In accordance with His promise to preserve the true teachings of Islām, Allāh has selected certain individuals or groups throughout Islām’s history to carry out the task of preserving the noble Islāmic legacy. At times of creedal turmoil, the likes of Ahmad ibn Hanbal stood against the Mu’tazilī heresy; at times of political instability, personalities such as Salāh al-Dīn al-Ayyūbī mobilized the Muslim armies for combat; and at times of spiritual degradation, reformers like al-Ghazālī let the ink of their pens flow to revive the true spirit of scholarship and worship. Thus manifested Allāh’s undertaking mentioned in the verse: “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it.” (Qur’ān, 15:9)
The founding of an institution in Deoband, India, in the year 1866, was not the inception of a yet another sect. Rather, it was an extension of this continuous effort to preserve the noble Islāmic legacy. The scholars of Deoband have played a pivotal role in preserving Islām, be it the Qur’ān, the Sunnah and their connected sciences or Islām’s prestigious history. It is sad to witness such a noble legacy and rich heritage go largely unnoticed by many students and scholars of Islām. They have contributed tremendously in various fields of Islām, from Qurā’nic exegesis, to jurisprudence, to Arabic, to political reform. However, their contribution towards the revival and preservation of the blessed Sunnah is most noteworthy.
As a token of acknowledgment and a means of creating awareness, the following article was prepared to highlight their most important contributions in the field of Hadīth. More emphasis has been given to earlier scholars, although contemporary scholars are also occasionally cited. Among other sources, the book Dār al-Ulūm Deoband by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ubayd Allāh al-Qāsīmī and a list published in a monthly newsletter by Dār al-Ulūm Deoband (Rajab, 1432 AH) were consulted. Honorific titles such as Shaykh, Mawlānā, Muftī, etc. were omitted from the lists.
The Contribution of the Scholars of Deoband in the Field of Hadīth:
Reviving a Forgotten Legacy
By Muntasir Zamān
To understand the contribution of the scholars of Deoband in the field of Hadīth, multiple aspects need to be addressed. However, for the sake of brevity, this paper will focus on two aspects: first, their Hadīth curriculum and second, their written works.
Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband and its affiliates enjoys one of the most comprehensive Hadīth curricula amongst the Islāmic institutions of the Indian subcontinent. The following set of traditional Hadīth literature forms the core of their Hadīth syllabus:
- Al-Kutub al-Sittah (the six canonical Hadīth books: Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Sahīh Muslim, Sunan al-Nasa’ī, Sunan Abī Dāwūd, Sunan al-Tirmidhī, Sunan Ibn Mājah)
- Al-Muwatta’ by Mālik ibn Anas: the recension of Yahyā ibn Yahyā al-Masmūdī and the recension of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybanī
- Sharh Ma‘ānī al-Āthār by Abu Ja‘far al-Tahāwī
- Al-Shamā’il al-Muhammadiyyah by Abū ‘Īsā al-Tirmidhī
- Mishkāt al-Masābīh by al-Khatīb al-Tabrīzī
In addition, the following books are also part of the curriculum, although some are taught in only certain branches:
- ‘Amal al-Yawm wa al-Laylah by Abū Bakr Ibn al-Sunnī
- Al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb by ‘Abd al-‘Ażīm al-Mundhirī
- Riyād al-Sālihīn by Muhyī al-Dīn al-Nawawī
- Āthār al-Sunan by al-Shawq al-Nīmawī
- Hayāt al-Sahābah by Yūsuf Kāndhlawī
- Zād al-Tālibīn by Muhammad ‘Āshiq Ilāhī
With respect to works on Hadīth terminology and its connected sciences, the following books are taught, some only at certain branches:
- Ma‘rifat Anwā‘ ‘Ilm al-Hadīth (known as Muqaddimat Ibn al-Salāh) by Abū ‘Amr Ibn al-Salāh
- Nuzhat al-Nażar Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikar by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī
- Tadrib al-Rāwī by Jālal al-Dīn al-Suyūtī
- Al-Muqaddimah by ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Dihlawī
While teaching al-Kutub al-Sittah, the scholars would ensure that the collections were read from cover to cover because they disapproved of reading only select portions from them. Generally, the student/s will read all six books from beginning to end while the teacher will listen, although at times the teacher will read while the students listen. A student will only receive a certificate of graduation once he has studied the six books and other Hadīth collections, keeping in mind that the final year of the higher studies at Dār al-‘Ulūm is specifically for the study of the six books, both in terms of text-transmission (riwāyah) and in terms of commentary and explanation (dirāyah).
