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Tazkiratul Awliya’

(QaddasAllahu Sirrahul 'Aziz)

A‘la Hazrat became fana fi’r-Rasul in mahabbati’r-Rasul (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam)

Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (QaddasAllahu Sirrahul ‘Aziz) affectionately known as A‘la Hazrat can be said to have reached the maqam (spiritual station) of fana fi’r-Rasul, immersed in the mahabba (love) of our Beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam). He was born in 1272 A.H / 1856 C.E at Bareilly in India and passed ahead with the Kalima Shahada on his lips in his home town in 1340 A.H / 1921 C.E. His anniversary to celebrate his achievements in promoting piety is held by muhibbin (loving disciples) in India as well as in many other countries on 25 Safar, the date he passed ahead.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

He came from a spiritually elite family whose ancestors were ‘ulama (religious scholars). His ancestors had migrated from Afghanistan and had settled in India.

He first obtained religious education from his father, Mawlana Naqi Ali Khan, and then from his murshid Hazrat as-Sayyid Aal-e-Rasul whom he refers to as achay miyan.

His momentous performance of Hajj

A‘la Hazrat performed Hajj two times. During Hajj, one shaykh spontaneously embraced him when he saw him and exclaimed that the nur (light) of the love of RasulAllah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) shone from his forehead. When he was in Makkah, he observed that the Ka‘ba was dressed in black as it was mourning its separation from its Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) who was in Madina. When he was in Madina, A‘la Hazrat saw RasulAllah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) either in a dream or in a waking vision.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

He was Sahib-ul-basira (possessor of spiritual inner-sight) and Sahib-ul-kashf (man of spiritual unveilings).

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

He towered above all others in the propagation of Islam in India in his time. His contributions are remarkable.

His Salat ala’r-Rasul (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam)

He wrote this Salat ala’r-Rasul (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) which is recited by muhibbin (loving disciples) after every Salah (Prayer) and at religious gatherings.
imam ahmad razakhan

Sallallahu ‘alan-Nabiyyil Ummiyyi wa alihi wa ashaabih
Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam
Salaatan wa Salaaman ‘alayka Yaa RasulAllah

May Allah bless the Prophet who was not taught by any human (but directly by Allah)
and (may Allah bless as well) his Family and Companions.
May Allah bless him and grant him peace.
Blessing and peace be on you O Prophetic Messenger of Allah.

His Urdu translation of the Holy Qur’an

His Urdu translation of the Holy Qur’an is very highly esteemed among those in the Sufi tradition. It is an explanatory translation, since a literal translation of the Holy Qur’an in any other language is not considered possible. It is a manifestation of Hubb Allah (love of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta‘ala) and Ishq-e Rasul (love of the Holy Prophet, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam).

Consider this example. All the other translators have translated Bismillah as Shuru‘ Allah kay Naam say (In the Name of Allah) whereas Imam Ahmad Raza Khan has translated it as Allah kay Naam say shuru‘. We can see that he has kept Allah’s name as the first word in his translation as the Urdu language gives him this flexibility. The other translators did not think of availing themselves of this flexibility.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

Let us consider another example. A Prophet sent by Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘ala) is someone who comes with a prophecy about an event in the future which people don’t yet know about. He brings people the news of the Unseen. Some Urdu translators translated Nabi (Prophet) as Payghambar whereas A‘la Hazrat translated it as Ghayb ki khabren bataanay waalay (Bringer of news about the Unseen) which brings out the meaning of the word Prophet so clearly.

His Teachings are based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah

As Shaykh al-Islam and a WaliAllah (sufi saint), he wants us to have reverential awe of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘ala), and to love RasulAllah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam), his Noble Family and Blessed Companions (Rady Allahu ‘Anhum), the Awliya Allah (Friends of Allah, sufi masters) and the salihin (pious) (Rahmatullahi ‘alayhim ajma‘in).

His Fatawa-e-Ridawiyya is a monumental work in 30 volumes, consisting of about 2100 pages.  It deals with issues of fiqh, Islamic Jurisprudence. The Imam thus established himself as an authority in shari‘a (sacred Muslim law) in the Hanafi madh-hab. As Shaykh al-Islam, he instilled respect for the Imams of all the four madh-habs, that is Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi‘i, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Rahmatullahi ‘alayhim). He also inculcated respect for the ‘ulama-e-Haqq in the Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama‘ah.     

Naf‘anAllahu bihim (may Allah make us benefit from them). Amin.

