Table of Contents

Chapter 79: Renaissance in Indo-Pakistan: Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi

A: Introduction

Of the two leaders of thought who appeared during the early years of decadence, Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab of Arabia and Shah Wali Allah of Delhi, the latter occupies a more prominent position. He was a luminary who during the stormy period of Indian history showed the bewildered Mus­lims the right path, the path of peace and glory. He was possessed of deep insight, profound learning, and heroic nobleness. Not long after his death his thought gave rise to a mighty movement under the leadership of Shah Ismail Shahid and Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi for liberating the Muslims from the clutches of Western imperialism.

B: Life and Works

Qutb al-Din Ahmad, popularly known as Shah Wali Allah, was born in 1114/1703, four years before the death of Aurangzib. His genealogy can be traced back to the family of Umar Faruq, the great Caliph. It is difficult to ascertain the exact time when his forefathers left Arabia and settled down in India, but the circumstantial evidence indicates that it was about three hundred years after the great Migration (Hijrah). The historical records speak eloquently of the prominent position which Shah Wali Allah’s grandfather occupied in the Mughul Court. It has been narrated that he played an important role in the struggle for power amongst the sons of Shah Jahan, and that he fought bravely against the Marathas of the Deccan.1

Shah Wali Allah’s father, Shah Abd al-Rahim, was greatly loved and re­spected by the people for his great scholarship and piety. He was entrusted by the Emperor Alamgir with the delicate and important task of revising the Fatawa-i Alamgiri. He acquitted himself creditably of the duty assigned to him and declined to accept any remuneration for the work.2

In his booklet al-Juz al-Latif fi Tarjamat al-Abd al-Daif, Shah Wali Allah gives an account of his brilliant educational career. Even a cursory reading of this booklet shows that Shah Wali Allah was precocious as a child. He soon mastered the different branches of learning, and so great was his command over them that even at the tender age of fifteen he could teach all these with confidence to others.

After the death of his illustrious father, we find him busy teaching Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, and logic, subjects commonly taught in the madrasahs of those days. During this period of about twelve years, he penetrated deeply into the teachings of Islam and pondered seriously over the future of Muslims in India.

In the year 1143/1731 he went to the Hijaz on a pilgrimage and stayed there for fourteen months studying Hadith and Fiqh under such distinguished scholars as abu Tahir al-Kurdi al-Madani, Wafd Allah al-Makki, and Taj al-Din al-Qali. During this period he came into contact with people from all parts of the Muslim world and, thus, obtained first-hand information about the conditions then prevailing in the various Muslim countries.

He returned to Delhi in 1145/1733, where he spent the rest of his life in producing numerous works till his death in 1176/1763 during the reign of Shah Alam II.3 The most important of Shah Wali Allah’s works is his Hujjat Allah al-Balighah in which he made an attempt to present the teachings of Islam in a scientific manner. His approach, though radical from beginning to end, is without complete break with the past.

The range of his works is varied and wide covering all aspects of knowledge: economic, political, social, meta­physical, as well as purely theological. Whether one agrees or disagrees either with Shah Wali Allah’s theses or his conclusions, one has to admit that the book represents the first brilliant attempt to rethink the entire system of Islam in a spirit of scientific objectivity.

C: Sources of Shah Wali Allah’s Thought

The pivotal point on which revolves the philosophical thought of Shah Wali Allah is religion. Since it is religion alone that, according to him, had been the source of strength and power for the Muslims, their decline was the direct result of their apathy towards it. His chief concern, therefore, was to call the Muslims back to the teachings of Islam.

He had a strong faith in the force and strength of Islamic ideology in which, he believed, if accepted fully and applied honestly, lay the hope for peaceful and prosperous develop­ment of the human race. Shah Wali Allah consequently bent all his energies towards purifying Islamic ideals of all unhealthy influences and providing them a fresh intellectual ground to meet the challege of the time.

Shah Wali Allah was fully aware of the gap between the pattern of life as enunciated in the Quran and the Sunnah and the one which the Muslims had devised for themselves, the gap between the social and political institutions the framework of which had been supplied by Islam and the institutions which the Muslims had developed and set up for themselves in the course of history.

Nevertheless, Shah Wali Allah keenly realized that it was impossible to wheel back the march of history. It was, therefore, unwise to think that the Muslims could afford to live usefully on the pattern of life accepted as valid in the past, under the illusion that it would remain valid for all times to come.

For a proper study of Shah Wali Allah, historical imagination is, thus, the first necessity. Without referring to the intellectual environment from which he derived his inspiration, it is not easy to penetrate below the alluvial deposits of his intellectual and mystical experiences.

Even a cursory glance reveals that the first and the strongest influence that engraved the deepest mark upon his mind was that which came from his own father. From him he learnt the Holy Quran and the Sunnah and had the keen realization of the kind of invaluable guidance these contained for humanity. It can, therefore, be said that the Holy Quran and the Sunnah formed the bedrock on which he raised the superstructure of his thought system.

Shah Wali Allah was also greatly influenced by Imam Ghazali, Khatabi, and Shaikh al-Islam Izz al-Din bin Abd al-Salam. From them he learnt the art of rational interpretation of the different aspects of Islam. In his intro­duction to Hujjat Allah al-Balighah he mentions these names with great respect. He also seems to be interested in abu al-Hasan al-Ashari, abu al­-Mansur Maturidi, ibn Taimiyyah, and Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi.

In mysticism he was influenced by both ibn Arabi and Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi. One may, however, find from the study of his mystical thought that though he received inspiration from both of them, yet his ideas were closer to the views of ibn Arabi than to those of the Mujaddid.

D: Socio-Economic and Political Thought

Shah Wali Allah made quite a serious attempt to find out the relationship between social, ethical, and economic systems. According to him, spirituality has two aspects: first, it is a personal relation of man to God, secondly, it is man’s relation to his fellow-beings. No man is fully spiritual who seeks only his own personal salvation in isolation from society. It is only in the social set­up that the spirituality of an individual is expressed.

Islam, therefore, seldom deals with the individual as an individual; it always envisages him as a member of a family or a community. Thus, the achievement of social justice is a prerequisite for the development of the individual. How this ideal of social justice can be formulated and realized is a question that Shah Wali Allah has taken up in great detail in his famous work Hujjat Allah al-Balighah.

Adalah (justice or balance), according to him, is the essential feature for the harmonious development of the human race. Its manifestations may be numerous, but it is the one golden thread that runs into the web and woof of the variegated patterns of human life. When it expresses itself in dress, manners, and mores, it goes by the name of adab (etiquette). In matters relating to income and expenditure, we call it economy, and in the affairs of the State it is named politics.4

Under the head Irtifaqat,5 Shah Wali Allah discusses the problem of human relations. He starts with the fact that man has innumerable wants that urge him to action. The satisfaction of human wants, involving as it does the interdependence of individuals, leads to the origination of a society and its mores. When human beings join hands for collective safety and security, the government is formed, and when they come into contact with one another for the satisfaction of their material needs, the economic system is established.

The basic quality of a sound system, be it social, economic, or political, is the balanced relationship amongst the different members of a social group. This balanced relationship is without doubt a reflection of inward peace and of a sound relationship with the Creator. On the other hand, the social system it evolves is itself conducive to the achievement of such peace and relationship.

