Archive for November, 2008

Kissing the Kiswa of Ka’aba and the Na’alain Shareef of the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم

November 30, 2008

For those visiting Sayyidina Rasulullah  صلي الله عليه و سلم please convey my Salam and remember me in your Dua’s.


this is a translation of alaHazrat’s book which can be read here. it is about kissing the cloth that covers the ka’aba and kissing the na’layn mubarak of rasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam.


Question: 13th Dhu’l Hijjah, 1308 AH

What do the scholars say about the issue that in the city of Morees, there is a piece of cloth from the Ka’aba that measures two feet by one and a quarter feet. It is hung on the wall that is in front of people when they face the Qibla. When they finish their five daily prayers, they kiss this piece and after the Jum’a prayer, there is a massive rush of people who gather to kiss the cloth. Some will kiss it four times, some more and some less. Due to the rush, some even miss out. They believe it to be a sacred cloth and try their utmost to get to it. Those who are learned kiss it out of reverence and I do not know with what belief the lay public kiss it. Following in one another’s footsteps, they exaggerate hugely in this regard. Is this action worthy of reward or is it worthy of punishment due to other reasons? Bayyinu Tujiru.

Answer: Bismillahi’r Rahmani’r Raheem. Nahmaduhu wa nusallai ‘ala rasulihi’l kareem.

The kiss of respect is considered to be part of respect in the Shari’ah and everyday practice. Kissing the Ka’aba, the Qur’an and the hands of feet of the pious are from the kisses of respect.

Relied upon books such as Durr al-Mukhtar mention this clearly [al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2:245].

Even in the Hadith themselves, the actions of the companions of kissing the hands and feet of RasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam are mentioned.

Just as I have explained extensively in my book al-Bariqat al-Shariqa ‘ala’l Mariqat al-Mushariqa.

Related to the issue is the hadith of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar radiyAllahu ta’ala ‘anhuma that he wiped his face at the place where RasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam sat [al-Tabqat al-Kubra ibn Sa’d, 1:254]. It is related about the companions that they would touch the circular parapet that is next to the blessed shrine with their right hand and then make supplications. Imam Qadi ‘Iyad writes in Shifa’ that:

Nafi’ said that when ibn ‘Umar radiyAllahu ta’ala ‘anhuma would say salam; he would say salam on RasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam and Abu Bakr radiyAllahu ta’ala ‘anhu more than 100 times, then he would go to the blessed pulpit and touch the place with is hands where RasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam sat and rub them over his face. Ibn Qaseet and ‘Utba narrate that when the companions ridwanAllahi ta’ala ‘alaihim would exit the Masjid al-Nabawi, they would touch the edges of the grave of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam with their hands and then make du’a facing the Qibla.

The Shari’ah and common practice tell us that anything that deserves respect in the Shari’ah warrants respect at all times. Respecting it is seen as respecting the thing due to which it gained respect in the first place and the same goes for disrespecting it. For example, throwing the crown of the king to the ground is disrespectful at all times; not only when he is wearing it. Every sane person knows this. It is in Shifa’ that:

It is from the respect due to RasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam that one gives reverence to all things connected with him, all places he stayed in Makka and Madina, the things he touched and all things that are known due to him [al-Shifa’ bi Ta’rif Huquq al-Mustafa, 2:70].

And indeed respecting connected objects is in fact respect for the reason why these things are themselves honoured and indeed the Ka’aba is from the signs of Allah, hence, respect for the cloth of the Ka’aba is respect for the Ka’aba and respect for the Ka’aba is respect for the signs of Allah, which is required in the Shari’ah:

And whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely it is from the piety of hearts. [22:32]

There is no specificity as to which things one can kiss and come into contact with either. Whichever thing has any connection with anything that the Shari’ah commands respect for, it is necessary to respect and love it. Hence, to kiss and touch the walls of Madina has been the practice of the people of love and has been noted in the works of the scholars, even though these buildings were not even in existence in the time of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam let alone being touched by him sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam. Someone has said:

I was in the land of Layla and I kissed its walls. In my heart resides the inhabitant of this land but I love the other dwellers too [Shifa al-Siqam, p.73, Jawahir al-Bihar, 3:177, Naseem al-Riyad, 3:434].

It is in Shifa’ that:

It is advisable to respect the places whose dust has touched the blessed body of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam. So too is must we honour that atmosphere that surrounds those streets and plains and to kiss the walls [al-Shifa’ bi Tarif Huquq al-Mustafa, 2:45-46].

He then says:

The abode of the best of Messengers, the guide to the worlds and the performer of miracles. I feel aching, love and yearning for him. When I see those walls and plains, I will kiss them so much that my white beard will be filled with dust [al-Shifa’ bi Tarif Huquq al-Mustafa, 2:46].