In many branches, students are required to commit a certain number of hadīths to memory in the course of their studies, and in some branches, students are encouraged to memorize entire Hadīth collections, such as Riyād al-Sālihīn and Mishkāt al-Masābīh.
Dār al-Ulūm Deoband also currently offers a two-year extensive post-graduate course on the specialization of Hadīth, wherein a student specializes in the sciences of Hadīth terminology, isnād grading, narrator evaluation, etc., under the tutelage of expert Hadīth teachers.
The scholars of Deoband have made noteworthy contributions in the dissemination of Hadīth by means of publishing classical Hadīth books, making their own personal compilations, and making valuable manuscripts of classical hadith available for scholars and students. Among their written contributions in the form of commentaries, lectures, editing of manuscripts, annotation, compilation, and authorship are the following.
Many of their learned scholars have written commentaries on al-Kutub al-Sittah, and other commonly available Hadīth works in Arabic, Urdu, and other languages.
- Anwār al-Bārī by Ahmad Ridā al-Bijnorī
- Fadl al-Bārī fī Fiqh al-Bukhārī by ‘Abd al-Ra’ūf al-Hazārawī
- Tuhfat al-Qārī bi Mushkilāt al-Bukhārī by Muhammad Idrīs Kāndhlawī
- Farhat al-Qārī ‘an Sahīh al-Bukhārī by Shayr Zamān al-Hazārawī
- Al-Kawthar al-Jārī fī Sharh al-Bukhārī by ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Murdānī
- Talkhīs al-Bukhārī by Shams al-Duhā al-Zankūnī
- Is‘ād al-Bārī by Siddīq Ahmad Bāndawī
Among works written on related aspects are the following:
- Nibrās al-Sārī fī Atrāf al-Bukhārī by ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Punjābī
- In‘ām al-Bārī fī Sharh Ash‘ār al-Bukhāri by Muhammad ‘Āshiq Ilāhī
- Kitāb al-Mu‘jam li Rijāl al-Bukhārī by Muhammad Asīr al-Adrawī
- Izālat al-Qassās ‘an Wajh Qāl Ba‘d al-Nās by Mujīb al-Rahmān al-Bangladeshī
- Mā Yanfa‘ al-Nās fī Sharh Qāl Ba‘d al-Nās Muhammad Tāhir al-Rahīmī
The last two are treatises that explain the statement of Imām al-Bukhārī in his Sahīh “qāl ba’d al-nās (some people said).”
They also dedicated works to the explanation of the chapter headings of Sahīh al-Bukhārī, like: Shaykh al-Hind Mahmūd al-Hasan, Mawlānā Muhammad Idrīs Kāndhlawī, Mawlānā Mājid ‘Alī Mānawī, Mawlānā Fakhr al-Dīn Murādabādī, Sayyid Badshāh Gul (his work is entitled Hamd al-Muta’ālī). The most extensive work in this regard was written by Mawlānā Muhammad Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī in Arabic entitled al-Abwāb wa al-Tarājim, recently published in six large volumes.
After citing several renowned commentaries on Sahīh Muslim, ‘Allāmah al-Kawthari, the deputy to the last Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman Empire, explains:
Truth be told, none of these commentaries fulfil the right of Sahih Muslim, of commentary and exposition from all perspectives, which concern the thirsty researchers [seeking] to reveal the secrets of the book. So if one commentary excels in jurisprudence or beliefs according to one school, for example, you find it lacking in the commentary of what relates to the remainder of the schools of practice and belief. This does not quench the thirst of the researcher. Or you find it neglecting the commentary of its introduction despite it being from the oldest of what the imams of hadith wrote in preparing the principles of the science of hadith like the book al-Tamyiz by Muslim, and such [a book] deserves a full commentary. And you find amongst the commentators those who omit commenting on the narrators altogether, although the researcher is in great need of this in areas of known criticism. Hence, when one of these commentaries pleases you from some perspectives, you find it does not quench your thirst from other perspectives. The remainder of the commentaries are similar. This is a substantial gap. We had the strongest desire that a commentary of Sahih Muslim appears in the world of print to fill this gap.
