Master of the scholars, light of the jurists, spiritual mentor for the seekers, Hadhrat Mawlānā Muftī Muhammad Irshād Husain Mujaddidī Rāmpurī Hanafī radiyAllāhu anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was a great Islamic scholar, author, jurist, and Sufi master of the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī path. He was a descendant of Imām Rabbānī Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī radiyAllāhu anhu, and his family tree is as follows.
- Muftī Irshād Husain Mujaddidī Rāmpurī was the second son of
- Mawlānā Hakīm Ahmad Husain Mujaddidī Rāmpurī, who was the second son of
- Shaykh Ghulām Muhiy ad-Dīn Mujaddidī, who was the eldest son of
- Shaykh Faiz Ahmad Mujaddidī, who was the second son of
- Shāh Kamāl ad-Dīn Mujaddidī, who was the eldest son of
- Shaykh Durwīsh Ahmad Mujaddidī, who was the fourth son of
- Shaykh Zain al-Ābidīn alias Faqīr-Allāh Mujaddidī, who was the second son of
- Hadhrat Khwāja Muhammad Yahyā Sirhindī Fārūqī, who was the sixth son of
- Hadhrat Imām Rabbānī Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī Fārūqī
This chain goes to the second caliph of Islam Hadhrat Sayyidinā Umar ibn Khattāb al-Fārūq radiyAllāhu anhu.
He was born on 14 Safar 1248 AH (July 1832 CE) in Mustafā-Ābād, now called Rāmpur, UP, India. He was named by his parents Muhammad Irshād Husain.
He received basic education of Persian from his father, his elder brother Mawlānā Imdād Husain, Shaykh Ahmad Alī, and Shaykh Wājid Alī. He learned Arabic education from Mawlānā Hāfiz Ghulām Nabī, Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn, and Mawlānā Nasīr ad-Dīn Khān. He learned Islamic education from the scholars of Lucknow, and finally he learned the higher courses from Mawlānā Muhammad Nawāb Afghānī Naqshbandī Mujaddidī in Rāmpur.
During his studies with Mawlānā Nawāb Afghānī in Rāmpur, he had a classmate called Nawāb Kalb Alī Khān, who was grandson of the then ruler of Rāmpur state Nawāb Muhammad Sa’īd Khān and later himself became the Nawāb (ruler). Nawāb Muhammad Sa’īd Khān had arranged two qualified Shia Mujtahids (jurists) to teach the beliefs of Imāmiyah Shia sect to his grandson. Whatever they taught the young Nawāb, Mawlānā Irshād Husain would refute them with powerful arguments such that Nawāb Kalb Alī would ignore them. The efforts of the Shia scholars were all wasted, so they complained to the Nawāb, who stopped sending his grandson to the class of Mawlānā Nawāb Afghānī, depriving him of his company with Mawlānā Irshād Husain. However, the noble companionship had already satisfied Nawāb Kalb Alī Khān who later converted to Ahl as-Sunnah and followed the Hanafī school and was a devoted lover of the Naqshbandī saints.
After this incidence, Mawlānā Muhammad Nawāb Afghānī migrated to Delhi and Shaykh Irshād Husain accompanied him and learned from him there.
While in Delhi, he swore allegiance to the great saint and master of the Naqshbandī order Hadhrat Shāh Ahmad Sa’īd Mujaddidī quddisa sirruhū (may his secret be sanctified) on the advice of his teacher Mawlānā Muhammad Nawāb Afghānī. He was trained in the spiritual path and quickly traversed the spiritual stations. His shaykh finally awarded him with deputyship in the Mujaddidī Path.
After the incidences of 1857, his shaykh migrated to the holy city of Madīna. He also accompanied his shaykh to the city of Pānīpat, where his shaykh allowed him to return to Rāmpur.
Later, he traveled for Hajj accompanied with his truthful servant Muhammad Mūsā Bukhārī, and met his shaykh in Madīnah and received further spiritual training. After spending about one year in the city of light, the Best of Creations sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam ordered his shaykh to send him back to Rāmpur.
While in Rāmpur, Mawlana Ināyat Alī Khān Mujaddidī (who later became the deputy of Mawlānā Irshād Husain) requested a saint named Hājī Muhammadī quddisa sirruhū to take him as a disciple, who replied: “Continue your studies! Soon a great Qutb of the time is to arrive here from whom you will get the full benefit”.
By his shaykh’s orders, Mawlānā Irshād Husain Mujaddidī returned to Rāmpur as a master and Qutb. He initially stayed in a room at the khāniqāh of a great saint Mawlānā Abd al-Karīm alias “Mullā Faqīr Akhund” Qādrī Chishtī. While staying in that room, he memorized the Holy Qur’ān by heart in only nine months. He also married a widow and fulfilled the beautiful Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam.