Even more evident than this is that relied upon scholars of all ranks, from the East and West, Arabs and non-Arabs have drawn images of the blessed shrine and sandals [na’al] of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam and have kissed them and placed them upon their eyes and heads and have ordered others to do so. ‘Allama Abu’l Yuman ibn ‘Asakir, Shaykh Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Muhammad bin Khalf Salami and others have written books purely on this issue and Fath al-Muta’al fi Madh Khayr al-Na’al of Allama Ahmad Maqtari is comprehensive in this regard. May Allah grant them a good recompense and peace by virtue of the blessed sandals, Aameen.

(1) The Muhaddith, ‘Allama Faqih Abu’r Rabee’ Sulaiman bin Salim Kala’i rahimahullah says:

Oh the one who looks at the blessed sandals of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam – Kiss this image without any pride [Jawahir al-Bihar, 3:163].

(2) Qadi Shams al-Din Saif Allah Rashidi writes:

The one who touches the image of the blessed sandals of Taha sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam will get unmeasured goodness on the day of judgement and indeed he will live in utmost pleasure. Hence, to get this wish on that day, kiss this honoured relic at once.

(3) Shaykh Fath Allah Bayluni Halani, contemporary of ‘Allama Maqri, writes:

Oh blessed sandals of the leader of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam. I have witnessed that your image contains those secrets that have extraordinary blessings. One should rub his face on this image with humility and fulfil the rights of this sacred image that are necessary upon him.

He also says:

Put your hands forward to kiss the image of those blessed sandals that have touched the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam. Accept the reverence due to them with your tongue and with a pure belief of the heart, place it upon your eyes and kiss it. Openly send salawat upon the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam and do this action time and again.

(4) Sayyid Muhammad Musa Husaini Maliki, contemporary of ‘Allama Fath Allah Bayluni, writes:

There is such blessing in the image of the blessed sandals of the best of creation sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam that if you place it on your face with a pure intention, you will be granted your desire.

(5) Muhammad bin Farj Sabti writes:

Oh my face, kiss it as this is the image of the sanctified sandals. Seek remedy by kissing it so that your illness is removed.

(6) ‘Allama Ahmad bin Maqtari Talmasani, author of Fath al-Muta’al writes:

How dignified the image of the blessed sandals is which is more elevated than the whole world. Glad tidings to him who kisses it and expresses his intense love [Fath al-Muta’al].
(7) ‘Allama Abu’l Yuman ibn ‘Asakir writes:

Kiss the image of the blessed sandals because even if you get to kiss this, then what an honour this is.

(8) ‘Allama Abu’l Hakam Malik bin Abdu’r Rahman bin ‘Ali Maghribi, who has been called Ahad al-Fudala al-Maghariba [one of the accomplished people of Maghrib] writes in his Madhiya:

I befriend the blessed sandals of my beloved sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam and day and night I kiss it [Sharh al-Zarqani, 5:57].

(9) Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah bin Husain Ansari Qurtubi writes:

I concentrated on the waves of light that emanated from the blessed sandals and as long as we bow down them, we will be honoured. Hence, keep it above the head as it is in reality a crown and apparently a sandal [al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya, 2:470].

The abovementioned translation has been praised in Sharh Mawahib and the scholar has been remembered as a Faqih, Muhaddith, expert, eloquent, pious and unmatched.

(10) Imam ‘Allama Ahmad bin Muhammad Khateeb Qastalani, author of Irshad al-Sari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, has included the above couplets in his book Mawahib al-Ladunniya and has praised the Madhiya of ‘Allama Abu’l Hakam Maghribi by saying maa ahsanaha [al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya, 2:468] and the poem of ‘Allama ibn Asakir as lillahi darrah [al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya, 2:467].

(11) ‘Allama Zarqani commentates on this by writing:

If possible, kiss the dust that has been touched by the sandals, otherwise, kiss an image of the sandals [Sharh al-Zarqani ‘ala’l Mawahib, 5:48].

(12) ‘Allama Taj al-Din Fakihani writes in the chapter of the image of the sandals in Fajr Muneer that:

One benefit of making the image is that whoever cannot see the actual shrine can look at the image and kiss it with a yearning because this image is the same as the actual. The image of the sandals is full of benefit which makes it the same as the actual – this has been tried and tested. Hence, the scholars have ordained the same respect for the image as they do for the actual [al-Fajr al-Muneer].

(13) Sayyidi ‘Allama Muhammad bin Sulaiman Jazuli, author of Dala’il al-Khayrat, has also followed ‘Allama Fakihani and has included the image of the blessed shrine in his Dala’il al-Khayrat and writes in its commentary Kabeer that:

I have followed Shaykh Taj al-Din Fakihani by including it. He included a chapter in al-Fajr al-Muneer about sacred shrines and mentioned this in its benefits [Sharh Dala’il al-Khayrat Juzuli].

(14) Similarly, ‘Allama Muhammad bin Ahmad bin ‘Ali Fasi writes in Mutala al-Musarrat Sharh Dala’il al-Khayrat that:

He said that the author rahimahullahi ta’ala included the chapter regarding the blessed shrine and sacred graves after the chapter of names following in the footsteps of Shaykh Taj al-Din Fakihani because in his book al-Fajr al-Muneer he included a chapter on the sacred shrines. In this chapter, he mentions one benefit that whoever cannot see the actual shrine should see the image of the sandals and kiss it and show deep love for it. The scholars have written that the respect for the image is the same as for the actual and he has written that scholars have experienced the blessings of this [Mutali’at al-Musarrat, p.144].