Now we are ones who have chanced upon our longed-for lost treasure in the production of Fath al-Mulhim fi Sharh Sahih Muslim in its wonderful dress and brilliant suit in a number of Indian prints.
Fath al-Mulhim, the commentary in reference, was authored by Mawlānā Shabbīr Ahmad ‘Uthmānī. However, he passed away prior to its completion. Thereafter, Muftī Taqī ‘Uthmānī, a leading scholar from Pakistan, took the initiative to complete it.
Many of them wrote specifically on Imām Muslim’s introduction to his Sahīh in view of its importance and benefit. The most outstanding among them was by ‘Alī Ahmad al-A‘żamī in Arabic, which unfortunately has yet to be published. There are others written in Urdu.
- Al-Muktafā bi Sharh al-Mujtabā by Ahmad Hasan al-Fattanī
- Al-Tīb al-Shadhī by Ashfāq al-Rahmān Kāndhlawī
- Hadiyyat al-Ahwadhī by Ibrāhīm Balyāwī
- Tanqīh al-Shadhī by Shams al-Haqq al-Afghānī
- Nazl al-Thawī by Asghar Husayn
- Ma‘ārif al-Sunan by Muhammad Yūsuf Banūrī. He included therein the valuable discourses and research of his teacher, Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī. He passed away before completing the work. An effort is currently being made to complete this monumental work
- Khazā’in al-Sunan by Sarfarāz Khān Safdar
- Mawlānā Sayyid Badshāh Gul and Mawlānā Muhammad Mūsā Rūhānī Bāzī have also written commentaries on it
Mawlānā Fadl Allāh al-Rahmānī wrote a commentary on ‘Ilal al-Tirmidhī and Mawlānā Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī wrote a commentary on al-Shamā’il al-Muhammadiyyah of al-Timidhī.
Mawlānā Yūsuf Banūrī started work on a book with the title Lubb al-Lubāb fī Takhrīj Mā Yaqūlu al-Tirmidhī wa fī al-Bāb, in which he attempted to source and reference the hadiths Imam al-Tirmidhī in his Sunan alluded to with the words “wa fī al-bāb ‘an” (There are other reports in this chapter from so and so).” However, because of other engagements and responsibilities, he was only able to complete a small portion. As such, he delegated the job of completing the book to Muftī Walī Hasan, who also managed to complete only on a small portion because of his teaching and other commitments. Finally, the responsibility was given over to Mawlānā Habīb Allāh Mukhtār who finished a large portion of book in several volumes under the new title: Kashf al-Niqāb ‘ammā Yaqūluhu al-Tirmidhī wa fī al-Bāb.
Sunan Abī Dāwūd
- Badhl al-Majhūd by Khalīl Ahmad al-Sahāranpūrī
- Intibāh al-Ruqūd fī Hall Sunan Abī Dāwūd by Shayr Zamān al-Hazārawī
- Zubdat al-Maqsūd fī Hall Qāl Abū Dāwūd by Muhammad Tāhir al-Rahīmī
Others have written commentaries on the statement of Imām Abū Dāwūd in his Sunan, “qāl Abū Dāwūd.”
