Dr. Shahnawaz Ahmed Malik
Allama Mufti Mohammed Akhtar Raza Khan Azhari (23 November 1943 – 20 July 2018) was an Islamic scholar, philosopher, author, poet, preacher and man of pious virtues who passed his whole life in serving Islam. He guided the community towards straight path of Islam by writing extensively and vocally according to Quran and Sunnah.
He was chief cleric of the influential Dargah AalaHazrat at Bareilly which is a famous Markaz (Center) of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat in South Asia. He was successor of Mustafa Raza Khan known as Mufti-e-Azam of India who was son of Mujadid Imam Ahle Sunnat Imam Ahmed Raza Qadri (1856-1921).
Allama Azhari was among the most influential Muslims of the world and had occupied 24th place in the annual list of 500 Most Influential Muslims of the world in 2015-16 by Royal Islamic Strategy Centre, Jordan.
Qadri was son of Mufassir-e-A’zam, Hadrat Mawlana Ibrahim Raza Khan. Allama Azhari.He was born on the 25th of Safar 1942, in the district of Saudagran in the city of Bareilly Shareef, India. Allama Azhari attained his knowledge at the feet of pious and learned scholars from his family. He was later enrolled in Darul Uloom Manzare Islam in Bareilly Shareef. Where he studied books such as, Mizaan, Munsha’ib, Nohmeer and proceeded to study much more advanced books such as Hidaya Akhirain, etc.
Revered Sufi master Ahsanul Ulama, Mawlana Sayed Hassan Mian,the then,SajjadahNasheen of Khanqah Aaliyah Barakaatiyah Marehrah (Marehrah Shareef Etah U.P India granted himall the Khilaafahand the Spiritual permissions of the Sufi-spiritual orders – Qaadriya, Barakaatiyah, Nooriyah.
In 1963, at the age 21, he was sent to Cairo in Egypt to study at the Al Azhar University. He studied Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith for 3 years at this Islamic University. He acquired in-depth understanding of Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), Shariat and Tariqat. Hadrat Mawlana Mufti Mohammed Akhtar Raza Khan Azhari also has an excellent command of the English language.
In 1967, at the age of 25, he was appointed a Lecturer at Darul Uloom Manzare Islam. In 1968, he was appointed as Principal and worked as the head Mufti of the institute. The service continued for the next 12 years. In 1986 and 1987, he performed the completion of the Sahih Bukhaari Shareef at Jamia Islamia GanjQ adim in Rampur and at JamiaAmjadia, Karachi.
Allama Azhari was entrusted by his teacher MutiAzam e Hind Mustafa RazaQadrito write fatawas on various issues. His verdicts (Fatawa) are recognized and accepted throughout the world. As a point in passing, the Islamic verdicts issued by him stands at nearly 5000, enough to fill many volumes.
Allamawas never involved or interested in politics. Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi writes that he refused to meet (the then) Indian Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao due to demolition of Babri Masjid during Rao’s tenure. P. V. Narasimha Rao kept waiting for about 8 hours in the circuit house of Bareilly to meet Allama Azhari.
ShaykhAzhariwas appointed as the QadiulQudatfil Hind for the entire India. This announcement was made by Muhaddith-e-Kabeer, HadratAllama Mufti Zia-ul-Mustafa QadriAmjadi on the occasion of the Urs-e-Razvi in October 2006 in the presence of thousands of ‘Ulema, Scholars and lacs of people.
JamiaturRaza, a renowned institution was established by himin 2000. Presentlymore than one thousand students are studying upto the level of Tahtania, Fauqania and Aalia which is approved by Madrasa Education Board. Many courses approved by NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) are also taught. Master and PhD level courses in association with a Al Azhar university are being run.
AlamaAzhari remained chief leader of historical Sunni organization Jama’atRaza e Mustafa. Jamaat was founded by Imam Ahmed RazaQadri and it played a significant role during Shuddhi movement in British India.Shuddhi movement was initiated by AryaSamaj to convert Muslims into Hinduism. The Jama’atRaza-e-Mustafa prevented around four hundred thousand conversions to Hinduism in eastern U.P and Rajasthan during its activities under anti-Shuddhi movement.
He was Chief Mufti of Sharai Council of India, a body of Indian Islamic scholars which meet annually to discuss Islamic jurisprudential issues.
He had good relation with prominent Sunni scholars all over the Islamic world.Prominent Ulemas of of south Asia, Egypt, Syria, Gulf and Europe were his friends and many were regular visitors to his Khanqah at Bareilly, India. MawlanaSayed Alawi Maliki of MakkahShareefwas his good friend. Many such Ulemasvisited him during UrsRazvi at Bareilly.
Shaikh Abdullah bin FidiqHashmi of Makkah, Dr. Isa ibn Abdullah bin MaaniHumairi (Professor at Imam Malik College Dubai), ShaikhWatiqFawad al Ubaidi and ShaikhMoosaAbdud Yusuf Ishaqi appreciated his writings and Fatwas.
During 2008 & 2009, he traveled extensively especially to the Levant (Syria, Jordan & Palestine) & Egypt. Here he visited the holy shrines of many Sahaba& other notable Islamic personalities. The meetings with the scholars of the Middle East revived the centuries-old connections of South Asian Sufism with scholars of Syria & Egypt. Some of those great scholars who wrote reflections & eulogies after the visit were Sheikh Ramdan Saied Al Bauti, Shiekh Abdul Huda Al Yaqubi, Shiekh Abdul Fattah Bazzam (Then Grand Mufti of Damascus), and Shiekh Muhammad KhairTarshan).
