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Husain Ahmad Madani

Sayyid Hussein Ahmad Madani
Husain Ahmad Madani 2012 stamp of India.jpg
Born6 October 1879
Alma materDarul Uloom Deoband
EraModern Era
RegionIslamic scholar and Political leader
SchoolChisti-Sabiri branch of the Chisti order
Main interests
Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh

Sayyid Hussein Ahmed Madani (6 October 1879 - 1957) was an Islamic scholar from the Indian subcontinent. His followers called him Shaykh al-Islām, Shaykh Ul Arab Wal Ajam to acknowledge his expertise in hadith and fiqh. He was among the first recipients of the civilian honour of Padma Bhushan in 1954.[1][2] According to The Nation (Pakistan) newspaper, "Deoband dignitaries started their struggle against the imperial subjugation of the Indo-Pak subcontinent at a time when nobody dared to utter a word against the British rule."[2]

Early life

He was born in Bangarmau District Unnao where his father was a teacher. He was originally from Tanda District Faizabad. His father was Sayyid Habibullah, descendant of Prophet Muhammad.[3]

Education and spiritual training

In 1892, at the age of thirteen, he went to the Darul Uloom Deoband, where he studied under Mehmud Hasan. After completing the esoteric sciences, he became a disciple of Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi, who later authorised him to initiate others in the Sufi path. Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi was also the pir (or spiritual teacher) of Mehmud Hasan and it was Mehmud Hasan who told Hussein Ahmed to become Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi's disciple too. He was held among the senior khulafa (or successors) of Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi.

Through him his spiritual lineage goes back to Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari who was the originator of the Chisti-Sabiri branch of the Chisti order. This spiritual chain is however strongly linked with the Naqshbandi order of Sufism as well, because one of the ancestral pirs of Hussein Ahmed had also accepted Syed Ahmad Shaheed as his master who belonged to the Naqshbandi order. Thus Hussein Ahmed had the benefit of being linked to both the Naqshbandi and the Chisti order. While the former Sufi order stressed silent invocation, the latter focused on the more esoteric aspects of Islam. His main school of thought, of whose litanies he practiced, was however Chisti-Sabiri order.


After graduating from the Darul Uloom Deoband, he migrated to Medina with his family. He began teaching Arabic grammar, usul al-fiqh, usul al-hadith, and Quranic exegesis. He spent 18 years teaching these various Islamic sciences in Medina. He was then appointed as head teacher and "Shaikhul Hadith" of Darul Uloom Deoband. He served in this position for approximately 28 years.[2]

His efforts for independence

After his teacher Mehmud Hasan was sentenced by the British for his role in the Silk Letter Conspiracy to a prison in the Island of Malta, Madani volunteered to go with him so that he could look after him. He had personally not been convicted. Mehmud was imprisoned for three years. It so happened that Islamic month of Ramadan had come and neither Mehmud Hasan nor Madani was Hafiz of the Qur'an. At this instance, Mehmud Hasan said to his student (Madani) that most of his life, he didn't have a Ramadan without listening to the complete Qur'an in the special night prayers called Tarawih. Hussein Ahmed Madani, who respected his teachers very much, took this very sentence of his teacher seriously and started to memorize the Quran while in prison. Daily, Madani would memorise one Juz (part) of the Quran and recite it in the Tarawih. Continuing to do so, he memorized the whole Quran in the 30 days of Ramadan, thus saving his teacher Mehmud Hasan from being deprived of listening to the Quran, as he had every Ramadan.

After his release, he returned to India and became actively involved in India's freedom struggle. He had considerable influence over a section of the Muslims, more prominently those belonging to Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Maulana Madani was one of the founder members of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He was the member of foundation committee (for the foundation of Jamia Millia Islamia) headed by Sheikhul-Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan, met on 29 October 1929. He was against the two-nation theory,[4] and predominantly due to this, a large number of Muslims from Eastern U.P. and Bihar declined to migrate to Pakistan at the time of 1947 independence of Pakistan and the Partition of India. He became the President of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a post he held until his death in 1957. (He also held the post of Shaikhul Hadith at Darul Uloom Deoband till his death).[2]

Debate between Iqbal and Madani

Husain Ahmad Madani was against the inception of Pakistan.[5] He was of the view that in the present times, nations are formed on the basis of homeland (geographic basis) and not on ethnicity and religion.[6] On the issue of whether the identity of a nation depended upon its land or religion, there was an interesting debate between Husain Ahmad Madani and Allama Iqbal. Allama Iqbal, a known pan-Islamist and a leading pro-Pakistan figure of the time, had at first developed differences of opinion with Husain Ahmad Madani over this issue. Later a mutual friend of both these leaders, a person named Taloot intervened by writing letters to both Iqbal and Madani. Taloot was able to bring more clarity to the circumstances and the intent of Madani in stating what he originally had stated about forming new nations and homelands. Taloot's intervention was successful and eventually both Iqbal and Madani were able to understand each other better. It resulted in a reconciliation between the two Muslim leaders and Iqbal finally wrote a personal letter saying that he respected Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani's service and devotion to Islam as much as any other Muslim despite their political differences.[7] Husain Ahmad Madani himself was reportedly quoted as saying, "All should endeavor jointly for such a democratic government in which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis are included. Such a freedom is in accordance with Islam." ... ."that Muslims could live as observant Muslims in a religiously plural society where they would be full citizens of an independent, secular India."[2]

To quote a newspaper article in The Nation (newspaper) here, "Whenever the history of Indian independence is discussed, the name of the brave Deoband scholars is taken with great reverence and honour."[2]

Awards and recognition

See also


  1. ^ a b "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f The rise and fall of the Deoband movement, The Nation (newspaper), Published 27 June 2015, Retrieved 19 July 2017
  3. ^ Barbara Daly Metcalf, Hussein Ahmed Madani: The Jihad for Islam and India's Freedom, Oneworld Publication, Oxford, England, (2009)
  4. ^ How Indians see Jinnah. BBC News. Retrieved on 19 July 2017
  5. ^ Ulema and the Pakistan Movement. Retrieved on 19 July 2017.
  6. ^ Zamzam 17 July 1938 cited by Pakistan Struggle and Pervez, Tulu-e-Islam Trust, Lahore, p. 614
  7. ^ Madani and Iqbal letters in Urdu language from 1938 on the issue of forming new homelands, Retrieved 19 July 2017
  8. ^ India Post issued a commemorative postage stamp in Husain Ahmad Madani's honour in 2012, The Nation (newspaper) article shows the stamp image, Published 27 June 2015, Retrieved 19 July 2017

External links