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The Achievement’S Of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid

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The Achievement’s of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid



By ‘Allamah Sayyid Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadawi

Translated by Mohiuddin Ahmad


The reformatory endeavour of Sayyid Ahmad ibn ‘Irfan Shahid al-Berelwi (1201/1786 – 1246/1831 / Allah have mercy on him) and the far-reaching effect his movement had on the subsequent development of Indian Muslims are  recognised by all, friends and foes alike. However we cite here the views of some scholars of the earlier generations about the achievements of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid.


‘Abd al-Ahad writes: “More than forty thousand Hindus and other non-Muslims embraced Islam through his efforts and three million Muslims pledged allegiance to him. His deputies (khalifa) are still enlisting people to his order and the number of all such persons would run into several millions.” (Sawanih Ahmadi, p. 65)


Maulana Wilayat ‘Ali (d. 1269/1853) who had undergone great sacrifices for the sake of Sayyid’s cause, attested that: “Thousands of persons left their unsound creeds to embrace Islam. Within a brief period of five or six years three million persons took bay’at (allegiance) at the hands of the Sayyid while another hundred thousand were initiated in his order during his pilgrimage.” (Risalah Da’wat)


Another reputed scholar, Nawab Sayyid Siddiq Hasan Khan of Bhopal (d. 1307/1890) who had met a number of Sayyid’s disciples bears witness to the task of reform and renovation of faith performed by the Sayyid in these words: “A sign of God he was in guiding the people on the right path and making their hearts incline towards God. A large number of these pure-hearted souls attained sainthood through the potent influence exerted by him, while his spiritual successors swept the country clean of all innovations and polytheistic thoughts and practices, and this great work of reformation is still continuing… In short, there was none so godly and perfect of spirit in the whole world in those days, nor was there any mystic or religious scholar who exerted such a salutary influence even over one-tenth of the people as he did.” (Taqsar Juyud al-Ahrar, p. 109-110)


It was through the Sayyid’s magnetic personality that the founders of the Deoband school, on the one hand, and a body of selfless workers headed by the great organisers of Sadiqpur (the centre of the Sayyid’s Jihad movement), on the other, were initiated in the Mujaddidiyyah-Naqshbandiyyah order. The first group exerted itself to establish educational institutions for religious reform while the second struggled against foreign influences alien to the spirit and teachings of Islam. Both of them awakened the Muslims from their deep slumber at a time when they seemed to have no future at all. These disciples and deputies of the Sayyid restored the self confidence of the Indian Muslims. The intellectual ferment and quickened vitality of the masses informed by a sense of Islamic identity stirred up by the followers of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid, constituted a marvellous achievement of the Sayyid’s movement which was not only unparalleled in the history of  mysticism and religious reform but also protected the great Muslim community of this sub-continent against ever reverting back to unsound beliefs and polytheistic practices as witnessed in India towards the later half of the tenth century after Hijri. All these achievements assign a honoured place to the Sayyid among the galaxy of great mujaddids whom we find giving a call to the faithful at every turning point of our history.


(Saviours of Islamic Spirit Volume 3, Lucknow: Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, 1994, p. 332-4)



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