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Full text of "Mawlana Muhammad Sarfraz Khan Safdar (r.a) by Abu Asim Badrul Islam"

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Imam Ahl al-Sunnah 



Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar 



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(1332-1430 AH/1914-2009 CE) 



Abu c Asim Badrul Islam 



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© Badrul Islam 1431/2010 
First edition July 2010 



All rights reserved. Aside from fair use, meaning a few pages or less for non- 
profit educational purposes, review, or scholarly citation, no part of this 
publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in 
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, 
or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author at 
badr571@gmail.com. 



Published by: 
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For 
'Allamah Shaykh al-hfadith Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmdnf 

and 
Shaykh Mawldnd Muhammad Saleem Dhorat 

With special thanks to 
Mawldnd Ibrahim Muhammad AmTn 









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CONTENTS 



Foreword 1 

Foreword 2 

Childhood and education 

Humble possessor of a mighty pen 

Exegete of the Book of Allah 

Absolute trust in the Akdbir 

Immaculate self-discipline of an incomparable master 

Unparalleled works 

Upholder of the Din and perfect spiritual mentor 

Exemplar of sincerity and humbleness 

"From the cradle to the grave" - 

Unquenchable thirst for knowledge 

Father of servants of the Book of Allah 

Journey to the Most Gracious 



BIOGRAPHICAL FOOTNOTES 



Shaykh al-IslSm Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad MadanT 

'Allamah Mufti Muhammad TaqI Usmani 

Imam Mufti Muhammad Shaft 

Imam Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad Yusuf BinnorT 

Shaykh Mawlana Husayn 'All 



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|"; Foreword 1 

Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Saleem Dhorat 1 



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My first acquaintance with Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar 
sahib (may Allah sanctify his soul) was when Hadrat had come to the UK to 
attend a conference as the chief guest and also visited Leicester during that 
trip. It was the sheer grace of Allah that Hadrat's host called me and requested 
that I should make all necessary arrangements whilst Hadrat was in Leicester. I 
took this opportunity as an honour for myself and made arrangements for his 
stay at my late father's residence. 

This was my first meeting with the honourable Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad 
Sarfaraz Khan Safdar sahib and thereafter my love and respect for this 
luminary only increased as I continuously learnt of his academic status 
through his works, publications and other leading luminaries. 

The honourable Hadrat has been amongst those great scholars from whom 1 
have longed to seek ijazah in hadith, but have been unfortunate and this grief 
and sorrow will always remain with me. 

Mawlana Badrul Islam sahib, who has authored this short biography, is a 
graduate of Jamiah Dar al-'Ulum at Karachi and a murTd of the honourable 
Hadrat. Mawlana is amongst those young 'ulama who are academic. He has 
much love for our pious predecessors and elders and also has much love and 
respect for me. Due to this love, after the honourable Hadrat's demise, I 
requested Mawlana to write an article for our monthly Magazine, Riyadul 
Jannah, which would concisely highlight the life of the honourable Hadrat. 

It has always been my endeavour and desire that the biographies of the 
eminent ulama of the Indian subcontinent be written in English for the benefit 
of the English speaking masses who would otherwise be unable to realise the 



1 Khairfah of Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Y usuf Ludhyan wT Shahid; founder and Shaykh al-HadTth, 
Jami'ah Riyad al-'Ulum; founder. Islamic Da'wah Academy (Leicester, England); editor, Riyadul Jannah 

Magazine. 






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lofty status of these eminent scholars directly from their Urdu and Arabic 
works. I was pleased that Mawlana took up this request and now this short 
article has taken the form of a very informative yet concise booklet. 

My knowledge and vision of the honourable Hadrat was that of an Islamic 
academic and a man of spirituality and piety. Despite having only one occasion 
of meeting him, my admiration and respect for the honourable Hadrat ever 
remained. Nevertheless, having read this book, many other aspects of the 
honourable Hadrat has now come to light and the sorrow of not having the 
opportunity of benefiting from his company only remains. 

I pray that Allah ta'ala accepts this endeavour of Mawlana Badrul Islam sahib, 
makes it beneficial for the readers and a means of salvation for him and grant 
the honourable Hadrat a place in the A 'la 'Illiyym. Amln. 



Muhammad Saleem Dhorat 
Islamic Da wah Academy 
Leicester, UK. 



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Foreword 2 



Mawlana Ismaeel Nakhuda 



It was during a lesson on Imam al-Bukharts Sahih that the renowned ustadh of 
hadith at the Dar al-'Ulum at Deoband and freedom fighter Shaykh al-Islam 
Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani (1879-1957) saw a student, late for the 
lecture, crossing the rows at which he said, "Safdar is coming. This is the safdar 
who will, inshd Allah, separate the saff (row) of [the people of] truth from that 
of [the people of] falsehood." It was a foretelling that came true - this Pathan 
student later became Imam Ahl al-Sunnah Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan 
Safdar (1914-2009). 

Reading the life of 'Allamah Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar reminds one of 
those 'ulama of a bygone era. As a meticulous researcher, expert in hadith and 
tafsxr, prolific writer and sufi shaykh in the NaqshbandT tariqah, 'Allamah Safdar 
was at the forefront of serving Islam, piety, research and defending the Ahl al- 
Sunnah. Living up to the ripe-old age of 95, Allamah Safdar authored around 
160 books, second most among Deoband! ulama after Hakim al-Ummah 
Mawlana Ashraf 'Ali ThanawT. His writings have enjoyed widespread 
acceptance among leading scholars of South Asia, so much so that even 
learned men of knowledge such as MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanI take pride 
in possessing all his works. 

A close confidant of many leading 'ulama in Pakistan, 'Allamah Safdar was the 
embodiment of a rare breed of scholar-cum-suff — a notable trait among those 
affiliated with the Deoband! maslak — and was bay' ah to Shaykh al-Quran 
Mawlana Husayn 'All, a student of imam Rabbani Mawlana RashTd Ahmad 
GangohT. 

This biography is a rare treat for those wanting to read about a genre of 
Islamic scholars whose life stories are still largely untold in the English 
medium. Mawlana Abu 'Asim Badrul Islam, himself a murld of the late 'Allamah, 
has taken the time to write this beautiful and heartwarming short biography 
that readers will inshd Allah take delight to absorb themselves in. 



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"This is the safdar who will, insha Allah, separate the saff(row) of [the people of] truth 
(haqq) from that of [the people ofj falsehood (batil)." 

(Shaykh aUslam Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madam, 1296-1377 AH/1879-1957 CE) 




Childhood and education 

Sometime in 1332 AH (1914 CE) in a little known village within the Mansehra 
district of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan was born a child who 
would grow up to be the unparalleled master of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa '1- 
Jama'ah and an iconic figure in combating bid' ah and misguidance in all its 
guises within the Muslim Ummak a child in front of whom, during the latter 
part of his almost century-long life, the most eminent of ulama would humble 
themselves and would consider it a great honour to have their names included 
in the list of his thousands of students who would be flocking toward him from 
all parts of the globe. 

Born in a family known for its strict adherence to Islam and exceptional 
hospitality, Imam Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar began his 
primary Islamic education in his locality before travelling to the Punjab for 
further education. After completing his primary and intermediate level 
education in 1939 CE, he and his younger brother, 'Abd al-Hamld, who, later in 
life, would come to be known as Shaykh Sufi 'Abd al-Hamld Sawati, set off for 
the prestigious l al-Azhar of the East', the Dar al-'Ulum at Deoband (India). He 
excelled in his studies, surpassing all his fellow students and, thus, winning the 
attention and affection of his legendary teachers at the Dar al-'Ulum. 2 



2 Mawlana Dr. 'Abd al-Razzaq Iskandar, imam Ahl al-Simnah, al-Muhaddith al-Kahir - Muhammad Sarfaraz 
Khan Safdar (Arabic), in the Monthly al-Shart ah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 



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Imam Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar would himself later explain 
how he was given the title Safdar. During his student days at the Dar al-'Ulum, 
he was once late for a hadith lecture. Upon arrival at the lecture hall, he made 
his way to his usual place at the front by skipping the rows of fellow students. 
He says, "Seeing this, my revered teacher Shaykh al~ 'Arab wa 'l-'Ajam 3 Mawlana 



3 Meaning 'the shaykh of the Arab and the non-Arab world', this is a title that was given to Shaykh al- 
Isldm Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani by the leading 'ulamd of undivided India. 

Born in Rangar, Mao, the Indian district of Annow on 19 Shawwal 1296 AH (5 October 1879 CE), the 
Shaykh al-lslam began his primary Islamic education in Faizabad. At the age of twelve he travelled to the 
Dar al-'Ulum at Deoband where he studied the intermediate and higher level books of the traditional 
Dars-e-Nizamf course. During his seven and a half years at the Dar al-'Ulum the Shaykh al-lslam studied 
about sixty books, twenty four of which were taught by the legendary imam of undivided India, Shaykh 
al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan DeobandT (1268-1339 AH/1851-1920 CE). He describes in his two- 
volume Urdu autobiography {Naqsh-e-Hayat - A Sketch of My Life) how, as a young student at the Dar al- 
'Ulum, he was very close to Imam Shaykh al-Hind and had free access to the latter' s home. Similar 
affection was shown by all his illustrious teachers at the Dar al-'Ulum. 

As a young 'alim, the Shaykh al-lslam offered his allegiance of tasawwuf (bay'ah) at the blessed hands of 
the imam of his age, dubbed 'the Abu HanTfah of the era', Shaykh al-Mashayikh Mawlana RashTd Ahmad 
GangohT (1244-1323 AH/1829-1905 CE). In 1316 AH (1898 CE) he travelled with his parents and siblings 
to the radiant city of MadTnah al-Munawwarah, where his father, Sayyid Hablbullah, settled 
permanently in fulfilment of his yearning to undertake hijrah. On their way to Madman al- 
Munawwarah, the family spent some days in the blessed company of the master of all the Indian 
mashdyikh of his age, the shaykh of Shaykh al-Mashayikh Mawlana RashTd Ahmad GangohT, HajT 
Imdadullah Muhdjir Makkt (1233-1317 AH/1817-1899 CE) in the Holy city of Makkah al-Mukarramah, 
who prescribed the litany (wird/wazifah) of Pas anfas to the Shaykh al-lslam. in 1318 AH (1900 CE) the 
Shaykh al-lslam and his eldest brother, Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad SiddTq (1288-1331 AH/1871-1913 
CE), were summoned to India by Shaykh al-Mashayikh Mawlana RashTd Ahmad GangohT. Shortly after 
arrival, Imam GangohT wrapped 'imamahs (turbans) around their heads and granted them formal 
khilafah (or ijazah) in tasawwuf. They both remained in India for two years before returning to MadTnah 
al-Munawwarah with a group of hajis. 

