Hadhrat Mowlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi Alayh)


Hadhrat Mowlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh), referred to as Hakim al-Ummah named ‘Abd al-Ghani was born in the village of Thana Bhawan in the Muzaffarnagar district on the fifth of Rabi ‘al-Awwal, 1280 AH (August 19, 1863 CE). His family was well-respected and held an eminent position in Thana Bhawan. His father's name was ‘Abd al-Haq. Moulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh)’s lineage can be traced back to the second Caliph of Islam, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Radiyallahu anhu). As a young boy, he was zealous in offering the prayer (salat), and by the age of twelve, he was constant in offering the Tahajjud prayer.


In 1295 Mowlana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh) enrolled at the prestigious Dar al-Uloom Deoband, from where he graduated in 1301 AH, after studying under some of the most erudite Islamic theologians of his time. Among his teachers were Mowlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi, Mowlana Rashid Ahmad Ghangohi, Mowlana Muhammad Yaqoob Nanotwi, and Shaykh al-Hind Mowlana Mahmud al-Hasan (Rahmatullahi alayhim ajmaeen). Moulana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh)’s six years at Deoband were spent under the tutorship and guidance of God-fearing men, many of whom were the spiritual students of Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki (Rahmatullahi alayh).


Fourteen years after graduation were spent teaching religious sciences in the city of Kanpur. Over a very short period, Moulana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alyh) acquired a reputable position as a sound religious scholar. Eventually, in 1315 AH, he retired from teaching and devoted himself to re-establishing the spiritual centre (khanqah) of his shaykh in Thana Bhawan. Upon this transition, Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah (Rahmatullahi alayh) remarked, “It is good that you came to Thana Bhawan. It is hoped that the masses will benefit from you spiritually and physically. You should engage yourself in revitalizing our school (madrasah) and spiritual centre (khanqah) once more in Thana Bhawan. As for myself, I am always praying for you and attentive towards you”

Preaching Islam and calling people to the way of Allah Almighty was an essential part of Moulana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alyh)’s life. He would be highly organized and plan his lecture tours well in advance. Thousands used to attend these lectures, which usually lasted two to three hours and some even up to five hours.

Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi ‘Uthmani (Hafizahullah) says that Hakim al-Ummah Mowlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh) used to say, “I consider myself inferior to every Muslim at the present time and possibly inferior to every non-Muslim with regards to the future”. He meant that at this time, I am inferior to every Muslim, and inferior to every non-Muslim with regards to the future, because a non-Muslim may accept Islam in the future and become more advanced than myself. Mowlana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh) was more concerned with rectifying his own self than correcting others. Once, when he had to deliver many lectures, he said, “Whenever I find the need of reforming myself, I speak on that specific shortcoming of mine. This method is very beneficial. My speech entitled Ghadab (Anger) is an example of this”

Mowlana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh) toiled to reform the masses and None can deny that his efforts brought many Muslims back to the true teachings of Islam. Mowlana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh) passed away in his hometown of Thana Bhawan on Rajab 2, 1362 ah (July 4, 1943 CE). His funeral prayer was led by his nephew, the great scholar of hadith Mowlana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani (Rahmatullahi alayh), and he was buried in the ‘Ishq-e Bazan graveyard. Mowlana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi alayh) will be remembered for his inspiring, lucid, and rational writing, balanced approach, and reformative teachings. These still serve many Muslims today in helping them understand the Glorious Qur’an and the Sunnah.







It was a regular programme followed during Ramadhan that the Taraweeh prayer would start after Isha prayer and continue throughout the night till dawn. The Qur’an was completed after every three or four days. A Hafiz would recite the Qur’an and Shaykh-ul-Hind listened to the recitation standing behind the Hafiz. He himself was not a Hafiz-e-Quran. At the end of the Taraweeh the Hafiz Sahib used to lie down for a short nap near Shaykh ul-Hind. The Hafiz Sahib related that one night when he opened his eyes he saw that someone was massaging his legs. He thought that it might be some pupil or student. When he looked up after sometime he found to his great surprise that it was Shaykh-ul-Hind himself who was massaging his legs. The Hafiz Sahib at once got up and asked what the Shaykh was doing. The Shaykh-ul-Hind replied: You remain standing during Taraweeh the whole night. I am massaging your legs that they may receive some comfort. This was the character of our elder saints. May Allah grant us some of this colour: Ameen.
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