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Shaykh Ahmad Ali Diwan Lajpuri


By Shaykh Uwais Namazi Sheikh Ahmad Al Diwn Ljpr (1919-2011) This obituary was inspired by Dr. Akram Nadws speech at Masjid alFalah (Leicester) on Saturday 12 March 2011, a day after the Sheikhs funeral. His Urdu speech can be downloaded from here: http://bit.ly/k6S1am [I relate to] Shaykh Amed Al al-Ljpr as-Srt Abd ar-Ramn al-Amroh Fal ar-Ramn ibn Ahl Allh a-iddq Abd al-Aziz ibn Amed ibn Abd ar-Rahm ad-Dehlav (a.k.a Shh Abd al-Azz) from his father: Shh Wal Allh Ab hir al-Kurd Muammad Ibrhm al-Krn af ad-Dn Amad al-Qushsh Amad ashShinnw Shams ad-Dn Muammad ar-Raml Zakariyy al-Anr Ibn ajar al-Asqaln al-Buhrn Ab Isq Ibrhm at-Tannkh Ab al- Abbs Amad Ibn Ab lib al-ajjr Ab Abd Allah alusayn ibn al-Mubrak az-Zabd Ab al-Waqt Abd al-Awwal ibn Is al-Haraw as-Sijz Ab al-asan Abd ar-Ramn ibn Muammad ibn al-Muaffar ad-Dwd al-Bshanj Amad ibn amyah as-Sarakhs Muammad ibn Ysuf ibn Maar al-Firabr Ab Abdullh Muammad ibn Isml al-Bukhr Isml ibn Ab Uways Mlik ibn Anas Hishm ibn Urwah his father: Urwat ibn az-Zubayr Abdullh ibn Amr ibn al-: I heard the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, say: Allah will not extract knowledge from His slaves but will expel knowledge by uplifting Scholars [from this world] until there will be none left, in which case people will take the ignorant as their leaders. People will consult these ignorant leaders and they will advise without proper knowledge. They are misguided and misguide others. - This is how the shortest and most elevated chain of our times reads. It is a tremendous endorsement that Shaykh Amad Al Ljprs name has now crystallized in the chain of transmitters linking us back to the Prophet, may Allahs peace and blessing be upon him. Muslims should take heed and realise the blessing surrounding the Prophetic pronouncements. adth students relating transmissions with chains will now invoke Mowlns name and no doubt pray for his mercy. Indeed there are many proficient adth transmitters present today, however elevation or uluw, which is to pursue the highest chain with the least number of transmitters, has been much sought after by scholars and students alike. For, it means closeness to Allah and His Prophet amongst many things and this alone is one blessing enough. Imam Amad promulgated the pursuit of an elevated chain is a tradition of those bygone while Imam Al ibn al-Madn announced that settling for less is a sign of misfortune (al-Nuzl Shum). There is no shortage of examples from the Companion generation onwards of people travelling to hear reports from the mouths of the earliest or initial narrators. Shaykh Amad Al was amongst the last, if not the last, surviving student to have studied under Mowln Abd ar-Ramn Amroh. He was in his final year of lim class at Dabhel, an institution founded by the Deobandi prodigy Mowln Anwar Shh Kashmr, when its resident Shaykh al-adth Mowln Shabbr Amad Uthmn took sabbatical leave. The 30s and 40s were decades troubled with politics in the Subcontinent that proved decisive, it led to the notorious partition, and Mowln Uthmn was in the thick of much of it. Unlike Deobands Shaykh al-adth Mowln usayn Amad Madani, Mowln Uthmn did not support the Congress cause. Instead, his intuition led him to place faith in the call for a separate Muslim state which later became known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. When I first went to recite adth to Shaykh Amad Al in 2005 with Imam Muaf Umar (California), he shared his feelings about the political disagreement between the two personages. It was his sincere belief that both had the interests of fellow Muslims at heart and that he was not in a position to judge or fault either. This is an important principle which tends to find lesser acknowledgement today than ever before, especially in a culture where people are expected to hold a partisan opinion. Where posterity is not able to appreciate the context in which dissent is shaped, it should refrain from taking sides. In fact, posterity is advised to exercise caution when confronted with contentions of past contemporaries. For, ill-will and animosity is not

uncommon and a lack of care can destroy the past, jeopardise the present and divide the future. In any case, Mowln Shabbr Amad Uthmns sabbatical left the institution in search of an appropriate substitute to take on the leading position of Shaykh al-adth. The institution, unable to find a suitor, requested the then frail Mowln Abd ar-Ramn Amroh who was escorted from his hometown well over a thousand kilometres away. (Amroha is located in North India, the state of Uttar Pradesh) This is significant. Mowln Amroh had many credentials attached to his name. He was the last student to have studied Sunan al-Tirmidh from Mowln Qsim Nnotw and had accrued ijazh from Muft Rashd Amad Gangoh. He was also affiliated with Deobands spiritual leader, j Imdd Allh, who licensed him in the Chishti order. This meant that there was only one link between Shaykh Amad Al and the founding fathers of Deoband. Some thirty years ago, Qr ayyib, the former