When the Shaykh al-lslam and his family embarked on their very long and perilous journey to MadTnah 
al-Munawwarah, his beloved teacher, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan, walked with them to 
the train station. He advised the Shaykh al-lslam never to give up teaching the Islamic sciences, 
wherever he may be and whatever the circumstances. He held fast to this advice. Once settled in 
MadTnah al-Munawwarah, despite the severe tribulations that he and his family underwent, the Shaykh 
al-lslam began teaching some books of the Islamic sciences in the Masjid of the Beloved Messenger of 
Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In the sections of his biography detailing his 
academic pursuits in MadTnah al-Munawwarah, he describes his surprise at the relatively poor 
academic abilities of those who were lecturing in the Holy Masjid at the time, compared with what he 
had been accustomed to in India. No sooner had he commenced his lectures on the various islamic 
sciences that his fame spread far and wide. Students began to desert the other lecturers and flocked to 
his lectures. They would marvel at the depth and richness of his oceanic knowledge of all the Islamic 
sciences and his grounding in the fiqh of all four schools of sacred law. Consequently, he found himself 
the target of much envy and malice. Students - many of them of Madman, Turkish, BukharT, QazanT, 
KazakhT, Egyptian and Afghani origins - would find themselves mesmerized by his lectures on a wide 
spectrum of texts, many of which he himself had not studied previously, including in 'Una al-Mxfrw 

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(grammar) the Ajmmiyyah, Halldn, Kafrdwi, Alfiyyah, Sharh tbn 'Aqll, Sharh Alfiyyah Ibn Hisham; in 'Urn al- 
Ma'dni wa'l-Baydn (the science of Arabic eloquence) Sharh 'Uqad al-juman, Risalah Istiardt, Risalah 
Wadiyyah li 'l-Qddi, 'Adud etc; in 'ilm al-Badi (another branch of Arabic eloquence) Dadtyyat Ibn Hajar; in 
Hanaft/tyh Mr al-Idah, Multaqa 'l-Abhur, Durar etc; in the jurisprudence of the ShafiTand MalikT schools 
Sharh Jam" al-Jawdmi' li T-Subfcf, Sharh Mustafa 'l-Usul, Waraqat, Sharh Muntaha 'l-Usul etc; in 'aqaid (Islamic 
creed) Masamarah Sharh Musayarah, Sharh Tawali' al-Anwar Jawharah etc; in mustalah al-hadfth (principles 
and technicalities of hadith) Alfiyyah Usui al-Hadith. Bayquniyyah etc and many other texts in the sciences 
oifartfid (law of inheritance), mantia (logic), Tafsir (exegesis of the Holy Quran), hadith (Prophetic 
traditions) and kalam (theology). Due to the ever increasing insistence of students, he would deliver 
fourteen lectures a day - five in the morning, three or four after Zuhr prayers, two after 'Asr prayers, 
two after Maghrib prayers and one after 'Isha prayers. He would only sleep for three to three and a half 
hours, sometimes suspending all lectures and sleeping for six to seven hours, thereby refreshing 
himself for a full week. All this he did without any form of remuneration, upon the guidance of his 
spiritual mentor, Shaykh al-Mashayikh Mawlana RashTd Ahmad GangohT. 

Circumstances of the Muslims of India compelled the Shaykh al-lslam to return to India. There, under 
the leadership of his illustrious teacher, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana MahmQd al-Hasan, he dedicated 
himself to the nationwide movement for freedom from the British Raj. In 1335 AH (1917 CE) he and 
Shaykh al-Hind were arrested in the Hijaz (in modern day Saudi Arabia) and incarcerated by the British 
in Malta. After his release in 1338 AH (1920 CE), he became even more dedicated to the fight for India's 
freedom from colonialism. When Shaykh al-Hind passed away that same year, the Shaykh al-lslam 
continued his illustrious teacher's struggle for India's independence and in 1360 AH (1941 CE) was 
appointed president of the Jam'iyyat al-'Ulama of India, a role in which he served until his demise in 

1377 AH (1957 CE). 

Upon the final instruction of his beloved teacher, Shaykh al-Hind, the Shaykh al-lslam taught hadith at a 
Madrasah in Calcutta for a short period before moving to Sylhet (in modern day Bangladesh), where he 
taught hadTth, served as the prime and unparalleled spiritual mentor of the Muslims of the region and 
carried on his mission to see an independent India. In 1346 AH (1927 CE), he accepted the post of grand 
shaykh of the Dar al-'Ulum at Deoband - Shaykh al-Hadftk An estimated 3,856 students studied hadTth 
under him. Many thousands of Muslims pledged the allegiance of tasawwuf {bay'ah) at his hands, from 
whom a total of 166 were granted formal khilafah (or ijazah) in tasawwufby the Shaykh al-lslam, 

After the independence of India, the Shaykh al-lslam distanced himself from politics and devoted all his 
time and energy on the teaching of hadith, spiritually reforming the Muslims and da'wah. In recognition 
of his sacrifices for India, in 1373 AH (1954 CE) the government wished to confer the Shaykh al-lslam an 
honorary official title. He declined, saying that the acceptance of such an award was contrary to the 
way of his pious predecessors (the Salaf and Akabir). 

His sacrifices and selflessness for the people of India generally, and for the Muslims of India specifically, 
remain till this day unparalleled. His legacy remains alive today throughout the breadth and width of 
not just south Asia, but the world. 

This legendary master passed away in 1377 AH (1957 CE) at his home in Deoband. His funeral prayer 
was led by the great Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya KandhlawT (1315-1402 AH/1898- 
1982 CE). He was laid to rest beside his teacher Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan and Imam 
Hujjat al-lslam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim NanotwT (1248-1297 AH/1833-1880 CE), the founder of the 
Dar al-'Ulum, within its precincts in Deoband. 

(References: Shaykh al-lslam Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad MadanT, Naqsh-e-Hayat - A Sketch of my life; 
'Allamah 'Abd al-Hayy ibn Fakhr al-Dln al-HasanT and Imam Sayyid Abu '1-Hasan ! AlT al-NadwT, Al-l'ldm hi 
manpTdrikh al-Hind min al-A'lam; Mawlana BayazTd Mahmud ShahTd, Akhldq-e-Husayni.) 



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Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani exclaimed, 'Safdar 4 is coming'. All my fellow 
students smiled at this. Shaykh al-'Arab wa Vkjam continued, 'This is the safdar 
who will, insha Allah, separate the saff (row) of [the people of] truth (haqq) 
from that of [the people of] falsehood (batU).'"* A statement that had been 
made by the blessed tongue of a wall of Allah, Most Majestic, later proved its 
acceptance by the Divine Grace before the eyes of the entire world. Such is His 
treatment of His awiiya. 

Humble possessor of a mighty pen 



Describing Imam Mawlana Safdar, 'Allamah Mufti Muhammad TaqI Usman 
writes: 



T 6 



'Some personalities are endowed by Allah, Most High and Glorious, with such 
love in the hearts of others and common acceptance that just the thought of 
them brings tranquillity to the heart. Even if personal interaction with them 
be scarce, their mere existence is a means of great comfort. Our revered elder, 
the teacher of all, Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar sahib 
(may Allah sanctify his soul) was such a personality, whom we have now lost. 
Indeed we are for Allah, and to Him is our return. 



4 A Persian word meaning the one who cuts through, or separates, rows. 
3 Mawlana M Yusuf, Wiladatse takmll-e-ta'ltm tak, in the Weekly Wazarat (Lahore, 5-12 May 2009). 
6 Born in the town of Deoband (U.P., India) in 1362 AH (1943 CE), 'Allamah Mufti Muhammad TaqT 
UsmanT is one of the most eminent scholars of Islam alive today, He was brought up and trained over a 
period of thirty years by his illustrious father, the legendary Imam'Allamah MuftT Muhammad Shaft, 
the grand mufti of India and Pakistan consecutively, and the renowned author of TafsXr h'la'arifal-Quran 
(see: LamtySt min Hayat al-Qadi Muhammad Taqi al-'Uthmam, Karachi: Maktabah al-Hikmah, 1420 AH, pp. 
11). Mufti Muhammad TaqT UsmanT studied under some of the greatest ulama and mashayikh of the last 
century, all of whom granted him formal ijazdt in the sciences of Islam. The depth of his knowledge of 
fiqh and its application can be gauged from the fact that one of his first formal published fatawa was 
issued whilst he was still a student of the Dars-e-Nizami course (before commencing the final Dawra-e- 
hadith year) during 1378 AH (1959 CE) at the astonishing age of sixteen, which was checked and 
endorsed by his illustrious father who expressed his surprise and satisfaction at this in a written note 
added to the fatwa (see: Fiqhl Maqalat, Karachi: Memon Islamic Publishers, 1994, 2:33). Since then, he has 
been writing and lecturing extensively in Arabic, Urdu, [Persian] and English. His currently published 
works number to more than sixty, the largest and most splendid being his Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim hi 
Shark Sahih al-lmam Muslim in six large volumes, written over a period of eighteen years. 

Beside his unparalleled grounding in the exoteric sciences of Islam, he is a leading master in the 
esoteric science oftasawwuf in which he has ijdzah from two of the leading masters of the last century, 
Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad MasThullah Khan Sherwani (Jalalabad, India) and Dr. 'Abd al-Hayy 'Arifi 
(Karachi, Pakistan), both of whom were khulafa of the legendary Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf 
'Ali Thanwi (see: Lamhat min Hayat al-Qadi Muhammad Taqi al-'Uthmdnf, pp. 22-23, pp.53). 

12 



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He had been bedridden for a long time and this had effectively restrained him 
from an active life. Opportunities to visit him and benefit from his company 
had been rare for distant ones like us, but his mere existence felt like a cool 
shade upon me in a very unique way; I knew that whenever the hustle and 
bustle of life would allow the opportunity, this blessed tree was there, 
extending its cool shade. Now, this shade is no longer upon us. 

There now remain very few individuals in the world who had directly 
benefited from, and were honoured with, the blessed company of the great 
'ulama of Deoband and then spread their blessed legacies throughout the 
world. Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar sahib (may Allah 
sanctify his soul) was from amongst those fortunate men of learning who had 
gained the blessings of Shaykh al-lslam Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani, 
Shaykh ah Adah Mawlana f zaz 'Ali sahib and other great 'ulama of that period 
(may Allah sanctify their souls). 

He has given accounts in his autobiography of the hardship he and his parents 
endured in gaining his primary [islamic] education, and how, after seeking 
knowledge \r\ various parts of the Punjab, he set off for the Dar al-'Ulum at 
Deoband (India). Once there, he enrolled in the final year (Dawra-e-hadfth) class 
and was honoured to be taught by Shaykh al-lslam Mawlana Sayyid Husayn 
Ahmad Madam (may Allah sanctify his soul). However, the Shaykh al-lslam was 
arrested and incarcerated later during that year for his role in the Indian 
liberation movement against British colonialism. In his absence, Shaykh al-Adab 
Mawlana Tzaz 'Ali sahib (may Allah sanctify his soul) taught the remainder of 
Sahih al-BukharC 7 

Recalling how, as a young boy, he first became acquainted with the name of 
Imam Mawlana Safdar, 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad Taqi UsmanT writes: 

'I first came across the name of Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan 
Safdar sahib (may Allah sanctify his soul) when I was a student of the final two 
volumes of al-Hidayah 8 and other books at the Dar al-'Ulum in Karachi. During 



'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT, Shaykh al-Kull Hadrat Mawlana Sarfaraz sahib Safdar, in the 
monthly Al-Balagh (Karachi: Dar al-'Ulum Karachi, 2009). 

