Shah Waliyullah was born in 1703 AC four years before the death of Aurangazeb. His grandfather, Sheikh Wajihuddin, was an important officer in the army of Shah Jahan who supported Prince Aurangazeb in the war of succession. His father, Shah Abdur Rahim, a Sufi and an eminent scholar assisted in the compilation of Fatwa-i-Alamgiri -the voluminous code of Islamic law.


Shah Waliyullah received his early education from his illustrious father, who was his teacher as well as his spiritual guide. Being a precocious child with a retentive memory he committed the Holy Quran to memory at an early age of 7 years. On the death of his father in I 13 I A.H. when he was hardly 17 years old he started teaching in his father’s Madrassa Rahimiya and carried on the work for I 2 years when he left for Arabia for higher studies. He was a brilliant scholar; during fourteen months’ stay in Makkah and Madina he came into contact with the outstanding teachers al Hijaz. His favorite teacher was Sheikh Abu Tahir bin Ibrahim of Madina, from whom he obtained his Sanad (Degree) in Hadith (Tradition). The Sheikh was an erudite scholar, possessing encyclopedic knowledge. Shah Waliyullah benefited much from him too and speaks highly of his piety, independence of Judgment and scholarly talents.

Stay at Makkah

During his stay at Makkah, Shah Waliyullah had a dream in which the Holy Prophet commanded him to work for the organization and emancipation of the Muslim community in the subcontinent. He, therefore, returned to Delhi on July 9, 1732 and started his work in real earnest. His was an uphill task in a period when Muslim India was passing through the most critical phase of its history and its entire social, political, economic and spiritual fabric was torn to pieces. On his arrival in Delhi, he started training pupils in diverse branches of Islamic learning and entrusted them with the missionary work of enlightening people with the true nature of Islam. He embarked upon the task of producing standard works on Islamic learning and, before his death in 1762, completed a large number of outstanding works on Islam.

He rose to be a great scholar of Islamic studies, endowed with saintly qualities. So great was his dedication to work that, according to his talented son Shah Abdul Azeez, “he was rarely ill and once he sat down to work after ‘ishraq’ (post-sunrise prayers) he would not change his posture, till midday”. He was a real genius, an intellectual giant who set himself to the mission of educating the misguided Muslim masses with the true spirit of Islam.

Genealogical Table of Shah Waliyullah

Shah Waliyullah, a direct descendant of Caliph Umar, has given his genealogical table tracing his ancestry back to the second caliph.

Shah Waliyullah
As Shaikh Abdur Rahim
As-Shahid Wajihudhin
Qazi Qassim
qazi Kabir
Abdul Malik
Shamsudhin Mufti
Sher malik
Muhammed Ata malik
Abdul Fath Malik
Umar Hakim Malik
Adil Malik
Muhammed Shahryar

List of Shah Waliyullah’s Books

The following are the books written by Shah Waliyullah. The list given here is however not complete. Ali Mian has given a complete list in Saviors of Islamic Spirit Vol 4. Not all the books mentioned here may necessarily be published.

