Book on Maulana Minnatullah Rahmani

Book: Hayat-e Rahmani: Maulana Minnatullah Rahmani ki Zindagi ka Ilmi aur Tarikhi Mutala’a (The Life of Rahmani: A Study of Maulana Minatullah Rahmani’s Scholarly and Historical Legacy)
Author: Shah Imran Hasan
Publisher: Rahbar Book Service, New Delhi
Year of Publication: 2012
Pages: 240                                                              
Price: Rs 140
Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander

A lot of contributions to Islam and Muslims of India have been made by traditional Islamic scholars who were associated with madrasas. It is a sign of  apathy that beyond their sphere of influence and people associated with madrasas not much information is available to the common masses or even to the elites about their contributions, lives and legacy. There can surely be diverse reasons for this kind of apathy. The need of the hour is to discover these personalities and make the masses aware about their contributions.

The present book tries to fulfill that void, penned down by a young writer, Shah Imran Hasan. It deals with the life and legacy of Maulana Minnatullah Rahmani (1912-1991), the founder of the vibrant madrasa known as “Jamia Rahmani” in Bihar.

In his foreword of the book, Islamic scholar Prof Akhtarul Wasey states the different characteristics of the Maulana and various facets of his multi-dimensional personality. Prof Wasey states how he resisted the coercive family planning of the Congress regime as well as opposed the Emergency period (1975-1977). Wasey is all praise for Maulana that despite being occupied with practical administrative work, he found time to pen down books and articles on various issues confronting Muslims and country during his times. He is all praise for the young author of the book.

In his preface to the book, the author states that a lot of books have been written on the life and thoughts of Maulana Minnatullah, but the need of this book was felt because it relates the whole life of the Maulana in a systematic and chronological order, which makes it easier for the readers to understand various phases of his life.

The book is divided in seven broad chapters each dealing with a certain aspect of the Maulana’s life. The book also includes some photographs of historical events in the life of the Maulana.

The book informs us that the Maulana was not an arm-chair or ivory-tower scholar, but since his student days at Darul Uloom Deoband, he took an active part in the resistance and political activities against the British colonial rule, resulting in his incarceration too. He also wrote books against the British which point towards his patriotism and love for his motherland. In his various capacities the Maulana also undertook relief activities and social work.

Being educated and trained as a scholar, he didn’t neglect the esoteric aspect of Islam and was associated with the Naqashbandi branch of Sufism. The Jamia Rahmani, which he founded, is an amalgamation of Madrasa and Khanqah, where both knowledge and practices of Tasawwuf are imparted to the students.

The Maulana was associated with various institutions during his life-time. He established some institutions and stabilized some existing ones. Besides authoring books, he nurtured leaders too. He left an indelible imprint and inspired numerous students who went on to become community leaders and scholars.

After the partition, Muslims were left in a vulnerable situation in India. The Maulana was at the forefront to face the new challenges facing the Indian Muslims. He was one of the leading stalwarts of resistance against the Child Adoption Bill, forced vasectomy campaign during the Emergency, and led a movement for the protection of graveyards and mosques forcing the government to abandon plans to acquire them. He was part of the successful campaigning to exempt Waqf from income tax. He also took an active interest in the Shah Bano movement. He was a member of the Majlis-e Shura of the Darul Uloom Deoband.

Communal riots have been erupting in different parts of the country since partition and especially since early 1960s. Most of these riots destroyed the community where Muslims were economically sound. Police and administration cooperated with the Hindutva cadres in destroying and killing Muslims. The Maulana tried to reach the affected areas, meet victims and help in the relief activities. At the same time he forcefully criticized the government for its biased attitude towards Muslims and shielding the guilty who were always provided impunity from prosecution and justice was rarely done to the victims.

Being particularly concerned about the issues of Indian Muslims, the Maulana wasn’t oblivious of the international problems of Muslims like the Palestinian issue. He never accepted Israel as a legitimate state. During the 1967 Arab-Israel war, he collected donations and sent them to help the displaced refugee Palestinians. He used to speak about various issues like the creation of Bangladesh and the fate of non-Bengalis in Bangladesh. He spoke against the assassination of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Russian aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq-Kuwait war.

The author has included a chapter on the scholarly writings of the Maulana and provided a brief summary of each of his works. The last chapter of the book deals with the citations, words of praise, poetical encomiums depicting love and respect for the Maulana after his death by various persons as well as books written about the Maulana. Overall, the book tries to deal with all the important aspects of the Maulana’s life. But since the author respects and loves the Maulana, no critical evaluation of his role or thoughts has been possible. We also find that various events of the Maulana’s life have been compiled chronologically without a critical and academic analysis that adds to the demerits of an otherwise well-written book. The young author needs to be complimented for his effort.

Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir and can be reached at