Shah Wali Allah then briefly deals with some of the basic aspects of a social system as a dynamic process. He starts with language and points out that it is not only a vehicle of expression, but is also an important factor for the development of culture and civilization.6 Then comes agriculture which provides food for the people. In this process man learns the art of irrigation; he also domesticates the animals and is benefited by them in hundred and one ways. Then the houses are built in order to safeguard the human race against the inclemency of weather and seasons.7 All further development depends on the establishment of a State. The more uncultured a social group is, the more does it stand in need of a coercive power to exercise a proper check.

State, according to him, should not restrict the sphere of its activities only to the safety and security of the individuals, but should also devise ways and means for the happiness and progress of society as a whole. It is, therefore, within the functions of the State to eradicate all sorts of social evils, e.g., gambling, adultery, usury, bribery, etc.

A careful check should be exercised upon the traders to ensure that they do not indulge in malpractices. The State should also see that the energies of the people are made to flow into profitable channels, by maintaining, for example, the proper distribution of people in different occupations. Shah Wali Allah points out: “When the occupations are not fairly distributed amongst the different sections of a society, its culture receives a set-back; for example, if the majority of the people take to commerce, agriculture would be necessarily neglected and, thus, there will be a marked decline in the agricultural produce. Similarly, the people would suffer great hardships if the bulk of population enlisted themselves in the army; there would be only a few left to look after agriculture and commerce and the whole social system would be disturbed.”

Shah Wali Allah thinks that after the functions of the army and police, the most important activity within the State is that of agriculture, for it supplies to the people those necessities of life on which their very existence depends.8 The State should develop methods of cultivation. Every inch of land should be properly tilled, and there should be a scheme for the rotation of crops.9

Besides, the State should adopt ways and means to en­courage trade and industry. Thus, according to Shah Wali Allah, the richness of society as a whole depends upon its diversity, a truism that cannot be too often stressed. This diversity should be achieved by fixing people into different professions according to their aptitudes. The unlimited possibilities latent in men can only be unfolded if they are permitted to seek occupations according to their own bents of mind.

Shah Wali Allah believes that a sound economic system based on social justice can contribute to the happiness of society. If and when a State fails to develop or retain such a system, its decline becomes inevitable. He con­cludes his deliberations on this problem, as it existed in his own times as follows: “After a careful analysis I have come to the conclusion that there are two main factors responsible for the decline of the Muslim culture. First, many people have abandoned their own occupations and have become parasites on the government. They are a great burden on the public exchequer. Some of these are soldiers; some claim themselves to be men of great learning and, thus, deem it their birthright to get regular financial help from the State. There are not a few who get regular donations, gifts, and rewards from the Court as a matter of past custom, such as, for example, poets and clowns. Many of the people belonging to these groups do not contribute anything to the welfare of society, yet they are allowed to suck its blood. The sooner the State gets rid of these parasites, the better.

Secondly, the government has levied an exorbitant rate of tax on the agriculturists, cultivators, and traders. Added to this is the cruel treatment meted out to the taxpayers by government officials at the time of collecting the taxes. The people groan under the heavy weight of taxes while their economic position deteriorates at an alarming speed. This ishow the country has come to ruin.”10

In this connection Shah Wali Allah points out also a great misconception that is common among the Muslims. Most of them believe that poverty is loved by God and hence no good Muslim should make an effort to become rich. Such a view is erroneous. The simple living that comes from self­contentment is fundamentally different from the abject poverty to which the weaker groups are often subjected by the ruling classes.

This “forced starvation of certain classes,” as Shah Wali Allah calls it, “is highly detrimental to the welfare of society. It is no virtue but a crime. Islam grants no license to any class to compel others to remain as hewers of wood and drawers of water. It aims at the achievement of social justice, which is possible only when society is free from class conflict and everyone is provided with an opportunity to develop his latent powers and capacities and strengthen his individuality through free and active participation in the benefits of his material and cultural environment.”11

“Islam,” he continues, “teaches that this strong concentrated individuality, sharpened and steeled through a life of active experience, should not become obsessed with self-aggrandizement; it should rather be devoted to the service of God and through this to the good of mankind. Islam never preaches its followers to submit themselves ungrudgingly to an oppressive social system. It is social justice rather than poverty which is eulogized by the Holy Prophet (S), justice which not only safeguards an indi­vidual against an attitude of arrogance and self-conceit, but also develops in him a power to spurn the temptations, bribes, and snares with which an unscrupulous ruling clique tries cynically to corrupt the integrity and character of the subjects.”12

Shah Wali Allah agrees with Aristotle that a State exists to promote “good life.” By “good life” he means life possessed of goodness as enunciated by Islam. For him the State is a means to an end and not an end-in-itself. There­fore, he holds that the possession of coercive power cannot be defended regardless of the ends to which it is devoted.

If a State wields this power honestly, then the highest duty of an individual is to become a loyal member of that State, but if it is a State only in name and is in reality a blind brute force, then it becomes the bounden duty of its members to overthrow it. Thus, an important duty of an individual is to become a member of the State, but more important than this is his duty to judge the quality of the State of which he is a member.

In his book Izalat al-Khifa an Khilafat al-Khulafa Shah Wali Allah lays down in very, clear terms the duty of an Islamic State (Khilafat). “Khilafat in general terms is a form of State which is established for the enforcement of the Laws of Shariah in accordance with the will of the Holy Prophet (S). The foremost functions of the Khilafat are the revival of Islamic teachings and their translation in practical life, preparing the millah for endeavour (jihad), and carefully suppressing all those evils which arise from the misuse of its functions.”13

Shah Wali Allah clearly explains the relationship between the individual and the State. According to his theory of State, which he has in fact drawn from the teachings of Islam, an individual is not a mere part of a social whole in the same sense as bees, ants, and termites are. An individual has a real value of his own, for in Islam the beginning and the end of every consideration is the individual. But as every human being lives in a society it is through the social pattern that his spirituality is properly developed. Being the most powerful factor in the social pattern, a Muslim State is primarily responsible for the all-round development of an individual.

E: Philosophy of History

Every theory of social dynamics is ultimately a philosophy of history. Its special urgency arises from the fact that it gives people, as best as it may, an insight into the experiences of mankind and brings to mind the lessons that accrue from them. History is not a series of mere accidents; there is always a purpose behind them. The essential task of a historian is to study that inner process of thought, that underlying motive of action, which works behind the social change.

Anyone who cares to penetrate through the outer crust of historical events and episodes will find “something” that may be called the metaphysical structure of the historic humanity; something essentially inde­pendent of the outward forms social, spiritual, and political, which we see clearly.14

Shah Wali Allah as a historian tried in his own peculiar way to acquaint us with that “something.” It is noteworthy that he has also offered us an explanation for the differences in the social codes of the various prophets.

Lastly, he has, with remarkable acumen and penetration, winnowed out many mistaken notions about Muslim history commonly found even amongst the Muslim historians themselves. He reviews even that delicate period of Muslim history about which there is much inept sentimentalism amongst the Muslims. More particularly he draws a line of demarcation between Islamic history and history of the Muslim people and courageously points out the follies committed in the past because of overlooking this important dis­tinction.

