Dr. Javed Ali Khan, Department of History, Shibli National College, Azamgarh (UP) - India
The beginning of liberalism among the Indian Muslims in modern times dates back to the early nineteenth century when Mirza Abu Talib Isfahani(1752-1806) travelled to England and Europe and brought back his impressions about the British Parliament and the liberal character of the British constitution. He expressed the opinion that Indian Muslims must embrace those Western values, which are healthy and morally sound. About this time Shah Abdul Aziz(1746-1823) considered a compromising attitude with the British as necessary in order to arrest the declining fortune of the Muslims. Accordingly he called upon them to be resilient, permitted the study of English, and allowed them to seek employment of the East India Company in professions associated with public welfare. Another notable person, Abdul Raheem Zahri, a native of Gorakhpur, emphasized the need to acquire the New Learning of the West, with particular emphasis on the learning of English. Two other persons who spoke in favour of Western learning around that time were Lutfullah (1802-1854) and Shamsul Umarah (1783-1863). The latter considered acquisition of Western knowledge as the panacea of Muslim ills and backwardness. Well-versed in English and French languages, he started a centre of higher learning through the medium of Urdu. The school, known as Madrasa-i-Fakhriah (established in 1829) paid attention not only to theology but also to natural sciences.
Nawwab Nasiruddin of Awadh was also a patron of New Learning. Under his patronage Hakeem Mahdi Ali Khan laid the foundation of an English school. It was in this school that Sayyid Kamaluddin Haider, the famous historian of Awadh, studied. As is well-known Asadullah Khan Ghalib, the renowned poet, condemned old institutions and praised the material advancement of Western countries. Karamat Ali (d.1873), another noted Muslim scholar, was among those who advocated the learning of European languages so that the scientific knowledge of the West could dawn upon the Muslims.
At the institutional level Dehli College, Dehli, pioneered the movement for new knowledge. It produced a galaxy of Muslim scholars and reformers such as Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), Muhammad Zakaullah(1832-1911), Muhammad Husain Azad(1830-1910), Nazeer Ahmad(1831-1912), and many others who were to contribute to Muslim awakening. However, the number of enlightened Muslims before 1857 was so small that it could not exert any appreciable influence upon the mind of the Muslim community.
Understandably the Muslims were conscious of the need of education and were working out means to redress their crestfallen position. In 1877 when Viceroy Lord Lytton visited Dehli to make arrangements for Darbar-i- Qaiseri, the Muslims of the city met him with a delegation and presented him a petition requesting him to withdraw the government’s decision to close Dehli College. But the request was turned down on the plea that since Lahore Presidency College was being upgraded to the status of a Degree College, hence
Dehli College was no longer required. In this way a reputed institution of learning was dissolved.2 However, the desire to build a grand Madrasa on the pattern of Dehli College continued to be cherished by the Muslims.
On closer examination it will appear that behind the apparent sympathy and concern for Muslim education, the British rulers were in fact keenly interested in strangulating the Muslim educational institutions. This can be said on the ground that the Calcutta Madrasah founded in 1770 by Warren Hastings received no attention. In Bengal, large number of mau’fi lands (tax free grant lands), which supported Muslim educational establishments, were confiscated by the government. It may be pointed out that the Trusts for educational institutions set up by the Muslim rulers and nobles were so extensive that according to Charles Grant they covered about one-fourth of the whole area of Bengal. To cite an example, Haji Mohammed Mohsin, a millionaire, created a Trust out of his vast fortunes. In 1817 the British took control of the Trust and maintained the Hooghly College from its income. The Trust was made to pay an annual salary of Rs.1500, besides lodging charges, to a British Principal, who knew nothing about Persian and Arabic. Out of an income of Rs.5260 it spent only Rs.350 for a small school, i.e., for Muslim education. Another example can be given of Wood Despatch of 1854 which suggested that worthy Muhammadan Madrasas be affiliated to the Universities, but the Calcutta Madrasah was left out of Calcutta University. Had the Madrasah been affiliated, the subsequent history of Muslim education in Bengal might have been different.3
The Muslim clamour for awareness and reforms at the religious plain was not an isolated phenomenon in Indian society during those times. Other religious communities of India were also establishing association and societies to bring about reformation. Among the Muslims in Bombay four societies (anjumans) had started functioning. These were Anjuman-i- Islam, Anjuman Ish’aat-i-Islam, Anjuman Ta’id-i-Musalmanan and Anjuman Isha’at-i-Ahl-i-Hadis. These societies were, however, able to play a limited role. In the United Provinces, which was considered the hub centre of Muslim culture and learning, there was no theological center, which could play a role on a national level.4
It is to be admitted that the education, which the Muslims were receiving had outlived its utility. It failed to meet the needs of a changing society and was unable to foster growth of a homogenous Muslim society. Maktabs and madrasas though numerous in number were in a woeful condition. There was not a single madrasa with a building that could match even an ordinary British school or college. Fooding and lodging arrangements were miserable. Students would generally take or bring food from assigned houses. Such a system naturally had a depressing effect upon their minds. There was no provision for encouraging bright students with stipends or scholarship. Children of wealthy families did not consider education necessary. Alumni of these madrasas were by and large crammers of religious treatises, and had little ability to fluently read, write or speak Arabic. They reveled in hair-splitting religious debates on trifle issues but lacked the ability to take part in intricate religious discourses, or undertake works of translation of the Holy Qur’an and other Arabic works, or boldly take part in defence and propagation of Islam. In the whole of India there was not a single madrasa with a well-equipped library where research in the field of Tafseer, Hadees, Fiqh, Usul-i-Fiqh, etc., could be undertaken. Contact with the Arab world having been virtually lost it had an adverse effect on the learning of Arabic language and literature as well as on other Islamic sciences. Little attention was paid to the study of mathematics and astronomy. History was not taught as a separate subject till late nineteenth century, and consequently, there was no textbook of history or Islamic history. The philosophical teachings that had been initiated as a response to Greek philosophy during early medieval times was still in vogue and no further progressive developments could take place. Muslim students were unaware of the grand contributions of Islam to mankind and human civilization, and how it delivered different communities and nations from oppression and tyranny.
Political factors were also responsible for this sordid condition of the Muslims. With the dissolution of Muslim states, the post of Qazi and Mufti and such other posts were dissolved. As a result purely religious knowledge lost importance. The learning of Fiqh and Hadis was virtually dropped Under the existing situation a thinking started growing among a section of the Muslims that the knowledge of Arabic was useless, and the imparting of English education can alone retrieve their lost position, although it was equally feared that the learning of English would breed heretical ideas and turn the Muslims into infidels or atheists.5
The blatant repressive measures taken against the Ulama following the failure of the war of independence of 1857 had a disastrous effect upon their confidence. Weakened and shattered they were unable to play the role expected of them. In all their actions they were looked upon with suspicion by the British government and humiliated in every possible way. Terror-stricken Muslims found themselves defenceless and most of them had to spend much of their time in proving their innocence. The confiscation of Muslim properties caused acute economic crisis, resulting in the closure of many maktabs and madrasas that hitherto functioned on grants and endowments of Muslim properties. Muslims were in general debarred from government jobs. All this bred so much of ill will and suspicion that in the early 1870’s when the British government established eight government aided madrasas, the Muslims did not cooperate in this venture and eventually the madrasas had to be closed.6
There were other grave issues. In many parts of the country creeping Hinduism had considerably eroded Muslim faith. Many a Muslim had such names as Ram Bakhsh and Lachman Singh. Often to settle Muslim disputes, non-Muslims were called to serve as arbiters. Ulama lacked courage to point out the error made by British courts in the pronouncement of judgment or understanding and interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence.
