By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
5 October 2021
Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza, One of the Greatest Sunni Revivalists of Islam, Was a Master of both Modern And Islamic Sciences
1. It is a tremendous pity that a climate of science and reason has yet to be established in Islamic Madrasas.
2. We have yet to settle a number of contemporary concerns relating to our lack of progress in Science, Technology, Islamic jurisprudence, and spirituality.
3. Imam Ahmed Raza has made numerous contributions to the nature of light and physical optics, including the wave and the corpuscular theory of light, reversal image, and ultrasonic machine construction.
4. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani nuclear physicist, admires Imam Ahmad Raza Barelvi's scientific studies and occasionally voices his thoughts.
5. Dr. Barbara D. Metcalf, Department of History, Barkley University, United States of America says, “He [Imam Ahmad Raza] was outstanding from the very beginning on account of his extraordinary intelligence. He enjoyed a divine gift of deep insight in Mathematics”.
6. Ala Hazrat’s credibility in the eyes of the eminent scholars of Deoband and Ahl-e-Hadith.
The Urs-e-Razvi, named after India's renowned Islamic reformer, Imam Ahmad Raza Barelvi, also known as Ala Hazrat, was commemorated on October 4, 2021. On this occasion, I felt compelled to pay tribute to this great reformer. Then I planned to write an article about his scientific and intellectual skills, instilling in Muslims a sense that we have not yet done enough to further this great reformer’s intellectual legacy. Even his hundreds of volumes have remained unpublished. Although there are millions of Muslims in India who follow Ala Hazrat today, just a few profits from his knowledge and insight. Today, theological and jurisprudential skills are dwindling in Islamic Madrasas, and it is a tremendous pity that a climate of science and reason has yet to be established in these institutions. Students at Madrasas today must be able to master not only religious but also scientific education. Madrasas, on the other hand, are losing interest in intellectual and spiritual studies. However, we are lacking in inventiveness, and as a result, we are unable to fix the newly rising problems related to Muslim issues. The majority of Muslims are in an emotional state, which might be irrational or senseless at times. Our intellectual identity is eroding at an increasingly rapid rate. We have yet to settle a number of contemporary concerns relating to our lack of progress in Science, Technology, Islamic jurisprudence, and spirituality. Let us take a brief glance at Ala Hazrat's knowledge on the occasion of this Urs-e-Rizvi, and then spark in us the spirit of building Modern Sciences alongside Islamic Sciences.
Imam Ahmad Raza, also known as Ala Hazrat, is regarded as one of Islam's greatest Sufi-Sunni revivalists. The jurist, who was born in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, in North India, belongs to the Hanafi school of thought. More than fifty disciplines of knowledge have been identified by academicians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, in his writings. “Such a genius and erudite jurist did not emerge,” Dr. Allama Iqbal, the renowned poet of the East, said.
Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza excelled in a number of fields and was initiated into the majority of them by his father. Translations of the Quran, Hadith, and Hadith principles; Islamic fiqh of all four schools—Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafai; fiqh principles; dialectics; Quran commentaries; principles of belief, debate, and rhetoric; Arabic syntax; rhetoric devices; sciences dealing with rhetoric; language and metaphors; logic; philosophy; politics; Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology and Parapsychology, Phonetics and Phonology, Engineering and Technology, Astronomy and Astrology, Theory of atomic Technology, Basic mechanism of telecommunication system, Mathematics, Algebra, Geometry (especially spherical Trigonometry), Topology, Hydrodynamics, and Applied Chemistry.
This fact cannot be denied that such versatility and intensity of knowledge is found neither in his contemporaries nor after him because at the same time he was a translator of Holy Quran (Kunzul Iman) commentator, Muhaddith, Jurist (Faqih), reformer of Islam (Mujaddid), great saint, an expert in Sufi teachings, Astronomer, Astrologist, Philosopher, Great poet, Economist, Educationist, Psychologist, Politian, Scientist but his distinctive quality is that he was a staunch follower of Sharia in thought and action and a devotee of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) to the deepest chambers of his heart. Undoubtedly, such types of leading figures of very high standing, born rarely in the nation.
