Biography of Shaykh Dhiya Ar-Rahman A’zami
Biography of Shaykh Muhammad Abdullah Dhiya Ar-Rahman A’zami (1943-2020)
His trials after his conversion to Islam
Shaykh Dhiya Ar-Rahman A’zami was born in 1943 in a village in A’zamgarh in the province of UP in a Hindu family. His parents had named him Banke Ram, and they were rich businessmen, their business was spread from A’zamgarh to Calcutta. Shaykh Dhiya Ar-Rahman converted to Islam in Shibli College in A’zamgharh at the age of 16 after reading a Hindi translation of the book “Deen e Haqq” of Shaykh Mawdudi and the translation of the Quran in Hindi of Khawajah Hasan Nizami.
He was pressured by his family to leave Islam but he refused. They believed he was possessed hence they took him to many Pundits who tried to recite their formulas and incantations on him and feed him with their specific foods but he remained firm on Islam and said “Bismillah” before eating was given to him. His father sent him to Ilahabad where many pundits and sorcerers tried to work their spells on him and tried to speak to him to leave Islam but he would argue and debate with them. After they said that if you want to leave Hinduism then adopt Christianity as Christians are well off in the society while Muslims are generally in poor condition and Christianity is a better religion. He replied to them that he did not become Muslim being influenced by Muslims but he entered the circle of Islam being influenced by Islam.
His parents used another trick, they with his brothers and sisters announced that they would go on hunger strike until he announced publically his return to Hinduism. This was worrying for him but Allah (Ta’ala) gave him strength and Istiqamah and he went through this trial.
His parents tried another trick by bringing a Molvi who said he cannot enter Islam without the permission of his parents and until his parents are alive, he should keep his faith hidden but not pray and fast and announce it publically. He found it very strange but accepted this thinking it to be the ruling of Islam, but he came to know after a little while that this Molvi is from a sect separate from Muslims and his Fatwa has nothing to do with Islam. So he started again to pray and announced publically his disowning of Hinduism.
His parents decided to sent him to an extremist Hindu group RSS, and when his Muslims friends came to know about this, they hided him in the room of one of their friends living outside his village. The members of RSS searched for him but could not find him. This occurred in the month of Ramadhan. He remained hidden for a week and went afterwards upon his desire to a Religious institute in a village in Badayun so he could be safe from RSS militants. There with learning Islam, he also learned Urdu. He remained there one year and a half until RSS militants came to know about his presence in Badayun and went to catch him, but he managed to escape before their arrival as the news of their coming had reached his teachers.
He went to study in the famous Madrasah Darussalam in Umerabad. The teachers there had heard about his situation so they welcomed him with great warmth. He studied there for 5 years and did his Alimiyat and Fazeelat degrees there.
After studying there, he returned to his village for some time, and he remained in the house of his friend who had gifted him the book of Shaykh Mawdudi which lead him to Islam. When the people heard about his arrival, they welcomed him in a great number and even some Hindus went to meet him, as they were impressed by his determination of remaining firm upon Islam despite all these hardships.
When he came back to his village, the day of Eed Al-Fitr was close and the Muslims announced that Dhiya Ar-Rahman A’zami will lead the Eed prayer and do Khutbah. Thousands of Muslims came not only from his village but also surrounding villages. Also many Hindus were interested to hear his speech. They were impressed how Muslims accept to lead them in prayer someone who few years ago was a Non Muslim and confer him such a great honour. He met his parents on this occasion and their temperament had changed.
In 1966, Shaykh Dhiya Ar-Rahman Azami went to Madinah Unversity where he was accepted straight away. He graduated from Madeenah University in 1970 and went to do his MA in Makkah in Jamiyah Abdul Aziz which is called nowadays Umm Al-Qura University. His MA thesis was entitled “Abu Hurayrah fi Daw Marwiyatihi fi Shawahidihi wa Infiradihi”. After obtaining his MA, he joined the Muslim World League where he obtained an important post. He went afterwards to do his PhD in Jamiyah Al-Azhar Egypt. His Phd was regarding “Aqdhiyah Ar-Rasool (saw)), the verdicts of the Prophet (saw).
In 1979, he became Professor of Hadith in Kulliyah Al-Hadith in Madinah University. He verified phd of students and taught there for a long time and many students around the world benefited from him. After his retirement he taught Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim in Masjid Nabawwi.
