Opinion | Prolific Writer and Popular Teacher: Maulana Habibur Rahman Azmi Qasmi

Khursheed Alam Dawood Qasmi

Just within a few years, renowned Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has lost several senior teachers of Hadith. One of them is Maulana Habibur Rahman Azmi Qasmi, who left for heavenly abode on 13th May, 2021 (30 Ramadan, 1442) at around 12:45 PM. News of his demise was shocking for thousands of his students spread all over the world as he was a popular teacher and an academic personality. He was born on 15th June, 1941, in Jagdishpur, a village of Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, India. His father’s name was Anwarul Haq, who was a Hafiz of the Holy Qura’an. He was very punctual in his day to day life of studying and reading books. His interest was in the science of Hadith, the chain of transmitters and history. He was a very distinguished scholar, a popular teacher of Hadith and a prolific Urdu writer. Thanks to his expertise and being an academic personality, he was appointed as a teacher in Darul Uloom Deoband. He also authored a number of books on various subjects. They are published and available in the market to be read. In this piece, the humble soul is going to highlight his educational journey, his teaching services, his writings and books and his organizational activities.

Educational Journey

Maulana Azmi started his basic education: reading the Holy Qura’an, learning Urdu and Persian languages and basics of mathematics in the Maktab of his village from Haji Muhammad Shibli (Rahimahullah!). Then he continued his education in Madrasah Rauzatul Uloom, Phulpur. It is worth mentioning that he learnt the book of Sheikh Sa’di Sheirazi, “Gulsitan”, from Maulana Abul Ghani, Phulpuri, the Khalifah of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (May Allah grant them Jannah!) in Rauztul Uloom. Then he moved to the renowned Madrasa of the vicinity, Madrasah Baitul Uloom, situated in Saraimeer, Azamgarh, UP, India. Then, for the secondary education, he moved to Madrasah Matlaul Uloom, Banaras and Darul Uloom, Mau, Uttar Pradesh respectively.

For the final year of his Fazilah Course, Maulana Azmi left for Deoband. In Darul Uloom Deoband, he got admission in the final year in 1963. During his stay in Darul Uloom, he learnt the books of Hadith, such as Sahih al-Bukhari from Sheikh Fakhruddin Muradabadi, Sahih Muslim and Ibn Majah from Maulana Bashir Ahmad Khan, few lessons of Ibn Majah from Qari Muhammad Tayyib Qasmi, then the VC of Darul Uloom Deoband, Sunan Tirmidhi (V.1) from Allamah Ibrahim Baliavi, Sunan Abi Dawood, Sunan Tirmidih (V. 2) and Shamail Tirmidhi from Maulana Fakhrul Hasan Muradabadi, Tahavi from Maulana Islamul Haq Azmi, Sunan Nasaiee from Maulana Shariful Hasan Deobandi, Muatta Imam Malik and Muwatta Imam Muhammad from Maulana Abdul Ahad Deobandi. After studying these abovementioned books of Hadith, he completed his Fazilat Course from Darul Uloom in 1964 (1384 AH).

Teaching Services

Following the graduation from Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Azmi chose the path of teaching as his career. He, therefore, joined Madrasah Rauzatul Uloom, Phulpur as a preacher (Muballigh). Then he joined Madrasah Kheirul Madaris, Ghosi as head-teacher. Then he joined Madrasah Qura’aniyah, Jaunpur, UP. Later, he joined Jamia Islamia, Banaras and worked as a senior teacher and taught there till 1980. In 1982, he was appointed as a teacher at Darul Uloom, Deoband. In Darul Uloom, he was teaching “Sahih Muslim”, Abu Dawood, Mishkah Al-Masabih, Nukhbah al-Fikr and Muqaddamah Ibn Salah. He was a perfect teacher. He would study and read several books to prepare the lessons he was to teach the next day. He used to deliver the perfect academic material to the students.