In his treatise “Fauz-i-Mubin” Imam Ahmad Raza has not only proved that earth is static with 105 argumentations in the light of Modern Physics but also criticized the ideas of renowned scientists like Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Albert Einstein. In his book “Fauz-i-Mubin” Imam Ahmad Raza has discussed various scientific spheres of knowledge including Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy and Astrology, Mathematics, Logarithm covering the topics of Planetary motion in the orbits and the Physical mechanics like attractive and repulsive forces, Centripetal force, Centrifugal force, friction coefficient, projectile motion, relative velocity, circular speed, buoyant force, density and pressure, the structure of the earth, theory of tides and distance from the sun, along with dozens of geometric diagram representations with Algebraic, logarithmic and mathematical calculations.
Collision, harmonic motion, sound theory, wave theory with collision laws, and telecommunication systems are discussed in his work Al-Kashfu Shāfiyā Ĥukmi Fūnūjrāfiya [Satisfactory clarification concerning ruling on phonograph].
In his book "Ad Diqqatu wal Tibyaan li Ilmil Riqqati wal Sailan," published in 1915, he discusses fluid dynamics, viscosity, Stoke's law, and Bernoulli's Equation. This book covers 306 different types of water as well as the classification of various solutions.
Imam Ahmed Raza is a renowned Muslim scientific theologian who has made numerous contributions to the nature of light and physical optics, including the wave and corpuscular theory of light, reversal image, and ultrasonic machine construction. The books that go into these themes in detail are named as “Al Samsaam Ala Mushakkiki fi Ayati Uloomil Arhaam 1896”, “Al Kalimatul Mulhimah fil Hikmatil Muhkamah LiWihaal Falsafa til Mashamah 1919”.
His work “Maqami al Hadeed Ala Khaddil Mantaq il Jadeed” examines gastrointestinal physiology, addressing themes such as food ingestion, stomach storage, and digestion, lubricating and protecting characteristics of the GIT, Chyme, Small intestine digestion, and absorption, hepatic circulation, hepatic metabolic processes, liver blood flow, the portal venous system, bile formation.
In his book “Al Samsaam Ala Mushakkiki fi Ayati Uloomil Arhaam 1896,” he discusses medical embryology.
The book "Kashful Illat An Simtil Qibla" covers the direction of Qibla from deep calculations using pure mathematics applications.
Dr. Barbara D. Metcalf, Department of History, Barkley University, United States of America says, “He [Imam Ahmad Raza] was outstanding from the very beginning on account of his extraordinary intelligence. He enjoyed a divine gift of deep insight in Mathematics”.
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani nuclear physicist, admires Imam Ahmad Raza Barelvi's scientific studies and occasionally voices his thoughts. In honor of his intellectual contributions, he authored a regular column in Roznama-e-Jang titled "Faqidul Misaal Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi."
He writes: “Many treatises on diverse scientific themes have been written by Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi. He has covered topics such as human creation, biotechnology and genetics, ultrasound machine principles, Piezoelectricity, telecommunications, flood dynamics, topology, the rotation of the moon and sun, metrology, metal definitions, coral (description of coral structure), earthquake and tide causes, and so on. Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi was, in fact, a brilliant jurist, mufti, Muhaddith, teacher, and writer of his day.” [Roznama-e-Jang, 5 December, 2016]
Imam Ahmad Raza's command of the reasoning sciences, like his understanding of the Quran and mastery of fiqh, was unparalleled. In 1911, the daily Dabdabae- Sikandari published a quadrangular geometry problem, coupled with an appeal to mathematicians from Dr. Ziauddin, a distinguished mathematician who would eventually become the vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University. Ala Hazrat not only answered the problem, but he also posed a new question, which he published alongside his solution. Dr. Ziauddin was taken aback by the fact that a Maulvi had solved his problem and responded with a new query. Meanwhile, Dr. Ziauddin answered Ahmad Raza's question but was even more surprised when the latter pointed out some flaws in the vice-chancellor’s response.
Ahmad Raza stood out from the start because of his great brilliance, according to Dr. Barbara Metcalf, historian, and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a towering figure admired for his exceptional memory, mental agility, and intellectual aptitude, and venerated as a Mujaddid and Sheikh... he tried, above all, to protect what he viewed as correct practice and to make religion relevant in the personal lives of Muslims of his time. When it comes to Hadith and Hadith principles, Ahmad Raza was a guru who knew the names and even the backstories of practically every Hadith narrator. He was able to describe the several types of Hadith, their benefits, and the reasons for them.
