Biography of Hafiz Abdullah Ghaznawi
Shaykh Sayid Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi was born in 1811/1230 in Afghanistan in the city of Ghazni in the district of Bahadurkhel. His real name was “Muhammad A’zam” but he changed it to Abdullah. His father’s name was Muhammad ibn Muhammad Shareef. He belongs to Umarzai family of Kakezai tribe of Afghanistan.
His studies in Afghanistan
Abu Bakr Al-Ghaznawi wrote: “In his youth, he learned from scholars of Ghazni.” (Dawud Al-Ghaznawi p 220)
Afterwards Shaykh Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi went to Qandahar were he benefited from Allamah Habeebullah Al-Qandahari (1213-1265). Allamah Al-Qandahari was a great scholar who authored more than 35 books in Pashto, Persian and Arabic. Al-Qandahari also benefited from the two great scholars Sayid Ahmad Al-Barelvi and Isma’eel Shah Ad-Dehlawi when they came to Qandahar in 1241H with their troops.
Sayid Abu Bakr Al-Ghaznawi mentioned that after studying under him for a period, Abdullah Al-Al-Ghaznawi returned to Ghazni and whenever he had a difficult question, he would write to Allamah Al-Qandahari for a Muhaqqaq (verified) answer. After some time, he went to him once and asked him questions, and Al-Qandahari said in a sitting with other scholar: “This person understands the Masail (topics) of the religion in such a manner that even I don’t understand.” (Dawud Al-Ghaznawi p 221)
Abul Hasan An-Nadwi said: “The fame of Muhaqiq Al-Qandahari’s knowledge and nobility reached India through his students and books. His student Molvi Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi gained a great reputation in the religious circles of Punjab and India, and people by the great knowledge of this student can imagine the greatness of his teacher.” (“Seerat Sayid Ahmad Shaheed” p39)
His studies in Delhi
For the knowledge of Hadith, Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi traveled to Delhi to study under Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi, who inherited the prestigious chair of Shah Waliyullah in 1258.
Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi went to Delhi with Ghulam Rasul Al-Qal’awi and Hafiz Muhammad ibn Barakallah Al-Lakhwi, and when they arrived to Dehli train station, there was an old man who received them and brought them to the Madrasah of Mian Sahib and helped them in carrying their luggage. After he went to his house, and when Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi asked to see Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi, he was told that Mian Sahib was the person who came to pick them at the train station and brought them here. It left them astonished, and when Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi came after, they started to excuse themselves but Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi said: “You came to learn Hadith, then its first lesson of it is to serve the creation (Khidmah Al-Khalq).” (Dawud Al-Ghaznawi p 13)
Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi and his two companions learned “Sihhah Sittah” (6 books of Hadith) from Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi, but they hadn’t completed “Sahih Al-Bukhari” and the revolt of 1857 started in Delhi on 16 Ramadan 1273 (revolt of Indians against British rule). During this revolt, there were a loot of shootings and killings, so Shaykh ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi decided to return to Afghanistan.
Return to Afghanistan and exiles
After returning to Ghazni in 1857, Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi started to preach the teachings of the Book and the Sunnah, and fighting Shirk, innovations and blind following, but the Hanafi innovators gathered against him and complained to the ruler. Among these Muqalid there were Mulla Ad-Darrani, Mulla Al-Mashki and Mulla Nasrullah Al-Lohani. The ruler of Kabul Ameer Dost Muhammad Khan gave the ruling of exile to Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi.
Ghulam Rasul Mehr wrote in one of his essay: “Just thinking about the hardships faced by Molana Sayid ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi for the way of truth and Sidq brings distress to the heart. He was on his own against the whole government, but Molana Sayid Abdullah’s feet remained steadfast and he did not feel any distress. He left his home and relatives and was ready to leave happiness and comfort rather than leaving propagating what he considered to be the truth.” (Dawud Al-Ghaznawi p 31)
So Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi went to Sawat and afterwards Hazarah and afterwards to Punjab, where he started to teach the Book and the Sunnah. After some time he went to Derah Isma’eel Khan and remained there for a period of time. After he tried to go back to Ghazni thinking maybe conditions have changed, but unfortunately Ameer Dost Muhammad Khan ordered him to exile again.
So ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi with his family went to Yaghistan but he was attacked there by innovators Muqalideen and many of the Shaykh’s students were injured, and he and his family managed to escape safely by Allah’s grace despite his house being put to fire.
