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Aqwal e Salaf Vol 1

Aqual e Salf Vol 1 848x1291
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Hadrat Maulānā Burhān ad-Dīn Sāhib Sambhalī
(Shaykh at-Tafsīr, Dār al-‛Ulūm Nadwatul
‛Ulamā’, Lucknow)
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلوة والسلام على سيد المرسلين محمد وآله وصحبه
Hakīm al-Islam Hadrat Shāh Walī Allāh
rahimahullāh writes in his unique and well-known
book, Hujjatullāh al-Bālighah:
إعلم أن ما كلف به الشارع...هو الأعمال من جهة أا تنبعث من الهيئات
النفسانية التي هي في المعاد للنفوس أو عليها...والبحث عن تلك الأعمال من
جهتين، إحداهما جهة إلزامها جمهور الناس...والثانية جهة ذيب نفوسهم ا
وإيصالها إلى الهيئات المطلوبة منها...الباحث عنها من الجهة الأولى هو علم الشرائع
.( وعن الثانية هو علم الإحسان. (حجة الله البالغة، ج ٢، ص ٢٦
This means that the injunctions of the Sharī‛ah
which Allāh  imposed on man are of two
categories. One is the outward whose adherence is
essential because this is how one can gauge
whether an injunction has been carried out or not.
The other is the effect through which man rectifies
his inner self and acquires his fundamental
purpose (of human perfection). The first category is
discussed under ‛ilm ash-sharā’i‛ (jurisprudence)
and the second under ‛ilm al-ihsān (which later
came to be known as ‛ilm at-tasawwuf 1(the
science of Sufism).
Shāh [Walī Allāh] Sāhib rahimahullāh was an
expert in both fields. While his above-quoted
statements provide the essence and definition of
both branches, they also clarify the difference
between the two and identifies their rank. Is there
anyone today who can consider himself out of the
ideology of Shāh [Walī Allāh] Sāhib and still make
a claim of being from among the Ahl al-haqq!? No
person can have the audacity to deny the essential
need of ihsān, let alone mocking at it. In fact, no
person attached to the ideology of Shāh Walī Allāh
Sāhib rahimahullāh will consider the importance of
the science of ihsān to be any less than ‛ilm ashsharā’i‛
(the science of jurisprudence).
This investigation of Shāh Sāhib rahimahullāh is
not an innovation; rather it is inferred directly
1 All misconceptions and errors were committed from this
technical name. Hadrat Maulānā Sayyid Abul Hasan ‛Alī
Nadwī was most correct when he said: “It would have been
best had this name not proliferated, and the original name
‛ilm al-ihsān remained. It is very strange that the technical
names proliferated in most of the sciences and they became
well known, e.g. ‛ilm an-nahw, ‛ilm as-sarf and then the
definitions which fall under them (e.g. fā‛il, maf‛ūl, hāl, tamīz,
ism jāmid, ism mushtaq, mādī, mudāri‛, etc.). But no science
experienced such misunderstandings from its technical
names as occurred with the science of tasawwuf, and no
scholars of any science were criticized and vilified as were
the Sufis.”
from the speech of Rasūlullāh , especially from
the Hadīth-e-Jibra’īl.
Allāh  took sterling services from Hakīm al-
Ummat Hadrat Aqdas [Ashraf ‛Alī] Thānwī
rahimahullāh in providing a wise and erudite
exposition and explanation of Islam, and rectifying
and tutoring His creation. He clarified the essence
of tasawwuf and its Shar‛ī objective in a
phenomenal way. Quoting just one part of it here
will not only make it easy for us to understand
Shāh Sāhib’s rahimahullāh explanation, but also
remove many misunderstandings. I am quoting a
summarized section from his statements and
presenting it to the reader.
The actions which the Sharī‛ah instructs us to do
and not to do are of two categories. Some are
related to the outward body or to external things.
For example, reciting the kalimah, salāh,
fasting…serving parents…Then there are certain
actions which are related to the inner self. For
example, īmān, affirmation, true beliefs, patience,
gratitude…which Muslim can deny the fact that
just as external deeds are ordered by Allāh ,
internal deeds have also been ordered by Him? Is
the verse “establish salāh and pay zakāh” an
order, while the verse “exercise patience and be
grateful” not an order?...In fact, if we had to
ponder, we will conclude that all external deeds
are for the rectification of the inner self.
Purification of the inner self is our objective, and
warrants a person’s salvation. On the other hand,
its impurity warrants a person’s destruction.