principle of Deoband visited Pakistan and during his address to the Ulam there, prided over the particular link of Mowln Abd al-Ramn Amroh. For, it linked him to his grandfather, Mowln Qsim, via one link only. Of late there was none who could claim such an honour 1, not even in the Deoband itself, and just when one feels that it stops here it does not. Mowln Amrohi is also recorded to have studied with Shaykh usayn ibn Musin al-Yamn, a Yemeni scholar who set foot in India five years after the Mutiny of 1857 and is responsible for bringing certain strands of thought to the Indian landscape that were otherwise not readily accessible. Shaykh usayns formal studies were under various members of the mighty al-Ahdal family but he had also been blessed with the companionship of both the peerless al-Qa al- Shawkn and the unrivalled salaf-oriented adth scholar, Shaykh Muammad ibn Nir al- azim. All conferred their licenses and showed much love and affection. Al-Shawkn would say to him, Your father is the student of my father, you are my son and student. His trip to India came shortly after he faced persecution at the hands of one of al-udaydahs governors, a Turk by the name of Ahmed Pasha (al-udaydah was the Shaykhs birthplace). This governor wanted to implement an unspecified tax upon pearl merchants, for which he invited scholars to approve his policy. Shaykh usayn strongly refused. He passionately defended the public, reasoning that there was no basis for it in the Qurn, adth or fiqh texts. This resulted in death/torture threats but he remained steadfast and handed in his resignation. Consequently, he was fettered out into the scorching sun without food or water. His features had changed and everyone who saw his situation condemned the governor. He was released shortly thereafter. India was undergoing its fair share of political turmoil at the time. Shaykh usayn made a total of three trips to India, Bhopal in particular. It was his last trip, however, in which he decided to settle in India for good which proved most profitable. Bhopal, thanks to the exceptional Shh Jehn Begum and her second husband, the Amr Ahl al-adth F al-Hind2, Nawb iddq asan Khn al- Qannowj, became the capital of adth studies and Shaykh usayn was its centre of attraction.3 Thousands of scholars flocked to study at his feet, Mowln Amroh included, as he was by far one of the most celebrated adth scholars of that period. Most important of all, however, was Mowln Amrohs affiliation and later license from Mowln Fal arRamn Ganj Murdbd, a magnificent personage not only well-versed in scripture but also the greatest Sufi authority of his time. It should suffice in noting the famous historian and prodigy, akm Abd al-ayy alasan, who was also one of his disciples. He comments that his karmt had reached the point of certainty to all, second only to those known of Shaykh Abd al- Qdir al-Jln. Notables from all walks of life flocked to him, including those now considered from various Sunni denominations: Mowln Thnv, Amad R Khn and Nawb iddq asan Khn4 all had sought his companionship. Amongst many things, Mowln Fal ar-Ramn is known for his attachment to the a al-Bukhr. He would have at least two readings of it daily at his khnqh, which mesmerised all that were present. Mowln Fal ar-Ramn was amongst the last students of Shh Abd al-Azz, the eldest son of Shh Wal Allh and Mowln Amroh is considered his last student. This is what made Shaykh Amads chain so strong. Its the most elevated link to Indias polymath and adth revivalist, Shh Wal Allh. The majority of senior Deobandi scholars today are students of Mowln usayn Amad Madan. Mowln Madans chain goes via his teacher Mowln Mamd al-asan, Shaykh al-Hind. It will read along the following lines: 1. X 2. Mowln Madan

3. Mamd al-asan/Qsim Nnotw/Rashd Gangoh 4. Abd al-Ghan ibn Ab Sad 5. Shh Muammad Isq 6. Shh Abd al-Azz 7. Shh Wal Allh Britains senior Ulam are students of Shaykh Zakariyy Kandhelv, former Shaykh al-adth of the Mazhir al-Ulm (Saharanpur) seminary and author of the famous Fail al-Aml. His chain is as follows: 1. Zakariyy al-Kandhelv 2. Khall Amad Sahranpr 3. Abd al-Ghan ibn Ab Sad/Abd al-Qayym Badhnv 4. Shh Muammad Isq 5. Shh Abd al-Azz 6. Shh Wal Allh By contrast and bearing in mind that Moulan Madan died in 1957 and Shaykh Zakariyy in 1982, Shaykh Amad Als is as follows: 1. ShaykhAmad(d.2012) 2. Abdar-RamnAmroh 3. Fal ar-Ramn Ganj Murdbd 4. Shh Abd al-Azz 5. ShhWalAllh(d.1762) That is an impressive 250 years between three links. Shaykh Amad was born in 1919, almost a century ago, in the wake of a series of political events that would change the course of history: the Great War and the Second World War, the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate, the partition of India Pakistan etc. His hometown Ljpr is renowned for its piety and sayyids. Shah Sufi Sulaymn, author of bgh-e-rif, Mufti Abd ar-Ram Ljpr, author of the voluminous fatw-eRamiyyah, Mufti Marghb ar-Ramn Ljpr and Mowln Isml Wd, an old sage currently residing in Blackburn, are some of the proud sons of this village. He received his initial education at home and