20 Nov

In the 18th century, Islam in the subcontinent was faced with menacing problems. Sectarian conflict, low moral tone of the society, poor understanding of the Holy Quran, and general ignorance of Islam were just some of the issues which gave rise to fear that political collapse would be accompanied l by religious disintegration. This did not happen; rather an era of religious regeneration was inaugurated, which was due more than anything else to the activities of one man, Shah Waliullah.

Early Ages of Shah Waliullah : 

Shah Waliullah was born on February 21,. 1703 CE, in the town of Phalat in Muzaffarnagar, Utar Pradesh, India. The name Shah Waliullah is given to him by people because Waliullah means "closę to God". So his complete name was Shah Waliullah Qutubuddin Ahmad.

Education and Training :

His father took special pain in the education and the training of his son. Shah Waliullah was introduced to Islamic education at the age of five and completed the recitation of the Quran by the age of seven. At the special age of 15, Hazrat Shah Waliullah had completed his education and then became a disciple (mureed) of his father who gave him spiritual training. When he was 17, his father died, for 12 years he taught in the fashion of his father.

Work of Shah Waliullah :

On reaching Delhi, he devoted most of his time in writing books and to preaching in public meetings. The teaching activity was limited to the lessons of hadith. The political and the moral degeneration of the Muslims had tremendous effects on the sensitive thinking mind of Hazrat Shah Waliullah. His famous book Al-Tafheemat ul llahia minutely pen points all the various defects, shortcomings and vices, which had taken roots in various sections of the Muslims. His aim, metaphorically speaking, was to destroy the rotten moral buildings and to reconstruct a new mansion over it. He bluntly wrote in one of his writings "I have arrived to destroy every old in region at present.

Quran Translation into Persian Language :

The most monumnental task he performed was to translate the Quran from Arabic to Persian Which was the language spoken by the Muslims at that time in India. His aim was that educate Muslims may have access to the Quran without depending on the scholars who had opposed his reformatory measures, The shortsighted ulema gathered and wanted to kill him for his sin of translating the Quran from Arabic to Persian but he continued with his task till he completed it. This task was appreciated by Allah so much so that the Quran is translated to many languages.

Hujjat ul Baligha (Popular Book) :

Apart from the Holy Quran, Shah Waliullah also wrote authentic Principles of hadith, tafseer and on mystical subjects. But the most popular book is "Hujjat - ul Baligha" This book explains how Islam was found suitable for all races, culture , and people of the world and how  successfully it solves social, moral, economic and political problems of human beings.

Al Fauzal Kabeer Fi Usool :

AI Fauzal Kabeer Fi Usool al Tafsir, a booklet in Persian that follows his Persian translation of the Qur'an. It contains the nucleus of the Quran, the rules for interpretation, and interpretations of the Quran by other famous scholars.

Analyzing his political thought, Iqbal states:

"The Prophetic method of teaching, according to Shah Waliullah is that, generally speaking, the law revealed by a prophet takes especial notice of the habits, ways and peculiarities of the people to whom he is specifically sent. The Prophet who aims at all-embracing principles, however, neither reveal different peoples nor leave them to work out their own rules of conduct His method is to train one particular people and to use it as a nucleus for the build up of a universal Shariah'. In doing so, he accentuates the principles underlying the social life of all mankind and applies them to concrete cases in the light of the specific habits of the people immediately before him." ("The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam)

Letters By Shah Waliullah :

He wrote open letters to :

  • Mughal rulers, to give up their corrupt and inefficient practices.
  • Soldiers, for forgetting to inculcate within themselves the spirit of jihad.
  • Artisans, workers and peasants, reminded them that on their labours the economic prosperity of the state depends.
  • The Emperor, to teach a lesson to the Jats threatening the Mughal Empire and also wrote to him not to give jagirs to mansabdars, who were not loyal to the state.
  • Masses, to be conscious of their duties and not to indulge in the accumulation of wealth.
  • He wrote to Ahmad Shah Abdali to give up the life of ease, draw the sword and not to sheath it till the distinction is established between true faith and infidelity. His efforts resulted in Maratha debacle at the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali and Najib ud Daula in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 A.D.