Look at the sayings of the scholars regarding the image of the sandals. These are images, not the actual. Then what about the actual cloth from the Ka’aba which has come into contact with the Ka’aba. There is no doubt in the actions that people perform with it to seek blessings and to show respect.

It is included in the general rulings and there is nothing preventing specific actions. This is enough to make it permissible. Praise is to Allah who is the most high.

As for the rush of people around it, then this is nothing new either. This has been the practice of the people of love with regards to sacred relics in times past. It is in Sahih Bukhari and other books of hadith that when ‘Urwa bin Mas’ud Thaqafi radiyAllahu ta’ala ‘anhu went to Hudaibiya to see the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam, he saw the companions:

When the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam was performing ablution, they would run for the ablution water of RasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam and it is near they would kill one another for it and when they see the blessed saliva of RasulAllah sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam, they take it in their hands and rub it on their faces and bodies [Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:379, ash-Shifa’ bi Ta’rif Huquq al-Mustafa, 2:31].

The state of the companions that they are near to killing one another is proven from the life of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam himself. Their state is far greater than people creating a massive rush. Similarly, rushes to kiss the black stone are age old. Hence, the actual practice is totally permissible and when the intention is to gain blessings and show respect for the sings of Allah, then it is definitely recommended and a requisite of the Shari’ah.

However, if there is a danger of causing any Islamic ruling to be disregarded, then making it a habit of causing a rush after every one of the five prayers and trying to kiss it without any restrictions after the Jum’a prayer must be avoided. Also, to stay permanently at a place causes people to lose respect for that place. Hence, staying in the sacred sanctuaries for long periods was prohibited. Amir al-Mu’mineen Faruq al-A’adham radiyAllahu ta’ala ‘anhu would make a tour around all the groups of people who came to Hajj and announce, “Oh people of Yemen, go back to Yemen. Oh people of Syria, go back to Syria. Oh people of Iraq, return to Iraq. By doing this, you will have more honour for the house of your Lord.”

The best method would be to place the cloth in a cabinet with respect and for a few days in each month, allow the people to see it. This is what Sultan Ashraf ‘Adil did in Madrasah Ashrafiya in Damascus where he built a house specifically for lessons of Hadith which he called Badar al-Hadith and he equipped it wholesomely and built a Masjid inside in the direction of the Qibla. To the eastern side the Mihrab of this Masjid, he built another building to house the blessed sandal of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam. He decorated the doors with items that looked like gold and placed the blessed sandals with utmost reverence in a cabinet made from ebony and beautified it with numerous veils. This door would be opened every Monday and Friday and people would gain blessings by viewing the sandals [just as ‘Allama Maqari has written in Fath al-Muta’al and in various works of other scholars].

This madrasah and Dar al-Hadith were always frequented by leading scholars. Imam Abu Zakariya Nawawi, commentator of Muslim, was a teacher there and following him, Khatam al-Mujtahidin, Abu’l Hasan Taqi al-Din ‘Ali bin ‘Abdul Kafi Subki, author of Shifa’ al-Siqam, sat in his place. Similarly, leading scholars taught there and none of them objected to the Sultan’s praiseworthy action. Moreover, it is hoped that these leading scholars themselves participated in seeing the sandals and gather blessings. The Muhaddith, ‘Allama Hafidh Burhan al-Din Halabi rahimahullah ta’ala writes in Nur al-Nibras that Shaykhuna al-Imam al-Muhaddith Amin Maliki rahmatullah ‘alaih said:

One fine aspect of Madrasah Dar al-Hadith is that I can achieve my goal and intention there. I hear the Hadith of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam and I get to kiss the sacred relics of the prophet sallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam.

Hence, make this the method of seeing the cloth of the Ka’aba. Whoever gets to kiss it without any trouble can do so and whoever cannot, should be content at just seeing it. Kissing the black stone is Sunnah Mu’akkada – but when it is troublesome to oneself or others in doing so, it is avoided and kissing the cloth is of lesser importance than this.

This is the peaceful way and the middle path which is strong. Allah has the most knowledge; his knowledge is complete and supreme.


May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala reward our dear brother; Muhammad Aqdas for the translation, Ameen.


Prof. Mukhtaruddin Ahmad `Arzoo

November 23, 2008

The son of Malik al-Ulama Allama Zafar al-Din Bihari (rahmatullah alayh). I believe the Professor is a Murid of the Grand Mufti of India; al-Imam al-’Arif Billaah Mufti Mustapha Rida Khan Noori Barkati(rahmatullah alayh).