8 Written by Imam Burhan al-DTn 'All ibn AbT Bakr al-MarghTnanT (d. 593 AH/1197 CE), this is the most 
advanced text in HanafT fiqh taught in the traditional Dars-e-NizdmT course. The handwritten 
lithographic edition of the book taught in Islamic madaris throughout the world is split into four very 
large volumes. In most institutions, the first two volumes are taught separately in two years while the 
third and fourth volumes are taught in a single year. Modern computer typed editions of the book have 

13 



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those days, the Dar al-'Ulum had been relocated from the city to a location in 
the desert near a village called Sharafi Got. 9 We resided in the Dar al-'Ulum 
throughout the week and would return to our homes in the city [for the 
Islamic weekend] on Thursday evenings. My revered father, Hadrat Mawlana 
Mufti Muhammad Shaff sahib 10 (may Allah sanctify his soul), had his personal 



been published in many volumes, the edition containing the splendid commentary of (mam Kamal al- 
DTn Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahid, better known as 'Ibn ai-Humam\ (d. 861 AH/1457 CE) being in ten 
large volumes. 

9 Later, when the city of Karachi expanded, this and far more remote areas became part of the city. 
Covering approximately fifty-six acres of land within its boundary walls, the Dar al-'Ulum is without 
doubt one of the most splendid and exemplary completely independent Islamic institutions in the 
world today. It was founded by Imam 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad Shaft* (d. 1396 AH/1976 CE) and over 
the decades it has seen great imams of knowledge and piety teach there, including the likes of Shaykh 
MuftT Wall Hasan TonkI, Shaykh MuftT RashTd Ahmad LudhyanwT, Shaykh MuftT 'Ashiq-e-llahT 
BulandshehrT Madam, Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana SalTmullah Khan, 'ArifbiMh Dr. 'Abd al-Hayy 'Arifi (as 
president and mentor), Shaykh al~Hadith Mawlana Sahban Mahmud and Shaykh Mawlana Shams al- 
Haqq (may Allah grant them all the highest Paradise). Today the president and chief muftT of the Dar al- 
'Ulum is Shaykh MuftT Muhammad Raff UsmanT (grand muftT of Pakistan) and the vice-president and 
Shaykh al-Hadith is 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT, both illustrious sons of Imam 'Allamah 
MuftT Muhammad Shaft, The deputy muftis are Shaykh MuftT Mahmud Ashraf UsmanT (grandson of 
Imam 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad Shaft), Shaykh MuftT 'Abd al-Ra uf SakhkharwT and Mawlana MuftT 
'Abd al-Mannan SylhetT. 

The first grand muftT of Pakistan and a khalifah of Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf 'Ali 
Thanwi, Imam MuftT Muhammad Shaft was one of the most eminent scholars who lectured and served 
as grand muftT at the Dar al-'Ulum in Deoband (India). 

Born in Deoband in 1314 AH (1897 CE), he commenced Quranic studies at the age of five. He studied 
Persian under his father, Mawlana Muhammad YasTn DeobandT (1282-1355AH/1865-1936 CE), and 
secular subjects under his uncle. He graduated at the age of twenty-two and was appointed to teach the 
lower levels of the Dars-e-Nizami course at the Dar al-'Ulum, soon progressing to the higher levels. He 
taught at Deoband for twenty-seven years and served as the grand muftT of India prior to partition. 

!n 1943 CE, Imam MuftT Muhammad 5haft resigned from the Dar al-'Ulum due to his involvement in the 
Pakistan movement. When Pakistan came into existence, he migrated to Karachi, where in 1951 CE he 
established Dar al-'Ulum Karachi on the pattern of the Dar al-'Ulum at Deoband. The Dar al-'Ulum at 
Karachi is regarded today as the largest private institute of higher Islamic education in Pakistan. His 
two sons, Shaykh MuftT Muhammad Raft UsmanT and 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT arc 
currently rectors, chief muftTs and senior professors of hadith and Hanaff /kj/i at the institute. 

A prolific writer, Imam MuftT Muhammad Shaft authored approximately three hundred books on 
various Islamic and literary subjects, his last being the immensely popular Urdu exegesis of the Holy 
Quran entitled Ma'&rif al-Qur'&n, which was completed four years before his demise and subsequently 
translated fully into Bengali and English. Besides his literary masterpieces, Imam MuftT Muhammad 
Shaft broadcasted the exegesis of the Holy Qur'an on Radio Pakistan for a number of years, 

imam MuftT Muhammad Shaft attained a high rank in the science of tasawwuf. He initially took the 
bay'ah at the hands of Imam Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan in 1920 CE. After Imam Shaykh 
al-Hind's demise, Imam MuftT Muhammad Shaft continued the spiritual path for twenty-years under 

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library at home and it was my custom during the Friday weekend to browse 
through every book in the library. I would at least endeavour to look at the 
subject matter, details of the author and the literary style of each book. During 
one of these perusals, I came across three new books, the name of whose 
author was Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar, These books were 
written as refutation of various customary practices of bid* ah and heresy. I 
found the pages of these books replete with references from the books of tafsir, 
fiqh, hadith and 'aqaid. Many references were from books that I had never 
heard of before. I instantly knew that this was a highly proficient research 
scholar who did not write anything without proper evidence and reference. 
This was the beginning of my love, reverence and admiration for [Hadrat 
Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar sahib]/ 11 

Exegete of the Book of Allah 

During his annual Dawra-e-taf$Tr, which would take place during the annual 
Ramadan - Shawwal holidays of the Islamic madaris t and which would be 
attended exclusively by ulama (many of them from Iran, Afghanistan, China, 
India, Bangladesh and other countries), Imam Mawlana Safdar would often say 
to his 'ulama students, "1 do not say anything without reference." His lectures 
in this Dawra-e-tafsir would be replete with references from the books of tafsxr, 
hadxth, fiqh, 'aqaid, lughah and tdrlkh. In explaining verses of the Holy Quran, 
he would always cite the major books of tafsir. In particular, he would mention 
Tafsir Jbnjanr al-Taban, Tafsir ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Ruh al-Ma'am, Al-Durr 
al-Manthur, Tafsir Bayan al-Quran (Urdu), Tafsir Abi 'l-Saud, Al-Tafsir al-Kabir 
(Mafatih al-Ghayb) t Al-Tafsir al-Kashshaf, Ma'alim al-Tanzil, Tafsir al-Madarik, Tafsir 



the latter's famous student. Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf 'Ali ThanwT, who granted him 
ijazah. Under Imam Hakim al-Vmmah's supervision, he produced a number of outstanding works. 
Mawlana JamTl Ahmad Thanwi states that Imam Hakim ai-Ummah had such reliance on Imam MuftT 
Muhammad Shaft's juristic acumen that he would even consult him in his personal matters. Imam 
Hatdm al-Ummah once said, "May Allah lengthen the life of MuftT sahib, for, I achieve two joys due to 
him. Firstly, I acquire knowledge from him and, secondly, I have the satisfaction of knowing that after 
me there are people who will continue my work." 

Imam MuftT Muhammad Shaft died in 1396 AH (1976 CE). It is estimated that over 100,000 people 
attended his funeral, which was led by Dr. 'Abd al-Hayy 'Arifi, also a senior khalifah of Imam Hakim al- 
Ummah. 

(Mawlana lsmaeel Nakhuda) 

11 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT, Shaykh al-K\xll Hadrat Maw/ana Sarfaraz sahib Safdar, in the 
monthly Al-Balagh (Karachi: Dar al-'Ulum Karachi, 2009). 

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a/-Kftazt'n, Sabg ai-G?iayat, Bulghat al-Hayardn, Al-Bahr al-Muhit, TafsTr al-Bayddwi, 
Tafsir-e-'UthmdnT (Fawd'id-e-'Uthmani - Urdu), Hdshiyat al-Jamal 'aid 'l-Jaldlayn, 
Hdshiyat al-Sawi 'aid 'l-Jaldlayn, Hdshiyat al-Kamdlayn 'aid 'l~]aldlayn, Mawdhib al- 
Rahmdn, Tafsir-e-Haqqam (Urdu), Ai-TafsTr al-Mazhan and Ahkdm al-Qurdn li '1- 
Jassds. He would sometimes quote from the famous tafsir of Imams jalal al-DTn 
al-Suyuti and Jalal al-DTn al-Mahalli, Tafsir al-Jaldlayn, verbatim from memory. 
He would then ask any student who had a copy of TafsTr ai-Jaldlayn to check 
whether what he had cited was correct. The student would refer to the book 
and confirm that it was indeed correct. He would often say to the 'ulamd, 
"What I am teaching you now is all from memory. I do not have the time or the 
health nowadays to study the books of tafsir as I used to. Insha Allah, if you 
were to refer to the books of tafsir, you will find very little discrepancy in what 
1 am saying to you. During my youth days, I would spend entire days and 
nights studying all the major books of tafsir " n Similar was the case with his 
lectures on the major books of hadith, Sahih al-Bukhdri being his speciality 
during the latter part of his life. Transcripts of his invaluable lectures in Urdu 
on the major books of hadith have seen repeated publications during his 
lifetime and serve as treasure-troves for students of hadith. His exegesis of the 
Holy Quran, taken from the annual Dawra-e-tafsTr, is currently being prepared 
for publication. Entitled Dhakhfrat ai~Jindn, S2 when completed, it is anticipated 
to be in some twenty-five to thirty-five volumes. 

Absolute trust in the Akabir 

Despite his oceanic knowledge of all the Islamic sciences, he always adhered 
to, and fully relied upon, the opinions of the great 'ulamd of Deoband and their 
predecessors - the Akabir. He always gave preference to the opinions of the 
Akabir over his own. He often said, "J have studied and engaged in research for 
sixty five years. There is hardly a matter or mas^alah that has escaped my 
research and study, but J have always given preference to the opinions of the 
Akabir over my own knowledge and opinion." 14 He once said, "I have never 
issued a fatwd based on my own opinion. In whatever I have ever stated or 



12 Audio recordings of the annual Dawra-e-tafsir. 

13 At the time of typing this (March 2010), I am informed by Imam Safdar's grandson, Mawlana 'Ammar 
Khan Nasir, that so far work on nine volumes has been completed, covering the tafsir of surah al-Fatihah 
to al-Tawbah. 

iA Mawlana Muhammad Ayyub Safdar, Shaykh-e-Kamil, in the Monthly al-Shanah, special edition 
(Gujranwala, 2009). 

