100 Discourses of Ḥakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī (d. 1362/1943)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Over the past few days, I have been reading through some of the books of Ḥakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī (d. 1362/1943) in pursuit of his stance on a particular issue. Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī was one of the most distinguished scholars of the recent past who authored eight hundred works (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, 8:1187) on a range of topics. I have heard Shaykh al-Islām Mufti Muḥammad Taqī ʿUthmānī (b. 1362/1943) mention on a few occasions that he reads the Malfūẓāt (discourses) of Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī on a daily basis. He adds that the likeness of his achievements and accomplishments are not found in some of the preceding centuries. Whilst glancing through his Malfūẓāt and some of his other works, I made a note of some of the discourses on the inner cover pages and a piece of paper. Subsequently, I thought it would be useful to translate some of these for the benefit of English readers and add brief notes where necessary. Accordingly, this is a random collection in no particular order. This will hopefully provide an insight into the Iʿtidāl (balance), Jāmiʿiyyat (comprehensiveness), simplicity, insight, wisdom, knowledge, piety, selflessness, intellect, spirituality and principles of this great luminary of the 20th century who has impacted the lives of thousands worldwide and continues to do so.
It should be noted that according to Mawlānā Nūr al-Ḥasan Kāndhelwī, one of the most distinguished experts of books and manuscripts, there are seventy different collections of his Malfūẓāt (discourses). The Malfūẓāt that has been used is the Idārah Taʾlīfāt Ashrafiyyah version printed in 1423 AH. May Allah Almighty enable us to maximise benefit and elevate the status of Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī and unite us all in Paradise. I am grateful to my dear colleague and friend Shaykh Khalil Kazi of Madinah Academy, Dewsbury for proofreading the document and providing some useful suggestions. May Allah reward him and accept his endeavours.
Advice for Scholars
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “My advice to friends is that if Allah Almighty has granted them an opportunity to teach in a seminary, they should not accept any management or principalship responsibilities, as both shall conflict. It is befitting for teachers and those serving knowledge to remain occupied in their work.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.84).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Many people get very pleased with the title Mawlānā. Some of our saints were great ʿAllāmahs (giants of knowledge), at most they would have a title of Mawlawī. Mawlānā was very rare. Now there is such a revolution that above Mawlānā, someone is a Shaykh al-Ḥadīth, someone is a Shaykh al-Tafsīr. I do not like these things. The pleasantness in simplicity is not [found] in such pretentious things.” (Malfūẓāt, 4:344). He also said, “Nowadays, they want to be everything, they want to be fed everything, but in work they are zero. They want very long titles, like Emir of Sharīʿah, Emir of Millat, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth, Shaykh al-Tafsīr, Imam al-Hind. Our saints, with the grace of Allah, were everything but no title beyond Mawlawī or Mawlānā was used for them.” He further adds, “Listen to more strange and bizarre titles: Bulbul Hind (nightingale of India), Ṭowṭī Hind (parrot of India), Sher Punjāb (lion of Punjab). Titles of animals have been given instead of humans. It seems as though in a few days, Isb Hind (horse of India), Fīl Hind (elephant of India), Khar Hind (bug of India), Garg Hind (wolf of India) will also be born.” (Malfūẓāt, 7:114).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “I do not like making groups, in that people of the same views and disposition differentiate among themselves using titles. One person wrote with his name ‘Ashrafī’. Such titles without a need contain harms.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:35).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “There are many people today who have a passion to lead Ṣalāh but are not capable. They regard long bowings and long sermons as a sign of honour. Our elders would be extremely concise. Ḥaḍrat Gangohī, may Allah have mercy on him, would mostly read the [Friday] sermon of Ḥaḍrat [Shāh Ismāʿīl] Shahīd, may Allah have mercy on him. It is extremely short and comprehensive, yet he would omit a section from it.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:336).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The way and nature of our scholars was to love the poor and religious people, and they would not keep much connections with the people of the world and particularly the rich people, unless they were also religious.” (Malfūẓāt, 8:29).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Once in the blessed city of Makkah, Ḥaḍrat [Ḥājī Imdādullāh] said to Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Gangohī that there is a mīlād gathering at such a place, you come. Mawlānā categorically refused [by saying] that Ḥaḍrat, I cannot go, I prohibit it in India. Ḥaḍrat said: May Allah reward you. You going would not have pleased me as much as you not going.” (Malfūẓāt, 11:76). [Tr. Note: This demonstrates that a student and a murid (spiritual pupil) is obliged to follow the Sharīʿah. In addition, it demonstrates the balance within our elders and how they respected each other’s views. Ḥājī Ṣāḥib was the spiritual Shaykh of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Gangohī. In fact, Ḥakīm al-Ummah once said, “Ḥājī Ṣāḥib would not listen to a complaint regarding anyone. He would not be mistrustful about anyone. If someone would complain, Ḥaḍrat would not stop him due to forbearance, but would say when the person had finished: That person is not like that.” (Malfūẓāt, 11:79)].