In various parts of the country state sponsored Christian missionaries were openly and aggressively preaching their faith. Records show that in 1893 in the region of North West Frontier Province and Awadh Christian missionaries had succeeded in converting eighteen thousand natives to the fold of Christianity.7 The Methodist Missionary Centre in the country had alone succeeded in converting seventy thousand people to the fold of Christianity. In all about fifteen lakh Indians converted to Christianity.8 Similarly a number of Hindu organizations were actively promoting their faith such as Gurukul Movement of Arya Samaj, Movement of Bharat Mahamandal of Sanatan Dharm, and Dharm Mahatsav on the pattern of Parliament of Religion.9 Under the existing circumstances it was feared that the Christian priests might as well try to raise a band of Ulama among the Muslims, who, working under the guidance of the British, would surreptitiously sabotage efforts of Muslim reforms. Such apprehensions grew up because many Muslims in their understanding of Holy Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (pbh) had started citing books written by George Seal and William Muir.10
This situation naturally led to a fresh introspection of thought and behaviour among a section of the Muslims including the Ulama. It came to be acknowledged that the British owed their success not only to deceit and fraud but also to their better institutions and innovations in science and technology. Old values and thought, however, still continued to dominate the minds of the people. Those who held such views believed that the lagging behind of the Muslims was not because Islam was at fault, rather because the commitment to it was lacking.11 It was felt necessary to overcome the general despondency that prevailed among the Muslims. Hence, it was believed that a more strict adherence and commitment to Islamic values could revive the fortunes of the Muslims. All this found expression in the opening of a seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in 1866 by Muhammad Qasim Nanotawi, an alumnus of Dehli College.
On the other hand, a section of the Muslims led by Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), also a alumni of Dehli College, considered modern English education and acceptance of Western Science and knowledge as the remedy of the ills of the Muslims. The call for New Learning which in a way signalled the collapse of the old order, was not universally accepted in the beginning by the Muslims at large,12 but it certainly contributed to revolutionize the thought of some of the enlightened Ulama. The first noticeable beginning was made in the Arabic department of Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College by Maulana Luftullah who initiated emphasis on the learning of modern Arabic and modification of its syllabi.13 In Delhi, Maulana Sayyid Nazeer Husain Muhaddis Dehlavi, who was known for his eloquent lectures, also worked to influence the mind of the people.
The educational ideals of Darul Uloom Deoband and Anglo-Mohammedan College, Aligarh, were diametrically opposed to each other. The protagonist of the Aligarh School questioned whether theology and theosophy could play any significant role in the reconstruction of the society in accordance with the requirements of modern times. But Aligarh College could not satisfy those who sought both temporal as well as ecclesiastical gratification. Its British Principal and the European staff were accused of having given birth to a lifestyle, which had an unsavoury effect upon the mind of the Muslim students and tended to make them careless towards religious obligations. Even Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan during the last years of his life expressed dissatisfaction towards the growing Westernizing trends in the college campus.
Enlightened Muslims elsewhere were also making efforts to create educational awareness. One such person was Maulana Hakeem Sayyid Muhammad Zahoorul Islam Fatehpuri(1858-1921). He laid the foundation of Madrasa Islamia in Fatehpuri in 1883. In 1890 in this madrasa an English Middle Section was opened and arrangements were also made for technical education. In 1891, Zahoorul Islam along with Maulvi Abdur Razzak(1866-1948) endeavoured to associate the functioning of this madrasa with Muslim Educational Conference, Aligarh. But the proposal was not accepted. Thereafter, Zahoorul Islam, supported by Maulvi Abdul Ghafoor(Deputy Collector, 1867-1937) of Kanpur, set-up a committee in Kanpur and initiated yearly meetings to discuss the problems of the Muslims.
It was about this time in 1310 Hijri/1893 on the occasion of Dastarband( investiture of academic gown and turban to the students on becoming a Hafiz) in Madrasa Faiz-i-A’am, Kanpur, the idea was first mooted that an association of Ulama be formed in the country to ponder over the problems of the Muslim society and to devise means to uplift the depressed Muslim society. The prime mover of such a proposal was Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Ali Mungeri. On this occasion Maulana Mushtaque Ali, a teacher of
Madrasa Islamia, Faizabad, was entrusted with the task of travelling to different parts of the country in order to gather public opinion in this regard. Accordingly, he travelled far and wide and even went on voyage to Makkah and Madinah.14 His visit abroad was of momentous importance for it was to open a new chapter in the hitherto broken Indo-Arab intellectual relations. During his visit to Aligarh Mushtaque Ali met Muhammad Shibli Nomani, Maulvi Ismail and Maulvi Khalid Ahmad. When the aims and objectives of the association were placed before Shibli, he readily accepted it for he saw in the proposed programme a vision of his own thought and a mission for which his distress soul had been yearning at Aligarh. His father, Sheikh Habibullah, also readily joined him in the New Movement. In fact, during this period, not only in India but also in Britain, Europe, America and Africa there was a growing demand of competent Ulama who could preach the message of Islam in English to the people who wanted to lead a righteous life. It may be pointed that a certain European king offered to give Rs.2000 and a medal as a reward to any person who could write the history of Arabs before the advent of Islam. But no one came forward.
After a preliminary round of meeting in the house of Sheikh Faiyaz Ahmad, a wealthy merchant, the first meeting of Nadvatul Ulama, a word especially coined to represent an association of Ulama or Muslim scholars, was held on 22 -24 April 1894, in Madrasa Faiz-i-A’am, Kanpur.15 Its objectives had the blessings and support of many distinguished Islamic scholars and dignitaries.16 Even the advocates of English education such as Nawwab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Sayyid Mahmood, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Waqar-ul-Mulk welcomed the programmes and mission of Nadvatul Ulama.17 Initially its membership was open to all Muslims provided he led a life according to the Islamic Shariat, paid an annual amount of Rs.2 or more, and worked to promote Muslim fraternity. But later it was stipulated that only those persons who either belonged to the Ulama or Mashaikh class, or were masters of English, Persian, Mathematics, Medicine, or were excellent orators, could be nominated by the executive committee of Nadvatul Ulama.
In the first inaugural session Shibli proposed the name of Maulana Lutfullah as the Chairperson of the meeting, which was unanimously accepted. Shibli conducted the meeting and placed before the assembly the draft of the Dastur-ul-Amal of Nadvatul Ulama, which was also accepted unanimously. A majlis(committee) consisting of twelve members was constituted for the drafting of syllabus and Shibli was nominated as one of the members.19 Thereafter, Shibli lectured on the beginnings of education in Islam, how the study of rational sciences developed, the framing of Dars Nizamiyah, and the short-comings of the then current madrasa syllabus. He further called upon the scholars to modify the teaching methodology and pay attention to the study of Philology, Adab, Holy Qur’an and Qur’anic sciences.20 All this marked the beginning of Shibli’s active participation which continued almost till the end of his life, working and lecturing untiringly for the objectives of Nadvatul Ulama.