His son Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi wrote about these trials: “Glory to Allah! During these times of trials, exiles and animosity from all sides, I have seen him (his father) happier than I have ever seen any governor.” (Dawud Al-Ghaznawi p 228)
While he was residing in another place in Yaghistan, Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi heard the news of Ameer Dost Muhammad Khan’s death, so he decided to return again to Ghazni. The innovators Muqalideen warned the new ruler Ameer Sher Ali Khan against Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi. The Shaykh wrote to the ruler that he is oppressed by these jealous people who are propagating calumnies against him and he should not follow his father in exiling him, but the ruler wrote back saying that he cannot oppose all scholars just to accommodate one, so he ordered the Shaykh’s exile.
After few days, while Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi had left Ghazni, he learned that Ameer Sher Ali Khan’s government was toppled and Ameer Afzal Khan took the power, so he returned to Ghazni again. But unfortunately, the same innovators ecxited the new ruler who ordered the arrest of Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi and his three sons ‘Abdullah, Muhammad and Abdul Jabbar. This time, the innovators seeing that Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi was persisting and always returning, plotted to get the Shaykh killed. They convinced Ameer Afzal Khan that the Kufr of this person is established, there is no way he will change his path, so he should be killed and there is no need of Tahqeeq (verification). All the scholars signed the Fatwa to kill the Shaykh except Mulla Mashki, so afterwards they decided to lash him, cut his beard and moustache and parade him in the city on a donkey as a punishment.
It is written in “Tarikh Ahlul Hadith” of Molana Ibrahim Meer As-Sialkoti p 436: “With the will of Ameer Afzal Khan, they agreed to give a Fatwa of lashing him and riding him on a donkey in the city. So he and his 3 sons were paraded in the city and they were beaten, and when these unjust oppressors finished this humiliating punishment, they imprisoned him with his sons for 2 years.”
After 2 years, when they were freed, Ameer Afzal Khan had died, and his son Ameer A’zam Khan ordered them to be exiled, so the Shaykh left for Peshawar, and after few days he went to Amristsar in Punjab. After 15 years of trials and exiles, he decided to remain for good in Amritsar where he taught in peace.
Teaching in Amritsar
Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi established in Amritsar “Madrasah Al-Ghaznawiyah” where he and his 3 sons Abdullah, Muhammad and Abdul Jabbar taught, as well as Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Al-Batalwi. Many people came to study there and the Shaykh’s fame increased in all India.
Afterwards ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi established 3 more centers: one in Delhi, one in Bhopal and one in Patna.
Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi also wrote and translated many books and epistles that he would publish and distribute for free (“Sawanih Umri” p 22)
The Shaykh’s Zuhd
Ghulam Rasul Al-Qal’awi said: “Molana ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi would do many efforts particularly in two things: one to pray with humility and concentration, and second doing Tadabbur of the speech of Allah.”
Also Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi was told to be Mustajab Ad-Da’wah, meaning many of his invocations would be answered.
It is reported by Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi that once when his father was busy in Zikr, one could heard the walls of the Masjid saying: La ilaha ila Allah. (Dawud Al-Ghaznawi p 16)
Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi said that his father would invoke a lot for the Muslims and also for disbelievers that Allah guides them to Islam, and he heard him many times saying: “The people from whose hands I received so many harms, I forgive them all, so on the day of judgment none of them get caught by Allah (Ta’ala) because of me.” (“Sawanih Umri” p 20)
Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi’s main students:
Hafiz Abu Muhammad Ibrahim Aarwi
Molana Rafee’udin Shakranwi Al-Bahari
Qadhi Tala Muhammad Khan Al-Peshawri
Qadhi Abdul Wahid Khanpuri
Molana Muhiyudin ‘AbdurRahman Al-Lakhwi
Hafiz ‘Abdul Mannan Al-Wazeerabadi
Molana Ghulam Nabi Ar-Rabbani As-Suhadrawi
Hafiz Muhammad Ramadhan Al-Peshawri
Molana ‘Abdul Wahhab Sadr Ad-Dehlawi
Qadhi Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad Khanpuri
His death and scholar’s praise of him
Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi passed away on 15 Rabee ul Awwal 1298 (1879) in Amristsar.
Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi said about him: “There were two ‘Abdullah who came in my lessons: one ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi and the second ‘Abdullah Al-Ghazipuri”, meaning that he was among his most outstanding students.
Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan said about him: “What a great person Sayid ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi was! He gathered the knowledge of Hadith and the knowledge of Batin according to the Sunnah. He faced many harm from the innovators of his country for propagating the truth. He was very devoted to worship and remembrance (of Allah). He did great work to propagate the knowledge of Hadith and imitation of the Sunnah. I have not seen anyone similar to him in this chapter among the people of his time. He was a tool to propagate Hadith and eradicate the innovations. In Usul and Furu’, he was upon the way of the Salaf As-Salihin.” (“Taqsar min Tazkar Juyud Al-Ahrar” p 194)
Shamsul Haq Al-‘Azeemabadi wrote about him in his “Ghayat Al-Maqsud” (1/12): “He was in all conditions drowned in the remembrance of Allah (‘Azza wa Jalla) until his meat, bones, veins, hair and all his body was turned towards Allah (Ta’ala), vanished (Fanian) in the remembrance of Him (‘Azza wa Jalla)”
Habeebullah Al-Qandahari said about him: “I knew that Allah would do your Tarbiyah and you don’t need me. Allah will never waste you” (“Ahlul Hadith” Amritsar December 1918)
Sayid Abdul Hay Al-Hasani An-Nadwi Al-Hanafi wrote in his “Nuzhah Al-Khawatir vol 7 p 302-303: “The Shaykh, Imam, scholar Muhadith ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad Shareef Al-Ghaznawi, Shaykh Muhammad A’zam (his original name) Az-Zahid Al-Mujahid walking in the desire of Allah, preferring His satisfaction over his self, his family, wealth and country. He had a prestigious rank and great cognizance.”
Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi had 12 sons and 15 daughters. His sons are in order:
Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi
Abdul Wahid Al-Ghaznawi
‘Abdul Qayum Al-Ghaznawi
‘Abdul Azeez Al-Ghaznawi
‘Abdul Hay Al-Ghaznawi
‘Abdul Quddus Al-Ghaznawi
‘Abdur Raheem Al-Ghaznawi
Abdullah ibn ‘Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi
Abdullah ibn Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi, the eldest of the Shaykh’s sons, took the charge of Madrasah Al-Ghaznawiyah after the death of his father. He learned Hadith from Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi as well. He passed away two years after his father in 1300H.
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi, the second of the Shaykh’s son, also learned Hadith from Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi. Molana Sayid Abdul Hay Al-Hasani An-Nadwi writes in “Nuzha Al-Khawatir v 7 p 417: “Everyone agrees on his virtues, piety, religiosity and honesty.” He also wrote on the same page: “He is among those who faced great harm in the way of Allah, he was terrorized just for supporting the Sunnah of the Messenger (saw).”
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdillah wrote a Hashiyah to the Tafseer “Jami’ Al-Bayan” which was published and distributed freely. Molanan Badr uz Zaman Muhammad Shafee’ An-Nepali said: “He published “Al-Musawwa” of Shah Waliyullah Ad-Dehlawi in 1293, and it was the first publication of this book, and with this he published many translations of the Quran and books of Hadith and books related to Hadith.” (Shaykh Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi p 127).
Muhammad ibn Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi passed away two years before the death of his father in 1296. The famous poet Muhammad Iqbal mentioned in a poem in “Nuqush Makateeb n 303 that Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi hearing the death of his son during a lesson stopped for a minute, recited a poem in Persian telling his satisfaction of Allah’s decree and then carried on his lesson.
‘Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi
After the death of Abdullah ibn ‘Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi, Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi took in charge the Madrasah Al-Ghaznawiyah. He also learned Hadith from Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi and faced like his two elder brothers hardships in Afghanistan. Because the students of Madrasah Al-Ghaznawiyah increased considerably, people were also coming from outside the country to study there, Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi turned Madrasah Al-Ghaznawiyah in a full Dar Al-‘Ulum named “Dar Al-‘Ulum Taqwiyah Al-Islam” in 1902/1319.