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written, I have always followed the research and opinions of the Akabir. 
Once, advising his students, he said, "Never leave the way of the Akabir. I have 
studied for sixteen years and taught for fifty two years, but never have I 
desired to leave the way of the Akabir. Whenever questions have arisen 
regarding any matter, I have referred to the works of the Akabir. By the grace 
of Allah, I have spent more than half a century in teaching tafsir, hadith, fiqh 
and other sciences. Not once have I given preference to my own research and 
findings; I have always given preference to the opinions of the Akabir. Dear 
students, do not attempt your own ijtihad in matters; rely upon the opinions of 
the Akabir. Do not leave their way." 16 

Immaculate self-discipline of an incomparable master 

Imam Mawlana Safdar's respect toward knowledge, the books of knowledge 
and the imparting of knowledge was absolutely profound. During the annual 
Dawra-e-tafsTr, the session would begin at precisely eight o'clock each morning 
and end at twelve noon. During these four hours, he would lecture on 
approximately ajuz (one thirtieth) of the Holy Quran without interruption. 
He would not even change his posture during this time, let alone get up and 
leave the room. As for the students, mesmerised by the eloquent, in-depth, 
thoroughly referenced lecture of Imam Safdar, they would not notice how 
these four hours flew by. 17 

'Allamah Mufti Muhammad TaqT UsmanT continues; 

'Works of [Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar sahib] continued 
to arrive regularly. The deep insight and thorough research of the author were 
manifest in each one of them. Whichever subject he wrote on, Hadrat 
presented to the reader satisfying and thorough research, which left no stone 
unturned. These works were mainly on contentious issues that have for long 
been the cause of serious tensions between the Deobandi and Barelwi 18 'ulamd, 



15 Mawlana Hafiz Gulzar Ahmad Azad, Do mkhali bhai, in the Monthly al-Shanah, special edition 

(Gujranwala, 2009). 

,fi Hafiz Nisar Ahmad al-Husayni, lmam-e-Ahl-e-Sunr\at: chandyaden, chand ta'aththarat, in the Monthly al- 

Sharfah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

17 Ibid. 

18 Referred to as the 'Barelwis' and very misleadingly 'Sunnis' in India and Pakistan, and the variants 
found in Bangladesh as 'Rezvis' and 'Fultolis', these are Muslims who follow mainly the Hanafi school of 
sacred law but engage in acts of deviancy and heresy on certain matters and hold such beliefs, 

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or between the Deobandi and Ahl-e-HadTth 19 'ulama. The entire society had 
been engulfed in these tensions, and many a scholar had adopted an 
unpleasant and hostile style in these debates and refutations. The works of 
Hadrat Mawlana generally remained free of such unpleasantness and hostility 
and his style was highly academic. May Allah reward him well. 

Although I was familiar with Hadrat Mawlana through his works and had 
much love and reverence for him, it was not until 1968 CE, when I had visited 
Gujranwala for the very first time, that I had the honour of actually meeting 
him. The Institute of Islamic Research (idarah-e-TahqTqat-e-Islaml) in 
Rawalpindi had organised an international conference, which my revered 
father was also to attend. I went with him. After the conference, foreign guests 
were taken to Lahore by road. I was included in the entourage as an 
interpreter for some of the notables. This entourage stopped on the way at 
Gujranwala. In the honour of these guests, a conference was held by Hadrat 
Mawlana in Madrasah Nusrat al-'Ulum. It was on this occasion that I first had 
the honour of seeing him. I found him to be completely different to the image 
that I had sketched in my mind from reading his works. He was extremely 
simple, humble and spoke little. Hadrat Mawlana presented certificates of 
gratitude to all the honourable guests. I was a twenty five year old student at 
the time 20 , but due to my revered father (may Allah sanctify his soul) he 
treated me with tremendous affection. 



Thereafter, by the grace of Allah, I was able to satisfy myself by meeting 
Hadrat and expressing my love and reverence on many occasions. I even had 
the opportunity to visit him at his home. Hadrat visited Dar al-'Ulum [Karachi] 
and granted its teachers ijazah in hadfth 2 \ When Hadrat's health deteriorated, 



primarily on the issue of how a Muslim should love and venerate the blessed Messenger of Allah (may 

the infinite peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). 

19 Usually referred to as the 'Salafis' here In the West, these are Muslims who do not follow, or usually 

deem unlawful, the exclusive following of any of the established schools of sacred law, namely, the 

Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali schools of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa 'l-Jama ah. 

70 Needless to point out, 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT is referring to himself as a "student" 

only out of humility and practice of true Islamic adab, for, he is a recognised master in the Islamic 

sciences who had issued his first written fatwa at the tender age of sixteen (see footnote 5). 

w One such visit was on 24 Safar 1423 AH (8 May 2002 CE) when Imam Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz 

Khan Safdar paid what was to us an unannounced visit to the Dar al-'Ulum. We were students in the 

seventh year of the Dars-e-Nizami course, studying the Mishkat al-Masabih and other books. All classes in 

the Dar al-'Ulum were suspended and all students and staff congregated in the old masjid. The Shaykh 

was requested to deliver a short lecture on Sahih al-Bukhari as way of blessing for the final year students 

of the Dawra-e-hadith class. The Shaykh was very frail and ill at the time. Me was seated at the front of 

the masjid and to the amazement of all present, instead of one of the students of the Dawra-e-hadith 



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Mawlana Mufti Muhammad Jamil Khan Shahid sahib brought him to Karachi 
for treatment and earned the good fortune of serving him. On this occasion 
too, I visited him and he showered his affection upon me. 

With regard to his children too, Allah, Most Majestic, had blessed him to an 
enviable degree. His sons are worthy inheritors of his knowledge, particularly 
Mawlana Zahid al-Rashidi (may Allah protect him) who, beside knowledge and 
virtue, has been gifted with an immense fervour to serve Islam, possessing 
deep and meaningful thought, a serious and perceptive approach to matters. 
He is well-read on Western thoughts and ideologies. His fervent analysis on 
this is a guiding torch for the younger generations. 

By his temperament, Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar sahib 
(may Allah sanctify his soul) was a man of study, research and teaching, but 
whenever the need arose for the [islamic] nation to engage in physical 
struggle, he sacrificed this academic temperament and was at the forefront. 
Thus, during the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat 22 campaign of 1953 CE 7 he took a very 
active role, bearing the hardship of imprisonment. Even in prison, his dawah 
and tabligh activities continued unhampered/" 



class reading the text of Sahih al-Bukhari to the Shaykh (as is the norm on such occasions), the grand 
shaykh of the Dar al-'Ulum, 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT, humbled himself in front of the 
Shaykh and asked if he could read the text! To this the Shaykh smiled and said "Jazakallah". 'Allamah 
MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT read a portion of the text which was then explained by the Shaykh. This 
was an excellent illustration of the extraordinary adab and humility of the noble 'ulama of Islam. The 
Shaykh then granted ijazah in hadith to all the teachers and students of the Dawra-e-hadkh class. One of 
our teachers who taught us Mishkat al-Masabih repeatedly asked that the Shaykh also grant us, the 
students of the Mishkat al-Masabih, ijazah in hadith, but he refused, saying that this would be against his 
principle. 

22 Meaning the finality of prophethood of the last Messenger of Allah, our most noble master 
Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah of the Quraysh of Makkah (d. 11 AH/632 CE - may the peace and blessings of 
Allah be upon him). Whoever believes in any prophet to come after our master Muhammad (may the 
peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is, by consensus of the entire Muslim Vmmah, a non-Muslim. 
The campaign being referred to by 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT here is the nationwide 
campaign by the Muslims of Pakistan, pioneered by some of the greatest 'ulama ever born in south Asia, 
to successfully lobby the then government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to officially declare the 
followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani (d. 1908 CE), varyingly known as the 'Qadiyanis', 'Ahmadis', 
'Mirza'is' and 'Ahmadiyyah Muslim Community/Jama at* (depending on which part of the world they 
are operating in). After much sacrifice by the Muslims of Pakistan and their illustrious 'ulama, followers 
of the Qadiyani religion were eventually declared a non-Muslim minority in Pakistan. Other major 
Muslim countries of the world followed suit, including Saudi Arabia, where they remain banned from 
entering the sacred cities of Makkah and MadTnah, just like all other non-Muslims. 
" 'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqT UsmanT, Shaykh al-Kull Hadrat Mawlana Sarfaraz sahib Safdar, in the 
monthly Al-Balagh (Karachi: Dar al-'Ulum Karachi, 2009). 

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Author of tens of highly academic works, Imam Safdar is considered one of the 
most prolific research scholars of the last century. A striking feature of all his 
works is the originality and in-depth analysis that is absent in the works of 
many a scholar today. Mawlana 'Abd al-Haqq Khan BashTr 24 lists forty-six such 
works of Imam Safdar with brief synopses. They include: 

Al-Kaldm al-Hdm ft Tahqiq 'lharat al-Taham (first impression: 1364 AH/1944 CE): 
This is Imam Safdar s very first work. Some eminent 'ulama had misunderstood 
certain texts in Imam Abu Ja'far al-Tahawf s famous Shark Ma'am al-Athar to 
imply that the acceptance of zakah by those belonging to the sdddt (sayyids) 
and Barm Hashim is permissible. Such a ruling would be in opposition to the 
opinion held by the 'ulama of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa 'I-Jama'ah. In this work, 
Imam Safdar establishes with many evidences that such an implication was 
never the intention of Imam al-TahawT, and to infer such an opinion from his 
work is incorrect. In fact, Imam al-Tahaw! held exactly the same view as that 
of the rest of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa '1-Jamaah - that of impermissibility. This 
work received the praise and comments of some of the Akabir 'ulama of 
Deoband. 

Daw 1 al-Sirdj ft Tahqiq al-Mi'raj (first impression: 1368 AH/1948 CE): In this 48- 
page treatise, citing the Holy Qur'an, ahadith and sayings of the Salaf, Imam 
Safdar establishes that the Beloved Messenger of Allah (may the peace and 
blessings of Allah be upon him) had physically ascended the heavens during 
the M\ raj - and not just a spiritual journey, as is claimed by some. 

Tabfid al-Nawapr ft Tahqiq al-Hadirwa 'l-Nazxr (also known as Ankhon ki Thandak 

- first impression: 1368 AH/1949 CE): Omnipresence is an attribute of only 
Allah, Most Magnificent, and none share in this attribute. This is a 
fundamental belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa *1-Jamaah. However, certain 
heretic groups believe that the Noble Prophets and awliya of Allah enjoy a 
share of this Divine attribute. In its most recent edition, comprising 200 pages, 
Imam Safdar proves with irrefutable evidences from the Holy Qur an and 
ahadTth that such a belief is fundamentally contrary to Islam. 



24 Mawlana Abd al-Haqq Khan BashTr, lmam-e-Ahl-e-$unr\at ki TasdnTfi Ek Ijmali Ta'aruf, in the Monthly 
al-Sharfah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

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Dil ka Surar (first impression: 1370 AH/1951 CE): In this work, citing evidences 
from the Holy Qur an, ahadith, the creed of the noble Companions and the 
imams of this Ummah, Imam Safdar proves that only Allah has absolute 
sovereignty and control over all things. It is only He who has the right to 
legislate (the Sharxah), No creation shares in this Divine attribute nor is the 
same conferred upon any creation by Allah, Most Magnificent. 