Muwatta’ Mālīk (Recension of Yayhā ibn Yahyā)
- Awjaz al-Masālik by Muhammad Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī
- Kashf al-Mughattā fī Rijāl al-Muwatta’ by Ashfāq al-Rahmān Kāndhlawī in respect to the narrators of the book
Sharh Ma’ānī al-Āthār by al-Tahāwī
- Amānī al-Ahbār by Yūsuf Kāndhlawī. He passed away before completing one-fourth of the book
- Tabhīj al-Rāwī bi Takhrīj Ahādīth al-Tahāwī by ‘Āshiq Ilāhī
- Majānī al-Athmār by the above author
- Talkhīs al-Tahāwī by Husayn ‘Alī Punjābī
- Nathr al-Azhār by Muhammad Amīn Aurakzā’ī
- Al-Hāwī ‘alā Mushkilāt al-Tahāwī by ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Kāmilpūrī
The following are Urdu commentaries:
- Al-Kalām al-Hāwī fī ‘Ibārat al-Tahāwī by Sarfarāz Khan Safdar
- Īdāh al-Tahāwī by Shabbīr Ahmad al-Mirathī
- Misbāh al-Tahāwī by As‘ad Allāh al-Rāmfūrī
The following are specifically on the narrators of the book:
- Tarājim al-Ahbār min Rijāl Sharh Ma’ānī al-Āthār by Muhammad Ayyūb al-Mażāhīrī
- Rijāl al-Tahāwī by ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Punjābī
- Al-Hāwī fī Rijāl al-Tahāwī by Habīb al-Rahmān al-A‘żamī
The author of Tarājim al-Ahbār, Muhammad Ayyūb, also wrote a book entitled Tashīh al-Aghlāt al-Kitābiyyah al-Wāqi‘ah fī al-Nusakh al-Tahāwiyyah regarding the mistakes found in the manuscripts of the book.
Mishkāt al-Masābīh of al-Khatīb al-Tabrīzī is one of the most circulated and studied Hadīth books in the Indian subcontinent. Many scholars of Deoband have annotations and commentaries on it in Arabic and Urdu.
Among the Arabic commentaries is:
- Al-Ta‘līq al-Sabīh by Muhammad Idrīs Kāndhlawī
In Urdu, there are many commentaries, some of the prominent among them are:
- Tanżīm al-Ashtāt li Hall ‘Awīsāt al-Mishkāh by Abū al-Hasan al-Chātghāmī
- Mir‘āt al-Amālīh Sharh Mishkāt al-Masābīh by Muhammad al-Chātghāmī.
Miscellaneous Hadīth Literature
They also have commentaries on other Hadīth works. Among them are:
- Qalā’id al-Azhār an Arabic commentary on Kitāb al-Āthār of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybānī by Mahdī Hasan al-Shāhjahānpūrī. He completed one-third of the book
- Fadl Allāh al-Samad fī Sharh al-Adab al-Mufrad by Fadl Allāh al-Jīlānī. He also has a book on the commentary of ‘Ilal al-Tirmidhī by his teacher ‘Abd al-Latīf.
- Tuhfat al-Ikhwān bi Sharh Hadīth Shu‘ab al-Īmān by Idrīs Kāndhlawī
- Ta‘tīr al-Mashām fī Sharh Bulūgh al-Marām by Muhammad Hayāt al-Sanbhali
- Al-Fawā’id al-Saniyyah fi Sharh al-Arba‘īn al-Nawawiyyah by ‘Āshiq Ilāhī
- Tuhfat al-Quddūs fī Sharh Bahjat al-Nufūs by Żafar Ahmad ‘Uthmānī
- Sharh Shu‘ab al-Īmān by ‘Abd Allāh Qutb Shāh al-Murdānī
Dictations and Lectures
The Hadīth lessons delivered at Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband were unique and comprehensive, touching on all dimensions of a Hadīth text: its commentary, jurisprudence, differences amongst the scholars, narrator criticism and so on. Fortunately, from its inception until the present day, these lectures were recorded. Thus, their lecture notes, containing treasures of knowledge, were found among many of the graduates of Dār al-‘Ulūm. Many of them went on to print whatever they possessed and disseminated it. This genre of books has become a beneficial library of immense academic value.
These dictations are similar to the encyclopedic Hadīth commentaries and are useful for students, researchers, scholars, and teachers alike due to the mature and insightful explanations they offer – which is a natural result of the extensive experience of the lecturers in teaching these Hadīth collections.
Most books of this genre are dictations on al-Kutub al-Sittah in Arabic and some are in Urdu. The most outstanding among them are the dictations of Mawlānā Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī and Mawlānā Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī, because the students and scholars who compiled, organized, reviewed and thereafter disseminated them were also experts in the field. All the dictations of Mawlānā Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī were printed posthumously after being edited and annotated by Mawlānā Muhammad Zakariyyā or by some of his reputable companions and students. Some of these dictations are as follows:
- The dictations of Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī were compiled by Mājid ‘Alī Mānawī, Husayn ‘Alī Punjābī, and Muhammad Yahyā Kāndhlawī. The most prominent and beneficial among them are those compiled by Muhammad Yahyā which was edited, annotated, and then printed by his son Mawlānā Zakariyyā entitled Lāmi‘ al-Darārī. This collection of lecture notes is in Arabic and the remainder are in Urdu.