The aims and objectives of Nadwatul Ulama, according to Shibli, were to promote learning based upon reason and intellect, to produce a band of scholars who could selflessly work to establish harmonious relation among different Muslim groups and successfully meet the challenges posed by the critics of Islam. In view of that scholars were expected to be well-versed in English; Arabic and Persian so that they could effectively preach the message of Islam within the country as well as in foreign lands.21 Shibli also aimed at raising the honour and prestige of Ulama. It was emphasized that during meetings and deliberations Ulama were not to stand up in honour of any wealthy person or dignitary. They were expected to live up to the expectations of the people as role models worth emulation. It further called upon the people to eradicate heretical practices and thought and to lead a life meticulously in accordance with the shariat. Muslims were to abstain from unmindful spending on occasions of marriage, festivals and other rituals. Orphans were to receive special attention. Shibli and Maulvi Muhammad Shah strongly advocated the education of girls and the need to pay attention to problems of health and hygiene.22 It was decided that Nadvatul Ulama shall hold annual session to enable Muslim scholars from India as well as abroad to participate in its deliberations. This would serve as a platform to resolve the crisis of the Muslim Ummah and where people could also chalk out means for the material advancement of the Muslims. It was also announced that the institution shall have no political objectives and its students will be law-abiding and loyal to the government.
The Nadva Movement from its very inception represented the greatest aspiration of the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. Many Muslims enthusiastically came forward with suggestions and heartily extended moral and financial help to make the Movement a grand success. For example, Maulvi Mamluk Ali, a former teacher of Dehli College, along with Shibli Nomani, were among the earliest to point out that the Madrasa campus should have a decent landscape, hostels, and a rich library with books of all sciences in Arabic. Mamluk Ali also proposed that the government should be asked to put the income from awqaf (endowment property) under the control of the Muslims and its money be utilized for education. For the governance of awqaf a committee should be formed consisting of Muslim elders with the consent of the government. He also proposed that the property of those Muslims who died heirless should be acquired for educational purposes of the Muslims. He further suggested that government grant-in-aid should be sought for running of madrasas and rejected the fears that the spread of English education would harm the study of Islamic sciences.23 It was soon felt that in order to sustain the spirit and objectives of the Movement it was necessary to open a learning centre. Accordingly in September 1898 a maktab was opened which was officially started on 6 December when the Nadva society was registered.24 It developed rapidly and by 1901 it came to be known as Darul Uloom. For its governance a committee with the name of Majlis Darul Uloom was formed and its rules and regulations (Dasturul-ul- Amal) were framed by Shibli. This Darul Uloom or Madrasa Nadvatul Uloom was started in a rented house in a street of Golaganj, Lucknow. The building, which belonged to a Hindu ra’is was later purchased for Rs.9000. But it could not properly serve for use as lecture rooms or for boarding purposes. Moreover, Shibli had the vision of a grand building, the like of which he had seen in Aligarh and Constantinople.
Meanwhile, Shibli, after having left Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College, Aligarh, on account of ill health, financial constraints and strained relations with British government, was forced to leave for the State of Hyderabad. But Shibli by this time had decided to dedicate his whole life to the cause of Nadwa.25 In a meeting held on 1 October 1902 Shibli was chosen as a member of the syllabus committee on recommendation by Maulalana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani and Masih-uz-Zaman Khan. It was also about this time that the need of releasing an academic journal from Nadwa was felt by Shibli. The idea was accepted but some people were not prepared to accept him as the editor of the journal. As a result after some delay the first issue of Al-Nadva was published with Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani and Shibli Nomani as its editors in August 1904. The aim of this journal was to promote Islamic sciences and to highlight the growth of knowledge attained during medieval times, drawing a comparison with that of modern times. Urdu scholars such as Deputy Nazeer Ahmad and Abdul Haleem Sharar highly praised the journal. The journal, which mostly contained articles written by Shibli revolutionized the thinking of the Ulama and opened new vistas of knowledge before them. It mentally persuaded the people to reject the obsolete and unreasonable traditional thinking and made them aware of the current problems. It helped the students to learn and develop the art of writing. Through its column a number of young scholars were destined to win fame such as Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Abdus Salam Nadwi and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
Some other developments also took place during this time. On 16 March 1903 Shibli’s name was proposed for the post of Mua’tamid-i-Majlis Darul Uloom. He was, however, unable to accept the offer on account of various reasons. The same year Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Ali Mungeri, considered as the prime founder of Nadvatul Ulama, tendered his resignation, which was not accepted. The following year he again submitted his resignation during the Madras session (1904) and the members were left with no other choice than to accept it. The resignation reflects the unrest and internal crisis that had started brewing up. Of this session Shibli was made the Chairperson. The highlight of the session was the presence of delegates from Somaliland and Aden and an impressive speech delivered by Shibli on Khatm Nabuwat.
Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Ali Mungeri’s place was taken by Maulana Masih-uz-Zaman who held the post of Nazim(secretary) till 21 April 1905. Thereafter, Maulana Khalilur Rahman Saharanpuri was made Mua’tamid Aliyah. For the smooth running of the institution three other mu’atamids were appointed to look after correspondence, financial matters, and education. Shibli was made Mu’atamid-i-Ta’alimat, i.e., in-charge of educational matters and student-teacher relationship. In this capacity Shibli served Nadvatul Ulama from April 1905 to July 1913.27
Shibli was enthusiastically welcomed at Nadwa. Students expressed their joy by organizing meetings and writing poems in his praise. The subsequent history of Nadvatul Ulama for over eight years is marked for consolidation and progress. During this period a modified syllabus and the learning of modern Arabic was introduced. Steps were taken to promote the study of English, Hindi and Sanskrit. Eminent teachers with specialized knowledge were appointed.28 Students studying Sanskrit and Hindi were given special stipend. The task of translating the Holy Qur’an into English was undertaken and a special period was allocated for training students to write fatawas (religious decrees).29 Shibli infused a new spirit in the life of the students. They were taught vocal rendering of the Qur’an, essay writing, study of History, extempore speech, and the art of oratory. Students were encouraged to participate in debates and deliberations on various topics and current issues related to national and international matters. For its promotion a body by the name of Al-Bayan was established and supported by Darul Ma’lumat and Kutub Khana - a place where journals, magazines and books were readily available to the students.30 Shibli donated his personal collection of books to the Kutb Khana and encouraged others to donate books. In this task his cherished pupil, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, played an important role. Attention was paid on Waqia Nigari or news reporting. Students were taught to disdain fanciful imagination, and to develop the skill of realistic writings and on subjects considered wry. Duration of study- courses was also determined and textbooks were prescribed. For example, Primary Education was to be of three years, and Middle Education was to be of five years. Shibli endeavoured for the introduction of religious sciences in government schools under the supervision of Nadva. At the same time he demanded recess on Friday for prayers. He supported the proposal made by Maulana Muhammad Sulaiman of Phulwari(Patna) to send outstanding students to Egypt.31 Apart from religious sciences Shibli was equally interested in introducing the teaching of modern sciences. He introduced a book on physical science in Arabic written by a woman. In the annual session of Nadva held in 1910 at Delhi, Professor Dr. Ziauddin and Professor Firozuddin lectured on science and even showed some practical demonstration. Shibli proposed award and stipend to meritorious students to enable them to go to Anglo-Mohammedan College, Aligarh, and study Mathematics under Professor Ziauddin and others.
It was largely owing to the efforts of Shibli and Col. Abdul Majeed Khan that Nadva was able to procure 32 bighas of land on the banks of river Gomti from the British government. On this piece of land Sir John Perscott Hewitt, the Lieutenant Governor of Awadh and Agra, laid the foundation of a new building with boarding facilities on 28 November 1908.33 He praised the syllabus prepared by Nadwa and called upon the Muslims to support the Nadva Movement. On this occasion a grant of Rs.500 per month was also announced for the study of English and Mathematics by the government .In order to strengthen the financial resources of the institution, Shibli persuaded the ruler of the State of Bhopal, Sultan Jahan Begum, to provide a monthly grant of Rs.50, which was later on increased to Rs.200. On the persuasion of Shibli and Maulvi Ghulam Muhammad Shimalvi, the Nawwab of Bahawalpur gave a handsome grant of Rs.50000 for the construction of building. It was also largely on account of Shibli’s effort that provision of a reserve fund in bank account was introduced for safe financial transaction.
In order to raise funds and to propagate the aims and objectives of Nadva, Shibli along with other members, visited different cities. For example, in 1896 he went to Ghazipur along with Amanatullah Ghazipuri, Maulvi Abul Khair, Shah Sulaiman Phulwari, Maualana Sayyid Zahoor-ul-Islam Fatehpuri and others. From Ghazipur, the delegation went to Patna where Shibli stayed in the house of Hakeem Abdul Bari and held several rounds of talk with Hakeem Abdul Bari, Maulvi Sayyid Fakhruddin and other dignitaries of the city. Another meeting was held at Khanqah Emadiyah of Maulana Shah Rasheedul Haque in which Shibli Nomani, Maulana Shah Muhammad Sulaiman and Shah Amanatullah spoke. But perhaps the most memorable meeting was held at Patna College in which about four thousand Muslims attended the gathering to hear Shibli.34 Later, a delegation headed by Shibli, in which Maulana Shah Muhammad Sulaiman Phulwari also participated, went to Peshawer and Kohat.35 In 1905 a delegation went to Bhopal and met the Begum of Bhopal. In 1912 Shibli and Maulana Sayyid Abdul Hai travelled to different places to publicize the benefits and mission of Nadva. In this regard Shibli even suggested formation of a deputation to meet the Raja of Mahmudabad and Raja of Jahangirabad. The result of all this was that apart from monetary benefits much of the misgivings with regard to Nadva as spread by the opponents of the Movement, were also removed.
The establishment of boarding and fooding facilities and provision of stipends with well-set norms of education attracted students from far off places such as Yangon, Peshawer and Chittagong. Students, both rich and poor lived and dined together. This instilled a spirit of fraternity among the students. Special attention was paid on cleanliness and performance of obligatory prayers. In the evening students took part in physical exercises and played football, volleyball, etc - all under the watchful eyes of the teachers. To impress upon the teachers and students eminent scholars and dignitaries were invited. One such personality to visit was Allama Rasheed Reza of Jamia Azhar, editor of Al-Manar, Egypt, and a disciple of the famous Egyptian reformer Muhammad Abduh. Another distinguished visitor was Sir Agha Khan. The reputation of Nadva fascinated two parents of Oman and Kuwait to send their children for education. An English man, Kirpatri, who had embraced Islam, also joined Nadva. A British neo-Muslim by the name of Sheikh Muhammad who belonged to Mombasa and was well-versed in all the languages of Africa, came from Bombay to learn Arabic at Nadva so that he could go back to Africa and preach Islam in African languages.
In 1906 during the annual session of Nadvatul Ulama held in Benares (Varanasi), an academic exhibition was held. It was the first of its kind in modern times in India in which rare manuscripts; royal farmans, paintings, astronomical instruments and other rare articles were displayed. It had a profound effect on the minds of the people and helped in understanding the rich cultural heritage of India and of Islamic culture. It was in this session that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad delivered a speech in which he emphasized that the success of the Muslims lies in the proper understanding of the Qur’an. Thereafter, Shibli spoke eloquently on Qaumi Taraqqi, which reeled around the personification of Muslim identity and called for the adherence to the principles and preaching of Islam. Of the students Maulvi Abdul Bari and Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi gave speeches. This was the first performance by madrasa students in public gatherings and was highly appreciated by the people.
At Nadva Shibli groomed a number of students who proved themselves to be worthy students of a worthy teacher. The foremost name that can be taken is that of Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi who followed the footsteps of his intellectual mentor and carried forward Shibli’s mission. Another important name is that of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who served as sub-editor of Al-Nadva from October 1905 to March 1906. Although his stay at Nadva was short, yet the brief association with Shibli sharpened his wit and writing skill and inculcated in him much of Shibli’s political thinking. Another name worth mentioning is that of Maulana Abdus Salam Nadvi, an eminent writer of Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy, whose scholarship Shibli had prophesized. Some other scholars who benefited from Shibli were Maulana Ziaul Hasan Ali Nadwi and Maulana Abdul Bari Nadvi. In a short period of time Nadva was able to produce a band of English knowing students who were able to get government service.36 Under Shibli Nadva became the voice of the Muslims. Most of the Indian Ulama paid their attention towards it. The famous Arabic scholar Dr. Harvez described Nadva Madrasa as the best in the whole of United Province for Arabic studies, and emphasized that it was the lone institution where teachers were trained to lecture.
It was Shibli Nomani and Maulvi Abdul Wahab who first drew the attention of the Muslims towards the incorrect and mischievous writings of British scholars in history books in order to disparage Islam and Muslims. To repudiate the false allegations a separate department bearing the name Saighah-i-Tassih-i-Aghlat-i-Tarikh-i-Islami was opened with Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi as its Secretary in 1910. Information from newspapers and other writings were to be collected to point out the historical errors. For this purpose Shibli personally wrote a number of letters to Muslim teachers in different parts of the country, but unfortunately none of them replied.38 Thereupon, Shibli himself shouldered the task and pointed out two such authors, Morrisdon and Delafos, whose books were taught in Calcutta, Allahabad, and other Universities. Urdu newspapers such as Watan and Paisa gave considerable coverage to the matter, and even some English newspapers highlighted the news. But the Universities paid no attention. Consequently, Shibli sent a reminder to the Registrar of Allahabad University asking him to remove A. Morrisdon’s book from the courses of study and that C.F.Delafos book be included only after necessary modification. The result of all this was that Morrisdon personally came to Lucknow for talks with Shibli and assured him of removing the objectionable portion.39 Errors were also pointed out in two Geography books of Allahabad University in which incorrect Christian population of the world was given. Shibli also strongly rejected the criticism made by some books in Hindi and Marathi that Islam was spread by force, and was critical of the exaggerated information given by Romesh Chander Dutt in respect to the achievements made by Indians during ancient times.40 Probably all this made Shibli perceive the idea of establishing Dia’rah Ta’alif or Writers’ Circle whose Fellows were to devote themselves exclusively to research and writing on a pattern similar to European academies.