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “A non-Ṣaḥābī, no matter how high his status, can never reach the status of a Ṣaḥābī.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:256).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said whilst explaining the different levels of ḥayāt barzakhī (purgatory life), “The third level which is the strongest is the ḥayāt barzakhiyyah of the Prophets, peace upon them. It is stronger than the ḥayāṭ (life) of the martyrs.” He concludes, “It is established through the consensus of the Ummah that Prophets, peace on them, are alive in the grave.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.238).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said in relation to the rule that a person will not be declared a non-believer even if he has only one element of belief and ninety-nine elements of disbelief, “People misunderstand its meaning, and think that one element of belief is sufficient and that ninety-nine elements of disbelief will not erase the belief. This is wrong. If someone has one element of disbelief, he is a non-believer by consensus. Rather, the meaning is that if a statement has ninety-nine possible meanings of disbelief and only one possible meaning of belief, then the person will be judged to possess belief and not disbelief.” (Malfūẓāt, 10:53).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Allah Almighty is not attached with any jihat (direction).” (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.65). He also said, “No one can realise the reality of Almighty Allah’s self and attributes. Therefore, to discuss them is dangerous.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:371). He also said, “I wrote regarding Istiwāʾ ʿalā al-ʿArsh and I was very afraid of transgressing the boundaries. In my view, I was very cautious. It is a very delicate discussion and those who are overwhelmed with fear [of Allah], they would be fearful [to even discuss this].” (Malfūẓāt, 7:55).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “A person’s letter came that I have an illness in my eyes, and Mawlānā Faḍlurraḥmān [Ganjmurādābādī] Ṣāḥib’s murīd (spiritual pupil) has advised to place the soil of Mawlānā’s grave in the eyes instead of kohl. I wrote that whatever sight you have left in your eyes, you do not want that to finish. He said commenting on this, there is so much ghuluww (exaggeration) in people.” (Malfūẓāt, 4:32).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Nowadays, from amongst the illnesses of the people is in dreams. Most people do ghuluww (exaggeration) in this. Most of the times I write that I do not have acquaintance with this science [of dreams] which is why I do not understand its interpretation. They ask about dreams, they had nothing to ask about the state of being awake which is the real thing. What dereliction!” (Malfūẓāt, 4:155). He also said, “Those people who are regarded from the friends of Allah and people regard them as saints should give less interpretations of dreams, because this action of theirs has led to corrupting the beliefs of the general public. The corruption of the belief is that people have started to regard interpreting dreams as a necessary part of being a saint. So, whoever is a saint, he must be able to interpret dreams, and whoever cannot interpret dreams then he is not a saint according to them. Thus, if someone interprets a dream and it happens accordingly, they think he is a big saint even if he is nothing. However, if someone’s interpretation is not correct, then faith is lost in him even if he is complete [and a pious saint], although interpreting dreams is no major accomplishment. Let alone being a saint, even Islam is not a condition for it. Some non-Muslims from previous times were great interpreters of dreams, like Abū Jahl.” (Malfūẓāt, 9:108).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The [following] form of tawassul (intercession) through pious people, that O Allah, have mercy upon us because of such a saint, its reality is: O Allah, according to me, such a person is an accepted [servant] of yours, and for [the action of] loving the accepted people, there is promise of mercy in [the ḥadīth] ‘The person is with who he loves’. I ask from you this mercy. Thus, in tawwssul (intercession), the person expresses his love for the friends of Allah and thereby asks for mercy and reward because of this love. And love for the friends of Allah necessitates mercy and reward as mentioned in the nuṣūṣ (texts). Thus, there are many ḥadīths regarding those who love for the sake of Allah. Now there is a question, what effect does the piety and blessing of the saint have on [the divine] mercy? The effect is that loving this saint is part of loving for the sake of Allah, and there is promise of reward for loving for the sake of Allah. After this explanation, I say acting upon [the verse 93:11] ‘But as for the favour of your Lord, then report [it]’, that if Ibn Taymiyah heard this explanation he would never have denied the permissibility of tawassul [via pious people] because all its preliminaries are sound. It is my good assumption of ʿAllāmah Ibn Taymiyah that he prohibited the tawassul of the ignorant people of his time, the reality of which was istiʿānah and istighāthah (seeking assistance).” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.152). [Tr. Note: For detailed reading, refer to Bawādir al-Nawādir (p.709) and Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah (p.134). Shaykh Fakhr al-Dīn Murādābādī (d. 1392/1972) suggest in Īḍāḥ al-Bukhārī (5:319) that Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728/1328) permits intercession through good deeds, which includes love of the pious people, and therefore the difference is merely in expression, otherwise there is no real difference between his position and the position of the majority of scholars, in the manner that it has been expressed by Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī. Shaykh al-Islām Mufti Muḥammad Taqī ʿUthmānī (b. 1362/1943) appears to be inclined to this position to a certain extent (Takmilah Fatḥ al-Mulhim, 5:317; Maqālāt al-ʿUthmānī, 1:41).]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Women who wear expensive clothes or jewellery for their comfort or to please their husbands are not sinful. Those who do it merely to show off are sinful. The sign of this is that in the house they stay like humiliated cleaners and when they leave for a function, they will dress like the daughter of a noble man.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.194).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Look at the harms of not wearing a veil and gauge its importance accordingly. Look at how severe adultery is, for which there is an instruction to stone [the sinner] and this occurs from not wearing a veil [and not covering up properly].” (Malfūẓāt, 5:77). He also said, “I think that it is more necessary for a female stranger to veil herself from an elderly stranger compared to a young person. This is because if a young person has more desire, he has a stronger ability to control. If he has slight faith, he will prevent his soul. Unlike an old man, who has a stronger inclination due to being aware of the obscurities [a younger person may not be aware of] and he has less control of himself. This is why the unpleasant incidents of elderly people are more commonly heard of. Sometimes, elderly people are mistaken in thinking they have no desire because of the lack of stimulus [in the private parts]. However, this thought is incorrect. Lack of stimulus is because of weakness in the bones. However, desire definitely remains and this is why in the ruling of Ḥurmat Muṣāharat (prohibition due to marriage or touching with lust for example), jurists have written that the sign for a young person is stimulus of the private parts and for an elderly person the stimulus of the heart. In addition, women generally exercise more caution from young men whilst regarding the elderly as angels. Therefore, more caution is needed.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:168).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “I was once doing ṭawāf and an elderly person came to me and said, why don’t you wear the turban? I asked, is it farḍ or wājib? He said, it is sunnah. I asked, is it an emphasised sunnah or mustaḥab (desirable)? He replied, why is that relevant? I said, it is relevant because the rules of each are different. Despite this he continued to remark that you are acting against the sunnah.” (Malfūẓāt, 3:159). [Tr. Note: To wear the turban is proven from the Prophet ﷺ. However, it is not an emphasised Sunnah to wear it at all times. If someone decides to do so, there is no harm in this as it was the practice of many of the pious predecessors.]
Durūd and supplications
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “It is necessary to send durūd with the [mention of the] name of the Prophet ﷺ. If someone just writes Ṣalʿam [the English equivalent would be SAW or PBUH], or did not verbally recite durūd, then I think the obligation will not be fulfilled.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.241). [Tr. Note: Imam Nawawī (d. 676/1277), Ḥāfiẓ Sakhāwī (d. 902/1497) and other scholars have strongly discouraged abbreviating the durūd in this manner. See al-Qawl al-Badīʿ (p.247); Sharḥ Muslim (1:49)].