Maulana Abul ala Maududi said, “I have immense regard in my heart for Imam Ahmad Raza Khan’s intellect and rank. Even his opponents are forced to admit his insight in the realm of din knowledge”.
Ashraf Ali Thanvi, a famous Deobandi scholar said, “We have immense regard for Ahmad Raza Khan, He refers to us as kafirs, but only because of his love for the Prophet and not for any other reason.”
Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri (1875-1933) writes, “When writing a commentary on Tirmidhi and other hadith books, I wanted to look at the specifics of the hadiths. As a result, I read Shia academics, Ahl-e-Hadith scholars, and Deobandis scholars' literature. The mind, on the other hand, was unsatisfied. I eventually saw Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan's works on the advice of a friend, and my heart was content that I could now confidently write hadith interpretations. Indeed, as the premier Barelvi scholar, Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan's writings are eloquent and strong, demonstrating that Maulana Ahmad Raza is a renowned religious scholar and jurist.” (Risala Hadi Deoband, p. 7).
Maulana Shibli Numani (1857-1914) writes, “Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Sahib Barelvi is a devout Muslim who follows a rigorous religious code. Despite this, Maulana Sahib's tree of knowledge is so vast that all of the religious academics pale in comparison to Maulana Ahmad Raza Sahib.” (Risala Nadwa, October 1994, p.17)
Maulana Abul Hasan Nadwi (1914-1999) writes, “His (Maulana Ahmad Raza's) grasp of Hanafi law and its details is unparalleled in this age.” (Nuzhatul Khawatir, 8/41)
Maulvi Muinuddin Nadwi (1903-1974) writes, “One of the authors of knowledge and vision was the late Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan. His knowledge of religious disciplines, particularly law and hadith, was broad and thorough. The meticulousness and devotion with which Maulana composed the solutions to the experts' questions demonstrate his thoroughness, scientific knowledge, jurisprudential wisdom, and brilliance. All his opponents should pay attention to his intelligent fatwas.” (Safaid w Siyaah, p.114)
The preceding lines demonstrate Imam Ahmad Raza Fazil Barelvi's credibility in the eyes of the eminent scholars of Deoband and Ahl-e-Hadith. His outstanding personality and scholarly services impressed everyone, whether he was an opponent or a supporter. However, alas! That outstanding donor to the Islamic community was a victim of the disasters of the day. As part of a planned scheme, unnecessary efforts were made to disguise his religious and ideal authoritative services beneath the guise of anonymity. Rather than recognizing his achievements, a campaign was launched to portray him as a divisive figure.
The Fatawa Razviyya, a compendium of his Fatawa, attests to the fact that ‘Ala Hazrat was an encyclopaedia of Islam. Let me bring your attention to one particular instance that demonstrates Ala Hazrat's superior intelligence and God-gifted abilities. After his initial visit to the Kabah, ‘Ala Hazrat gained a lot of attention in the Arab world, and when he went on his next pilgrimage to Makkah, the Ulama from the Hijaz region of Arabia were eager to meet him. When Ahmad Raza was busy seeing various ulama of the Haramain after completing the haj, Shaikh Saleh Kamal, a famous theologian in Mecca, approached him with a set of five questions on Ilm-ul-Ghaib, or unknown knowledge, which he believed the Prophet was gifted with.
These inquiries were made on behalf of Arabia's Wahhabi ulama. A'la Hazrat had two days to prepare his answers, according to Shaikh Kamal. Despite a high temperature caused by his chronic kidney disease and the exertions he had endured during the hajj, Ahmad Raza accepted the challenge. The Meccan Ulama was left dumbfounded by his responses, which were so precise, comprehensive, unassailable, and compelling. The replies totaled 400 pages, and the Ulama were taken aback by his prolific pen when they learned he had written them in just eight hours.
Ahmad Raza's interactions with Hijaz's ulama were characterized by the Wahhabis' attempts to discredit him. They attempted to persuade Muhammad Ratib Pasha, the governor of Mecca, that an Indian alim was among them, plotting to pervert Muslims' faith.
