sources of those Ahadith (in terms of their ratings) in the footnotes below, and the references to the printed books should have been stated therein.
    3. Whatever unlawful activities and customs Shah Sahib observed around him, he briefly mentioned about them in his book. Those customs and activities had gradually phased out with the passage of time. It was necessary that their characteristic features also be stated briefly so that a reader may I get a clear-cut idea that practicing those things are unlawful indeed. This would help them avoid the other similar activities I which assume different forms and shapes during different periods.
    4. During the times of Shah Shaheed, the mode of punctuation in writing was different especially the full stops and comas etc. were not at all observed. Later, the writing system gradually kept developing and advancing. It was necessary that the old style of writing be replaced by the new one by introducing full stops and comas etc. in the text so that the same becomes easily understandable to the readers, as this step would have enhanced the utility of this book considerably.
    5. As it has earlier been mentioned, that even today Taqwiyat­-ul-1man is a rare book in terms of it's simplicity, comprehensibility, impeccability of text and fascination. Despite all the above facts, some of its words and phrases were not very clearly comprehensible to the readers and therefore required an explanation.

    It is not very heartening to note that none of the above could have been accomplished. Some people did pay attention to it, but could not accomplish these tasks according to what was actually required of them. Therefore, a systematic and organized version of Taqwiyat-ul-1man is published for the realization and fulfillment of the said purposes.

    The present age:

    Today, the scope of this book's potential fruitfulness has widened immensely. Instead of being branded as a flag-bearer of Wahabism in the common parlance, he is today recognized as a proponent of the great Islamic revival, who raised a banner of Jihad (an armed struggle for holy purpose) on the vast land of the Indian subcontinent to lay the foundation of a just and rightful Islamic government. It was a time when all the traces of a thousand years of Muslim domination of the subcontinent were on the wane. He took up the cudgels for purification and independence in an atmosphere which was charged with desolation and dejection. He demonstrated to the Muslims the path of determination, courage and perseverance while the glory of their conquest and dominance was almost breathing its last.

    Today, a description of the saga, highlighting his gallant and heroic deeds in his capacity as a Mujahid (the one who struggles in the path of Allah) is considered to be as an extremely effective means of imparting a correct religious education, and therefore, it is a tremendous service to render Taqwiyat-ul-1man more attractive and worth reading for a Joe-public. This is also an undeniable reality that whatever pronouncements Shah Shaheed had made a hundred and thirty years ago, could not be thoroughly understood and appreciated in terms of its importance and qualitative superiority in all the previous ages as much as it could be realized and appreciated during the present time of ours.

    The orderly arrangement of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman:

    Prior to arranging Taqwiyat-ul-1man in an orderly shape, Shah Shaheed had compiled Ahadith in the confirmation of Tauhid (Oneness of Allah) and the rejection of Shirk (associating partners to Allah) and Bid 'at (inventing new things in religion), a collection which he named Radd-ul-Ashrak (in rejection of polytheism). The late Nawab Siddique Hasan Khan then worked on the references and sources of these Ahadith and got this collection published under the title of Al-Idrak li-takhreej Ahadith Radd-ul-Ashrak" (Perception to infer Ahadith in the negation of polytheism). Shah Shaheed only rendered the first portion of this collection into Urdu and this very portion is known as Taqwiyat-ul-1man. The remainder of the portion was published by the Late Moulvi Sultan Muhammad in Urdu under the title of Tadhkir-ul-1khwan (Reminding to the brothers).

    We can not say with any degree of certitude as to in which period Taqwiyat-ul-Iman has actually been written. At one place, this book comprises a description of the sanctified Ka 'bah' s courtyard in such an effective manner that it gives an impression that Shah Shaheed was himself an eye-witness to this spectacle and hence we can deduce that this book must have been written after his return from Hajj. Spurred on by the instigation of some of his friends, Mulla Sahib Baghdadi voiced some of his objections on Taqwiyat-ul-Iman. Shah Shaheed wrote a letter from Kanpur in response to his objections and the year which is inscribed on this letter is l240H, which further subscribes to the notion that the said book must have been written in the beginning of l240H after his return from Hajj. During that period, Shah Shaheed had dedicated himself to the task of propagating Islam and organizing for Jihad with all his heart and soul and he departed for the cause of Jihad on the 7th of Jumada-al-Ukhra 124lH. Upon having read the letter of Shah Shaheed, Mulla Sahib Baghdadi confessed his mistake. Among the scholars of Delhi, the one who was renowned to be the most prominently active in his opposition, was Maulana Fadl Haq Khairabadi, about whom it has been generally acknowledged now that despite having been a dignified scholar and possessing an immense amount of knowledge, his dogmatic precepts and beliefs were no different than that of a Joe-public. He triggered the controversy of the possibility of existence and non-existence of the Prophet's {Peace be upon Him} counterpart and did not take into account the difference between Allah's Will and His Capability to bring something into existence. Shah Shaheed, through his treatise known as Yak-Rozi (One-dayer), had proved the baselessness of all these objections. We cannot elaborate on these dimensions here due to the lack of space.