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “If you say that it benefits the Prophet ﷺ when we recite durūd, I say that the Prophet ﷺ does not benefit as much as you do [as you are in more need of this].” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.231).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “To learn tajwid (rules of recitation) is farḍ (compulsory).” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.241).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The door for ijtihād (legal reasoning) in uṣūl (principles) is closed, whilst ijtihād in furūʿ (branches) remains open.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.281; also see Malfūẓāt, 13:107).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī explains that Zakāt due in Shaʿbān should be given when due and not delayed until Ramaḍān. He said, “Good deeds should not be delayed because of Ramaḍān.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.115).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said in relation to delivering the Friday sermon in non-Arabic, “Show me anyone’s practice [from the ḥadīths], so in this case will the [Friday] sermon in Urdu not be an innovation?” (Malfūẓāt, 2:68). [Tr. Note: Refer to this link for an elaborate position based on the same principle by ʿAllāmah Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Ḥayy Lakhnawī, d. 1304/1886. Ḥakīm al-Ummah has also discussed this in more detail, see Malfūẓāt, 7:122; Bawādir al-Nawādir, p. 144, 364. He suggests that if an advice needs to be rendered due to an urgent need, then it is permissible to do so in a limited manner.]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said in response to a query regarding supplicating for the deceased after the burial and raising hands therein, “It is not transmitted. Thus, it is better not to do it. It is not prohibited. If one does not regard it as necessary, then supplication is permissible and raising the hands is from its etiquette.” (Malfūẓāt, 3:206). He also said in response to a comment that people recite the beginning and end of Sūrah Baqarah on the grave and place their fingers on the grave, “This recitation is established but placing the finger is not.” He then said regarding the supplication after burial, “Supplication should be made and the reward sent, the hands should not be raised. The jurists have prohibited from facing the grave and raising the hands for supplication. It creates doubt of seeking benefit from the person in the grave. Yes, to face away from the grave and supplicate is permissible. In Islam, Tawḥīd has been protected immensely but people do not bother, they act dubiously. It is from these things that innovations are born. (Malfūẓāt, 5:95). [Tr. Note: For further information regarding supplication after burial, click on this link]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “In the Eids, supplication is not transmitted neither before or after the sermon. However, if it is being practiced somewhere without iltizām (being considered necessary), then based on the general Sharʿī principles, there is no harm. One should not get involved in such things wherein there is flexibility in Sharīʿah. There are many more things worthy of attention. People are not ready to abandon things wherein there is open distortion of the faith.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:301).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “I once participated in shabīnah (congregational Tahajjud prayer in Ramaḍān). I saw such disrespect to the Qurʾān that I repented [from ever going again]. This is why now I prohibit shabīnah. Except the people of Panipat as the people there have an attachment with the Qurʾān. They recite and listen to the Qurʾān with respect in shabīnah.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.186). [Tr. Note: Click here for the ruling on congregational Tahajjud prayer in Ramaḍān.]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Any ḥīlah (trick) which results in the abandonment of a religious objective is not permissible.” (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.463).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said specifically in relation to women travelling for obligatory Ḥajj without a maḥram (guardian), “In the Ḥanafī school, this is not permitted even in this scenario [of travel for obligatory Ḥajj]. In the Shāfiʿī school, it is permitted if accompanied by reliable women. A Ḥanafī can follow a Shāfiʿī in a specific issue if there is a need. However, I cannot decide [whether there is a] need [in the specific case].” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.290). [Tr. Note: Click here regarding the Shāfiʿī position on the matter.]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī narrates from Ḥājī Imdādullāh (d. 1317/1896) who said, “Travelling to visit the Prophet ﷺ is not technically farḍ (compulsory) but it is in the path of ʿishq (love).” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.157).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “If the graves are very old, houses can be built [therein]. One should not be afraid of the dead.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:263).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “To close the eyes during Ṣalāh is against the Sunnah but permissible without karāhah [being disliked].” (Malfūẓāt, 9:22).
According to Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī, if the time of ʿIshāʾ Ṣalāh does not occur, then it will not be obligatory. This is also the view of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Ganoghī (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p. 112). [Tr. Note: However, the more correct view is that the Ṣalāh will still be obligatory. Ḥakīm al-Ummah critiques the use of the Dajjāl narration. My respected father Mufti Shabbīr Aḥmad (b. 1376/1957) mentions that to use the Dajjāl narration is incomplete because it could also mean that the Ṣalāh times will actually occur but Dajjāl will manipulate the eyesight of the people, a point also made in Bāqiyāt Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah (p.152). He adds that the evidence of obligation is the narration, “Five prayers, Allah has made them obligatory” (Sunan Abī Dāwūd, 425) and similar narrations (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 46). For further details, refer to Nāẓūrat al-Ḥaq fī Farḍiyyat al-ʿIshāʾ wa in Lam Yaghib al-Shafaq.]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said in relation to a Muslim purchasing Ḥalāl meat from a non-Muslim, “If a Muslim person slaughters his animal which he owns and thereafter sells it to a Hindu. Then the Hindu sells it at his shop. In this scenario, the Muslims does not need to remain until the meat is sold.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:147).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “In matters of worship, I do not, but in transactions, where there is a general problem, if there is scope to give an edict on another Imam’s view, I do so to remove difficulty, even if it is against the Ḥanafī view. Although I was confident regarding this permissibility, I sought permission from Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī. I had asked him that in transactions where there is a need, is it permissible to issue an edict according to the view of another Imam? He said, yes.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:208).