In his book Tawil al-Ahadith, he proves with the help of actual facts of history that man is not “an Ixion bound for ever to his wheel nor a Sisyphus for ever rolling his stone to the summit of the same mountain and helplessly watching it roll down again.” Humanity is ever-growing and, thus, faces new problems at every step.

The invisible hand that works on the loom of time is bringing into existence a tapestry in which one may envisage a developing design and not simply an endless repetition of the same old pattern. Shah Wali Allah, thus, comes to affirm that though there is a complete agreement of prophets with regard to the basic import of the divine revelation, yet they differ with one another in the matter of the special codes which they presented in the forms that suited the needs of their times.

In his book Fauz al-Kabir, Shah Wali Allah says: “Every nation is accustomed to a certain mode of worship, and has a political and social pattern of its own. When a prophet (as) is sent to the people by God, he does not replace the old order by an absolutely new one. He, on the other hand, allows those customs to continue which do not contravene the will of God and effects necessary changes in all those patterns where these alterations are essential.”15

In his book Tawil al-Ahadith, Shah Wali Allah traces the development of society right from Adam (as) down to the last of the prophets (S) and discusses in detail the peculiarities of each age. Amongst the Muslim thinkers Shah Wali Allah is the first16 to compile a systematic history of the prophets and to explain that the social codes offered by the prophets can be reasonably interpreted in the light of the needs of their respective times.

Shah Wali Allah believes that in Adam the angelic qualities and the urges of the flesh existed side by side. The former led him to discover the different modes of worship and the latter showed him the way to satisfy his material needs, for example, cultivation of soil, domestication of animals,17 etc.

The Prophet Idris (as) later was possessed of all these qualities which his predecessor, Adam (as), combined in himself, yet he improved upon them by pondering over the creation, acquiring thereby a good deal of knowledge about physics, astronomy, and medicine. Further, as he flourished in an age when the people had learnt handicrafts, he acquired proficiency in these as well.18

The period between the death of Prophet Idris (as) and the birth of Prophet Noah (as) was marked by an all-round deterioration in the moral standards of the people. Virtues such as piety, truthfulness, and selflessness were hard to be found anywhere; man had become a veritable brute. Noah (as), therefore, made incumbent upon the people the offering of continuous prayers and observing of fasts. This was necessary to exercise a check on the urges of the flesh that had then taken full hold of the mind of the people.19

The above example should be sufficient to give an idea how Shah Wali Allah explains the differences of the social codes presented by various pro­phets at various stages of human history.

It is, however, important to point out that the differences of Shariahs to which Shah Wali Allah has referred here are differences in external forms only, i.e., in the rituals and routine activities, and not in their essentials. Since all prophets (as) were inspired by God alone, there could not be any difference in their fundamental teachings.

Belief in the unity of God, charity and brother­hood among mankind, subjugation of passions by the desire for higher values of life, accountability of human actions in the life hereafter, etc., formed the bedrock upon which were raised the superstructures of the various Shariahs.

In his work Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Shah Wali Allah particularly emphasizes the, essential unity of all religions by saying, “Remember, the real faith is one. This alone was preached by all the prophets (as) of God and it is this alone that should be followed by the whole of humanity. Differences, if any, are only in their superstructures and details, rather than in their fundamentals. All prophets (as) have unanimously preached the gospel of divine unity.”20 At another place he reiterates: “Just as articles of faith are the same in all reli­gions, similarly the basic virtues preached by them are necessarily the same.”21

The unity of faiths and moral values is due to the fact that human nature has essentially remained the same through the march of time. The human race has not altered physically and very little intellectually during the thousands of years of recorded history. The passions, pleasures, heartaches, and the political and domestic problems of the people of bygone ages were, in all likelihood, much the same as ours.

The greed of imperialistic powers was causing men to kill one another as brutally in 1600 B.C. as in the twelfth/eighteenth century. Though the fields of human activity have widened, the instincts that are the springboards of all action have remained the same. It is this sameness of human nature which led the celebrated philosopher-­historian ibn Khaldun remark: “The past resembles the future as water; hence sociology, the study of the present, casts light on history, the study of the past, just as the study of history supplies the material for sociological studies.”22

Shah Wali Allah completely agrees with ibn Khaldun on this point23 and considers history “remembrance of the days of God,” to be a key to the study of the Holy Quran.24 It is one of the remarkable doctrines of the Quran that nations are judged collectively and suffer for their misdeeds here and now.

In order to establish this, the Quran constantly cites historical instances and urges upon the reader to reflect on the past and the present experience of mankind: “Of old did We send Moses with Our signs; and said to him: ‘Bring forth thy people from darkness to light, and remind them of the days of God.’ Verily in this are signs for patient and grateful persons”25; “Already, before your time, have precedents been made. Traverse the earth then, and see what hath been the end of those who falsified the signs of God.”26

The latter verse is an instance of a more specific historical generalization, which, in its epigrammatic formulation, suggests not only the possibility of a scientific treatment of the life of human societies, but a warning for the future. To the students of the Holy Quran, Shah Wali Allah gives a very valuable advice in the following words: “While reciting the Holy Quran one should not think that the accounts of the nations of the past are given for the sake of mere narration. No, the stories of the past have been narrated not for an appeal to fancy but for the generalizations that may be drawn from them.”27

It may be noted that Shah Wali Allah attaches great importance to the study of social phenomena as a preparation for the proper understanding of the Quran. These phenomena are sufficiently constant and follow regular and well-defined patterns and sequences. The social changes and complexities of the past have an object lesson for those living in the present, since the people of every age have to encounter the same kind of complexities as were encountered by those who lived before them.

The danger spots in the march of nations are nearly the same. The historical record is, therefore, the light­house that informs the new sailors of life about the perilous rocks that may be hidden beneath the surface of the bottomless ocean of human existence. The Quran says: “Have they not travelled on land and seen the end of those who were before them? They were even stronger than these in power, and they dug the earth and built upon it more than these have built.”28

This verse reveals that the past with all its sunshines and sorrows recurs and manifests itself in the garb of the future. The events of life are governed by laws which have not only taken effect in the past, but which are also bound to take effect in every similar situation that may arise in the future. Shah Wali Allah, like all great thinkers, has endeavoured to discover these laws according to which nations rise and fall. His generalizations are based mainly on the Quran and the Sunnah, but the way in which he has applied them to practical life bears ample testimony to his keen insight both into the Quran and in the problems of human existence.

In his Izalat al-Khifa, Shah Wali Allah points out that the love of material wealth leads the nation to moral depravity that brings in its wake its down­fall. “Remember,” says he with a note of grim warning, “that sensual qualities like selfishness, greed, etc., develop in unbalanced personalities. The abundance of riches brings these brutal qualities into action.”29

In support of this view Shah Wali Allah recalls the words in which the Prophet (S) on one occasion addressed the people: “By God, I am not worried about your poverty but I am afraid you might become proud of the worldly riches that might be stretched before you as was done by the people of the past ages and like them these worldly riches might destroy you as they destroyed those who were vainglorious before you.”30

Shah Wali Allah is of the opinion, which in fact is based upon the teachings of the Quran, that when the acquisitive instincts take hold of the majority of human beings, the creative genius dies in them and this brings about their ruin. If day in and day out they are busy in accumulating riches, morality, justice, and truthfulness become mere empty words, having no use in practical life.

