Aala Hazrat was a leader of enlightenment and progress who stands out most prominently as a philosopher, reformer, thinker and revivalist of Islam in the 18th century
‘Some are born great’ and one of them was Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (RA). He was regarded as one of the greatest Sunni revivalists of Islam, a master of both modern and Islamic Sciences. He was known to have proficiency in over 60 branches of knowledge including Fiqh, Aqeeda, Mantiq, Science, Geography and Mathematics. Moreover, jurisprudence was one of the main subjects of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (RA). He was totally proficient in Fiqh and received acceptance by the great Ulma of East and West. The methodology of issuing Fatwa and the literary works produced by him is conclusive evidence of his position and status in the juristic world. Furthermore, Fatwa-e-Rizwiya is a living example. However, when there is a plethora of unresolved cases and acrimonious debate over Triple Talaq, love Jihad, Hadd and Qisas in the world and especially in India, we must refer to the juristic works of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Barelevi (RA). Therefore, this essay is an attempt to find out the juristic insight of AalaHazrat and its significance to contemporary society.
Among the galaxy of intellectuals produced by the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century, Imam Ahmad Raza Khan was one of them. He was a great scholar, poet, expert writer, theologian, famous jurist, mathematician, logician, a great exegete and the modernizer of Islamic applications. Although he was an expert in various areas, his juristic insight was at another level.
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan was a great writer who used his pen for the reformation of obsolete Islamic Shariah Law. In order to reform society, he wrote extensively on juristic Masail, which contains the solutions to daily problems from religion to business and from war to marriage. Al-Atayan-Nabawiya-Fi-Fatwa Rizwiya was his magnum opus work, which spans over 33 volumes. Today, it is regarded as the encyclopedia of Hanafi jurisprudence. It is historically recorded that due to the decline of the Mughal Empire and the advent of British rulers, many alterations happened in Islamic Shariah and cases were handled by non-Muslim judges. Therefore, he prepared innumerable researched treaties on an academic level in order to eradicate anti-Islamic laws. To this day the Muslim masses benefit from his Ahkame-Shariat, Irfane-Shariat, Al-Malfooz and Fatawaye-Africa which deal with almost every Masail of our day-to-day life.
Whenever he used to issue any fatwa, he did so with incisiveness and substantiated details. For example, he has described 306 kinds of water, discussing qualities, and chemical reactions and proved that with 160 kinds of water, ablution can be made and with 146 kinds of water ablution is not permissible. Likewise, he has drawn a list of 181 kinds of soil and matters which fit to be used for Tayyammum while 130 things are unfit for it. Furthermore, Fatwa-e-Rizwiya is an ocean of learning and knowledge. Imam Ahmad Raza Khan has used theories of physics, Geology, Chemistry, Logarithm, Spherical Trigonometry, Algebra and viewpoints of trade, commerce and economics in this book to elaborate Islamic legal verdict. The great writer of the subcontinent, Maulana Kausar Niyazi remarked, “Aala Hazrat is second Abu Hanifa”. In another statement, he said that there are two most dependable Hanafi books one is Fatawaye Alamgir, which is the outcome of 700 scholars’ collective effort, while the second one is Fatawa-e-Rizwiya, the effort of the individual.
Moreover, his juristic works “Jiddul Mumtar” and “Kilful Faqihi Fahim-Fi-Ahkam-e-Kirtas-e- Darahim” is also the symbol of his juristic insight. JiddulMumtar is the commentary (Sharah) of Radd-al-Mukhtar, the masterpiece of Allama Shami. In spite of being a Kitab of commentary, Ala Hazrat managed to add the main body (Matan) and footnotes (Hashia), which makes this book special. ”Kilful Faqihi Fahim-Fi-Ahkam-e-Kirtas-e- Darahim” was a compilation of answers to currency notes. Indeed, the Imam wrote a lot of books but what must be noted is that the quantity of books is not what makes him great, but the quality of books brought him to this position.
To conclude, one must believe that Aala Hazrat was a leader of enlightenment and progress who stands out most prominently as a philosopher, reformer, thinker and revivalist of Islam in the 18th century. In spite of becoming astonishingly well-versed in over 50 disciplines, he majorly contributed to reforming Islamic Shariah Law through the extensive reading and writing of Islamic jurisprudence. However, when the world is running through the acrimonious debate over Triple Talaq, inheritance law and many more, we need to re-read the juristic works of Imam Aala Hazrat, which could somehow save us from going astray.
The writer is the administrator of Darasgah Taleem-ul-Quran Rohama. He can be reached at [email protected]