Mas 'ala-e-Qixrbani (first impression: 1374 AH/1954 CE): This work was written in 
response to the heretic rejecters of hadith (the self-labelled Ahl al-Qur'dn) who 
maintain that the sacrificing of animals during the tenth, eleventh and twelfth 
day of the month of Dhu '1-Hijjah is unislamic and a wastage. Using irrefutable 
evidences, Imam Safdar also rebuts the claim by the so-called 'Ahl al-Hadlth' 
that the days of this sacrifice extends to the thirteenth day of the month of 
Dhu'l-Hijjah. 

Ahsan al-Kalam ft Tark al-Qiraat Khalf al-Imam (first impression: 1375 AH/1955 
CE): The issue of whether one who prays behind an imam ought to recite Surat 
al-Fatiha has always been one based on sound ijtihdd, with both sides (those 
schools of sacred law that maintain the recitation of Surat al-Fatiha by even the 
one who prays behind an imam is a requirement for the validity of his prayer 
and those that oppose this view) producing valid evidences. However, due to 
its ijtihadi nature the issue has never been treated as a divisive contention. 
Indeed this is the case with all the legal differences that exist within, and 
between, the four established schools of sacred law. Sadly, some quarters of 
the Indian 'Ahl al-Hadlth' (or 'Salafis') launched a campaign, publishing and 
distributing literature condemning all those Muslims who do not recite Surat 
al-Fatiha when praying behind an imam and claiming that the prayers of such 
Muslims were invalid. This implied that the prayers of all those great imams of 
the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah, who have passed in the history of Islam, and who 
were of the opinion that the one who prays behind an imam must not (or may 
not) recite Surat al-Fatiha were null. Tens of books were written by the leading 
Hanafi 'ulama of the Indian subcontinent in response to this. Imam Safdar 
wrote this unparalleled two-volume rebuttal of the false 'Ahl al-HadTth' 
propagandists. In the first volume he establishes the firm evidences of the 
Hanaft school of sacred law and in the second volume he rebuts the deception 
of the propagandists one by one. 

Sirf Ek Islam - ba Jawab-e-Do Islam (first impression: 1375 AH/1955 CE): Dr. 
Ghulam JTlanT Barq had joined the heretic movement of the rejecters of hadith 
and had written two books entitled Do Islam and Do Qur'an. The former book 



21 






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was received by Imam Safdar during his incarceration in Multan Central Jail for 
his involvement in the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat campaign. He read the book and 
wrote this rebuttal in prison, which was published upon his release. After 
reading this book Dr. Ghulam JTlanT Barq realised the fallacy of his views and 
repented. He later wrote a book exposing the heresy of those who reject the 
authority of hadfth. 

Al-Minhqj al-Wadih (Mh-e-Sunnat - first impression: 1377 AH/1957 CE): After 
shirk (associating partners with Allah) the greatest sin in Islam is bid' ah 
(innovation in matters of the Dm in contravention of the Holy Quran, Sunnah, 
ijma of the Imams of ijtihad and qiyas based on the Holy Qur an and Sunnah - 
see 'Allamah Sayyid Murtada al-Zabldi's Taj al-'Arus, 20:309). Considered by 
many 'ulama as one the best books ever written on the topic, this work 
parallels Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibrs monumental al-I'lisam. In the 311 pages 
of this work Imam Safdar has explained the concept of bid l ah in light of the 
Holy Qur an and hadfth in an excellent and highly comprehensive style. After 
establishing the principles of the Holy Quran and Sunnah in this regard, he 
has critically analysed some prevalent practices of bid'ah in the Indian 
subcontinent. In his highly powerful style Imam Safdar mentions the 
arguments of some of the leading promoters and preachers of bid'ah in the 
Indian subcontinent, namely Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan and his followers of the 
BarelwT sect, before exposing their misguidance and opposition to the 
principles of the Holy Quran and Sunnah. 

Izalat al-Rayb 'an 'Aqidat 'Ilm al-Ghayb (first impression: 1379 AH/1959 CE): Just 
as omnipresence is an attribute of only Allah, omniscience and possession of 
knowledge of the unseen is an attribute of only Allah, Most Magnificent. 
Comprising 536 pages this work is another unparalleled masterpiece of Imam 
Safdar in which he has refuted the evidences of those who are astray and seek 
to lead others astray on this issue, particularly, in relation to the knowledge 
that was possessed by the Noble Messenger of Allah (may the peace and 
blessings of Allah be upon him). 

Maqam-e-Abi Hanifah (first impression: 1381 AH/1962 CE): The imam of an 
estimated two thirds of the Muslim Ummah, Imam Abu Hanifah has been the 
target of envy, malice, hatred, false propaganda and shameless character 
assassinations throughout the centuries. However, the so-called 'Ahl al-Hadlth' 
(or 'Salaffs') of this age seem to have surpassed all limits in this regard. In fully 
orchestrated and concerted ways they have spread their venom against al- 
Imam al-A'zam (the greatest imam) Abu HanTfah to all parts of the world. Using 



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irrefutable historic evidences, Imam Safdar has established the sublime status 
of Imam Abu HanTfah in the sciences of hadfth and fiqh. He has rebutted the 
malicious allegations of the enemies of Imam Abu HanTfah one by one. In his 
foreword to the book, the great muhaddith of India, 'Allamah HabTb al-Rahman 
A'zamT, has described it as a monumental work. Imam Mufti Muhammad ShafT, 
in his foreword to the book, states that he had been so disturbed by the false 
propaganda and malice against Imam Abu Hanifah that he had been preparing 
material to author such a book himself. When Imam Safdar s work, Maqam-e- 
Abf Hanifah, arrived and he read it, his wish to present such a work to the 
Muslim Ummah was fulfilled. He states, "Without any exaggeration, I can say 
that had I attempted myself, I would not have been able to produce such a 
comprehensive work. This book is absolutely sufficient in this topic." Imam 
Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Yusuf Binnorf 5 , in his foreword, after praising 



25 Imam Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad Yusuf BinnorT (1326-1397 AH/1906-1977 CE), a descendant of the 
Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), was born in the village of Mahabatabad 
near Peshawar. An authority in hadfth, Imam BinnorT studied at the Dar al-'Ulum at Deoband and 
graduated from Madrasah Ta ! lTm al-DTn at Dabhel (India), where he studied hadRh under the 
phenomenal Imam 'Allamah Sayyid Anwar Shah Kashmiri, becoming one of his most famous students. 

He received his primary education from his father, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya BinnorT, and 
maternal uncle. He studied in Peshawar and then traveled to Kabul. In 1927 CF he enrolled at the Dar al- 
'Ulum at Deoband where he studied for two years before moving to Dabhel, where he completed the 
final year dawra-e-hadith under Imam Kashmiri and Shaykh al-islam Mawlana ShabbTr Ahmad 'UthmanT, 
the author of Fath al-Mulhim bi Shark Sahfy al-lmam Muslim. 

After graduation, Imam BinnorT remained in the service of Imam Kashmiri. He then lived for a few 
years (1930-1934 CE) in his hometown of Peshawar until requested to teach hadith at Dabhel. He 
remained shaykh al-had\th at Dabhel until the creation of Pakistan. He then went to the Dar al-'Ulum at 
Tando Allah Yar and then came to Karachi where he founded the prestigious Madrasah 'Arabiyyah 
islamiyyah at what was later named BinnorT Town. 

During his first hajj, he offered bay ah to Mawlana ShafT al-DIn NaglnwT MakkT (the khallfah of HajT 
Imdadullah Muhajir Makki). After hajj, Imam BinnorT traveled to Cairo to supervise the publication of 
Imam Kashmiri's commentary on Imam al-Bukharfs Sahih, Fayd al-BarT, and Imam al-ZaylaTs Nash al- 
Rayah. During his stay there, Imam BinnorT contributed articles about the Dar al-'Ulum at Deoband and 
its elders to Egyptian journals. It was during his stay there that Imam BinnorT developed close contacts 
with leading 'ulama in Egypt, including Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawtharl. 

On his return to India, Imam BinnorT visited Imam Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf 'Ali ThanwT, who 
became very impressed by him and later included him among his mujaz-e-suhbah. 

'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqlUsmanT writes: 

"Mawlana BinnorTs (may Allah have mercy upon him) personage was so heart soothing, enlightening, 
and full of beauty and solemnity that mentioning all his particulars in a short article is difficult. His 
figure was the bodily memory of his shaykh, 'Allamah Sayyid Anwar Shah Kashmiri. The science of 

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the book, says regarding the author, "I have been hearing the good name of 
the Mawlana (imam Safdar) for a long time now, but this book gave me the 
opportunity to understand [and appreciate] him." Indeed, this is one of the 
many unparalleled works of Imam Safdar. 

Vmdat al-Athdth ft Huhn al-Talaqat al-Thalath (first impression: 1387 AH/1968 
CE); In this work Imam Safdar has established through conclusive evidences 
from the Holy Qur'an, ahadith and verdicts of the majority of the great imams 
of this Ummah that three talaqs pronounced by a husband in one go (immediate 
triple talaq) or without the proper interruption between each of the three does 
indeed effect three talaqs, resulting in the absolute severance of the bond of 
marriage (nikah). Imam Safdar lists all the erroneous arguments of the so-called 
*Ahl al-Hadlth' (or 'Salafis') who, in opposition to the entire Muslim Ummah 
maintain that such a talaq will only count as a single talaq, and highlights the 
grave error of this. 

Taskin al-Sudur ft Tahqiq Ahwal al-Mawta fi l l~Bccrzakh wa 'l-Qubur (first- 
impression: 1388 AH/1968 CE): In 1958 CE Mawlana Sayyid 'Inayetullah Shah 
BukharT launched his well-known campaign in which he sought to reject the 
belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa 'l-Jamaah on the life of the Noble Prophets of 
Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them) in their graves. 
Despite many reconciliatory attempts by the 'ulama, he refused to accept the 

hadith was his speciality in which it is difficult to find his comparison. Like his shaykh, he was a treasure 
of information in every knowledge and science." 

His most popular work is the splendid six-volume Arabic commentary on the'ibadat portion of the jarni' 
of Imam Abu ! Isa al-TirmidhT entitled Ma'arif al-Sunan. Allah Most High took great work from the 
Mawlana in refuting false {batil) sects, and he was fully committed to the Khatm al-Nubuwwah movement. 
It was through his work and the work of a few other leading 'ulama that the Pakistani government was 
obliged to declare the QadianTs a non-Muslim minority. 