The Hijaz ulama, on the other hand, were convinced of Ahmad Raza's piety, sincerity, and extensive knowledge. Soon after, a Deobandi alim named Khalil Ahmad Ambethi sought to placate Ahmad Raza by presenting him with a tray full of gold coins. Muslims in numerous nations have a ritual of offering gold coins as a sign of respect. Khalil Ahmad was attempting to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, he sought to soften Ahmad Raza's stance toward Deobandis, and on the other, he wanted to show everyone that he had been recognized as a supporter by Ahmad Raza. Khalil Ahmad's strategy, however, backfired. The offering was turned down by Imam Ahmad Raza.
Treatise on Human Rights
Imam Ahmed Raza (May Allah be pleased with him) illuminated us with the idea of defending human rights in his book "Aajabul Imdad fi Mukafferati Huqooq al-Ibad" (Huquq al-Ibad). He claims that Allah Almighty will not forgive a breach of human rights (Huquq al-Ibad) unless the oppressed person himself forgives it, citing the Holy Qur'an and Hadith. He further stated that if Allah Almighty so desires, He may forgive any transgression relating to Allah's rights (Huququl-Allah), except polytheism (shirk).
According to Islam, human rights include the rights to life, security, justice, equality, and the protection of innocent civilians from oppression, terrorism, violence, and aggression, as well as the right to promote peaceful coexistence, mutual harmony, love for the motherland, and religious freedom, among others.
Caution in Takfir
It is unjust to make fast judgments based on rumors about a person. Especially when it comes to God-given personalities like Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza, who possessed a mastery over more than fifty disciplines of knowledge and answered the pressing issues of his time in an unmistakable intellectual manner. However, some people accuse him of Takfirism without caring to look into his actual theological studies and true Islamic teachings that bring one's soul to the holy chambers, Allah's true oneness, and the prophet Muhammad's true dignity (peace be upon him).
The following reports of Ala Hazrat show that he exercised tremendous caution in matters of Takfir, never allowing his widely accepted research to contradict Islam's core sources on the subject.
In his famous book "Subhan as Subuh An Aibi Kadhibi Maqbooh," he theologically and scholarly refuted Maulvi Ismail Dehlvi's arguments, in which he labeled the majority of mainstream Muslims' practices as Kufr and Shirk and disrespected Allah Almighty and his beloved prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his writings. Despite this, Maulvi Ismail Dehlvi was not declared a Kaafir by Ala Hazrat. “We do not make any comment on Maulvi Ismail Dehlvi’s Kufr,” Ala Hazrat declares in the same book. “This is simply because our beloved prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade declaring the Ahle Qibla Kaafir. It may only be able to label someone a Kaafir when his kufr becomes as apparent as the sun and there is no trace that he is a Muslim.”
In another well-known book, "Al Kaukabatush Sha'haabiya," he refuted the ideas of Maulvi Islamil Dehlvi and some of his followers, instilling true dignity and love for the prophet Muhammad in the hearts of believers (peace be upon him). Despite this, Ala Hazrat stated, "Declaring a person a Kafir and restraining one's tongue is an act of extreme prudence and analysis in our opinion (the opinion of Islam)."
“There is undoubtedly a significant distinction between adopting Kufr words and labeling a person a Kaafir,” Ala Hazrat adds. “We must exercise utmost caution in this regard. We should keep our mouths shut. If there is even a remote chance that the person is still a Muslim, we should be wary of labelling them a Kafir.” (Sallu al-Suyoofil al-Hindiyya)
In his works, Ala Hazrat documented 75 kufr assertions made by Maulvi Ismael Dehlvi. He did not, however, pronounce Maulvi Ismail Dehlvi to be a Kafir. He simply observed Kaffe Lisan (Silence) while the situation unfolded. He says, “Scholars are still debating the difference between luzum (necessitating) and iltizam (becoming necessary). It's one thing for a remark to be Kufr, but it's quite another to declare someone a kafir because of that statement.” He adds, “Cautious scholars have preferred to refrain from Takfir of this man,” (see Al-Kawkabatu'sh Shihabiyyah fi Kufriyyati Abi'l Wahabiyyah).
It is impossible to convey their varied intellectual perspectives and opinions in this short piece. If we want to equip our Madrasas with modern sciences in addition to Islamic sciences, this is ample motivation.
A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical Islamic scholar and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.
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