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Shah Wali Ullah went to Hejaz for his higher education and to perform Haj. During his stay at Makkah, Shah Wali Ullah saw a vision in which the Holy Prophet (peace be upon Him) blessed him with the tidings that he would be instrumental in organising a section of the Muslim society. So he set himself to work for the betterment of Muslim culture. A brief description of his services is as under:
1. Religious Reforms
Shah Wali Ullah immediately set himself to the sacred task of spiritual consolidation of Muslim society. He prepared a few students and taught them about different Islamic learning branches. They were entrusted with the job of imparting knowledge to others.
Shah Wali Ullah persuaded the Muslims to strictly follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He introduced the basic principles of Islam to the people. He advocated Quranic education for the welfare and benefit of the Muslims and asked them to abandon un-Islam trends and practices. He urged the people to lead a simple life and avoid involvement in the world’s luxuries. He initiated tatbiq (integration) of the Muslim society on the verge of destruction. By adopting the method of tabiq, he introduced liberal elements and thus brought elasticity to the understanding of Islam.
He adopted a balanced approach and understanding of religious matters. He thoroughly studied all schools of thought and expressed what was right and just in a gentle and sophisticated way without hurting anyone. To a more significant extent, he removed misunderstandings between Shias and Sunnis and, in this way, provided a spiritual basis for national solidarity and harmony. He presented Islam more rationally to make it acceptable to a more significant number of people. He states I was informed through Ilham (inspiration) that I would have to undertake this responsibility. The time has come when every injunction of the Sharia and the general instruction of Islam should be rationally presented to the world.
Shah Wali Ullah contacted rulers and impressed them to enforce Islamic laws. He also urged them to mould their lives according to the Islamic way. He educated the Muslim soldiers on the importance of Jihad and asked them to go for Jihad to glorify Islam.
He asked the traders to adopt fair trade principles preached and practised by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He informed the people about the sins of wealth accumulation and asked for time to keep as much wealth as the founder of modern Muslim India and, as such, the father of modern Muslim India. He produced luminaries like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who rendered meritorious services to the Muslims of India to draft their destinies.
Removal of Sectarianism
In his time, the Shias and Sunnis were aggressively hostile to each other, and their rivalry was damaging Muslim unity. Shah Wali Ullah wrote Izalat-al Akhifa and Khilafat-al-Khulafa to remove the misunderstanding between Shias and the Sunnis. He refused to denounce Shias as heretics.
Balance Between Four Muslim Schools of Thought
Shah Wali Ullah adopted an analytical and balanced approach towards the four schools of thought of mysticism. to create a balance between the four schools, i.e., Hanafi, Hambali, Shafi and Malaki, he wrote Al Insaf fi Bayan Shab al Ikhtilaf, where he traced their historical background.
2. Political Reforms
Apart from imparting religious education to Muslims, Shah Wali Ullah also provided leadership to Muslims in the political field. He came out with great wisdom and foresight to create a political awakening in the Muslims of India.
Struggle against Anarchy
The rise of the Marathas and Sikhs posed severe problems to the Muslim rulers. The Mughal rulers were no more in a position to withhold the supremacy of Muslim rule, which was gravely jeopardized by the emergence of the Sikhs, Marhatas and other non-Muslim forces. Shah Wali Ullah came up to tackle his precarious situation. He had rightly noticed that if the Marhatas were not checked effectively, the political power of the Muslims would disappear forever. He wrote letters to the leading Muslim nobles and informed them of the critical situation hanging on the head of the Mughal rule. He asked chieftains to come around. He eventually won over Najib-ud-Daula, Rehmat Khan and Shuja ud-Daula against Marhatas.
Steps to Check the Marathas
However, the Muslim chiefs could not face Marhatas effectively. Their resources were inadequate to crush the Marhatas’ power. Shah Wali Ullah, therefore, looked forward to Ahmad Shah Abdali. On the call of Shah Wali Ullah, he came to India and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Marhatas at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. The victory of Ahmad Shah Abdali at Panipat blasted the Marhats’ power and paved the way for the revival of Islam in India.