- Al-Nūr al-Sārī: the dictations of Mahmūd Hasan al-Deobandī
- Fayd al-Bārī: the dictations of Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī compiled by Badr ‘Ālam al-Mirathi. It is adorned with the beneficial footnotes of the compiler, entitled al-Badr al-Sārī. Many other reputable scholars have also compiled his dictations, among whom were Munāżir Ahsan Gīlānī and Muhammad Tayyīb al-Qāsimī, but they have yet to be printed.
- Dars-e Bukhārī and Fadl al-Bārī: the dictations of Shabbīr Ahmad ‘Uthmānī
- Īdāh al-Bukhārī: the dictations of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Murādabādī
- Taqrīr al-Bukhārī: the dictations of Husayn Ahmad al-Madanī and Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī, each respectively
- Al-Hall al-Mufhim: the dictations of Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī
- The dictations of Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī compiled by ‘Abd al-A‘lā al-Hasanī and ‘Alī Ahmad al-A‘żamī, which have not been printed as of yet
- Al-Kawkab al-Durrī: the dictations of Rashīd Ahmad Gongohī edited and annotated by Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī
- Taqrīr al-Tirmidhī: the dictations of Mahmūd Hasan al-Deobandī
- Al-‘Arf al-Shadhī: the dictations of Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī compiled by Muhammad Chirāgh
- Al-Wird al-Shadhī: the dictations of Mahmūd Hasan al-Deobandī
- Al-Naf‘ al-Shadhī: the dictations of Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī
- The dictations of ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Kāmilpūrī
- The dictations of Husayn Ahmad al-Madanī. There are a few, the most outstanding and commonly available among them is entitled Ma’ārif Madaniyyah, which was compiled with additions by Tāhir Hasan Amrohī.
Sunan Abī Dāwūd
- Anwār al-Mahmūd the collective dictations of Mahmūd Hasan al-Deobandī, Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī, Shabbīr Ahmad ‘Uthmānī in Arabic compiled by Muhammad Siddīq al-Najīb Abādī, who also consulted Badhl al-Majhūd of Khalīl Ahmad al-Sahāranfūrī.
- Al-Fayd al-Samā’ī the dictations of Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī
Sunan Ibn Mājah
- The dictations of Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī which have yet to be published
Other dictations on Sunan Ibn Mājah, Sharh Ma‘ānī al-Āthār, and other works have been published in Urdu.
During his studies, a student may not be able to consult the detailed commentaries. As such, scholars have authored brief annotations on the curricular books, known as “marginalia” (Hawāshī). These generally comprise of a collection of short passages from earlier works, capturing the gist of what is found in the lengthier commentaries. Most of the curricular books printed in the Indian subcontinent are annotated with such marginalia. The scholars of Deoband have written marginalia on countless Hadīth books.
Among those written on common Hadīth works are the following:
- Sahīh al-Bukhārī: by Ahmad ‘Alī al-Sahāranpūrī, ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Punjābī (entitled Miqbās al-Wārī), Muhammad Qāsim al-Nanotwī, Muhammad Tāhir al-Murdānī, and ‘Abd al-Jabbār al-A‘żamī (entitled Jāmi‘ al-Darārī)
- Jāmi‘ al-Tirmidhī: by Ahmad ‘Alī al-Sahāranpūrī, Mājid ‘Alī Mānawī, Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thanwī (entitled Al-Thawb al-Hulī min al-Misk al-Dhakī)
- Sunan Abī Dāwūd: Fakhr al-Hasan Gangohī, Muhammad Hayāt al-Sanbhalī, Mājid ‘Alī Mānawī
- Sunan al-Nasa’ī: by Ashfāq al-Rahmān Kāndhlawī
- Suan Ibn Mājah: by Ashfāq al-Rahmān Kāndhlawī and Fakhr al-Hasan Gangohī, and Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī
- Muwatta’ Mālik: by Ashfāq al-Rahmān Kāndhlawī
- Sharh Mā’ānī al-Āthār: by Muhammad Ayyūb al-Sahāranpūrī and ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Punjābī
- Mishkāt al-Masābīh: by Muhammad Ayyūb al-Sahāranpūrī and Nasīr al-Dīn al-Kāmilpūrī
The prints of Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Jāmi‘ al-Tirmidhī, and Mishkāt al-Masābīh commonly available in the Indian subcontinent are adorned with the marginalia of Ahmad ‘Alī al-Sahāranpūrī.
