Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī on How his Father’s Opinion about Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband Changed

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997) describes his father, Ṣūfī Aḥmad Ḥusayn (d. 1949), as someone whose “concern for Ᾱkhirah was greater than his concern for Dunyā, and while fully occupied in his work, he was from those who remembered Allāh much. The adhkār at different times included within his daily practices numbered around 20,000 in total. In one period, his practice was to recite Durūd Sharīf 4,000 times after ‘Ishā prayer. He was so punctual on Tahajjud that when I asked my noble deceased mother after his demise whether she was aware that our dear father had ever missed Tahajjud, she replied that when she first arrived, he would at times miss Tahajjud but on those days he would definitely keep fast, but for around thirty years, he never once missed it. My respected father died in Ramaḍān of 1368 in such a state that the tasbīḥ was in his hand and he was making dhikr.” (Taḥdīth e Ni‘mat, p. 22)

Explaining his admittance into Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband, Mawlānā Nu‘mānī says: “By divine providence, for final instruction in the sciences of Dīn, Fiqh, Ḥadīth and Tafsīr, I was blessed in the year 1343 (1925) with going to Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband, which was a great centre of education for these sciences, not just in Hindustan, but in the whole Islāmic world, and where such skilled teachers of these sciences were gathered who were distinguished and accomplished in their fields and, alongside this, were examples of the predecessors in piety and taqwā. This was a great favour and blessing of Allāh, for otherwise the line of Taṣawwuf which because of having a connection with my father was called ‘Ṣūfī’, and the Ṣūfīs that he was influenced by, while outwardly sincere, were people of mistaken belief. This is why they had no connection with the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband, and in fact had animosity towards them. But I don’t know how Allāh made the thought settle in my father’s heart that those at Deoband teach ḥadīth sharīf well, which is why he did not hesitate in allowing me to go to Deoband.” (Taḥdīth e Ni‘mat, p. 25-6)

Then, explaining how his father’s opinion about Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband changed, Mawlānā Nu‘mānī continues:

“This admittance was certainly admittance into a door of mercy for me. For my noble father too, it opened the path towards trusting, building a connection with and rectifying his attitudes towards the people of truth. There is a story worth mentioning to how this path opened.

“The place which used to be the residence of Ḥaḍrat Shaykh al-Islām Madanī (Allāh have mercy on him) (1879 – 1957) and is now the residence of Ḥaḍrat’s household, at the time of our studies it used to house the Qāsimī Press and Qāsimī Library. Those students who could not find accommodation in the madrasah would be given permission to stay in one of its dilapidated rooms. I was one such student. For both years, my residence remained there. It was in Rabī‘ al-Awwal of the first year, and I remember well, the date was the fourteenth, and by coincidence it was a Friday and ‘Ishā’ congregation was close: I was sitting at the Qāsimī Press making wuḍū’ when suddenly my noble father (Allāh have mercy on him), having asked for the address of the Qāsimī Press, entered. I had no communication from before, and in fact not even an idea or clue [of him coming]. However, my mind went towards [the fact] that this is the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal, and on these dates the ‘Urs of Pīrān-e-Kaliyar takes place. He would have attended the ‘Urs there. He would never miss attending the ‘Urs of Pīrān-e-Kaliyar. Thus, when I inquired, this is what he told me, ‘I had come to Kaliyar Sharīf for the ‘Urs, and thought since Deoband is close by, I will, after finishing here, go there.’

“I told him that it was time for ‘Ishā’. He was with wuḍū’ so we immediately attended the masjid. At that time, the fountain was at the place where today the end part of the masjid’s ground is, and since the masjid had limited space, boards were placed on the wooden seats of the fountain, and there were several rows on top of them also. We entered the masjid when the prayer had already begun. We found space in the final rows in the area above the fountain. The moon of the fourteenth night was in open view, and since it was Friday, all the students were wearing clean white clothes. When it was time for rukū‘ or sujūd, those of us who were standing elevated on top of the fountain, it felt to us as though rows of angels had come down from the sky. I remember well that it was a luminous sight. I was standing right next to my respected father. I felt that this sight had some impact on my respected father. Having completed the prayer, we came to our residence at the Qāsimī Press. My feeling that he was very much affected by this sight of the prayer at Dārul ‘Ulūm was confirmed by my respected father’s words.