Among his famous teachers:
Shaykh Abdullah ibn Humayd (Chief Justice KSA)
Shaykh Abdul Aziz ibn Baz
Shaykh AbdulQadir Shayah Al-Hamd
Shaykh Abu Bakr Al-Jazairi
Shaykh Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbad
Shaykh Abdul Wajid Umri Rehmani (Jamiyah Darussalam Umerabad)
Shaykh Abul Bayan Hammad Umri (Jamiyah Darussalam Umerabad)
His travels for Da’wah:
India, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Australia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, UK, EAU and others.
Among his positions:
1) Different positions in Muslim World League, his final position there was In Charge Head Office General Secretary (Mudeer Maktab Al-Ameen Al-Aam li Rabitah Al-Alama Al-Islami)
2) Director of Al-Bahth Al-Ilmi
3) Director of Maltab Al-Jaliyat which is under Madinah University
4) Member of the magazine of Madinah University
5) Dean of the Kulliyah Al-Hadith in Madinah University
1) "Quran ki Shital Chaya": Hindi book calling educated Hindus to Islam. It is a very important book written on this topic.
2) "Talwaron ke Sae mein": Urdu book mentioning those who struggled with their tongues, pens, wealth and lives to propagate Islam.
3) "Ganga se Zamzam tak": Urdu book in which he mentioned the story of his conversion and hardships faced. He also mentioned in it the movements of the 20ieth century of revival of Islam and influent Islamic personalities of his time.
4) "Abu Hurayrah fi Daw Marwiatihi fi Shawahidihi wa Infiradihi": Arabic book which was his MA Maqalah, he replied in this books to objections of Hadith rejecters and modernists against Abu Hurayrah on how he could narrate more than 5000 Ahadith in 3 years while other companions remained more than 20 years and didn't narrate as much.
5) "Aqdhiyah Ar-Rasool (saw)": Arabic, his PhD Maqalah on the verdicts of the Prophet (saw) as a judge and ruler during his rule for 23 years. It was translated in Urdu by Shaykh Ghulam Ahmad Hariri and was a very popular book. This book was written by Abu Abdillah ibn Farh Al-Maliki known as ibn Tala'. He was born in 404 and passed away in 497 and he compiled in it the Ahadith related to the verdicts of the Prophet (saw) by chapters. Shaikh Dhiya Ar-Rahman Azami did Takhrij of this book and added some Ahadith and notes.
6) "Al-Fusul fi Adyan Al-Hind": This Arabic book does an examination of 4 religions in India and clarifies their beliefs: Hindu religion, Buddhist religion, Jen religion and Sikh religion
7) "Al-Yahoodiyah wa Nasraniyah": This Arabic book examines the religions of Judaism and Christianity from their beginning to their alteration.
8) "Ad-Dirasah fil Jarh wa Ta'deel" This Arabic book is a very book on this topic.
9) "Al-Madkhal fil Sunnan Al-Kubra": Arabic, this book is the Tahqiq of the introduction to "As-Sunnan Al-Kubra" of Imam Bayhaqi. This introduction was very rare and Shaykh Azami published a manuscript present in Asia Society Calcutta with his Tahqiq and introduction in which he introduced 89 of Imam Bayhaqi’s teachers. It has been translated in Urdu by Hakeem Muhammad Yahya Khan and it was published by “Idrah Ma’arif Islami” in 1997.
10) “Al-Minnah Al-Kubra Sharh wa Takhrij As-Sunnan As-Sughra Lil Hafiz Bayhaqi”: Arabic, this is the famous book of Imam Bayhaqi in 4 volumes, Shaykh A’zami did Tahqiq of it.
11) “Amali ibn Marwiyah (d410)”: Arabic, Shaykh A’zami did a Tahqiq of it with introducing it.
12) “Fath Al-Ghafoor fi Wad’ Al-Aydi alal Sudur”: (Arabic), Shaykh A’zami did Tahqiq of this book of Shaykh Muhammad Hayat Sindhi and wrote an introduction to it.
13) “Mu’jam Mustalahat Al-Hadith wa Lataif Al-Asanid” (Arabic), definition of technical terms related to the science of Hadith classified in alphabetical order. Dr Sohail Hasan translated this book in Urdu with some additions and published it in Islamabad, and afterwards Dr AbdurRahman Feraway published it in India by Dar Ad-Da’wah Delhi.
14) “At-Tamasuk bi Sunnah fil ‘Aqaid wal Ahkam” (Arabic), his student Dr Tahir Mehmood (head of Da'wah Academy Islamabad International University) translated this book in Urdu and it was published by Darsussalam Riyadh and after in Mumbai.