Later he acquired a place where he started a madrasah in 1284H (1867) named Irshād al-Ulūm, also called Dār al-Irshād or Bait al-Irshād. He used to teach himself in that madrasah and many students benefited from him. When the number of students grew, he converted the place to a regular madrasah in 1306H (1889). On 10 March 1890, he appointed Mawlānā Sayyid Ahmad Qādrī as the head of the madrasah.
Students came to learn from him from many near and far areas. After Fajr prayer, he would engage in his regular prayers and practices including Hizb al-Bahr, Ishrāq prayer, Istikhārah prayer, and Khatm of Hadhrat Imām Rabbānī Mujaddid Alf-i Sānī radiyAllāhu anhu. After that he would start teaching until afternoon. In the evening, he would give lessons after Asr prayer from the great books of Tasawwuf such as Masnavī Rūmī, Maktūbāt Imām Rabbānī, Awārif al-Ma’ārif, and Ihyā al-Ulūm. Tuesdays and Thursdays were fixed for writing fatwās (rulings) and he did not teach on these days. He wrote many fatwās in response to the queries sent to him. His students made copies of some of them which were collected and later published in two volumes by his deputy Mawlānā Abd al-Ghaffār Khān Naqshbandī Rāmpurī.
He was fully adorned with the character of the Holy Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam. He would meet with everyone with utmost respect. Mawlānā Muhammad Hasan Naqshbandī reports that I prayed the Eid salāh before him and the mosque was full of people. After the prayer, everyone met and hugged him, and he met with every person graciously and even had a little chat.
Mawlānā Irshād Husain had a straight body with a medium height, a wide forehead, his eyes were black with a slight redness, eye brows were rather long and separated from each other, and his nose was moderate. He used to wear white turban and a shirt with buttons on the front. He used to keep a walking stick and a misbaha [Tasbīh] in his hands.
His company was full of blessings and Faid. He was a wonderful orator and would describe such strange and unique points of Sharia and the spiritual path which would trance the listeners.
Apart from his mastership in the esoteric and exoteric sciences, he was also a master swordsman and had excellent military training. One day, a soldier [sipahi] came to him and asked: Hadhrat! I have heard that you have excellent practice of swordsmanship, I want to see that. He asked the soldier to come the next day. When he came on the specified day, Mawlānā Irshād Husain had arranged four leg bones of buffalo, which were tired together. He asked the soldier to try to cut them with his sword, who was unable to cut even a single one. When Mawlānā Irshād Husain struck them with his sword, three of them were cut. He said: it is only now (that I have cut three instead of all four, due to my lack of practice), otherwise all four would split with one stroke.
One day, a person grieved to him that my morning prayer gets missed. In response, he remained silent. But from the next day onwards, that person never missed the morning prayer and reported that I feel as if someone awakens me at the right time.
On the 8th of Jumādā al-Ākhirah 1311 AH, Shaykh Irshād Husain became ill and had high fever. He returned all the items under his custody to their owners. During these days of severe sickness, he did not relax in any of his practices. He used to pray five times a day in the masjid, recited all his Awrād and read one third of the holy Qur’ān every day.
Finally, he passed away to the eternal world before dawn on Tuesday 16 Jumādā al-Ākhirah 1311 AH (26 December 1893 CE). His lifespan was sixty three years, in accordance with the Sunnah of the Final Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam. He was buried beside the mosque he had established towards the eastern side, in Rāmpur, India. His tomb is a place of pilgrimage by his lovers and other Muslims, who receive blessings by visiting his noble grave.
Once he had some disagreement with the noble sons of his shaykh and his master Hadhrat Shāh Ahmad Sa’īd Mujaddidī. He asked his shaykh for permission to leave, on which his shaykh replied:
“How can someone afford separation from his eyes and detachment from his heart and soul. Withdraw from your intent (of returning) and live like milk and sugar.”
Mawlānā Muhammad Hasan Naqshbandī Mujaddidī, author of “Mashāikh-i Naqshbandiyah Mujaddidiyah”, writes about him:
“Hadhrat Mawlānā Shāh Ahmad Sa’īd Mujaddidi would highly praise his good aptitude and used to give him such an attention and consideration that even the blessed sons of Shāh Ahmad Sa’īd envied him. After remaining in the company of the Shaykh for few years, he completed the Mujaddidi Sulook with excellence. His understanding [Idrāk] was remarkable and his Cognation [Nisbah] was strong. The lowest, writer of these words (the author) has also visited him: he was wonderful possessor of esoteric and exoteric perfections, a mountain of perseverance, and adorned with the prophetic ethics.”
Hadhrat Shaykh Muhammad Mazhar Mujaddidī, son and deputy of Shāh Ahmad Sa’īd, writes about him:
“Hadhrat Mawlānā Irshād Husain … is a successful person from the senior companions and dignified deputies of Hadhrat Mawlānā Shāh Ahmad Sa’id. He has ascended the ranks of Sulook as deserved. Hadhrat Qiblah (Shāh Ahmad Sa’īd) often mentioned the perfections of the formal and spiritual knowledge of Mawlānā.”