Shibli used Nadva as a platform to initiate programmes for the defence and propagation of Islam. It was felt that Islam had not been properly projected and presented before non-Muslims. During contemporary times a major problem before the Indian Muslim community was the threat posed by the Arya Samaj Movement. Another menace that emerged in the region of Punjab came from a new creed called Qadiyani. Shibli expressed his views on this issue in an article called Hifazat-wa-Ish’at-i-Islam. In order to denounce counterfeit claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani, Shibli lectured on Khatm Nabuwwat during his visit to Amritsar. Imitating the example of Arya Samajists Shibli was of the opinion that Muslim volunteers should be trained and a permanent department should be opened for this purpose and its branches with maktabs should be opened in all the districts to keep an eye on the developments. Shibli realized the necessity of raising a separate fund so that the Muslim volunteers could perform their duty free of monetary worries.41 He also suggested publication and distribution of brochures enumerating the principles of Islam and the message of Holy Qur’an in simple Hindi. Perhaps, it was with this end in view that he had hitherto vociferously advocated the study of Sanskrit and Hindi in Nadva.
Shibli wanted Nadva to be declared as a religious centre of the Muslims of India with branches spread all over the provinces. To this suggestion, after deliberation, opinion was expressed that its possibility depended on the support extended by different sectarian groups of Muslims. Unfortunately for lack of coordination the scheme could not materialize. Had it been so it would have been of great religious and political significance, resulting in a strong leverage for dialogue with the British government on matters concerning the Muslims.42
Shibli not only preached but also practiced. Once he got the information from a merchant, Safaed Khan, that in a remote village of Jamalpur near Shahjahanpur, a Muslim Rajput ra’is was contemplating of converting to Hinduism along with his men. The people of that village accordingly appealed to the Ulama to come to their help and reply to the queries that the Muslim Rajput was making. Shibli, along with some students of Nadva, went to Shahjahanpur. From there he was unable to go further because of his amputated leg. Hence he requested the people to carry him in a litter to that village. But no one came to his help. Thus his three days stay at Shahjahanpur went in vain, for ultimately the ra’is became a Hindu.43
Under the banner of Nadva Shibli vigorously worked for the cause of Waqf-ala-al--Awlad, an issue, which hitherto Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan had also tried to raise before the government. By his speeches, lectures, writings, and documentary evidence Shibli succeeded in presenting the true merit of Waqf. His views and efforts were supported by Sheikh Abdul Qadir (Barrister), Choudhary Sultan Ahmad (Barrister), Maulvi Abdul Hai (Ra’is of Saharanpur), Nawwab Imadul Mulk, and Mr. Jinnah. While arguing in the Indian council in support of the bill Nawwab Abdul Majeed especially thanked Shibli for his efforts in exposing the importance of the Waqf according to the Islamic Shariat and giving it the force of a movement.44 Eventually the bill was passed but by then Shibli was not alive to see his effort bear fruit.
But Shibli’s life at Nadva was not very smooth and he had to steer his way amidst troubled waters. Opposition to the Nadva Movement started from almost its early years of inception in 1896 and the men who took active part in spreading the mischief belonged to Rohilkhand led by Maulana Ahmad Reza Khan. He wrote a number of treatises in opposition to Nadva, which led to the growth of an extremist group called Jadwa. Differences ranged from petty issues such as why chairs were placed and expensive lightning arrangements made in meetings to more serious matters such as framing of the syllabus, mode of teaching, why Sayyid Rasheed Reza was invited and government aid accepted, and many such issues. Even Shibli’s former teacher and intellectual mentor, Maulana Farooq Chiryakoti, differed with him on some matters. Lieutenant Governor of United Provinces, Sir Antony Mac’donal, also expressed suspicion over the ulterior motives of Nadva.
Those who felt that reforms needed to be carried in Madrasa teaching and in Dars Nizamiyah were Maulana Altaf Husain Hali, Maulana Ahmad Reza Khan Brelvi, Maulana Abdul Ghani, Maulana Muhammad Yunus Khan, Hafiz Shah Muhammad Husain Allahabadi, Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani, and Maulana Mufti Muhammad Abdullah Tonki. But they were unable to make a unanimous decision. As a result, in practice, the old courses continued to be taught for various reasons.45 This was resented by Shibli.46 The relations between rival groups turned so bitter that in the Madras session (1904) certain opposition members circulated a printed ‘Gaali Namah’(abusive pamphlet).
The first serious difference came on the surface when Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Ali Mungeri, the first nazim who held moderate views, resigned in 1904. Although apparently he resigned on health grounds, in reality it were the underlying differences that forced him to quit. Maulana Masih-uz-Zaman who succeeded him also resigned in April 1905. The syllabus committee, which was set up time and again and consisted of such reputed men as Maulana Hafeezullah, Maulana Qayyum Hyderabadi, Maulvi Abdul Hai, Maulvi Abdullah Tonki, Maulana Hafiz Abdul Qadir, Maulvi Muhammad Farooq Chiryakoti and Shibli Nomani, was unable to draft a prospectus which could genuinely satisfy Ulama holding divergent views on the subject.
Much of the active opposition to Shibli started since 1908 because of his radical views and curtailment of a number of books on maqulat (rational sciences). His views regarding the learning of English were supported by such men as Maulana Abu Muhammad Abdul Haque Dehlavi, Maulvi Sayyid Sharfuddin(Barrister,Patna) and Sheikh Ghulam Sadiq(ra’is, Amritsar) However, firm opposition sparked off when he started promoting the study of English and also introduced the study of Sanskrit. From the very beginning Maulana Khalilur Rahman, Maulana Abdul Haq Haqqani, Maulana Shah Sulaiman Phulwari, Munshi Ehtesham Ali and few others expressed the fear that English education along with the study of modern science and philosophy would expose the students to the ills of Western Culture and would make the Muslims apostate.47 In 1900 when a resolution was passed to introduce English as an optional subject, it met with stiff opposition and some members threatened to dismantle the institution. Subsequently when English teaching was introduced for an hour, two landlords who had endowed some of their property to Nadva withdrew their deed.48 The determination with which Shibli discouraged excessive attention paid to maqulat (rational sciences) and mantiq (logic), replacing them with the study of Holy Qur’an and Diniyat, which he believed to be a better way of understanding and preaching Islam, was not welcomed. But Shibli braved his way to make drastic changes in the courses of study. The number of books on philosophy and logic were reduced, and books on Adab and Tafseer(Qur’anic commentaries) were increased. English was made compulsory along with Geography and Mathematics.49
The three muatamids could not work in cohesion. Except for Shibli who had left all the worldly affairs for the cause of Nadva, the other two muatamids took more interest in their personal professions. They, however, left no opportunity to find fault in the working of Shibli. On the other hand Shibli expected from them to pay greater attention to the needs of the institution. But this offended them and they considered it as interference in their working.
The fame and popularity, which Shibli had earned, made many of the members of Nadva envious of him. One of his well wishers Nawwab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, had earlier forewarned him that as soon Nadva will earn reputation he will be hounded by the maulvis. And, the man who did utmost damage to Shibli was Maulvi Khalilur Rahman. He was an ambitious man who had started behaving arrogantly as the Nazim of Nadva. His first opposition to Shibli was seen on the occasion of the laying of foundation stone ceremony of the building in Nadva in 1908 when he opposed the consensus sought for the placement of the issue of Waqf-ala-al-Awlad before the government. The following year in a meeting he demanded the dissolution of the post of Motamadi-i- Darul Uloom held by Shibli. His proposal was, however, not accepted. Later in 1913 the post of muatamids was dissolved without bringing it in the agenda of the meeting and was passed by the local members, a process which was unlawful according to the statutes of Nadva.50
To build public opinion against Shibli objections were raised on certain portions of his books, Al-Kalam and Ilm-ul-Kalam. It was further stressed that Shibli’s living was not in strict conformity with what was expected of an Alim and that he was not a proper person to head a religious institution. He was accused of leading a life-style, which tended to make the students go astray. Above all, it was alleged that Shibli was at heart a member of the Aligarh Movement who had joined Nadva to destroy it. In fact there were men with conflicting thoughts, for some of them wanted to make Nadva a constituent part of Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College, Aligarh. But, Shibli, despite his support for English education, stood firmly for the maintenance of separate identity of Nadva.