    Different versions of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman:


    The first and foremost task in regard to getting the book re­arranged and making it more polished was to collect such versions which are more authentic and have more room for dependability. The versions which were readily available for reference are as follows:

    A hand-written version dated 7th of Dhil-Qa'dah l252H (13th February l837G) comprising a total of 114 pages, each page consisting of 14 lines, and each line containing 16 words. This is the oldest manuscript available in the humble view of the writer. Some of its pages are rather moth-eaten. The first eight pages are not available.

    1. A hand-written version comprising 237 pages, each page consisting of 8 lines, each line comprising 14 words, excellent handwriting and a fine paper. Date of writing has not been mentioned on it.
    2. A printed version of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman published by Darul­-Uloom Printing press, Delhi in the year 1847 G, containing altogether 92 pages. It has not been confirmed as to what edition it exactly was, as no other copy of its former printed version is available to us.
    3. A copy of its type-written version (cursive style). This version was corrected by Moulana Muhammad Hasan under the auspices of Moulvi Abdul-Latif and Moulvi Kamil under the supervision of Munshi Ghulam Maula and Munshi Wajid Sahib and was printed in Muhsini Printing Press, Calcutta. The printing was completed in 1854 G. A special attention was paid to the correction of the text in the said version. A comparison of the texts reveals that the reviser has effected a few changes in it. In addition to this one, we also had an opportunity to refer to several other editions as well. An edition which was published by Jamiyat-ud-Da'wath      Wat-Tabligh (Association for the propagation of Islam) and compiled by Maulana Muhiuddin Ahmad Qusuri is especially worth-mentioning.

    The principles of getting it organized:

    We have had some detailed discussions with some dignified and accomplished scholars in regard to determining the regulations and limits of getting this book re-organized and render it more refined and polished. All those scholars were bona fide ones and were really worth giving their views about it. Some observed that all the archaic words and obsolete idiomatic phrases should be changed accordingly and some complexities in the syntax should be altered necessarily at least to such an extent that it should be easily comprehensible to the ones who are only accustomed to studying the books written in the present-day­ prose style. These kinds of partial changes had been effected earlier also, but pursuant to giving this matter a profound thought, it seemed suitable that no part of it be modified and the text should be printed in its original form as it was, after purging it from imperfections through a laborious research. However, the style of punctuation which was prevalent during the times of Shah Shaheed was avoided and the present style of punctuation was adopted. For instance:

    1. During Shah Shaheed's times, some of the words were written in a spliced form. But in the recent version, these words have been printed separately according to the present day practice.
    2. Some verbal forms denoting tenses, which had different grammatical shapes during the times of Shah Shaheed, have been changed according to the present day usage in the new version.
    3. The whole book has been covered with the punctuation marks so that the sentences and phrases become clearly distinguishable. The words like 'and' etc. which were then being used as a comma or a dash, have also been deleted in the new edition. According to our view, none of the above may be considered a change in the main text as this is only a difference in the mode of punctuation.
    4. The words and phrases that required an interpretation have been explained either in the footnotes below, or a word or two have been added in the main text within parenthesis (brackets).
    5. Those Ahadith which were partially referred to in the main text, have been completed in the footnotes.
    6. Shah Shaheed, while referring to the translation of some of the Qur'anic verses, only focused on its implied meanings and the message he intended to convey through it. In regard to the literal translation of such verses, the translation of Shah Abdul-Qadir Muhaddith {May Allah have mercy on him}has been presented in the book.

    The last word:

    Within the limits of one resources and capabilities, we have tried our utmost to make the reading of this book more and more easy, attractive and enjoyable. What ever amount of success we have achieved in this regard so far, we only think of it as a miracle of the ever present mercy and blessing of Allah the Exalted. In case this meager endeavor of ours does happen to contain some flaws, we consider it to be a shortcoming of our mind and perception and hence, owe our apologies to our dear readers.

    We, however, should hasten to add that the only purpose we had in our minds was to broaden the scope of the profitability of this important religious accomplishment of Shah Shaheed to its maximum length so that the Muslims may become Muslims in the true sense of the word.

    And last but not least, our ultimate supplication is that the praise is to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds, and our salutations and greetings to the Lord of all the Messengers.

    Ghulam Rasool Mehr



    [1] ] Mir Shahamat Ali, in the preface of his English translation of 'Taqwiyat­ ul-Iman, has mentioned his date of birth as 28th of Shawwall195 H. And has stated his mother's name as Fadeelat-un-Nisa (daughter of Moulvi Alauddin Phulti). His maternal ancestry undoubtedly belonged to Phulat and his sister Bibi Ruqaiya's first marriage to his maternal cousin Moulvi Kamaluddin did take place in Phulat itself, but the authentic statement regarding his date of birth and the name of his mother is the one which is recorded in the 'text. We do not know about the source of his reference. He has mentioned several other things in his biography which are incorrect.


    [2] 'Al-Maktabah As-Salafiyah ' has also published its translated version.

    [3] This has now Alhamdulillah been published by Al-Maktabah As-Salafiyah

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