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Shah Waliullah
Full name Shah Waliullah
Born February 21, 1703
Died August 20, 1762
Era Mughal Era
Region Islamic Philosopher/Islamic Scholar
School Sunni Islam, Hanafi, Sufi
Notable ideas Evolution of Islamic Philosophy

Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlvi (February 21, 1703 – August 20, 1762) was an Islamic scholar and reformer. He worked for the revival of Muslim rule and intellectual learning in South Asia, during a time of waning Muslim power. Shah Waliullah urged Muslim rulers to a jihad against the enemies of Islam and hoped to restore the Ulama's former power and influence. He despised the divisions and deviations within Islam and its practice in India and hoped to "purify" the religion and unify all Indian Muslims under the "banner of truth". He is also thought to have anticipated a number of progressive, social, economic, and political ideas of the modern era such as social reform, equal rights, labour protection, welfare entitlement of all to food, clothing, housing, etc.


Lineage & Early Life

Shah Waliullah is a descendent of the Quraish tribe of Arabia and his genealogy can be traced to the second khalifa of Islam, 'Umar on his paternal side. His father, Shah Abdur Rahim, named his son 'Qutbuddin Ahmad'. He was dubbed as 'Shah Waliullah' because waliullah means "friend of God" and he was a pious individual. He was a follower of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah and was a sub follower of Hanafi school of thought according to some. However, he was not fanatical to the Hanafi school of thought and used to give precedence to the authentic narrations of the Prophet Muhammad above any one else's statements. His complete name was Shah Waliullah Qutbuddin Ahmad and he was born in Phulat, a town in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India on February 21, 1703.


Shah Waliullah received his education at Madrasa Rahimiyya. His father was his teacher and source of spiritual guidance. He commenced his studies at the tender age of five and completed the recitation and memorization of the Qur'an by the age of seven. Thereafter, he commenced primary lessons in Persian and Arabic, which were completed in a year. Then, he studied the grammar and syntax of Persian and Arabic. He completed his studies in philosophy and theology at the age of fifteen and then commenced his studies in mantiq, fiqh, hadith, tibb, algebra, mathematics, kalaam, spiritualism, mysticism, oratory and metaphysics under his father. Thereafter, he was inducted into the tradition of bay'at by his father and, by the age of seventeen, he was permitted to provide spiritual guidance to and reform his fellow Muslims.

On the death of his father when he was hardly seventeen years old, he became a mudarris (teacher) at Madrasa Rahimiyya. He held this position for twelve years. Then, in 1731, Shah Waliullah performed Hajj. He reached Makkah on May 21 and performed Hajj, after which he proceeded to Madina. There, he attended Shaikh Abu Tahir Muhammad bin Ibrahim Kurdi Madani's discourses on hadith. Shah Waliullah studied Sihah Sitta, Mu'atta Imam Malik, Masnad Da'armi, and Imam Muhammad's Al A'saar under him. Thereafter, he returned to Makkah, performed another Hajj, studied Mu'atta Imam Malik for a second time under Shaikh Wafadullah Maliki Makki, and attended the discourses of Shaikh Tajuddin Hanafi Qala'i Makki on Sihah Sitta. Then, he was permitted to teach all of the kitabs of hadith by Shaikh Tajuddin.

Thereafter, Shah Waliullah returned to India. His journey back to India lasted six months and he reached Delhi on January 1, 1733.

Achievements and Services

During his sojourn in Makkah, Shah Waliullah had a dream in which Rasulullah commanded him to reform the organization and emancipation of Muslims in India. Thus, after he returned to Delhi, he started his work in earnest. This was in a period when Muslims in India were passing through the most critical phase of their history and their entire social, political, economic and spiritual fabric was torn to pieces. On his arrival in Delhi, he started to train his pupils in diverse branches of Islam and entrusted them with the mission of enlightening people with the true nature of Islam. He embarked upon the task of authoring standard works on Islam and was able to complete a number of works on Islam.

Shah Waliullah rose to be an eminent scholar of Islamic studies. He was a prominent intellectual figure whose mission was to reform the Muslims he saw as misguided. His activities were not confined to spiritual and intellectual spheres only. He lived in troubled times and witnessed a number of rulers occupying the throne of Delhi. With his keen political insight, he observed the deterioration of Muslim rule in India and wrote to a number of political dignitaries to attempt to bolster the political life of Muslims in India. He established several branches of Madrasa Rahimiyya in Delhi in order to effectively disseminate his knowledge.