Just as many sciences were derived from the
Qur’ān and Hadīth in the past eras, and each one
was given a separate name, and the formulators of
each science were considered to be imāms (e.g.
Imām Abū Hanīfah rahimahullāh, Imām Shāfi‛ī
rahimahullāh, etc.), in like manner, those who
showed the way of internal purification were pious
personalities who were unanimously accepted as
leaders…for example, Hadrat Shaykh ‛Abd al-
Qādir Jīlānī rahimahullāh…Khwājah Mu‛īn ad-Dīn
Chishtī rahimahullāh. (Tasawwuf wa Sulūk, pp. 9-
The astonishing thing is that the group [jurists]
who served ‛ilm ash-sharā’i‛ (external knowledge)
are generally admired and looked in a good light.
On the other hand, those who were engrossed with
‛ilm al-ihsān (internal knowledge) were not admired
and appreciated in the same manner. Instead, the
latter group was not only criticized and castigated
in almost every era, but its members were accused
of fisq, deviation, and even kufr and apostasy.
Imām ‛Abd al-Wahhāb ash-Sha‛rānī rahimahullāh
(d. 973 A.H.) from whose book, at-Tabaqāt al-
Kubrā, this valuable collection is compiled and
presented in the Urdu language, relates a few
incidents in his introduction. A mere perusal of
these stories unveils this bitter and harsh fact,
and would most certainly leave any perceptive
reader astounded. For example, a person will read
about an erudite and illustrious scholar like
Hujjatul Islam Imām Ghazzālī rahimahullāh who is
labelled a very dangerous person, his books are
suspected of spreading deviation, and an order
was issued for all his books to be burnt (when this
misunderstanding about him was cleared, some of
his books were written in gold). The famous
author, Qādī ‛Iyād rahimahullāh, wrote a most
authoritative book on the biography of Rasūlullāh
 titled, ash-Shifā. A person of his rank was
accused of being a Jew, and therefore eligible for
death. The famous author, ‛Ārif Billāh Shaykh
Ahmad ar-Rifā‛ī rahimahullāh, was labelled an
apostate and kāfir, and was humiliated in public.
Any person possessing a little emotion will most
certainly be astounded by hearing all this.
If we study biographies and the history books, we
will also learn that any person who was accused of
being a “Sufi”, evil thoughts about him stemmed
mainly because of not understanding his language
and terminology. And so, they were free and
innocent from the meanings which were given to
their words and speeches. It seems that the crime

“Taking a meaning of a statement which was not
meant by the speaker.”
was applied to them, and they were therefore made
targets of accusations.
However, Allāh  provided a powerful and
influential personality in every era to defend these
oppressed [Sufis]. He received Allāh’s help and
support through his knowledge, piety, humility
and servitude, and thereby defended this science
[of tasawwuf] and its bearers [the Sufis]. He
removed all the misunderstandings which were
spread about it, and showed that there is no basis
whatsoever for the accusations and allegations
which are levelled against it. He clarified the actual
meaning of their [Sufis’] speeches and proved that
whatever they are saying is entirely derived from
the Qur’ān, Sunnah and the Salaf-e-Sālihīn (pious
predecessors). However, based on expediency, the
Sufis did choose certain expressions and
terminologies which could cause doubts and
misgivings. However, the scholars have an
accepted principle which states:
لا مشاحة في الاصطلاح
“Any terminology can be laid down, there is no
restriction in this regard.”
If such is the case, how can these pure souls be
deprived of this choice [of choosing whatever
terminology they like]!?
One of those who defended this pure and
oppressed group was an erudite scholar and
researcher of the tenth century hijrī, Imām ‛Abd al-
Wahhāb Sha‛rānī rahimahullāh. He holds a
distinguished position in this regard. He made it
the sole goal of his life to remove the
misunderstandings which were proliferated about
the genuine erudite ‛ulamā’ (irrespective of
whether they were fuqahā’ – jurists, or Sufis).
Consequently, the Imām produced two valuable
works to remove the academic and natural
misgivings which people had because of the
differences among the four schools of
jurisprudence. The two books are Kashf al-
Ghummah and al-Mīzān al-Kubrā. At the same
time, he dusted off the dirt which was thrown at
the Allāh-inspired group of people known as the
Sufis. He rendered sterling services in displaying
their pure and illuminated countenances in their
original form so that a person is not destroyed in
this world and the Hereafter after becoming a
target of the following Hadīth solely because of
falling into some misunderstanding:
“I [Allāh] declare open war against any person who
harbours enmity towards My walī (close friend).”
(Bukhārī, vol. 2, p. 363)
And so that when he makes any decision, he does
it with absolute proof and evidence.