'Allamah MuftT Muhammad TaqI UsmanT writes that Imam BinnorT would never remain silent from 
commenting on the views of those who, in interpreting the Holy Quran and hadith, adopted an 
understanding that was different from that of the majority of the Ummah. "The Mawlana would remain 
particularly worried that the maslak (school of thought or way) of the 'ulama of Deoband did not 
become contaminated by erroneous views and that in matters of politics the 'ulama of Deoband's 
solidarity and cooperation with any individual is not taken to mean they are [necessarily] in agreement 
with [all] the views of that individual," 

This pillar of sacred knowledge died of a heart attack while attending an Islamic Shanah conference in 
Pakistan on 3 Dhu '1-Qa'dah 1397 AH. 



Mawlana Ismaeel Nakhuda) 



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fact that all the Noble Prophets of Allah are alive in their graves. In a meeting 
of the Council of the Jam'iyyat 'Ulama al-Islam in 1382 AH (1962 CE) Imam 
Safdar was tasked with preparing a comprehensive book outlining the creed of 
the Ahl al-Sunnah wa 'l-Jamaah and the noble 'ulama of Deoband in this 
regard. Over a period of five years he prepared this work comprising 439 
pages. Through conclusive evidences from the Holy Quran, ahadith and 
verdicts of the great imams of this Ummah he has established that the beloved 
Prophet of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is alive in 
his grave and replies to salutations (saldt wa salam) made near his blessed 
grave. This is the belief of the vast majority of the 'ulama of the Ahl al-Sunnah 
wa 'l-Jamaah and this is the belief of the noble 'ulama of Deoband. In his 
foreword to the book, 'Allamah QarT Muhammad Tayyib, the legendary rector 
of the Dar al-'Ulum in Deoband, states, "The reality is that Taskin al-Sudur is 
taskin al-sudur (tranquillity for bosoms) on this topic. It has brought 
tranquillity to my heart and soul." Similar words of praise, specifically for this 
work and generally for Imam Safdar, have been used by the great 'ulama of the 
time in the other eighteen forewords contained in the book. 

YanabT - Tarjama-e-RMlah-e-Taramh (first impression; 1388 AH/1969 CE): Since 
the time of Sayyiduna 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), 
the tarawih prayer that is prayed during the holy month of Ramadan has 
always been prayed as twenty rakaat. This has been the unanimous fatwa of all 
four schools in sacred law - the Hanaff, MalikT, Shafi'T and HanbalT schools. In 
their campaign of deception and confusion the so-called 'Ahl al-Hadlth' (or 
'Salafis') had rejected this consensus of the great imams of this Ummah. Using a 
few ambiguous evidences, they had disregarded the overwhelming evidences 
from hadith that prove twenty rakaat is the established sunnah in the tarawih 
prayer, and argued for just eight rakaat. Primarily an Urdu translation of 
Mawlana Ghulam Rasul's Persian work with a 16-page introduction by Imam 
Safdar, this book proves that twenty rakaat is the sunnah in the tarawih prayer 
and not eight. 

Al-Kalam al-Muftd fi Ithbat al-Taqlid (first impression: 1406 AH/1985 CE): Taqlid or 
following an imam of ijtihad (that is, a fully qualified imam who has all the 
relevant knowledge and skills with which to derive commandments from the 
Holy Quran and ahadith of the Noble Messenger of Allah) has always been the 
norm for the Muslim Ummah. Since the early centuries of Islam, with the 
exception of perhaps a tiny minority, most of whom are unworthy of mention, 
Muslims have strictly followed the interpretation of any one of the four 
established schools of sacred law (the Shanah) in matters of their Din. These 



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established and highly sophisticated legal schools are known as madhahib (or 
madMabs). They are the Hanafi, Shdfi'T, Mdliki and Hanball madhahib, named 
after their respective founders - imam Abu HanTfah Nu'man ibn Thabit al-Kufi 
(80-150 AH/699-767 CE), Imam Muhammad ibn Idrls al-Shafi'T al-QurashT (150- 
204 AH/767-819 CE), Imam Malik ibn Anas al-Asbahl al-Madanl (93-179 
AH/712-795 CE), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal al-ShaybanT al-Baghdadl (164-241 
AH/781-855 CE) (may Allah be pleased with all of them). 

Although admittedly there have always been (usually lone) callers to the 
discarding of adherence to madhahib, in recent times due to a number of 
reasons the movement has gained popularity in various communities of 
Muslims, especially amongst the more energetic and inexperienced younger 
generations. In reminiscence of the deceptive call of u In al-hukm ilia lilldh" 
(sovereignty is for only Allah) by the Khawdrij rebels who had rejected the 
authority of Amir al-Muminm Sayyiduna 'All ibn AbTTalib (may Allah be pleased 
with him), the callers to non-madhhabism use appealing slogans like "Let us 
follow the Messenger of Allah and not Abu HanTfah". In response one can only 
say what Sayyiduna 'All ibn AbTTalib said when he came to hear of the slogan of 
the heretic Khawdrij - "Kalimatu haqq, urlda bihd 'l-bdtil" (a word of truth, but 
the intention is foul), indeed, in order to expose this foul and poisonous 
motive of the callers to non-madhhabism, highly regarded scholars like the 
contemporary Shaykh Dr. SaTd Ramadan al-But! of Damascus have authored 
books with challenging titles such as his Al-Salafiyyah: Marhalah Zamaniyyah, La 
Madhhab isldmiyy (Salafism: A Phase in History, not a school in Islamic Law), Al-La 
Madhhabiyyah: Akhtaru Bid'ah Tuhaddidu al-SharTah al-isldmiyyah (Non- 
Madhhabism: The Most Dangerous Bid'ah that Threatens the Islamic Shan ah) and Al- 
La Madhhabiyyah: Qintarat al-La Diniyyah (Non-Madhhabism: The Bridge to Atheism). 



A ludicrous irony of the call to non-madhhabism is that all the great masters of 
hadith to whom the entire Muslim Ummah is indebted, and without whose 
great works the library of hadith literature would be left empty, and whom the 
pioneers of the non-madhhabism movement also hold as the greatest 
authorities in hadith, were all strict adherents and promoters of their 
respective madhahib. This is a fact not hidden to even the least knowledgeable 
student of hadith and fiqh. Upon closer inspection and scrutiny it becomes 
evident that the callers to non-madhhabism are in reality practising taqlid 
themselves. The only difference between their taqlid and that of other Muslims 
is that they are following the verdicts of contemporary, or often medieval, 
'ulama while the Hanafi, Shdfi'i, Mdliki and Hanball Muslims follow the verdicts 
of Imam Abu HanTfah, Imam al-Shafu, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal 



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and their closest students who helped develop their respective madhahib (may 
Allah be pleased with all of them). 

Comprising 341 pages, this work of Imam Safdar is probably the most 
comprehensive critique and expose of the non-madhhabism movement in any 
language. In his powerful style, using clear evidences from the Holy Qur an, 
ahddfth, verdicts of the great imams of this Ummah, works of the legendary 
masters in the sciences of Islam and history, Imam Safdar unmasks the 
deception of the seemingly sincere call to the Sunnah by the non-madhhabists. 

Ihsdn al-Bdrxli Fahm al-Bukhdn (first impression: 1408 AH/1988 CE): This is an 
edited transcript of some of the extremely rich lectures of Imam Safdar on the 
Sahlh of Imam al-BukharT. 

Khazd'in al-Sunan (first impression: 1412 AH/1992 CE): This is an edited 
transcript of some of the extremely rich lectures of Imam Safdar on the Sunan 
of Imam al-TirmidhT. 

Tawdih al-Mardm fi Nuz&l al-Masih 'Ahyki l-Saldm (first impression: 1417 
AH/1996 CE): In this final work of his, Imam Safdar has established through 
irrefutable and authentic ahddfth that the noble Prophet of Allah, Sayyiduna 7sa 
ibn Maryam (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both), was 
lifted alive to the heavens and will return to the world before the end of time. 
He will kill Dajjal (the 'Anti-Christ') and will rule in accordance to the Shanah 
of Sayyiduna Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them 
both) for forty years. This is the unanimously agreed belief of the Ahl al- 
Sunnah wa 'l-Jama'ah. In this work Imam Safdar has also rebutted and exposed 
the severe misguidance of those heretic sects that reject the life and descent of 
Sayyiduna 'Tsa ibn Maryam (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them 
both). 

Apart from the above, Imam Safdafs published works include Ayina-e- 
Muhammadi (first impression: 1365 AH/1945 CE), Guldasta-e-Tawhid (first 
impression: 1370 AH/1950 CE), Hilyat al-Muslimin (al-Lihya ft Nazar al-DIn - first 
impression: 1371 AH/1951 CE), Chdlis Du'dyen (first impression: 1374 AH/1954 
CE), Hiddyat al-Murtdb fi Tanq al-Sawdb (Rah-e-Hiddyat - first impression: 1378 
AH/1957 CE), inkdr-e- hadith ke Nataij (first impression: 1379 AH/1960 CE), 
MirzaTkdJanazah aurMusalmdn (first impression: 1966 CE), Tabligh-e-lsldm (first 
impression: 1382 AH/1962 CE), Taifah-e-Mansurah (first impression: 1382 
AH/1962 CE), Isaiyyat ka Pas Manzar (first impression: 1384 AH/1962 CE), Bdni- 



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e-Ddr al-'Uliim Deoband (first impression: 1382 AH/1962 CE), Bab-e-Jannat - ba 
Jawdb-e-Rdh-e-Jannat (first impression: 1383 AH/1962 CE), Shauq-e-Jihad (first 
impression: 1385 AH/1965 CE), Tanqid-e-Matm bar TafsIr-e-NaTm al-DTn (first 
impression: 1387 AH/1967 CE). 

Mawlana 'Abd al-Haqq Khan Bashlr's Urdu treatise may be consulted for a full 
list of the works of Imam Safdar. In view of brevity, just the above synopses 
have been mentioned here in the hope that this will sufficiently serve as a 
sample. 