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “A non-muqallid requested to become bayʿat (oath of allegiance) with Ḥajī [Imdādullāh] Ṣāḥib, may Allah have mercy on him, and made a condition that he will remain a non-muqallid. Ḥaḍrat agreed and prescribed a dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Ḥaḍrat had ʿishq (love) for dhikr. He wanted the whole world to engage in the remembrance of Allah, whether he was a muqallid, non-muqallid, an innovator, or a wahhābī.” He adds, “After one or two days, someone informed Ḥaḍrat that through your blessing he has repented from being a non-muqallid. He has abandoned loud Āmīn and the raising of the hands. Ḥaḍrat invited him and asked him, you have abandoned loud Āmīn and the raising of the hands? He said, yes Ḥaḍrat, I have abandoned everything. Ḥaḍrat said, if your view and research has changed [regarding these matters] then I shall not prevent you because not saying Āmīn loudly and not raising the hands is also Sunnah. However, if you have abandoned because of the relation with me, and you regard your past practice as sunnah, then I shall not take the responsibility of abandoning a sunnah on myself. Subḥanallāh! What status of research and justice of these people.” (Malfūẓāt, 3:226). Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī also said, “Many non-muqallids send me similar letters [requesting to become bayʿat (oath of allegiance) in spirituality]. First, I ask them, what do you think about taqlīd? Some write, we think it is permissible [not necessary]. These people I make them bayʿat. Some write it is prohibited. I write to such people that when did it become permissible to establish a relationship of adherence with someone who is involved in ḥarām and shirk.” (Malfūẓāt, 2:218).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Nowadays, this illness is widespread amongst the people of the truth that they compare the schools of the mujtahids in such a way that it gives the impression that the other schools are invalid. For example, they will give preference to the Ḥanafī position on an issue in such a way that it gives the impression of the Shāfiʿī position being invalid. So, I do not like this method, this method is extremely dangerous and harmful. Tawḥīd, Risālat (prophethood), and creed is the foundation based on definitive proofs and all are united on this. Then there is furūʿ (branches), the evidences of which are speculative. To have such degree of certainty on any side in these matters is exaggerating in faith.” (Malfūẓāt, 7:117). He also said, “In differed upon issues, one should not regard one side as definitively right and the other side as definitively wrong, because sometimes the reality is disclosed at the time of death. At that moment, think if what was thought to be wrong transpires to be correct. At that moment, Satan gets an opportunity to seduce, in that perhaps this is the condition of all your definitive [beliefs], to the point that a doubt is created in Tawḥīd and Prophethood. Thus, in such a condition, there could be fear of losing faith.” (Malfūẓāt, 12: 67). He also said, “Nowadays, many scholars are involved in this problem of declaring others fāsiq (sinful) or kāfir (non-believer) based on a difference of opinion in ijtihādī issues and thereby are disrespectful to the senior scholars and cause religious Muslims to quarrel with each other and Allah knows how many minor and major sins they commit as a result.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.69). He also said, “A person was a staunch Ḥanafī, and he was so ahead in his Ḥanafism that he would swear at the non-muqallids, and this exaggeration is shocking. So, he became a non-muqallid. Whoever is so harsh, he has no credibility, because in opposing he will be as harsh. Thus, balance should be maintained in all work.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:283).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Our teacher Mawlānā Muḥammad Yaʿqūb Ṣāḥib had tawassuʿ (breadth) in relation to differed on matters. I once asked him regarding an issue and his edict was different from the edict of Ḥaḍrat Gangohī. He answered according to his research and also said that Mawlānā Gangohī’s edict in this regard is this, so now you have a choice, choose whichever you prefer.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.151). He also said, “Although it is permissible in principle to follow different people, for example ask one Shaykh for a practice and ask another Shaykh for another practice. Similarly, to follow more than one person is permissible in itself, and this was the practice of the predecessors. Sometimes a person would ask Imam Abū Ḥanīfah, sometimes [Imam] Awzāʿī. Some people are tempted [to do this] looking at the condition of the predecessors. So, although this is permissible in principle but it is prohibited due to an obstacle.” He further explains that in the time of the predecessors, religiosity and piety were dominant and asking questions from different scholars was coincidental or to act upon the more cautious view. However, nowadays this is no longer the condition as people are more interested in fulfilling their desires. (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.147).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “In Kanpur, a person started to insult the innovators. I started to defend them with [alternative] interpretations, which led him to think that I am a bidʿatī (innovator). Then he started bad mouthing the non-muqallids. I started to defend them with [alternative] interpretations. He asked surprisingly that after all what is your position? I said: My position is these verses of the Qurʾān: ‘Be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves’ [4:135] and ‘Do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, that is nearer to righteousness’ [5:8].” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.284). He also said, “A person who was a murid (spiritual pupil) of a Barelwī Shaykh in Calcutta remarked, who says that Ashraf ʿAlī is from the Deobandis? Deobandis just attribute him to them for the sake of it. He is from our group. The reason for this is only that I am not harsh. I keep everything within its limit.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:16).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “When I was teaching ḥadīth in Kānpūr, the preference of reciting Fātiḥah behind the Imam was established in my heart so I started to practice upon it. However, I would never conceal any defect or correct action of mine from my elders so I wrote a letter to Ḥaḍrat Gangohī. In response, Ḥāḍrat did not say anything [in relation to this]. However, after a few days, the preference of not reciting Fātiḥah behind the Imam was established in my heart by itself and I started acting accordingly. I informed Ḥāḍrat Gangohī and he never said anything. Sometimes people would complain to Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā regarding me and he would support me because Ḥaḍrat knew that whatever I do, I do it with a good intention.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.244).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Some extreme people are so rigid in following their Imams that they openly reject non-conflicting ṣaḥīḥ (sound) ḥadīths because of their Imam’s statement.” He further said, “May Allah protect us from such rigidness. It appears from the actions of such people that they regard Imam Abū Ḥanīfah as maqṣūd bi al-dhāt (primary purpose). Now, if someone declares this as shirk in prophethood, what is his mistake? However, it is also wrong to accuse all muqallids of shirk in prophethood because of these few ignorant people. Allah forbid, why would all muqallids be like this? In my heart, the meaning of taqlid is that we follow the ḥadīths and guidance of the messenger of Allah ﷺ according to the interpretation explained by Imam Abū Ḥanīfah, may Allah have mercy on him, because his status is very high according to us in understanding and jurisprudence, no one can deny this. The entire Ummah accepts Imam Ṣāḥib as the jurist of the Ummah. Now tell me, according to this understanding, why would taqlīd entail shirk in prophethood, because one who does taqlīd in this manner, the maqṣūd bi al-dhāt (primary purpose) is to follow the ḥadīth and Imam Abū Ḥanīfah will merely be a means for understanding. The person who claims to act on the ḥadīths without a means, he follows the ḥadīths via his own understanding, and the understanding, intellect, piety, god-consciousness, honesty, integrity, fear and caution of the pious predecessors was more than you, so now tell me who is the [true] adherent of the ḥadīths.