Born: 14th November 1924 in Patna Bihar
Fathers Name: Maulana Zafaruddin Qadri Rizvi
(Resident of Azimabad (Patna) and a disciple of Maulana Ahmad
Raza Khan Bareilvi)
D.Phil. Oxford University : 1958
(Under the able guidance of Prof. Hamilton A.R. Gibb)
Ph.D. 1953 AMU-Aligarh
(Under the able guidance of Maulana Abdul Aziz Meman)
M.A. (Arabic)-1949 AMU Aligarh
Lecturer, Department of Arabic AMU Aligarh: 1953
Reader:Islamic studies and Deputy Director of Institute of Islamic Studies: 1958
Professor and Chairman in Department of Arabic: 1968
Dean, Faculty of Arts: 1975
Editor: Journal of Islamic Studies, MAJALLAT AL-MAJMA AL-ILMI AL-HINDI
Ghalib Number of Aligarh Magazine
Member Editorial Board: Ma’arif: Monthly Journal of Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy
Awards : Certificate of Honor from President of India
Ghalib Award: 1983
Sir Syed Life Time Achievement Award:
Aligarh Alumni Association of New York US: 2007
Founder Vice-Chancellor of Maulana Mazharul Haq Arabic & Farsi University, Patna: 1988

Books: Karbal Katha, Khutoot-e-Akbar, Saire-Dehli, Tazkarah Azurdah, Tazkarah Gulshan-e- Hind, Tazkarah Shoara-e-Farrukhabad, Diwaan-e-Huzoor, Ahwaal-e-Ghalib and Naqad-e-Ghalib. Edited: Zakir Sahib Ke Khat, Vol. III.

Prof. Mukhtaruddin Ahmad `Arzoo were born in a religious family of Maulana Zafaruddn Qadri Rizvi of Patna (also known as Azimabad in the past). He completed his primary education from Jamia Islamia Shamsul-Huda, Patna. He successfully completed the course of Maulvi and Alimiat from Madarsah examination board and secured distinction in Fazilat examination. He completed his matriculation from University of Patna in 1943 and joined Aligarh Muslim University for higher education. He completed M.A. in Arabic in 1949 and joined Ph.D. under the guidance of Maulana Abdul Aziz Memon, a word renowned Arabic scholar, Professor and Chairman Department of Arabic, AMU Aligarh and disciple of Deputy Nazir Ahmad. He became renowned after Editing the famous Ghalib Number of Aligarh Magazine.
After completing his Ph.D. he joined Department of Arabic as Lecturer in 1953. In the same year he received Rock Fuller Fellowship for research in Middle-East and England. He traveled to Germany, France, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq for educational purposes. He also stayed in Holland for couple of months and worked in Leiden University Library. He wrote the thesis under the guidance of Prof. Hamilton A.R. Gibb in Oxford University to receive his D.Phil.

In 1958, he became Reader in Islamic studies and Deputy Director of Institute of Islamic Studies at AMU Aligarh. He started journal of Islamic Studies and was its Editor for 12 years. In 1968 he became Professor and Chairman in Department of Arabic. He became Dean, faculty of Arts in 1975. He was Editor for MAJALLAT AL-MAJMA AL-ILMI AL-HINDI for number of years. For his contributions to Arabic and Farsi research work, he received Ghalib Award in 1983. After retirement he is staying in Aligarh and busy in his research. Well known critic and Urdu write Intizar Hussain said: “And how can I forget those two distinguished scholars, Dr Mukhtaruddin Aarzoo and Prof Asloob Ahmad Ansari, who after retirement have chosen to lead a secluded life focusing on research and study”.

On 10th April, 1998, Prof. Mukhtaruddin Ahmad Arzoo was appointed as Founding Vice-Chancellor of Maulana Mazharul Haq Arabic & Persian University in Patna.
He lives with his family in Aligarh.


Professor Mukhtar Uddin Ahmad “Arzoo”
Professor Ather H. Siddiqi

Former Chairman, Department of Zoology & Dean Faculty of Life Sciences

Muslim University, Aligarh

Six years ago, the Aligarh Alumni Association, New York Tristate, instituted the annual ‘Sir Syed Day Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Literature, Poetry, Arts or the Sciences’, which has been presented in previous years to some of the most distinguished names in South Asia in various fields. This year, the association chose Prof. Mukhtar Uddin Ahmad, former Professor of Arabic and Dean Faculty of Arts and one of the most renowned, revered and senior academicians at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh for this honor. To spare Prof. Mukhtar Uddin the stress and inconvenience of traveling to the USA to receive the award in person, the association was able to organize an event for the presentation of this award on the AMU campus through the hard work and courtesy of Dr. Wajid Ali Naqvi. This article is adapted from a speech given on this occasion by the author.

It is a matter of great pleasure and honor for the author to write about the extraordinary scholarly contributions of one of the most illustrious sons of Aligarh, Prof. Mukhtar Uddin Ahmad, whose name is known to every Aligarian for the last 60-65 years. Throughout its history, the Aligarh Muslim University has had the distinction of producing many scholars, intellectuals and academicians of high caliber but Prof. Mukhtar Uddin is one of the few in the league of giants who stands out from a galaxy of Aligarians as far as his educational, literary and intellectual contributions in the field of Arabic and Urdu are concerned. He is a member of many academies and has traveled far and wide in Middle Eastern as well as in European countries. He has been invited to many countries, like Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Pakistan and is a frequent visitor to Jordan for advising the government academy on research in Arabic Studies. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to Arabic and Urdu, he was awarded the President of India’s Certificate of Honor in Arabic and the Ghalib Award by the Ghalib Institute in Delhi.

