Hazrat Shāh Ahmad Saeed Mujaddidi Naqshbandi Hanafi (1217-1277 AH) was the spiritual successor to the great Sufi master Hazrat Shāh Abdullāh alias Ghulām Ali Dehlavi (1156-1240 AH), may Allah be pleased with them. He was one of the chief scholars and shaykhs of Delhi in the 13th century after Hijrah (19th century CE), and probably the most prominent shaykh of the Naqshbandi Sufi order during that time. Most, if not all, followers of the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi order today trace their spiritual connection to him, excluding the Khalidiyya branch which is common in Central Asia and Turkey.
He was also a great scholar and a Muhaddis. Many chains of authority (Isnād) in Hadith studies include his name. Not only Ahl-us-Sunnah but the Deobandi scholars also possess such Isnād and consider him with high regards.
Shah Ahmad Saeed witnessed the emergence and spread of the Wahhābi sect in India. Before him, Indian Muslims were united in beliefs and practices and belonged to the Hanafi school of thought, with a Shia minority which was clearly distinguished from the mainstream Islam. However, the teachings of Ismāil Dehlavi introduced a big fitnah in the Indian Muslims who branched out in many different sects and schools, including Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahl al-Hadith (or Salafi), Maodūdi, Naturalist and others.
This is not a place to discuss the full history of the Indian Wahhabi movement. But interestingly, many Naqshbandis today affilitate themselves to Deobandi school even with a spiritual connection with the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi tariqah. Deobandi school is a continuation of the ideas of Ismāil Dehlavi. So here I will discuss the reaction of the then Naqshbandi masters specially Shah Ahmad Saeed Mujaddidi to the newly emerged doctrine of Wahhabism, imported from Arabia by Ismāil Dehlavi.
Molvi Ismāil Dehlavi, aka Ismāil Shaheed (1193-1246 AH) was the paternal grandson of Hazrat Shah Waliullah Muhaddis Dehlavi (1114-1176 AH). He wrote a book called Taqwiyat-ul-Iman which was based on the ideas of Ibn Abdul Wahhāb Najdī and was the first book to introduce Wahhabism in India.
Ismāil Dehlavi was joined by some more scholars in this new movement, including his cousin Muhammad Ishāq Dehlavi. But most of his family scholars went against him, and some even wrote refutations of his works. Even his grandfather Shāh Abdul Azīz Muhaddis Dehlavi, who had lost his sight because of old age, when he came to know about this book, he proclaimed: “If I wasn’t disabled by illness, I would have written a refutation to it similar to Tuhfa Isna Ash’ariya”. (Narrated by Ismail’s cousin Maulana Makhsūs-Allah in his book Tahqīq al-Haqīqat).Maulāna Hāfiz Muhammad Razā Ali Naqshbandi Banārasi, who was a disciple of Shah Ahmad Saeed, writes that Shah sahib had also written a refutation of Taqwiyat-ul-Iman. Although there is no mention of this work anywhere else. He also writes that, once I asked my master and shaykh about Ismail Dehlavi in Madinah. He replied that “I and other scholars of Delhi convinced him at Jame’ Masjid Delhi and he agreed to correct Taqwiyat-ul-Iman“. My shaykh (Shah Ahmad Saeed) said at Tonk that “my master and shaykh (Hazrat Shah Ghulam Ali) used to say that all the irreligiousness (Be-Dini), bad faith and corruption in the Muhammadi Deen that occured in India, occured because of this person Molvi Ismail“