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p. 150).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Nowadays, most people who seek advice from pious people are of two types. First, those who have ghuluww (exaggeration) in belief. They regard their advice as the divine decree. Whatever has come out from the tongue of the pious person will surely occur. Although they term it as blessing, but in reality, the belief is much more than blessing. Second, those who have already decided, who only take advice to get support, and if they do not support it, they will make up things and secure their approval, so that their position can remain but for some benefit it can be attributed to them [saints].” (Malfūẓāt, 4:155).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “In one place, there was a dispute between the Ḥanafīs and non-muqallids regarding loud Āmīn. The matter reached court. An English man was appointed to investigate. He wrote an astonishing report that I investigated and found basis for both silent and loud Āmīn in the ḥadīths. However, there is no basis for Āmīn bi al-Sharr (evil Āmīn, in other words the dispute is unnecessary and some people’s aim is evil within acts of worship).” (Malfūẓāt, 4:300; 5:151).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Gangohī, may Allah have mercy on him, was asked regarding travelling to visit graves. What amazing point of caution and etiquette he mentioned, if a person himself is cautious, meaning he should not go, however, he should not be strict on preventing others either. This was the balance within our elders.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:107). Shāh Isḥāq Dehlawī was inclined to the prohibition of travelling to graves (Ibid, 5:265). [Tr. Note: This discourse does not relate to the grave of the Prophet ﷺ.]
Innovations and customs
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Bidʿah (innovation) is an extremely despicable thing.” (Malfūẓāt, 4:228).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “There is the same excess in the tabarrukāt nabawī (blessed things of the Prophet ﷺ) as there is in other innovations, in that people have made it into a festival.” He further writes, “These things are valued because they belonged to the Prophet ﷺ. So, these rules [of Sharīʿah] are also his, they should also be valued, there is blessing therein as well.” He adds, “No one should rely on tabarrukāt (blessed things). Without faith, they are useless, look at how many taburrukāt Ibn Ubayy [the leader of the hypocrites] had.” These are outlined in detail by Ḥakīm al-Ummah (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.110-4). He also said, “I do not like such importance being attached to taburrukāt that people are invited from far to visit to as this is ifrāṭ (excess). I also do not like tafrīṭ (neglect).” (Malfūẓāt, 5:264).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī explains in detail that the practice of milād is contrary to the Qurʾān, Sunnah, consensus and analogy. (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.116). He also said, “The famous date of 12 Rabīʿ al-Awwal for the demise of the Prophet ﷺ is wrong. The Prophet ﷺ performed Hajj on 9th [Dhū al-Ḥijjah] and it was a Friday, and he passed away in that year on Monday. These facts are all mutawātir (mass transmitted) and definitive. Now, there cannot be a calculation wherein Monday could be 12 Rabīʿ al-Awwal. Allah knows where this has become famous from.” (Malfūẓāt, 8:262). [Tr. Note: For further details regarding this, click here].
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī explains that the age of the husband and wife should be similar. He said, “Some people infuriate by marrying [their young daughters] to old men because of greed of wealth.” He further explains that this generally results in women becoming widows for a long time. He adds that the wife should not be older than the husband. If the woman is slightly younger than the husband then there is no harm in this. (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.166).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Men only regard worldly rights as obligations and not religious rights. For example, when he comes homes he asks, is the food ready or not, but he never asks, have you performed Ṣalāh or not?” For the former he will become angry and for the latter he will not become angry. (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.195).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Having multiple wives is not against zuhd (abstinence)”. (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.445). He also advised a person intending to marry for a second time to only do so if he possesses three houses, one for each wife, and one for himself in the event of a dispute.” (Malfūẓāt, 11:200).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “To make the wife obedient, the only strategy is to keep her happy, and this is the only way the husband will be happy.” (Malfūẓāt, 7:155).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī explains that some people with less understanding think that the caliphate of ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him) was better than the caliphate of Abū Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) because of the many victories. This is incorrect because the foundations were laid and the obstacles were removed in the era of Abū Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), and anyone knows that the foundation and structure of the house is more important than the inner furnishings. (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.279; Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.597).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The mujaddid (the reviver) of the last century was Sayyid Aḥmad [Shahīd] Ṣāḥib Barelwī. He eradicated innovations and also did Jihad.” (Malfūẓāt, 12:179).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Ḥaḍrat [Ḥājī Imdādullāh] was the Imam of the science [of Taṣawwuf], he was a mujtahid, mujaddid (reviver), muḥaqqiq (expert). The path was revived via Ḥaḍrat after a long time. This is the grace of Allah who takes the work from who he wishes. On the face of it, he appeared to be the son of a Shaykh of Thana Bhawan of minor status, however, the inner was filled with divine light.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:172).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī would say: Nowadays if someone took an oath to see a [real] faqīḥ (jurist), he will not fulfil his oath until he does not see Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.83). Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī also said, “Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Gangohī featured all perfections. He would recite the Qurʾān with an extremely melodious tone. Ṣalāh behind Ḥaḍrat was so satisfying that a person would desire his recitation does not stop.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:183).