Meanwhile the conspirators led by Khalilur Rahman worked in a planned and determined manner to oust Shibli. In a meeting of the Managing Body they succeeded in increasing the strength of the members from 35 to 51, thereby numerically reducing the supporters of Shibli in the Managing Body. Shibli was aware of his precarious position but he did not conspire or indulged in machinations against his adversaries.51 He, however, wrote a letter to Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani in June 1910 asking him to come to Nadva to resolve the crisis. In his letter, he drew attention towards the financial irregularities committed by some of the members, and pointed out that for the past four years auditing had not been conducted, nor income and expenditure report published in Al-Nadva, as was the practice. He further blamed that all construction work was done without the approval of the Construction committee or the Financial Committee and its meetings had not been called for the past four years.52
Subsequently, in a meeting without the prior notification of the agenda to be discussed, Khalilur Rahman suggested setting-up of a committee to probe the religiosity of the students of Darul Uloom. Shibli remained a silent spectator. Thereafter, it was demanded that Shibli should also be asked to give explanation as Mua’tamid-i-Darul Uloom. All this had a telling effect upon Shibli and he decided to disassociate himself from Nadva. He wrote letters in quick succession to Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani apprising him of the situation and rejected the blame that he had interfered in the functioning of Maulvi Khalilur Rahman, Maulvi Abdul Hai and Munshi Ehtesham Ali.53
The rivals of Shibli then announced a date of hearing. A week ahead of it they made an extensive publicity of the matter throughout the city. On the schedule day many dignitaries of the city were also invited so that they could view the scene of Shibli’s dismissal. But God had something else in store. Shibli, a celebrated writer and historian, accustomed to knock out his adversaries with irrefutable facts, entered the assembly hall with calm and steady composure with a copy of the constitution of Nadvatul Ulama. As soon as the proceedings of the meeting started Shibli questioned the nature and legality of the meeting, pointing out that it was not at all held in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. The assembled members could not come up with a proper reply.54 Ultimately the meeting ended in a fiasco.
The incident brought considerable disgrace to Nadva. At this juncture Colonel Abdul Majeed, the foreign minister of the State of Patiala, interceded to bring about understanding between the two groups. Meanwhile in May 1912 Shibli relinquished the responsibilities as the editor of Al-Nadva. In 1913 a new problem cropped up owing to Maulvi Abdul Kareem, a newly appointed teacher at Nadva. He was an intelligent and talented person, which prompted the opposition members to project him as equal to Shibli in thought and action. Consequently, he was made editor of Al-Nadva. But soon his writing on Jihad landed him in trouble. As soon as the writing came to light it was feared that it would earn the wrath of the British government to whom the word Jihad evoked instant suspicion and fear. In haste, in order to hush up the matter and to win the goodwill of the government, the muatamids of Nadva including Shibli, by a unanimous consent suspended Maulvi Abdul Kareem for two days. But objections to this decision were raised by several members of the Managing Body of Nadva who revoked the suspension of Mauvli Abdul Kareem on grounds that it was legally beyond the purview of muatamids to do so. In view of that, a second meeting was proposed and its decision was to be reported to the Deputy Commissioner. But in the meantime Munshi Ehtesham Ali and perhaps a couple of other members met Deputy Commissioner and apprised him of all that had happened. From the talks they gauged that the Commissioner wanted stringent action to be taken against Maulvi Abdul Kareem. Hence, they suspended Maulvi Abdul Kareem for six months. Thus it is strange that the members, who were not prepared to accept Abdul Kareem’s suspension for even a day or two, handed him six months of suspension letter. For this ultimate action many people held Shibli responsible, although he had nothing to do with it and had not gone to the Commissioner’s office with other members.55
Dejected by the events Shibli left for Bombay and from there sent his resignation letter on 9 July 1913. Immediately after, Maulvi Sayyid Abdul Hai and Munshi Ehtesham Ali also resigned from their posts. But their resignations appear to be a part of an ulterior scheme, for in the meeting of the Managing Committee (18-20 July 1913) Maulana Khalilur Rahman was made full-fledged Nazim, and Maulvi Sayyid Abdul Hai and Munshi Ehtesham Ali were made Deputy Nazim. Maulvi Abdullah Tonki was given free hand in his working.56
The news of Shibli’s resignation created nationwide unrest among the Muslims. At Nadva students organized a meeting and sent telegrams requesting Shibli to withdraw his resignation. Letters of its kind also came from various individuals. But Shibli stood his ground, although he stated that service to the cause of Nadva shall continue to remain the mission of his life. From Bombay Shibli went to Hyderabad where the Nawwab of Hyderabad required his presence for the proposed project on the translation of Holy Qur’an in English. Moreover, having relieved himself from the affairs of Nadva, Shibli set himself to the task of compilation of Siratun Nabi, biography of Prophet Muhammad (pbh).
However, since Shibli had been so passionately associated with Nadva, he could not desist from coming back to Lucknow in December where the students warmly greeted him. Speaking on the occasion he recited a couplet, which reflected his inner feeling that his end was near, and the hope of the mission of his life rested with the students. At Lucknow, on request by the students, he started giving short lectures to them on Bukhari Shareef after sunset. The officials of Nadva disliked this and they issued a notice forbidding the students to attend the lectures. This agitated the minds of the students. Another event which contributed to heighten anger and bitterness was holding of miladshareef(holding of celebration on Prophet’s birthday). It was customary of the students to hold this yearly programme wherein Shibli would lecture on the life and preachings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbh). At first attempts were made to prevent the programme from being organized, but then out of fear of general resentment, permission was granted with certain restrictions. Meanwhile, a notice was issued dissuading students from participation in political gatherings. This escalated the brewing tension, and students declared a general strike. Since the strike took place at a time when the Indian Muslims were enraged on account of the Balkan Wars and War of Tripoli, coupled with the demand of upgrading Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College into a University, the strike became a matter of grave concern to the whole nation. Contemporary newspapers such as Zamindar(Lahore), Hamdard(Delhi), Muslim Gazette(Lucknow) and Al-Hilal(Calcutta) wrote in support of the students and Shibli. Young Muslim revolutionaries such as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Muhammad Ali, Sayyid Hasrat Mohani and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan who drew much of their inspiration in life from Shibli, came forward in support of the students. Khwaja Wahiuddin, a ra’is of Lucknow, through his writing in Al- Hilal criticized the tackling of the situation by the members of Nadva and was critical to those who put the whole blame on Shibli.