Professor Mukhtar Uddin Ahmad was born on 14th November 1924 in Patna, Bihar. His father, Maulana Zafaruddin Qadri Rizvi, a disciple of Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan of Bareilly, belonged to a distinguished family of scholars, had authored more than fifty books and was counted among the very learned people of Azimabad, as Patna was known in those days. Mukhtar Sahib is a seventh generation descendent of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani.

After having being tutored by his parents in Arabic, Persian and Urdu at home and finishing the Holy Quran at age six, he joined regular school and completed his primary education from Jamia Islamia Shamsul-Huda

Patna, successfully completing the course of Maulvi and Alimiat from Madarsah examination board. He stood first among all students in Bihar and Orissa in Fazil examination and was awarded the Sir Fakhruddin gold medal. He secured the same distinction two years later in the Fazil Hadith examination and was again awarded a gold medal, presented by Sir Abdul Aziz, State Minister of Education. During the six years that he spent at Jamia Shamsul Huda, he had an opportunity of interacting with and benefiting from the knowledge of a number of learned scholars of different schools of thoughts and traditions. Maulana Zafar Qadri, his father, thought highly of the profession of teaching in religious schools and naturally wanted his son to follow in his foot steps. He had firmly decided to send him to Jamia Azhar in Egypt and had initiated correspondence with Mustafa Muraghi, the Sheikh ul Azhar; however the outbreak of World War II derailed his plans for the further education of his son. Muktar Sahib, therefore, had to turn his attention toward English education, passed his matriculation examination from the University of Patna in 1942 and joined Aligarh Muslim University in 1943. After completing his B.A., he wanted to take admission in M.A. but was equally interested both in Urdu and Arabic and could not make up his mind about which subject to choose. As he has related in one of his articles, he kept a filled out application for admission to M.A Urdu program in one pocket and for Arabic in the other pocket of his Sherwani. In this state of indecision, he went to meet Maulana Abdul Memon of the Department of Arabic one day and described his dilemma to him. Maulana Memon asked him to show the two forms, tore up the application form for admission to post graduate program in Urdu and threw it in the waste paper basket. He then signed the application for admission to M.A in Arabic and returned it to Mukhtar Sahib and stated with a hearty laugh that a decision had been made. Mukhtar Sahib completed M.A. in Arabic in 1949 and stood first in order of merit.

Following his graduation, there were job opportunities for him with the Archaeology Department of the Government of India and at Calcutta University, however Dr. Zakir Husain, the new vice-chancellor of AMU who was well aware of Mukhtar Sahib’s capabilities through his articles and the famous ‘Ghalib Number’ of the Aligarh Magazine, wanted him to stay at Aligarh and arranged a part-time job for him at Lytton library. He worked from morning to afternoon at the library and devoted the rest of his time to his research finishing his thesis work for a Ph.D. degree in Arabic, under the able guidance of Maulana Abdul Aziz Memon, a world-renowned Arabic scholar, Professor and Chairman Department of Arabic at AMU Aligarh and a disciple of Deputy Nazir Ahmad, in less than two years. Dr Cranko, the renowned German scholar, Chairman of

Arabic at Cambridge University, who was the assigned foreign examiner/expert for Mukhtar Sahib’s thesis was ill and hospitalized at the time. He initially refused to take up the responsibility of serving as the examiner. However, when he came to know of the topic of Mukhtar Sahib’s research, which was in a field of his own interest, in spite of his infirmity he accepted to evaluate his thesis. He was greatly impressed by the high standard and quality of Mukhtar Sahib’s Ph.D. thesis and even recommended its publication by the Wiesbaden Academy in Germany. Breaking tradition, he also wrote a personal letter directly to Mukhtar Sahib profusely praising his excellent research work and encouraging him to continue his research activities.

After completing his Ph.D., he joined the Department of Arabic as Lecturer in 1953 and in the same year received a Rockefeller Fellowship which required him to work and study in the United States of America. However, he was more interested in going to Europe and therefore wrote a letter to the Director of the foundation, along with a copy of his research proposal, pleading that since the universities in the United States did neither have the resources in terms of documents and manuscripts nor faculties of the same caliber as in Europe, he be allowed to carry out his research in England or another European country. The foundation forwarded his request to Professor Gibb of Oxford and Professor Smith of McGill University in Canada, who liked his proposal and the foundation made arrangements for him to work with the internationally famous Professor Gibb on ‘Social Criticism in Modern Arabic Literature’. At the end of his one year stay at Oxford, he was ready to return to Aligarh but Professor Gibb encouraged him to continue his research and intervening on his behalf, wrote letters to Dr. Zakir Husain, vice-chancellor and Professor Abdul Aleem, Chairman, Department of Arabic requesting an extension in Mukhtar Sahib’s leave of absence, which was granted.