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The ḥadīth that ‘death should come when a person assumes best about Allah’, Ibn al-Qayyim has explained that it means that rectify the actions and fulfil the rights, because good assumption is not normally attained without rectifying actions. This is a very good explanation. Ibn al-Qayyim was an ʿĀrif (mystic) and his Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah was also an ʿĀrif (mystic). Ibn al-Qayyim has written a book Madārij al-Sālikīn. This is a commentary of a book, the text of which is extremely obscure, however, it has been explained really well in the commentary. If it was a person with a dry personality, he would have issued a verdict of disbelief on the writer [of the matn, the text], not write a commentary on it. This shows that he [Ibn al-Qayyim] was versed in the science [of Taṣawwuf]. Ibn al-Qayyim has written another book al-Jawāb al-Kāfī, it also shows that he was an ʿĀrif (mystic).” (Malfūẓāt, 14:173).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Ḥayy Lakhnawī most probably did not even reach the age of forty. Although Mawlānā did not formally stay in the company of a [spiritual] Shaykh, he remained busy in the service of the Qurʾān and Sunnah. This was the reason behind all the blessings which are apparent from his life accounts, this includes a great blessing of admiration for the accepted people [in the eyes of Allah].” He also said, “When Mawlānā [Muḥammad Qāsim Nānowtwī] wrote Taḥdhīr al-Nās, no one from India agreed with Mawlānā except Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Ḥayy. Mawlānā had immense admiration and love for our saints.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:295). He also said, “Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Ḥayy Ṣāḥib’s research articles are better than those of Nawāb Ṣiddīq Ḥasan Khān. His sight [of books] was very broad, he transmits a lot [from earlier sources].” (Malfūẓāt, 6:418). He also said, “Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Ḥayy Lakhnawī was beautiful, good natured and well mannered. It would appear that he was the son of a noble man. I learnt from his close people that he would cry during the night’s worship. An emir during the day and a dervish during the night. He became epileptic due to working a lot and the brain drying up. He accomplished major works in a short age. This is all divine assistance, otherwise what is the existence of a human [it is nothing and can achieve nothing].” (Ibid, 6:423).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said referring to Mawlānā Maḥmūd Ḥasan, “They call the Shaykh al-ʿĀlam (Shaykh of the world) Shaykh al-Hind (Shaykh of India). According to our belief, he is the Shaykh of India, Sind, Arab and non-Arabs.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:300).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “No other group has benefited the Ummah as much as the respected Sufis. However, the level of damage to the Ummah from the deviant and wrong claimants of Taṣawwuf is the same, such damage has not even been afflicted by a non-believer.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.292; also see Mawlānā Gangohī’s similar comments in Arwāḥ Thalāthah, p.279). He also said, “Most of the ignorant Sufis today are involved in the fulfilment of personal desires.” (Malfūẓāt, 5:37). He also said, “I always give preference to scholars over Sufis because the scholars preserve the faith and its boundaries. This is why I prefer the scholars to spend more time in teaching, propagating, or writing and issuing verdicts than spending time in seclusion. This decision of mine is rational, otherwise by nature, I love the Sufis.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.142).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said in response to a person’s question that some statements of Ḥaḍrat Shaykh Muḥyuddīn ibn ʿArabī were more severe than those of Ḥusayn ibn Manṣūr Ḥallāj who was executed, “If Muḥyuddīn ibn ʿArabī was afforded the same treatment for the management [and execution] of the Sharīʿah, then there was permission for this. Sharīʿah is not a thing that its violation should be tolerated because of an individual’s greatness.” (Malfūẓāt, 8:349; for further details, see Imdād al-Fatāwā, 4:446).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The memory of Mawlānā Raḥmatullāh Kīrānwī Ṣāḥib [the author of Iẓhār al-Ḥaq] was great. He read a few pages of the famous book on medicine Qānūn Shaykh and after returning home transcribed it fully. He heard a page from al-Ufuq al-Mubīn and thereafter repeated it from memory.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.181).
Piety and etiquette
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “To become a human is farḍ (necessary). To become a saint is not farḍ, because others will be hurt if you do not become a human whilst by not becoming a saint the harm will be to yourself.” He added, “This is why I try to make humans, I do not make saints.” (Malfūẓāt, 8:272). He also said, “A person can become anything, a saint, quṭub, gawth and abdāl. However, to create humanity and become a human being is difficult.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:238).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī would not read letters sent by females unless signed by the husband. On one occasion, he returned the letter and said, “Reading a letter not signed by the husband is akin to talking to her directly in the husband’s absence.” (Malfūẓāt, 10:269).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said to a man who was sat in the gathering in a way that appeared to be extremely respectful, “Is anyone else sat in the way you are sat, or is it that etiquette is only dominant upon you?” He further explained that a person should not behave in a way that suggests that he is restricted and there should be no takalluf (pretentiousness). The companions would sit in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ without any takalluf. Maintain etiquette but there is no need for takalluf and exaggeration. (Malfūẓāt, 4:21). He also said, “Sometimes there is pride in the form of humility. Some people show humility to become praiseworthy in the eyes of people. So, to adopt humility with this intention is also pride.” (Ibid, 6:86).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “There is no choice for the general public except to follow the [local] scholars whom they trust. As for the new trend of people pursuing the travelling dervishes and scholars, this is a major error of principle.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:220).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Some people try to be clever, they send blank reply envelopes without the address written on. I asked a person the reason for this. He wrote that if you write it there will be blessings. I replied that the entire answer is written by me, is that not enough for blessings? More so, the reason for this is that some people want titles for themselves and hope others will write it, and writing their address [on the reply envelope] cannot achieve this. This is the illness why they send blank envelopes. No [intention of] blessing, thieves!” (Malfūẓāt, 6:430).
Politics and contemporary affairs
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Muslims are weak because they are not organised. If they organise themselves, then see what happens.” (Malfūẓāt, 3:103; Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p. 79).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Understand properly that unity is only praiseworthy when it benefits the faith, and disunity is only dispraised when it harms the faith.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.476, 595). He also said, “Our murshid (spiritual Shaykh) would say: The main cause of disunity is pride, and the main cause of unity is humility.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.303). [Tr. Note: I recently heard Mawlānā ʿAbdullāh Kāpodrawī say, “The main cause for the prevalence of disunity and friction among Muslims is lack of sincerity)”].