15) “Al-Jami’ Al-Kamil fil Hadith As-Sahih Ash-Shamil”: This collection of Hadith contains all authentic narrations classified according to chapters of jurisprudence with the Takhrij of the Shaykh. The book has 67 major chapters (Kutub), 5605 sub-chapters (Abwab). The second edition has been published by Bayt As-Salam Riyadh in 19 volumes and it has 16546 Ahadith, more than the first edition published by Darussalam. The introduction contains rules of Hadith science like the introduction of “Tuhfatul Ahwazi”.
16) “Quran Encyclopaedia”: This book in 2 volumes was written by Shaykh A’zami in Hindi and it is an explanation of words in the Qur’an classified in alphabetical order. Under the supervision of Shaykh AbdurRahman Feraway, its Urdu translation has been published in a single volume. It has also been translated in English.
17) “Dirasat fi Sunnah An-Nabawiyah”: It was published in the magazine of Jamiyah Islamiyah Madinah Munawarrah.
18) “Tahiyah Al-Masjid”: It was published by Jamiyah Islamiyah Madinah Munawarrah in 1403.
19) “Salah At-Tarawih”: Published by Jamiyah Islamiyah Madinah Munawarrah in 1403.
20) “Salah Al-Jama’ah”: Published in the magazine of Jamiyah Islamiyah.
21) “Salah Al-Musafir”: Published by Al-Jamiyah Islamiyah Madinah Munawarrah.
22) “Tuhfah Al-Mutaqin fi ma Sahha minal Azkar wa Ruqa wa Tibb an Sayidil Mursalin”
23) “Adab Al-Aali”: This book is a summary of “Al-Jami Al-Kamil” of Ahadith related to etiquettes. It was published by Jamiyah Darussalam Umerabad.
24) “Ikhtisar Jami Al-Kamil”: This is a summary of Al-Jami Al-Kamil in 5 volumes and the aim is to translate it in English and other languages so it is easily accessible to laymen. For the moment the Urdu and English translations of this work have started.
Ustadh Abu Saffiyah Mohammed Osman wrote at the death of his teacher:
“Indeed we belong to Allah, and to Him we shall surely return. With great sadness the passing of one of my most beloved and inspirational teachers has reached me. Sh Dr Muhammad Abdullah (Dhiya al-Rahman) al-‘Azami has returned to his Rabb on the Day of ‘Arafah.
The Shaykh’s inspirational journey from Hinduism to Islam, becoming the Dean of the Faculty of Hadith and Teacher in the Prophet’s (saw) Masjid, as well as authoring numerous beneficial works in Arabic, Urdu and English- the pinnacle of them being his 20 volume collection of Authentic Ahadith: al-Jami’ al-Kamil.
Something I always recount from my memories with the Shaykh, during his lessons on Sahih al-Bukhari and Mustalah al-hadith is his fervent love of the Sunnah and humility he had with students of knowledge. Once, after our weekly lessons in the Masjid, I cheekily requested to study privately another text with him as he was going back to his car- by this time the Shaykh’s health was deteriorating and he was wheelchair bound. He humbly apologised for not being able to dedicate the time to the lesson and left. After a few minutes, he turned around and came back to apologise further! This one moment was worth more than a thousand durus- it taught me the humility and humbleness one should have with students of knowledge, even if not able to fulfil their requests!.
We pray that Allah forgives him, showers his mercy upon him, raises his rank, widens his grave and admits him amongst the Siddiqun…aameen
I will be teaching the introduction to his last book in hadith, his magnum opus if you like, as soon as my copy arrives from Pakistan in sha Allah.” End of Ustadh Abu Saffiyah's speech.
Shaykh Suhaib Hasan wrote in his Memoirs part 10 about Shaykh Dhiya Ar-Rahman A’zami:
An interview with Ziaur Raḥmān Al-‘Azami:
Born into a Hindu family in Azam Garh, India in 1943, he studied in Shibli college at his home town and then converted to Islam. It was a long story of trials and tribulations for him due to his conversion to Islam. He had to move away from his home to avoid any confrontation with his Hindu relatives So he ended up in the famous Dār-ul-‘Uloom of ‘Omar Abad from where he graduated around 1966.
