Shah Waliullah and His Reconciliatory Approach

Shah Waliullah and His Reconciliatory Approach
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Ishfaq Nissar Padder

Shah Waliullah Dehalwi (1703_17××) belonged to an intellectual family of Delhi. He grew and received intellectual insights from his family members who had been first intellectuals, theologians cum revivalists and reformers. He was influenced by various personalities like Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Arabi and so on. Shah Waliullah belonged to the Naqshbandi order(or silsilah) of Sufism. As far as his education was concerned, Shah Waliullah was very keen about his studies. He was only 17 years old when he became hafiz e Quran and he was very keen about studying theology . He visited various places in search of knowledge. The conditions of Muslims in India during Waliullah’s times were chaotic and unstable: there were far away from the teachings of Quran and Sunnah. During such unfavorable conditions prevailing in both political and Social aspects of the society of the society, Shah was very keen to reform society. In such situations Shah Waliullah adopted the reconciliatory approach in order to bring all Muslims towards the teaching of Quran and Sunnah; his approach was free from extremism. The birth of Shah Waliullah can be called as land Mark in the history of Islam particularly with reference to India. There are few authors who are of the opinion that behind the piousness of Shah Waliullah there are some hidden intuitional happenings which forced Shah Abdul Raheem the father of Shah to marry with the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad Falti whose name according to Al-Qawlil Jaleel was Fakhr-un-Nisa.
Shah Waliullah’s Movement
As mentioned above, the socio-political conditions were unstable in India because of the last days of Mughal Rule. Shah Waliullah took keen interest in the reformation of Muslims of India and wanted to bring them back to the principles of Quran and Sunnah. The approach which was adopted by the Shah Waliullah was “Reconciliatory”, which means to reconcile the Muslims. He did not follow any particular jurisprudence school but was keenly interested in establishing a state which should be based on the principles of Quran and Sunnah or we can say he wanted to establish Khalafat. He didn’t reject totally Sufism but wanted to reform Sufism on the basis of Islamic principles. That is why, he was of the view that Wahdat ul Wajood and Wahdat ul Shahood are the two different stages of spiritual development. He was also of the opinion that we should not follow or show rigidity towards any particular school of Jurisprudence but was of the view that avoiding any school of Jurisprudence constituted a risk and becoming the followers of them meant security. One of the important features of his movement was that he was in favor of Shia-Sunni unity in order to reach the target, that is, the establishment of Khilafat. He was also of the view that we should take good points or we can say those very points from the Sufism which had been approved by Islam. Another important feature of his movement was that he never tried to dismantle the shrine of any Sufi saint. He has written a good number of books in which the most important one is Hujat-ul lahi Balegah in which the basic teachinhs of Islam are discussed in a very simple way. Shah Waliullah, in his entire life, did not take any active participation in military campaigns.
Shah maintained a balanced moderate approach in Islamic jurisprudence and didn’t follow any particular school of thought. Sometimes he agrees and disagrees with any particular view of any school of Islamic jurisprudence but it was based on concrete arguments and not personal attachment or personal benefit. This attitude of Shah helped in removal of such bad evils in society which time to time became harmful for a w dynamic Muslim society which included narrow-mindedness, rigid conformity, prejudice and so on. All this gave birth to research and Ijtihad. He also tried to harmonize the Islamic Fiqh and Hadith because during his times Fiqh was in dominance as compared to Hadith and thereby more stress was laid upon Fiqh rather than Ahadith.
As far as the present situation of Muslims, at the global level, is concerned, it is observed that everywhere Muslims are not uniting; the primary reason behind it is that we are far away from the Quran and the traditions of Prophet (SAW). Jurisprudential differences have become main reason behind the separation of Muslims from one another but a Muslim should adopt reconciliatory approach so that we can come close to each other in order to bring back the glory which we have lost earlier.
I, as a student of Islamic Studies, agree with the approach of Shah Waliullah because there is no unity among Muslims across the globe and we are divided on the minute issues particularly on Jurisprudence. One more thing I would like to highlight which is about Sufism as I have mentioned earlier that Shah Waliullah didn’t reject Sufism wholly, but was of the view to bring positive points from Sufism in order to develop the spirituality of Muslims. So, it is duty of every Muslim try to maintain to maintain Unity among the different groups of so that we can regain the lost glory for which Muslims are known to the present time in each and every aspect of life. The need of the hour is to look for such approaches , seek and learn from the lessons and the legacy of such Muslim legendary intellectuals as Shah Waliullah.

—The author has done an MA in Islamic Studies at IUST, Awantipora. He can be reached at:ishfaq.nissar@gmail.com

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