His stay in Europe and his contact with eminent scholars and teachers served as a strong stimulus to his research capabilities and interests. On the one hand he established contacts with top orientalists of premiere universities and research institutions of Europe and on the other spent a great deal of time at British Museum and other depositories of research material in England as well as visiting libraries in Holland, Scotland, Germany and France in order to collect material for his research before returning to Oxford. Just like his Ph.D. at AMU, he completed his degree at Oxford also in a record time of only fifteen months. Professor Gibb had left Oxford for Harvard University near the completion of Mukhtar Sahib’s thesis research. Therefore, Professor Batesman served his thesis preceptor and Professor Arby of the Department of Arabic at Cambridge University was the external examiner.

He stayed in Holland for a few months and worked at the Leiden University Library where he discovered a very useful and rare manuscript on the poetry of a Syrian poet, Muslim Bin Mamhood Shari. Based on this find, he wrote an important critical analysis of Shari’s poetry.

Furthermore, during his stay in Europe, he discovered three rare and seemingly lost manuscripts in Urdu including ‘Tazkira-e-Azurda’ and ‘Tazkira-e- Haideri’. However, his most remarkable contribution to Urdu was the discovery of the rare manuscript of ‘Karbal Katha’, considered to be the oldest book of North Indian prose and thought to have been lost to time, through his painstaking search and its subsequent publication in collaboration with his close friend, the late Malik Ram. Before his departure for Oxford, he had gone to meet Qazi Abdul Wadood who beseeched him to look for the manuscript of Fazli’s book by this name which Dr. Sprenger had taken back with him when he left Calcutta to go back to Germany, over hundred years ago, and thus render an invaluable service to Urdu literature. He was able to locate this manuscript in a library of a small German University town of Tubingen by sifting through thousands of manuscripts one by one.

The late Malik Ram was a respected expert on Ghalib and his many works included the authoritative ‘Zikr-e-Ghalib’ and countless contributions on Arabic, Persian and Urdu literature. He shared with Mukhtar Sahib the love of research, Ghalibiat, a spirit of collaborative work and a sense of dedication towards completion of a project. Mukhtar Sahib’s collaboration with him on the publication of ‘Karbal Katha’ brought them even closer. A compilation of the hundreds of letters that they exchanged was done by Ali Jawad Zaidi and Mukhtar Sahib himself wrote about Malik Ram endearingly in ‘Naqoosh, Lahore Shaqsiat Number’. In this article Mukhtar Sahib describes his sense of utter disbelief and awe on learning during a visit to Malik Ram’s house that except for his eldest daughter Usha, his other three children had Muslim names; Bushra, Aftab and Salman. Malik Sahib sensed Mukhtar Sahib’s astonishment and explained to him the origin of these names. They had one daughter Usha and when the second was born, the parents were told by a friend that if the newborn was named Bushra in a spirit of utmost sincerity, the next child would be a boy. Malik Ram Sahib’s mother was puzzled on hearing the name Bushra and asked her son if this wasn’t a Muslim name to which he retorted that she also had given him a Muslim name i.e. Malik. Equally struck with disbelief was King Saud of Saudia Arabia who visited Bushra’s school during a state visit to India and when she, as the student chosen to welcome him did so in impeccable Arabic. His sense of bewilderment and pleasure was heightened when he learned that Bushra was a Hindu. In 1987, Malik Ram organized a committee named ‘Majlis-e-Nazr-e-Mukhtar’ comprising of a number of the most distinguished educators and scholars of India and compiled a book ‘Nazre-Mukhtar’ which appeared in 1988. This book included an exhaustive and through article titled “Zikr-e-Mukhtar’ written by Malik Ram which discussed every aspect of Mukhtar Sahib’s life including his birth and his family.

During the early period of his academic life, Mukhtar Sahib used to compose poetry also under the ‘Takhallus’ Arzoo which he later dropped and relinquished the pursuit of poetry, but he is still known by the name Mukhtar Uddin Arzoo Sahib in Aligarh. In his article, Malik Ram Sahib has included samples of Mukhtar Sahib’s poetry.

Perhaps the reason that he didn’t pursue this line of intellectual activity was that he wanted to be at least comparable in stature to Josh and Firaq and didn’t want to be known as a mediocre poet.

Mukhtar Sahib is one of a select group of scholars, such as Dr. Nazir Ahmad, former Chairman, Department of Urdu, AMU, Dr. Abdul Sattar Siddiqi and Dr. Nisar Ahmad Farooqi whose primary field was not Urdu but who established a prestigious name for themselves in the field of Urdu research. During his student days, Mukhtar Sahib served as the Editor of the Ghalib number of the Aligarh Magazine, which was very well received and to this day is considered to be an important contribution in the field of ‘Ghalibiat’. Material published in the Ghalib number was later published as two books, ‘Ahwal-e-Ghalib and ‘Naqd-e-Ghalib’ with addition of many other articles and revision of the old ones. Beside the discovery of Karbal Katha, already mentioned, and many other original Urdu manuscripts in various libraries of Europe and England, he is best known for his critical and logical analysis and appreciation of the great poetry of Ghalib. This has made him one of the outstanding international authorities on Ghalibiat.

