Extracted from introduction to the “Ulema of Deoband”
Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi (rah) was the senior most khalifa of Hadrat Shaykh ul Hadith Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhalwi (rah). In addition he was the Head Mufti at Dar ul Uloom Deoband and Mazaahir ul Uloom for many years. Along with the responsibilites of Ifta (Fatwa writing) he taught the 2nd Volume of Sahih Bukhari at Dar ul Uloom Deoband, supervised the running of numerous madaris in India and also compiled Fataawa Mahmoodiyah, a copious reference book on Hanafi Fiqh rulings. A man of extreme piety and learning, he was not only a Faqih and a Sufi but also a Zaahid (ascetic). Every month not only would he return his salary to Dar ul Uloom Deoband, but also add something from his own pocket also.
Bayat with Shayh ul Hadith Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhalwi (rah)
Mufti Sahib gave bayat in 1349 A.H. to Shaykh ul Hadith Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhalwi (rah) while he was at Deoband. When he used to sit in the majlis of Hadrat Raipuri (rah) and Hadarat Dehlawi (rah), he used to become very inclined toward the Hereafter. However when Mufti Sahib (rah) used to sit in the majlis of Shaykh ul Hadith (rah), Mufti Sahib (rah) would be so affected, that his own sins and flaws would become manifest to him, as a result of which Mufti Sahib (rah) came to the conclusion that his Islaah (spiritual reformation) would take place only at the hands of Shaykh ul Hadith (rah). This was the first reason of Mufti Sahib (rah) in giving preference to Shaykh ul Hadith (rah) for bayat.
The second reason was that in terms of age, the youngest of the saints was Shaykh ul Hadith Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhalwi (rah). Mufti Sahib (rah) wanted to be in the khidmat and suhbat of his Shaykh for a long time. When he approached Shaykh ul Hadith Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhalwi (rah) he was told to give bayat to Shaykh Husayn Madani (rah). Mufti Sahib (rah) replied that “Hadrat, I have heard that if one gives bayat to the Shaykh he is inclined towards it results in a better focus and reformation for the disciple”. For some months, Shaykh ul Hadith Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhalwi (rah) did not give bayat. Finally, he said if you are not inclined towards Hadrat Madani (rah) then do istikhaarah, if nothing becomes clear in istikhaarah, then travel to three places: Raipur, Nizamuddin, and Thanhbawan, sit in the majalis and dont say anything.” Mufti Sahib (db) didnt go, so Shaykh ul Hadith then gave him bayat.
Khilaafat from Shaykh ul Hadith (rah)
In Gangoh there was a woman who had bayat with a Shaykh, when Mufti Sahib (rah) traveled to Gangoh, she came to him and said that “My Shaykh has passed away, please allow me to give bayat to you”. Mufti Sahib (db) was quite surprised by this. While he and Shaykh ul Hadith (rah) were going to visit Maulana Thanvi (rah), Mufti Sahib (rah) narrated the incident, but had yet to finish when Shaykh ul Hadith (rah) said: “If she wants to give bayat to you, accept it”. Mufti Sahib (rah) replied “Hadrat, How can I make someone my disciple?, My intention was that if there is a day when Hadrat Madani (rah) can visit here, so I can inform the woman, that he is coming and she can give bayat to him.” Hadrat Shaykh ul Hadith (rah) replied: “Dont be shy…if you need to consult with me, just ask, this is my ijaazat (permission)”.
Mufti Sahib (rah) did not take this to be an explicit ijaazat from Shaykh ul Hadith (rah) and went to Kanpur. Then Shaykh ul Hadith (rah) wrote him a letter stating: “I have no news if anyone has made bayat to you or not, if somebody wants to give bayat then give it to him”. Mufti Sahib (rah) repied: “Hadrat, some people wanted to give bayat to me, however I advised them to approach other scholars. When somebody insisted repeatedly, then I told them ‘I dont have ijaazat (permission) to give bayat’. Hadrat Shaykh (rah) replied: “Perhaps you dont remember that when we were going to visit Hadrat Thanvi (rah), I gave you ijaazat at that time, and any doubts you had I cleared them also”. He wrote also “One should give advice to people to give bayat to someone else but when others insist then there is no harm in acceding to their request”.
Mufti Mahmood (rah) in the view of Darul Uloom Deoband
“Mufti Sahib received khilafat and ‘permission’ from Hadhrat Shaikhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariya. His residence was always resonant with the ‘remembrance’ (zikr) of the ‘remembrancers’ (zakirin). He was very unassuming and hospitable; a man of vast reading, a regular ‘rememberer of Allah’ (Dhaakir), an ‘occupied’ (shaghil), large-hearted and generous august man. One is reminded of the ancient Ulema on seeing him. An important peculiarity of his is also this that whatever salary he received from Darul Uloom, he not only returned it to the Darul Uloom every month but also added something to it from his own pocket.”