Among those written on other Hadīth works are:
- The marginalia of Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī on Āthār al-Sunan of al-Shawq al-Nīmawī
- The marginalia of Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī on Lāmi‘ al-Darārī, al-Kawkab al-Durrī, and Badhl al-Majhūd
- The marginalia of ‘Āshiq Ilāhī on al-Rasā’il al-Thalāth of Shāh Walī Allāh al-Dihlawī
- The marginalia of ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Punjābī and Muhammad Yūsuf al-Kamilpūrī on Nasb al-Rāyah entitled Bughyat al-Alma‘ī
- The marginalia of Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī on al-Ishā‘ah fī Ashrāt al-Sā‘ah of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rasūl al-Barzanjī
Among the many salient features of Islām is the manner in which Muslim scholars have preserved the teachings of the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him). They have laid down principles to ascertain the authenticity of hadīths and their narrators. The scholars of Deoband have also written on this subject. Some of their works are:
- Qāwā‘id fī ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth by Żafar Ahmad ‘Uthmānī. An introduction to his monumental work I‘lā‘ al-Sunan, which was edited and annotated then printed separately by ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah.
- Mabādī’ ‘Ilm al-Hadīth wa Usūluh by Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmānī, the introduction to his commentary on Sahīh Muslim, Fath al-Mulhim, which was edited and annotated then printed separately by ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah.
- Minhat al-Mughīth: a commentary Zayn al-Dīn al-‘Irāqī’s Alfiyyat al-Hadīth by Idrīs Kāndhlawī
- ‘Ilm al-Hadīth by Ashfāq al-Rahmān Kāndhlawī
- Jawāhir al-Usūl fī Usūl al-Hadīth by ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Murdānī
- Ahsan al-Khabar fī Mabādi’ ‘Ilm al-Athar Muhammad Hasan al-Bashārawī
- ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth Muhammad ‘Ubayd Allāh al-Asadī
- Miftāh al-Hadīth by ‘Abd al-Jalīl al-Qāsimī
- Fawā’id Jāmi‘ah: a commentary on of ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Dihlawī’s al-‘Ujālah al-Nāfi‘ah by ‘Abd al-Halīm Nu‘māni
- Basā’ir al-Sunnah Amīn al-Haqq al-Murdānī
- Al-Hadīth al-Hasan by Ni‘mat Allāh al-A‘żamī and the students from the faculty of Hadīth specialization at Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband
- Ta‘dīl Rijāl al-Bukhārī by Habīb al-Rahmān al-A‘żamī
- Fann Asmā’ al-Rijāl by Asīr Adrawī
Authority of Hadīth and Its Compilation
In recent times, there has been an organized effort to disprove the authority of Hadīth and to criticize the method of Hadīth compilation in the early stages of Islām. In order to address this critical issue, the scholars of Deoband have written numerous books, some of which are:
- Hujjiyyat al-Hadīth by Idrīs Kāndhlawī, Muhammad Tayyib al-Qāsimī, each respectively
- Nusrat al-Hadīth by Habīb al-Rahmān al-A‘żamī in Urdu. This was translated into Arabic by Mas’ūd al-A‘żamī with a forward by Muhammad ‘Awwāmah.