Literary career

Shah Waliullah was a prolific writer as well. In the realm of Islam, he produced a number of memorable literary works and, within a period of thirty years, he wrote a total of fifty-one works of merit, twenty-eight in Arabic and twenty-three in Persian. Some of these are still unsurpassed in the domain of Islamic literature. His most valuable service to Islam was that he codified the vast store of Islam under separate heads. Both in thought and prediction, his works occupy an outstanding position.

His works can be classified into six categories. The first deals with the Qur'an. It includes his translation of the Qur'an into Persian. According to him, the object of studying the Qur'an is to reform human nature and correct wrong beliefs and injurious actions. The second category deals with hadith, in which he has left behind several works such as commentaries on Mu'atta Imam Malik in both Arabic and Persian. Shah Waliullah also wrote a number of works and pamphlets on hadith. The third category deals with fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence, which includes lnsaaf fi Bayaan-e-Sahoobul Ikhtilaf, a brief yet informative history of Islamic jurisprudence over the five centuries before his life. The fourth category deals with mysticism. The fifth category pertains to his works on Muslim philosophy and kalaam. He also wrote a pamphlet on the principles of ijtihad (independent interpretation) and taqlid (conformity). In his principles of ijtihad, he clarifies whether it is obligatory for a Muslim to adhere to one of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence or whether he can exercise his own judgment. Shah Waliullah's greatest work is Hujjatullahil Baligha, which deals with such aspects of Islam that are common among all of the Muslim countries. The sixth category deals with his works on the problems between Shias and Sunnis. His theories pertaining to economics and socialism are of revolutionary nature. The miserable condition of Indian Muslims inspired him to improve their character, raise their morale, and inculcate a feeling of selflessness and love for their fellows in them. He overhauled the educational system and separated faith from unlawful invented traditions and unnecessary and unwanted suspicions regarding Islam. He presented what he considered pure and pristine Islam to people.

Literary works

The biographers of Shah Waliullah state that the number of his published literary works are above fifty. Shah Waliullah was a prolific writer who wrote extensively on several Islamic topics. His literary masterpieces are as follows:

1. Fathur Rahman fi Tarjumatul Qur’an: A translation of the Qur'an into Persian. A collection of 40 ahadith which are brief yet of inclusive character.

  • Al Irshad ila Muhim

2. Al Faudhul Kabir fi Usoolut Tafsir: A booklet in Persian that follows his Persian translation of the Qur'an. It contains the nucleus of the Qur'an, the rules of interpretation, and interpretations of the Qur'an by various eminent scholars.

3. Hujjatullahil Baligha: Shah Waliullah's greatest literary work. Its title is derived from the Qur'an (Suratul An'aam:149). It is a two-volume Arabic manuscript and elaborates about the jurisprudence from the hadith and necessities of the Shari’a.

A partial list of the rest of his works is as follows:

  • Arba'een (Arabic): matul Ilmul Isnad (Arabic): This work is about the scholars of Hijaz who taught Shah Waliullah.
  • Izalatul Khafa'an Khilafatul Khulafa (Persian)
  • At Tayyabul Naghm fi Madh-e-Sayyidul Arab wal Ajam (Arabic): A collection of odes eulogizing Rasulullah, which display Shah Waliullah's poetic talent and love towards Rasulullah.
  • Altaaful Quds (Persian): This work deals with esoteric principles of mysticism.
  • Al Imdad fi Ma'athirul Ajdaad (Persian): A brochure outlining Shah Waliullah’s genealogical table and containing brief notices about some of his ancestors.
  • Al Intibah fi Salaasil ul Auliaullah (Persian): A book which details the history of and a brief introduction to various mystic orders.
  • Insanul 'Ain fi Mashaaikhul Haramayn (Persian)
  • Al Insaf fi Bayaanul Asbabul Ikhtilaf (Arabic)
  • Anfaasul Arifeen (Persian)
  • Al Budurul Bazigha (Arabic): This work on theology employs philosophical terminology in discussing human nature and social behaviour.
  • Bawaariqul Wilaaya (Persian): This tract forms part of the Anfaasul Arifeen, in which Shah Waliullah has described the life and spiritual attainments of his father, Shah Abdur Rahim.
  • Tawillul Ahadith (Arabic): It recount the stories of different prophets mentioned in the Qur'an in order to draw out lessons and rules of Shari'a from the Qur'anic description.
  • Tuhfatul Mu'ahhidin: This is a Persian tract explaining the creed of tauhid.
  • Taraajimul Abwaabul Bukhari (Arabic): It expounds the principles which would be found helpful in understanding certain difficult portions of Sahih ul Bukhari.
  • At Tafhimatul Ilahiya (Arabic and Persian): This is a mystical work, partly in Arabic and partly in Persian, detailing the mystical experiences of Shah Waliullah.
  • Al Juz ul Latif fi Tarjumata ul Abdul Dha'if (Persian)
  • Husnul Aqidah (Arabic): The fundamental creed of Islam, as accepted by the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jam'aat sect, has been expounded in this work according to the Qur'an and hadith.
  • Al Khair ul Kathir (Arabic): This work on the philosophy of religion elucidates the concept of ma'arifah and the wisdom of divine names, revelation, etc.
  • Ad Duroos Thama'in fi Mubashshiratul Nabi'ul Amin (Arabic): A collection of the glad tidings that Shah Waliullah and his ancestors received from Rasulullah.
  • Diwanul Ashar (Arabic): A collection of the Arabic poetry of Shah Waliullah.
  • Risala: This pamphlet was written in reply to certain mystical issues raised by Shaikh 'Abdullah bin Abdul Baqi.
  • Risala Danishmandi (Persian): A valuable tract containing detailed directions with regards to the methodology of teaching.
  • Zahrawain: A commentary on Suratul Baqara and Suratul Imran.
  • Sururul Mahzun (Persian): A concise Persian translation of Kitab Nurul 'Uyoonul Aminul Ma'mun, a well-known biography of Rasulullah.
  • Sharhul Taraajimul Abwaabul Sahih ul Bukhari (Arabic): An annotation on certain chapters of Sahih ul Bukhari.
  • Shifahul Quloob (Persian): A tract on mysticism.
  • Shawaariqul Ma'arifah (Persian): This is a biography of Shah Waliullah's uncle, Shaikh Abdul Raza.
  • Al Atiyyatus Samadiyya fi Anfaasul Muhammadiyya (Persian): A small brochure which contains a biographical sketch of Shah Waliullah's maternal grandfather, Shaikh Muhammad Phulti.
  • Iqdul Jid fi Aakhamul Ijtihad wat Tajdid (Arabic)
  • Fathul Kabir (Arabic): A glossary of the intricate words of the Qur'an.
  • Fathul Wadud lil Ma'arifatul Junood (Arabic): It pertains to ethics and mysticism.
  • Al Fadhlul Mubin fil Musalsal min Hadithul Nabi'ul Amin (Arabic)
  • Izalatul Akhfa : An explanation of the Qur'an

Shah waliullah’s 4 basic principles of economics

Shah Waliullah has discussed about the four basic principles of economics; such as Production of wealth, consumption of wealth, distribution of wealth, exchange of wealth.
The whole nation is participant in the production of wealth, so it should be distributed in the whole nation. He established the principles for distribution of wealth among people as well as the values that how the wealth should be consumed. That economic system is successful which establishes the principles for these four branches.
The first principle is that people living in specific geographic boundaries has the right over the resources of that area. That economic system in which all the people are equal no single person or specific class can get hold of the resources. He has narrated Hazrat Abu Bakkar Siddique in Aizaalatul Khifa “Equality is better in economics than giving priority to one group over other.
Second principle is that everybody has the right to have limited owner ship as the abilities of every individual are different. Not that the whole nation should have same clothing, food and houses.
Third principle is that any practice which concentrates wealth in certain hands will not be tolerated and the system will oppose it.
Fourth principle is that such a balance should be maintained in these factors that society develop as a whole.
Shah waliullah stressed on the creation of a party on such principles which will end the outmoded system and built a new system which ensures the development of society as a whole.


Shah Waliullah had a son, Shaikh Muhammad, and a daughter, Ammatul Aziz, from his first wife. His second wife bore him four sons: Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddis Dehlvi, Shah Rafiuddin, Shah Abdul Qadir, and Shah Abdul Ghani. The only son of Shah Abdul Ghani, Shah Ismail Shaheed, also became a renowned scholar and a Jihadi, along with Syed Ahmad Shaheed

See also


On August 20, 1762, Shah Waliullah died and was buried in the graveyard of Munhadian, beside his father.




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