Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizulhaq (rahimahullah)

Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizulhaq (rahimahullah): A Great Saviour and a Leader of Islamic Spirit

The holy month of Ramadhan brings so much memories to our minds from the great incidents of Muslim history. The Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was declared as a prophet by Allah the Almighty, the Holy Qur'an was revealed, the first Jihad of Islam took place in Badr, and Makkah al Mukarramah was conquered - all these great incidents took place in the holy month of Ramadhan. Only Allah knows how many other great incidents throughout Islamic history took place in this noble month.

However, one incident that took place only few Ramadhans ago keeps reminding me of a great scholar and a reviver of Islamic movements in Bangladesh, Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizulhaq (rahimahullah). The title "Shaykhul Hadith" was a symbol for his personality and more famous than his own name to the Bangladeshi nation. Besides Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya (ra), I do not know anyone else who was so popular with the title "Shaykhul Hadith" apart from him. The Shaykh passed away in Ramadhan 2012, which was a great loss to Muslim ummah in general and to the Bangladeshi nation specially.

I was not a direct student of the Shaykh nor a follower or a member of his party, but only Allah knows best why I loved him so much, admired him, and, in more clear words, was obsessed with him so much that I always remember him. Whenever my hands are raised for du'a, automatically his thoughts come into my mind and I pray to the Almighty: "O Allah, grant your servant Azizulhaq a great paradise".

Birth and Education

The Shaykh was born in 1918 in the Bikrampur district of Dhaka division. After receiving the primary education, he was admitted to Jamia Younusia of Bhrammanbaria, one of the pioneer Islamic institute of Bangladesh. Having completed his studies there, the Shaykh went to study Hadith from the well known Muhaddith of the 19th century, Shaykhul Islam Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani (rahimahullah), the author of Fathul Mulhim, which is the famous commentary of Sahih Muslim.

Allama Usmani (rahimahullah) was at the stage of retiring at that time from teaching due to old age and illness. However, due to the request of Shaykhul Hadith, Allama Usmani taught Hadith for another year and that was the last year Allama Usmani taught hadith. When Shaykhul Hadith requested Allama Usmani saying, "I came all the way from Dhaka to Dabel, in Gujarat province of India to study Hadith from you; please don't return me empty-handed", Allama Usmani accepted the request of Shaykhul Hadith saying, “I will teach you Hadith, so my knowledge of Hadith can spread through you in the province of Bengal".

Upon completing the Hadith studies with Allama Usmani, the Shaykh then made his journey to the world's famous centre for Islamic knowledge, Darul Uloom Deoband, to study Tafseer, where he attended the lessons of Hadith of Shaykhul Islam Sayyid Husain Ahmad Al Madani (rahimahullah), and for Tafseer he attended the lessons of Shaykul Tafseer Maulana Idrees khandalvi (rahimahullah).

Life devoted into teaching Hadith

In 1942, the Shaykh graduated from Darul Uloom Deoband and returned to Bangladesh, where he devoted himself into teachings in different institutes, starting with Jamia Younusia and others. When the three senior Shuyukh of Bangladesh, Allama Shamsulhaq Farid puri (rahimahullah), Maulana Muhammadullah Hafizji Huzur (rahimahullah) and Maulana Abdulwahhab Peerji Huzur(rahimahullah), opened Jamia Qur'ania Lal Bagh, Dhaka, they ordered their beloved student Shaykhul Hadith to start teaching there, which was accepted by the obedient student whole heartedly as an honour.

Shaykhul Hadith devoted himself into teachings in Lal bagh where his main field was Hadith and Tafseer. He taught hadith in the presence of his own teachers and other great scholars such as Allama Shamsulhaq Farid puri, Maulana Muhammadullah Hafizji Huzur and great Muhaddith, Allama Hidayatullah (rahimahullah) and others.

Shaykhul Hadith (rahimahullah), while teaching in Lal bagh, kept the du'a and the dream of his Shaykh, Allama Usmani (rahimahullah) in his mind: I wish my knowledge of Hadith spreads in Bangal through you. Shaykhul Hadith started to write the well known Bangla commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari in the late 40s and completed after the hard work of several years in the late 50s. Shaykhul Hadith was the first translator and the commentator of Sahih Al Bukhari in Bengali which was a debt to Bangla-speaking nations for Sahih al Bukhari that was fulfilled by Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizulhaq (rahimahullah).

I do not have the courage to make any comments regarding the commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari by Shaykhul Hadith. Great scholars have made comments and accepted his commentary. However as a student of Hadith I can say this much that Shaykhul Hadith's commentary reflects his love for our beloved prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and is sufficient to understand Sahih Al Bukhari.

My remarkable memories of Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizulhaq (rahimahullah)

The name Shaykhul Hadith was familiar to me since my childhood, as in our family it used to be often mentioned by my elder brother, Maulana Rizaulhaq that there is a scholar from Dhaka who has written the full commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari in Bangla. However I first met him in 1999, even though Shaykhul Hadith came to England in 1985 to address the first khatme Nubuwwat conference with his Shaykh Hafizji Huzur and his student Mufti Fazlulhaq Amini, which was held in Wembley Arena in London.

I met Shaykhul Hadith in our house at Birmingham in 1999 when he came to pay a visit and meet my father, Hazrat Maulana Abdulaziz sahib along with Syed Ataurrahman Sahib and Maulana Abdulqadir Saleh Sahib. This first meeting with Shaykhul Hadith made my heart give the witness that he is someone different. Someone very special. I was really impressed by his humility, humbleness, simplicity and best character. I still remember a line of Persian couplet which he was continuously reading in the honour of ulama:             

کند ہم جنس با ہم جنس پرواز

کبوترباکبوتربازباباز

In the visit of 1999, I was the fortunate and lucky one to have the Ijazah (permission) to narrate Hadith through his Sanad. We read few Hadith of Sahih Al Bukhari to Shaykh and he granted us Ijazah. At the end of that session, he called us and said, “I have a very high chain of sanad which I would like you, scholars of Europe, to have and I don't think anyone in the world has shorter sanad than this”. Subhanallah! That sanad is so amazing and short that we can reach to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) with only 17 to 18 wasitah, whereas other chains of narrations can take us to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) with around 30 wasitah (middle-man). Shaykhul Hadith had this sanad from his great ustadh, the author of I'laaus Sunan, Allama Zafar Ahmad Usmani (rahimahullah). The full sanad could be found in the introduction of Shaykhul Hadith's commentary on Sahih Al Bukhari.

Shaykhul Hadith paid another visit to England in 2003 when he honoured the first hafiz students of our first madrasa, Jamia Qur'ania with Dastarbandi. Shaykhul Hadith was so simple that he was wearing two Jubbas at the same time. I took the courage to ask him why he would do that. He replied, “look, I am in a journey and I don't want to create any problem for people by washing them for me. So when they are a bit dirty, I just swap them over". Subhanallah! So simple! In that visit, Shaykhul Hadith was constantly reading an Urdu couplet, which I still remember:

موت کوتونےسمجھاہےاےناداں اختتام زندگی

درحقیقت موت ہےصبح   ابتداءزندگی

Shaykhul Hadith made a remarkable comment in that dasbandi conference.

He said: العلماءورثةالأنبياء are in actions, not in virtues only.

Shaykhul Hadith came to England in 2005. Once again, while he visited the new premise of our second madrasa, Jamia Islamia Birmingham, he addressed the audience in the annual conference very emotionally with Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Ameer of JUI Pakistan. He also lectured in Khatme Nubuwwat conference held in Birmingham Central Mosque. He stayed overnight in our Jamia, so we had the opportunity to talk to him about random things. I asked him regarding his best friend, Shaykhul Hadith Allama Nooruddin Ahmad Gohorpuri (rahimullah). He replied very emotionally, “Allama Gohorpuri was a very big friend of Allah. He and I used to pass the whole night reading Arabic poetry in Principal Maulana Habibur Rahman's Kazir Bazar Madrasa".

Shaykhul Hadith paid his last visit to England in 2006 with Principal Maulana Habibur Rahman. He came to the annual conference of our Jamia and stayed overnight. This time he was very weak, but, Subhanallah, even at that very old age of 88 years, he never used to miss his Tahajjud.

He asked me to do the tahqeeq (morphological explanation) of the Arabic word الحور العين, then he started the tahqeeq by himself. Subhanallah! An 88 year old man was doing it like a student of Kitabus Sarf very quickly without any hesitation. I asked him regarding the biography of some Muhaddithun which he informed me like a maktab student recites Kalima Tayyibah.

"Fadhlul Bari" is the collection of the Urdu lectures of Sahih Al Bukhari delivered in the class by Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani (rahimahullah) and written by Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizulhaq. When I showed him the copy of that kitab, he became very emotional and started to share things regarding this kitab from his memory. He said, “this is the Urdu lecture of my ustad Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, which he delivered while teaching us Sahih Al Bukhari and I wrote it all”. He was holding that kitab and kissing it like a baby and saying, "this is my kitab, but many people just print it without my permission or my name".

Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizulhaq's life, work and legacy at a glance

  • After graduating from Darul Uloom Deoband, Shaykh participated in the liberation movement of India with his two teachers, Shaykhul Islam Sayyid Husain Ahmad Al Madani and Shaykhul Islam Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani.
  • After the independence and formation of Pakistan, Shaykh worked as a worker of Nizame Islam Party to implement Islam in the country with Allama Athar Ali Sylheti and Mufti Muhammad Shafi.
  • After the formation of Bangladesh, Shaykhul Hadith was the dominant leader of all Islamic activities and movements in Bangladesh.
  • Shaykhul Hadith was the general secretary of Wifaqul Madaris (Madrasa Education Board) of Bangladesh at the time of its formation in 1976.
  • Shaykh was the founder general secretary of Jamiate Ulama-e Islam of Bangladesh for two terms since its establishment in 1978.
  • When the spiritual leader and the reviver of Islamic politics in Bangladesh, Allama Muhammadullah Hafizji Huzur gave the call for "politics of repentance" in the early 80s and "Khilafat Andulan" was formed, Shaykhul Hadith was selected as the senior vice chairman.
  • In 1987, many like-minded political parties came together and formed "Islami Shashon Tontro Andulan". Shaykhul Hadith was selected as its chairman.
  • In December 1989, Bangladesh Khilafat Majlis was formed. Shaykhul Hadith was selected as the chief patron. Later he was selected as the Ameer and he held this post until his demise.
  • In 1991, many Islamic political parties came to gather and formed "Islami Aikyo Jut", all Islamic parties alliance. Shaykhul Hadith was chosen again as the leader.
  • Shaykhul Hadith led the biggest ever long march in Bangladeshi history against the Hindu terrorists who demolished the historical Babri Masjid in 1992.
  • In 1999, four-party coalition was formed against Awami League. Shaykhul Hadith was the central leader of that coalition.
  • Shaykhul Hadith led Qaumi Madrasa Recognition Movement in 2005 and the government agreed to recognise Qaumi Madrasa. But the bill is still pending.
  • Shaykhul Hadith's family and children are all pious, Ulama and Huffaz, including his grandchildren and great grandchildren. According to a report of Rahmani Paygham in 1996, the official magazine of Jamia Rahmania, Shaykh's family had more than 60 Huffaz, which, I think, has gone over 100 after 19 years.
  • Shaykhul Hadith has left this world, but has left great legacy behind:
  1. All his sons are great scholars;
  2. Jamia Rahmaniya, one of the best madrasas of Bangladesh;
  3. Bangladesh Khilafat Majlis, one of the political and da'wah platforms for people of Bangladesh;
  4. Famous translation and commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari in Bangla;
  5. Many books and thousands of students.
  • Shaykhul Hadith lived for 94 years. He taught Hadith for 65 years, which is unprecedented in the recent centuries.
  • Shaykhul Hadith was a professor at East's best institute, Dhaka University.
  • Shaykhul Hadith was the chairperson of the Shari'ah Supervisory Board of famous Bangladeshi bank, Al- 'Arafah Islami Bank ltd.
  • Finally, I make du'a to Allah the Almighty that he elevates the rank of Shaykhul Hadith in Jannah and grant Bangladeshi nation a great and genius leader, a spiritual mentor, a teacher and a Shaykhul Hadith like Allama Azizulhaq sahib (rahimahullah) to lead them; especially in the time of trials and tribulations, when many transgressors are making despicable remarks regarding our beloved prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam).

Author: Shaykh Faizulhaq Abdulaziz

Lecturer of Hadith, Jamia Islamia Birmingham