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The researchers say: The fall of empires arises from oppression and not [necessarily] disbelief.” (Malfūẓāt, 8:41; Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.203). He also said, “If I acquired rule, the first thing I would do is announce that women who are oppressed should submit their submissions and I will investigate and arrange for their comfort.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.64).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “In our Sharīʿah, it is prohibited for a woman to become a ruler.” (Bayān al-Qurʾān, 8:85; Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.117; Imdād al-Fatāwā, 5:92).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “It is not possible to have more than one Dār al-Islam (Muslim land) because the instruction is that all Muslims should live under one leader otherwise they will be sinful. However, Dār al-Ḥarb can be a few.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:77). He also said, “This claim is totally wrong that Islam has taught democracy.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.317; Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.133; Malfūẓāt, 12:89). He also said, “A ruler must consult but is not required to decide according to the views of the consultees.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.193).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “My desire is that there is a pure Islamic rule over a piece of land, where all laws, punishments etc can be implemented according to the rules of Sharīʿah, there is a Bayt al-Māl (public exchequer), there is a system of Zakāt, there are Sharīʿah courts and so forth.” He also said, “I once thought if I had one hundred thousand rupees what should I do? I thought I should purchase all the land in Thana Bhawan and make it waqf so at least one place can become a pure land of Islam.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.63). He also said, “There is a strong need for an [Islamic] government. Without a government, management is difficult. More problems are occurring because of the absence of an Islamic government. Everyone is at liberty [to do as they please].” (Malfūẓāt, 5:148).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “In Turkey, there is now democracy comprising of Muslims and non-Muslims, so it is no longer a Muslim state. However, it is necessary on Muslims to support it as other states are combating it thinking it is a Muslim state.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.210, 225; Malfūẓāt, 7:110).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “A position can be sought by a person if (1) the work is necessary (2) there is no one else capable (3) he is capable (4) and he has hope of doing the work. The evidence is the story of Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.234). He also said, “The position of ruler is only permissible for the person who wishes to comfort others whilst bearing personal pain.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.243).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The view of ʿUmar, may Allah be pleased with him, was to avoid appointing relatives. Thus, he never gave any position to his relatives.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.250).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī explains that it is only permissible to accept a donation from a non-Muslim for a mosque if this is regarded as an act of worship in their faith. However, he said, “Aside from the permissibility and impermissibility, I think that this would be a favour from a non-Muslim on Islam and this is not appropriate.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:140).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “If the person giving the bribe is on the right and cannot acquire his right without giving the bribe, he will not be sinful although the person taking the bribe will be sinful.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.260). He also said, “To give a bribe for protection from harm is permissible.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:112; also see Imdād al-Fatāwā, 4:176). He also said, “Some people present a gift and their purpose is to attain a worldly benefit. This is not a gift, it is a bribe. The purpose of some others is to get an answer for a question. This is a fee. Some people’s purpose is reward in the hereafter. This is ṣadaqah and charity. A gift is that which is without any benefit in the world or hereafter, it is merely given out of affection to make the person happy.” (Malfūẓāt, 12:18). [Tr. Note: This does not mean a person making a gift will not be rewarded. There is reward for acting upon the Sunnah and making a person happy. Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728/1348) writes in Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā (1:188; 11:111) that a person should not request supplications from a poor person when donating charity to him.]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Financial punishments are not permissible. The only permission is to take someone’s wealth but return it after a few days.” (Islāmī Ḥukūmat wa Dastūr Mamlakat, p.434; Imdād al-Fatāwā, 2:541). [Tr. Note: Although Mufti Muḥammad Taqī ʿUthmānī (b. 1362/1943) has provided some flexibility in this regard, this is the traditional and dominant position of all four schools of thought.]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Permissibility of interest [in Dār al-Ḥarb] cannot be deduced from the ḥadīth, ‘There is no interest between a Muslim and a Ḥarbī in Dār al-Ḥarb.’” The summary of the reasoning is that the negative does not necessitate permissibility, rather that the reality of interest and its effects will not materialise, for example, it will not be necessary to return the interest monies. This is similar to the ḥadīth ‘There is no Ṣalāh except with purity’, a person who performs Ṣalāh without purity will be sinful. (Malfūẓāt, 13: 169; also refer to Fiqh al-Buyūʿ, 2:770).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Nowadays, there is a widespread disease that the oppressor’s side is taken and the oppressed is ignored. This disease has spread among both the general public and the special [pious] people.” (Malfūẓāt, 4:92).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “A scholar would narrate the statement of a pious person that taṣnīf (writing books) is also from the khaṣāʾiṣ (unique features) of this nation.” He commented on this, “Truly, such taṣnīf has not taken place in previous nations.” (Malfūẓāt, 7:324).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Iʿlāʾ al-Sunan is a very amazing book. Like Beheshtī Zeywar it has various parts. I wish that the book is published once in my lifetime. There is no book like this in support of the Ḥanafī school.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:141).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “I regard asking others to write a foreword to books an excess thing, rather, I dislike it. Thus, there is no foreword to any of my books. This is because if it is beneficial, people will read it even without a foreword, and if it is not beneficial, then they will not read it even if it has a foreword. The foreword has no impact on the subject of the book. It just seems like an extra thing without any purpose.” (Malfūzāt, 4:205). [Tr. Note: Sometimes a foreword can serve a useful purpose, and there are examples of scholars of the past and present that affirm this. However, the wider point must be noted.]
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “A foreword is a testimony, and it is therefore necessary to be aware of the full details.” He also said, “The general practice of scholars is to write a foreword after reading half. Now think, when this is a testimony, how can I can write a testimony without looking at it fully.” (Malfūzāt, 5:70).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī and Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī prohibit publishers from using copyright. However, Ḥakīm al-Ummah said, “Yes, there could be a leeway for the first edition because there is more effort and cost therein [and therefore copyright for the first edition may be permitted].” (Malfūẓāt, 11:171). [Tr. Note: For a detailed discussion, refer to Fiqh al-Buyūʿ, 1:281].