Arbain (Arabic)- A collection of 40 ahadith which are brief yet of inclusive character.
Al-Irshad ila-Muhimmat-I-Ilm-al-Isnad (Arabic)- is about the scholars of Hejaz who taught Shah Waliullah.
Izalat al-Khafa ‘an Khilafat al- Khulfa (Persian)
Atayyab al-naghm fi Madh-I-Saiyid al- Arab wal-Ajam (Arabic)- A collection of odes eulogizing the holy Prophet which speak of Shah’s poetic talent and love towards Prophet.
Altaf al-Quds (Persian) – Deals with esoteric principles of mysticism.
Al-Imdad-o-fi Ma’athir al-Ajdad (Persian)- A brochure giving Shah Waliullah’s genealogical table and containing brief notices about some of his ancestors.
Al-Intibah-o-fi Salasil-il-Aulia Allah (Persian)- Gives the history and brief introduction of different mystic orders.
Insan al-ain fi Mashikh al-Haeamyn (Persian)
Al insaf-o-fi Bayan-I-Asbab al-Ikhtalaf (Arabic)
Anfas aal Arifin (Persian)
Al-Budur al-Bazigha (Arabic)- This work on theology employs philosophical terminology in discussing human nature and social behavior.
Bawariq al-Wilayah (Persian)- The tract forms part of the Anfas al-Arifin in which the Shah has described the life and spiritual attainments of his father Shah Abdur Rahim.
Tawil al-ahadith (Arabic)- It recount the stories of different prophets mentioned in the Quran in order to draw out lessons and rules of Shariah from the Quranic describtion.
Tuhfatul Muwahhidin- It is a Persian tract explaining the creed of tauhid.
Tarajim-o-Abwab al-Bukhari (Arabic)- It expounds the principles which would be found helpful in understanding certain difficult portions of the Bukhari.
At-Tafhimat al-Ilahiyah (Arabic and Persian)- It’s a mystical work, partly in Arabic and partly in Persian, giving the mystical experiences of Shah.
Al-Juz al-Latif fi- Tarjumata al-Abd al- Dhayif(Persian)
Hujjat Allah al-Baligha (Arabic)- The magnum opus of Shah has been discussed in the seventh section of this work.
Husn al- Aqidah (Arabic)- The fundamental creed of Islam as accepted by the Ahli-I-Sunnat sect, has been expounded in this work in the light of Quran and Hadith.
Al-Khair al-Kathir(Arabic)- This work on philosophy of religion elucidates the concept of m’arifat and wisdom of Divine Names, revelation etc
Ad-durrus Thamain fi-Mubashshiratil Nabi al-Amin (Arabic)- It is a collection of glad tidings the Shah and his ancestors had had from the holy Prophet.
Diwan-o-Ashar (Arabic)- A collection of the Arabic verses of the Shah.
Risalah- was written in reply to certain mystical issues raised by Shaikh ‘Abdullah bin Abdul Baqi.
Risalah Danishmandi (Persian) – A valuable tract containing detailed directions in regard to methodology of teaching.
Zahrawayn- A commentary on the Surat-ul-Baqarah and Imran.
Surur al- Mahzun (Persia)- It is a concise Persian rendering of the Kitab Nur al-Uyun il-Amin al-Mamun a well-known biography of the holy Prophet.
Sharh-o-Tarajim-I-Abwab-I-Sahih al-Bukhari (Arabic)- is an annotation on certain chapters of the Sahih of Bukhari.
Shifa al-Qulub (Persian)- is a tract of mysticism.
Shawariq al-Marifat (Persian)- a biography of the Shah’s Uncle Shaikh Abdul Raza.
Al-Atiyatus Samadiyah Fi Anfas Al-Muhammadiyah (Persian)- this small brochure contains a biographical sketch of the Shah’s maternal grandfather Shaikh Muhammad Phulti.
Iqd Al-Jid Fi-Aakham Al-Ijtihad Wat-Tajdid (Arabic)
Fath-ur-Rahman (Persian)-a translation of the Quran.
Fath-al-Kabir (Arabic)- A glossary of the intricate words of the Quran.
Fath al-Wadud-li-Marifata-al-Junud(Arabic)- it pertains to the ethics and mysticism.
Al fadhl Al-Mubin Fi Al-Musalsal Min Hadithin Nabi Al-Amin (Arabic)- It is about Hadith.

Reformative efforts of Shah Waliyullah

Reformative efforts of Shah Waliyullah can be divided into the following

Reform of the creed and call to Quran

Propagation of Hadith and integration of fiqh and Hadith

Reinterpretation of the Islamic Sharia and exposition of the wisdom underlying Hadith and Sunnah

Elucidation of the theory of caliphate, its basic characteristics and refutation of the Shi’te view in this regard.

Leading role played by him during the era of confusion following the decay of Mughal empire
Admonition of different sections of Muslim society and inviting them to reform themselves.
Providing instructions and training to a selected group of scholars for taking ahead the reformative work initiated by him.

posted Oct 19, 2007