The great scholar Mawlānā Wasī Ahmad Muhaddith Sūratī mentions him with the following words:
“Qutb al-Irshād (the pole of guidance), the nimble Muhaddith (scholar of Hadīth), the reputed jurist, our support, the brilliant scholar, our master, our lord Shaykh Irshād Husain Rāmpurī”
His teacher Mawlānā Muhammad Nawāb Afghānī praised him as follows:
“His gaze is healing and a remedy for every sickness.”
The reputed scholar and Imam Hadhrat Mawlānā Ahmad Razā Khān Barelvī mentioned him with the following words:
“The accomplished and perfected Muhammad Irshād Husain Rāmpurī, may Allāh Almighty have mercy on him.”
He left behind a legacy of scholarship and large number of qualified scholars trained by him, and many deputies in the spiritual path.
To fulfill the noble Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam, he married a widow. He had five sons and two daughters. Two of his sons Irfān Husain and Rizwān Husain passed away in their childhood. The other three sons are the following:
- Mawlānā Ihsān Husain Rāmpurī
- Mawlānā Ma’wān Husain Rāmpurī
- Mawlana Rehān Husain Rāmpurī
He also trained many disciples in the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī path and some of them reached the highest spiritual stations. His spiritual silsila (brotherhood) still exists today in different countries, including India, Bangladesh and Cameroon. His deputies include the following:
- Mawlānā Muftī Muhammad Salāmat-Allāh Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Rāmpurī (d. 1338 AH), his chief deputy who became his spiritual successor
- Mawlānā Hājī Riyāsat Alī Khān Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Shāhjahānpurī (d. 1349 AH)
- Mawlānā Hāfiz Ināyat-Allāh Khān Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Rāmpurī, author of “Maqāmāt-i Irshādiya”
- Mawlānā Imdād Husain Mujaddidī Rāmpurī, his elder brother
- Mawlānā Abd al-Ghaffār Khān Naqshbandī Hanafī Rāmpurī
- Mawlānā Abd al-Qayyūm Khān Naqshbandī Mujaddidī
- Mawlānā Sūfī Abd ar-Rahmān Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Bengālī
- Mawlānā Abd al-Qādir Khān Naqshbandī Mujaddidī
Among his notable students are the following dignitaries:
- His son Mawlānā Ihsān Husain Rāmpurī
- Mawlānā Hāmid Husain Rāmpurī, teacher in the madrasah of Barelī
- Mawlānā Pir Sayyid Jamā’t Alī Shāh Muhaddith Rāmpurī
- Mawlānā Hakīm Husain Razā Khān Qādrī Barelvī
- Mawlānā Muftī Sayyid Dīdār Alī Qādrī Rizwī Alwarī
- The great jurist shaykh Salāmat-Allāh Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Rāmpurī
- Shiblī Nu’mānī, the famous historian and biographer
Mufti Irshād Husain Mujaddidī wrote a number of books and treatises, including the following:
- Intisār al-Haqq, 416 pages, published. This was written in refutation of the book “Mi’yār-i Haqq” by a Wahhabi scholar Nazīr Husain Dihlawī, who had criticized Imām Abū Hanīfa and his method.
- Fatāwā Irshādiya, two volumes, 140 and 184 pages, published. This contains fatwās in Urdu and Persian on many issues. Most of the issues relate to affirming the Sunni creed and refuting the newly introduced Wahhabi beliefs and practices.
- Irshād as-Sarf, 280 pages, published. This is a book of Arabic grammar based on a collection of written lessons by Mawlānā Irshād Husain.
He also wrote forewords to many books written by his contemporary scholars, including the following:
- Iqāmat al-Qiyāmah, by A’lā Hazrat Mawlānā Ahmad Razā Khān Barelvī
- Izān al-Fajr, by A’lā Hazrat Mawlānā Ahmad Razā Khān Barelvī
- Kifl al-Faqīh al-Fāhim, by A’lā Hazrat Mawlānā Ahmad Razā Khān Barelvī
- Munīr al-Ain, by A’lā Hazrat Mawlānā Ahmad Razā Khān Barelvī
- Qāmi’ al-Hadīd, by A’lā Hazrat Mawlānā Ahmad Razā Khān Barelvī
- Jāmi’ ash-Shawāhid Fī Ikhrāj al-Wahābiyyīn An al-Masājid, written by Hadhrat Mawlānā Wasī Ahmad Muhaddith Sūratī
- Aghlāt-i Qāsmiya
- Anwār-i Sāti’a, authored by Mawlānā Abd as-Samī’ Ansārī Rāmpurī, a famous book written in refutation of the Wahhabi creed
- Tuhfat al-Ulamā, authored by Mawlānā Sikandar Alī Wāsil Khālispurī
His struggle against Wahhabism
Shaykh Irshād Husain was not only a mystic Sufi master, he was a great scholar and is often called Muhaddith Rāmpuri in the scholarly circles. He was a jurist and wrote numerous fatwas, many of which have been collected and published under the title Fatāwā Irshādiya. He preached the true creed of Ahl as-Sunnah and refuted the Wahhabi extremist doctrine that had been newly introduced in India. Many of his fatwas or rulings regard the affairs of creed. He also wrote the book Intisār al-Haqq to defend the issue of Taqlid and the dignity of the greatest Imam Abū Hanīfa. Following are some of his rulings or opinions from the Sunni creed that refute the Wahhabi stances on these issues.
