IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. Peace and blessings be upon the noble Messenger Muhammad. The conduct of our right acting predecessors represents living Islamic values. Therefore, their stories are of great benefit in training the impulses of the lower self. They also reflect the spirit and temperament passed down through successive generations from the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). As a result, if one were to compare the effectiveness of a long motivational speech with that of a short illustration from the life of one of these awliya, the latter will often prove to be much more potent in its persuasive impact. For this reason writers throughout history have compiled collections of the most noteworthy biographical details from the lives of the awliya.

The scholars of Deoband were blessed with the exemplary characteristics of the Companions and Successors; not only in their speech and writings, but also in their deeds and behaviour. This fact becomes all the more significant when it is considered that the example set by these scholars arises from the recent, rather than the more distant, past. By Allah’s grace, biographies of the majority of these scholars have been published, however, various incidents involving them do not necessarily feature in these works. Allah had granted my father, Mawlana Mufti Muhammad Shafi the privilege of being allowed to benefit directly from the scholars of Deoband for around fifty years, and therefore he was also able to acquire and reflect the exemplary traits of these men. At times, he recounted, both at home and elsewhere, incidents related to his teachers and mentors that 1 often felt needed to be recorded in writing.

This desire of mine was partly fulfilled when the editor of the journal ar-Rashid (Sahiwal, Pakistan) asked me to produce something on Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband for a special issue. Owing to my many commitments, it was not possible for me to write an academic paper. However, 1 produced a compilation of events related to the lives of the scholars of Deoband. The article appeared under the title “Akabir-i Deoband Kya Thay” (Urdu) in the Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband edition of ar-Rashid. Subsequently, on the occasion of the Dar al-Ulum Deoband’s centenary celebrations, it was included in a series of introductory booklets. This was during the lifetime of my esteemed father.

1 had written the piece in haste, merely assembling a collection of illustrative incidents, with a view to compiling these properly at a later stage. I had also planned to ask my father’s assistance in sourcing a greater quantity of reports, as many of them had escaped my attention at the time. However, as a result of un-necessary delays, this unique opportunity was missed, since in the meantime my father passed away and his contribution was irreplaceable.

After my father’s death, an extensive special issue of al-Balagh magazine entitled “Mufti-i A’zam’’ was published under my editorship, and carried an article written by me entitled “Hadrat ke Shuyukh-o-Akabir” (Urdu) in which I included those of my father’s reports about his teachers and mentors that I could remember, in the hope of preserving them.

Both of these articles are included in this book on the strength of their common theme. However, as they were written separately, there is an inevitable degree of overlap between them, which it is hoped will enhance, rather than detract from, the usefulness of the end product[1]. It should also be noted that the later article, “Hadrat ke Shuyukh-o-Akabir”, appears first in this book, as it is more extensive than the earlier one,”Akabir-i Deoband Kya Thay”.

My ability to render this service is entirely from Allah, there-fore I pray that He renders this work beneficial, and that He may inspire us all to follow in the footsteps of these noble awliya. Amin.

Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Dar Ul Uloom, Karachi

26 Rabr 1,1415 AH (1994 CE)

[1] Please note the aforementioned repetition has generally been avoided in this translation.