Efforts for Muslim Unity
He advised the Muslims to be united for the sake of Muslim society. And keep in mind the Islamic teachings of brotherhood. He taught them to work for the betterment of humanity and follow Islam’s instructions regarding Non-Muslims. He was a great advocate of human rights, especially of Non-Muslims.
Shah Wali Ullah was a staunch supporter of the Two Nation Theory. He played a vital role in making Muslims a strong nation based on their Culture, History and heritage. His teachings proved helpful and saved Muslim culture from the amalgamation of Hindu customs.
3. Literary Services of Shah Wali Ullah
Shah Wali Ullah wrote 51 books on mysticism and other Islamic learning branches dealing with religious, economic and political problems. 23 books were in Urdu, and 28 were in Persian.
Translation of the Holy Quran
His outstanding work was his translation of the Holy Quran into simple Persian, the literary language of his days. He produced this masterpiece of literature in 1737-38, which invited great criticism from the orthodox Ulema, who threatened him even with death. Shah Wali Ullah’s translation was exceptional as there had never been a translation of the Holy Quran before in a foreign language. His translation brought the knowledge of the Holy Quran within reach of an average literate person who found it easier to read and understand it in a language other than Arabic. After Shah Wali Ullah, his two sons Shah Rafi-ud-Din and Shah Abdul Qadir prepared Urdu versions of the Holy Quran.
Hujjat-Allah-al-Baligha is another famous work of Shah Wali Ullah. Shah Sahib has discussed the reasons for Muslims’ social and religious decay in this work. He has also discussed the importance of applying Ijtihad in his book and mentioned a Mujtahid priest’s academic and scholastic requirements.
Izalat-al-Khifa and Khilafat-al-Khulafa
Shah Wali Ullah wrote Izalat-al-Khifa and Khilafat-al-Khulafa to remove the misunderstanding between Shias and the Sunnis. He refused to denounce Shias as heretics.
Al Insaf fi Bayan Sbab al Ikhtilaf
Shah Wali Ullah adopted an analytical and balanced approach towards the four schools of thought of mysticism. To create a balance between the four schools, i.e., Hanafi, Hambali, Shafi and Malaki, he wrote Al Insaf fi Bayan Shab al Ikhtilaf, where he traced their historical background.
In Fuyuz-al-Haramain, Shah Wali Ullah depicts one of his dreams during his stay in Arabia. He describes that the God Almighty chose him as an intermediary to establish a new order in his time.
Besides the above-mentioned works, Shah Wali Ullah wrote many other books on different topics. They include al-Nawadar-Min-al-Hadis and Aqad-al-Jaiyad-fi-Ahkam writings produced in Arabic and Persian languages.
4. Social Reforms
In Shah Wali Ullah’s time, Muslims indulged in many non-Islamic customs because they co-exist with the Hindus. He took the following steps to beware the Muslims of these problems:
1. He struggled to get rid of the Hindu concept about the marriage of the widows and told the Muslims that it was the Sunnah of The Holy Prophet (PBUH) 2. He told the Muslims to avoid superstitions, charm wearing and other such practices.
3. He also struggled against the dowry and other unnecessary expenses at marriage.
4. He tried to abolish the mourning of death for more than three days as it was against Islamic teachings.
5. He advised the Muslims to work for lawful earning and to avoid (Usury) interest on loans.
6. He also worked against the unjust distribution of wealth.
7. He preached simplicity.
8. He worked against sectarianism and grouping.
Madrassa Rahimia and other institutions he founded imparted education in the light of his works. These schools prepared a bunch of religious-nationalist who interpreted Islam according to his doctrines. Shah Abdul Aziz, the eldest son of Shah Wali Ullah, led these religious nationalists to wage Jihad for the liberation of Muslim India and ultimately to build an edifice for a Caliph state on the principles of Islam as described by Shah Wali Ullah’s doctrines.
In short Imam-ul-Hind Hazrat Shah Wali Ullah, a great saint, scholar and reformer, is one of those great personalities of Islam who, with his dedicated services, had brought the Muslim society together on a stable foundation. He continued the work of Hazrat Mujadid Alf Sani and struggled for the Muslims’ religious, cultural, political and social revival.