As a sufi master in Tariqa al-Qadiriyya, he invites us to Tasawwuf (the sufi tradition), and to tariqa (the spiritual path) leading to Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘ala). And he wants us to learn the  sufi tradition, and ‘aqida (the Muslim creed) from Muhyiddin Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (QaddasAllahu Sirrahul ‘Aziz) whom he refers to as the Gawth al-A‘zam (great spiritual helper). He follows in the footsteps of his pious predecessors in basing his teachings on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Naf‘anAllahu bihim (may Allah make us benefit from them). Amin.

A‘la Hazrat is in wajd (spiritual ecstasy), he sees that the rose in the rose garden of Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi (Rahmatullahi ‘alaih)  is in wajd, he wants us to go into wajd, and he wants to cross the sirat (Bridge) on the Day of Judgement reciting salawaat while in a state of wajd.

Naf‘anAllahu bihima (may Allah make us benefit from them both). Amin.

He was a mujahid for Islam and like his grandfather Mawlana Raza Ali Khan who fought against the British in 1856, staunchly anti-colonist.  His teachings influenced personalities like Qaid-e-A‘zam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who went on to fight for the establishment of Pakistan as a separate state for Muslims.

The Imam was an expert in both religious as well as worldly ‘ulum (knowledge). He wrote voluminously. He excelled as a sufi master but was also an expert in many other subjects.

He was mentally tortured by heretics like the Qadianis, and deviant sectists who insulted our Beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them).

He has been acclaimed as a mujaddid (reviver of faith) of the fourteenth Islamic century.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

His Religious Poetry

Anyone who loves RasulAllah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) will naturally love A‘la Hazrat. His religious poetry is so emotionally charged with the love of RasulAllah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) that he makes you weep. As a spiritual master he is so confident that when you come to another of his poems, he makes you smile.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

His Diwan titled Hadaiq-e-Bakhshish, a collection of his poems mostly in praise of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam), and in praise of Muhyiddin Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (QaddasAllahu Sirrahul ‘Aziz), in Urdu and Farsi is a classic of Muslim spirituality. Since it deals in Kalaam-e-Ma‘rifat (knowledge of spiritual matters), only those in the sufi tradition can truly understand his spiritual stature.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

A‘la Hazrat is Bahr al-‘ilm (a sea of knowledge) and he writes in bahr tawil (long meter), among other poetical meters.

There are enough qasidas, naats, manqabats, as well as the Salam alar-Rasul (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) in Hadaiq-e-Bakhshish, to organize gatherings of Milad-un-Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam), and the Gyarween sharif throughout the year.

He is singularly unique as a sha‘ir (poet) in that he wrote a naat (lam ya’ti naziruka) in four languages: Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Hindi.

His religious poetry consisting of more than 100 poems is rich in fasahah (purity of language and fluency), and balaghah (eloquence and art of composition). His poetical diction includes simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, imagery, multiple rhyming words within a couplet, and much more.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

His Salaam alar-Rasul (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam)

His Salaam on the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam), which is rendered in standing ovation to he who is Rahmatullil ‘Aalamin (Mercy for all the worlds) is the most memorable Salaam in the Urdu language, and the longest Salam in any language with 171 couplets, and millions of Urdu speaking Muslims know at least its opening couplet by heart:

Mustafa Jaan-e Rahmat peh Lakhon Salaam
Sham-e Bazm-e Hidayat peh Lakhon Salaam

A million salutations on Mustafa, essence of mercy
A million salutations on the light of guidance.

This Salaam is spontaneous and overflowing as if inspired (with ilham), and brings out the best of the ‘aalim (religious scholar) and the murshid al-kaamil (total spiritual master) in the great Imam. Pick any book on Muslim religious poetry in Urdu and you will surely find at least a few couplets of this Salaam in it.

It is recited by muhibbin (loving disciples) at the Rawda of RasulAllah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) in Masjid an-Nabawi. It is musk-scented and rose adorned with the love of RasulAllah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam). It is recited from Ajmer to London, from Lahore to Toronto, and from Mombasa to Chicago, indeed all over the world.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

His miracles in faith-healing

His miracles in faith-healing are also well-known. Many people got healed and their problems got solved when he recited verses of the Holy Qur’an or when he asked them to recite verses from the Holy Qur’an. 

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

Boost to scholarship

A‘la Hazrat’s work promoted piety and gave a great boost to Muslim scholarship. He had many muridin and khalifas who went on to become distinguished ‘ulama and mashayikh. He could count among his khalifas none other than His Eminence Mawlana ‘Abdul ‘Alim Siddiqui, (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) who through the blessings of A‘la Hazrat was able to tour the whole world many times to propagate Islam in many countries and made thousands of non-Muslims embrace Islam. Al-Hamdu Lillah (all Praise is for Allah).

