All praise belongs to Allah, peace and salutations upon the leader of the prophets’, upon his progeny and all his companions.
I express my immense gratitude to Allah Ta’ala, whose grace and mercy has awarded an unworthy student such as myself the opportunity to revive this scholastic legacy. I had been thinking of publishing this work for some time but my efforts were limited to thoughts only, as I did not have a copy of this book in my possession and it was virtually impossible to obtain, as if it did not exist. However, Allah Ta’ ala made it such that a knowledgeable friend arrived at my door one day, placing before me a stack of books, which required binding urgently. As I went through the stack, to my delight, the book I so desired was amongst them as well. At that time, I only undertook the task of re-binding the books and he left; it was only after much persuasion that he agreed to leave the book in my possession. The task was a great one, requiring much dedication, whereas all I possessed was weakness. The book remained in my possession for some time and all I did was ponder over the daunting task that lay ahead of me. During this time a much larger publishing house intended to print it and even took the book from me but they too returned it after sometime, with the excuse of preoccupation.
As soon as I got the book, it left my possession again and then again was returned to me, which made it clear that no further stalling could be tolerated and work should begin immediately. However, once I began reading the book, I realised how truly difficult my task was, as the book was continuous with no paragraphs, chapters, sub-chapters or even headings, as was the practice of the earlier scholars. This method was also apt for that era as they were conscientious, hard-working, book-worms and true appreciators of knowledge, who were satiated by reading and research.
However, now such exertion is rare and no pleasure is derived from scholastic or spiritual research. Instead, to a great extent, false narrations and fables are relied upon. It was now necessary to present this knowledge in an appealing and easy to read manner, so that those who desire knowledge will not experience any difficulty. I found a person to carry out this task for me, edit and place the content into chapters; but I am forced to ashamedly say that whatever service he rendered he did so without even perusing the book and relied upon his own understanding of the subject. This was yet another hurdle, which could only be overcome by undertaking to accomplish this task myself. I then formulated the chapters myself; a few chapters based upon the core content and a few additional sub-chapters. Yet the content could not be entirely presented in the table of contents as the calibre and depth of the book is such that in every two lines, a new point, new discussion and new sub-chapter can be found. It is obvious that all of these could not possibly be listed under separate chapters, thus the complete content of the book could not be listed in the index.
The book itself has its own unique distinction, as if it is restless on account of its addressees not accepting the truth or agitated as to why the author cannot transmit the truth directly into their hearts. Despite the great depth of knowledge it contains, it has been simplified to such an extent that the most intricate discussions have been made easy to understand. It is as if it holds one’s hand and leads him through each discussion, with each discussion flowing easily into the next. In spite of the deep insight and astounding level of knowledge that is expounded, the humility with which it is presented is evident, with no claims of superiority or demeaning remarks made. Worthy of note is the respect and reverence that is awarded to the Sahaba and Ahlul bayt in every chapter, which is sorely lacking in today’s era.
If I were to list the unique features of this book then I would firstly have to say that its greatest characteristic is that it is the work of the founder of Dar al ’Ulum Deoband. This is not an empty expression of loyalty but an undeniable fact, as the superiority and eminence of Molana Nanotwi rahimahu Llah was acknowledged by all and still is.
The second unique feature of this book is that both angles were taken into consideration when substantiating. In other words, in addition to the proof of narration or recorded text, logical reasoning was also cited. In fact, many matters were explained in terms of common understanding and reasoning.
The third unique feature is the explanation of verses in favour of the noble Sahaba, which is to a great extent inspired knowledge. The meaning and implication of words that are explained is utterly astonishing and the best books of tafsir too have not reached this level.
The fourth unique feature is the scholastic investigation and analysis of certain verses and ahadith, which are substantiated from by the other party. The truly remarkable aspect of this is that after the elaboration of the author, one is astonished as to how it was ever possible for them to have perceived this to be a proof for their claims, whereas in actual fact it proves our standpoint. The wisdom which is expounded is truly remarkable, clearly not self-attained but awarded by Allah Ta’ala.
The fifth unique feature is the comprehensiveness of each discussion, which covers a range of aspects and is extremely valuable. The words of Molana Yusuf Binori rahimahu Llah are indeed true:
Hadiyyat al Shia is more explanatory than Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers).
The sixth unique feature is the simple and uncomplicated manner of this book, which is apparent when compared to the other literary works of Molana Nanotwi rahimahu Llah. The majority of the book is in simple spoken language but in some cases (a very few in fact), due to the scholastic nature of the discussion, a little difficulty might be experienced. The reason for this is obvious and in such pure academic discussions such difficulty is experienced by all.
Finally, I wish to add that an ardent effort was made to maintain consistency between the book and the sub-chapters and compliment the high-level of knowledge found in the book, but who are we and where is this book and its excellence? Our intention was only to inform the reader of the contents of the book, which with the grace of Allah, we were able to do.