This writer, being one of the students of Darul Uloom Deoband, got opportunity to learn from Maulana Azmi the second volume of Abu Dawood in the final year of the Fazilah course in 2003 and benefited a lot from his scholarly lectures. He used to explain each and every issue related to a Hadith. It was his habit to explain even a minor point being extracted from the Hadith. His explanation was very satisfactory. It is well-known among the scholars and the students of the Hadith the significance of the chain of transmitters (Sanad) in the science of Hadith. It was his favourite field, as it was his specialized subject, to discuss the chains of Hadith, the narrators and transmitters. Currently he was considered a leading authority on the chain of transmitters. His study in this science was considered deep and matchless. He had dedicated himself to studying and reading books. He was a popular teacher amongst the students. He was blessed with capability to deliver any difficult topic in the easiest way among the students. He used to read dozens of books for preparation of a lesson or before beginning to write on a topic. From his lectures, the students used to get the gist of hundreds of pages within the period.

Writings and Books

Maulana Azmi was a prolific and successful writer and author too. Whenever he felt something necessary, he stood up with his pen and didn’t hesitate to write what was the truth in his opinion. Due to his writing skill and elegance of composition, in Safar 1405 AH (October 1984), he was selected as the editor of Darul Uloom’s Urdu monthly organ: Darul Uloom. He was one of the longest serving editors of the organ from October 1984 to November 2016. The incumbent editor of the monthly, Darul Uloom, and my respected teacher, Maulana Salman Bijnori Sb. (May Allah protect him!) writes about his editorship of the organ: “In the history of the editorship of the monthly, Darul Uloom, the period of Maulana Habibur Rahman Sahib is very long like the period of Maulana Sayyid Azhar Shah Qaisar. He was made editor in 1984 and the last month in November 2016, he resigned from this service due to his old age, additional teaching responsibility and academic works. In this long period, apart from editorial, he wrote numerous articles. His academic articles have been published namely “Maqalate Habib” (in three volumes). Besides it, he compiled about 30 books/booklets in Urdu and Arabic languages. During the period of his editorship, some special issues of the monthly Darul Uloom were published. “Khatme Nabuwwat Number” and “Al-Ihsan Number” are worth mentioning among them.” (Editorial Mahnamah Darul Uloom Deoband, December 2016)

He also worked as the editor of Urdu Monthly “Al-Qasim” in 1980. This Urdu monthly was the organ of the old boys association of Darul Uloom Deoband namely “Aalmi Motamar Fuzlaye Daurl Uloom Deoband” which was established in 1980.

Maulana Azmi complied and authored almost 30 books and booklets. They are considered to be the best research work on the topic. They are published and available in book depots and libraries. Here, I present an incomplete list of his published books: (1) Tazkirah Ulamae Azamgarh, (2) Shajrah Tayyibah, (3) Ajudhiya Ke Islami Aathaar, (4) Babri Masjid Haqaaidq Aur Afsane, (5) Islam Ka Nizam Ibadat, (6) Islam Men Tasawwure Imarat, (7) Maqalate Habib (3 Volumes), (8) Muttahidah Qaumiyyat Ulamae Islam Ki Nazar Men, (9) Khumainiyyat Asre Hazir Ka Azeem Fitnah, (10)Khalifah Mahdi Sahih Ahadith Ki Raushani Men, (11) Khawaatine Islam Ki Behtareen Masjid, (12) Imam Ke Piche Muqtadi Ki Qriat Ka Hukm, (13) Masa’il Namaz, (14) Imam Abu Hanifah Ka Ilm Hadith Men Maqam Wa Martabah, (15) Shrah Muqaddamah Sheikh Abdu Haq, (16) Nurul Qamar Fee Tauzih Nuzhatun Nazar Sharah Nukhbah, (17) Imama Abu Dawood Aur Un Ki Sunan, (18) Shuyukh Abi Dawood Fee Al-Sunan (Arabic), (19) Shiiat Qura’an Wa Hadith Ki Raushani Men, (20) Hadith Wa Sunnat Par Naqd Wa Nazar, (21) Babri Masjid Tarikh Ke Mukhtalif Maraahil Men, etc. Some books’ introduction is presented here:

Tazkirah Ulama e Azamgarh

It is very famous book of Maulana Azmi. It is about the Islamic scholars of Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. In the book, the author has mentioned the brief biographies of 245 Islamic scholars of the said district as it can be easily understood by its name. Initially, he started compiling this book following the suggestion of famous historian and well-known writer Maulana Qazi Athar Abdul Hafiz Mubarakpuri (1916-1996) to work on it. Firstly, it was published in 1976 comprising of the introduction of 197 scholars. Then, he included the biography of 48 scholars as its addendum and the book was republished in 2012 by Markaz Dawat Wa Tahqiq, Deoband. Moreover, 89 scholars’ introduction has been mentioned in the footnote according to the need. It is considered as a reference book on the topic. The scholars like Maulana Abul Ma’athir Habibur Rahman Al-Azmi (famously known as Muhaddithe Azmi – 1901-1992), Maulana Najmuddin Islami (1904-1994), Qazi Athar Mubarkpuri and Maulana Ajaz Ahmad Azmi have appreciated this work. The book is published from Markaze Dawat Wa Tahqiq, Deoband. It has 604 pages.

Ajodhya Ke Islami Aathaar

It is a well-known book compiled by Maulana Azmi. It comprises of one preface and three chapters. In the preface, the author discussed about Ajodhya, its religious status, etc. In the first chapter, he has introduced 27 scholars and pious people, who played a key role in spreading Oneness of Allah and the true message of Islam in Ajodhya. In the second chapter, he has mentioned the mosques found in Ajodhya which have historic and Islamic values and status. In the third chapter, he has presented the graves which are found in Ajodhya like the grave of Sheeth (Alaihis Salam). Whatever has been mentioned in the book is in the light of the authentic references of books. The forward is written by Maulana Riyasat Ali Zafar Bijnori (1940-2017), ex-teacher of Hadith at Darul Uloom Deoband. It is published from Sheikhul Hind Academy of Darul Uloom Deoband. It has 200 pages.

Shuyukh Abi Dawood Fee Al-Sunan (Arabic)

This book is about the teachers of Imam Abu Dawood Suleiman Sajistani (817-889) from whom he narrated the prophetic narrations in Sunan Abi Dawood. The author has briefly written the biography of Imam Abu Dawood as well. He has introduced the Sunan Abi Dawood, number of chapters and the number of narrations. It was published from Sheikhul Hind Academy of Darul Uloom Deoband in 2006. The book contains 260 pages.

Organizational Activities

In 1980, an old boys association of Darul Uloom Deoband namely “Aalmi Motamar Fuzlaye Daurl Uloom Deoband” was established. He was given the charge of its administration. Maulana Azmi worked as its administrator. He also worked as the editor of the association’s monthly Urdu organ “Al-Qasmi”. He was an old member and the member of Working Committee of India’s largest social organization, Jamiat Ulamae Hind. In the meeting of Jamiat, his opinion was valued and given much significance. It is said that it was him who mostly used to write the “resolutions” of Jamiaat’s meetings and the programmes. In 1420 AH, he was appointed as the supervisor of “Radde Isaiyat Committee” in Darul Uloom Deoband. Later, he was nominated as its head and director. He served and headed the committee for 18 years and resigned in 1438 AH.

Sad Demise

It was Maulana Azmi’s habit to spend the whole year in Deoband and visit his hometown, Jagdishpur, Azamgarh in Shaban to spend the long vacation of Ramadan at his home with his family members. So, as usual, this year in Shaban 1442, he left for his hometown. He reached home with safe and sound health. He was physically fit. When he left Deoband, none would have thought that it is his last journey and he is not going to come back. But Allah had written for him that he would not come back.

Anyway, in the mid of Ramadan, he fell sick. Following the check-up, the doctor diagnosed him as suffering from typhoid fever. He got timely treatment and following few days, the medicine responded and he started recovering. Again he suffered from the typhoid and the oxygen level started going down. Then the condition began to deteriorate, until he breathed his last on 13th May 2021 (30th Ramadan 1442) at around 12:45 PM. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons: Maulana Obaidur Rahmadn Qasmi and Abdur Rahman. His funeral prayer was led by his grandson, Maulana Affan Qasmi. Despite the restriction of the lockdown in the area, a good number of Ulama, students and public from neighbouring villages participated in the funeral prayer. He was buried in the graveyard of his hometown. May Allah accept his services and grant him Jannah! Aameen.

Khursheed Alam Dawood Qasmi is an alumnus of Darul Uloom Deoband and teacher at Moon Rays Trust School in Zambia, Africa. He can be reached at qasmikhursheed@yahoo.co.in.