The love of worldly riches is accompanied by the love of power and distinc­tion. What the aristocracy desires is not only to own riches but also to keep others under the yoke of abject poverty. Society is split up into two distinct classes, haves and have-note, the one that owns the treasures and along with it controls the affairs of the government, the other which through persistent hard labour ekes out a precarious subsistence.

The rich become callous and watch tyranny and oppression with complete indifference, the religious people retire into seclusion or become otherworldly, and the immoral aristocracy inflicts unchecked wrongs upon the class of have-nots. The result is a frightful moral disorder, born of unspeakable suffering and intolerable oppression. Such conditions strike at the very root of social structure and the outward grandeur and glare of national life cannot make any compensation for its inner wretched­ness, and ultimately the whole nation collapses like a house of cards.

Shah Wali Allah substantiates this contention with the rise and fall of the Roman and Persian Empires. He gives a vivid account of all the circumstances that led to the ruin of these two great nations of the past. He writes: “The historical records eloquently speak of the fact that the Romans and the Persians held sceptre and crown for a fairly long time. According to their own cultural requirements, they added a good deal to the luxuries of their age. Their highest aim was to lead a life of pleasure.... The people who could make their lives more luxurious flocked from all the corners of the world in order to achieve this objective.

The aristocracy having thus become immersed in the pursuit of pleasures, there began a race amongst its members to excel one another in this respect, and matters became so bad that a rich man who tied a belt around his waist costing less than one thousand gold coins was looked down upon by others.

Everyone tried to possess a magnificent palace with a number of orchards attached to it. Their whole life came to be centred upon sumptuous foods, gaudy and attractive dresses, horses of the finest stock, coaches and carriages, and a retinue of servants.... They got used to all forms of luxurious living, and this was in fact the canker eating into the very vitals of their society.

“This meant a heavy drain on the purse of the people, as the kings and rulers were forced to levy an exorbitant rate of taxation upon the artisans and cultivators. The poor had perforce to raise a banner of revolt against the ruling clique. But under the circumstances this was well nigh impossible; therefore, the only course left for the poor was to live as bond slaves and lead their lives like donkeys.... In short, the lower strata of society were so much occupied in the service of the aristocracy that they found no time to pay any heed to the problems of the life hereafter.”31

Shah Wali Allah then further analyses this process of degeneration. He states that in order to run such a sensate system where all well-to-do persons were absorbed in the pleasures of life, a class of society came into existence, the highest duty of which was to supply the aristocracy the maximum luxuries of life. A useful section of the population was, thus, engaged in idle pursuits with the result that no one was left to think of the nation’s welfare. All this naturally led to their downfall.32

It is interesting to note that this brilliant analysis of the Roman as of the Persian society given by Shah Wali Allah (1114/1703-1177/1763) is substantially the same as given by Edward Gibbon (1150/1737-1209/1794) about thirty years later. In his monumental work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon writes: “Under the Roman empire, the labour of an industrious and ingenious people was variously, but incessantly employed, in the service of the rich. In their dress, their table, their houses, and their furniture, the favourites of fortune united every refinement of conveniency, of elegance, and of splendour, whatever could soothe their pride or gratify their sensuality. Such refinements, under the odious name of luxury, have been severely arraign­ed by the moralists of every age; and it might perhaps be more conducive to the virtue, as well as happiness, of mankind, if all possessed the necessities, and none of the superfluities, of life.”33

It is, however, wrong to conclude from the above discussion that Shah Wali Allah favoured the life of renunciation and considered it as such conducive to the progress of any nation. No, not in the least. He condemns such a view of life34 and calls it un-Islamic. He commends the individual’s active participa­tion in the affairs of the world.

This attitude of his does not interfere with his belief that unless the overwhelming majority of the people retain an inner attitude of detachment and superiority with regard to material possessions, a nation cannot make real progress. Its progress is possible only when the people, instead of becoming slaves to worldly riches, use them for the better­ment of mankind. What is referred to here is a kind of intellectual and emotional asceticism rather than a life of renunciation.

F: Metaphysics

Doctrines of Wahdat al-Wujud and Wahdat al-Shuhud

Like all great Muslim thinkers, Shah Wali Allah penetrated deeply into the metaphysical problems raised by the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. His approach in this as in other matters was to bring about a creative synthesis by recon­ciling the opposite movements of thought.

He tried, for example, to reconcile the views of ibn Arabi and those of Mujaddid Alf Thani. In order fully to appreciate this effort of Shah Wali Allah, it will be necessary to outline here briefly the views of ibn Arabi and those of the Mujaddid with regard to the problem of Being.

There are two different senses in which the term “Being” may be understood. First, it may be taken epistemologically as the cognized form or idea of existence and, secondly, it may be taken ontologically to stand for that which exists or subsists and not for the idea of it. Tauhid or the unity of Being may, there­fore, mean either the unity of the mystically cognized existence or existence per se.

The term “Absolute Being” (al-wujud al-mutlaq) or “Universal Being” (al-wujud al-kulli) explained by ibn Arabi’s school is Reality as the ultimate ground of all that exists. This expression may be taken in either of the above two senses.35 From the writings of ibn Arabi, which are, however, at places highly subtle and sometimes equally ambiguous, it may be gathered that when he says that all Being is One which is an Absolute Unity, he does not mean that all individual beings, past, present, or future, are essentially One Being, nor does he mean that Being in its abstract and most universal sense comprises all forms of Being in all possible universes of discourse.

When he says that all existence is one, he means that all existence is at source one, that is to say, that God is the one source and cause of all that has being (existence or subsistence). It is only for the sake of convenience that ibn Arabi compares God’s “Being” to a “universal” (say, colour) and the being of any other existent (or subsistent) to a particular “mode” or manifestation of that “universal” (say, red).36

Were it not for the all-pervasiveness of God, by virtue of His form in all existents, the world would have no existence, just as, were it not for the intelligible universal realities (al-haqaiq al-maqulat al-kulliyah), no predi­cations (ahkam) of external objects would have been possible.37

To express the whole matter in modern terminology, there is an identity of God and universe on the basis of the identity of His “existence and essence” (dhat-o sifat) or substance and attribute, the world being only a tajalli or manifestation of His attributes. In other words, the creation of the world is a form of emanation.

Ibn Arabi believes that the act of creation by the word “Be” (kun) is nothing but the descent of the Creator into the being of things. There are, however, five stages of this descent or determination. “The first two are ilmi or cognitive and the last three are khariji or existential.

In the first descent, Unity becomes conscious of itself as pure Being, and the consciousness of attributes is only implicit and general (sifat-i ijmali). In the second descent, it becomes conscious of itself as presenting the attributes explicitly and in detail (sifat-i tafsili). These two descents seem to be con­ceived by ibn Arabi as conceptual rather than actual; they are supra temporal, and the distinction between existence and essence in their case is only logical.