Shah Waliullah lived during the times that can best be described as disastrous for the Mughal dynasty in India. The descendants of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb are alleged to have squandered the wealth amassed by their forefathers on entertainment, dance, music and wasteful constructions. The kingdom was reeling under the severe spells of droughts, poverty, hunger, hopelessness and purported indifference and cruelty at the hands of their rulers. The character of the people were alleged to have fallen to the lowest levels of "civilised" behaviour.

According to Salman Nadwi, The sway of the Mughal Empire was only name sake. Muslims were engulfed in wrongul an unnecessary traditions, frauds and scoundrels had kidnapped the graves of the pious and became their custodians, the seminaries were disputing on the topics of philosophy and wisdom, religious edicts were being literally interpreted by jurists. Leave alone the common men, even scholars were ignorant of hte meanings and teachings of the Quran, hadith and theology.

Service to Mankind :

After returning from Makkah and Medina, the miserable condition of Indian Muslims inspired him to improve their character, buck up their morale, inculcate the feeling of selflessness and love for their fellows.

He overhauled the existing education system, separated the faith from unlawful invented traditions (bidaat), unnecessary and unwanted suspicions regarding Islam and its Holy books. He presented what he considered pure and pristine Islam to the people. 


His reforms are given below:

Religious Reforms

(a) Translation of the Holy Quran

Shah Waliullah was the first in the subcontinent who translated the Holy Quran into Persian language for better understanding of the Holy book.

(b) Explanation of Muatta

The life and Traditions of Prophet (P.B.U.H.) were the second source of Islamic teachings.

He established schools íor the study of hadith.

He selected Imam Malik's Muatta as the most authentic collection of the hadith.

(c) Synthesis of different schools of thought

He wrote Al-Insaf-fi-Bayan Sahab al Ikhtalaf, in order to create a balance between the four schools of thought.

His object was to alleviate the deteriorating condition of the Muslim society and to defend it from external threats.

(d) Emphasis on ijtehad

Shah Waliullah was the first person to emphasize the importance of ijtehad for the solution of intricate problems in everyday life.

(e) Efforts for the revival of Islam

He was against the limited universality of the applications of the injunctions of the Quran. He tried to resolve the controversies among various schools of thoughts and gave a new life to the spirit of Islam

Promotion of Madrasah-i- Rahimiyah :

He rendered great services to Islam by the promotion of Madrasah-i-Rahimiyah.

Economic Reforms :

In his famous book Hijat-ul-Balagh, he pointed out that social and economic factors were responsible for the problems in human society.

The working and poor class was being exploited but the noble, ulema and rulers were being fed on the public treasury without performing their corresponding duties. Shah Waliullah raised his voice for:

  • Economic equilibrium
  • Removal of inequalities
  • Equitable distribution of resources

He appealed to the classes concerned responsible to realize their responsibilities and duties towards the people.

Political Reforms :

Shah Waliullah wrote many letters to Ahmad Shah Abdali and encouraged Najib-ud-Daula of Bengal to help him save the Muslim community from the Marathas. He gave a crushing defeat to the Marathas at Panipat. The occasion was the culmination of Shah Waliullah's political efforts.

Social Reforms :

He emphasized on all basic rights such as free dispensation of justice, equality, brotherhood, etc

Death of Shah Sahab :

He died in Delhi in 1176 AH 1762 AD, behind the central jail. There is a vast ground and a graveyard known popularly as "Mehindin Kakhitta" which contains in it the grave of Shah Waliullah and his progeny.

His Final Will :

The final will of this humble servant of Allah is that always hold tightly to the Quran and sunnah in your beliefs and acts. Regularly evaluate yourself against them. Read them regularly and if you can't, then find someone who can and listen to at least a couple of pages everyday.

Conclusion :

In short, due to sincere and dedicated efforts of Shah Waliullah and his family the illustrious banner of Islam kept flying over the Indian subcontinent despite the decline and fall of the Mughal empire. In Spain, the faith of Islam disappeared with disappearance of the Muslim rule. Many Muslims were killed and many were converted to Christianity. In India however, intention of the British government did not realize and Muslim India did not convert to the faith of the ruling people despite missionary efforts of the British government who spent millions of faith. The failure of the British government in converting Muslim India was due to the dedicated pounds on missionary activities and arranged lectures, debates and seminars to propagate their efforts of Hazrat Shah Waliullah and his noble family.

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