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A Brief Biographical Sketch of Islāhī
Dr. Shehzad Saleem


Islāhī was born in 1904 at Bamhūr, a small village in Azamgarh (U.P.), India. He received his early education in two local schools of the village. His father Hafiz Muhammad Murtaza was a small landlord of the area. Islāhī was admitted to Madrasah “Al-Islah” in 1915 in grade three. This Madrasah is located in Sarāi-Mīr a small village near Bamhore. It was while addressing the convocation ceremony of the first batch of the Madrasah that he first came in the notice of the great Hamīd Uddīn Farāhī, the person who was destined to become his mentor and guide.

The teacher which influenced him the most during his student life at the Madrasah was Mawlānā Abdu’l Rahmān Nigrāmī, himself a versatile genius. Mawlānā Nigrāmī’s attention helped him in developing a profound inclination towards Arabic literature. After graduating from the Madrasah in 1922, he entered the field of journalism. For a while he edited a newspaper “Madīnah” at Bijnawr and also remained associated with “Sach”, a newspaper taken out by Mawlānā Abdu’l Mājid Daryābādī.

It was sometime in 1925 when Farāhī offered Islāhī to come and study the Qur’ān with him. Islāhī abandoned his journalistic career with no hesitation at all to benefit from this glorious opportunity. He knew he had stumbled upon the `famous tide’: --- ‘the tide in the affairs of men which when taken at the flood leads on to good fortune’. For the next five years till Farāhī’s death in 1930, he remained with him like his shadow. It was in this forming period of his life in which he developed a deep understanding of the Qur’ān and learnt from Farāhī the principles of direct deliberation on the Book of Allah. During this time, he also taught the Qur’ān and Arabic literature at the Madrasah.

After Farāhī’s death, Islāhī studied Hadīth from a celebrated scholar of this discipline, Abdu’l Rahmān Muhaddith Mubārakpurī. In 1936, he founded the “Dāira-i-Hamīdīyyah”, a small institute to disseminate the Qur’ānic thought of Farāhī. Under the auspices of this institute, he brought out a monthly journal “Al-Islah” in which he translated many portions of Farāhī’s treatises written in Arabic. The journal was published till 1939, after which it was discontinued.

Islāhī was among the founder members of the “Jamā`at-i-Islāmī”, a religious party founded by the eminent Islamic scholar Mawdūdī in 1941. During his seventeen year stay in the Jamā`at, he represented the intellectual element and remained a member of the central governing body (Majlis-i-Shūrā). During this period, he did the groundwork needed to write a commentary of the Qur’ān – an objective which he had set before him early in life. In 1958, he abandoned the Jamā`at, after serious differences arose between him and Mawdūdī on the nature of the constitution of the Jamā`at.

After leaving the Jamā`at, he finally got the chance to fulfil his cherished goal of writing a commentary of the Qur’ān. He also launched a monthly journal “Mīthāq” in which portions of this commentary, “Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān” were published. In 1961, he established a small study circle “Halqa-i-Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān” for college students to whom he taught Arabic language and literature, the Holy Qur’ān and “Sahih Muslim”. In 1965, a tragic incident brought an end to the journal as well as to the study circle: Islāhī’s eldest son Abu Saleh died in a plane . However, work on the commentary continued. In 1970-71, Islāhī fell severely ill and had to discontinue all his intellectual pursuits. Subsequently, he recovered quite miraculously. In 1972, he shifted to a countryside village near Sheikhupura, where he continued to work on the commentary till 1979, when he shifted back to Lahore. It was on the 29th of Ramadān 1400/ 12th August 1980 when the great day arrived – the day when a monumental effort reached its culmination. The “Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān” had taken twenty-two long years to complete.

In 1981 Islāhī founded the “Idāra-i-Tadabbur-i- Qur’ān-o-Hadīth”, which remained until his death (15th December 1997) the centre of all his intellectual activities. A quarterly journal “Tadabbur” was taken out in 1981 as its organ. He gave weekly lectures on the text of the Qur’ān. Later, he took up deep study on the principles of Hadīth and began teaching the “Mu`attā” of Imām Mālik in weekly sittings to a close circle of students and associates. After completing “Mu’attā”, he also taught some portions of Imām Bukhāri’s “Sahīh”. Many of these lectures have been transcribed and published in the “Tadabbur”.

Besides writing the “Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān”, Islāhī has written a number of articles and authored a number of books on various topics of Islam. They include:


1.Tazkiyah-i-Nafs (Purification of the Soul)

2. Mubādī Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān (Principles of Understanding the Qur’ān)

3. Haqīqat-i-Shirk-o-Tawhīd (The Essence of Polytheism and Monotheism)

4. Da`wat-i-Dīn Awr us kā Tarīqa-i-Kār (Islamic Message and the mode of its Preaching)

5. Islāmī Qānūn kī Tadwīn (Codification of Islamic Law)

6. Islāmī Riyāsat (Islamic State)

7. Islāmī Mu`āsharay mayn Awrat kā Muqām (The Status of Women in an Islamic Society)

8. Haqīqat-i-Namāz  (Essence of the Prayers)

9. Haqīqat-i-Taqwāh (Essence of Godliness)

10. Islāmī Riyāsat mayn Fiqhī Ikhtilāfāt kā Hal (Solution of Juristic Differences in an Islamic State)

11. Mubādī Tadabbur-i-Hadīth (Principles of Understanding the Hadīth)

12. Tanqīdāt (A collection of critical essays)

13. Tawdīhāt (A collection of general explanatory essays)

14. Maqālāt-i-Islāhī (Miscellaneous collection of articles)

15. Qur’ān mayn Pardah kay Ahkāmāt (The Directives of Purdah in the Qur’ān)

16. Tafhīm-i-Dīn (Understanding Islam)

17. Falsafay kay Mathāil Qur’ān kī Rawshanī mayn (Basic Philosophical Issues in the Light of the Qur’ān)


Islahi also translated Farāhī’s commentary consisting of fourteen sūrahs of the Qur’ān, as well as his following books from Arabic:


1. Fī man huwa al-dhabīh (Which of Abraham’s son was Sacrificed?)

2. Aqsāmu’l Qur’ān (Oaths in the Qur’ān)


Mr Khalid Masud, Mr Mahbub Subhani, Mr Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Mr Mahmud Ahmad Lodhi, Mr Majid Khawar, Mr Abullah Ghulam Ahmad, Mr Saeed Ahmad and Mr Muhammad Daud are some of his notable students in Pakistan.

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