Shah Waliullah’s Hajj Journey and its Academic Impact Download

Sajid Ali

Shah Waliullah’s journey to Hijjaz is of historical importance in reference to his academic, thought provoking and revivalistic life. This journey opened up many new vistas and fields of his writing and achieved the zenith on the intellectual and academic front, which were not possible to be achieved in India at that time. It seems that the Hijjaz was the breeding ground of such intellects. In this journey, he delved into the vastness of ilm al-Hadith and accomplished it under the guidance of many pious mentors, who had assembled there since long time. Their support proved to be corner stone of his intellectual mega structure. Apart from performing hajj, his main objective to go there was to study Hadith and evaluate different sets constructively and critically.1

Shah Waliullah was thirty years of age when he set out for pilgrimage. The fact that he had made up his mind to go there during a time of unsettled political conditions and lawlessness prevailing in the country and frequent piracies in high seas speaks of his courage and attachment to the sacred mosques. Shah Waliullah also wanted to study the conditions in other Muslim countries before deciding his course of action for the defense of Islam in India. Most probably he had the Quranic instruction for acquiring knowledge- that they may witness things that are of benefit to them-keeping in his mind, he benefited from the experience of the learned and wise from all parts of the world converging in the centre of Islam.2

Surat was then sea-port for ships for Arabia but the entire route, particularly Malwa and Gujrat was hunting grounds for Maratha marauders. The great distance from the North to the South India had in those days to be covered on carts driven by bulls or camels. Indian sea was also infested by a most formidable breed of Europeans pirates, chiefly English and Portuguese, who practiced fiendish cruelty on the people – men, women and children. The hardship undergone by the Hajj pilgrims may be seen in the travelogues of the time that have survived. The journey within the country was no less hazardous. Shah says that whenever anybody accompanying his party was missing during the night, he started reciting the litany of ya badi al-Ajaib for his safety.3

The ship boarded by Shah Waliullah took forty days to reach Jeddah and he reached Makkah on the 15th of Zil al- Qada. He also started delivering lectures within the holy mosque, near the space allocated to the Hanafite Imam. It was a great success since the number of people who flocked to listen him was quite large.4

Shah Waliullah writes in the Al-Juz’ al-Latif,  “I had a great yearning to perform the hajj during 1730-31, which was accomplished by the end of that year. During the succeeding year i did homage to Allah at the Kabah, paid a visit to Madinah and studied Hadith. Early in 1732, I was again on the move for India and I reached my home (Delhi) safely on the 16th Dec. 1732 A.D”.5

Shah Waliullah’s literary life started with this journey and the inaugural book was Fuyuz al-Haramayn. This book somewhat reflects the intellectual and spiritual revolution which he encountered while staying at Hijjaz. This journey had a vital and revolutionary effect on his thinking, style of writing, perception and observations. This stay not only changed his thinking and perception but also strengthened the foundation of his principled life. Moreover, his mission and vision also got broadened while staying there. He was aware of his inner change but his disciples and pupils realized it more efficiently. Commenting on this change, Shah Abdul Aziz, son of Shah Waliullah says, “After returning from Hijjaz my revered father’s condition of inner self, academic vigour and way of discourse was totally changed”. The pupils and disciples of former years could discern this change while comparing the two phases i.e. pre-Hajj and post-Hajj.6

It is also evident from the works of Shah Waliullah that the constructive and orderly approach of teaching and learning program began only after this journey. This can be discerned from the comparison of Hujjat allah hi al-Balighah and Al-Qaul al Jamil. The visionary approach, which is presented in former, is not found in the latter one. Certainly, the latter work was compiled before journey to Hijaz, the strength and vigour of thoughts presented in Hamat is the result of this journey.7

Shah Waliullah also accomplished the scholastic maturity and soundness at Hijaz. Shaikh Abdur Rahim was a mentor to him in India. Under his guidance he got the direction and future strategy of achieving and gaining knowledge. While going through Fuyuz al-Haramayn, it is quite clear that it opened up many vistas of Alam-i-Mithal and Hazir al-Qudus for him, both of which were introduced to him by Abdur Rahim. Due to minority, he could not get them fully at that time, but this journey proved useful on both these fronts.8

The teacher at Hijaz and the ambience of knowledge over there also helped and strengthened his approach. Shah Waliullah had already delved into the Quranic verses under the guidance of his father. At Hijaz, he got the chance of delving deep into the ilm al-Hadith and the way of its teaching. His father Abu Tahir al-Kurdi used the method of Sard while teaching Ahadith i.e. instead of stressing on the narrators, or their character or the strength of the chain of narrators; he gave preference to the beauty of the narrators and its message to humanity. Shah Waliullah adopted this method for propagating the divine message to humanity.9

