Life of Hadhrat Shaykhul Hadith
by Allamah Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi
Maulana Shaikh Muhammad Zakariyya bin Maulana Shaikh Muhammad Yahya bin Shaikh Ismail Al-Kandhlawi was born on Thursday 11th of Ramadhaan, 1315 Hijri (2/2/1898), in a deeply religious and pious family. His father was known for his extensive religious knowledge. He acquired his knowledge from the Faqih (jurist) and outstanding Muhaddith (expert in Hadith) of his time ---- the famous leader and saint Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi - died 1323 AH. Shaikh Muhammad Zakariyya acquired his basic knowledge from his father and with whom he did the Hifz of the Qur'aan Kareem as well. He also studied under his renowned paternal uncle Maulana Muhammad Ilyaas bin Shaikh Ismail , who became the Imam of the Tablighi Jamaat and the Islamic Da’wah that has spread all over the world. This Da’wah has indeed filled the entire atmosphere with Barakat and blessings.
Thereafter he studied the major sets of Hadith books at Madrasah Mazaahir Uloom, which was second only in status to Darul Uloom, Deoband. He read the "Sahah Sitta" (six most correct books on Hadith) firstly by his father, and then again from Maulana Shaikh Khalil Ahmad Al Ayyoobi Al Ansaari , who compiled various books on diverse Islamic topics and who took a leading part in eradicating bid'at and those who followed their own desires. He grew up in the company of these great pious Ulama and leading Faqihs, Muhaddiths and spiritual mentors. He witnessed the golden era of the famous spiritual Imam Ash Shaikh Al Gangohi. The forerunners of this spiritual school in the "do-aaba" (area lying between the river Jamuna in the east and the river Ganga in the west) were from the Waliullahi family. The spiritual education and enrichment was spread there by Haji lmdaadullah's group.
The effect of this training was such that during the era of Maulana Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi , from amongst his Mureeds even those who were uneducated fully complied with the Sunnah, so much so that they were even punctual with their Tahajjud Salat. The atmosphere in the Shaikhs Khanqah was such that fifty to sixty laundry washermen who whilst washing their laundry in the early hours of the morning, would loudly say the praises of Allah instead of singing other songs. The author had the good fortune of seeing various senior and junior members of the Imdaadi family. He however did not meet Hadhrat Haaji Imdaadullah , who passed away (in 1317 A.H.) sometime before the author was born. The author did not meet his grandfather who passed away (in 1315 A.H.) twenty days after he was born. When his grandfather heard of this grandsons birth he said; 'My substitute has come, now it is my time to go'. The author on many occasions saw Hadhrat Maulana Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi , ate at his table and as a child hopped into his lap etc. The author remembers all these incidents. This was the era when Shari’at and Tariqat were at a high level.
From Rajab, 1328 A.H. to Zul Qa'da, 1345 A.H., the author had the honour of being in the company and under the training and guidance of Maulana Shaikh Khalil Ahmad . He became Bai’at at the hands of this great spiritual mentor in 1333A.H. This period of companionship with the Shaikh excludes the one year when Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan and Maulana Shaikh Khalil Ahmad Saheb , were in Hijaaz. He was given Ijaazat and Khilaafat by Maulana Shaikh Khalil Ahmad Saheb in 1344 A.H. at Madina Munawwarah during their stay there.
He also had the good fortune of being with Maulana Shaikh Abdur Rahim Raipuri , (died 1338 A.H.) Hakimul Ummat Maulana Shaikh Ashraf Ali Thanvi (died 1362 A.H.) Shaikhul Islam Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani (died 1377 A.H.) and Imaamut Tawadhu Maulana Shah Abdul Qaadir Raipuri (died 1382 A.H.) This in brief gives a glimpse of his acquaintances in Tariqat.
Ever since he attained adulthood he spent all his time in learning and teaching, Ibadat and Dhikr, to spiritually guide and assist others and to deliver religious discourses. He was the only person during that period who did not receive any remuneration for his teaching. He lived a very simple life from his meagre earnings from his own small book shop. He made a successful effort to unify the important religious centres, viz., Deoband, Saharanpur, Thana Bhawan and Nadwa - Lucknow.
He was appointed in 1335 A.H. as a Mudarris at Madrasah Mazaahir Uloom, Saharanpur where his tutor and father also taught and where he acquired his education. He was only twenty years of age and thus became the youngest member of the staff ever, at a very nominal wage. He was given those Kitaabs to teach which are not normally given to new members of the staff. He progressed rapidly and was given 'Mishkaatul Masaabeeh' and a few sections of 'Sahihul Bukhari' to teach in the year 1341 A.H. (when he was only twenty six years of age). He then became the senior Mudarris and taught 'Sunan Abi Dawood', and the second half of 'Sahihul Bukhari' for a long while. After the death of Maulana Abdul Latief Saheb , he taught the full 'Sahihul Bukhari'. This he did in spite of many ailments up to 1388 A.H. He became well known as Shaikhul Hadith. To a multitude of people today he is known by this title.
Thus he taught at Madrasah Mazaahir Uloom for 53 years, without any remuneration. When he was to accompany his Shaikh, Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saheb for Haj in 1344 A.H., he was instructed by his Shaikh to take all his accumulated salary that was due to him. In compliance he drew all, then later donated it to the Madrasah. He was offered many lucrative positions but turned them all down to continue his service with Ikhlaas (sincerity), Imaan and determination, for which Allah blessed him abundantly with what is superior and everlasting. His initial task as an author was to assist his Shaikh Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saheb , when he wrote the 'Bazlul Majhood', a commentary on Sunnan Abi Dawood. This was in 1344 A.H., when he was only twenty nine years of age, while they were at Madina Munawwarah.
When his Shaikh , passed away in 1345 A.H., he was honoured and graced to take his place, and also given the top-most post to teach Hadith.
It was at Madina Munawwarah, next to the blessed tomb, that he began writing the commentary of 'Muwatta Imam Malik', which he titled 'Awjazul Masaalik' (six volumes). His books today, both in Urdu and English are being read the world over, both individually and in Masjids and wherever the members of the Tablighi Jamaat make an effort. Certainly Allah has granted acceptance of his writings. Some of his very popular books are;
Awjazul Masaalik, commentary of Muwatta Imam Malik (six volumes compiled in thirty one years).
Juz Hajjatul Wadaa and Umraatun Nabi.
Al Kawkabud Durri, commentary on Jam'e Tirmizi (Two Parts).
Laami'ud Duraari, commentary on Sahihul Bukhaari (three volumes).
Fadhaa'il Qur'aan (1348 A.H.)
Fadhaa'il Ramadhaan (1349 A.H.)
Fadhaa'il Tabligh (1350 A.H.)
Fadhaa'il Namaaz (1358 A.H.)
Fadhaa'il Hai (1367 A.H.)
Fadhaa'il Sadaqaat (1368 A.H.)
Fadhaa'il Durood Sharif (1384 A.H.)
Fadhaa'il Tijaarat (1401 A.H.)
Hikaayatus Sahaabah (1357 A.H.)
Al I'itidaal fi Maraatibir Rijaal (1357 A.H.)
Daari Ka Wujoob
Aap Bieti (five volumes) (1388 - 1391)
Shari'at Wa Tariqat (1398 A.H.)
Mowt ki Yaad
Works Translated Into English
Stories of the Sahaabah
Virtues of Salat
Virtues of Qur'aan
Virtues of Ramadhaan
Virtues of Haj
Virtues of Durood Sharif
Virtues of Zikr
The Beard of a Muslim and its Importance
(The above information was extracted from the prefaces by Hadhrat Maulana Yusuf Banuri , and Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadawi to the book 'Awjazul Masaalik', and other books by Hadhrat Shaikh Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Saheb ).
Taken from http://www.classicalislamgroup.com/viewpage.php?page=229 with thanks