later pursued formal studies at the Jmiah Talm ad- Dn seminary at Dabhel. After graduation, he taught there for some years. In 1950 he was invited to serve as Imam in South Africa. Travelling then was accomplished via sea and took months. By the time he had reached South Africa, the mosque committee that invited him had changed and the vacancy filled. The Shaykh then decided to retreat to his teaching post in Dabhel when others suggested neighbouring Mozambique was desperately in need of an Imam. Mozambique too, by the time he had reached there, had found someone. However, his arrival in Mozambique had coincided with an individual from Malawi who was in search of an Imam. From 1950 onwards, for 12-14 years, Shaykh Amad Al served as full-time Imam and teacher at the town of Dedza. Thereafter he retired with a shop in Namadzi, a trading post which connected the North and Central Malawi with the South, in particular to the countrys former capital Zomba. His shop was strategically situated across the towns mosque. Namadzi, located on a famous travelers route, functioned as a pit-stop where travelers would stop to pray, snack and catch up with news. When the Malawi dictatorship, like many of its African counterparts, took up the Africanisation policy which put non-natives at a disadvantage, the Shaykh, along with the rest of the commonwealth Africans of Asian heritage, migrated to England, Leicester to be precise, which is home, till date, to the largest population of African Asian migrants. He arrived here in 1970. Throughout my visits I realised he was essentially a man of that past era. He embodied all the charm and

warmth of our immediate predecessors, which is fast becoming extinct with the departure of this first generation of migrants. Their values are alien to the third/fourth generation of British Muslims today. Following the sunnah was beyond question, he adhered to the configurations of the Deobandi school passionately. In it, he found his comfort and conviction. On a Ramadhan visit to an Arab country, he related how Arab students had decided to read 8-12 rakats of the tarwh prayer. The Shaykh, with all humility and indifference, told them that while they were free to pray however many they wished, he would pray the full twenty. He was very respectful and mindful in this which brought about a great sense of admiration, even to those who did not hold similar positions. Last year, thanks to Shaykh Haytham al-addd and Dr. Akram Nadws efforts, Britain witnessed its first ever public reading of the a al-bukhr. Over a period of 5 weekend sittings and in the presence of Britains leading adth experts, students both male and female recited the entire a al-bukhr to the Shaykh. It was a historic event and the elders of Masjid al-Fal should be commended for allowing the programme to materialise. It was not merely the recitation itself or the quick adth comments in between recitation that made it a memorable experience, the post session interaction and the Masjid sleepovers generated fruitful exchanges and dialogue which would not have been possible otherwise. They will no doubt form cherished memories for those that were present. The Bukhr recitation instigated further interest. Shaykh Amad was invited to London on behalf of Buruj Press where Yay ibn Yay al-Layths recension of the muwa was read over a weekend. I had planned to visit but poverty, and nothing else, had prevented me from attending. Students shortly thereafter were contemplating on a recitation of a muslim but Allah had other plans. His recognition and high isnd attracted adth students from all across the globe. Students, from the Middle East in particular, flocked to sit at his feet in Leicester. The grandson of the Saudi luminary Shaykh Nir alAql, Anas al-Aql related how his friends and students at Makkah were amazed when he told them he was travelling to England to recite adth and obtain a very special isnd. ENGLAND?! they exclaimed with shock and horror. There is much political discourse surrounding the failure of multiculturalism but seldom will it highlight the rich exchanges that are surfacing within Muslims themselves as a result of figures like these.5 The prospect of various Muslim orientations and students travelling from foreign lands would have not been possible otherwise.6 In May 2010, the Kuwaiti Islamic cultural bureau had organised a recital of a al-bukhr in front of six leading authorities, Shaykh Amad Al was amongst them. During his annual visits to the aramayn, he would be surrounded by an army of students eager to recite adth to him and connect with his chain. My last visit to the Shaykh was in mid January when news had reached me of his critical health, a fever that was potentially to cost him his life. Many rushed to see him the following morning. By the grace of Allah he had recovered, rather promisingly, before our return. It was during this visit he told us he had two wishes left in life: to make Umrah and to visit his parents graves in India. Of those, he was granted the first. He returned on Sunday 6 March, four days after which he breathed his last. In