“In the morning after Fajr, lectures on the Glorious Qur’ān by Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Muḥammad Idrīs Ṣāḥib Kāndhlewī (1899 – 1974) would take place in this masjid. Although he was not from the senior teachers of Dārul ‘Ulūm, and was also young in age, because of his capability and ability, he was regarded as being distinguished, and was approved and loved by the students. At this time, the translation of Qur’ān was not included in the Dārul ‘Ulūm’s syllabus. This lecture of Mawlānā was, as it were, the result of his private and personal passion and interest. He was very broad-visioned and would speak well. The reality is that he would fulfil the due of lecturing on Qur’ān. A very large group of students would participate with diligence. It was very beneficial academically.

“I took the opportunity on this day to whisper to Mawlānā in his ear that my respected father is in attendance, and he is from those who are attached to ‘Urs and Qawwālī, and his ideas and thoughts are such, and he harbours very bad thoughts about our Akābir, and because of a lack of knowledge believes that those in Deoband have no connection with Taṣawwuf and the elders of Dīn. My objective was that in today’s lecture, he would be kept in view. By good fortune, a part of Sūrah Yūsuf was being studied where it is mentioned that Ḥaḍrat Ya‘qūb (upon him peace) gave permission to his sons to go to Egypt and also gave permission to Ḥaḍrat Yūsuf’s (upon him peace) full brother Binyāmīn to go with them, and at this moment, he counselled them to not enter through one gate [of Egypt but through different gates], the purpose of which most exegetes have explained to be that the evil eye does not fall on them from onlookers; then, in the end, [Ya‘qūb (upon him peace)] said: ‘I avail you nothing of Allāh. The decree belongs solely to Allāh. I put my trust in Him alone, and let those who trust put their trust in Him alone.’ (Qur’ān, 12:67) In explaining these verses, Mawlānā Kandhlewī shed light on the reality of reliance on Allāh (tawakkul) and on reliance and adopting means. And on that day, he quoted some verses of ‘Ᾱrif Rūmī. Apart from this, Mawlānā explained topics of Taṣawwuf and gnosis in a manner that was very suitable for my respected father (Allāh have mercy on him).

“My respected father was also very much affected by this lecture. As a result of the sight he saw in the prayer at night, and the luminous spirit he sensed from the congregation, and then further, all that he heard in the morning lecture, his attitude towards our Akābir and our group had changed a lot. Having finished [listening to] the lecture, when we got up, my respected father said he wanted to visit the graves of the seniors of this place. We took him to the graveyard. He first sat, contemplating, at the grave of Ḥaḍrat Shaykh al-Hind (Allāh have mercy on him) (1851 – 1920), and sat for a while; and then he sat, contemplating, at the grave of Ḥaḍrat Nānotawī (Allāh have mercy on him) (1833 – 1880), and sat for a long while, and we sensed from the coloration of his face that it had a powerful effect on him. He said, upon leaving that place, ‘The position of these individuals is very lofty indeed!’

“Thereafter, he asked to be taken to those teachers who are people of Allāh. We first arrived in the service of Ḥaḍrat Miyān Ṣāḥib, meaning Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Sayyid Aṣghar Ḥusayn Ṣāḥib (Allāh have mercy on him) (1877 – 1945). My respected father was also very much affected by the visit to Ḥaḍrat Miyān Ṣāḥib. Thereafter, we visited Ḥaḍrat Shāh Anwar Shāh Ṣāḥib (1875 – 1933) and Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Muftī ‘Azīz al-Raḥmān Ṣāḥib (Allāh have mercy on them both) (1859 – 1928). He was also very much affected by visiting them, and said about them that they are always engaged in remembrance [of Allāh] and hold a constant bond (ṣaḥib nisbat) [with Him]. In short, the bad thoughts he had always harboured towards our Akābir and our group in all probability ended on that very day – and after that, Allāh (Exalted is He) had only graced him further.” (Taḥdīth e Ni‘mat, p. 27-9)

Zameelur Rahman

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