In contrast to the Wahhabi belief that Holy Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam is just a common human being, he said that the Prophet is externally a human but in reality he is Nūr (light) and this Nūr was the first thing Allah created.
Some Wahhabis do believe in the eternal life of the Holy Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam, yet they consider him to be residing inside his grave, like a common human being. Mawlānā Irshād Husain comments that the Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam is free to go wherever he wishes, and is not bound inside his holy grave.
He affirmed that the noble parents of the Master of Creations sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam were true believers, unlike the misguided Wahhabis who accuse them of disbelief.
He celebrated the Mawlid of the Final Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam with extreme love and humbleness, and declared that celebrating Mawlid in the mosque is allowed. He also ruled that it is legal to fix a day for celebrating Mawlid and distributing sweets.
It is a common practice of Sunni Muslims to stand up in the honor of the Greatest Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam when his birth events are mentioned or salawāt is recited. Wahhabis, who do not venerate the Prophet, consider this illegal and reprehensible. In fact, they dishonor everything that is related to the dignity of our master sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam. Mufti Irshād Husain ruled that it is perfectly legal to stand up in the honor of the Prophet, and this act has been declared praiseworthy [Mustahab] by the scholars of all four Sunni schools of law: Hanafī, Shāfi’ī, Mālikī and Hanbalī.
Many Sunni Muslims kiss their thumbs and put them on their eyes when the blessed name of the Best of Creations sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam is recited during azān or iqāmah. This practice has been attributed to some of the greatest Sufi masters such as Imām Rabbānī Mujaddid Alf-i Sānī Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī quddisa sirruhu. Although not required, it is a praiseworthy act to venerate the Holy Prophet. However, in accordance with their abhorrence of such veneration, Wahhabis declared it an unlawful innovation and condemned it. Mawlana Irshād Husain ruled it to be lawful and a commendable act [Mustahab].
One of the worse innovations of the Wahhabis is that they refuse to accept that the Holy Prophet sallAllāhu alaihi waSallam can help his believers in times of need, and they can call upon him for help when in distress. Sunni scholars affirm that it is lawful to call upon the Prophet for aid when in distress or otherwise, and even to call upon the great saints of Islam such as Sayyidinā Abd al-Qādir Jīlānī. Thus, traditional Sunni Muslims would often proclaim “Yā Rasool-Allāh!” (O Messenger of Allah) or “Yā Alī!” or “Yā Shaykh Abd al-Qādir Jīlānī Shai’an Lillāh!” (O Shaykh Abd al-Qādir Jīlānī! bless me for Allāh). Muftī Irshād Husain refuted the Wahhabis and consider such calls as lawful, unless if someone believes these saints have self-acquired powers (not granted by God). However, this is not a belief of Muslims who ascertain that none can have any power except being granted by Allah Almighty.
Unlike some of his contemporary scholars, he did not consider Wahhabis as disbelievers, rather he considered them as misguided and on the wrong path. Because of this, he did not forbid from praying behind a Wahhabi Imam, although he recommended avoiding it.
May Allah Almighty best reward out master Muftī Irshād Husain Mujaddidī quddisa sirruhū for protecting the creed of Ahl as-Sunnah and providing us the right guidance we need in these times of temptations and tribulations.
- Mawlānā Irshād Husain Mujaddidī Rāmpurī, by Sayyid Shāhid Alī Rizwī Rāmpurī, published from Rāmpur, India, 1989.
- Fatāwā Irshādiya, by Mufti Irshād Husain Rāmpurī, 2000.
- Zikr as-Sa’idain, by Shāh Muhammad Ma’soom Mujaddidī (grandson of Hadhrat Shāh Ahmad Sa’īd Mujaddidī).
- Mashāikh-i Naqshbandiya Mujaddidiya, by Mawlānā Muhammad Hasan Naqshbandī Mujaddidī, Qādrī Rizwī Kutubkhāna, Lahore, 2003.
- Nuzhat al-Khawātir (Arabic), by Mawlānā Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawī