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Hazrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi

(d. 1904)

»  Early Life
»  Attachment with Deoband
»  Spiritual Guidance
»  Fight against British Colonialism
»  Teaching of Hadith
»  A Citation from Ubaidullah Sindhi about Imam Rabbani Rashid Ahmad Gangohi
»  Guardianship of Darul Uloom Deoband
»  Death

Early Life
Imam Rabbani Shaykh Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was born on Monday, 6th Ziqa'da, A.H. 1242, at Gangoh, Dist Saharanpur, UP, India. His august father, Mawlana Hidayat Ahmed, was an excellent religious divine of his time and a majaz (a disciple authorized by the murshid to receive bai'ah ---spiritual allegiance--- and give spiritual guidance) of Hadhrat Shah Ghulam Ali Mujaddidi of Delhi.
Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, having read the holy Quran at his native-place, went to Karnal to live with his maternal-uncle and under him he studied books of Persian. Then he studied grammar and syntax under Maulawi Muhammad Bakhsh Rampuri. In A. H. 1261, he went to Delhi and be¬came a pupil of Mawlana Mamlook Ali Nanawtawi. It was here that he cultivated attachment with Hujjat al-Islam al-Imam Mohammad Qasim Nanawtawi, which was maintained till the end. In Delhi he read some books of the rational sciences under the instruction of Mufti Sadruddin Azurdah also. At the end he lived in the company of Hadhrat Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi and acquired the science of Hadith from him.

Attachment with Deoband
Though there is no historical evidence that he had actively played any role in the establishment of Darul Uloom Deoband but he was attached with Imam Mohammad Qasim Nanawtawi since the time of their studentship. Therefore, the historians believe that he was not unaware about the establishment of Darul Uloom Deoband in 1283A.H/1866CE. His official link with Darul Uloom Deoband is traced back in the year of 1285A.H two years after the establishment of ‘Madrasa Arabi Islami Deoband.’ He became second patron of Darul Uloom Deoband after the demise of Imam Mohammad Qasim Nanawtawi, founder of Darul Uloom Deoband. He played crucial role in the establishment of Darul Uloom’s curriculum. Therefore, With Imam Mohammad Qasim Nanawtawi his disposition is also the backbone of the tack of Darul Uloom Deoband.

Spiritual Guidance
After having completed his education, he waited upon Shaikhul Masha'ikh Hazrat Haji Imdadullah and attained the honor of bai'ah. Shaikh Muhammad Yaqub Nanawtawi has stated in Sawanih-e Qasimi:

“There has been class-fellowship and friendship between Maulawi Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi and Maulawi Muhammad Qasim from this time onwards. In the end he read Hadith under Shah Abdul Ghani and during the same period both of them vowed allegiance to Hadhrat Haji Imdadulluh (may his shadow last long!) and started the Suluk (traver¬sing of the Sun way)". Maulana Rasheed Ahmed traversed the path very quickly; accordingly, within the short span of 40 days, he was awarded khilafat and, returning to Gangoh, he made his abode in Hadhrat Shaikh Abdul Quddus Gangohi's cloister. During this period the means of livelihood was medical practice"

Fight against British Colonialism
Intrepidly he stirred out from the Quddusian hospice in 1857 to stand up in battle array against the English and participated in the jihad at Shamli in the company of his murshid, Haji Sahib and other companions fought valiantly. When Hafiz Zamin Shaheed fell on the battle ground, he picked up his corpse, took it to a mosque nearby, and sitting near it, started reading the Quran.
After the re-counter of Shamli a warrant of arrest was issued against him. He was arrested and sent to Saharanpur jail from where he was shifted to Muzaffarnagar. Six months were passed in jail. There many prisoners became his adherents with the result that they all began to say prayers congregationally in the prison.

Teaching of Hadith
After his release from jail, he started teaching. In A.H. 1299, after his third Hajj he made it an obligation for himself that he would complete the entire Sihah Sitta within one year. The regular practice was that he used to teach the students from morning till 12-00 noon. Hearing about the fame of his teaching, students of Hadith used to come to him from distant places, their number sometimes reaching to seventy and eighty and included students from outside India as well. His behavior with the students used to be very kind and affectionate. The lecture used to be so lucid that even an average man could understand it, and a special quality of his teaching of Hadith was that after listening to the content of a Hadith one used to be infused with the eagerness to act upon it. His lecture on Jama'e Tirmizi has been published under the title Al-Kaukab al-Durri, which despite its brevity is a very comprehensive commentary on the Tirmizi. His teaching-work continued till AH. 1314. More than three hundred gentlemen completed the course of Hadith, the last pupil amongst them being Shaikhul Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya's august father, Shaykh Muhammad Yahya Kandhlawi. In the end, the lectures stopped due to the ailment of catar­act in the eyes but the practice of spiritual instruction and inculcation and fatwa issuing continued regularly. Great attention was paid to inducing and persuading the audience and visitors for dhikr (remem­brance of Allah). Those who came to wait upon him necessarily used to take along with them at least some inclination for the things of the Hereafter. He used to be very anxious about conforming to the Sunnah in every matter.

A Citation from Ubaidullah Sindhi about Imam Rabbani Rashid Ahmad Gangohi
Shaykh al-Islam Abu Mas’ud Rashid Ahmad Gangohi is the son of Hidayat Allah Ansari. He was born in 1244 AH, and learnt from Mawlana Mamluk ‘Ali [Nanautwi], Mawlana ‘Abd al-Ghani [Dehlawi], Mawlana Ahmad Sa’id [Dehlawi], and Mawlana Imdad Allah [Muhajir Makki] etc. I personally studied a large portion of Sunan Abi Dawud from him. Allah granted me immense benefit through it. It is the effect of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad’s company that I followed his maslak in such a way that I never even contemplated moving away from it. Through him, the Wali Allahi approach to fiqh and hadith became manifest to me, and through his blessings I became well versed in the fundamentals as well as advanced rational discourse in the sciences of fiqh, suluk & ma’rifah, Arabic and the Qur’an & Sunnah. I found Mawlana Rashid Ahmad to be a well-versed imam and mujtahid of the Hanafi School. He conformed strictly to the school of thought of his teacher, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Ghani, and was as unshakeable as a mountain in this regard. He closely resembled Mawlana Muhammad Ishaq [Dehlawi] in the Wali Allahi maslak. I understood the reality of sunnah and bid’ah from his book, Barahin-e-Qati’ah. He had authored this book in support of Shah Isma’il Shahid’s work, Idah al-Haq. Mawlana Rashid Ahmad became the Imam of the Deobandi group after Amir Imdad Allah and Mawlana Qasim [Nanautwi]. In excess of three thousand shaykhs attained religious knowledge from him. His year of passing is 1323 AH.

Guardianship of Darul Uloom Deoband
In A. H. 1297, after Imam Qasim Nanawtawi's death, he was made patron of Darul Uloom. The unraveling of knotty problems of the Darul ­Uloom in times of difficulty was one of his great peculiarities. From A. H. 1314 he agreed to be the patron of Madrasah Mazahirl Uloom Saha­ranpur also. On Fiqh and Tasawwuf he wrote nearly 14 books.

With some variance in report, he died at the age of 78 years on Friday, 8th or 9th Jamadius-Sani, 1323/1905, after the prayer-call for the Friday prayer. Of his pupils, there is a vast circle, which includes great and illustrious Ulama. Similarly, the list of his khalifas (spiritual successors) too is quite long. The details of his life are available in Tazkiratur Rasheed, a book compiled in two volumes by Maulana Ashiq Ilahi Meeruthi.