Spiritual Master of the 21st Century
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh (Peace, Blessings & Mercy of Allah be upon You).
إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
While we were still coping with the news of the passing of Maulana Saleemullah Khan (RA), it has now has reached us with great regret and sadness that the erudite Scholar Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafīz al-Makki (RA) just passed away at Pietermaritzburg (South Africa). Death of a Scholar is a calamity in its own right but passing away of a great personality such as Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafīz al-Makki (RA) is an irreplaceable loss to the Muslim Ummah. We make Dua for Allah Ta’ala to forgive his sins and grant him the paradise (Ameen).
We are reminded of this blessed saying of Nabi (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) at this occasion:
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ انْتِزَاعًا يَنْتَزِعُهُ مِنْ الْعِبَادِ وَلَكِنْ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ بِقَبْضِ الْعُلَمَاءِ حَتَّى إِذَا لَمْ يُبْقِ عَالِمًا اتَّخَذَ النَّاسُ رُءُوسًا جُهَّالًا فَسُئِلُوا فَأَفْتَوْا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ فَضَلُّوا وَأَضَلُّوا
Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Amr (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, “Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but rather he takes away knowledge with the death of the scholars until he leaves no scholar behind and the people turn to the ignorant as their leaders. They are asked to give religious judgments without knowledge, thus they are led astray and lead others astray.” [Bukhari]
By Mawlana As’ad Mahmud Makki
Translated by (Shaykh) Ismaeel Nakhuda
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Jami Shari’at wa Tariqat Hadhrat Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hafeez al-Makki was one of the foremost khalifahs (deputies) and leading students of the great Mujaddid of Islam, Qutub al-Aqtab Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi al-Muhajir al-Madani. Hadhrat was born in pre-partition India in 1946CE, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab. His family, originally from Kashmir, had settled in the region approximately fifty years earlier.
Hadhrat’s lineage reaches a certain Raja ‘Abd al-Salam Malik, who had accepted Islam at the hands of Amir Kabir Sayyid ‘Ali al-Hamdani — a famous fourteenth century Sufi scholar, who had arrived in Kashmir to propagate Islam. Raja ‘Abd al-Salam was the ruler of the sub-district of Kuligam, an area surrounding the town of Islamabad in Kashmir.
At partition, Hadhrat’s family joined the mass exodus of Muslims migrating to Pakistan and came to live in Faisalabad (Lailpur). It was there that Hadhrat began his education and learned to recite the Qur’an under the tutelage of his paternal grandmother, who would teach local children. Troubled by the turmoil of partition and the consequent pitiful situation of those affected, Hadhrat’s father left Pakistan in 1373AH/1953CE and migrated (hijrah) to the holy city of Makkah al-Mukarramah, where he became a permanent resident obtaining Saudi nationality in 1380AH/1960CE.
In Makkah al-Mukarramah, under the tutelage of Qari ‘Abd al-Rauf, who was a teacher at Makkah’s famous Islamic seat of learning Al-Madrasah al-Sawlatiyyah, Hadhrat studied the Qur’an once more, this time with tajwid. In 1374AH/1954CE, Hadhrat enrolled at Makkah’s Al-Madrasah al-S’adiyyah, where he gained both a religious and secular education. He also subsequently studied at other educational institutes in the holy city.
Having completed his secondary education in 1384AH/1964CE, Hadhrat was instructed by his father Haji Malik ‘Abd al-Haq — a famous Makkan factory owner and one of the responsible individuals of Tablighi Jama’at in the Hijaz, who was also subsequently appointed a khalifah of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith — to spend a year in Jama’at in the special company of the then Amir of Tabligh Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Yusuf al-Kandhalawi, author of Hayat al-Sahabah, a biographical record of the lives of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). During this one year in Tabligh, Hadhrat was also blessed with the close company of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana In’am al-Hasan, who remained Amir of Tabligh for thirty-years after the demise of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana Yusuf al-Kandhalawi.
In 1385AH/1965CE, with the permission of his respected father and at the direction of Hadhrat Ji Mawlana In’am al-Hasan, Hadhrat became a murid of Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi. On returning to Makkah al-Mukarramah, Hadhrat remained involved in the work of Tabligh within Saudi Arabia and studied various books of the Dars-e-Nizami — a study curriculum used in madrasahs across the world.