The real distinctions begin with the third descent, which consists in the determi­nation of spirits (taayyun-i ruhi) when Unity breaks itself into so many spirits, e.g., angels. The fourth descent is ideal determination (taayyun-i mithali), whereby the world of ideas comes into being. And the fifth descent is physical determination (taayyun-i jasadi): it yields the phenomenal or physical beings.”38

This shows that for ibn Arabi “Being” (dhat) of God is identical with His attributes (sifat), and these attributes express themselves in manifesta­tions (tajalliyat) as modes that are objects and events of this world. It is, thus, clear that, according to ibn Arabi, ontologically there is only one reality. It has two aspects: (1) a reality transcending the phenomenal world and (2) a multiplicity of subjectivities that find their ultimate ground and explanation in the essential unity of the Real.39

Thus, the world as it looks and the multiplicity that we find in it is nothing but the multiplicity of the modes of the Unity; it has no existence of its own. Ibn Arabi proclaims that “existent things have not the slightest touch of reality about them.”40 He explains this statement through the metaphor of the “mirror” and the “image.”41 The phenomenal world is the mirror image, i.e., the shadow of the real object beyond. The whole world is like a shadow play.

At another place ibn Arabi uses the metaphors of permeation and “spiritual food.” The many permeate the One in the sense in which qualities (say, colours) permeate substance. The One, on the other hand, permeates the many as the nutriment permeates the body; God is our sustaining spiritual “food,” because He is our essence. He is also the spiritual food of the pheno­menal world and it is thus that God is endowed with attributes.42

We can, thus, sum up ibn Arabi’s whole philosophical thought in the two propositions: (1) in God existence and essence or being and attributes are identical; (2) the world is nothing but a pale reflection or emanation, or mode of His attributes only.

Mujaddid Alf Thani, Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, vehemently criticizes the philosophy of ibn Arabi. He says that it is wrong to believe that the attributes are identical with Being. The Quran says: “Verily God is wholly sufficient unto Himself - He needs none of the world.” According to him, this verse is clearly indicative of the fact that God is not dependent upon the world for His unfoldment. The attributes by which He turns to the world and creates it are other than His Self.

The Mujaddid also finds no valid basis for the theory of ibn Arabi that the world is the emanation (tajalli) of the attributes of God. For, if the world is merely the emanation of God’s attributes, it would have been identical with them, but the attributes of God are perfect, while the world is full of imperfections,43 for example, human knowledge has no resemblance to God’s knowledge, so the former cannot be called to be the tajalli of the latter.44

Just as we cannot call the shadow of man his being on the existence of which his very existence depends, similarly it is wrong to conclude that God depends upon the creation for His own unfoldment. There is no reciprocity between the One and the many as understood by ibn Arabi. God is an objective Reality, independent of the existence of created worlds.

Thus, there is no likeness whatsoever between the divine and the human attributes. The verse “Thy Lord is nobler than the qualities which they ascribe to Him”45 clearly points to this.

So, while ibn Arabi bases his theory of wahdat al-wujud on the identity of asl and zill, i.e., the thing and its adumbration, the Mujaddid insists that the zill of a thing can never be identical with its asl or being.46 Thus, according to him, there is absolutely no identity between the unique Creator and the world created by Him.

He also believes that mystic experience, however valuable and perfect it might be, has no objective validity with regard to Being and attributes. It is through prophetic revelation alone that we can understand Reality. Moreover, the finite beings cannot apprehend the Infinite through mystical experiences. Consequently, the faith in the unseen is unavoidable. Such faith alone is valid in the case of God, because it is in keeping with our limitations and His inaccessibility or beyondness.

Shaikh Ahmad also bitterly criticizes the doctrine of determinism that is a natural corollary of the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud. He believes that man has been afforded opportunity by God to exercise his freedom in a sphere of life where he may accept or reject a certain line of action according to his own choice. Should he be a mere puppet, as he is according to the inherent logic of ibn Arabi’s pantheism, he cannot be justifiably rewarded or punished for his good and evil deeds. The idea of reward and punishment presupposes a world of free and responsible moral agents who can adopt or reject a certain course of action.

These are, in short, some basic differences between the metaphysical thought of ibn Arabi and that of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi. The Mujaddid’s criticism of the philosophy of wahdat al-wujud was very severe, and few had the courage to oppose him. It was Shah Wali Allah who for the first time tried to bridge the gulf that yawned between the views of these two great thinkers of Islam. Shah Wali Allah professed that God had granted him the special gift of creative synthesis or reconciliation.47

According to Shah Wali Allah, there is no substantial difference between the philosophy of wahdat al-wujud and that of wahdat al-shuhud and the difference if any is nothing but an illusion. The world is not an attribute or emanation of attributes but consists of non-emanative modes of attributes in the mirror of non-existence. These modes look real, but in truth their reality lies only in Being.

He resolves this difference with the help of an example. He says, “Let us make a horse, a donkey, and a man out of wax. This wax is common to all of them although their forms differ from one another. We call these forms, moulded out of wax, a horse, a donkey, and a man. If we reflect deeply we find that these forms are only modes of their being and their being is nothing but the wax.”48

Shah Wali Allah contends, however, that if we leave simile and metaphor aside, there is no essential difference between the doctrines of ibn Arabi and those of the Mujaddid. To say that the essence of the contingent beings are the names and attributes of the necessary being dif­ferentiated in the conceptual, as ibn Arabi holds, or to say that the contingent beings are the asma-o sifat of the Necessary Being reflected in their adam al-­mutaqabilah or non-being as the Mujaddid maintains, is practically the same.49

If there is any difference between the two positions, it is quite insignificant. The Mujaddid and ibn Arabi relate the same fact in two different languages but the shortsighted critics look upon these as matters of vital difference.50

The Spiritual World and the Material World

Shah Wali Allah believes that in between the material world and its Creator, there is a spiritual world in which the planning will of God is first reflected and then materialized into different forms. Thus, there is a close relationship between the two. All beings and happenings of this world are first reflected in the spiritual world or, as Shah Wali Allah names it, the alam al-mithal, then these are transmuted into material forms.

He elucidates this point by the example of a clairvoyant dream. The coming events are first visualized in the forms of shadows which have no material existence but which later may actualize into tangible existents. A true dream is, thus, an instance of the alam al-mithal. The things found in the spiritual world appear to a layman to be immaterial, but to the prophets (as) they are tangible and concrete.

For example, the Prophet (S) once after having offered his prayer said to his Companions, “I saw heaven and hell before me.” Once in the midst of his prayer, he is reported to have heaved a deep sigh as if he were actually feeling the heat of hell. Shah Wali Allah, quoting numerous examples in support of his contention, concludes, “It is an established fact that the prophets (as) could not see all these phenomena with their physical eyes. Heaven and hell are too large to be comprehended physical­ly. Had these been matters of common sight they would have been visible to the Companions also who were by his side at such occasions.”51

Thus, over and above the material world, there is another world that transcends its spatio-temporal limitations and receives the impressions of the planning will of God before these are manifested as concrete configurations in space and time.

Space and Time

Shah Wali Allah in his book al-Khair al-Kathir deals with the nature of space and time. He affirms that space is inconceivable without time, and vice versa. These are not two separate categories, but a single category of space-time continuum in which time and space have their being. He further holds that space and time are indivisible and adds that but for this indivisibility there would have been complete chaos and disorder in the world so much so that the creation could not stand even for a single second.52

He also maintains that space and time like all created things are not eternal, but were created by the will of God and would cease to be with the end of creation.53

As regards matter, Shah Wali Allah argues that, matter can be conceived only in terms of space and time. It is only the external form of space and time, for it can be apprehended only through the agency of these.54

Freedom and Fatalism

Shah Wali Allah’s attempt to solve the problems of freedom and fatalism is also of the nature of a reconciliation. He looks upon fate as a fundamental article of faith and declares that anyone who disbelieves it is not entitled to be called a Muslim.55

The Quran explicitly states that all beings and happenings in this world are due to a conscious creative power or divine will.56 The omnipotent will of God has such a full grasp of the whole universe that no one can budge even an inch from His decree. In fact, our belief in God is closely related to our belief in the divine ordinances. They are as much laws, in the strictest sense of the term, as laws that regulate the movements of celestial bodies, and, thus, belief in them forms the corner­stone of Islam.57

The above view of Shah Wali Allah, however, should not be construed in terms of wahdat al-wujud, which, through its intrinsic logic, leads to a form of determinism such as leaves no scope for the free activity of man. According to him, if men were mere puppets made to move by a kind of push from behind, they could not be held responsible for their actions, and the dis­tinction between good and evil too would become meaningless; all this is repugnant to the teachings of Islam.

Islam holds man accountable for his deeds to God; His justice demands that man should be given freedom to avoid the path of vice and follow the path of virtue and piety. Every human being has two inclinations, one angelic, prompting and impelling him to good, and the other beastly, prompting and impelling him to evil. It is up to man him­self to adopt the one and abandon the other.

“Everyone is divinely furthered in accordance with his character. Say not that man is compelled, for that means attributing tyranny to God, nor say that man has absolute discretion. We are rather furthered by His help and grace in our endeavours to act righteously, and we transgress because of our neglect of His commands.”58

G: Jurisprudence

Shah Wali Allah attempts reconciliation between the different schools of Muslim jurisprudence. He delineates the broad outlines of Islamic Law, con­sisting of mandatory and unalterable edicts and fundamental principles that have always been accepted unanimously by all the Muslim schools of thought.

More important, however, for our purpose here are his views with regard to the problems about which differences do exist and which are the outcome of interpretations and ijtihad, all, of course, within the limits prescribed by Islam.

He advocates the policy of confining oneself within the framework of the four main schools of Islamic jurisprudence, viz., Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki, and Hanbali.

There is a consensus of opinion amongst the majority of ‘ulama’ that taqlid is essential. He agrees with them, but moderates the traditional view of taqlid by saying: “No one can have any objection to the concept of taqlid; but I neither look upon any Imam as infallible, nor do I believe that his judg­ments were revealed to him by God Himself and so are obligatory for us.

When we follow a certain Imam we do so on the explicit understanding that he was possessed of a deep insight into the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah and his findings were drawn from the Quran and the Sunnah.... Had it not been so, we would not have attached any importance to them. It would be the height of misfortune to give priority to the reasoning of man over the command of the nass. This alone is the type of taqlid which appears to me quite justifiable.”59

Similarly, Shah Wali Allah offers a workable solution of the differences of pure traditionists (Muhaddithin) and the followers of the four Imams. “The general practice,” he says, “with regard to the framing of Fiqhi Law is that either the deductions are directly based upon the Hadith or they are drawn in the light of the principles enunciated by the jurists.

The scholars of every age have been following these two courses, some stressing the former, others stressing the latter.... It is unfair to tilt the balance to one side only and neglect the other altogether.... The right procedure is to harmonize them. Both these methods should be employed for raising the superstructure of Islamic jurisprudence. The edifice of the Shariah so erected would be sound and well consolidated.

The Muhaddithin should judge their deductions on the principles enunciated by the great jurists. On the other hand, those who follow the practice of deducing laws on the basis of the procedure adopted by great jurists should never give preference to their own principles over those of the nass, and see that their conclusions do not in anyway contravene the injunctions of the Hadith. In the same way it is not proper for any Muhaddith to lay unnecessary stress on the principles laid down by the old compilers of the Hadith. They were after all human beings and their principles could not, therefore, be claimed to be final and free from all errors.”60

Shah Wali Allah fully recognizes the importance of individual judgment (ijtihad), but at the same time believes that as this important task entails great responsibilities, it cannot be entrusted to everyone. He recounts three main qualifications of a mujtahid: (1) He should be able to frame the principles according to which the individual judgment is to be exercised; (2) he should be fully conversant with the Quran and the Sunnah and should know the ahadith which form the basis of Fiqh; (3) he must be capable of exercising his judgment to draw injunctions from the Quran and the Sunnah in order to meet the new requirements of his times.61

Shah Wali Allah not only emphasizes the catholicity of Islamic Law and explains its assimilative spirit, but also stresses the need of reasoning in matters relating to the Shariah. He believes that the ijtihad of the old jurists, however high and exalted their status, is open to correction in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah. He, thus, opens the gate of ijtihad that had been sealed long ago.

No wonder that, like his illustrious predecessors, ibn Taimiyyah and ibn Qayyim, he was also accused of heretical innovations; yet he was one of the few intellectuals of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent whose influence was deeply felt even beyond the borders of that country. His works, especially Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Budur al-Bazighah and Fauz al-Kabir, are read with admiration throughout the Muslim world.

His popularity outside the sub-continent of Indo-Pakistan may be partly attributed to the fact that he had a perfect command over the Arabic and Persian languages. His mastery over the Arabic language was especially remarkable; he was one of the very few writers of the Indo-Pak sub-continent who could write Arabic prose with the same ease and confidence with which he could write his own mother tongue.

This might have been one of the factors of his popularity abroad. But a close analysis of the writings of the Muslim scholars of other countries clearly reveals that he was respected more for the depth of his thought and his keen insight in the matters of Shariah than for the lucidity of his style. This is substantiated by the fact that his reputation as a scholar and as a leader of thought has considerably increased during the last few decades when there has been a visible stir amongst the Muslims to reconstruct their thought on Islamic foundations without losing sight of the benefits which can be derived from the study of modern sciences.

There is hardly any modern scholar of repute in the Muslim world who has worked on Fiqh and Hadith and has not quoted Shah Wali Allah in support of his contentions. Abu Zuhra of Egypt, who is an authority on Muslim law, seems to be deeply influenced by him and has profusely quoted him in his scholarly discussions on Imam abu Hanifah’s juridical views.

Jamal al-Din Qasimi, an eminent scholar of Hadith in Damas­cus, has time and again referred to Shah Wali Allah’s valuable thought in his famous book Qawaid al-Tahdith, which is considered to be a basic work on the principles of Hadith. Abu Zahau in his scholarly treatise, al-Hadith wal-Muhaddithun, in which he traces the history of the revival of Hadith in different lands, pays glowing tributes to Shah Wali Allah for the enviable contributions that he made in connection with the popularization of the study of Hadith in India. In fact, he places him at the top of the list in this respect.

The famous Shaikh al-Islam of Turkey, Shaikh Muhammad Zahid al-Kauthari, devotes a whole chapter to Shah Wali Allah in his compilation Maqalat al­-Kauthari published in Damascus. Muhibb al-Din al-Khatib, a leader of the liberation movement of Egypt and for several years editor of al-Fath, speaks of Shah Wali Allah in several of his articles with great respect.

