Friday, June 8, 2012

Qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad

Qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad  was an eminent legal scholar of Qur'an, Hadith, and the Hanafi school of Islamic law . As a master of all the branches of contemporary knowledge of Islam, he was an acknowledged authority on Muslim jurisprudence. He was also a Sufi saint of Chishti Order, and perhaps the only Sufi in the Indian subcontinent who did not establish the 'Khanqah',"Darbar" or Astana ‘Aliya and forbade his descendants not to establish Dargah after his death and made a will to bury him in the ordinary grave. He was against all the practices resulting in undue homage to the tombs and graves of sufis and saints. He believed that Islam was corrupted by sufism, pantheism, theology (Kalam), philosophy and by all sorts of superstitious beliefs. Belonging to a qadi's family which had, since the 16th century, been prominent among the landed aristocracy of the Soon Valley, he adopted 'Faqr' (spiritual poverty) and 'Darwayshi' (asceticism). Unlike other pirs of Punjab he did not change his monkish cap to lordly turban. He was also a "Hakeem" (herbal medicine practitioner), but his greatness as a Hakeem and Sufi was eclipsed by his greatness as a jurist.

The disciple path

He was born of famous qadi's family of Naushera, Soon Valley. He belonged to Awan (Pakistan) tribe of ancient repute. His full name was Qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad al hashmi,al alwi, al hanafi. He was a descendant of Hazrat Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph of Islam from Al-Abbas ibn Ali. In his ancestry we find great names, great scholars and sufis. On the maternal side, he was grand son of Qazi Kalim Allah, the famous Muslim qadi and jurist of Naushera in the time of Mughal Emperors. He got his early religious education from his learned father Hazrat Qazi Ghulam Muhammad. He learned, Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh from him and mastered the Arabic and Persian grammar. He also received excellent education under his grandfather, who was a great scholar of Hanafi school of law. After completing his early education, he went to Sial Sharif and took the Bait (pledge of discipleship) at the hands of Hazrat Shams-ud-Din Sialvi of Sial Sharif. Through the training received from Khwaja Shams-ud-din Sialvi, he learnt the fundamentals of sufism. He was much impressed by the spiritual attainments of Khwaja Shams-ud-din Sialvi who introduced him to mystic way of life and granted to him the spiritual insights. Under his training he had undergone or experienced mystic trances. He now came to see through illumination (Ishraq) what he had previously learnt theoretically from books. Having reached both formal and spiritual perfection, he returned to the practical world.

The jurist path

With the advent of British and downfall of Mughal Empire, the Muslims were deprived of their political authority and their law was replaced by English law. Their language and laws were displaced through the system of English language and law. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 marked the end of Mughal rule. The Muslims in the words of W. W. Hunter, "found their prestige gone, their laws replaced, their language shelved and their education shorn of its monetary value" According to Tanveer Khalid "The British Government, though gradually, abrogated the Islamic Law. The whole of Muslim Criminal law was superseded by the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Indian Evidence Act and the Indian Contract Act replaced the Islamic law. The Indian Majority Act, 1875, abrogated Muslim Law except in matters relating to marriage, dower and divorce. The Caste Disabilities Act, 1850, 'abolished the civil disabilities which Muslim Law attached to apostasy."
In this period of turmoil the Muslims of Soon Valley needed the guidance of Islam for their private and public life. They also needed to obtain fatwa to guide them in everyday life. Belonging to the remote area of Soon Valley, surrounded by high hills and without road connected to District Shahpur, and with low literacy rate, the people of this area began to face numerous changes as a result of the greater socialization with the advent of British. This has given rise to new issues and problems related to the shariah law and their private and public life. In these circumstances Qazi mian Muhammad being as a son of Qazi family came forward for the preservation of Islamic law in the Soon Valley. It was at this critical juncture that he appeared as 'Mujtahid'.
He was a great legal scholar of the Hanafi school of Islamic law. He preferred this school because, among the four established Sunni schools of legal thought in Islam, the Hanafi school is the oldest. It has a reputation for putting greater emphasis on the role of reason and being slightly more liberal than the other three schools. He knew Arabic, Persian, and Urdu languages. His legal scholarship was unparalleled in the area. During the period of British rule, when cases were decided according to English law, Muslims consulted him for his legal opinions on Islamic laws. His verdicts and fatwas were sought and quoted about religious questions on which he was held to be an authority. He rendered a great service to Islamic laws and Fiqah. He was also a Muhaddith (one who specializes in Hadith literature). He issued many fatwa on important issues at the request of the Muslims of his time. Muslims scholars from all the British India asked him for his legal opinion on the important issues concerning Islamic law. The excellence of Qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad as a great jurist had been widely accepted in his time.
He helped the common Muslim not to lose heart in the years of his servitude, poverty and deprivation. He also established a mosque in Naushera; the call for prayers went forth from the minarets five times a day, allegiance was proclaimed to God and Muhammad punctually and persistently. His contribution to the preservation of Islam in the Soon valley in the period of turmoil cannot be forgotten by his people.