In the meantime former students of Nadva who lived in Lucknow laid the foundation of Old Boys’ Association. Its secretary Maulvi Masood Ali Nadvi ably conducted the strike, which continued for over two months. Demonstrations and protest meetings were held in various parts of the country. In a bid to resolve the crisis and bring about reforms in the working of the institution Shibli wrote to many of his friends and students such as Nawwab Sayyid Hasan Ali Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulvi Masood Ali and Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi. Some of their replies were intercepted by the officials of Nadva. They misconstrued the contents, and Shibli was accused of having fomented the whole trouble. Members of Nadva who were in favour of reforms formed Majlis-i-Islah-i- Nadva in Lucknow in April 1914 and its branches were opened in different parts of the country. The man who did yeoman service to this cause was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad through the columns of Al-Hilal. Hakeem Ajmal Khan, the noted physician and freedom-fighter also joined hands with him in this venture. After several rounds of talks and meetings at Delhi, the members succeeded in persuading the students to call off the strike. On 24 May 1914 a general meeting was called in Delhi under the aegis of Majlis-i-Islah-i-Nadva, and a new Dastur-ul-Amal of Nadva was drafted. Shibli was invited to attend the meeting, but he expressed his inability to go on account of poor health and being preoccupied with the writing of Siratun Nabi in Bombay. He, however, through his letter called upon the members to work in harmony with each other. He also suggested that two or three persons should be entrusted with all the responsibilities and their decisions should be acceptable to all provided it gets the approval of the Managing Body. Later in a meeting held on 18 March 1915 Majlis-i-Islah-i-Nadva accepted most of the principles for which Shibli had been raising his voice. But Shibli did not remain alive to see the day.
Nadvatul Ulama, Lucknow, owed its origin to the collective efforts of a group of enlightened Indian Ulama who had the good wishes of some of the Arabian Ulama as well. The prime movers of the Movement were selfless workers who showed no interest in projecting themselves as the founders. This is why in later years a controversy arose regarding the real founder of Nadva. Be that as it may the growth of this institution belies the general myth that the Indian Muslims were absolutely conservative and refused to change. After 1857 in the field of knowledge no other Movement had gained such popular support as that of Nadva Movement. Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, Lahore, Anjuman Islamia, Punjab, Anjuman Islamia, Amritsar, Majlis Moin-ul-Nadva(Bihar), Anjuman Moin-ul-Nadva ,Meerut, and a number of other schools and orphanages owed their existence to the spirit generated by Nadva. Sir John Hewitt, Lieutenant Governor, highly praised Nadva and its syllabus, and described it as a blend of past educational thought and methodology with that of modern learning suited to the aspirations of the people. Its progressive thought attracted English knowing Muslims to attend its deliberations. In its annual session held in Calcutta in 1904 a number of Hindus such as Raja Dagpat, Maharaja Natwar and Banerjee Gosh attended its meeting. The famous Arabic scholar, Dr. Harvez, described it as the best madrasa of United Provinces for Arabic studies of contemporary times, highlighting the point that Arabic was the medium of instruction and where teachers were also trained how to lecture. For all this remarkable growth of education it was Shibli Nomani who galvanized the latent energy of the Muslim Ummah. His speeches and lectures were eagerly awaited and heard with rapturous attention, so much so that often his verses rendered in gatherings were immediately printed and purchased by the people. Such was his reputation that in 1899, Allama Sayyid Rasheed Reza, whose name has been mentioned earlier, proposed the name of Shibli Nomani for the reform movement in Egypt.57 Hakeem Ajmal Khan praised Shibli as a learned and enlightened scholar and said that Nadva owed all its development to the efforts of this untiring soul who worked heart and soul for its uplift. His efforts deserve commendable praise if we take into consideration that he worked with an amputated leg. It is indeed an undeniable fact that Shibli was ever ready to sacrifice the pleasures of life for the sake of Nadva, nursing the ambition of seeing Nadva develop into a University of Islamic Religious Sciences – an institution where scholars could lecture fluently in Arabic and English.
As it is to be seen Shibli fell victim to a long drawn internal strife and unscrupulous behaviour of his rivals, a feature quite common in most of the madrasas of the Indian sub-continent. The crisis, in fact, reflects the conflict between the conservative forces and the liberal progressive thinking. The strike of the students was a manifestation of some basic flaw in the working of the institution. The men who opposed Shibli were self-conceited, shortsighted and obsessed with racial superiority. They were not prepared to loosen their control over the institution and showed no serious concern to resolve the conflicting issues. It were these men who had hitherto opposed the establishment of Darul Musannefin at Nadva. On the other hand Shibli had lofty ideals of democratic principles. He believed in consensus of the general people in the running of the administration, and wanted transparency in financial dealings of the institution.
Nevertheless Shibli was not free of weaknesses. He was outspoken and unrelenting in his behaviour and thought and was very much self-conscious of his ability. He disliked meeting people during his study-hours. Some of his letters bear harsh tones, which must have been irksome even to his well-wishers, although it must be remembered that they arose out of his anxiety for the promotion of Nadva. It was on account of this intense zeal that he could not instantly break off all ties with Nadva after his resignation. Overwhelmed by the thought that he could still serve Nadva, howsoever informal it may be, he returned back to Lucknow. On hindsight it may be said that Shibli should not have done so, for subsequently it landed him in a fresh controversy ultimately leading to the strike by the students. In one of his writings he explicitly states that he had in no way instigated the strike, but reiterated the point that to many people the strike was an expression of the genuine demands of the students. His objection to Abdul Kareem’s writing was undoubtedly for reasons of political expediency and in the interest of Nadva. Perhaps, Shibli could have written better on this topic, but he should not have termed the writing of Abdul Kareem as abhorrent.
To many people Shibli’s living was not in conformity with the traditional mode of living adopted by the conservative Ulama. But it must be remembered that being a writer, poet, historian, educationist, and a person with a broad vision, he could not devote himself exclusively to Imamat or teaching and preaching in a hospice. In his thought and action he did not discard traditionalism but accepted it with modernity of thought. In fact, he was a representative of his age – an age of transition, which was poised for a new beginning, and Shibli was among its harbingers.
The immediate effect of Shibli’s resignation on the fortunes and prestige of Nadva was disastrous. The strength of the students was reduced to mere 32 students. The publication of Al-Nadva suffered a chequered history and it had to be closed in 1916. It was restarted after great effort in 1940. The study of Sanskrit and Hindi was discontinued. This resulted in a great loss in so far as its learning would have initiated the study of comparative religions among the Muslims. For Shibli, the departure from Nadva was a boon in disguise, for had he not left Nadva, the scheme of Siratun Nabi, his magnum opus, as well as the foundation of Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy might not have materialized.
1. Javed Ali Khan, Early Urdu Historiography, Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna, 2005, pp.43, 54-72.
2. Maulvi Muhammad Ishaque Jalees Nadvi, Tarikh-i- Nadvatul Ulama(Vol.1), Daftar-i- Nizamat Nadvatul Ulama, Lucknow, 1983, p.38.
3. Javed Ali Khan, op.cit., pp.66-67 ; S.M. Husain, Islamic Education in Bengal, Islamic Culture,Vol.8 (1934),quoting report of the Calcutta University
4. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, Entazami Press, Kanpur, 1894, p.27.
5. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, Entazami Press, Rampur, 1899, p.10.
6. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, op.cit., 1894, p.46. This information has been provided by Mamluk Ali, a teacher of Dehli College, who had served in
two such madrasas. The subjects taught in these madrasas included Adab, Mathematics and Ma’qul.
7. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, op.cit., 1894, p.50. It may be noted that on 22 June 1813 a bill was passed in the House of Commons that those
priests who wish to go to India with the intention of converting Indians to the fold of Christianity can go. As a result, 29 missionary Societies
and Associations started working (names given in Rudad) and 12 American Christian Societies.(Rudad-i- Nadvatul Ulama, p.90).
8. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1896, p.98.
9. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, Calcutta, 1901(December), Mahmudul Mat’ba, Kanpur, p.66.
10. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama,(Ed). Shibli Nomani, Asi Press, Lucknow, 1907, p.67.
11. Barbara Daly Metcalf, Islamic Revivalism in British India: Deoband (1860-1900), Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1982, p.56.
12. It did not satisfy many Muslims. The inauguration of Mohemadan Anglo Oriental High School by William Muir (24 May 1878) was frowned upon
by many Muslims because it was he who had made insinuative remarks about Prophet Muhammed (pbh) in his book.
13. He himself made great effort to learn English and was able to read out the telegrams in English. See Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, Hayat-i-Shibli,
Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy, Azamgarh, 1999, p.302.
The places he travelled in India included Nageena(Bijnor), Najeebabad, Etawah, Aligarh, Jhansi, Bhopal, Bombay and Berar.
14. For a detailed discussion on this point, see Rudad-i- Nadvatul Ulama, Kanpur, 1894, pp.158-160.
Some of them were Fazl Rahman Ganj Muradabadi, Haji Imadudaullah Muhajir Makki, Mawlana Lutfullah, Abdul Hai, Maulana Shah Sulaiman
Phulwari, Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani and Munshi Athar Ali (Ra’is of Kakori).
15. Muhammad Ishaque Jalees, op.cit., pp.104-111; Rudad-i- Nadva, 1901, p.68.
16. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1904, p.22.
17. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, op.cit., p.310.
18. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, op.cit., 1894, p.50.
19. Maulvi Muhammad Ishaque Jalees Nadvi, op.cit., p.90.
20. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, op.cit., 1894, p.34.
21. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, Kanpur, 1894, pp.46-47.
22. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, Bans Bariely, 1896, pp.66-67.
23. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, Mahmudul Mat’ba, Kanpur 1901 (December), p.10. The letter bears the following message
Maulana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi writes in Hayat-i-Shibli:
24. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1904, p.110.
25. Maulvi Shams Tabrez Khan, Tarikh-i-Nadvatul Ulama (Vol.2)1st edition, Daftar-i- Nizamat Nadvatul Ulama, Lucknow, pp.39-40. It may be noted
that Maulana Khalilul Rahman Saharanpuri was the son of Maulana Ahmad Ali Muhaddis Saharanpuri who had been the teacher of Shibli
Nomani. Maulana Sayyid Abdul Hai was made mua’tamid-i-murasalat(i.e., that of correspondence) and Maulana Muhammad Ehtesham Ali was
made mua’tami-i- mal (i.e., that of financial matters).
26. The English department consisted of four persons: Tirmiz Husain (M.A. Head Master), Baqar Husain (Second Master), Deen Muhammed (Third
Master) and Abdul Jaleel (Fourth Master). Shamsul Ulama Mufti Abdullah Tonki and Maulana Sher Ali taught logic and philosophy. Adab was
taught by Maulana Farooq Chiryakoti and Sheikh Muhammed Tayyab Makki Rampuri. Other teachers were Sheikh Umar (of Bhopal), a master of
Hadees, and Maulana Hafeezullah (of Ghazipur, Madrasa Chasm-i-Rahmat).
27. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1904, p.98.
28. Ibid, 1907, p.20.
29. Maulvi Muhammad Ishaque Jalees Nadvi, op.cit., p.192. For Al-Bayan, see Rudad-i- Nadvatul Ulama, 1907, p.20.
30. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1912, p.113.
31. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, op.cit., pp.491-92. But Shibli was not satisfied with this outward manifestation. When the partitioned walls raised from
the ground became visible on the plane surface, Shibli out of intense impulse went to the site (February, Friday,1910) along with all the
students and teachers and said to the assembled people that let us now lay the real foundation. Accordingly everybody approached the
structure meant for the study of Tafseer. Labourers were asked to stand aside, and the people themselves started bringing bricks and other
building materials. Shibli also joined them and carried bricks to the mason. He then prayed for the prosperity of Nadva. He would often visit the
site, sometimes alone and sometimes along with his companions. This building witnessed a grand celebration when Allama Sayyid Rasheed
Reza and Sir Agha Khan visited Nadva at the behest of Shibli.
32. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1897, pp.34-35.
33. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1910, p.61.
34. In a short period of time Nadvatul Ulama was able to produce a band of English knowing students. For example, Ziaul Hasan Alvi, who later completed his education at Aligarh became the first Inspector of Arabic Madrasas in 1916 in the State of Uttar Pradesh. Maulana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi owed his knowledge of English to Nadva and with its knowledge was able to work in Europe. Maulana Abdul Bari Nadvi was able to translate many English books of modern Philosophy, Psychology and Morality into Urdu. This earned him the Professorship of Philosophy in Jamia Usmania University. Maulvi Zainul Abdeen Nadvi and Maulvi Ahmadullah Nadvi were able to go to America and England respectively. Some other persons whose name can be mentioned in this regard are Haji Moinuddin Nadvi and Maulvi Masood Alam Nadvi.
35. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1904, p.120.
36. These were Maulvi Muhammad Yaseen, Professor at Patna College, Maulvi Sheikh Abdul Qadir (M.A.), Professor at Deccan College, Pune (Bombay), Muhammad Abdul Aziz, Principal, Islamia College, Lahore, and Muhammad Ebraheem Qureshi (L.T.), Madras (Madras University). Some persons of Allahabad were also approached. See Rudad Nadvatul Ulama, 1912, p.78.
37. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1912, pp.79-87.
38. Ibid., pp. 89-90, 91.
39. His call met with success and about 150 Muslims enrolled themselves as members to offer financial assistance.
40. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1904, pp.157-8.
41. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1912, pp. 163-64.
42. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1910, pp. 75-76; Rudad…, 1912, p.126.
43. Ibid., 1894, p.92; Tarikh-i Nadva, Part ll, p.48.
44. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, op.cit., p.392.
45. Tarikh-i-Nadva, Part ll, p.64.
46. Rudad-i-Nadvatul Ulama, 1912, p.112.
47. Ibid., 1907, p.73.
48. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, op.cit., pp.641-42; Makatib-i-Shibli, Part ll, Matba’ Ma’arif, Azamgarh, 1971, pp.98-99
49. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, op.cit., p.641.
50. Ibid., p.642.
51. Ibid., p.643.
52. Ibid., pp.644-45. Actually some of the members of the Managing Committee assembled in another room and forwarded the argument that they are empowered to make and unmake laws. To this Shibli pointed out that even for such a decision the constitution stipulates that fifteen days prior notice should be given to all the members
53. Shibli gave clarification of his position in one of his letter accusing his rivals of playing a double role in respect to Abdul Kareem. For details see Hayat-i-Shibli, pp.647-650; Makatib-i-Shibli, Part l, p.305.
54. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, op.cit., pp.643-645.
55. Maulvi Muhammad Ishaque Jalees Nadvi,Tarikh-i-Nadvatul Ulama, Daftar Nizamat Nadvatul Ulama, Lucknow, 1983,p.90.
56. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi, op.cit.,p.650.
57. Maulvi Muhammad Ishaque Jalees Nadvi, op.cit., p.90.