Abd al-Munim al-Namar, another leading scholar of Egypt and a member of the Board of ‘Ulama’ of Azhar, in his book Tarikh al-Islam fi al-Hind, speaks of him as an authority on Hadith and Tafsir. He states that Shah Wali Allah shattered the bonds of taqlid and prepared the Muslim scholars for research. Al-Mukhtarat, a compilation by abu al-Hasan Nadawi, which has been prescribed as a textbook for the secondary school stage in Damascus, includes a selection from Hujjat Allah al-Balighah.

Shah Wali Allah’s most valuable book, Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, has been published in Egypt in various editions and is widely read in the Arab lands. Musawwa, another important work of Shah Wali Allah, has also been translated into Arabic. A French translation of Hujjat Allah al-Balighah has recently been published in Paris.

H: Conclusion

Shah Wali Allah’s influence was quite widespread and penetrating. He revolutionized the philosophical, political, social, and economic ideas within the framework of Islam. Like an experienced surgeon he analysed and examined the various components of Islamic mysticism and Fiqh and rearranged them in an order that made them highly beneficial to the Muslim society. According to Iqbal, he was the first Muslim to feel the urge for rethinking the whole system of Islam without in any way breaking away from its past.

Shah Wali Allah aimed at presenting Islamic thought in as coherent and logical form as any theologico-philosophical system could be. His style has all the philosophical subtlety and penetration about it and his doctrines have a logical cogency and consistency surpassing those of many Muslim theologians.

His philosophical endeavour consisted in explaining and resolving satisfactorily the apparent contradictions and dichotomies between the eternal values and the changing conditions, the unity of God and the multiplicity within the universe, etc. In this he was the precursor of Iqbal; anyone delving deep into Iqbal’s Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam will find the spirit of Shah Wali Allah pervading this work from beginning to end.

In Islamic mysticism Shah Wali Allah tried to comb out all unhealthy foreign influences, such as a morbid kind of neo-Platonism and Vedantism. He stressed that genuine mysticism, as distinguished from pseudo-mysticism, encourages an active way of life that assures progress and prosperity in this world and salvation in the hereafter.

Commenting on Shah Wali Allah’s role as a Sufi, Professor Gibb writes: “During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a succession of remarkable scholars strove to restate the bases of Islamic theology in a manner which broke away from the formalism of the orthodox manuals and laid new stress upon the psychological and ethical elements in religion. Among the more outstanding figures in this movement, which has not yet received the attention it deserves, were the Syrian Abd al-Ghani of Nablus (1641-1731) and the Indians Ahmad Sarhindi (1563-1624) and Shah Wali Allah of Delhi (1702-1762).”62

Shah Wali Allah translated the Holy Qur’an into Persian despite oppo­sition and, thus, brought the Word of Allah within the reach of the common man. His illustrious son, Shah Rafi al-Din, following his example, translated the Quran in Urdu and, thus, dispelled the prejudice against translations of the Holy Book.

In Hadith he revived interest in the study of Imam Malik’s Muwatta, which became elevated in the eyes of scholars only through his efforts.

In Fiqh, Shah Wali Allah attacked the conventional notions prevailing during his time. His main endeavour consisted in freeing the concept of the divine Law from the subjective elements that had intruded into it, thus restoring to it the purity and compactness that it had at the time of the Companions.

He also tried to bridge the gulfs that yawned amongst the differ­ent schools of Fiqh. According to him, all the prevalent systems of Fiqh drew their inspiration from one single source so that there could be no fundamental differences in them; differences there had been and there would be, but these were differences in interpretation only, not in principles. The significance of Shah Wali Allah’s standpoint in Fiqh from the point of view of welding the Muslim community into one ummah cannot be over­emphasized.

Shah Wali Allah, like Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, made it amply clear that Islam is not a religion in the usual sense of the term but a complete code of life which aims not only at individual righteousness but provides a framework for all individual and social activities.

It was the effect of the radical change brought about by Shah Wali Allah in the outlook of the Muslim community in the various walks of life that a mighty movement under the leadership of Shah Ismail Shahid and Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi was set afoot. This made the Muslim community realize the condition in which they had been left through a neglect of their faith, or through an incorrect approach to it.

There sprang up an ardent desire in the minds of the Muslims to retrieve their position, not merely to claim the heritage of their past culture but also to revive the vitality inherent in it. Although the movement suffered defeat at the hands of the imperialistic powers, yet it could not be curbed permanently. The time that elapsed between the martyrdom of Shah Ismail and late forties of the present century, is very important for it was the time during which the plant nourished by the life­blood of Shah Wali Allah continued growing till it flowered into the birth of Pakistan.


Shah Wali Allah, Hujjat Allah al-Balighah (Arabic), Idarah Tabaat al-Muniriy­yah, Cairo; Izalat al-Kkifa an Khilafat al-Khulafa (Persian), Bareilly, n.d., Urdu translation by Maulana Abd al-Shakur, Nur Muhammad: Karkhanah Tijarat-i Kutub, Karachi; al-Tafhimat al-Ilahiyyah, Majlis Ilmi, Dhabail, n.d.; al-Insal fi Bayan-i Sabab al-Ikhtilaf (Arabic), translated into Urdu by Sadr al-Din Islahi, Lahore; al-Fauz al-Kabir fi Usul-i Tafsir, (Persian), Urdu translation by Rashid Ahmad, Maktabah Burhan, Delhi; Fath al-Kabir (Arabic), Matba Ilmi, Delhi; al-Budur al-Bazighah (Arabic), Majlis Ilmi, Dhabail; Tawil al-Ahadith fi Rumuz al-Anbiya (Arabic), Matba Ahmad, Delhi; Altaf al-Quds (Persian), Matba Ahmad, Delhi; Faislat al-Wahdat al-Wujud wa Wahdat al-Shuhud, Matba Mujtabai, Delhi; al-Juz al-Latif, Matba Ahmad, Delhi; Satat, Matba Ahmad, Delhi; Fuyud al-Haramain (Arabic), translated into Urdu by Muhammad Sarwar, Sindh Sagar Academy, Lahore; Hamat (Persian), translated into Urdu by Muham­mad Sarwar, Sindh Sagar Academy, Lahore; al-Khair al-Kathir (Arabic), Dairat al-Hilal, Benares; Iqd al-Jid fi Bayan-i Ahkam al-Ijtihad wa Taqlid (Arabic); Fath al-Rahman fi Tarjuman al-Quran, (Persian translation of the Holy Quran); al-Musawwa min al-Muwatta (Arabic); al-Qaul al-Jamil (Arabic), translated into Urdu by Muhammad Sarwar, Sindh Sagar Academy, Lahore.

Ibn al-Qayyim, Zad al-Maad, Matbat al-Sunnat al-Muhammadiyyah, Cairo; Alam al-Muaqqin, Matbaat al-Saadah, Cairo; Jamal al-Din Qasimi, Qawaid al­-Tahdith, Damascus, 1925; Shah Ismail Shahid, Abaqat (Arabic) - we are deeply indebted to the Manager of Madrasah Nusrat al-Islam, Gujranwala, for lending this rare book; the first page was unfortunately torn and it was thus impossible to find out the name of the publisher and date of publication; ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wal-­Nihayah, Matbaat al-Saadah, Cairo, 1932; abu al-Hasan Nadawi, Mukhtarat, Damascus; abu Zahau, al-Hadith wal-Muhaddithun; Muhammad Zahid al-Kau­thari, Maqalat al-Kauthari, Damascus; abu al-Munim al-Namar, Tarikh al-Islam fi al-Hind, Cairo; ibn Arabi, Fusus al-Hikam, Cairo, 1309 A.H.