The Sufi path

As a sufi, he was an authority on "Wahdt al Wujud", Sufism, and Muslim mysticism. The study of great Sufi, Ibn Arabi, and his masterpiece The Meccan Illuminations (Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya) in 37 volumes was his specialization. In his Anwar Shamsia, Maulvi Ameer Baksh says that he was an ardent reader of Ibn Arabi book The Meccan Illuminations (Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya), and was an authority on his teaching. It was stated in "Hu al-Hameed" by Sahibzada Muhammad Masood Ahmad that once Hazrat Pir Meher Ali Shah was unable to understand one point of Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, then qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad satisfied him by his interpretation. He acknowledged Ibn Arabi superiority in philosophy and spiritual insight, but he never followed him if he found him deviating from Sunnah. He used his knowledge of Islamic mysticism, sufism and "Wahdt al Wujud" only for purely academic purposes and never allowed his devotees, followers and descendants to treat him as a Pir. Although, he was capable of creating a 'Khanqah', 'Darbar' a centre of sufi mysticism, and though Hazrat Shams-ud-Din Sialvi of Sial Sharif authorized him to do so,he did not created any 'Gadi' or 'Drabar', and also forbade his descendants to do this, as he was also a strong critic of Darbars and "family Gadi Nasheen". He also forbade his descendants not to establish Dargah after his death and made a will to bury him in the ordinary grave. After his death his elder son Qazi Mazhar Qayyum made every effort to stop the people from making Dargah of the grave of his father.
He was a sufi and Alim at the same time. In the words of Sarah F. D. Ansari, "Rigid distinctions have been drawn between ulama (plural of Alim) and sufis. They have been portrayed as antithetical, irreconcilable representatives of the same truth and consequently very different from the point of view of their relationships with governments of the day. As guardians of the Sharia, ulama were officially appointed as muftis and qazis to interpret and administer God's Law. They often came to rely on the state for their livelihood in the form of stipends and grants; they tended to become involved in worldly interests, which could lead them both to be distracted from essentially spiritual matters and to identify with the concerns of rulers rather than those of ordinary Muslims. Sufis, on the other hand, sought to gain knowledge of God in their hearts. By following the path, which meant observing various techniques of spiritual development, they aimed to obliterate self in unison with God. Because they placed greater emphasis on spiritual growth rather than on the letter of God's law, they were often able to reach out to people of other faiths, indeed to draw them towards Islam. For these reasons, and because they depended on the offerings of the pious rather than the gifts of kings, they often tended to stand aloof from state power and its representatives." But he never accepted the offerings of the pious and stipends and grants by the government as his ancestral land was more than his needs.
He did not change his monkish cap to lordly tassel, unlike other pirs of Punjab who became big feudal lords. Sir Muhammad Iqbal criticized the pirs of Punjab in his poem "TO THE PUNJAB PIRS". In this poem he imagined that he visited the tomb of reformer Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi and asked him for the saints’ gift and blessings. The spirit of saint replied that God's people i.e., Pirs and sufis have no portion in this land of five rivers i.e., Punjab, where lordly tassel or turban sprouts from monkish cap. Pirs and "Sajjada nashins, claimed to be the descendants of the Sufi, ‘saints’, intermediaries between the Faithful and their God, and this cut against the grain of Islamic orthodoxy. As beneficiaries, in cash and in kind, of their special religious status, these sajjada nashins had become men of local standing in their own right." In the Punjab, the sajjada nashin or pir families were not so rich in terms of land as the great land lords of Punjab but these sajjada nashin or pir families exerted great political and religious influence over the people. The British could not administer the area without their help and no political party could win the election without their help. Sir Muhammad Iqbal denounced these pirs in one of his poems as merely pale reflections of the great medieval Sufi saints, "Crows" occupying the "Eagle nests" of Punjab's greatest religious men. While criticizing this role of pirs of Punjab,he says: