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Maulana Qasim Nanotwi
(1248AH – 1297AH) (1852AD – 1901AD)
Hadhrat Maulana’s background and education
Hadhrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi’s title was Hujjatul Islam (the proof of Islam). Generally this title is given to such a person who has such great qualities that if such a person was a Muslim and practiced upon Islam, this itself is a proof that Islam is the true religion. Hadhrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi’s ancestral background reaches up to Abu Bakr Siddique (Radiyallahu anhu). Therefore, he is known as Siddiqi.
Hadhrat Maulana acquired his knowledge at a very young age and he was known to be very brilliant. He traveled to Delhi with Hadhrat Maulana Mamlook Ali Sahib (Rahmatullah Alayhi) who was a very great Alim of that time. Previously we discussed that Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki Sahib (Rahmatullah Alayhi) also benefited from Hadhrat Maulana Mamlook Ali (Rahmatullah Alayhi).
Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) acquired his education in all fields Sarf, Nahwa, Tafseer, etc. from Hadhrat Maulana Mamlook Ali (Rahmatullah Alayhi) but acquired Hadith from Shah Abdul Ghani Muhaddith Delwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi). Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) was with him in acquiring Hadith from Shah Abdul Ghani (Rahmatullah Alayhi).
Some dreams of Hadhrat Maulana
Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) used to see many pious dreams. Once he saw a dream that he was sitting on top of the Kabah Shareef and many streams were flowing from his hands to many parts of the world. He related this dream to his Ustadh Hadhrat Maulana Mamlook Ali (Rahmatullah Alayhi) who interpreted the dream that the world will benefit from the knowledge of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi).
Hadhrat Maulana founded Darul Uloom Deoband and the branches of Darul Uloom Deoband are spread throughout the different parts of the world. Once he also saw a dream that he was sitting above the Kabah Shareef and facing towards Baghdad. There was a stream flowing from there, which touched his feet. The dream was interpreted that the Hanafi Madhhab would spread through Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi). Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah Alayhi) was from Baghdad and the Hanafi Madhhab was established from there.
Hadhrat Maulana’s knowledge
Hadhrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) had taken bay ‘at on the hands of Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki (Rahmatullah Alayhi). Hadhrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi’s Uloom was very deep. Maulana Yaqub Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) who was the first Ustadh of Darul Uloom Deoband and a great Muhaddith said that he read Aab-e-Hayat of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) six times and has understood some of it.
One can imagine what depth of Uloom and what insight was in that kitab. Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) says that Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) wrote such kitabs that if his name was not written on those kitabs, and if it was translated into Arabic then the Arab Ulama would have thought that Imam Razi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) or Imam Ghazali (Rahmatullah Alayhi) wrote those kitabs.
Imam Razi and Imam Ghazali (Rahmatullah Alayhi) were great thinkers and philosophers of their times. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s depth of Uloom is also well known. He says, “I read the books of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi RA and I don’t understand them.” He says, “Somebody has to put a lot of pressure on one’s mind to understand some of what Maulana Qasim meant but I didn’t have the habit to put pressure on my mind to understand it. So I consoled myself by saying that there are other simple kitabs and I acquired my knowledge from there.”
Hadhrat Maulana Qasim (Rahmatullah Alayhi) used to work in the library of Hadhrat Maulana Ahmad Ali Saharanpuri (Rahmatullah Alayhi) and make tasheeh (correction) of kitabs. He always had this inclination towards kitabs and anything to do with academics. Hadhrat Maulana memorized the Quran late in life in two Ramadhans. Effectively in two months. In the following Ramadhan he would perform one and a quarter juz and the listener would think that he is an old Hafiz.
Debating skills of Hadhrat Maulana
Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) was a great debater and very witty. The British sent many Christian missionaries to India to propagate Christianity. They were proud that they have sent the world’s best missionaries to India to propagate Christianity. One person arranged a debate and called all the Ulama. He also called Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi). The Hindus were also invited but they did not participate because this was a debate between the Islam and Christianity. They were there as observers.
Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) presented such a powerful speech in substantiation of Islam against Christianity that the Christian Missionaries who were regarded to be world-renowned missionaries were severely defeated. They stated that they have gone to so many debates and conferences and they haven’t heard the like of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi). Some Hindu pundits also started debates with Muslims. They felt that if Christian missionaries can debate with the Muslims then we too could debate with Muslims. One pundit arranged a debate. When this pundit heard that Maulana Qasim Nanotwi was going to address this debate, he fled.
Humility of Hadhrat Maulana
Hadhrat Maulana was very simple. If someone were to look at him they would have thought that he was a villager. The British were also misled because of Maulana’s simplicity. When a warrant of arrest was issued by the British against Hadhrat Maulana, they were looking for a person who would be well dressed. They saw a person with simple clothing and thought that he was a villager.
Maulana wouldn’t make imaamat and he always preferred to be a muqtadi and follow the Imam. He also wouldn’t even give talks, but because of the need of the time he used to go and join the debates. He was so humble that once he said, “I am disgraced among the Sufis.” My understanding of this is, what a Sufi is supposed to be, he stated, “I did not live up to the expectation of the Sufis, or to the expectations of the people about the Sufis.” He also mentioned, “I have a stain of being a Molvi on myself.” He further mentions, “Had it not been for the stain of being a Molvi, even the sand wouldn’t have known of Qasim Nanotwi.”
When there is a fruit tree and the branch is laden with fruits then it goes more down. When a branch is laden with fruits and because of the heaviness of the fruits, the branch also lowers itself. If Hadhrat Maulana perceived some pride in some student then he would make that particular student pick somebody else’s shoes to make the student’s Islah. But at the same time if he saw humbleness in any student, then Hadhrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi himself would pick up the shoes of that particular student. Who would do that today?
Demise of Hadhrat Maulana
Hadhrat Maulana passed away in Deoband at the young age of 49. May Allah Ta’ala put Noor in the Qabr of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) and may Allah Ta’ala give us the benefit and roohaaniyat of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) and grant him a great reward for establishing Darul Uloom Deoband and spreading Uloom in the different parts of the world. (Ameen)