A couple of years later in 1387AH/1967CE, Hadhrat travelled to the famous north Indian seat of learning Mazahir al-Ulum, Saharanpur, and under the tutelage of famous erudite ‘ulama there studied the Mawquf ‘Alayh — those parts of the Dars-e-Nizami that students need to cover in order to gain admission into the final year of hadith known as the Dawrah Hadith, which consists of an intense study of the major works of hadith.
After studying there some time, Hadhrat returned to Makkah al-Mukarramah where he continued his studies in Islam. The following year in 1388AH/1968CE, Hadhrat returned to Saharanpur once more and completed the Dawrah Hadith. This was also the final year that Hadhrat Shaykh al- Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya lectured on Imam Bukhari’s Sahih. Hadhrat was also blessed with the opportunity of coming first in the highly competitive final year exams at Mazahir al-‘Ulum.
At the tender age of twenty on 27 Ramadan 1386AH/1966CE, Hadhrat was granted khilafat by Hadhrat Shaykh during ‘eitikaf at Mazahir al-‘Ulum’s Dar-e-Jadid Mosque. On the occasion, Hadhrat Shaykh took off his turban and placed it on Hadhrat’s head granting him permission in the four Chishti, Naqshbandi, Suharwardi and Qadri tariqahs.
Right until the death of Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi in 1402AH/1982CE, Hadhrat remained devoted to his shaykh’s service (khidmah) and would not allow any sort of family, business and educational preoccupations prevent him from remaining in his company (suhbat). This was especially the case during the blessed months of Ramadan.
While Hadhrat Shaykh was alive, all of Hadhrat’s activities — from lecturing hadith at Al-Madrasah al-Sawlatiyyah to travelling on Tabligh to the US, Japan, India, Pakistan, Africa and various Middle Eastern countries — were done with the blessings and instruction of Hadhrat Shaykh.
Under the guidance and wish of his shaykh and with the aim of widely circulating his academic works, Hadhrat established Al-Maktabah al-Imdadiyyah in Makkah al-Mukarramah and Al-Rashid Printing Press in Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.
On numerous occasions Hadhrat spent a considerable amount of time in Egypt, supervising the publication of Hadhrat Shaykh’s Awjaz al-Masalik, a brilliant multi-voluminous commentary on Imam Malik’s Muwatta, considered one of the best; and Hadhrat Mawlana Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri’s Badhl al-Majhud, also a multi-voluminous commentary on Sunan Abu Dawud considered an authority on the subject.
Hadhrat’s meticulous efforts in the publication of these works won Hadhrat Shaykh’s admiration, love and heartfelt supplications. This is something that Hadhrat Shaykh mentioned time and again on numerous occasions in his autobiography, Aap Biti, and something that has also been mentioned by Mufakkir-e-Islam Shaykh Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi in his biography of Hadhrat Shaykh.
Since Hadhrat Shaykh’s demise, Hadhrat continued to keep alive his shaykh’s academic and spiritual legacy by publishing various Arabic and Urdu books, including a twenty-four volume commentary of Imam al-Bukhari’s Sahih (currently under publication) entitled Al-Kanz al-Mutawari, which contains the commentary of Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi and other Akabir Deobandi ‘Ulama.
Living in the Hijaz, Hadhrat was constantly been involved in enlightening the Arab world about the academic efforts of the Akabir of Deoband and their mode of tasawwuf, which has the distinguishing feature of being in complete agreement to the Qur’an and hadith. Beyond the Hijaz, Hadhrat traveled the world regularly — especially to the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa, Europe, North America and the Far East — calling people to tasawwuf. Hadhrat was also passionately involved in raising the banner of Islam (e’lah kalimat Allah) by tirelessly establishing organisations and providing them with spiritual and moral support. Apart from preparing individuals to serve at madrasahs, mosques and khanqahs, Hadhrat also prepared countless individuals to serve Islam in various other fields including in dawah and Tabligh.
Hadhrat’s murids and those that have obtained permission to narrate hadith (ijazah) from him — from the Middle East and beyond — number in thousands. Hadhrat’s khalifahs reside in Pakistan, South Africa, UK, India, Hijaz, Bangladesh, Nepal and the West Indies. Hadhrat regularly visits Pakistan, Africa and other parts of the world to show people the path of tasawwuf with thousands of people flocking to benefit from his landmark visits, spiritual gatherings and lectures.