Book review

Book review

Book review

09/03/2018

Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi, Irshad al-Qari ila Sahih al-Bukhari, Karachi: Maktabat al-Khalij, pp.436

By Maulana Zeeshan Chaudri 

Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi (d.2002) was one of the senior Muftis in Pakistan during his life. He was born in Ludhiana in the year 1922 into a scholarly family. Ludhiana had been the location of many ‘ulama, famously being the first group to declare Mirza Ghulam of Qadian a disbeliever[1] and penning the fatwa ‘Nusrat al-Abrar’ [2]. So it is not surprising that Ludhiana produced scholars of the calibre of Mufti Rashid Ahmad. He had initially taken Maulana Husayn Ahmad Madani (d.1957) as his spiritual guide, and after Maulana’s demise he had taken Mufti Muhammad Hasan and then Maulana ‘Abd al-Ghani Phulpuri as his spiritual guides. Via Maulana Madani, his connection to Hajji Imdadullah (d.1899) went via Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (d.1905). And from his other two Shaykhs via Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (d.1943)[3].

 

His most famed work is the collection of his fatwas entitled ‘Ahsan al-Fatawa’ which is published in multiple volumes which demonstrate his mastery of the Hanafi school. His other works touch on a range of topics from aspects of spirituality to theology. The current work is Mufti Ludhianvi’s contribution to the study of the most authentic book after the Qur’an, Sahih al-Bukhari. The book only being a single volume does not go through the whole of Sahih al-Bukhari, rather the first few chapters. He provides an introduction to the book which tackles the position of those who question the authority of Hadith. 

 

Ghulam Ahmed Parvez (d.1985) was a controversial figure who wrote extensively in Urdu. The Quran was meant to be the focus with the Hadith not being considered an independent source of authority. Although he claimed to not completely do away with Hadith as he would accept and reject them based on its ‘agreement’ to the Quran[4], doing away with the independent authoritative nature of Hadith would radically change the way Islam is understood. Also it brushes to the side the extensive work done for the preservation of the Prophet’s life, without having any expertise in the field himself.    

 

There has been a common trait among many reformers of the 20th century in minimizing the role of Hadith, either through claiming that the Quran is sufficient or via using (and many a time abusing) classical principles which allow one to do away with many Ahadith[5]. Mufti Rashid Ahmad sensing this scepticism over the authoritative nature of Hadith dedicates a detailed introduction in defence.

 

An example of one of his evidences is the following verse of the Quran where Allah reminds the Sahabah that he had helped them in the battle of Badr. The Quran states ‘Recall when you said to the believers; does it not suffice you that your Lord will help you by sending down three thousand angels’ (al ‘Imran 124). Here the Quran refers to the Prophet informing the Sahabah about Allah promising to send angels, despite this not being mentioned in the Quran. This demonstrates that the Prophet reporting something from Allah which is not in the Quran is yet a source of authority (p.15). Other evidences are provided.

 

In explaining the Hadith of Bukhari he inherits the method of his teachers in defending Hanafi positions. For example, the early dispute between the ‘ulama’ in reference to the definition of Iman. Imam Abu Hanifah (and others) had taken the position that actions (‘amal) are not part of Iman while the other ‘ulama’ considered actions as part and parcel of Iman, hence with the increase of good deeds the Iman also increases. Imam al-Bukhari was amongst the many ‘ulama’ who argued that actions are part of Iman and attempts to demonstrate this in the beginning of his Hadith collection. One of the evidences used by Imam al-Bukhari is the verse in the Qur’an where Ibrahim (as) asks Allah to show him how the dead would be brought to life. Allah responds with a question ‘have you not believed’, to which Ibrahim says ‘yes but for my heart to have itmi’nan’ (Surah Baqarah 260).

 

Imam al-Bukhari utilizes this verse to demonstrate that iman increases. In response to this Mufti Ludhianvi explains that the term itmi’nan means to be at ease (sukun). So it was not that Ibrahim (as) intended for his iman to increase (as the Hanafis argue that iman is only tasdiq), but rather he had this desire inside him to see this spectacle. So to ease his desire and passion, he requested this from Allah (p.157).

 

This is just a snippet from the book and there are many other interesting passages for the student to benefit from insha’allah.

 

 

 

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[1] In the 1880s some notable ’ulama from Ludhiana had gone to Deoband to acquire the signatures of Maulana Ya’qub Nanotawi (cousin of Maulana Qasim Nanotawi) and Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. There was an initial reluctance due to the severity of doing takfir, but they accepted it later, see Diya’ al-Husayn al-Ludhianvi (2017) Fatawa Qadiriyyah, Faisalabad: Islami Ta’limi Idarah

 

[2] This fatwa, penned in 1888, was a harsh refutation of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan and argued for the permissibility of joining the Indian National Congress. It was oft-cited in later debates in regards to joining the Congress and the Muslim League, Ludianva, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (1888) Nusrat al-Abrar, Lahore: Matba’at Sahafi

 

[3] Asia’abadi, Ihtisham al-Haqq (1981) Anwar al-Rashid, Karachi: H. M. Sa’id, p.85

 

[4] Parvez, Firqah Ahl-e Qur’an, Lahore: Tulu’ al-Islam, June 1975, p.59-60

 

[5] See for example http://icraa.org/book-review/hanafi-principles-of-testing-hadith/ (last access 12/7/2017)


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