A‘la Hazrat’s work promoted scholarship in many other ways. Some examples immediately come to mind.

  1. His Urdu translation of the Holy Qur’an has been translated into other languages and voluminous explanations have been written on it.
  2. Many academic and research institutes have been opened and named after him.
  3. 21 Ph.D’s have been written on him so far.

Much work has also been done on his religious poetry.
(a) Tazamin have been made of many of his religious poems, as well as of all the 171 verses of his Salaam. In Urdu, a tazmin is generally a takhmis, the augmentation of each couplet to a quintet.
(b) Extensive sharh (appreciative explanations) has been done of all his poems.
(c) Many of his poems have been translated into English.
(d) Other shu‘ara (poets) have composed Nahjul Qasida of his poems, following the same rhyme, rhythm and radif as the qasida of A‘la Hazrat, following the same “zamin” as the Urdu-speaking people would say.
(e) Taqariz (appreciative poems) have been composed in praise of Hadaiq-e-Bakhshish, a book of his collected poems.
(f) His poems in Arabic, separately published, have also been extensively appreciated. A Ph.D. was written on his poems in Arabic in Al-Azhar University.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.


Manqabat on A‘la Hazrat

Many ‘ulama (learned sholars) as well as shu‘ara (poets) have written manqabats in praise of A‘la Hazrat (QaddasAllahu Sirrahul ‘Aziz). Let us then conclude by filling our hearts with joy, reciting these opening couplets from the manqabat composed by Mawlana ‘Abdul ‘Alim Siddiqui (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh).

Tumhari shaan may jo kuch kahun us say siwa tum ho
Qaseem-e jaan-e ‘irfaan ay Shah-e Ahmad Raza tum ho

Yahan aakar mili nehren shari‘at aur tariqat ki
Hai seena majma‘al-bahrayn aysay rehnumaa tum ho.

You are more honourable than whatever I can say in your honour.
Shah Ahmad Raza! You are the sharer of the essence of knowledge about Allah’s Attributes.

Streams of sacred Muslim law and the spiritual path were obtained here.
You are such a guide whose heart has gathered these two seas (of shari‘a and tariqa).

These two verses then succinctly summarize for us who Imam Ahmad Raza Khan was: a sufi master who fulfilled his responsibility of promoting piety based on shari‘a and tariqa, with his heart filled with ‘irfaan (or ma‘rifa).

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah make us benefit from him). Amin.

May Allah Ta‘ala give us the hidaya (guidance) to follow the teachings of the Holy Qur’an Karim and Hadith Shareef as explained by the awliya and the salihin like A‘la Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (QaddasAllahu Sirrahul ‘Aziz). Amin ya Rabb al-‘Aalamin.

Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad
25 Safar 1433, January 2012. Toronto.


The Holy Qur’an, English translation by Professor Shah Faridul Haque, based on the Urdu translation of A‘la Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh), Darul ‘Ulum Amjadia, Karachi, 1988.

Imam Ahmad Raza Khan, Hadaiq-e-Bakhshish (The Garden of Gifts), a compendium of his religious poetry, Chishti Kutub Khana, Faisalabad, n.d.

Mawlana Shah Muhammad ‘Abdul ‘Alim Siddiqui, Zikr-e-Habib, Women Islamic Mission, Karachi, n.d. (The manqabat on Imam Ahmad Raza Khan, p.6)

Professor Muhammad Masood Ahmad, “Neglected Genius of the East” (A Biography of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan), in A‘la Hazrat Shah Ahmad Raza Khan’s Salam, (A Poetic Translation by Professor G.D. Qureshi), The World Islamic Mission, Yorkshire, U.K, 1401/1981.

Mustafa Jaan-e Rahmat peh Lakhon Salam, Na‘t-e Rang, Issue Number 18, Ikleem-e-Naat, Karachi, December 2005.


Related Web Pages

Salam by Imam Ahmad Raza Khan

Tazmin on the Salam of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan: An Appreciation
(Tazmin written by Syed Hamid Yazdani of Toronto)
Manqabat 1 on Imam Ahmad Raza Khan
(By: Hafiz Abdul Ghaffar Hafiz, Karachi)

Manqabat 2 on Imam Ahmad Raza Khan
(By: Syed Hamid Yazdani, Toronto)