The literary principles of writing and editing were also learnt by him while staying at Hajaz. With regard to this, he was influenced by Shamshuddin, his teacher at Hijaz. He has discussed the method of writing and compiling the work of Shamshuddin in Anfas al-Arifin as:

Shamshuddin used to say that what he had compiled can be categorized into seven parts viz: firstly, either the compilation was of its kind; or secondly the compilation was improved version of any previous defective work; or thirdly, the compilation was the first commentary of any book; or fourthly, the compilation was an abridged version of any book; or fifthly; the work which were not in order were synchronized by him; or sixthly the compilation rectified the error of other works and lastly; the compilation was the collection of scattered works”.10

Keeping in mind this method, Shah Waliullah wrote and compiled his works. Shah Waliullah’s works come under the above categories of Shahmshuddin’s method of compilation.

With regard to the wisdom and pedagogy, Shah Waliullah not only got knowledge from his father but also learned the art of pedagogy from him. He interpreted the art of teaching as an aspect of wisdom. He had discussed the principles of pedagogy in treatise Risalah-i-Danishmandi.11  He got to know the importance of teaching method at the hand of Shah Abdur Rahim. During the stay in Hijaz, he paid great attention towards the methodology of only one e.g. Shaikh Tajuddin who was the mufti of Makkah. He had taken permission from various great Ulema for teaching but only employed the teaching methodology as learnt from Shaikh Ahmad Qehtan. He had passed several years in his companionship. Shah Waliullah learnt many books of Hadith on this method by Shaikh Tajuddin and subsequently he got permission of teaching Hadith using this method.12

The affection of sufi order was already perfected in Shah Waliullah by his father at anearly age. Shah Abdur Rahim was very much attached to many orders like Qadriya, Chishtiya and Naqshabandiyah but Abu Tahir kurdi imbibed in him the principles of choosing good and avoiding evil. Moreover, he let him to have allegiance with the above mentioned sufi orders. Shah Waliullah says that got from Shaikh Abu Tahir is superior to what I got from others.13

Shah Waliullah’s book Fuyuz al-Haramayn reflects the intellectual and spiritual revolution which was inculcated in him during his stay at Makkah. This period not only reinvigorated Shah Waliullah’s consciousness and wisdom but also reinvigorated sub-consciousness in him. Even his divine manifestations are the result of this journey. The quest inside him to carry on the great mission of Allah was also ignited in him while on this journey. In his misty divine manifestation certain quotes shine brighter than the lighting and prove to be the guide of this spiritual path which he had acquired after his stay at Makkah e.g. the divine manifestation or Allah has made me “the rational speaker of this period and has given me the status of Kalim. Moreover, I had been made as a leader and prominent personality of this period:. The quest and realization of this mission has elevated his literary skill to new heights. 14

Most of the divine manifestations are found in Fuyuz al-Haramayn and a few in Tafhimat. The titles which he appointed for himself have close relations with every stage of his life and mission e.g. in the 40th divine manifestation of Fuyuz al-Haramayn, he has described himself as Quyum-e-Zaman (Succesor) and this points towards his political goal or objective. The 10th manifestation, conferred on him the following titles as revivalist, savant and saint.15 Regarding the 12th manifestation, he says that through this he got the realization of the principles of Shariyah.16 that is why one of his titles is the philosopher of last times. Revivalism does not boast Sufism but implies the power of deduction by which the foundation and reality of commandments of Allah are understood, thereby is helpful in mending the schism and deviation of Ummah. Regarding Kutbiyat, in 34th manifestation, he says that it implies discernment of rectitude i.e. the word maratib (level) in Sufism does not mean any rank but connotes the aspects of guidance and correct behavior or rectitude. In 31st divine manifestation, he says that he was informed that Allah has intended by employing me to conjoin the Ummah and remove the schism amongst them.18 Commentary of his title Wasi i.e. heir related to mission in 15th divine manifestation, Shah Waliullah was given the name of Zaki (pious person) and the last critical analyst of knowledge amongst the other critical analysts.19

It may be noted that Shah Waliullah during the period of his staying in Hijaz studied Hadith and subsequently the jurisprudence with open heart and clear mind. This made him generous, liberal, tolerant and respectful to every sunni mazhab and prepared him for accepting the opinion of every mazhab which has been supported by the sound Hadith. This approach developed in him during the twelve years of deep study and teaching in Madrasah Rahimiyah in Delhi before his journey to Hijaz. After advanced study of Hadith and jurisprudence under the renowned scholars of different mazhab in Hijaz his former thought of satisfaction with fuqha muhaddithin had been strengthened.20