Upholder of the Din and perfect spiritual mentor 

Throughout his life, Imam Safdar defended the Muslim Ummah and Islam on all 
fronts. In his autobiography, he gives an account of how when his beloved 
teacher Shaykh al-Isldm Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani was arrested 
for a speech he gave in Muradabad, the students of the Dar al-'Ulum at 
Deoband had organised several mass protest rallies, which had to be controlled 
by the army and police. In one of the last such rallies, the students appointed 
him as their protest leader. 20 During the struggle for freedom from British 
colonialism, he was an active member of thejam'iyyat al-'Ulama of India. After 
the formation of Pakistan, he vigorously campaigned for the implementation 
of the Shan ah within its realm. For his role in the campaign to officially 
declare the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyanfs faith a non-Muslim 
minority in Pakistan, he was incarcerated for many months twice - in 1953 and 
then again in 1973 CE. 27 On an individual level, he mentored thousands of 
people who took the formal bay ah of tasawwuf at his blessed hands and guided 
them through the various stages of spiritual purification. He was a khalifah of 
the great Shaykh Mawlana Husayn 'Ali. 23 



26 Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar, Autobiography: Hum ne tamam 'umr guzari hay is tarah, in 
the Monthly al-SharTah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

27 Mawlana Dr. 'Abd al-Razzaq Iskandar, imam Ahl al-Sunnah, ai-Muhaddith al-Kabir - Muhammad Sarfaraz 
Khan Safdar (Arabic); Mawlana Abu 'Ammar Zahid al-Rashidi, Hadrat Wdlid-e-Muhtaram se wabista chand 
ydden, in the Monthly at-Shart ah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

2a Born in the Mianwali district of the Punjab province in 1283 AH (1866 CE), Shaykh Mawlana Husayn 
All ibn Hafiz Mian Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah al-Hanaft al-Naqshbandl studied the major books of hadith 
under the great Imam Shaykh al-Mashdyikh Mawlana Rashld Ahmad GangohT in 1302 AH (1884 CE). He 
then studied tafs\r under Imam Mawlana Mazhar NanotwT and philosophy and logic under Shaykh 
Mawlana Ahmad Hasan KanpurT. He took the hay ah of tasawwuf at the hands of Shaykh Khwaja 
Muhammad 'Uthman ibn 'Abdillah al-NaqshbandT. After the demise of the Shaykh, he turned to Shaykh 
Khwaja Siraj al-DTn for continuation of his spiritual training in the NaqshbandT order, who granted him 
khildfah. According to Shaykh Mawlana 'Abd al-Hayy ibn Fakhr al-DTn al-HasanT, he was granted khiidfah 
by the former shaykh. Beside his mastery of tasawwuf, Shaykh Mawlana Husayn 'All was also a master in 

28 









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Exemplar of sincerity and humbleness 

Despite being the ocean of knowledge and tower of piety that he was, Imam 
Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar was an exemplar of sincerity and 
humbleness. I can recall how, on a late afternoon during his visit to Karachi for 
medical treatment during Safar 1423 AH (May 2002 CE), while we were seated 
in his blessed company in the front garden of Mawlana Mufti Muhammad 
Jamil Khan Shahtd's residence, Imam Safdar had given all Madrasah students 
present in this exclusive majlis the opportunity to ask questions. One of my 
class fellows, a very promising student, asked a question about an often 
misunderstood and misinterpreted subtle practice of the sufis, to which Imam 
Safdar replied, "The people of Allah (ahl Allah) know the answer to this." It was 
as if he was saying that this is a question the answer to which only those close 
to Allah know. I am not one of them. 

In recognition of his sublime status in the Muslim Ummah, he was given the 
grand title of 'Imam Ahl al-Sunnah' (the Imam of the people of Sunnah) by the 
'ulamd of his time. He would often comment on this, saying, "I am the imam of 
a masjid in Gakhar Mandl (Gujranwala), which is called ( Masjid-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat 
wa 1-Jama'at', that is why I am called Imam Ahl al-Sunnah\" 2<5 

He had spent his entire life serving the Din of Allah and the creation of Allah, 
but when toward the end of his almost century-long life, he himself was 
desperately in need of service, he would dislike and refrain from accepting any 
form of service from others. Mawlana Sa'Id Ahmad JalalpGn recalls how he and 
others would witness Imam Safdar, when he was so ill that he could barely rise 
without assistance, getting up during the night to go to the lavatory. He would 
not wake anyone from their sleep and would attempt to make his way to the 
lavatory with the support of the walls. He would dislike any stranger pressing 
or massaging his feet. He would not accept gifts except from those whom he 



the science of tafsn al-Qur'dn. In his lectures, Imam Safdar would often quote from his shaykh. He died 
during the month of Rajab in 1363 AH (1944 CE). ('Allamah Abd al-Hayy ibn Fakhr al-DTn al-Hasani, al- 
i'lam bi man fi tdrikh al-Hind min al-A'ldm (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1999) 8:1217, entry: 119; Hafiz 
Muhammad Akbar Shah Bukhari, Akdbir Vlamd-e-Deoband (Lahore: ldarah-e-lslamiyyat, 1999), pp. 148; 
Mawlana Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf, Hadrat Shaykh al-Hadith ke asdtidhah ka ijmdli tadruf, in the Monthly al- 
SharTah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

Ibid; Mawlana Muhammad Aslam Shaykhupurl, Chand muntashir ydden; Mawlana 'Abd al-Qayyum 
HaqqanI, Wa md kdna Qaysun halakah, in the Monthly al-Shanah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 



29 



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knew well and regarding whose income he knew there was no doubt of it being 
acquired through unlawful means. 30 

Professor Dr. 'All Asghar Chishtl recalls how once, when Imam Safdar was 
visiting their offices in Karachi, he and others tried to assist him in climbing 
the stairs. Imam Safdar declined, saying, "Please do not be inconvenienced 
because of me. I can climb the stairs by myself." When he had sat down in the 
upstairs office, he said, "I am not as old as you people think I am." They said, 
"Hadrat, When Mufti sahib comes here, he has difficulty In climbing these 
stairs." He replied, "Mufti Mahmud is old, I am not." 31 

Like many others in high office, during his time in office as President of 
Pakistan, Rafiq Tarar was also an admirer of Imam Safdar. He once sought 
permission to come and visit Imam Safdar, but the latter asked him not to, 
explaining that if the President visited him, people would know that the 
President was an admirer of Imam Safdar. They would then come to him with 
all forms of matters, good and bad, seeking his recommendation and good 
word to the President. 32 

"From the cradle to the grave" - Unquenchable thirst for knowledge 

Writing whilst the funeral arrangements were being made, Shaykh al-Hadfth 
Mawlana Zahid al-RashidT writes about the inspirational academic aspect of his 
illustrious father's personality: 

'My revered father Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar had been 
bedridden for the last eight or nine years. Despite this, by the grace of Allah, 
his memory did not fail him and his academic interests remained the same till 
the end. His eyesight had deteriorated severely and he had trouble in 
recognising people, but if a person was introduced, he would recall everything 
regarding that person. He would then ask that person even the most minor 
things. I would generally have the opportunity to visit him for a brief while on 
Friday evenings. Whenever he felt better, he would ask for a book to be read to 
him. I would read any book of hadlth to him. I would always fear reading to 
him, as the slightest of errors would not pass unnoticed or unchecked. A few 
months prior to his demise he asked, "Would you happen to have a reliable 



30 Mawlana Said Ahmad Jaialpuri, Imam-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat ke ghayr ma'muli awsafwa kamalat, in the Monthly 
al-Shartah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

'All Asghar ChishtT, Chand yadgar mulaqaten, in the Monthly al-Shartah, special edition (Gujranwala, 
2009). 
32 [Md. 



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[Arabic] dictionary?" I asked, "What will you do with a dictionary in this 
condition?" He replied, "Sometimes the need for a dictionary arises." I 
purchased a dictionary and presented it to him and he was very pleased with 
it. On another occasion he asked, "Will Al-Lulu' wa 'l-Marjan be available in the 
bookshops?" I replied in the affirmative. I then purchased it for him. 

Last month when I was setting off for my trip to the United Kingdom, I 
informed him that I intended to perform 'umrah on the way back. He was 
pleased at hearing this, prayed for me and said, "I have heard that Musnad Abi 
Ya'la has now been published. If you are able to, could you get me a copy of it?" 
I searched for it in several bookshops in Makkah Mukarramah and Madlnah 
Munawwarah, but could not find it. On my way back I said to my host in 
Jeddah, Qari Muhammad Aslam Shehzad, my wife's brother-in-law, "I do not 
feel like returning home without the book." We both then visited the 
bookshops in Jeddah together. After visiting two or three bookshops, we 
managed to find it. I was overjoyed by this find, but Qari sahib was happier 
than me. He prevented me from paying for it and asked that I present it to my 
revered father as a gift from him. 

I returned home on Thursday and as per my weekly routine I visited my father 
on Friday. He was feeling very unwell [...]. When I showed him the book, he 
gestured that I place it where he had asked me to. 

Only a few days ago, as per our routine, 1 and my brothers were by his bedside 
on Friday. He was feeling somewhat better. He asked me where such and such 
a verse was in the Holy Qur'an. I told him where it was. 1 thought he would be 
enquiring about an issue related to that verse, but when he asked me a second 
question regarding it, I realised he was testing me. My younger brother, Qarin 
'Aziz al-Rahman, who resides in Jeddah, was also there. I pushed him in front 
of me and hid myself. He then underwent a test. He was asked about several 
verses and the verses preceding them. We were extremely happy seeing our 
father so well and in such a good mood. 

During my visits, he would usually ask about the state of the nation. In recent 
days, he had been very concerned about the state of Swat [in the Afghan-Pak 
frontier province]. He stayed abreast of newspapers, and he would often ask 
questions relating to news items. He would read my regular newspaper 
columns and would comment on some of their contents. I once wrote in one of 
my columns that the Noble Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of 
Allah be upon him) is an 'ideal' for his Ummah. The next time I visited him, he 



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asked me what the word 'ideal' meant. I replied that this was an approximate 
translation of the Arabic term uswah hasanah. 

Once, while reading a hadith to him, I got stuck on a word. I was surprised 
myself that this had happened when I had in fact previously read and taught 
the hadith several times. When this happened, he told me what the word was 
and also explained the hadith to me. Many a time, 1 have struggled to recall the 
precise wording of a hadith and could not locate it in the books, but when I 
asked him he would tell me in which chapter of which book to look. I would 
then find it in that precise location. This is not from the days when he was well 
and healthy, but rather during the days when he was so ill that he could not 
turn on his side in bed himself. In such a condition, his memory remained so 
sharp that we would be left amazed by it.' 33 

Despite his immaculate and unparalleled proficiency in all the sciences of 
Islam, and despite having spent more than half a century teaching and serving 
Islam and the Muslims, Imam Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar 
would often express his sorrow at not having been able to teach to his heart's 
content. Mawlana Muhammad Aslam ShaykhupurT writes of how when he 
visited Imam Safdar a year prior to his demise, he asked whether he had any 
unfulfilled wishes. Imam Safdar replied that there were many such wishes. 
Upon Mawlana Shaykhupurf s request to mention one such wish, Imam Safdar 
stated that he had not had the opportunity to teach the primary level [small] 
books of the Dars-e-Nizdmi course 34 . This was the unfulfilled wish and desire of 
a man who had spent half a century lecturing on the major books of hadlth, 
including the Sunan of Imam Abu Tsa al-Tirmidhl and the ]am\ of Imam 
Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhan, and the text and tafsfr of the Holy Quran to 
the 'ulama tens of times. He was, without an iota of doubt, an embodiment of 
the hadlth of the blessed Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of 
Allah be upon him) narrated by Sayyiduna Abu Said al-Khudrl (may Allah be 
pleased with him) and reported by Imam Abu Isa al-TirmidhT, in which the 
blessed Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 
said: 







4ji l y*>- vtajj*- Lu : JUj 2 8 81 ^-uj^t oljj) . i^l ol^. dj& j>- <**~*i .£>■ j* &*jjL\ g<!-i J 



M Mawlana Zahid al-RashidT, Mere walid, mere marabbi- Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar, 
in the Weekly Wazarat (Lahore, 5-12 May 2009). 

