Ashraf Ali Thanwi

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Hakim al-Ummah

Ashraf Ali Thanwi
Born1862 (1862)
Died1943(1943-00-00) (aged 80–81)
Resting placeThana Bhawan, Muzaffarnagar
EraModern era
Main interest(s)Tasawwuf
Notable idea(s)Reformation, Moderation, and Islamisation of every aspect of life.
Notable work(s)Bayan Ul Quran, Bahishti Zewar
Alma materDarul Uloom Deoband
OccupationIslamic scholar
Muslim leader
Disciple ofImdadullah Muhajir Makki
Influenced by

Ashraf Ali Thanwi (1862–1943) was an Indian Sunni Islamic scholar, author, jurist and a Sufi mentor of the Chishti order. He was an alumnus of the Darul Uloom Deoband, and authored several hundred books including Bayan Ul Quran and Bahishti Zewar.

Opposition by Barelvis[edit]

In 1906, Ahmad Raza Khan and other scholars issued a fatwa against Thanwi and other Deobandi leaders entitled Husamul Haramain (Urdu: Sword of The two Holy Mosques), calling them unbelievers and Satanists.[2][3][4]

Deobandi elders, including those accused in the fatwa, prepared a reply to questions sent to them by the scholars of Hijaz to clarify the matter in Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri's al-Muhannad 'ala al-Mufannad (transl. "The Sword on the Disproved"), which was written in Arabic and signed by all Deobandi scholars including Thanvi.[5][6][7] His disciple Murtaza Hasan Chandpuri also wrote articles and leaflets in defence of Thanwi.[8]


Thanwi stressed adopting the complete way of Islam to attain salvation. He shunned Sufis who emphasised voluntary worshiping but neglected other important commandments of Islam, including fair dealings and fulfilling the rights of others.[9]

At times, he would caution and stress towards matter that are generally thought to be not related to Islam and spirituality but he would explain the forgotten and ignored link. For example, once he encouraged the son of his close disciple, Mufti Muhammad Shafi, to improve his handwriting so that others may read it with ease, and thereafter remarked that he was nurturing him to become a "Sufi".[10]

Political ideology[edit]

Thanwi was a strong supporter of the Muslim League.[11] He maintained a correspondence with the leadership of All India Muslim League (AIML), including Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He also sent groups of Muslim scholars to give religious advice and reminders to Jinnah.[12][13]

During the 1940s, many Deobandi ulama supported the Congress but Ashraf Ali Thanvi and some other leading Deobandi scholars including Muhammad Shafi and Shabbir Ahmad Usmani were in favour of the Muslim League.[14][15] Thanwi resigned from Deoband's management committee due to its pro-Congress stance.[16]

His support and the support of his disciples for Pakistan Movement were greatly appreciated by AIML.[12][13]

Death and legacy[edit]

His edicts and religious teachings have been deemed authoritative even by many of his opponents. Muhammad Iqbal once wrote to a friend of his that on the matter of Rumi's teachings, he held Thanwi as the greatest living authority.[17]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bruckmayr, Philipp (2020). "Salafī Challenge and Māturīdī Response: Contemporary Disputes over the Legitimacy of Māturīdī kalām". Die Welt des Islams. Brill. 60 (2–3): 293–324. doi:10.1163/15700607-06023P06.
  2. ^ 'Arabic Fatwa against Deobandis' Sufi Manzil website, Published 3 May 2010, Retrieved 11 August 2020
  3. ^ Fatawa Hussam-ul-Hermayn by Khan, Ahmad Raza Qadri
  4. ^ As-samare-ul-Hindiya by Khan, Hashmat Ali
  5. ^ "Al-Muhannad ala 'l-Mufannad |". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  6. ^ Al Muhannad 'ala Al Mufannad Urdu.
  7. ^ "Al Muhannad 'ala Al Mufannad English". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  8. ^ Mawlānā Ashraf Ali Thanwi. Hifz al-Iman. Dar al-Kitab, Deoband. p. 19.
  9. ^ 'abd (18 September 2019). "The essential instructions for mureed". ASHRAFIYA. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  10. ^ Talhah, Sayyid (5 August 2018). "Handwriting and Spirituality". Pearls for Tazkiyah. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  11. ^ "'What's wrong with Pakistan?'". Dawn. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  12. ^ a b Khan, Munshi Abdur Rahman. Tehreek e Pakistan aur Ulama e Rabbani. Karachi, Pakistan.
  13. ^ a b Saeed, Professor Ahmad. Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi aur Tehreek e Azadi. Lahore, Pakistan.
  14. ^ Svanberg, Ingvar; Westerlund, David (6 December 2012). Islam Outside the Arab World. Routledge. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-136-11322-2.
  15. ^ Jetly, Rajshree (27 April 2012). Pakistan in Regional and Global Politics. Taylor & Francis. pp. 156–. ISBN 978-1-136-51696-2.
  16. ^ Robinson, Francis (2000). "Islam and Muslim separatism.". In Hutchinson, John (ed.). Nationalism: Critical Concepts in Political Science. Anthony D. Smith. Taylor & Francis. pp. 929–930. ISBN 978-0-415-20112-4.
  17. ^ Maqalat-e-Iqbal; Compiled by Syed Abdul Wahid Mueeni

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]