In conclusion, I wish to end with the eulogy of Sar Sayed, which he wrote in tribute to Molana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah.
On the demise of Molana Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah, Sar Sayedwrote an eulogy in ‘Aligharh Institute Gazette (24 April 1880). The words with which Sar Sayedexpressed his regard for Molana Nanotwi rahimahu Llah, in addition to being free from any form of contemporary rivalry, is an open acknowledgement of the excellence, knowledge, piety and taqwa of Molana Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah. It goes without saying that this eulogy is free from any form of blind allegiance. When a person praises his contemporary in such words, especially when he severely opposes the beliefs, views and ideologies of the latter, then it is most certainly worthy of note. What was the regard that they had for each other, this can only be understood from the booklet- Tasfiyyat al ’Aqa’id, which comprises of the correspondences between these two personalities. In this booklet, Sar Sayedwrites to a friend of his (Munshi Muhammad ‘Arif):
If Janab Molwi Muhammad Qasim sahib were to attend then it will be my good fortune and I will regard his flattery to be an honour.
In reply to this letter, Molana Nanotwi rahimahu Llah wrote to the same friend of Sar Sayed:
Yes, there is no doubt that the courage and concern of the rumoured Sayed(Sar Sayed) is acknowledged by the people of Islam and if on account of this one were to love him then it would be fitting but on account of and more so on account of hearing of his incorrect beliefs, I am apprehensive and displeased with him.
After having read this, now examine the eulogy of Sar Sayed:
It is sad that the esteemed sir (Molana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah) has passed away on 15 April 1880 in Deoband on account of asthma. Time itself has wept for him and will continue to do so in the future as well but to weep for such a person, after whom no successor can be seen, is a cause of severe grief and pain. There was a time when amongst the ‘ulama there were such personalities who were well-known for their knowledge, excellence, piety and taqwa. They were unmatched as far as their simplicity, austerity and purity of heart were concerned. People thought that after the death of Molana Muhammad Ishaq rahimahu Llah no person would be born capable of equalling him but Molana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi, through his untainted piety, religiousness, taqwa and austerity proved that Allah Ta’ala had indeed created a person equal to Molana Muhammad Ishaq and in some aspects even surpassed him. There are many people who saw Molana Nanotwi seeking knowledge at a very young age. He studied all books under Molana Mamluk ‘Ali and the signs of taqwa, piety, purity of heart, and obedience to Allah stood out very early, and the following poem is most apt in describing him:
He surpassed all brilliance in intelligence and reached beyond the furthest star
Just as he was known for his intelligence, aptitude and deep understanding during his student days so was he known for the excellence of his character, piety and worship of Allah Ta’ala. His time spent in the company of Molana Muzaffar Hussain Khandhlawi made him an ardent follower of the Sunnah and the company of Hajji Imdad Allah rahimahu Llah blessed him with a spiritually illuminated heart. He was himself strict in adhering to the Shari’ah and Sunnah and also strove to make others adhere to the laws of Shari’ah and the Sunnah. He was also extremely concerned about the condition of the general Muslims. It was through his efforts that an extremely beneficial institution of Islamic learning was established in Deoband and a most beautiful masjid built. In addition to this, through his efforts other institutions were also erected. He had no desire to become a spiritual guide or sheikh but thousands of Muslims in India, especially in the southern and western provinces, regard him as such.
A few were angry at him on account of differences of opinion and he too was angry with them but to the best of my knowledge there was no action of Molana Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah, even his anger at a person or pleasure at another, that can be said to be based upon his personal ambition or enmity. Every action of his, regardless of how many they may be, was solely for the pleasure of Allah and in seeking the reward of the hereafter. He followed that which he thought to be the truth and true. His anger at a person was only for Allah and his pleasure with a person was also only for Allah. He did not regard any person as good or bad on account of his relationship with him but would only think a person such if he would perpetrate or say something that was incorrect. He would regard that person as evil on account of Allah. Loving for the pleasure of Allah and hating for the pleasure of Allah was his trait. His habits were angelic in nature and I loved him from my heart and without a doubt a person who spent his life with such virtue is deserving of love.
All people of this age, even those with whom he had a difference of opinion, acknowledge that Molana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi rahimahu Llah was unmatched. His knowledge in this era is perhaps slightly less than Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Muhaddith Delhwi, perhaps even exceeding him in other aspects. In simplicity, austerity and piety if he has not surpassed Molana Muhammad Ishaq then he has definitely equalled him. He was without a doubt similar to an angel with saintly attributes and to be deprived of such a person is definitely a cause of grief and pain for those forced to live without him.
It is sad that our people instead of honouring him through practice only do so with words of praise and admiration. It does not befit our people to merely voice a few words of grief or lament for a while when such a personality is lifted from our midst or shed a few tears and then wipe them away, instead it is incumbent upon them to continue the legacy of such a personality and engrave it in the hearts of the nation.
 Tasfiyyat al ‘Aqa’id page 3
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