“so that he who was to perish might perish after
clear evidence, and he who was to survive may
survive after clear evidence.” (Sūrah al-Anfāl, 8:
Imām Sha‛rānī rahimahullāh wrote several
important and valuable books in this regard, using
various approaches, and thereby rendered an
awesome favour to the ummah. From among these
books, at-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā, whose summarized
version you will read in the following pages, enjoys
a special position. The author commences with the
Sahābah radiyallāhu ‛anhum (he mentions the four
caliphs and the ‛asharah mubashsharah first) and
continues with thousands of erudite ‛ulamā’,
jurists and auliyā’ until his era. He compiled their
statements and aspects of their lives in a manner
which would make it easy for a person to conclude
that there is no statement or condition of this
Allāh-inspired group (commonly referred to as
Sufis) which does not coincide with the statements
and conditions of the Sahābah radiyallāhu ‛anhum
and Tābi‛īn – whose acceptance in Allāh’s sight is
unanimously agreed upon by the ‛ulamā’ of this
At this point, it is also essential to remove another
misunderstanding. The group of Sufis which the
author [‛Allāmah Sha‛rānī rahimahullāh] defended
does not include those pseudo Sufis who are not
Sufis but merely make such claims. In reality,
these fake Sufis are the very antitheses of the
genuine and pure Sufis. The fact of the matter is
that it is these fake Sufis who were responsible for
causing misunderstandings with regard to
tasawwuf and Sufis.
The famous litterateur Maulānā ‛Abd al-Mājid
Daryābādī rahimahullāh rightly said: “It is foolish
to reject the entire medical field and qualified
doctors or to have doubts about them merely
because of the presence of a few phoney and
quack doctors. In like manner, it is foolish and
irrational to have bad thoughts about all the Sufis
or to blaspheme tasawwuf because of a few
disreputable pseudo Sufis.” Genuine tasawwuf is
referred to as tazkiyah in the Qur’ān, and ihsān in
the Hadīth. And it is a department of Islam and
the Sharī‛ah just like the branch of ‛ilm ashsharā’i‛
(jurisprudence). In fact, as per the
explanation of Shāh [Walī Allāh] Sāhib
rahimahullāh [quoted in the beginning], it
[tasawwuf] is more important [than jurisprudence]
because salvation in the Hereafter is dependent on
it, and it is also the real purpose behind external
Just as engrossment in ‛ilm ash-Sharī‛ah (the
Sharī‛ah) is an act of worship (‛ibādah) and a
means of proximity to Allāh ta‛ālā, attachment to
‛ilm at-tasawwuf (‛ilm al-ihsān) is also a means of
proximity to Allāh , and – inshā Allāh – it is
certainly a cause of lofty ranks [in Allāh’s sight
and in the Hereafter].
Our respected Hadrat Maulānā Muhammad
Qamar az-Zamān Sāhib (a khalīfah of Hadrat
Muslihul Ummat Maulānā Shāh Wasīyyullāh
Sāhib rahimahullāh) deserves our gratitude for
having translated the most important and most
beneficial sections of Imām ‛Abd al-Wahhāb
Sha‛rānī’s rahimahullāh book, at-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā,
in the Urdu language and enabled Urdu speakers
to benefit from this treasure house. May Allāh
ta‛ālā reward him with the best of rewards.
The reliability and authenticity of his translation
and the themes which he presented are sufficiently
testified by Hadrat Maulānā Shāh Muhammad
Ahmad Sāhib [rahimahullāh] who blessed it with
his approval and appreciation. (Details in this
regard are provided by the translator himself).
I carried out the learned translator’s request by
writing these few lines, and consider it an honour
to be part of this blessed work. This may well be
an excuse for me to receive Allāh’s mercy and be
included among the righteous.

“I love the righteous although I am not of them.
Perhaps Allāh will bestow me with righteousness
[by virtue of my love for them].”
I beseech Allāh  to accept the efforts of the
translator and to inspire the ummah to continue
benefiting from this treasure house.
اللهم وفقنا لما تحبه وترضاه وألهمنا رشدا مثله، والصلوة والسلام على رسوله الهادي
إلى سواء السبيل. والسلام.
O Allāh! Inspire us to do what You like and
approve of, and instil us with similar rectitude.
Salutations and peace to His Messenger who
guided to the straight path.
Muhammad Burhān ad-Dīn Sambhalī
Dār al-‛Ulūm Nadwatul ‛Ulamā’, Lucknow
17/7/1406 A.H./2/3/1986.