It will also be noteworthy to give brief information regarding Shah Waliullah’s teacher and subjects of study which were studied from them. In Makkah, Shah Waliullah read whole of Muttah of Imam Malik on the transmission of Yahiya bin al-Masdusi under Shaikh Muhammad Wafdullah Makki al- Maliki.21 He also granted a certificate of proficiency to Shah in Hadith compilation of his father ShaikhMuhammad bin Sulaiman al- Maghribi.22

Another scholar from whom Shah Waliullah received the instructions in Hadith was Shaikh Tajuddin al-Qalai Hanafi, who was the mufti of Makkah. With him Shah Waliullah read Sahih al-Bukhari, a part of Muwatta of Imam Malik, a few chapters of Musnad al-Darimi, kitab al-A’thar of Imam Muhammad  and the Muwatta arraged by him.23

The most renowned and worth mentioning teacher of Shah Waliullah in Hijaz was Shaikh Abu Tahir Shafii bin Shaikh Ibrahim al-Kurdi. He was an erudite and eminent scholar of Hadith as well as a sufi of high spiritual order. He had deep attachment with Shaikh Abu Tahir as was his father. Abu Tahir also used to employ in academic discourse the art which was found in the tradition of Madarsah Rahimiah. That art included spiritualism, emotional depth, rationality and the like. Shah Waliullah used to say that Shaikh Abu Tahir would turn to tears while preaching or teaching of Hadith. He never answered any criticism or query until he consulted all the authentic sources.24 From this great scholar he revised famous books of Hadith. At this time he was awarded the permission to transmit that knowledge onward. Shah Waliullah studied from Sheikh Abu Tahir al-Kurdi the important books of Hadith like Sahih al- Bukhari, Sahih al-Muslim, Sunan Abu Daud, Tirmidi, Nasai, Ibn Maja, MishKat al-Masabih and Hisn-e-Haseen as well as Muwatta of Imam Malik, Musnad Ahmad, Risalah of Imam Shafii, Jami al-Kabir, Musnad al-Darimi, a part of Al-Adab al-Mufrad of Imam Bukhari, a part of Al-Shifa of Qazi Ayaz and Al-Umam Shaikh Abu Tahir himself.25

Notes and References

  1. Abul Hasan Ali Nadawi, Tarikh-e-Dawat wa Azimat, Majis Tahqiqat wa Nashariyat-e-Islam, Lucknow,2006, Vol.5, p.107
  2. Ibid, p.108
  3. Ibid, pp. 108-109
  4. Ibid, p. 109
  5. Shah Waliullah, Al-Juz al-Latif fi Tarjamat al-Adl al-Dai’if, Matbah Ahmadi, delhi, n.d., p. 5
  6. Abdul Ghfur, “ Shah Waliullah ka Safar-e-Haramayn Aur Uska Talimi Asar”, Al-Rahim (Hyderabad), Vol.4, No.3, August 1996, pp. 200-201
  7. Ibid, p. 201, p.204
  8. For detailed information regarding Shah Waliullah’s knowledge which he acquired at Hijaz see Fuyuz al-Haramayn.
  9. Abdul Ghafur, op.cit, pp 210-211
  10. Shah Waliullah, Anfas al-Arifin ( Urdu translation by Sayyed Muhammad Faruq Qadri), Maktab al-Falah, Deoband, 1393 A.H., p. 182
  11.  For detail information regarding wisdom and pedagogy of Shah Waliullah see Risalah Danishmandi with Wasiyat Nama, Matba’ Ahmadi, Delhi, 1899
  12. Abdul Ghafur, op.cit, pp. 218-219
  13. Ibid, p.212
  14. Muhammad Sarwar, Fuyuz al-Haramayn (Urdu translation), Sindh Sagar Academy, Karachi, 1996, pp. 97-110
  15. Ibid, pp 128-137
  16. Ibid, p. 148
  17. Ibid, pp. 204-205
  18. Ibid, pp. 196-198
  19. Ibid, pp.154-156
  20. Shah Waliullah, Al-Juz al-Latif fi Tarjamat al-Adl al-Dai’if, op.cit., pp 26-27
  21. Abdul Hasan Ali nadawi, op.cit., p.75
  22. Shah Waliullah, Insan al- ‘Ayn fi Mashaikh al-Haramayn, Matba‘ Mujtabai, Delhi, 1917, p. 15
  23. Ibid, pp. 15-16
  24. Abdul Ghafur, op.cit., pp. 199-200
  25. Shah Waliullah, Anfas al-Arifin, op.cit., pp 396-400