Maktubat Imam Rabbani, Urdu translation by Qadi Alam al-Din, Malik Chanan Din, Lahore, n.d.; Manzur Ahmad Numani (Ed.), al-Furqan, Special Number on Shah Wali Allah, 2nd edition, Bareilly, 1941; Ubaid Allah Sindhi, Shah Wali Allah our Unki Siyasi Tahrik (Urdu), Sindh Sagar Academy, Lahore, 1952; Sharh Hujjat Allah al-Balighah (Urdu), Maktabah Bait al-Hikmat, Lahore, 1950; Shams al-Rahman Muhsini, Shah Wali Allah ka Imrani Nazriyyah, Sindh Sagar Academy, Lahore, 1946; Masud Alam Nadawi, Hindustan ki Pehli Islami Tahrik, Maktabah Milliyyah, Rawalpindi.

M. Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Lahore; A. E. Affifi, The Mystical Philosophy of Muhyid Din-Ibnul Arabi, Cambridge, 1939; Burhan Ahmad Faruqi, The Mujaddid’s Conception of Tawhid, Lahore; Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1946; Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, George Allen & Unwin, London; Syed Ameer Ali, The Spirit of Islam, London; Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Modern Library, New York; Muhammad Asad, Arafat, Vol.1, Dalhousie, 1946-47; H. A. R. Gibb, Mohammedanism, The New American Library, New York, 1955; Charles Issawi, An Arab Philosophy of History, John Murray, London,1950.

  • 1. Al-Furqan (Special Number on Shah Wali Allah), 2nd edition, Bareilly, 1941, pp. 203-04, 402.
  • 2. Ibid., pp. 113, 170.
  • 3. Thus, he lived to see the reigns of ten kings who followed one another in quick succession, namely, Alamgir, Bahadur Shah I, Muizz al-Din Jahandar Shah, Farrukh Siyar, Rafi al-Darajat, Rafi al-Daulah, Muhammad Shah, Ahmad Shah, Alamgir II, Shah Alam.
  • 4. Hujjat Allah al-Bulighah, Idarah Tabaat al-Muniriyyah, Cairo, Vol. 1, pp. 50-53.
  • 5. Maulana Ubaid Allah Sindhi has translated this word as “social institutions” in his Shah Wali Allah aur Unki Siyasi Tahrik, Sind Sagar Academy, Lahore, 1952, p. 43.
  • 6. Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Vol. 1, p. 38.
  • 7. Ibid., pp. 43-44.
  • 8. Ibid., pp. 40, 47.
  • 9. Ibid., p. 40.
  • 10. Ibid., p. 44.
  • 11. For a detailed study of this problem, see Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Chap. “Iqamat al-Irtifaqat wa Islah al-Rusum,” pp. 104-09.
  • 12. Ibid. Shah Wali Allah enumerates the mean tactics which the ruling class employed to corrupt the masses.
  • 13. Shah Wali Allah, Izalat al-Khifa an Khilafat al-Khulafa, published in Bareilly, n.d., p. 1.
  • 14. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, George Allen & Unwin, London, Vol. 1, p. 3.
  • 15. Al-Fauz al-Kabir, Urdu translation, Maktabah Burhan, Delhi, p. 16.
  • 16. It appears that Shah Wali Allah has taken most of the material under this heading from ibn Kathir’s Bidayah wal-Nihayah, Matbaat al-Saadah, Egypt.
  • 17. Tawil al-Ahadith, Matba Ahmad, Madrasah Aziziyyah, Delhi, pp. 9-13.
  • 18. Ibid., p. 14.
  • 19. Ibid., p. 15. See also ibn Kathir, op. cit., pp. 100-18.
  • 20. Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Vol. 1, pp. 86-87.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Charles Issawi, An Arab Philosophy of History, John Murray, London, p. 7.
  • 23. For a detailed study of this subject, see Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Chaps. 4 and 6.
  • 24. Al-Fauz al-Kabir, pp. 4, 17.
  • 25. Quran (14:5).
  • 26. Ibid., (3:137).
  • 27. Al-Fauz al-Kabir, pp. 21-23.
  • 28. Quran (30:9), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran by Pickthall.
  • 29. Izalat al-Khifa (Urdu translation), Nur Muhamnad Karkhanah Tijarat-i Kutub, Karachi, Vol. 1, p. 560.
  • 30. Ibid., pp. 563-64. See also al-Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin, Dar al-Ihya al-Kutub al-Arabiyyah, Cairo, pp. 213-14 (muttafiq alaih, Bukhari wa Muslim).
  • 31. Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Vol. 1, pp. 105-06.
  • 32. Ibid.
  • 33. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Modern Library, New York, Vol. 1, p. 48.
  • 34. Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Vol. 1, p. 53.
  • 35. A. E. Affifi, The Mystical Philosophy of Muhyid Din-Ibnul Arabi, Cambridge, 1939, p. 1.
  • 36. Ibid., p. 2.
  • 37. Ibid., p. 178.
  • 38. Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi quoted by Burhan Ahmad Faruqi in his Mujaddid’s
    Conception of Tawhid, pp. 88-89.
  • 39. A. E. Affifi, op. cit., p. 11.
  • 40. Fusus al-Hikam, Cairo, p. 63.
  • 41. Ibid., p. 120.
  • 42. A. E. Affifi, op. cit., p. 16.
  • 43. Maktubat Imam Rabbani, Urdu translation by Qadi Alam al-Din, Lahore, Vol. 3, pp. 113-14.
  • 44. Ibid., p. 100.
  • 45. Quran (37:180).
  • 46. Maktubat Imam Rabbani, Vol. 2, Epistle 7.
  • 47. Shah Wali Allah, Faisalat al-Wahdat al-Wujud wa Wahdat at-Shuhud (Arabic), p. 6.
  • 48. Ibid., pp. 6-7.
  • 49. Ibid., p. 7.
  • 50. Ibid.
  • 51. Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Vol. 1, pp. 13-14.
  • 52. Shah Wali Allah, al-Khair al-Kathir, ed. Bashir Ahmad, Dairat al-Hilal,
    Benares, pp. 29-30.
  • 53. Ibid.
  • 54. Ibid.
  • 55. Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Vol. 1, pp. 65-66.
  • 56. Cf. Quran (15:21); (16:79); (48:21).
  • 57. For a detailed study of this aspect, see Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, Vol. 1, pp. 55-67.
  • 58. Ibid., pp. 27-28.
  • 59. Shah Wali Allah, al-insaf fi Bayan-i Sabab al-Ikhtilaf, Urdu translation by Sadr al-Din Islahi, Lahore, n.d., pp. 29-80.
  • 60. Ibid., pp. 82-83.
  • 61. Ibid., p. 123.
  • 62. H. A. R. Gibb, Mohammedanism, The New American Library, New York, 1955, p. 125.