This Dar Al-‘Ulum carried on in Amritsar up to 1947, and among its famous teachers: Sayid Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi, AbdurRaheem Al-Ghaznawi, Sufi Abdul Haq Al-Ghaznawi, Ma’sum Ali Al-Hazarwi, Muhammad Husayn Al-Hazarwi, Abdul Ghafoor Al-Ghaznawi, Abu Ishaq Naik Muhammad, Sayid Muhammad Dawud Al-Ghaznawi, ‘Abdullah Al-Bhujiyani
Many great scholars such as Hafiz ‘Abdullah Ar-Ropuri, Hafiz Muhammad Al-Gondalwi, Abdul Kareem Al-Fayrozpuri, Faqeerullah Al-Madarasi, Hakeem Ubayd Ar-Rahman Ad-Dehlawi, Isma’eel As-Salafi, Hakeem ‘AbdurRahman. Abu Yahya Imam Khan Ash-Shahrawi studied there.
When Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi passed away in 1331, Abdul Wahid Al-Ghaznawi took charge of “Dar Al-‘Ulum Taqwiyah Al-Islam” and when he passed away in 1930, Sayid Muhammad Dawud ibn Abdil Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi took it in charge. After the creation of Pakistan, Dawud Al-Ghaznawi transferred “Dar Al-‘Ulum Taqwiyah Al-Islam” to Lahore on Shish Mahal rd, where it is still running today.
Molana Sayid Abdul Hay Al-Hasani An-Nadwi write in “Nuzhah Al-Khawatir” v 8 p 218-219 about Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi: “He was a great scholar and Muhadith, all the people of his time agreed on his rank, status and sainthood…He was very intelligent, was reading a lot, and had great share of deep understanding and Firasah. He was very busy in teaching Quran and Hadith in Amritsar, and he would stay far away from this world and its people. He would be devoted to worship and calling the creation to the worship of Allah…I have visited him many times in Amritsar and I saw him being upon the way of the Salaf As-Salihin. He was among the Ulama Ar-Rabbani, when giving a Fatwa he would not stick to a particular Madhab but he would not spread bad opinion on the Mujtahid Imams rather would always mention them with good.”
Sayid Abul Hasan An-Nadwi wrote in “Parane Charagh” p 275-276: “In my youth, among the great scholars having true Aqeedah and following the Sunnah that came to my ears and for whom I had great respect, there was Molana Sayid ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi and his noble successor Molana Sayid ‘Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi. These great personalities were residing in Ghazni but they were punished by Afzal Khan, the Ameer of Kabul for the crime of having a pure Aqeedah of Tawheed and complete imitation of the Sunnah and the Salaf, and in his rule they had to abandon their land. Following the people about whom the verse: “Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah.”” (Al-Hajj : 40) was revealed, he went with his family to Amritsar, where he settled.
He was a great personality, caller to Allah, Tawheed, Sunnah, a propagator of Quran and Hadith. The people of his region and people of Nazar of his time agreed on his sainthood. The author of “Nuzhah Al-Khawatir” mentioned about him: “He had a prestigious rank and great cognizance.” He wrote about him that he was a cause of Barakah for his time and a cause of prestige for India. He passed away at the end of the 13 century (1298).
His son Molana Sayid ‘Abdul Jabbar Al-Jabbar walked upon the footsteps of his father. He had the same zeal for propagating Tawheed and Sunnah, the same Zuhd, Tawakkul, the same passion to propagate Quran and Hadith. The author of “Nuzhah Al-Khawatir” mentioned about him: “All the people of his time agreed on his rank, status and sainthood.” He passed away in 1331 in Amritsar…
When the annual conference of Nadwah Al-Ulama occurred in Amritsar in 1902/1320, all scholars from different region of India gathered. The Nawab of Sadr Yaar Jang, Molana Habeeb Ar-Rahman Ash-Sharwani narrated that ‘Allamah Shibli attended there one of his (Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi) lecture, and it had a great effect on him and he said: “When this person recites the speech of Allah on his tongue, I have the uncontrolled (be Ikhtiyar) desire to put my head on his foot.” End of Abul Hasan An-Nadwi speech
Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi was famous for his dispute with Shaykh Al-Islam Thanaullah Al-Amritsari regarding the Taweel of the attributes of Allah and his denial of Karamat, and he wrote a book against him called “Al-Arbaeen fi anna Thanaullah laysa ala madhab al-Muhaditheen”. After his death, his student Hafiz Abdullah Ar-Ropuri translated this book into Arabic and sent it to King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who was very close to the Ghaznawi family.
King ‘Abdul Aziz formed a committee of scholars with Shaykh Abdul Lateef Aal Shaykh, Shaykh Bahjat Al-Beetar Ash-Shami, Shaykh Rasheed Rida Al-Misri, ‘Abdullah ibn Hasan Imam of Makkah, Shaykh Abdullah Al-Bulayhid, chief justice of Hijaz.
Shaykh Abdul Wahid Al-Ghaznawi appeared with Shaykh Thanaullah Al-Amritsari in this committee. After this, Shaykh Thanaullah Al-Amritsari stopped doing Taweel of Allah’s attributes and stopped his denial of Karamat, rather established them according to the Madhab of the Salaf. King ‘Abdul ‘Aziz himself read the resolution of the committee.
Hafiz Abdul Jabbar Al-Ghaznawi books:
“Sabeel An-Najat if Mubayanah Ar-Rab ‘anil Makhluqat” (Urdu, a book on Allah being separate from the creation)
“’Aqeedah Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah fi masalah Al-Istiwa wal Mubayanah” (Arabic, on the topic of Allah being above His throne and separate from the creation)
“Fatawa Al-Ghaznawiyah” (Urdu)
“Al-Majmu’ah Al-Fatawa” (Urdu)
“Al-Arbaeen fi anna Thanaullah laysa ala madhab al-Muhaditheen” Urdu, a book in which he gathered 40 proofs showing that Shaykh Al-Islam Thanaullah Al-Amritsari was not upon the way of the Muhadiths)
“Sawanih ‘Umri Molana Sayid ‘Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi” (urdu, biography of his father)
‘Abdul Wahid Al-Ghaznawi
‘Abdul Wahid Al-Ghaznawi, who studied under Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi and his younger brother ‘Abdur Raheem Al-Ghaznawi upon the request of Sultan ‘AbdurRahman father of King Abdul Aziz Aal Saud taught Hadith to members of Aal Saud family for 5 years during the Aal Saud exile in Kuwait, and during this period many scholars of Najd also studied books of Hadith under them. Thus King Abdul Aziz Aal Saud and his father both studied Hadith from these two members of the Ghaznawi family, and afterwards, they always honored the Ghaznawi family.
Among Abdullah Al-Ghaznawi famous grand sons:
Abdul Awwal ibn Muhammad ibn Abdilah Al-Ghaznawi. He also studied under Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi. He translated Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Mishkat Al-Masabih and Riyad As-Salihin in Urdu.
Abdul Ghafoor ibn Muhammad ibn Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi. He also studied under Mian Nazeer Husayn Ad-Dehlawi. He was among the teachers of Hafiz Muhammad Al-Gondalwi and Isma’eel As-Salafi.
Isma’eel ibn Abdil Wahid Al-Ghaznawi. When King Abdul Aziz called an Islamic conference in 1926 in Makkah, he was one of the four Ahlul Hadith scholars from all Ahlul Hadith conference (the 3 others were his father, Thanaullah Al-Amritsari and Hameedulah Ad-Dehlawi). Afterwards, King Abdul Aziz appointed him for supervision of Hajj and this post was similar to that of a minister. He wrote many books such as “Jalalah Al-Malak ibn Su’ud” in which he detailed the merits of king Abdul Aziz Aal Saud, “Istiqlal Hijaz” in which he refuted objections against King Abdul Aziz after his conquest of Hijaz in 1925 and “Islahat Hijaz” in which he showed what the things rectified by King Abdul ‘Aziz after conquering Hijaz. He also translated “Al-Hadiyah As-Sanniyah” of Allamah Sulayman ibn Sahman in Urdu.
Muhammad Dawud ibn Abdil Jabbar ibn Abdillah Al-Ghaznawi. He was the first president of Jamiyat Ahlul Hadith Pakistan after the creation of the state of Pakistan. Whenever prince Saud ibn ‘Abdil Aziz would come to Pakistan, he would visit Dawud Al-Ghaznawi and prince Saud ibn Abdul Aziz invited him for the inauguration of Madeenah university and also asked Dawud Al-Ghaznawi to become a member of the Madeenah university board, which he refused due to his activities in Pakistan.
Sources: “Ghaznawi Khandan” of ‘AbdurRasheed ‘Iraqee, and others
May Allah send Salah and Salam on the Prophet 9saw), his family and companions!