Like Sheikh Wasiullah ‘Abbās, he came to Saudi Arabia in 1967. He was fortunate enough to complete Sharia studies for four years in Madīnah, then two years to have a master’s degree in Makkah until he joined Al-Azhar in Cairo from where he achieved his doctorate in 1977. I must have seen him in around 1977 when I started visiting Makkah to work during the Ḥajj season with “Al-Ta’iya al-Islamia fi Al-Ḥajj” (The committee to create awareness during Ḥajj). At that time, he was employed by Rabita (Muslim World League). Sāliḥ Al-Qazzaz used to be the secretary general of Rabita in those days. Al-‘Azami told me that his association with Rabita meant that he should accompany the Secretary General in all his journeys abroad to attend international conferences whenever required but he apologized to travel anywhere because he was busy in accomplishing his doctoral papers entitled “Aqẓiya-tul-Nabi” (The rulings given by the Prophet ﷺ).I remember meeting there Sheikh ‘Āsim Al-Haddad, my teacher of Arabic in Lahore in my school days. I met him at Rabita’s old headquarters on our way from the sacred Mosque to Al-‘Aziziyya. Al-‘Azami told me that he lived with him in his flat before his family joined him.
During his studies in Madīnah, Dr. Taqiuddin Al-Hilali who was entrusted with the subject of Comparative Religion used to call him at night and discuss with him the summary of the lesson he had to deliver next morning. He said to him, had it not been due to the regulations of the Jam’ia, he would have allowed him to deliver the lessons instead.
He mentioned to me one of my dear colleagues in Jam’ia Madīnah, Hafeez-ul-Raḥmān Al-‘Umary, who used to be his teacher at Dār-ul-‘Uloom, ‘Umar Abād, India, a man of great skill; well-versed in Urdu literature and poetry. We used to exchange our thoughts while we were on our way from Jam’ia to the city of Madīnah in the evening. Truly speaking, he was the one who would talk a lot out of his abounding knowledge and I was the one to listen.
Al-‘Azami told me that he was now given the task of running Dār-al-‘Uloom. Sadly, his wife had passed away while his three daughters were all married, so he had to pass his life alone at home. Al-‘Azami took his Ijazah in Ḥadīth, especially in Saḥīḥ al-Bukhari and Saḥīh Muslim from two of his Shuyukh: Sheikh Subhani and Sheikh ‘Abdul Majīd of India.
From him I knew that our Sheikh ‘Abdul Qādir Shaibat-ul-Ḥamd, the one who taught us Bulūgh al-Marām and the subject of Comparative Religion had passed away. So among our Shuyukh in Madīnah two are still alive: Sheikh ‘Abdul Moḥsin Hamad Al-‘Abbād and Sheikh Abu Bakr Jābir Al-Jazairi.
Then he mentioned two of his books which were crowned with popularity and acceptance.
The first one is the Encyclopaedia of the Quran, which was first published in the Hindi language and proved to be very beneficial and inspiring for the Hindus in India. A Muslim lady was so motivated by its contents that she rendered the whole work into English. Al-‘Azami wanted a review of its language to a standard more acceptable to the English readers.
The second book is the product of a number of years after retirement from teaching at the Islamic University of Madīnah. He started collecting all Saḥīḩ Aḥādīth scattered in a great number of Aḥādīth collections to accommodate them into one single book. Apart from Saḥīh Bukhari and Saḥīh Muslim, he subjected all other Aḥādīth to his own research. Eventually he was able to compile “Al-Kāmil” which accommodated sixteen thousand Saḥīḥ Ahādīth in twelve volumes. Another three thousand weak Aḥādīth were also added to this work only for distinction. He also prepared a summarized edition of this collection in five volumes without Takhrīj. It came to my knowledge that the book was sold like hot cakes in a short period of time, and is now in need to be reprinted.
May Allah accept his services for the Deen of Islam and make his work an asset for him to achieve His pleasure.” End of Shaykh Suhaib Hasan’s words
Shaykh Dhiya Ar-Rahman A’zami passed away on the day of Arafah, the 30 July 2020 in Madeenah where his Janazah was conducted in the Prophetic Masjid and he was buried in Jannatul Baqi’.
Article of Shaykh AbdulHakeem AbdulMa’bud Madni
“Professor Dr Muhammad Dhiya Ar-Rahman Azami ki Ilmi Tasanif ka Mukhtasar Ta’aruf” of Dr Abdul Haleem Bismullah.
“Chamestan Hadith” of Shaykh Ishaq Bhatti
With other online sources.