- Al-Intisār li Sunnat Sayyid al-Abrār Muhammad Tāhir al-Murdānī
- Natā’ij al-Inkār al-Hadīth by Sarfarāz Khan Safdar
- Al-Madkhal ilā Dirāsāt al-Hadīth al-Nabawī al-Sharīf and Dawr al-Hadīth fī Takwīn al-Munākh al-Islāmī by Abū al-Hasan al-Nadawī
- Tadwīn-e Hadīth by Munāżir Ahsan Gīlānī. This was later translated into Arabic by ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Iskandarī and revised by Bashshār ‘Awwād Ma‘rūf
- Dirāsāt fī al-Ahādīth al-Nabawiyyah by Mustafa Azami
- Al-Fawā’id al-Malakūtiyyah fī ann al-Hadīth Hujjah by Mūsā Ruhānī Bāzī
- The first part of the book al-Imām Ibn Mājah wa Kitābuhū al-Sunan by ‘Abd al-Rashīd Nu‘mānī has a detailed discussion on the compilation of Hadīth
- On Schacht’s Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence by Mustafa Azami
Many of those among them who have written commentaries on Hadīth books often discuss this subject in detail in beginning of their works.
One of the greatest academic services in our times is the editing and publication of classical Islamic manuscripts not readily available to students of knowledge, researchers, and scholars. Prior to the publication of any work, scholars carry out an in depth cross-examination of its various manuscripts to ensure the original text is authentically presented. Some of the works edited and published by the scholars of Deoband are as follows:
- Nasb al-Rāyah fī Takhrīj Ahādīth al-Hidāyah of Jamāl al-Dīn al-Zayla’ī. This was edited and annotated by ‘Abd al-Azīz Punjābī and Muhammad Yūsuf al-Kamilfūrī and then revised by Yūsuf Banūrī.
- Jam‘ al-Fawā’id min Jāmi‘ al-Usūl wa Majma‘ al-Zawā’id of Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Maghribī edited by ‘Āshiq Ilāhī
- Sahīh Ibn Khuzaymah edited by Mustafa Azami
- Nukhab al-Afkār fī Tanqīh Mabānī al-Akhbār: the commentary of Badr al-Dīn al-‘Aynī on Sharh Mā‘ānī al-Āthār edited and annotated by Arshad al-Madanī
- Al-Mughnī fī Dabt Asmā’ al-Rijāl of Muhammad Tāhir al-Fattani edited by Zayn al-‘Ābidī al-A‘żamī
A name that features prominently in the list of those who have revived countless classical Hadīth manuscripts in the past century is the great Hadīth scholar Mawlānā Habīb al-Rahmān al-A‘żamī. Some of the works edited and annotated by him are:
- Al-Musannaf of ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-San‘ānī
- Al-Musannaf of Abū Bakr ibn Abī Shaybah. He began working on this massive Hadīth collection towards the end of his life and was unable to complete it
- Al-Musnad of ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Zubayr al-Humaydī
- Al-Sunan of Sa’īd ibn Mansūr
- Kitāb al-Zuhd wa al-Riqāq of ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Mubārak
- Al-Matālib al-‘Āliyah bi Zawā’id al-Masānīd al-Thamāniyah of Ibn Hajar
- Mukhtasar al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb of Ibn Hajar
- Kashf al-Astār ‘an Zawā’id al-Bazzār of Nūr al-Dīn al-Haythamī
- Majma‘ Bihār al-Anwār of Muhammad Tāhir al-Fattanī
The scholars of Deoband authored numerous Arabic and Urdu works in the field of Hadīth to address the challenges they witnessed and the demands of their time, some of which are:
- Jāmi‘ al-Āthār by Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thanwī.
- Ihyā’ al-Sunan by a student of Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thanwī.
- I‘lā‘ al-Sunan by Żafar Ahmad ‘Uthmānī. It was written under the supervision and in light of the teachings of his teacher Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thanwī.
The content of the above three works is the study and collection of those narrations and reports upon which the Hanafīs, who are often accused of abandoning Hadīth and an over reliance on their intellect, based their rulings. I‘lā‘ al-Sunan was printed in twenty-one volumes. The actual book is in eighteen volumes and the remaining three volumes are introductions to the book:
- The first volume is an explanation of the terminology and principles of Hadīth, with special focus given to the terminology specific to the Hanafīs. This was also printed separately with the editing and annotation of ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah entitled Qawā‘id fī ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth
- The second volume is a collection of the principles and terminology of Fiqh entitled Qawā‘id fī ‘Ulūm al-Fiqh. This was written by Habīb Ahmad al-Kīrānawī
- The third volume is regarding Imām Abū Hanīfah and his companions from the Hadīth scholars.
