Mauritanian Shuyukh on the Deobandi ‘Ulama
Several months ago, Pearls of the Elders received an email from a Mauritanian student of the Sacred Sciences who expressed admiration and love for the ‘ulama of Deoband. In a subsequent email, he sent a fascinating account of how the erudite ‘ulama of Mauritania had come to know of the ‘ulama of Deoband and how they had benefited from them, especially their books.
The student, who asked his name not be published, became acquainted with the writings of the blessed scholars of India and Pakistan through the effort of tabligh. With his permission, Pearls would like to share this email with our readers and hope it will be a means of kindling the love of, and respect for, the ‘ulama of Deoband.
The email has been edited to make it suitable for a wider readership. Translations of Arabic words, relevant footnotes and subheadings have also been added.
Brother Abu Unaysah, wa ‘alaykum salaam wa rahmatullah,
I wanted to take some time out to write this because it is an important subject.
I was first introduced to the Deobandi ‘ulama through the effort of tabligh when I was in the USA. I lived there from 1996 to 2004. Obviously, I benefited greatly from the elders of tabligh. From an academic perspective though, it was from Hadhrat Shaykh Zakariyya Kandhlawi’s writings that I benefited the most. These include the books of fadha’il, the English translation of his commentary of Shama’il al-Tirmidhi and his autobiography, Aap Beti, which I have read several times and greatly benefited from.
I often tell my close friends that people who have children — as well as people who wish to understand how important it is to be associated with the mashayikh of tasawwuf — must read Aap Beti.
Sometimes our brothers fail to realise how much Mawlana Ilyas Kandhlawi (rahimahullah) and Mawlana Yusuf Kandhlawi (rahimahullah) relied on Hadhrat Shaykh Zakariyya (rahimahullah) to advance the effort of tabligh. Understanding this would help the brothers associate themselves more assiduously to the ‘ulama; our elders still insist on this in their lectures. We ask Allah for tawfeeq.
Studying in Mauritania
Mauritania is a very poor country and the ‘ulama here, for the most part, have remained in the country. A few have had the opportunity to travel and bring books back from countries such as Egypt and Morocco.
Of course, a couple of hundred years ago, printing did not exist so certain books were copied on manuscripts etc. The teaching style in Mauritania is very different from other parts of the world. Generally it is based on memorising a matn (text) on a subject in the form of a nadhm (rhyming verses). The explanations and details of the texts are taken from the shaykh and his competent students.
For example, in nahw (Arabic grammar), the Alfiyyah of Ibn Malik (rahimahullah) is taught. In usul (principles of fiqh) it is the Kawkab of Imam Al-Suyuti (rahimahullah), or the Maraqi al-Sud of the Mauritanian scholar, Al-’Alawi (rahimahullah). Classical books and their commentaries on different subjects were brought to the country by those ‘ulama who travelled abroad.
Click here to read the remainder of the e-mail.