Ml. Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Different)

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Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, commonly known as 'Hakeem ul-Ummah' qaddasAllahu sirrahul-azeez is one of the great a'immah of the ummah and is included from amongst the akaabir ulema of al-Hind.


He had memorized the Qur'an at a very young age and studied Islam under the great Indian ulema. He recieved ijazahs in Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh and Aqidah. He studied Tajweed and Qira'ah in Makkah under Qari Muhammed Abdullah. Maulana was the khalifah of Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki rahimahullah, of the Chistiyyah.

He was greatly talented in all areas of Islam and wrote many books, but was also remembered for his reviving sermons. Probably his greatest books are his tafseer ul-qur'an, 'Bayaan ul-Qur'an' which is used by ulema and tulaba all over the world (al-Allaamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri rahimahullah said that after reading the Bayaan ul-Qur'an he developed a desire to read Urdu books); and his book on Hanafi fiqh for the awaam, specifically the women of the Subcontinent, 'Beheshti Zewar', and it would not be an overstatement to say there is no more read book in the Urdu language than this. In Hadith, the 21 volume I'la us-sunan on the ahadith used in Hanafi Fiqh, written under his supervision, is used in madaaris all over the world from India to Syria. Apart from these, he wrote many books which total to over 300. It was known that he never took a single penny for any of his works, SubhanAllah!

He wrote about tasawwuf and tazkiyat un-nafs, the best known probably 'Tarbiyat us-Saalik'. The sheikh, Doctor Abdul-Hayy Aarifi (one of his Khulafaa) has written two books, 'Basa'ir e Hakimul-Ummat' and 'Ma'athir e Hakim ul-Ummat' in which he has gone through these briefly. He wrote in defence of the true sufis, and translated many works of sheikh Ibn Ataa Iskandari and allamah Abdul -wahhab Sha'raani etc. He also wrote a 20 volume sharh of the Mathnawi of sheikh Jalaludeen Rumi rahimahullah. Perhaps one of his most commendable characteristics was his rejection of Bid'ah, especially those innovations which had crept into the Muslims in the name of Tasawwuf.

His khanqah in Thana Bhawn is still one of the most well known and well respected in the whole of al-Hind. The khanqah was different to others in that the sheikh rahimahullah used to stress on the importance of the fundamentals before going further. He was known to say `Don't come to this khanqah if you want to become a sufi, only come if you want to become human.'

His khulafa include some of the great ulema known to ummah, ash-sheikh Doctor Abdul-hayy Arifii, maulana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, mufti a`zham maulana Muhammed Shafi sahib, maulana Najm Ahsan, sheikh ul-islam allaamah Shabbir Ahmad `Uthmaani, allaamah Zufar Ahmad `Uthmaani, maulana Abrarul-haq Thanwi etc. rahimahumullah.

He believed strongly in Tasawwuf and Tazkiyat un-Nafs being an important part of Islam, which was clearly within the boundaries of the Shari`ah. He worked hard to show tasawwuf as something essential as the relationship between a person and Allah, rather than the act of a majnun grave worshipping dancing dervish, as the term `sufi' generally brings to mind these days., and he openly condemned all these sorts of acts as obviously against the shari`ah but were accepted in the name of Tasawwuf.

His definition of Tasawwuf was very simple. He said,

'That tiny bit of wisdom which is the essence of Tasawwuf is: If you feel lazy about carrying out an act of obedience, challenge laziness and carry it out; and if you have an urge for sin, challenge the urge and stay away from that sin. One who can do that needs just about nothing beyond it because this very act of wisdom helps establish communion with Allah, and this is his guard on duty and this is his promoter.'

And from his parting instructions, he advised,

'Believe in a good end to life as the most graceful and the most perfect end to all blessings. Always pray for such an end, especially after the five daily prayers with exceedingly passionate entreaty and humbleness of heart. And be grateful for the faith you already have, for this too is according to the promise of Allah "la- in shakartum la-azeedannakum" (If you will be grateful, I shall bless you with more, 14:7), one of the effective causes of a good end.'

May Allah bless the sheikh and keep him from the slander of the ignorant people, surely he is far above them, and may Allah fill his grave with His nur and shower His rahmah on him and grant him al-Firdaws.
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