Other works are:
- Al-Tasharruf bi Ma‘rifat Ahādīth al-Tasawwuf by Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thanwī
- Al-Tasrīh bi Mā Tawātar fī Nuzūl al-Masīh, by Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī
- Al-‘Anāqīd al-Ghāliyah by ‘Āshiq Ilāhī
- Juz’ fī Hajjat al-Wadā‘ wa ‘Umrāt al-Rasūl by Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī
- Alfiyyat al-Hadīth by Muhammad Manżūr Nu‘mānī
- Zād al-Tālibīn by ‘Āshiq Ilāhī
- Al-Sayf al-Mujallā ‘alā al-Muhallā by Mahdī Hasan al-Shāhjahānpūrī. A four-volume refutation on the isolated views of Ibn Hazam in his book al-Muhallā
- Ta‘qīb al-Taqlīb al-Wāqi’ fī Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb by Muhammad Ayyūb al-Sahāranpūrī in respect to the mistakes found in Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb of Ibn Hajar
- Intikhāb Mishkāt al-Masābīh by Muhammad Ilyās Kāndhlawī
- Hayāt al-Sahābah by Muhammad Yūsuf Kāndhlawī
- Al-Ahādīth al-Muntakhabah fī al-Sifāt al-Sitt by the above author
- Mā Tamassu ilayh al-Hājah by ‘Abd al-Rashīd Nu‘mānī. This work was also edited and annotated by ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah, who changed the title to al-Imām Ibn Mājah wa Kitābuhu al-Sunan.
- Makānat al-Imām Abū Hanīfah fi al-Hadīth by the above author and also edited and annotated by ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah
- Bayn al-Da‘īf wa al-Mawdū‘ by ‘Ubayd Allāh al-As‘adī
- Fihris Musnad Ahmad by ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Punjābī
- Tabwīb Musnad Ahmad by the above author
Mawlānā Habīb al-Rahmān al-A‘żamī wrote an academic critique on Shaykh Ahmad Shākir’s marginalia on Musnad Ahmad. Shaykh Ahmad Shākir was so impressed with his critique that he added it to subsequent prints of the book.
- Tarjumān al-Sunnah by Badr ‘Ālam al-Mirathī
- Jawāhir al-Hikam by the above author
- Ma‘ārif al-Sunnah of Ihtishām al-Hasan Kāndhlawī
- Tajrīd al-Bukhārī by Muhammad Hayāt al-Sanbhalī
- Intikhāb al-Sihāh al-Sittah by Zayn al-‘Ābidīn al-Mirathī
- Intikhāb al-Targhīb by ‘Abd Allāh Tāriq
- Ma‘ārif al-Hadīth by Muhammad Manżūr Nu‘mānī
- Fadā’il al-A‘māl by Zakariyyā Kāndhlawī
- Ibn Mājah Aur ‘Ilm-e Hadīth by ‘Abd al-Rashīd Nu‘mānī. This is a different work from the one mentioned above.
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of this paper is to highlight the most important contributions of the scholars of Deoband in the field of Hadīth with an emphasis on the works of their earlier scholars. Countless research papers, treatises, monographs and lecture notes on numerous subjects of Hadīth, in particular those by contemporary scholars of Deoband, have not been discussed.
The numerous works presented in this short article are part of the great legacy bequeathed to the students, teachers, researchers, and scholars of the ummah by the scholars of Deoband. They left no stone unturned in the service of the Sunnah: its preservation, revival, dissemination, and explanation to the masses. Despite their monumental service to Hadīth and its related sciences, it is unfortunate that this great service has gone largely unnoticed by many students and scholars of Islām. In fact, an effort is often made to portray a negative image of these luminaries and to give people the impression that the scholars of Deoband are far behind in the field of Hadīth!
It is hoped that the reader now has a basic appreciation for the works rendered by these illustrious personalities in the service of the Sunnah, which ought to be viewed as an extension to the continuous effort to preserve the noble Islāmic legacy. May Allāh accept their efforts and make it a means of their elevation in the hereafter, Āmīn.