In 2009, the Egypt trip also included the spiritual & scholarly exchange along with lectures in International conferences attended by the participants from more than sixty countries. Sheikh SayyadTantawi, the ex-grand Imam of Al Azhar, Shiekh Ali Gomaa (18th Grand Mufti of Egypt), & Sheikh Yusri were some of the renowned scholars who exchanged Ijazah& blessed with reciprocal gains from him. Tajush Sharia left a huge body of work & chain of the students who were spreading the tolerant message of Islam at different corners of the globe including the UK, United States, and European countries.
Due to his excessive travel and a large number of events and programs all across the world, he had very little time for writing. During his lifetime, he has compiled more than fifty books in Arabic, Urdu & English language covering diverse topics of Islamic Studies.
His prominent English Fatawas book which is known as Azhar-Ul-Fatawa is published into two volumes covering more than five thousand jurisdictions (Fatwas) related to all walks of life. It covers the questions that were submitted to him which commonly emerges amongst Muslim communities living in Western countries.
Some of the famous books authored by him are:
- Taliqaat e Zehra on the subject of SahihBukhari
- Difa-e-KanzulIman Translation of Quran
- Tie kaMasla Issue of Tie
- Hijrat-e-Rasool Immigration of Prophet
- Al HaqulMubeen (arabic)
- TV Video kaSharai Operation
- Fazeelat-e-Nasab (Urdu Tarjuma)
- Hazrat Ibrahim kewalidTarikhyaAazar
- Aikaham Fatwa
- Maraat un NajdiyahAljawabulBarailwia
- Teen TalaqkaSharaihukm
- Kia Muhimpuri ho chuki
- Jashn-e-EidMeelad un Nabi
- Al Mu’taqid al Muntaqid (Urdu Tarjuma)
- BarakaatulImdad (ArabiTarjuma)
- Shumoolul Islam (ArabiTarjuma)
- Al AtayalQadeer (ArabiTarjuma)
- TaiseerulMa’oon (ArabiTarjuma)
- AhlaakulWahabiyeen (ArabiTarjuma)
- FiqahiShahanshah (ArabiTarjuma)
- SharahHadees e Niyat (Arabi and Urdu)
- AqeedaulShuhdaSharahQaseedatilBurda (ArabiHashia)
- HashiatulSahih al Bukhari (Arabi)
- AzharulFatawa (2 hisse English)
- AzharulFatawa (5 jilden Urdu)
In 1986 during Umrah, Mufti AkhtarRazaQadri was interrogated and taken in to illegal custody by Saudi Mutawwa Police due to their his Sufi background. He was asked innumerous questions about his faith to which he relied from Quran and Sunnah and convinced intelligence officers but was not released.
In reaction to this detention, during the month of September 1986, massive protestsstarted against the Saudi government in many parts of the world. Sunni leaders submitted memorandums and letters to Saudi embassies in India, Pakistan, Gulf and in the United Kingdom.On 13th Sep Allama Zia-ul-Mustapha Al QaderiAmjadi leda massive protest of fifty thousand people in Mumbai cityagainst Saudi government’s action to arrest Mufti AkhtarRaza, which included many Imams, Ulama and renowned Islamic leaders. One of the famous Urdu Naat ‘DaagheFurqatTaiba” was written by him during his eleven days detention at Makkah. He was released to India without allowing him to visit MadinahMunnawara. At this moment, he wrote the couplets:
- Daagh-e furqat-e TaybaQalbmuzmahiljaata
- KaashGhumbad-e Khazradekhneko mil jaata
The spot caused by the separation of Madinah, causes my heart to shudder.
Oh! How I wish I could have seen the Green Dome (of the Prophet SallallahuAlaihiwaSallam).
Saudi government realized their mistake and Allama was later offered special family visain May 1987 & he performed his Umrah with a visit to Holy Prophet ( Peace be Upon Him).
Later, he was selected among very few scholars who got entry inside the Khana-Kaaba at Makkah to prayNamaz.
Tajush Sharia Mufti AkhtarRaza Khan inspired Fatwa against ISIS in 2015, in its report Times of India mentioned “70,000 clerics issued fatwa against terrorism, 15 Lakh Muslims support it”.
He was the lone cleric in India to get a title of Tajushariya (Chief of Islamic Law).He had tens of millions of followers globally among them Islamic scholars, Sufis and academicians were more in numbers. He was loved and respected by all classes of people. He left the world after long illness in his 70s on 20th July 2018/ 06th Dhulqada/1439 Hijri. His funeral prayer was attended by thousands of scholars and millions of people.The Bareilly city had not witnessed such massive sea of people in recent times.
Several reputed personalities, scholars and Shaikhs around the world sent their obituaries on the death of TajusShariah Mufti AkhtarRaza Khan Qadri and prominent among them were the President of Turkey ReccepTyyabErdogan, Grand Mufti of Turkey, Al-Sheikh Imam Abdul Aziz (AlaihRahma), the speaker of Nabhani foundation,ShaikhSayyid Muhammad Al Yaqoubi, Sayyad Muhammad MadniMadniMiyan.
His son Mufti AsjadRazaQadriwas appointed as QadilulQuzzat during the meeting of Sharai Council of Indiaat Bareilly in 2019 in the presence of leading scholars.
(Author is associated with Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University Malappuram Campus, Kerala, India)