M Mawlana Muhammad Aslam ShaykhupurT, Chand muntashir yaden, in the Monthly al-Shartah, special 
edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

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"A believer will never be content with [any amount of] good 35 that he hears until he 
reaches his goal and final destination of Paradise.' 



"36 



This unquenchable thirst for knowledge and desire to serve Islam and the 
Muslims in such a selfless manner is only the lot of the true ulama of the 
akhirah, the men of Allah, described by the blessed Messenger of Allah (may 
the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as the "heirs of the Prophets", 
when he said: 

(+*j>*j 8 8 a>*^^» J jC^ ftflj 2 8 7 7 <d JaiJJlj ^i^jJlj 3 641 >j\> j>] a\jj d-j J^ ,y *->>-) 

"Indeed the 'ulama are the heirs of the Prophets, and indeed the Prophets do not leave 
behind a legacy of dinars and dirhams* 7 but they leave behind a legacy of knowledge. 
He who acquires it has indeed acquired a complete 38 portion." 39 

After describing the condition of Imam Safdar 's thirst for knowledge, Mawlana 
Muhammad Aslam ShaykhupurT relates an incident that occurred only a few 



3 * 'Allamah Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-MubarakpurT (d. 1353 AH/1934 CE), in his Tuhfat al- 
AhwadhTbi sharhjami al-Tirmidhi, interprets the word 'good' in this hadtth as knowledge. Explaining this 
hadith. Imam Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah al-lshbTl? (ibn al-'Arabl al-MalikT - d. 543 AH/1148 CE) 
says in his 'Arictar al-Ahwadhi bi sharhjami'' al-Tirmidhi (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyyah, no date) 10:157, 
"It has been reported in wisdom that there are two greedy ones who are never satiated - the seeker of 
knowledge and the seeker of this [material] world." 

36 Imam Abu Tsa Muhammad ibn Tsa ibn al-Sawrah al-TirmidhT (d. 279 AH/892 CE), al-Jami al-Kabir 
(Sunan al-Tirmidhf), ed. Shu'ayb al-Arna'ut and Haytham 'Abd al-Ghafur (Damascus: Dar al-Risalat al- 
'Alamiyyah, 2009), 4:620, hadlth 2881, 
57 That is, money or material wealth. 

i8 The actual Arabic word used here by the blessed Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of 
Allah be upon him) is 'wafir, from the root wafr, fxrah or wu/wr. It means abundance and plenty (see Lisan 
al-'Arab and al-Mu'jam at-Waslt), I have chosen to translate the word as 'complete', following the 
interpretation given by Imam 'Allamah KhalTl Ahmad SaharanpurT (d. 1346 AH/1927 CE) in his Badhl al- 
Majhud fi hall Sunan AbT Dawud, "Allamah Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-MubarakpurT (d. 1353 
AH/1934 CE) in his Tuhfat al-Ahwadht bi sharh Jam? al-Tirmidhi, Imam 'Allamah ! AlT ibn Sultan 
Muhammad al-Qari (d. 1014 AH/1605 CE) in his Mirq&t al-Mafatih sharh Mishkat al-Masabth and Shaykh al- 
Hadith Mawlana NasTr Ahmad Khan (d. Safar 1431 AH/Feb 2010 CE) of the Dar al-'Ulum at Deohand 

(India) in his dars of Sahih al-Hukhari. 

19 Imam Abu Dawud Sulayman ibn al-Ash'ath ibn Ishaq ibn BashTr al-AzdT al-SijistanT (d. 275 AH/888 
CE), Sunan AbT Dawud with Badhl al-Majhad ft hall Sunan Abi Dawud, ed. Taqi al-DTn al-NadwT (Beirut: Dar 
al-Basha'ir al-Islamiyyah, 2006), 11:373, hadith 3641; Imam Abu 'Isa Muhammad ibn 'Tsa ibn al-Sawrah al- 
TirmidhT (d. 279 AH/892 CE), al-Jami' al-Kabir (Sunan al-Tirmidhi), ed. Shu'ayb al-Arna'ut and Haytham 
'Abd al-Ghafur (Damascus: Dar al-Risalat al-'Alamiyyah, 2009), 4:617, hadith 2877. 

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weeks prior to his demise. He says, 'Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Raff Usman! 40 
had come to visit Imam Safdar. After greeting him, the first thing Imam Safdar 
asked him was, "The shaykh ahhadith of Jamiah Ashrafiyyah (Lahore), Sufi 
Muhammad Sarwar sahib has related such and such a hadith from your revered 
father (Imam 'Allamah Mufti Muhammad Shaff ). I am looking for its reference. 
Could you please identify its source?" 41 

The condition of Imam Safdar during his final days, described by his son Shaykh 
al-Hadith Mawlana Zahid al-Rashidl and Mawlana Muhammad Aslam 
Shaykhupurl, is reminiscent of the condition of the pious 'ulama of the early 
centuries such as Imam Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Ansarl, the senior student of 
Imam Abu Hanifah al-Nu'man al-Kuft, and that of Imam Ibn Malik, the 
grammarian (nahwf) on their death beds. 

A student of Imam Abu Yusuf, al-Qadl Ibrahim ibn al-Jarrah al-KQfT al-Misrl, 
says: 

*[lmam] Abu Yusuf was ill. I went to visit him and found him unconscious. 
When he regained consciousness, he asked me, "0 Ibrahim, What do you say 
regarding a certain issue in fiqhT I said, "Even in such a condition?!" He 
replied, "That is not a problem at all. Let us discuss a matter of knowledge, 
perhaps someone will be relieved by it." He then asked, "0 Ibrahim, What is 
better when pelting the pillars [of jamarat] in Hajj - to pelt on foot or mounted 
on a beast?" I replied, "Mounted on a beast." He said, "Incorrect." I then said, 
"On foot." He again replied, "Incorrect." I said, "Please tell me. May Allah be 
pleased with you." He said, "The pillar, after the pelting of which, one should 
stop and supplicate (say a du'a) - it is best to pelt it on foot. As for the pillar, 
after the pelting of which, one should not supplicate - it is best to pelt it 
mounted on a beast." I then took leave from him. I had not even reached the 
door of his house when I heard the sound of people crying over him. He had 
died. May Allah have mercy upon him/ 42 

It is said regarding Imam Ibn Malik, the grammarian {nahwf), author of the 
Alfiyyah in the science of nahw, that he committed to memory several verses of 



•.11 

41 



President of thejami'ah Dar al-'Ulum in Karachi and grand mufti of Pakistan (see footnote 8). 

Mawlana Muhammad Aslam Shaykhupurl, Chand muntashir yaden, in the Monthly al-Shartah, special 
edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

* 2 'Allamah 'Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, Qimat al-Zaman 'inda Vulama, 8 lh edn (Beirut: Dar ai-Basha* ir 
al-lslamiyyah, 1998), pp. 29. 

34 



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poetry on the day he died. Some have specified that they were eight verses, 
communicated to him by his son. 43 

Father of servants of the Book of Allah 

Allah had blessed Imam Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar with many 
children, all of whom are huffaz 44 of the Holy Quran. Most of his children are 
also gifted 'ulama, serving the Din in various capacities. 45 One of his daughters 
committed the Holy Quran to memory at the age of forty. 46 Imam Safdar was 
not himself a hdfiz of the Holy Quran, but his recollection of passages and 
verses, particularly those pertaining to any aspect of the SharTah, was 
incredible. Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Zahid al-Rashidl recalls how once, during 
the early days of his career, his father, Imam Safdar, had to painfully explain to 
his congregation on the first night of Ramadan that due to not being able to 
find a hdfiz of the Holy Qur an he would have to lead the tardwJh prayer with 
the shorter surats of the Holy Qur an. He says that later, there came a time 
during the life of his father when he and his brothers once counted the 
number of huffaz amongst the offspring of Imam Mawlana Safdar. They came to 
a total of more than forty. 47 

As for his students, it is estimated that Imam Mawlana Safdar had taught 
approximately 30,000 students either directly or indirectly throughout his 
academic life. 48 

Journey to the Most Gracious 



On the night of 9 th Jumada '1-Ula 1430 AH, corresponding to 5 th May 2009, at 
approximately 1 o'clock in the morning 49 the great imam, the remnant of the 
Salaf, Imam Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar departed from this 



^ ibid, pp. 71. 

44 Plural of hafiz. 

Dr. Hafiz Mahmud AkVitar, Ek 'ahd saz shakhsiyyat, in the Monthly al-Shartah, special edition 
(Gujranwala, 2009). 

w Mawlana Muhammad Aslam Shaykhupurl, Chand muntashir yaden, in the Monthly al-Shartah, special 
edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

Mawlana Abu 'Ammar Zahid al-Rashidi, Hadrat Walid-c-Muhtaram se wabista chand yaden, in the 
Monthly al-SharTah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

JS Mawlana Muhammad 'Tsa MansiirT, imam-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat ki Rihlat, in the Monthly al-Shartah, special 
edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

Mawlana Abu 'Ammar Zahid al-Rashidl, Hadrat Walid-e-Muhtaram se wabista chand yaden, in the 
Monthly al-Shartah, special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

35 






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world. It was not merely the departure of a man, but the departure of a true 
exemplar of piety, fear of Allah, sincerity, steadfastness, contentment, 
simplicity, humbleness, affection, compassion, sympathy, empathy, service to 
the Din of Allah and service to the creation of Allah. It was the departure of a 
man the likes of whom the world seldom witnesses - one who will, perhaps, 
never be replaced. In the words of Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Raft UsmanI, 
"The passing of our revered teacher, the imam of the Ahl al-Sunnah, Hadrat 
Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar (may Allah have mercy upon him), 
is indeed a great tragedy for the world of Islamic academia. The departure of 
this sign of the great 'ulama of Deoband (Akdbir) is indeed a terrible loss." 50 



The bier carrying Imam Mawlana Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar was 
brought to the D.C. High School of Gakhar (Gujranwala) in the morning. The 
area was covered by a sea of people. According to some reports, no less than a 
hundred thousand people participated in his funeral prayer. 51 



May Allah, Most Gracious, have mercy on his soul, reward him with the best of 
rewards and grant him entrance to the most magnificent garden of Paradise, 
for, indeed, he lived a life of abstinence, shunning all worldly comforts and 
pleasures, sacrificing his almost century-long life for Islam and the Muslims. 

t , ,=;, £*-.,.- ji.-*-" - • •»" - *" x <- • - ' >' 7 •?" ^-i i ''i'im ■'' n ' < , !ii ' 



Shaykh MuftT Muhammad Raft* UsmanI, letter of condolence published in the Monthly al-Shanah, 
special edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

r '' Mawlana 'Abd al-Qayyum HaqqanT, Wa ma kana Qaysun halakah, in the Monthly al-Shanah, special 
edition (Gujranwala, 2009). 

36 






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Among the Believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them 

some have completed their vow (by sacrificing their lives in the way of Allah), and some 

(still) wait, but they have never changed (their determination) in the least. (al-Qur an 

: ? I 33:23) 






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