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Taṣawwuf is the rectification of the inner and outer.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:138). He also said, “Nowadays, people have understood performing plenty of Nafl Ṣalāh as Taṣawwuf, although the main feature of Taṣawwuf is akhlāq (character and morals). (Ibid, 12:178).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Pride is the root of most sins. Allah Almighty has mentioned pride as the reason for denial [of Prophets] and murder.” (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.61). He also said, “To eliminate pride is the first condition of iṣlāḥ (rectification).” (Ibid, p.213). He also said, “A person should not hesitate from accepting the truth and admitting his mistake, even if alerted by a person of a lesser rank. He should not conceal and do taʾwil (attempt to explain) like the so-called scholars and customary Shaykhs, as the origin of this is pride.” (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.138).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī explains that that a person should not treat his Shaykh’s kasḥf (vision) and dream as certain. (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.218). He also said, “The visions of the friends [of Allah] are not absolute.” (Malfūẓāt, 13:97).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The root of all major sins is following the desire.” (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.159).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “To perfect Ṣalāh, always contemplate (murāqabah) death and meeting Allah.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.262).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Simply becoming a murid [by undertaking an oath of allegiance] is insufficient and is not necessary. What is actually required is to do the work and this is possible without becoming a murid and the benefit of this is the same as becoming a murid and undertaking the work. I do not understand why people insist on bayʿat (oath of allegiance), this is merely a custom. The real thing is to do the work, and if someone thinks this [merely becoming a murīd] is a blessing, then there is more blessing in reciting the Qurʾān and performing Nafl Ṣalāh, he should do that.” (Malfūẓāt, 3:171). He also said, “This problem is because people are unaware of the reality of ṭarīq (spiritual path), a non-obligatory thing is understood to be obligatory and a non-objective is understood to be the objective. I want to take [people] out from this ignorance so that each thing remains within its boundary, and people’s beliefs are corrected. I do not know why the scholars, who strive to eliminate many innovations, are silent about bayʿat (oath of allegiance). Here also, a non-obligatory and non-compulsory thing is being regarded as obligatory and compulsory but no one is stopping this.” (Malfūẓāt, 7:58, also see 8:211).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “I was asked a question, is the right of parents more or the Shaykh? So, I replied that the rights of the parents are greater. However, [there is a ḥadīth] ‘There is no obedience due to any creation in the disobedience of The Creator.’ This means that if the Shaykh instructs in accordance with the Sharīʿah, and the parents say something contrary [to the Sharīʿah], then the Shaykh will be obeyed, and not the parents.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.199).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Nowadays, Shaykhs think that the murīd (pupil) is our asset. They separate them from the parents. Remember that if the Shaykh instructs to perform Nafl (optional) Ṣalāh at night and the father instructs to stay asleep, the father’s obedience will be given precedence.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.200).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Ramaḍān should be allocated to reciting the Qurʾān. If I start anyone off with dhikr (specific form of dhikr), I do not do this in Ramaḍān rather after Ramaḍān. In Ramaḍān, there should only be that worship which is transmitted [in the Sunnah], for which there is no need for preliminaries. The prevalent Sufi practices are preliminaries for worship. The actual worship is only that which is transmitted [in the Sunnah].” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.187).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The general ḥadīths suggest the prohibition of the loud dhikr (remembrance) of Allah, and this is the view of Imam Aʿẓam Abū Ḥanīfah. Amongst out saints, the greatest faqih (jurist) and cautious saint was Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad. His research in relation to this is that if someone does loud dhikr of Allah and regards it as more virtuous or a means of more reward then this is bidʿah (innovation). Yes, if it is done as one measure and treatment to gather the inner and stop the wasāwis (inner thoughts), then there is no harm. An example is if someone has flu and takes a special treatment [a specific form of treatment has been cited] with the intention of worship and reward, this will be a bidʿah (innovation). If, however, it is undertaken merely as a treatment and measure then it has no relation with bidʿah.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.84). He also said, “Iṣlāḥ (reformation of the soul) is farḍ (necessary)” and “No one classifies the measures of a doctor as an innovation. However, if the specific measures are regarded as a primary form of worship, then this is definitely worthy of criticism.” (Malfūẓāt, 4:167; also see 9:24).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Yes, one aspect is to be remembered, if a person acts on the prescription of a doctor and the conditions stipulated therein whilst regarding it as worship, then this will become a bidʿah (innovation). The obligation of the treatment of the soul is established from the Qurʾān, Sunnah, and the customary practice of the companions and their followers, so this is worship and [a means of] reward. However, to specify a specific form as worship and reward, such that he thinks bad of the one who does not undertake it, this enters it within the realm of bidʿah (innovation). This must be understood properly.” (Majālis Ḥakīm al-Ummat, p.194).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Love of death is a sign of wilāyat (friendship).” (Masāʾil al-Sulūk, p.62).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “I often remark that muqarrabīn (close aides) [often] become mukarrabīn (those who cause bother).” (Malfūẓāt, 4:144).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Some people exaggerate in worrying about sincerity so much that the actual action is forsaken. Ḥājī [Imdādullāh] Ṣāḥib, may Allah have mercy on him, would say in relation to this that if someone is performing an action to show off, he should do the action and not abandon it. At first, it will be to show off. Then it will become a habit, and then worship.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:239).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Ḥaḍrat Shāh Walīyullāh, may Allah have mercy on him, has written that stay in the company of the person who is a Sufi, a jurist and also a muḥaddith. Such a person is worthy of company.” (Malfūẓāt, 6:400).
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “The person who starts to regard himself as eminent and a saint, he is humiliated in the eyes of Allah and also in the eyes of Allah’s creation. (Malfūẓāt, 13:77).
Wisdom and intellect
Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī said, “Some people [from the UK] wrote to me that Qurbānī in itself is not an objective of Sharīʿah as the main purpose is to assist the poor. In early Islam, people had less money and there were more animals, which is why this method was established, that slaughter the animal and give the meat to the poor. In this era, there is a lot of money and there is also grain (food). Thus, nowadays, poor people should be supported through money rather than through Qurbānī.” He adds, “This is not the purpose. The purpose is complying with the instruction. If this was the intended purpose, then why can the obligation not be fulfilled by donating a live animal to a poor person,” He further explains that the companions had access to monies particularly after the victories. In addition, if supporting the poor was the primary purpose, then the Sharīʿah would have made it necessary to donate a share of the animal, however, it has not done so. He concludes, “Mentioning such type of wisdoms has led to each person understanding rulings based on made up wisdoms.” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p. 307).
7 Muḥarram 1439 / 27 September 2017