sh Allah, his wish to be reunited with his parents was answered in the form of his death. He can be forever at peace with them, knowing that his name is now formidably attached to a long list of luminaries which ends with our beloved Prophet (SAW). He will be remembered for his piety and wisdom. Details about his Umrah trip and his death are given by his only son, Shamshul Haque. His statement is repeated here in its entirety: My father was 92 years old when he passed away and I was fortunate to accompany him on his last Umrah trip. Prior to going for Umrah on 20 February 2011 my respected fathers health was not good. He was weak but he had this burning desire to visit Makkah and Mednah with his family. So on Sunday 20 February 2011 myself, my four sisters and his son in law, nephew and niece left for Makkah. On arrival in Makkah his health improved considerably and the respected Shaykh performed Umrah with ease and with tears rolling kissed the ajar-e-aswad, or black stone. Word had spread that the respected Shaykh was in Makkah and lots of people came to the hotel to meet him and read adth. At the end of each session the respected Shaykh emphasised the importance of reading adth and, more importantly, putting in to practice the sunnah our beloved Prophet (SAW) in our daily life. The respected Shaykh always requested dus to die with mn and was very concerned with the state of the ummah. The respected Shaykh prayed for the welfare of the entire ummah.

After seven days in Makkah we departed to Med nah. On reaching Mednah the respected Shaykh was very quiet and with humility went to the grave of Rasl (SAW) and again with tears flowing presented himself. Again in Madnah word had spread and many Shaykhs came to visit him. Here in Madnah a complete reading of the muwa was made in six days. When the time came to leave Madnah the respected Shaykh went very quiet. There was also reading on his way to the airport. Throughout the journey back home, the respected Shaykh was very quiet and in deep meditation. The Respected Shaykh passed away on Thursday 10 March at time between asr and maghrib prayers. The family was with him, the Shaykh had come from Masjid al-Falah along with family members, he read chapter 36, surah ysn, and passed away looking up smiling and reciting the kalimah, l ilha illa Allh, Muammad Rasl Allh, there is no God but Allah and Muammad is his Messenger. May Allah (SWT) elevate His status in Jannah and give him a lofty place in the Firdaws. I have indeed lost a wonderful father. The Shaykh leaves behind four caring daughters and a son. All of them married and reside in England. One can only pray that Allah give them solace and the strength to overcome the immeasurable loss. His funeral saw the attendance of some of Britains leading scholars, all of whom recognised the loss of this otherwise unknown towering figure whose name gave British Muslim scholarship a face and much recognition in the field of adth. As the teacher of teachers, the Shh Wajh ad-Dn al-Alaw of our time, Mufti Shabbr Amad rightly lamented, paraphrasing the adth of Umm Ayman: I weep not because the Prophet has died but because the communication from the above has now been severed.7 By this, he was referring to the tradition of public adth readings. Uwais Namazi 1 Dr. Akram in his address makes note of Mowln Sarfaraz Khn afdar as an exception. He was a student of Mowln Madan, who died in May 5 2009 at the age of 98. The additional links that are to follow, however, forms part of Sheikh Amad Als legacy only. 2 Literally, the leader of the ahl-e-adth in India 3 For a wonderful and recent presentation on the Begum, see the prodigious Barbara Metcalfs Jan 2011 presidential address at the 125th annual American Historical Association meeting. Her presentation is titled, Islam and Power in Colonial India: The Making and Unmaking of a Muslim Prince(ss). It can be viewed here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0B_AjI_FRw) 4 The Nawb did not meet him in person but kept correspondence and sent his sons to keep in his company. 5 I understand it is beyond the political remit to acknowledge this phenomenon, nonetheless other perspectives reading into multiculturalism should not ignore it either. 6 I am grateful to none other than my diligent and ecumenical friend, Shaykh Andrew Booso, for bringing this point to the attention of others. See his article here: (http://bit.ly/hv3ZOk) 7 The adth is narrated in several adth collections. The following is a translation from a muslim: Ab bakr said to Umar, Allah be pleased with them both, after the Prophets demise, let us go visit Umm Ayman, Allah be pleased with her, like the Prophet used to visit her. When we got to her she started crying. Both Ab Bakr and Umar said, What causes you to cry? Dont you know what is with Allah is better for the Messenger of Allah? She replied, I do not cry for that reason, for I am fully aware what Allah has is better for the Messenger of Allah but I weep because the revelation has now stopped descending from the sky. Thus, she provoked them [in crying] and they started crying with her.