Upon his return from abroad, Mukhtar Sahib became a Reader in the Department of Islamic studies and Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies in 1958. He became a Professor and Chairman, Department of Arabic in 1968, and Dean, Faculty of Arts in 1975. On 10th April 1998, Prof. Mukhtar Uddin Ahmad was appointed as the Founding Vice-Chancellor of Maulana Mazharul Haq Arabic & Persian University in Patna.

During the last sixty plus years, Prof. Mukhtar Uddin has written innumerable books, research papers and made other scholarly contributions. Many academicians claim to write a few books and some odd number of research papers in their lifetime. In the case of Professor Mukhtar Uddin Sahib’s research output, a mere listing and indexing of all his contributions, including articles, edited books and original research papers, forms a book by itself, called ‘Mukhtar Nama’ compiled by Dr. Ata Khursheed and Meher Illahi Nadeem and published in 2002. It is quite amazing to see how he could have accomplished so much and how he still remains engaged in doing research and in pursuit of scholarly activities at his age. Among his major works/books in Urdu are: Karbal Katha, Khutoot-e-Akbar Allahabadi, Sair-e-Dehli, Tazkarah Azurdah, Tazkarah Gulshan-e-Hind Haideri, Tazkarah Shoara-e-Farrukhabad, Diwaan-e-Huzoor Azeemabadi, Ahwaal-e-Ghalib and Naqad-e-Ghalib. Edited: Zakir Sahib Ke Khat, Vol. III. This listing of his contributions is illustrative and not exhaustive by any means. Besides having published a large number of papers, he edited the Journal of Islamic Studies ‘MAJALLAT AL-MAJMA AL-ILMI AL-HINDI. He was a member of the Editorial Board: Ma’arif: Monthly Journal of Darul Musannefin, Shibli Academy

During his lifetime Mukhtar Sahib has received many honors and awards. He received the Meer Award from

Meer Academy, Lucknow in 1965, the Certificate of Honor from President of India, Ghalib Award in 1983, and was presented a commemorative volume ‘Nazr-e-Mukhtar edited by Dr Malik Ram in recognition of his literary and educational services on his 64th birth anniversary in 1988, as already referred to above, and was awarded the Imam Ahmad Raza Award in 2001. In 2005, the Ghalib Institute organized a function honoring him for his contributions to the literary world. His selection for receiving this year’s ‘Sir Syed Day Life Time Achievement Award’ from the Aligarh Alumni Association of New York Tristate is another befitting tribute to him.

Mukhtar Sahib is a great letter writer. He receives a lot of correspondence and promptly replies all letters as a matter of duty. All letters are earmarked on receipt and kept chronologically in separate large envelopes with dates when the replies were sent noted. The letters cover a wide range, from being personal, to containing questions about literary matters. His accumulated correspondence with many literary experts in Arabic and Urdu of the subcontinent, the Middle East and the rest of the World could constitute several books. He also writes his diary regularly. In fact, it is really impossible to take account of the prodigious amount of work that he has done in any detail.

I have known Prof. Mukhtar Uddin for the last 60 years but he did not know me. He is senior to me by seven years in age but only by four years in terms of Aligarian seniority; he came to Aligarh in 1943 and I joined this institution in 1947. He resided in Sir Syed Hall and I in the Viqarul Mulk Hall. He belonged to the Faculty of Arts and I belonged to the Science Faculty. As a matter of fact, we were poles apart in terms of Aligarh topography. I lived in the north and he in the south of the campus. However, even as a student, he had shown great spark of academic and intellectual seriousness of purpose and single-minded devotion to his academic pursuits. As already mentioned, the editorship of Aligarh Magazine’s Ghalib Number was one of his earliest academic accomplishments while he was still a graduate student. I came to know of him through that magazine, which has remained one of the best documents published under the banner of the university as far as its editorship as well as its literary contents are concerned. It remains to this day a monumental work of literature, especially on the great poet, Ghalib. Right from the beginning, one could see that with the passage of time Prof. Mukhtar Uddin was destined to reach great heights of academic excellence in the areas of his chosen research. Although he married very young at the age of 21, when he was a student of Intermediate, undeterred by opposition from various relatives who feared that he would not be able to concentrate seriously on his education, his dedication to scholarship continued unabated.

I had seen Prof. Mukhtar Uddin on the campus and had heard about him and his academic achievements and the respect in which he was held as one of the best intellectuals and able professors of the AMU. I also knew that his personal library held more than eighteen thousand books, journals, original manuscripts and hundreds of

letters written by famous men of literature. My love for Urdu books was more than enough reason to visit his library but there was no occasion to meet him. After my retirement, I was free to pursue my love of Urdu and wanted to meet Prof. Mukhtar Uddin. Ibne Sina academy provided a few but rare opportunities of meeting famous people at some of its regular meetings. Still I was in awe of Prof. Mukhtar Uddin and did not know how to pay a visit to his house and meet this great man at a personal level.

