IMAM AHMAD RAZA KHAN
the neglected genius of the east……
“The Neglected Genius of the East”
Imam Ahmed Raza Khan was born at Bareilly(India) in 1272/1856. His father Maulana Naqi All Khan (d.1297/1880) and grandfather Maulana Raza All Khan (d.1282/1866) were celebrated theologians recongnized as such by academic circles of the entire subcontinent.
Islam and Science
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (may Allah be pleased with him) was 4 years old when he completed
the recitation of the Holy Quran due to the extraordinary intelligence bestowed upon him by
Almighty Allah. He received the customary Islamic education of his time and his name was
listed amongst the graduate ulema (scholars) of the Islamic world. He states that, “I
completed my religious education during the middle of the month of Shabaan in the year 1286
AH. I was 13 years, 10 months and 5 days old at that time. It was also at this time that salaah
became fard upon me and I began to have great interest in the Laws of Shariah”. (al Ijazatur
Imam Ahmad Raza
(may Allah be pleased with him) also studied under the guidance of the following luminous
1. Hazrat Maulana Abdul Ali Rampuri (may Allah be pleased with him),
2. Sheikh-e-Kabeer, Hazrat Sayyid Shah Abul Hassan Ahmed Noori
(may Allah be pleased with him),
3. Sheikh-e-Tariqah, Hazrat Sayyid Shah Al-e-Rasul (may Allah be pleased with him),
4. Sheikh Ahmed bin Zain-e-Dahlaan Makki (may Allah be pleased with him),
5. Sheikh Abdur Rahman Makki (may Allah be pleased with him), and
6. Sheikh Hussain bin Salih Makki (may Allah be pleased with him).
He was a master of a number of disciplines that included his scholarly perfection of
the Quran and Hadith, Fiqh, Mathematics, Geometry, Astronomy, Modern and
Ancient Philosophy, Phonology, Chronometry (Ilm al-Tauqit), number manipulation
(Ilm-i-Jafar), Logarithms, Spherical Trigonometry etc, etc. He studied under various
teachers however with personal study he perfected himself in more than 55 different
disciplines of knowledge. These details were given in the Arabic Sanad-i-Ijaza, which
was given to Hafiz Kutub al-Haram Maulana Sayyid Ismail Khalil Makki (may Allah be
pleased with him). In 1323 oral Ijaza was given, on sixth Safar 1324 the manuscripts
were prepared and on 8th Safar 1324, a fair copy was finalized.
The chronological name of this sanad (certificate or testimonial) is al-Ijaza al-
Rizawiyya Li-mubjali Makka al-bahiyya. In this sanad, he has mentioned the
1. Ilm al-Quran (knowledge of Quran)
2. Ilm-i-Hadith (knowledge of Traditions)
3. Usul-i-Hadith (principles of Hadith)
4. Fiqh-i-Hanafi (Hanafi Jurisprudence)
5. Kutub-i-Fiqh Jumla (all books of Jurisprudence)
6. Usul-i-Fiqh (principles of Jurisprudence)
8. Ilm-i-Tafsir (knowledge of interpretation of Holy Quran)
9. Ilm-al-Akalam (scholastic theology)
10. Ilm-i-Nahaw (syntax)
11. Ilm-i-Sarf (grammar, accidence and Etymology)
12. Ilm-i-Maani (Elocution)
13. Ilm-i-Bayan (Rhetoric and Eloquence)
14. Ilm-i-Badi (Style)
15. Ilm-i-Manthiq (Logic)
16. Ilm-i-Munazara (knowledge of argumentation)
17. Ilm-i-Falsafa (knowledge of Philosophy)
18. Ilm-i-Taksir (carrying figures)
19. Ilm-i-Hayath (Astronomy)
20. Ilm-i-Hisab (Mathematics)
21. Ilm-i-Hindsa (Geometry)
The 21 aforesaid disciplines he writes, “these disciplines I mastered from my revered
father”. After this he mentions the following disciplines:
22. Qhirath (art of recitation of Quran)
23. Tajwid (knowledge of right pronunciation)
23. Tasawwuf (Islamic Mysticism)
24. Suluk (knowledge of manners in Islamic Mysticism)
25. Akhlaqh (Ethics)
26. Asma al-rijal (science of names of tradition-narrators)
27. Siyar (biographies)
28. Tawarikh (Chronology)
29. Loghath (Lexicon)
31. Adab Majumla Funni (1319/1901-2) he spoke for 6 hours on Surah al-Zuha.
Then he said that he had written commentaries on some ayah of this holy Surah; he
stopped commentaries after writing 80 Jn-i-Zamin-o-Aasman in1338. In this treatise,
he discussed the movement of the earth and opposed the views of Prof. Hakim Ali.
His angle of view about the modern and ancient philosophies was not imitative or
apologetic, but he was very creative and sincere. He had unshakable faith in the
Quran and the Hadith, and no vicissitudes of time could shake him.
About these 10 disciplines he writes: “I give Ijaza in these disciplines too, which I
have not studied under any teacher but I have Ijaza in these from discerning
Then he mentioned these disciplines:
32. Arsma-tiqi (Arithmetic)
33. Jabr-o-Moqhabila (Algebra)
35. Logharsamath (Logarithm)
36. Ilm al-Tauqith (Chronometry)
37. Manazir-o-Maraya (Science of Sight, etc)
38. Ilm al-Ukhur (Knowledge of the Spheres)
39. Zijath (Astronomical Tables)
40. Muthallath-i-Kurrawi (Spherical Trigonometry)
41. Muthallath-i-Musathah (Plane Trigonometry)
42. Ilay’ath-i-Jadida (Modern Astronomy)
43. Murabba’at (Quadrangular)
44. Jafr (Art of Cipher)
45. Za’ircha (Horoscope)
About these 14 disciplines of learning he writes: “I give Ijaza in these which I have
not learnt from any useful teacher, either by reading or by listening or by mutual
Lastly Imam Ahle Sunnat Shah Ahmad Raza Khan (may Allah be pleased with him)
says: “The knowledge of these 19 disciplines I received by the Heavenly Blessings.”
46. Nazm-i-Arabi (Arabic poetry)
47. Nazm-i-Farsi (Persian poetry)
48. Nazm-i-Ilindi (Urdu poetry)
49. Nathr-i-Arabi (Arabic prose)
50. Nathr-i-Farsi (Persian prose)
51. Nathr-i-Ilindi (Urdu prose)
52. Khath-i-Naskh (Arabic Calligraphy)
53. Khath-i-Nastha ‘liqh (Persian Calligraphy)
54. Tilawath Ma’Tajwid (Recitation of Holy Quran with correct pronunciation)
55. Ilm al-Fara’iz (Knowledge of Inheritance)
After listing these disciplines Imam Ahmad Raza writes:
“I seek Allah’s refuge that I have not said these things as a matter of pride or to
promote myself, but i have counted the blessings of the Munificent [bountiful] Allah.
It is not my claim that I am an expert in these discipline.”
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan had exceptional insight into most of the disciplines he has
mentioned. This can be testified by his published books and unpublished
manuscripts. The Xerox copies of more than one hundred manuscripts are in my
[Prof. Dr. Masud Ahmed’s] personal library at Karachi [Sindh, Pakistan]
One can thus deduce that Imam Ahle Sunnat Ahmad Raza Khan (may Allah be
pleased with him) possessed Gnostic knowledge (esoteric revelation).
A Master Jurist
On 14th Shaban 1286/1869 when he was 13 years, 10 months and 4 days old he started
giving fatawa (legal opinion) under the guidance of his father. After about 7 years in
1293/1876, he received permanent permission to issue fatawa. After the death of his father in
1297/1880, he took the duty of giving fatawa on a full time basis and issued fatawa for more
than 50 years and was very cautious when issuing verdicts.
On some occasions Muftis use to write the fatawa that he would correct and these Fatawa
would be dispatched under the name of the Mufti who has given it. On certain subjects his
writing appears to be a product of extensive research. For example, on the subject of the size
of a water-tank for ablution, al-Nahi al-Namir fi al-Mail al-Mustadir, looks like a mathematical
treatise. Likewise fatawa, Rajab al-Sabaha fi Miyahi La Yustawi Wajhu ha wa Jawfuha fi al-
Masaha, is another illustration of a mathematics treatise. About running water and stagnant
water the following fatawa is an excellent research on Physics.
Al-Diqqa wa al-Tibyan li ilm al-Riqqa wa al-Sayan deals with the construction of the tanks,
color of the water and the reflection and convergence of the suns rays deal with the subject of
Al-Matr al-Said Ala Binti jins al-Said deals with Geology, the formation of the earth, its kinds
and age and Geography:
1. How stones are formed
2. Loosely formed bodies could not be turned into alloys by fire
3. Why mercury does not stay on fire?
4. What effect fire produces on body?
5. The cause for the melting of gold and silver
6. All minerals are formed by the mixture of mercury and sulphur
7. Sulphur is masculine and mercury is feminine
In short, the fatawa are distinguished with many features and deserve the attention of
distinguished people of learning.
IMAM AHMAD RAZA as a Mathematician
Prof. Zia al-din was the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh University and Sayyid Sulayman Ashraf was Professor of Islamic Studies. Prof. Zia al-din was a noted Mathematician of India. Once he got confused over a question of mathematics. The question was so complicated that despite all efforts, it remained unsolved. Insofar as, Prof. Zia al-din made up his mind to go to Germany in order to consult his German counterparts. Meanwhile, Prof. Sulayman Ashraf advised him to approach A‘lahazrat at Bareilly on this issue. Prof. Zia al-din raised certain queries about A‘lahazrat. On being told that A‘lahazrat was Maulana [Mawlavi], he paid no heed and began to make all arrangements for his trip to Germany.
However, Prof. Sulayman Ashraf did not change his stand and went on insisting that he should visit Bareilly. Upon this, Prof. Zia al-din said: “I admit what you say. I admit that he is a great man. But it is not a question of Islamic science; it is a question of mathematics. What has a Mawlawi to do with mathematics? What a deriding it is to go to him for such a question which is a gordian knot even for mathematicians.” Even so Prof. Sulayman Ashraf did not retract at all and argued: “As compared to Germany, Bareilly is at an arm’s length and direct train is there. What ails you if you go there first for my sake? If you get satisfaction, all well. If not, you are at liberty to proceed to Germany or anywhere you like.” Then, Prof. Zia al-din said: “If you so insist, let me see A‘lahazrat”.
Finally both the gentlemen reached Bareilly and met A‘lahazrat. A‘lahazrat was running somewhat indisposed. However, A‘lahazrat asked Prof. Zia al-din, “What brings you here?” “In connection with a question of mathematics”, he replied. “What is that”, A‘lahazrat asked. Prof. Zia al-din said: “The question is not so easy. I shall tell you when you are at ease,” “Even so, what is that?” — A‘lahazrat remarked. Prof. Zia al-din then went on putting up his lengthy and uphill question. By the time the question was finished A‘lahazrat replied forthwith: “Its answer is such and such.” Hearing the answer at such a slip shod, Prof. Zia al-din was all-agape. He was overwhelmed with the charisma of A‘lahazrat’s talent. He said: “I heard of Ilm-i-Ladunni (inspired knowledge) but today I have seen it with my own eyes. Glorious mathematicians are vainglorious. The real genius is A‘lahazrat who took no time to solve an insoluble question for which I have been languishing since long.” Prof. Zia al-din, thus, took a sigh of relief and thanked Prof. Sulayman Ashraf for his kind and fruitful guidance.
IMAM AHMAD RAZA’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE MODERN WORLD
- According to an estimate IMAM AHMAD RAZA had written approximately 1400 books on various Islamic subjects including 117 books on various subjects of modern science and mathematics (these books are kept in IDARA TEHKEEKAT-E-IMAM AHMAD RAZA KARANCHI,PAKISTAN) .
- it has been estimated that over more than 50 universities all over the world the research work on AALAHAZRAT and his writings is BEING going on including the famous OXFORD UNI.,HARVARD UNI.,AL-AZHAR(EGYPT),CHICAGO UNI.(U.S.A).
- more than 100 scholars all over the world have been awarded with a phd degree over various research subjects ON AALAHAZRAT.
Dr Usha Sanyal, Historian
Part time Lecturer, Queens University of Charlotte
Former Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Wingate University
Ph.D. History (1990) Columbia University Awarded with Distinction.
Dissertation: “In the Path of the Prophet: Maulana Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi and the Ahl-e Sunnat wa Jamaat Movement in British India, c. 1870-1921″
Committee Chair: Prof. William R. Roff.
M Phil. History, Columbia University, South Asia and Southeast Asia
MA in Southeast Asian Studies, University of Kent at Canterbury, UK
BA (Honors) in Sociology, minor in Economics, Delhi University, India
Devotional Islam and Politics in British India: Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi and His Movement, 1870-1920. 3rd edition from Yoda Press, 2010. 2nd edition. New York and Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Ahmad Riza Khan: In the Path of the Prophet. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2005. Numerous articles published.
CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS
- Ahl-i Sunnat or “Barelwi” Madrasas in South Asia.
- “Traditionalist” reformist women, especially those of the Ahl-i Sunnat or Barelwi movement, through the study of the “Sunni Bihishti Zewar” and related texts.
- Al-Huda International and the Ahl-i Sunnat movement.
- over more than 10,000 educational institutions are being running all over the world under the name of IMAM AHMAD RAZA and HIS Spiritual guidance.
- HIS famous books:-HADAIQ-E-BAKHASHISH,FATAWA RAZVIYA,AL-MALFOOZ,TAMHEED-E-IMAAN,FAUZ-E-MUBEEN on physics.
On the third Ramadaan 1339/10 May 1921 Alahazrat Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (may
Allah be pleased with him) foretold his death 4 months and 22 days before its time.
He used this verse to deduce the date:
“And there shall be passed around them silver vessels and goblets”. (Sura 76: Verse
The last meeting of good counseling, advice and guidance of Alahazrat (may Allah be
pleased with him):
Thus he departed the pure blessed soul of a true devotee of Allah on 25 Safar 1340 AH/ 28 October 1921
at exactly 38 minutes past two at the time of Friday prayer. “To Allah we belong and
unto him is our return”.
The Mazaar Shareef (Blessed Tomb) of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Qadiri (radi Allahu
anhu) is situated in the Mohalla Saudagran, Bareilly Shareef in India (U.P.). Each
year, in the month of Safar, during the Urs Shareef of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan
Qadiri (radi Allahu anhu), hundreds of thousands of Muslims from all over the world
present themselves in Bareilly Shareef to partake in the Urs Shareef of the Mujaddid
of Islam, Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Qadiri (radi Allahu anhu).
AT LAST I WOULD LIKE TO QUOTE THE WORDINGS OF LATE DR.ZIAUDDIN the former VICE CHANCELLOR OF ALIGARH MUSLIM UNIVERSITY WHO ONCE SAID:
“WHAT EVER WE HAD LEARNED IN EUROPE IS JUST A WASTE OF TIME WHEN WE ALREADY HAVE SUCH A GREAT EXPERT IN OUR OWN COUNTRY”
“HE SUERLY DESERVES A NOBLE PRIZE FOR HIS EACH AND EVERY WORK”
Aamir Hussain Tehsinie