By this time, I had published my autobiography, ‘Main Kiya Meri Hayat Kiya.’ Prof. Mukhtar Uddin had also read it and thus he had become familiar with the name of an obscure novice dabbling in Urdu writing, who happened to be a science student and a teacher. I had heard that he had a very famous book – a dewan of Ghalib called Nuskha-e-Khawaja, edited and published by Prof. Syed Moeen Ur Rehman of the GC University of Lahore. I was very keen to see that book, and Taqreeb kuch tu behr-e-mulaqaat chahiye, I used this as a ruse to visit Prof. Mukhtar Uddin.

Meeting Prof. Mukhtar Uddin was a delightful experience for me. I found him to be very kind and courteous. He received me with great love and affection and willingly showed me the book I wanted to see and even lent it to me to take it home and see it at leisure. I was deeply moved by his generosity and his faith in me that I would take care of his precious and rare book, though it was our first meeting. This was the beginning of our relationship, which has developed into a very close association over the last 3-4 years. His good nature and will to help his students, fellow faculty members, and friends is rather remarkable. Once I suggested to Prof. Mukhtar Uddin to make a note of the books that he lends to people so easily and willingly. He replied. ‘Giving and lending books to people is my duty, to return them is the duty of the persons who borrow my books.’ I hope no body breaches his faith and confidence in human nature.

In the last few years of my association with Prof. Mukhtar Uddin, I have found him to be a man of great intellectual and academic virtues without any signs of arrogance pertaining to his immense intellectual achievements or his exalted place and standing in the academic and literary world of Arabic, Urdu and Persian literature. He is very soft-spoken, listens more than he talks and shows great interest in whatever one has to say and never imposes his will on anyone. When I talk of science and biology to him, he pays the utmost attention and would ask any question that comes to his mind. I have found him to be a very simple, benevolent and affectionate person with immense interest in his work and reading new books. He devotes most of his time, sometimes in excess of 12-16 hours a day to his reading and writing and if he lays his hands on some very interesting book, he may remain awake the whole night to finish it. Once he was staying with a friend who put him up in his guest room/library. Mukhtar Sahib found the library well stocked and when he saw a book that he hadn’t read, he picked it up and kept on reading till he heard a call from downstairs ‘Doctor Sahib Nashta

tayyar hai, tashreef lay aaiye’. He did not realize that he had continued reading all night and it was breakfast time. The book contained only 600 pages!!!

Though very soft spoken and a quiet person, he has a great sense of humor that comes out particularly in his Urdu essays, his diaries and travelogues which have been published from time to time in various Urdu periodicals in the sixties and seventies. Many anecdotes of his student days at Aligarh are included in such writings. His Urdu writing style is simple, unencumbered by verbosity or usage of difficult words and hardly a word seems to be redundant or unnecessary.

Mukhtar Sahib has been witness to an era of great turbulence and upheaval which saw the independence of the country as well as its partition. Throughout all the ups and down of political as well as other changes that altered the entire face of life at Aligarh compared to what it used to be when he joined the university as a young student in 1943, Mukhtar Sahib has steadfastedly remained loyal to Aligarh and has never entertained the idea of moving to greener pastures although he could have any lucrative job anywhere in the world just for asking and did indeed receive unsolicited offers of highly paid position at the University of Punjab, Pakistan, University of Wisconsin, Madison and Calcutta University. The changes that took place in the intellectual environment of the university particularly in the areas of literature and poetry due to the rise and fall of the Progressive Writer’s Movement in particular, the decline in the standards of education and in personal behaviors of students and faculty alike, deserve to be chronicled in the context of the life and times of a famous Aligarian like Mukhtar Sahib. Although he has written numerous articles from a first person perspective such as Mukhtar Uddin Arzoo – Khud Nawisht, Meray Bachpan Ka Azeemabad, Aligarh Kay Shub-o-Rooz, Yadoon Kay Chirag, Tulabai Aligarh Dayar-e Farang Main, Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan etc, there are not compiled in the form of a unified autobiographical compilation and published as a book. One sincerely hopes that he will write his autobiography in his inimitable style of subtle humor which will encapsulate the vast panorama of his eventful life against the backdrop of one of the most ‘PurAashaub’ era of our university.

Professor Ahmad’s life to date can be summed up in one line of a couplet of Allama Iqbal:

Narm dum-e-Guftagoo, Garm Dum-e-Justujoo


1. Nazr-e- Mukhtare, compiled by Malik Ram, Majlis-e-Nazr-e-Mukhtar, New Delhi (1988)

2. Mukhtar-Nama compiled by Atta Khursheed and Mehr Elahi Nadeem, Aligarh Heritage Publications, Aligarh (2002)

3. Professor Mukhtar Uddin Ahmad, Muhaqqiq aur Danishwar, compiled by Shahid Mahli, Ghalib Institute, New Delhi (2005)